Francis Pharcellus Church
Francis Pharcellus Church (22 February 1839 - 11 April 1906) was an American publisher and editor, most famous for his editorial reply to 8 year old Virginia O'Hanlon, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus".
- Originally published as "Is There a Santa Claus?" in The New York Sun (21 September 1897)
- Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
- Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
- Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Quotes about Church and his famous reply
- The older I grow, the more I realize what a perfect philosophy it is for life. Then, having been the recipient of such kindness —as Mr. Church writing to me, a little child — I feel a sort of responsibility about living up to some of the ideals ... It's brought into my life many, many interesting and kind things that I don't think would have have ever been there if I hadn't written that letter and he hadn't to answered it so eloquently. ... The older I grow the more I read into it, and the more I see what it means to other people to have such a firm conviction in the best things in life — faith, love, poetry, romance.