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Buffalo'd but Philosophical

I'm philosophical about negative reviews. I really am. Sometimes I am surprised by how philosophical I am about them. It seems unlike me. 


I know that people's tastes differ, however, and not everyone will like what I've written. But sometimes I am, well, buffalo'd by what reviewers write and wonder what they were reading. Or if they read it.

 

Recently I received some evaluations of Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How "America's Favorite Fighting Frenchman" Helped Win Our Independence done by judges for a national book award. Here's what one of them reported:

 

"Important information concerning the Marquis de Lafayette and the American Revolutionary War is contained in the book but I fear may be lost to readers due to the fact that the information contained is written in prose."

 

Prose.

 

That's what this evaluator wrote.

 

About a story written entirely in rhyming verse.

 

Hmm.

 

All I can say (philosophically) is "Isn't life interesting?" 

 


Regards,

Dorothea Jensen

 

 

 

 

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A Bit of Riddle Enacted at the Brandywine Battlefield!

So I was Googling The Riddle of Penncroft Farm yesterday and came upon something that was downright thrilling.

 

First, let me explain that a crucial part of The Riddle of Penncroft Farm takes place before and during the Battle of Brandywine, on September 11, 1777.

 

In that battle, the British general, Howe, staged a feint attack against the Americans who were waiting at Brandywine Creek to stop the British advance on Philadelphia. At the same time, Howe led the bulk of his troops up the western side of the stream and crossed it at a ford that Washington didn't know about. He then came down behind the untrained American forces. The resulting fight took place near a Quaker place of worship, the Birmingham Meeting House, in an area called Sandy Hollow.

 

What I discovered yesterday was that several years ago, in conjunction with a re-enactment of the Brandywine battle, Birmingham Meeting House put on a little play based upon The Riddle of Penncroft Farm!

 

Here is the link: on-hallowed-ground-sandy-hollow.

 

It is thrilling for me to know that part of my story was acted out in exactly the place I imagined it to have occurred! Here is an excerpt of what I think the little play was probably based on.

I was in such despair that I didn't hear anyone approaching until I saw him standing next to me—a man in a scarlet jacket with little wings on the shoulders and a tall helmet of black fur. Even without it, he was the tallest man I'd ever seen, that British grenadier.

 

Without a word, we stared at each other. Then he drew one arm over his face to wipe the sweat out of his eyes. I didn't move, though I could feel the blood dripping down my own face and the sting of the sweat running into the cuts on my cheek.

 

His eyes flicked over me and then down to Will and the telltale cockade on his hat.

 

"My brother," I said, and opened my palms to him in appeal.

 

Still silent, the grenadier set down his musket and swung the pack off his back to the ground with a loud thud that showed how very heavy it was. Then he gathered Will up in his arms and carefully laid him down upon the wagon bed.

 

"Be that drink?" he asked, jutting his chin toward the barrel of perry.

I nodded my head, speechless.

 

"I could use a bit o' drink. Seventeen miles I've marched since dawn. Seventeen miles in all this heat. 'Tis enough to kill a man, even without the efforts of this lot." He jerked his thumb at Will.

I swarmed up the slats, filled a cup, and thrust it at him. The soldier drained it in one gulp and held the cup out for more. I hastily obliged.

 

After downing the second cupful, he picked up his pack and musket. "Thankee, lad," he growled, and plunged back into the woods before I could thank him in return.

 

 

–The Riddle of Penncroft Farm ©1989 by Dorothea Jensen

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Why Lafayette's Farewell Tour was So HUGE!

Title: Marquis De Lafayette, Revolutionary Spirits
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Date: 1825
 

I came across similarly "idealizing and idolizing" picture recently that I believe shows exactly why millions of Americans turned out to see Lsfayette when he toured America in 1824-5. This engraved image, created by Achille Moreau, in 1825, based on a painting by Jean Auguste Dubouloz.

 

 I find it interesting that these two Frenchman exactly nailed what Lafayette's tour meant to Americans. He was the last general officer from the Revolution still living, and he had been a close friend of Washington (who had died 25 years earlier), and many other Founding Fathers. Thus, he was a living link with a defining moment of our nation's history.

 

At the bottom of the image are these words (in French and in English):

"The spirits of the defenders of the American liberty are visiting him during his passage. The genii protectors of America drive away the storms."

 

Here is one explanation of what this picture portrays:

"Lafayette's triumphal tour of the United States in 1824-1825 focused the attention of Americans on the heroes of the Revolutionary War and confirmed Lafayette's own place among them. In this allegorical imageof Lafayette's return voyage to France in 1825 on board the frigate Brandywine, the old general remembers the heroes who achieved American independence."
-https://www.americanrevolutioninstitute.org/exhibition/remembering-the-revolutionaries/

At the front of the crowd of Revolutionary heroes, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are clearly identifiable. I don't know who the others pictured are. If anyone has a guess or more solid information about their identities please let me know at jensendorothea@gmail.com.

Notice the native American kneeling on the right. I assume this is meant to depict the Oneida and other tribes who helped the Americans. Lafayette, after all, personally convinced the Oneida to join our army at Valley Forge, and they played a key role at Barren Hill, etc. (I can't figure out why he alone is kneeling.)

 

 

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Using Pictures that Idealize and Idolize

I chose the idealized picture of Washington above to include in my rhyming history, Liberty-Loving Lafayette. The reason I used this instead of the usual staid images painted by Gilbert Stuart et al is simple. I think it shows how the very young Lafayette might have imagined his hero when he was pondering coming to fight on the American side. He might not have pictured an angel crowning Washington with a laurel wreath, but Lafayette certainly did idolize the man.

 

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