The editor of Robert Merry’s Museum had squirrels on the brain in December 1841, perhaps because a subscriber had sent him a live squirrel as a gift. The image—which was meant to become a frontispiece when subscribers had their 1841 issues bound — appeared years later in Youth’s Companion, as the illustration for a piece on gray squirrels. (It's also one of the most popular images at merrycoz!)
“The Squirrel” (from Robert Merry’s Museum, December 1841; pp. 176-177)
This image was included in the December 1841 issue, to be used as frontispiece when subscribers had their issues bound.
[“I return a thousand thanks to my many young friends, who have written me letters, whether of criticism, advice, or commendation. … Ralph H--- will see that I have done as he requested; I have given a portrait of the fine gray squirrel he sent me, in this number. He is well, and as lively as ever.”—“Robert Merry,” December 1841; p. 187]

The more we examine the works of nature, the more we shall be made to feel that there is infinite variety in them—that almost every part of the universe is filled with inhabitants appropriate to it; and that each individual thing is fitted to the place it occupies. Among plants, for instance, there are nearly a hundred thousand kinds already recorded in the books of the botanists; among animated beings, there are, perhaps, even a greater number of species. And what a countless number of each individual kind, whether in the vegetable or animal world! Every part of the earth is occupied. The earth, the air, the sea—each and all are inhabited by myriads of living things. And how wonderfully are they all adapted to their several designs! How well is the fish fitted to his element; how admirably is the bird adapted to the life he is to lead!

Among quadrupeds, the lively little fellow, whose name we have placed at the head of this article, is a pleasing illustration of the success with which nature accomplishes her designs. The squirrel is made to enliven the forest, to live among woods, to gather his food and make his nest, and spend a great part of his life amid the branches of the trees. And how perfectly is he at home in his domain! He springs from limb to limb—from tree to tree; he ascends or descends the trunks at pleasure, and seems to be as safe, in his airy evolutions, as the ox, or the horse, upon the solid ground—or the bird in the air, or the fishes in the river.

p. 177

How perfect an instance of adaptation is this! How nice must be a piece of machinery, that could be made to operate with such celerity, in such a variety of ways, and with such certain success! And how pleasing, as an object of mere beauty, is the squirrel! How graceful his form—how cheerful his aspect—how seemingly happy his existence!

Copyright 1999-2024, 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 | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.