By the time this enthusiastic 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 1999-2006, 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 | Subjects at this site | Works by date
Map of the site