Page numbers in issues:1841.1.1-32; February • 1841.1.33-64; March • 1841.1.65-96; April • 1841.1.97-128; May • 1841.1.129-160; June • 1841.1.161-192; July • 1841.2.1-32; August • 1841.2.33-64; September • 1841.2.65-128; October • 1841.2.129-160; November • 1841.2.161-192; December
Kind and gentle people who make up what is called the Public, permit a stranger to tell you a brief story. I am about trying my hand at a Magazine; and this is my first number. I present it to you with all due humility, asking, however, one favor. Take this little pamphlet to your home, and when nothing better claims your attention, pray look over its pages. If you like it, allow me the privilege of coming to you once a month, with a basket of such fruits and flowers as an old fellow may gather while limping up and down the highways and by-ways of life. …
But it is useless to multiply words: therefore, without further parley, I offer this as a specimen of my work, promising to improve as I gain practice. I have a variety of matters and things on hand, anecdotes, adventures, tales, travels, rhymes, riddles, songs, &c.—some glad and some sad, some to make you laugh and some to make you weep. My only trouble is to select among such variety. But grant me your favor, kind Public! and these shall be arranged and served out in due season. May I specially call upon two classes of persons to give me their countenance and support—I mean all those young people who have black eyes, and all those who have not black eyes! If these, with their parents, will aid me, they shall have the thanks and best services of
without further parley: While the author of this piece (probably Samuel Griswold Goodrich) is using an appropriate phrase here, it’s tempting to think he meant more. “Peter Parley” was Goodrich’s first creation: an old man who loved to teach children about the world around them. Parley was so popular with other publishers that by 1841 Goodrich had “killed him off”; “Robert Merry” was Parley’s replacement. In 1841, no “further Parley” was intended, though Goodrich “resurrected” him before the end of the decade.
[Editor: ] The publishers express their hearty thanks to the writers of the following, and hope the example here set may be followed by many other black-eyed and blue-eyed friends of Robert Merry.
Carmel, N. Y., June 23, 1841.
Gentlemen:—We have seen several interesting notices of your little Magazine in the Saturday Courier, and in other papers, which give it such a good recommendation, that we have determined to send for it. We have no doubt that if you would send a subscription paper to this village, many subscribers could be obtained for the Museum. We have enclosed money enough to take the Museum for eight months, and if it proves equal to our expectations we will take it much longer. It is difficult to enclose $1.50 in a letter, but if we can obtain some subscribers for you, this difficulty can be remedied. You may be curious enough to know why the term we is used. We will explain. A short time since, during the winter, it was proposed in the family to which we belong, by one of the members, to do something to help pass away the long evenings more agreeably. One proposed one thing, another proposed another, but finally all determined to subscribe for some other paper, although we already took four; none of which, however, except the Ladies’ Garland, seemed to suit the younger portion of the family. Instead of going immediately to our father for the “money,” we thought the better way would be to obtain it by our own industry. So we went to work. Each was to put in at least a penny a week, and more if we thought proper. This method incited the little ones to industry. In a short time we had money sufficient to pay for any Magazine. We sounded around some time to find one which would blend instruction with delight. We sought in vain among the mammoth sheets; for such trash as they contained we thought unworthy to be let loose among the youthful portion of any family. After a while, looking over the Saturday Courier, we came across a notice of Merry’s Museum, and, from the hearty recommendations given, we thought we had found the very thing for which we had before sought in vain. And now we, the members of this family, send the cash necessary to take this paper for the time before named; and please direct it to
E. L., Carmel, N. Y.
Saturday Courier: Perhaps the Philadelphia Saturday Courier (1831-?), a popular weekly newspaper offering its readers stories and poems—most copied from other periodicals; one contributor of original material was Edgar Allan Poe. [Mary Noel. Villains Galore. New York: Macmillan Company, 1954.]
Ladies’ Garland: The Ladies’ Garland and Family Magazine (1837-1846), monthly magazine “Devoted to Literature, Amusement and Instruction, Containing Original Essays, Female Biography—Historical Narratives—Sketches of Society—Topographical Descriptions—Moral Tales—Anecdotes, &c.” It also published music.
mammoth sheets: Weekly story papers which vied to be literally the largest paper in the U. S. Pirating pieces from other periodicals, such papers as the Brother Jonathan and the Universal Yankee Nation distinguished themselves by sheer acreage: the “Double Double Yankee Nation” was printed on a sheet measuring 8,540 square inches, then folded three times. It wasn’t the largest. [Mary Noel. Villains Galore. New York: Macmillan Company, 1954: 14-15]
[Editor: ] I return a thousand thanks to my many young friends, who have written me letters, whether of criticism, advice, or commendation. I am glad to know that so many of them like Bill Keeler; let them be assured his whole story will come out in due time. I shall be very glad to get the bear story, which L. S., of Vermont, offers to tell. The Indiana legend of the Wolf and the Wild-cat, is received, and will appear soon. Jane R— will accept my thanks for—she knows what! If she were not so many hundred miles off, I should ask her to let me see whether she is a blue-eyed or black-eyed friend. The basket of chestnuts were duly received from Alice D—, and were very welcome. Ralph H— will see that I have done as he requested; I have given a portrait of the fine gray squirrel he sent me, in this number. He is well, and as lively as ever.
bear story: In the March 1842 issue, Robert Merry again thanked J. W. L. Cheseborough, of New London, for “a bear story about his great-great grandfather …. I intend to make something of it, one of these days.” (1842.1.95)
squirrel: “The Squirrel” (Dec 1841): a celebration of the fact that every living thing is adapted to its environment and of squirrels themselves: “[H]ow pleasing, as an object of mere beauty, is the squirrel! How graceful his form—how cheerful his aspect—how seemingly happy his existence!” An illustration of a squirrel, used as frontispiece when subscribers’ issues were bound, was included in this issue.
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