“A New Year’s Salutation” (from Robert Mery’s Museum, January 1849; pp. 3-4)
Let us begin at the beginning. It is New Year’s Day, and this is the commencement of a new volume of the MUSEUM. We enter upon our task with a cheerful hope that, in case our life be spared, we may continue to hold communion with our friends as heretofore; and that we may be able to tell them some pleasant stories, crack a few pretty good jokes, let off some fireworks of fancy, distribute some original and some borrowed bouquets of poetic flowers, impart now and then a useful hint, and occasionally bestow a little useful knowledge.
These are our hopes; nay, thus much we promise. And in return, Boys and Girls, let Robert Merry indulge the fancy, that he has not worn out the welcome with which he has been honored for so many years. I have had my share of sorrows and disappointments; but one good thing has been left—the favor of the young Black eyes and Blue. Now I can buffet the storms of adversity, if I may have the cheers and smiles of Boydom and Girldom. Let others strive to be favored in war, or poetry, or other proud achievements: I shall be content, if I may indulge the hope of doing good to the rising generation, and go down to an humble grave with the following inscription upon a rough stone, placed upon the spot:—
A LOVER OF CHILDREN,
AND BELOVED BY THEM,
But it is New Year’s Day—and these are solemn thoughts for such an occasion. Yet so it is in this world,—the shadow will ever come with the shine; day and night chase each other in eternal succession; there is no sunshine without its cloud. And it is best it should be so. We are not made either to have or to enjoy a perpetual flow of mere pleasures. A little sober and serious thought seasons even our spor-
tive hours, just as spices give relish to food. We should find a meal insipid, were it to consist altogether of cake, honey, or sugar; and so Bob Merry’s Museum would be poor enough, if it had nothing but laughter and frolic in its pages.
Yet perhaps you will say, “This is New Year’s Day—a season usually devoted to mirth and amusement. Why, then, Mr. Merry, do you make it an occasion for preaching and prosing?”—My answer is, I mean no such thing: I expect you to have a good time. I desire you to be gay, joyous, happy. And therefore it is that I am going to open the door and let you out. There, I have done talking, for the present! Now you are free: go and have your fill of fun and frolic! And when you are tired of play, why, you may thumb over this number, and see what amusement or instruction it affords.