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cover image: The Honorable Peter Stirling / by Paul Leicester Ford

Politics does not consist in being right. It’s in making other people think you are.

Here, for variety’s sake, is a hero who is neither handsome nor charming, and who adheres faithfully to every promise he makes his mother. Rumor has it he was based on Grover Cleveland. Though there are—spoiler!—a few points of similarity, “based on” may be putting it strongly. Let’s say “inspired by events in the life of” and leave it at that.

Chapters I-XVIII

Chapters XIX-XXXII

Chapters XXXIII-XLV

Chapters XLVI-LXI

Paul Leicester Ford (1865–1902) had a short life, but an extremely productive one. Thanks to a spinal injury in early childhood, he was never able to go to school, but was educated at home—first by his older sister, later by being given the run of his father’s library. His father happened to be a noted bibliophile; his mother was a granddaughter of Noah Webster, so he probably got it from both sides. His brother Worthington was also a well-known historian.

As a writer and scholar, Paul Ford’s works ranged from history to biography to fiction. His ten-volume Works of Thomas Jefferson (1892-99) remained the standard for over a century; The Federalist (1898) was also highly regarded. His career came to an abrupt end in 1902—not because of his ongoing medical problems, but because he was shot by his older brother, athlete Malcolm Ford (b. 1862), who may have been disgruntled about an inheritance. Postscript: Malcolm promptly turned around and shot himself. Paul’s only child, daughter Lesta (really), was born after her father’s death.

About the Book

Early on, we learn that the title character studied law at Harvard. Today Harvard University prides itself on being the first U.S. law school to require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree, as Johns Hopkins was the first among medical schools. (Unlike Johns Hopkins, Harvard Law did not admit women from Day One. Bummer.) Depending on whom you ask, the requirement either dates back to 1896, or was one of a group of changes instituted over the period 1870–1886. It definitely happened after Peter Stirling’s attendance, which seems to have been in the 1870s.

In the second half of the book, after the ten-year intermission, there is more romance and less politics. This is occasionally tedious, though Peter’s love interest does eventually develop some admirable qualities. The final quarter makes up for all by having as many quotable lines as the first three-quarters put together.

“The future of this country depends on its poor children. If they are to do right, they must be saved from ill-health, and ignorance, and vice; and the first step is to give them good food and air, so that they shall have strong little bodies. A sound man, physically, may not be a strong man in other ways, but he stands a much better chance.”

Finally: In 1894, the female name “Jenifer”—by any spelling—simply didn’t exist outside of Cornwall. So there would be nothing distracting about a male servant bearing this name.

Formalities

This etext is based on the—wait for it—thirty-seventh edition, published in the year 1900. Sadly, there are no illustrations. None whatsoever. Not even a frontispiece. If you are at all familiar with this site, you know what a heartbreak that was.

The printed book was a single fat volume with no Table of Contents. I’ve broken it into four parts for easier reading, and have added a table of contents using the chapter titles.

Linguistic or maybe typographic quirk: The author, or his editor, or possibly the printer, seems to think that any utterance beginning in “What” can only be a question. “What a dull dinner it was?” “What a stunning headline that will make?” “What poor things words are?” “What a tremendous horse you have?”

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the bottom of each file. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.

Contents

I. Romance and Reality
II. Appearances
III. A Crab Chapter
IV. Beginnings
V. Mines and Counter-Mines
VI. A Monologue and a Dialogue
VII. Facing the World
VIII. Settling
IX. Happiness by Proxy
X. Waiting
XI. New Friends
XII. His First Client
XIII. The Case
XIV. New York Justice
XV. The Fight
XVI. The Consequences
XVII. A New Friend
XVIII. Another Client
XIX. The Primary
XX. A Political Debut
XXI. A Political Dinner
XXII. Politics
XXIII. The Convention
XXIV. Misunderstandings and Understandings
XXV. Various Kinds of Society
XXVI. An Evening Call
XXVII. A Dinner
XXVIII. Commissions
XXIX. In the Meantime
XXX. A “Comedy”
XXXI. Conflicts
XXXII. The End of the Conflict
XXXIII. A Renewal
XXXIV. Help
XXXV. Running Away
XXXVI. A Dream
XXXVII. “Friends”
XXXVIII. The Hermitage
XXXIX. The Dude
XL. Opinions
XLI. Calls
XLII. Down-Town New York
XLIII. A Birthday Evening
XLIV. A Good Day
XLV. The Boss
XLVI. The Better Element
XLVII. The Blue-Peter
XLVIII. A Mutineer
XLIX. Clouds
L. Sunshine
LI. The Course of True Love
LII. A Guardian Angel
LIII. Interference
LIV. Obstinacy
LV. Oaths
LVI. Cui Bono?
LVII. Happiness
LVIII. Gifts
LIX. “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May”
LX. A Conundrum
LXI. Leonore’s Theory

WORKS BY PAUL LEICESTER FORD.

PUBLISHED BY HENRY HOLT & CO.

THE HONORABLE PETER STIRLING.

THE FEDERALIST. Edited with Notes, Illustrative Documents, and a Copious Index.

PUBLISHED BY HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO.

THE STORY OF AN UNTOLD LOVE.

PUBLISHED BY DODD, MEAD & CO.

JANICE MEREDITH.

TATTLE TALES OF CUPID.

THE GREAT K. AND A. TRAIN ROBBERY.

THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER.

PUBLISHED BY G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS.

WRITINGS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON. 10 vols.

SAYINGS OF POOR RICHARD.

PUBLISHED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT CO.

THE TRUE GEORGE WASHINGTON.

PUBLISHED BY THE CENTURY CO.

THE MANY-SIDED FRANKLIN.

THE HONORABLE

PETER STIRLING

AND

WHAT PEOPLE THOUGHT OF HIM

 

by
PAUL LEICESTER FORD

THIRTY-SEVENTH EDITION

 

publisher’s device: owl, “H H & Co.”

NEW YORK
HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY
1900

Copyright, 1894.
by
HENRY HOLT & CO.

To

those dear to me,

at

STONEY WOLDE,

turners, new york;

PINEHURST,

norwich, connecticut;

BROOK FARM,

proctorsville, vermont;

and

DUNESIDE,

easthampton, new york,

this book,

written while among them

is dedicated.

Notes and Corrections

Works

It is not every day that you see an advertising page listing the offerings of six different publishers. Was Paul Leicester Ford exceptionally difficult to work with, or were his chosen publishers all very, very specialized?

Dedication

PINEHURST,
text has semicolon for comma