By the time this enthusiastic (and a little hyperbolic) paean to Robert Merry’s Museum appeared, the peg-legged “Robert Merry” of the 1840s had given way to a two-legged version, allowing William Ross Wallace to describe him as leaping “free as a glad bird’s graceful wing” without irony.
“Letter to My Daughter Margaretta, With a Set Of Merry’s Museum,” by William Ross Wallace (from Robert Merry’s Museum, April 1860; p. 121)


My daughter! ’tis no gift of gold,

And jewels torn from Orient mine,

That pride or avarice hangs around

The gorgeous, glittering shrine.

But, dear one, ’tis a gift of worth,

More precious than mere shining earth;

When it must melt in that last fire,

My present, like a deathless lyre,

Shall sound the truth, and grandly be

A denizen of eternity!


For only on its pages look;

Are they not of the soul a nurse,

A beautifier, and a key

To this great universe?

What facts upon the spirit start!

What sweet tales purify the heart!

What sentiments, as pure as flowers

By angels kissed in Eden bowers,

Lift up the soul to spheres that shine

Spotless, and nearest the Divine!


O see how bright-eyed MERRY leaps,

Free as a glad bird’s graceful wing;

Through Nature’s own God-given paths—

To sweet youth minist’ring!

O how he takes each little hand

In his, and leads through every land!

How mild, but firm, his voice that tells

Of Nature’s own miraculous spells

In ocean, mountain, vale, and sky,

Spreading with Heaven’s own love on high!


My daughter! then, wilt thou not hold

My gift more precious than all mines?

Dost thou not see its essence glow

On spiritual shrines?

My darling one! O let its light

Pierce ignorance’s brooding night;

And show the commonest wave and sod

Made glorious by the breath of God;

So shalt thou live—clear-minded, good,

A gem of perfect womanhood!

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
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