a monkey takes aim with a coconut

Adventures of Gilbert Go-ahead

Gilbert shows a clock to an Asian admirer while a monkey takes aim with a cocoanut
Title page from novel

“Adventures of Gilbert Go-ahead,” by Samuel Goodrich, (1851-1856) was the most popular serial to appear in Robert Merry’s Museum; at 42 parts, it was also the longest. Though young readers didn’t always believe Gilbert’s adventures, they took him to their hearts. Like many heroes of early serials in the Museum, Gilbert is an adult, with an adult’s worries and an adult’s insecurities; he often frets that he’s not using his time or resources well. This merchant-adventurer is often fiercely commercial, apparently seeing the world as an open market and blithely speaking of “annexing” much of Asia; the quintessential Yankee peddler, he is Samuel Goodrich’s gentle parody of commercial interests run amok.

The serialized story, which appeared sporadically in later years, ended a bit abruptly when it was published in 1856 as The Voyages, Travels, and Adventures of Gilbert Go-ahead, in Foreign Parts, Written by Himself, and Edited by Peter Parley (New York: J.C. Derby). Goodrich made minor changes in wording when the serialized story became the novel. (He also provided planning sketches for the illustrations.)

The transcription here includes all 42 parts in one (massive) file. Unusually, later installments were signed by the author; by this time, Goodrich was American consul in Paris, and Gilbert’s adventures probably were his only contribution to the magazine. I’ve included the signature to show how this looked.

The Adventures of Gilbert Go-ahead” | a young critic responds
Gilbert drives a carriage wildly through an Asian village

Frontispiece from novel
(appeared in the Museum at the beginning of the last installment)
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