The Story of Captain Samuel Hadlock, Junior
of Cranberry Isles, Maine
by Rachel Field
Exactly the same size and layout, and with the same quaint chapter-end engravings as the original 1934 edition, this 1999 reprint is a fine example of the bookbinder's art, beautifully done with a fine gold leaf hard cover treatment, and quality thread-binding construction.
From the dust jacket of the new hardcover edition:
Perhaps Rachel Field's greatest downeast book was God's Pocket, published in 1934, "The Story," so its subtitle, "of Captain Samuel Hadlock, Junior of Cranberry Isles, Maine." Field had been given Captain Hadlock's journal by his grandson, Samuel Sanford. From this source and Sanford's own accounts of his grandfather, the author pieced together a most remarkable tale. A good portion of the book recounts Captain Hadlock's travels in Europe, England, Scotland, and Ireland. For four years he roamed among Old World cities with his sideshow, which consisted of a collection of artifacts and an Eskimo couple, who performed fishing, hunting, and other Native American skills. They entertained at fairs, in small villages, and for royalty in palace gardens.
Throughout her account of Hadlock's journeys, Field never loses sight of her subject's ties to his home country. Writing about his love for his wife, she likens his passion to the sudden vehemence of spring in northern Maine: "I know how the ice breaks with dull thunder; how the barriers go down in a single night; how arbutus and violets spring from melting snows, and a green, fiercer than flame, runs over brown pastures and ledges. No soft, slowly unfolding southern spring ever was so charged with the enduring passions of earth."
Field has suffered over the years from critical neglect. But the reprinting of God's Pocket after more than fifty years offers an opportunity for many new readers to know her best work. The novel has always had its champions. Reviewing Field's skills, Stephen Vincent Benet wrote that she "had a gift for the past and the honest things of the past -- it shows in... that wise and true little book God's Pocket."
Copy from inside the dust jacket:
The Story of Captain Samuel Hadlock, Jr. of Cranberry Isles, Maine
by Rachel Field
Author of "The Pointed People," "Points East, Naratives of Old New England." etc.
All that now remains of Samuel Hadlock of Maine, showman extraordinary, is "a gold snuff-box; a silhouette cut in London in 1824; an old compass, maps, and a chart; and two tattered copybooks crowded with faded entries in a vigorous Spencerian hand; these and a story of romantic adventure and love and tragedy."
That story Miss Field tells, with the help of the showman's diary. Samuel Hadlock, Jr. was born about 1792 in Cranberry Isles, Maine. He took up sealing and whaling in the far north. Tiring of this, he conceived the idea of touring the fairs of Europe with a show. Accompanied by two Esquimaux and with an exhibition of native weapons, utensils, and relics, he left for the Continent. His success was phenomenal. Kings and Queens and rogues alike fell under the spell of his colorful personality.
The Journal of his adventures was loaned to Miss Field by Hadlock's grandson. It is a record of sights seen in the villages and courts of Europe; of meetings with royalty; of the showman's love for "a Prussian lady"; of the keen observations of a man whose imagination was quickened by any deviation from the human pattern. The quaint spelling adds to the charm of the diary.
Miss Field says she chose "God's Pocket" for the title of her book because "it was an actual phrase used by the old man and seemed to belong to that northern cove and the loves and journeyings and strange enterprises of an Island man in that small pocket of Eternity which each of us fills for a lifetime."