Page numbers in issues:1842.1.1-32; January • 1842.1.33-64; February • 1842.1.65-96; March • 1842.1.97-128; April • 1842.1.129-160; May • 1842.1.161-192; June • 1842.2.1-32; July • 1842.2.33-64; August • 1842.2.65-96; September • 1842.2.97-128; October • 1842.2.129-160; November • 1842.2.161-192; December
Little Readers of the Museum: I sometimes read Mr. Robert Merry’s Museum, and I like it very much, as I presume all his little “blue-eyed and black-eyed readers” do. He talks very much like good old Peter Parley. I should think he had heard him tell many a story while he rested his wooden leg on a chair, with a parcel of little laughing girls and boys around him. [Transcriber’s note: That is, wooden-legged Robert Merry listened to Peter Parley tell stories.] Oh, how many times I have longed to see him, and crawl up in his lap and hear his stories! But Mr. Merry says he is dead, and I never can see him. I am very—very sorry, for I hoped I should sometime visit him, for I loved him very much, and I guess he would have loved me some, for I like old people, and always mean to treat them [p. 90 ] with respect. How cruel it was for others to write books and pretend that Peter Parley wrote them!—for it seems that this shortened his life. I am glad, however, that Mr. Merry has his writings, for I think he loves his little friends so well that he will frequently publish some of them. I said that I loved Peter Parley, and I guess you will not think it strange that I should, when I tell you what a useful little book he once published, and how much pleasure I took in reading it. He wrote a great many interesting pieces which I read and studied, and they did me much good, I think. I hope that the little readers of the Museum will learn a good deal from what they read.
Peter Parley wrote a piece which told us how to make pens. I read it over, and over again, and, finally, I thought I would see if I could not make one. So I went to my little desk and took out a quill, got my aunt’s knife and laid the book before me and tried to do just as Peter Parley told me I must. I succeeded very well, and my friends were quite pleased. This encouraged me very much, and soon I made them so well that my teachers made me no more pens. By-and-by my little associates got me to make and mend theirs, and I loved the business very much.
Well, a few years since, I went to a beautiful village to attend school, where a splendid academy stands, around which, are large green trees, under whose shade my little readers would love to sit. There I staid two or three years. Often did I walk out with the teachers, whom I loved, to botanize, or ramble, with nimble step, over the beautiful hills of that sweet place, and listen to the constant murmur of its waterfalls, or gather the delicate flowers that grew so plentifully there. But to my story. My teachers saw that I made my own pens, and occasionally, when they were busy, would bring me one to make for them. The students soon found it out, and I had plenty of business. One day the principal of the school came to me and offered to compensate me by giving me my tuition one term, which was six dollars, if I would make and mend pens. I did not accept the money of course, though I cheerfully and gladly performed the small service.
So you see, Peter Parley’s instruction has done me a great deal of good, for how many persons there are who cannot make a good pen, because they never learned how.
My little readers, I am now almost twenty years old, but I still remember many other things which I read in Peter Parley’s books when I was a little girl. Mr. Robert Merry talks and writes just like him, almost, and I hope you will love to read and study attentively Merry’s Museum, for it is a good little work, and a pleasant one. Be assured, my young friends, you can learn a great deal from it, if you read it carefully. I should like to say much more to you, but I cannot now. I have been sitting by the fire, in a rocking-chair, writing this on a large book, with a pussy under it for a desk, but she has just jumped from my lap, and refuses to be made a table of any longer. So farewell.
Springfield, Jan. 6, 1842
Your young friend,
Peter Parley: the extremely-popular character created by Samuel Goodrich; beginning in 1827, Peter Parley directly addressed young readers in books calculated to educate them about the world and its inhabitants. Children reacted immediately, loving the old man with the gouty foot so much that unscrupulous publishers appropriated Parley for their own works. Frustrated by the flood of counterfeit Parleys, Goodrich actually “killed off” his creation in Peter Parley’s Farewell, a study of metaphysics published in 1840, and announced his death in the Museum in 1841—to the surprise of several readers.
pen-making: An illustrated article, “Art of Pen Making,” appeared in Parley’s Magazine ( Sept 13, 1834).
New York, March 15th, 1842.
Dear Mr. Merry—The following lines are from one who has been both instructed and amused by your writings, and although a very youthful subscriber, she begs you will accept them as a small offering from the heart of
The name of Merry long will be
Remembered well, and loved by me.
Not all the works of ancient lore
Transmit to youth so sweet a store
Of learning true, in nature’s dress,
The garb so simple, yet the best;
Religion’s power, so deep, so pure,
Through endless ages to endure!
Youth bounds at Merry’s joyous name,
And e’en old age its love may claim.
Petersburgh, Va., March 2, 1842.
Mr. Merry: I have just begun to take your Museum, and I like it very much. I think you tell stories very much as Peter Parley did. I like Parley’s books so much that I called my little dog Peter Parley. He died some time ago, and now I am going to get another, and I intend to call it Robert Merry. I hope you won’t be offended at this, for we always call dogs after famous people. I think the best of your stories is the Sable-Hunter, but I really wish you would go on with it a little faster.
Sable-Hunter: title character in “The Siberian Sable-Hunter” (1841-1842). The son and daughter of a Russian exiled to Siberia work hard and succeed because of their goodness and patience. The fictionalized geography emphasizes morality and is punctuated by hair-breadth escapes. It was reprinted in book form as A Tale of Adventure; or, The Siberian Sable Hunter (NY: Wiley & Putnam, 1843); and as Persevere and Prosper; or, The Life of a Siberian Sable Hunter (NY: Sheldon & Co, 1844).
[Editor: ] The following is inserted, not because it is a very famous specimen of poetry but because it is written by quite a young person, and shows a very tender feeling[.]
ON A DEAD RABBIT.
Once upon a time,
When I was in my prime,
I had a rabbit white as milk,
And its hair was soft as silk. [p. 160 ]
One morn I went to feed it,—
There was no rabbit there—
And long I hunted after it,
One day, when I was wandering,
Something met my eye,
It was my little rabbit,
Hung on a tree close by.
But oh! I can’t relate it—
That pretty one was dead;
And sadly did I bury it,
In a lonely, narrow bed!
I was showing my little sister (three years old) the picture of Mt. Vesuvius, in your last “Museum,” and wishing to find her ideas on the subject, I asked her, “Is that mountain on fire?” “No,” said she. “What makes it smoke then?” said I. “Why,” said she, looking up into my face with a glance I cannot describe—“why, there is a stove in the mountain!”
[Thomas L. S.]
about Vesuvius: “The Travels, Adventures, and Experiences of Thomas Trotter” (1841-1842) and “Travels and Adventures in Circassia, by Thomas Trotter” (1845-1846), fictionalized geographies alternating adventure and humor with descriptions of Europe and of the Middle East. Thomas’s travels reinforce his sense of America’s greatness. An illustration of Vesuvius appears on page 102, April 1842.
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