The Old Peabody Pew

Author: Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin


To a certain handful of dear New England women of names unknown to the world, dwelling in a certain quiet village, alike unknown:-

We have worked together to make our little corner of the great universe a pleasanter place in which to live, and so we know, not only one another’s names, but something of one another’s joys and sorrows, cares and burdens, economies, hopes, and anxieties.

We all remember the dusty uphill road that leads to the green church common. We remember the white spire pointing upward against a background of blue sky and feathery elms. We remember the sound of the bell that falls on the Sabbath morning stillness, calling us across the daisy-sprinkled meadows of June, the golden hayfields of July, or the dazzling whiteness and deep snowdrifts of December days. The little cabinet-organ that plays the doxology, the hymnbooks from which we sing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow," the sweet freshness of the old meeting-house, within and without— how we have toiled to secure and preserve these humble mercies for ourselves and our children!

There really IS a Dorcas Society, as you and I well know, and one not unlike that in these pages; and you and I have lived through many discouraging, laughable, and beautiful experiences while we emulated the Bible Dorcas, that woman "full of good works and alms deeds."

There never was a Peabody Pew in the Tory Hill Meeting-House, and Nancy’s love story and Justin’s never happened within its centuryold walls; but I have imagined only one of the many romances that have had their birth under the shadow of that steeple, did we but realize it.

As you have sat there on open-windowed Sundays, looking across purple clover-fields to blue distant mountains, watching the palmleaf fans swaying to and fro in the warm stillness before sermon time, did not the place seem full of memories, for has not the life of two villages ebbed and flowed beneath that ancient roof? You heard the hum of droning bees and followed the airy wings of butterflies fluttering over the gravestones in the old churchyard, and underneath almost every moss-grown tablet some humble romance lies buried and all but forgotten.

If it had not been for you, I should never have written this story, so I give it back to you tied with a sprig from Ophelia’s nosegay; a spring of "rosemary, that’s for remembrance."

K. D. W.

August, 1907


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Chicago: Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, "Dedication," The Old Peabody Pew, ed. Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937 and trans. Townsend, R.S. in The Old Peabody Pew (New York: A. L. Burt Company, 1916), Original Sources, accessed November 25, 2020,

MLA: Wiggin, Kate Douglas Smith. "Dedication." The Old Peabody Pew, edited by Paine, Albert Bigelow, 1861-1937, and translated by Townsend, R.S., in The Old Peabody Pew, Vol. 22, New York, A. L. Burt Company, 1916, Original Sources. 25 Nov. 2020.

Harvard: Wiggin, KD, 'Dedication' in The Old Peabody Pew, ed. and trans. . cited in 1916, The Old Peabody Pew, A. L. Burt Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 25 November 2020, from