Dear Friend Robert Merry: Letters from nineteenth-century children

How to use this book

1840s: 184118421843 • 1844 • 18451846184718481849

1850s: 1850185118521853185418551856185718581859

1860s: 1860186118621863186418651866186718681869

1870s: 187018711872

About the Merry Cousins


Index & gloss


The Cousins’ Greatest Hits



Mr. Merry: In this month’s Museum, we find an invitation to answer twenty questions which you have proposed, and our indulgent father has consented to pay the postage if we will find correct answers and send to you. But how can you expect children, who live on Rock River, Illinois, to know a great deal? So, Mr. Merry, if the answers are not all correct, you must not laugh at us, but please to tell us, in the next Museum, what the right answers are, and, when it is convenient, will you tell us a little something about the two New Holland animals?

We have been threatening you with a letter for a month past; for you must know that, the 23d of October, the numbers for September and October arrived, and we verily thought you had forgotten us, and we should never see the Museum again. Now, Mr. Merry, you know we cannot get as many books to read as the children who live east, so we depend upon the Museum, for both pleasure and profit, more than many of your black-eyed and blue-eyed readers; so, if you please, we would like the Museum every month, certainly by the tenth of the month.

We like the story of Inquisitive Jack very much, and hope he will not forget, very soon, [p. 31] how to ask questions; we also are very much interested in Jumping Rabbit’s story.

Nov. 1st, 1843.
Blue-eyed Edward E. P—.
Black-eyed S. Adaline P—.

20 questions: Twenty questions about animals of various kinds. (1843.2.123)

“two New Holland animals”: the kangaroo and the duck-billed platypus, answers to question number 15 of the 20: “What are the two most remarkable animals of New Holland?” The Museum had listed them in an article entitled, “Natural Curiosities of New Holland,” in January 1842.

Inquisitive Jack: 16-part serial originally published as part of “Little Leaves for Little Readers” (1843 and 1844). Jack learns about the natural world by observing instead of asking questions; from the story the reader learns about insects, birds, and plants. In chapter 3 (May 1844), the hero studies and describes the instinctive behavior of birds, especially those in his own poultry yard. The story was reprinted as The Truth-finder; or, The Story of Inquisitive Jack (New York: n.p., 1845). In 1854 the first seven chapters were reprinted in the Museum at readers’ request.

Jumping Rabbit’s story: “Jumping Rabbit”, a six-part serial (1843). Taken by Kickapoo warriors, the narrator lives in their village for six years and runs away to save a white family—the one he was born to. Details of Kickapoo life alternate with scenes of high adventure. Reprinted in Faggots for the Fireside (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1854).


Mr. Merry: I have come on to Washington with my father, to spend the winter here, and I thought I would write, and tell you something about Washington. It is a pretty large place, but it is scattered about, and looks like a great city broken into a great many pieces. The capitol is situated on the brow of a hill, and is a very fine building, of white freestone. It is the handsomest building I ever saw. The grounds around it are so neat, and have such fine walks! And then there are so many pretty trees scattered about in groups! And then there are beautiful fountains, out of which the water is spouting as bright as flowing silver!

The capitol is twice as large as the Boston state-house, and has a vast number of rooms, and passages, and staircases. I got quite lost and bewildered in it several times, but I can find my way pretty well now. There is a large circular room in the middle of the building, called the Rotunda. It is lighted at the top, by the dome or cupola.

Around the sides of the rotunda are several carvings and pictures. One of the latter represents the marriage of Pocahontas to Rolfe, the Englishman. It is a very large picture indeed, the figures being as large as life. It is very interesting.

The House of Representatives and the Senate, being called Congress, meet in two different rooms in the capitol. The United States Court also meet every winter in a room in the capitol.

I have only been to the House of Representatives yet. The room is a half circle, very lofty, and supported by beautiful pillars of many-colored marble. There are about two hundred and thirty members; and what strikes me as very odd is, that they sit with their hats on. If they were boys, they would have to take their hats off; for boys are expected to observe good manners, but men and members of Congress, I suppose, may do as they please.

The Speaker is Mr. Jones, of Virginia; a man of dark complexion, and plain appearance. He is also a little lame. Yet he seems to be a mild and good man. But there is one thing that he ought to pay attention to. He being chairman, the members must address their speeches to him. When they begin, they say Mr. Chairman: and sometimes they speak of addressing the chair. Now, what I notice as wrong is this, that many of the members say chier and chierman! Would you believe, Mr. Merry, that such things would be tolerated in the Congress of the United States? Why, any school-boy would get a striped jacket for talking through his nose, and murdering the English tongue in this fashion; but I suppose members of Congress may do as they please.

I had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Adams, of Massachusetts, make a speech. He is very old, and his hand trembles, and his voice breaks. I was sorry to see that he got very angry—very angry indeed. It seems to me that such an old man should not get angry; but perhaps I am wrong, for I am only a boy. I should have loved him, if he had been mild, and calm, and dignified.

I must now close my letter; perhaps I shall write you again. Good bye.

Yours, truly,
James Norton.

Jones: John Winston Jones (1791-1848), American lawyer and politician. He was a Representative from Virginia (1834-1845), serving as chairman of the House ways and means committee and as Speaker of the House (1843-1845).

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848): in 1844, Representative from Massachusetts (1831-1848). A vocal opponent of slavery, he was known for fieriness: “The eccentricity of thought and action in Mr. Adams,” Harriet Martineau noted, “… arises from the same honest simplicity which crowns his virtues, mingled with a faulty taste and an imperfect temper.” [Harriet Martineau. Retrospect of Western Travel. London, Saunders and Otley, 1838; vol 1: 183-184.]

United States Court: the U. S. Supreme Court.


[Editor: ] We insert the following with pleasure, which the writer tells us is a true picture of a dear home. It makes our old heart glad to find that we are welcome, even among the mountains.


Away among the mountains a pleasant farm house lies,

And round its fireside gather sweet faces and bright eyes;

The blazing fire of maple-wood lights up the spacious room,

And branches of the fragrant birch give out a sweet perfume.

And we are happy—’midst these hills our childhood has been past,

And beautiful they seem to us, with forests old and vast;

The summer and the autumn bring golden fruits and flowers,

But dearer than the summer days are pleasant winter hours.

The happy winter evenings, we love their social mirth,

For many pleasant tales are told beside our lighted hearth;

A welcome face sometimes looks in upon our circle here,

And brings to us the happiest hour in all the glad New Year.

It is an old man’s face, with clustering gray hair,

And a wrinkled forehead wearing, though furrowed not by care;

Old Robert Merry, with his smiles, his tales of other climes,

His Museum of curious things, new stories and old rhymes.

We knew him by another name in years that are gone by,

And loved good Peter Parley with his kind brow and eye; [p. 95]

Each month unto our mountain home, came “Parley’s Magazine,”

’Till “Merry’s Museum” took the place where it so long had been.

We love our guest far better because our own young hands

Have labored for the pleasure he brings from other lands;

When autumn leaves fell round us, the autumn nuts grew brown,

We and the squirrels gathered them as they came rattling down.

O, merry was our harvest time—we made the woods ring out,

Through all the long, bright autumn day, with our gay, careless shout;

And then we sold our nuts, and thus have the pleasure still,

Of seeing Robert Merry in our home upon the hill.

Lowell, Jan. 4.

M. T. B.

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.

Parley’s Magazine: periodical (16 March 1833-1844) founded by Samuel Goodrich. A precursor to the Museum, Parley’s emphasized non-fiction, poetry, and moral fiction; articles covered geography, the sciences, manufacturing, anthropology, and biography. Though the magazine ceased publication in 1844, its merger with the Museum was not officially announced until August 1845.


Decatur, Ga., 14th Feb., 1844.

Mr. Merry: I see that some little girls write to you. I want to say something about my little cousin Julia Ann, who lives in Petersham, Mass. I think she does not take your Museum. I wish she should; and my father says I may send it to her, and as she is a new subscriber, you say she may have the three bound volumes too, for $3,00, and when she sends for them by any of her friends, you will let her have them. Send the numbers for 1844, by mail, to Petersham.

You write a great many stories. I wish you would come to Georgia, and write us a good story about the Stone Mountain, which is in the county of Decatur, in which we live. It is a lone, solitary rock. Father says it is eight hundred feet high, and that there was once a wall near the top of it. Some think the famous Spanish adventurer, De Soto, made it a long, long time ago. Some men built a tower on the top of it, one hundred and sixty feet high, but it was blown down in a storm last year. It is not a good place to stay on the rock, for there is no water, nor any way to get it, but by carrying it up.

Some who have visited the Stone Mountain say it is second to no curiosity except the Falls of Niagara.

Hoping for more stories and plenty of pictures, I am your young friend,

S. M. W.

De Soto: Hernando De Soto (1500-1542), Spanish explorer. He explored the south-eastern U. S. in 1541-1542, traveling as far west as the Mississippi River.


Lexington, January 17th, 1844.

Mr. Merry: Dear Sir,—I have been taking your Museum for some time, and I like it very much. I am sorry to have to make the same complaint that some of your other subscribers have made; that is, I do not, sometimes, get my Museum soon enough.

I would be glad if you would give us a simple account of the stars, and other heavenly bodies. I have read the first part of Bill Keeler’s story about poor Tom Trudge and his wife, and I think it is quite laughable.

I hear that almost all the great men of the country have been invited to this place or that, and I heartily wish that you would come and pay your little western subscribers a visit. You will not find yourself as much a stranger to us, as even your neighbor Hon. John Quincy Adams.

My dear Mr. Merry—won’t you come to the west?

Of all the countries you’ve been in, you’ll like it the best.

Here you’ll find many little ones, black-eyed and blue,

And a good many grown ones, I rather guess, too,

Who will give you a welcome, and plenty to eat;

For if you do not like favors, you surely like meat.

O, there’d be such a racket and waving of caps,

Such forgetting of rulers, of masters and maps!

All over the country there’d be a turn-out,

And all would join in a general shout.

“For your great men I’ll give not a fig nor a cherry—

O, here is our good friend, the kind Mr. Merry.”

For there’s not a log cabin in all the broad west,

That has not of your stories, the rarest and best.

Your affectionate friend and subscriber,
Richard P. H.

Bill Keeler: teller of humorous and moral tales in “Bill and the Boys” (1844).

Tom Trudge and his wife: peddler and his wife in the satirical “The Lottery Ticket.” When Tom wins the lottery, his wife’s ambitions and her quest for “jinnysyquaw” soon bankrupt the family. It was reprinted in A Tale of the Revolution, and Other Sketches (New York: Sheldon & Co., 1845).


Middlebury, Vermont, Jan., 1844.

Mr. Merry: I have been thinking this good while, that I would write to you. You wound up your stories of Jumping Rabbit and Inquisitive Jack rather too short, I think. I should like to have you tell a little more about Jumping Rabbit—some of his hunting expeditions, &c. If you would put a little more Natural History into the Museum, [p. 126] I think I should like it better. You had a very handsome picture in the December Museum. I like to see chickens; and I have got six hens, one rooster, and two white turkeys.

I am going to send you one dollar in this letter. I have taken the Museum ever since it has been printed. One of the volumes is bound, and the other two volumes are up to the bookbinder’s shop to be bound.

Edway B. P—.

illustration in the December issue: A frontispiece in the December 1843 issue was to be included when subscribers had their issues bound; a busy picture shows at least 17 examples of poultry, from chicks with a hen, to fancy roosters, guinea fowl, a turkey and a peacock.


Springfield, Feb. 29, 1844.

A long time ago, I addressed a letter to the little readers of the Museum, and I have had it in my mind for some time to write them another. I told them how old Peter Parley learned me to make pens, and how much good Robert Merry was like him, and how very glad I was that Peter Parley gave him all his writings before he died. It is not probable that all of your little friends will recollect this, but perhaps some of them may. I was just on the point of writing to them again, and was about to say, “Little readers of the Museum,” when it occurred to me that I had never written to you. So this time I will speak to you, Mr. Merry, and tell you something about this old town, that has been settled for more than two hundred years; for you tell such good stories, and talk so much like our old benefactor, that I love you now almost as much as I did him.

Springfield is my native town, so perhaps you will not think it strange if I praise it up pretty well. I think it the pleasantest place I have ever seen. It lies upon the eastern side of the beautiful, broad, majestic Connecticut river, that comes winding down through this extensive valley. It contains about eight thousand inhabitants, not including Cabotville and Chickopee Falls—two large manufacturing villages within the limits of Springfield. The most thickly settled part of the town lies low upon the river’s bank, but the handsomest portion is built upon what is usually termed “the hill.” This elevation commands a fine view of the lower part of the town, and also gives a delightful view of the river. Oh, how beautiful it looks in summer from the brow of “the hill,” wending slowly and sweetly its way to the sea. Upon “the hill” is located the United States Armory, for manufacturing muskets. The public buildings consist of three arsenals, where many of the guns are deposited; three long buildings, each two stories high, where the labor is principally performed, and another in the centre where the officers and clerks have their offices. There are several other smaller buildings connected with the establishment, where various branches of the work are perfected. Also, at what is called “the watershops,” are a number of fine buildings belonging to the government, where the pretty Mill river affords a charming water privilege.

I once had a fine sail of two or three miles up this stream. It had been a pleasant but sultry day, and a small company of us—merry girls and boys—when the sun had sunk down behind the blue hills, filled three small boats, and while the soft, mild moon looked into the deep, clear water to see her face, the music of some thirty voices blended with the still murmur of the stream, and was echoed in the distance. Many were the yellow water lilies we pulled into our boats with their long stems, and many did we leave floating gracefully with the current, their modest heads turned gently on one side, looking down upon the bosom of that pretty Mill river. On that sultry summer’s evening did I almost wish to be one of those water lilies; for Oh, thought I, how delightful it must be, to wave so gracefully one way and the other, constantly laved by the cool waters—the stars and the moon looking down upon me in love. After enjoying for some time the luxury which this scene afforded, we went on shore, where was a cool spring of water, which seemed the best I ever drank; and close by it I found a rare flower. If ever I should find such another, I would send it to you, Mr. Merry, that Mr. Billings [p. 127] might take a drawing of it, so that the little readers of the Museum might see it too; for I think it was the most splendid flower I have ever seen. We had a fine sail home, and sung as we went, the “Canadian Boat Song,” which many of the little girls and boys who read the Museum are familiar with.

But now, to tell about the armory. The largest arsenal, where the guns are deposited, is a long brick building, three stories in height, one hundred and twenty feet long, by forty wide. It is a noble structure, and contains ninety-four thousand muskets, elegantly arranged in racks, each rack containing two thousand and forty muskets. From the upper story of this building, we have a fine view of the Connecticut, and in the summer we often see from this place many boats gaily passing up and down the river.

Does it not seem a pity, Mr. Merry, that so peaceful a spot as that on which this armory is located, should be devoted to these implements of death? Is it not time that they were changed into “ploughshares and pruning-hooks,” as the Bible tells us all these war instruments will be, some time or other?

A year or two since, two old barracks were standing on the ground belonging to the United States, that some thirty-five or forty years ago, sheltered several hundred soldiers. They are now torn down, but often, as I used to pass them, I thought how happy Peter Parley would be to sit down in one of these old buildings, and tell us children long stories about the war and the Indians. I often thought how glad I should be to run and bring a chair for him, on which to rest his gouty toe. From the spot where stood these old buildings, may be seen Mount Tom, some eighteen miles distant, holding up his tall blue head. I love to look at him, for there is always something very pleasing to me in the sight of a noble mountain; it makes one’s heart feel large, and seems silently to teach the eye to look upward to Him who created all things. I have sometimes imagined Mount Tom to be the highest peak of the Alps, and when a dense fog has covered its top, I have fancied it to be all clothed with perpetual snow; for I sometimes enjoy very much a flight of the imagination. I think I must have learned this of old Peter Parley. Oh, how many pretty stories has he told us about Mount Tom, and Mount Holyoke, and the Connecticut, as it passes through these mountains, and about Bellows Falls and the Indians catching fish with long spears.

The western rail-road passes through this town. A bridge has been built across the Connecticut, which passenger trains cross four times during the day, and freight trains twice. This bridge is firmly supported by six granite piers, of uncommon beauty and almost invincible strength, which have hitherto, and probably ever will, bid defiance to the large fields of ice that come floating down the river in the spring; and when passing it the cars may be heard for miles. This noble specimen of architecture was designed and executed by the enterprising and ingenious William Howe; and, taking it as a whole, is a very perfect work of art, and the admiration of all who see it.

We have seven churches in town, the largest of which is the first Congregational Church. It stands near the Court House, in front of which is a fine square in which stands a fountain built of marble, and many beautiful trees, and among them a number of majestic elms that are an ornament to the whole town. A tree standing near the fountain now presents a most magnificent appearance. The water flowing from the fountain has congealed upon it until it now looks like a huge monument of marble, chiseled out by some master hand. The branches of this tree and the monument itself, are hung with large, transparent icicles of the most exquisite beauty. I hope, Mr. Merry, you will sometime give your little friends a view of this square, for I think they would be delighted to see it. Under the shade of these tall trees, gathers the Cold Water Army, on the 4th of July, to receive the spray from the fountain, and to drink of the cool water that comes gushing up and gracefully falls into its marble basin; after which they march in long procession, with gay banners, smiling faces, and happy hearts, to a most interesting place called Worthington Grove, where long tables are spread with all kinds of refreshments, and decorated with flowers and evergreens. Here, sheltered by stately oaks and canopied by heaven, we listen to interesting speeches; fill the large, tall grove with merry songs; send upward wild shouts of “Hurrah for cold water!!” and then, gathering about the tables, satisfy our appetites, and quench our thirst by water from the spring; and if now and then a dash of rain comes down upon us, we only sing and laugh the louder, and give still heartier cheers for cold water!!

There are two banks here in town; notwithstanding money is rather scarce. However, I think we do pretty well by you, Mr. Merry, if we do not abound in cash; for of late many have subscribed for your nice Museum. But I cannot write any more just now, though there is still enough to tell about this good town of Springfield. Let me say, before I am quite done, that we should be very happy, exceedingly happy, to see you here, Mr. Merry; and though the cannons might not fire a salute [p. 128] most sure I am that you would meet a happy greeting.

Your affectionate young friend,
Constant Reader.

“Canadian Boat Song”: Thomas Moore (1805), a cheerful song about traveling to the Grand Portage by the Utawas River. It was written to a traditional boatman’s tune.

Billings: Hammatt Billings (1816-1874), American artist, designer, illustrator, architect, and watercolor painter who exhibited at the Boston Athenaeum, 1859-1873 (George C. Croce and David H. Wallace. The New-York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1957). In 1842, his version of an iguanodon was probably the first dinosaur picture published in an American magazine for children; in 1844 he reimagined the cover for the Museum.

Cold Water Army: American temperance organization formed in 1835, originally for children. Its members pledged Total Abstinence from alcohol and often wore medals which stated, “Here we pledge perpetual hate to all that can intoxicate”. The Army reached its peak in 1843. (Ernest Hurst Cherrington, ed. Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, Ohio: American Issue Publishing Co., 1924.)

William Howe (1803-1852): American farmer and inventor. In 1838 he designed a new form of truss for wooden bridges, which he patented in 1840 and which he used in the bridge he built for the Western Railroad over the Connecticut River at Springfield. Howe continued to improve the design during his life, building many bridges and roofs.

Parley title: Samuel Goodrich, Tales of Peter Parley About America (Boston: Carter, Hendee & Co., 1827). As a boy, Parley goes with Wampum, a Native American friend of his father, to the man’s home near Mount Holyoke. Peter also accompanies Wampum to Bellows Falls, “whirling and boiling so furiously, and roaring so loudly, that the sight made me giddy, and the noise almost deafened me.” An illustration shows how every spring people fish here for the salmon swimming upstream to spawn.

“ploughshares and pruning-hooks”: Bible, Isaiah 2:4: “And [God] shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”


Baton Rouge, La., April, 1844.

Mr. Robert Merry: Sir,—We take pleasure in declaring to you that your name and the fame of your periodical have at length reached us here in the far south-west. And from the spirit of kind good-nature which seems to mark all your communications with your young friends, we are ready to think that you will not spurn the salutations of your new acquaintances in Louisiana. Though this may be the first voice from the “Creole State,” we hope it will not be the last. We would have you and all your readers down east, and north, and all other parts of our great country, understand that we are not exactly in a barbarous state—nor approaching it—as we mean to show by patronizing the Museum.

That good old gentleman, Peter Parley, has long since become a favorite among us; and it was only necessary to be informed that you were his near kinsman or intimate friend, that you enjoyed his confidence, and are even intrusted with all the precious relics left by him,—to secure you the most ready reception and all that generous hospitality in which the people of our state abound. We have often heard of that place “away down east,” called Boston; and especially how many fine schools, and books, and all such useful things, our young friends there enjoy; and since we found out the characters of Peter Parley and Robert Merry among others of your distinguished citizens, our curiosity is more excited, and, no doubt, many of us will be led to come and see that part of the land if we live to grow up. But if we do, we wish very much not to appear behind others of your black-eyed and blue-eyed friends in intelligence. Therefore we mean to have your interesting and instructive publication, which, with other improvements that are being made in our means of instruction, we think, will help us to keep up with the age, and prepare to act our part as well as the Yankee boys and girls.

Now we don’t like to make promises, any more than yourself; but just to encourage you we will give you a hint at least. You know we raise sugar cane in this state; and we are told that you and your northern readers know nothing about making sugar, but only eating it. Now, if you have a sweet tooth, (for we hope you hav n’t become toothless yet,) you would n’t despise a barrel of the finest sugar or the best [p. 32] sirop from some plantation in this vicinity—if you should happen to find one on some of your Boston ships, especially, should it be accompanied by a description of the process of making it, for the benefit of all your little sweet-loving readers. Hoping, then, that you will punctually furnish us, as well as your older and nearer admirers, with all the good things you are wont to distribute, we make our bow as

Your New Readers of Baton Rouge.

“away down east”: Mathews: “far down in Maine or in some other district on the New England or Nova Scotia coast.” (Mitford M. Mathews, ed. A Dictionary of Americanisms On Historical Principles. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1951)

“Creole State”: Louisiana; the earliest example in Mathews is dated 1871 (Mitford M. Mathews, ed. A Dictionary of Americanisms On Historical Principles. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1951).


Syracuse, July 7, 1844.

Mr. Merry,—I hope you will be willing to have a letter from me, as I am going to tell about the salt works of this place.

Syracuse is a large town, with about 8000 inhabitants. A mile from us, is Salina, a village in which are many salt springs. The water is pumped out and conducted by canals to Syracuse, where salt is made from it. The water is stronger than sea water, and yields a great deal more salt.

The salt is made by vats, which expose the water to the sun and evaporate it, or by boiling it. Both methods are adopted. There are a great many of these establishments, and it is supposed that this year they will all make four millions of bushels.

One establishment puts up 1200 bags of 28 pounds each, a day. They require about 1200 yards of cotton cloth, every day, for the bags. You would be very much interested to go into this establishment. There is a long flue, more than seventy feet long, which runs under a great many kettles, in which the water is constantly boiling. The salt is here formed in crystals, white as snow. It is taken out and put in a bin, where it looks like a great long snow-drift.

It is taken from this place, and put in a trough thirty feet long and ten wide, with fire beneath; a sort of harrow is made to work back and forward in this, thus stirring the salt. It is then ground, and carried by machinery to a place where it is put in bags.

It is really a curious place, and if you were there, you would think salt as plenty as snow in winter at Boston.

The salt made at Syracuse is very much liked; some of it is fine and nice for the table. Some is put up in small, neat boxes and sent all over the country.

When you were here the other day, I got a peep at a man they told me was you; but as he had n’t a wooden leg, I have some doubts whether it was really you. Perhaps your leg has grown on again, or you have had one put in as good as new—for it is said the Yankees, down east, are very clever at domestic manufactures.

Now, Mr. Merry, if you don’t put this into your Magazine, I hope you will at least say that you have received it. I like the Magazine pretty well, but I did n’t understand what that picture of the big, jumping bull meant at the beginning of the April number. Perhaps you can tell me.

J—s L—n.

[Editor: ] We are obliged to confess that our friend here has given us a good hint; the animal he mentions was meant for Taurus, the Bull, which is the zodiacal sign for April. [Transcriber’s note: ] The illustrations appears on page 97 of the April 1844 issue.


Cleveland, Ohio, August 4th.

Mr. Robert Merry,—Though we are eight hundred miles from Boston, we get Merry’s Museum every month. Sometimes it comes late, and this disappoints me; but I am glad to get it after all. I see that some of your subscribers write you letters; I venture to follow their example, and shall tell you something about Cleveland.

It is quite a pleasant town—at least, I think so, for it is my birth-place. It is situated on a bluff eighty feet high, upon the south side of Lake Erie. The streets are straight, and cross each other at right angles. You can look out upon the lake from many of the streets, and as it is seventy miles wide, on the north side you cannot see the land.

The streets are very level, and many of the houses are handsome. I was once at New Haven, in Connecticut, and I think some of the streets in Cleveland look like some of those in New Haven. We have, however, no mountains, like East and West Rock. Indeed, the country is flat around Cleveland, and, far as the eye can reach, you can see nothing like a mountain.

The river Cayahogo empties into the lake west of the town. At the mouth of this is our harbor, and here you see a great many small vessels. Some of these come from Buffalo, some from Detroit, some from Canada, some from Sandusky, and some from other places. They often carry away four or five thousand barrels of flour in a single day. Fine steamboats come here every day, and at this season we see many people in them from Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Thus you see, Mr. Merry, though we are so far from Boston, we are not quite out of the world. The steamboats go almost a thousand miles farther north and west than we are, and I am told that some of the emigrants, when asked to what place they are going, say, “to Sun Down.”

I have now filled my paper, though I ought to tell you that this is a very cheap place to live in. You can buy a barrel of flour for three dollars; a ton of excellent coal for two dollars and fifty cents; eggs for six cents a dozen; and a wild turkey for twenty-five cents. If any of your friends can't find room enough in Boston, let them come out here, and we will take care of them. A letter of introduction from you will ensure them a welcome.

S. P—t.

“Sun Down”: Bartlett 1848: “Sundown. Sunset. Peculiar to the United States” (John Russell Bartlett. Dictionary of Americanisms. New York: Bartlett and Welford, 1848; p. 344); Frances Trollope refers to the phrase in 1832 (Frances Trollope. Domestic Manners of the Americans. Ed. Donal Smalley. New York: Vintage, Random House, 1949.). Therefore, Mathews: “Of or pertaining to the Far West”; the earliest example is dated 1846. (Mitford M. Mathews, ed. A Dictionary of Americanisms On Historical Principles. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1951)

a flourish

How to use this book

1840s: 184118421843 • 1844 • 18451846184718481849

1850s: 1850185118521853185418551856185718581859

1860s: 1860186118621863186418651866186718681869

1870s: 187018711872

About the Merry Cousins


Index & gloss


The Cousins’ Greatest Hits

Copyright 2000-2024, Pat Pflieger

To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines

To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.