“To the Public” (from Parley’s Magazine, March 16, 1833; pp. 3-5)
If a stranger were to knock at your door, and ask home favor, you would first look him in the face, and then decide whether you would grant it or not. Now I, Parley’s Magazine, am a stranger. I come before the reader, and like him who knocks at your door, I ask you to take me in. Like him also, I come with a face, or rather with a cover, which is much the same thing. Pray will you look at it; nay, will you be so kind as to study it? It is, I assure you, unlike some other faces, or covers, only meant to deceive. It is, I hope, an honest index to my real character.
It is said, that men as they grow old, grow deceitful, but youth are supposed to be without guile. Now if I were an old magazine, professing to teach the black arts and misty sciences, you might distrust me. But as I am young, and only hold companionship with the young, I beg you to consider me an ingenuous youth, who means what he says, and says what he means; and who, having nothing to conceal, lets his plans and purposes shine out frankly in his face; one, in short, who has not yet learned the artifices, or adopted the disguises of the world, and whose countenance may therefore be taken as a certification of his character.
What then does my face or my cover seem to say? it consists of a number of little round pictures, each of which bears a certain meaning. One of them exhibits a church, by which I intend to tell you, that in my pages you will occasionally find something about religion, and those duties and pleasures which spring from it. Not that I mean to preach sermons, for that is not my calling; nor will I weary your patience with long moral lessons, for that would make you dislike me. But I believe that all good people find many sweet thoughts and kindness, which religion teaches, and as I only seek the favor of good people, you may expect, sometimes to find these topics in my leaves.
Another feature of my face, exhibits a man gazing at the stars, through a long tube, called a telescope. Seen through this instrument, a star looks as large as a great wheel, and the moon appears like a vast world with mountains, rivers and seas upon it. By this picture I mean to say, that I shall often tell you of Astronomy, which means an account of the sun, moon and stars, and the wonders which are displayed in the heavens.
The next picture exhibits a short of ball in a frame, which is called a globe, and represents the figure of the earth, which, you know is round. The study of the earth, its mountains, rivers, lakes, seas, cities and inhabitants, is called Geography. It is one of the most pleasing and useful of all studies, and I mean often to discourse of it to my readers.
Beneath the picture of the globe, is a ship, with its sails spread. It is crossing the deep sea, and by this I mean to tell you that I shall frequently relate tales of mariners, and
describe their adventures; I shall tell you of the great ocean that occupies nearly two-thirds of the earth’s surface; of the gales and tempests that sweep over its bosom, of the tides that agitate its surface, of the plants that grow in its depths, and the fishes of a thousand forms that glide amidst its glassy waters.
The next picture relates to days of antiquity. In ancient times there were nations who executed beautiful buildings, chiseled fine statues in marble, and executed many other charming works of art. These nations, have long since perished, but some of their works remain; as they are interesting and instructive subjects of study, I shall sometimes introduce them to the notice of my older readers.
The next picture, relates to beasts of four feet, called quadrupeds; the next to fishes; the next to insects as bees, butterflies, &c.; the next to serpents or reptiles, some of which are large enough to coil about a horse and crush it to death, as if strangled by a strong rope. The next relates to flowers, those beautiful bright things which decorate the face of the earth; and the next to the feathered tribes which fill the air with life and melody.
Of all these things I shall often speak. I shall describe their forms, their colors, their habits, and the places where they dwell. These topics are full of interest; they are worthy of being studied by all, the young as well as the old. The God of nature has displayed wonderful powers in the creation of these his creatures, and we cannot better train our minds to love and reverence, than by considering these his works. In wisdom and in goodness has he made them all, and he who neglects or refuses to study them, passes by untouched and untasted some of the sweetest pleasures, and richest joys that are afforded to the mind and heart.
My next picture represents in the foreground a man ploughing in the field, by which I would have you understand that I shall sometimes speak of tilling the earth, or Agriculture. The large building behind the ploughman, is a Manufactory by which you may suppose that I shall often speak of the arts of making cloths, hats, buttons, and other things. The ship in the distance, means that I shall sometimes discourse on Commerce, that is, the carrying of various articles of use or luxury, from one country to another across the seas.
The next picture displays a man getting into a stage, for the purpose of travelling; you may therefore expect to hear, not only his stories, but many others, relating to various countries. The next and last picture shows an old building in the distance, falling in pieces. The stones which compose its walls are broken and tottering, and seem to speak of days long gone by. And of these “olden times” it is my intention frequently to discourse. It is the business of History to describe what is past, and from history I shall draw many interesting tales. The world has been going on for near 6000 years, and many strange things have happened upon it. These furnish endless themes of interest and instruction, and I hope to amuse my young readers for many hours, with tales of the past.
Such then is my portrait and such are some of my designs. I propose to use my best efforts to please, and instruct the young. Perhaps too, I may occasionally have some thing to say, worthy the attention of older listeners. I humbly ask therefore, for the public favor. I ask for the favor of parents, for I will try to benefit their children. I ask
for the favor of children, for if they will admit me into their hearts, and trust me as a friend, I will tell them many pleasing tales, and open to them many new sources of enjoyment. I ask for the favor of all, and if there are any who are too wise or too learned to look into my pages, I will be content if they will drop a yearly dollar into my publishers’ pocket.