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OURSELVES AND OUR READERS.
sorts of mutations, Nature has marked this period as one of the most remarkable in the earth's circuit in the zodiac. In this latitude, waking from their winter sleep, hundreds of sweet flowers, as if by magic, spring up in the wild wood and the meadow, and unfold their delicate petals to the kiss of the breeze; and the music of birds, hushed for months by the cold breath of winter, again gladdens our hearts. Bright, beautiful, charming May ! How we love thee and thine! How dost thou light up everything with the smiles of thy own blessed face!
But we wander. We said, reader, or tried to say, that at this eventful period—eventful in the city and in the country-we commence a new volume of the PARLOR MAGAZINE. Our publisher, taking a hint from Nature, who is so generously providing new robes for the earth, has had his protégé furnished with one of the richest and most graceful and becoming dresses that could be found. We do candidly believe that a more tasteful and elegant cover does not envelop any magazine on this continent, than that which is designed by Wallin and engraved by Felter, for our own monthly.
But this is not all. We shall not forget that the gem is of more importance than the casket which holds it—that the spirit of our magazine claims far more attention than the outward adornments of its person; and the editor and publisher will labor assiduously to render its pages richer than they ever have been. The PARLOR MAGAZINE now—thanks to the thousands who have appreciated its design and valued its mission-is established on a secure basis. Whatever apology might have been valid for allowing it to fall below the standard of mechanical excellence to which any of its cotemporaries have attained, no such apology can be made at this period in its history; for its increased popularity has, we are aware, enhanced in the same ratio its facilities for improvement in all the elements which constitute a good magazine. We shall not be unmindful of this.
We are desirous that our plan should be distinctly understood. We design--as we have designed from the outset of our undertakingto furnish a monthly literature of the lighter class for the family circle, and especially for young ladies and gentlemen, not only free from the exceptionable features by which our literary monthlies are too generally and strongly marked, but aiming, in every page and every
paragraph, to aid in the healthful development of the mind, including under this term not the intellect merely, but the taste and the affections.
Still, in guiding our bark away from the dangers of Scylla, we shall endeavor to avoid the perhaps equally formidable dangers of Charybdis. We shall read no dull, prosy homilies, nor shall we allow our respected and valued correspondents to do anything of the kind.
While we hope our magazine will be acceptable generally to all the members of the family, we frankly confess that we shall labor to make it especially a favorite with the ladies. They, we are aware, cannot be expected to take a deep interest in most of the current newspaper periodicals of the day, teeming as they do, many of them, with the details of political controversy ; and consequently they need access to channels of literature more congenial to their taste and habits of thought. Such a literature we shall aim to provide for them. It is a matter of some doubt with us
as it is to most thinking men and women who have at heart the interests of the domestic sanctuary -how far it is judicious to employ the agency of fiction in rendering our work acceptable and useful. Fiction is both a valuable and a dangerous instrument. Wielded with judgment, and especially judgment controlled by moral principle and religion, it may be made available not only in enlisting the sympathies of youth of either sex, when all other agencies are comparatively powerless, but in exerting a kindly influence directly or indirectly upon the sacred founts of the affections. So that we shall not discard it altogether. Yet, like other classes and orders of literature, innocent and even estiinable in themselves, it cannot be disputed that this of fiction is liable to abuse; and we shall exercise a zealous and careful censorship over this department in our magazine.
This rule must ever be a prominent one with us, in deciding upon the admission or rejection of every article in prose or verse: to be admitted, the article must possess some positive points of utility. By this we mean, that it will not be considered sufficient endorsement for an article, that it be entertaining and spicy. This element is well enough; we have no objections to urge against it--but the contrary. We shall not allow the means to take the place of the end, however. Other periodicals there are, scores of them, that have large alcoves appro
priated to humor and jeux d'esprit, some of which are at least of a questionable character. But our Parlor will exhibit these features but sparingly, and never unaccompanied by some valuable lesson, or when desirable to temper a healthful moral precept.
As for poetry, it is our deliberate conviction, that in this, as in the sister branches of art, poor or indifferent specimens are worse than none at all. We are fond of poetry. Indeed, unless we greatly mistake, we narrowly escaped being a poet ourself. A few grains more of imagination, and perchance a drachm or two additional of ideality, in our constitution, we verily believe, would have formed the materials of that mysterious compound, which, when it passes through the alembic of the soul, is called poetry. But, for all that, we shall consent rather to have our pages from beginning to end, as barren of poetic thought and expression as the problems and propositions of Euclid, than to make them the media of rhymes, miscalled poetry, and unconformable in the main to the conventional rules of the art.
This we say, friend author, to you, as well as to our readers. We say it prophetically, or if that term is inadmissible, prospectively; for in the offing of the future—in the dim perspective which bounds the present—we see some bushels of manuscripts, more or less, belonging to every class, order, genus and species of poetical composition under the sun, all of which are sure anon to find their way into our sanctum, and to look imploringly up to us as an usher to introduce them to their excellent friend the public—and many of which are as sure to be disappointed.
Still we are anxious to encourage real genius, however sparingly developed, in this as in every branch of the fine arts ; and we do most cordially and earnestly invite our
friends to assist us in providing the monthly entertainment of the PARLOR MAGAZINE. The editor wishes to establish and keep up an intimate correspondence with those who write for the press; and we shall be sincerely grateful for any contributions in our judgment appropriate to our pages, and acceptable and profitable to our readers.
We mean, ere long, to lay down a few rules to direct our friends in their communications in other words, to tell them precisely what we most desire for our pages. Meanwhile we may say, in general, that while there are many of our present contributors from whom we should love to hear much oftener than we now do, it would gratify us not a little to extend our list; and we should be satisfied if our new friends were as fortunate in their selection of subjects and in their manner of treating them, as those now in the field. We are confident there is a great deal of unemployed genius in the way of literary effort, among our patrons, and we are not without our hopes that we shall be able to educe some of that genius for the benefit of our magazine. We shall try hard at any rate.
But we must spend no more time in “ defining our position,” as they say in Congress. We would rather our friends should judge of the character and disposition of our Parlor visitor by personal observation than from a miniature sketch; and doubtless they will prefer to do the same. One thing we will say, however—that no means accessible by talent and untiring industry, will be left unappropriated to make the Parlor MAGAZINE the best work of its class in the world; and though it may savor a little of undue enthusiasm, possibly of arrogance, we assure our friends that we fondly hope to make it such.
Wilt thou too leave me—thou, who wast the first
And fairest vision of my happiest youth, -
And blent wild fiction with the hues of Truth ;
In the wood-path--by the sunny stream-
Thou wert my Inspiration, and my dream.
The Glory of thy Presence once, once more,
The Prophecy the Sibyl wrote of yore.
Than Deacon Job Prescott a more unyielding opponent of fiction, in all its forms, was nowhere to be found. He denounced all composed histories as lies, and referred the origin of this particular order of literature to the Father of Lies. It was but rarely that Deacon Prescott had patience to reason with any one on the subject. To him, the truth of his position was so clear, that he felt irritated when others attempted to sustain an opposite opinion. Knock-down arguments were his weapons in dealing with the Monster of Iniquity, as he was pleased to call it.
Unfortunately for the peace of Deacon Prescott's household, his sons and daughters by no means agreed with him as to the sinfulness of fiction. In spite of his most watchful care, novels and tales were obtained and read by them in secret, with an avidity increased by the fact that the pleasure was a stolen one. Mary, quiet, thoughtful, loving Mary Prescott, who, from the time her sweet young mouth could take a kiss from her father's lips, up to the period when the bud of girlish beauty expanded into the lovely young woman, had been acknowledged by the Deacon as his most precious gift from Heaven-saving, always, her mother-even Mary, in the solitude of her little chamber, long after all the household had retired for the night, would often lose herself for hours in the deep spell that lies in Ivanhoe, Waverley, Kenilworth, and other master-pieces of fictitious history, from the pen of gifted novelists. Often, as the light of morning came stealthily in, and blending with, at length destroyed the dim rays of the feeble lamp, has Mary started with surprise to find that the night was past; and hiding away the fascinating book, that had caused her to take no note of time, thrown herself upon the bed to catch an hour's sleep before joining the family, and entering into the regular duties of the day.
Sometimes Deacon Prescott would discover a stray volume of romance, and then came trouble to the guilty one who had dared introduce the “moral poison.” But it all did not do. Mrs. Radcliffe, Scott, Cooper, and dozens of others, were familiar names among the younger members of the family. The evil resulting from Deacon Prescott's rigid views and practice on the subject of fiction, was, that he ceased to be the rational guide of his children. Had he wisely discriminated on this subject, he would have understood that there was a wide difference between a mere fictitious history, in which imaginary characters are made to appear and act out to their ultimate consequence certain good or evil principles, and a deliberate falsehood uttered with the end to deceive. He would have seen that there was a power in fiction that might be made to subserve good as well as evil purposes; and instead of interdicting light reading, as it is called, altogether, have introduced that which was elevating to his children, and thus been their guide where one was so much needed. But, instead of this, he condemned all as bad; and the inevitable consequence was, that his children, unable to see that he was right, obtained novels and romances, and read them in secret. Two evils were the result. In the first place, they disobeyed their father, and lost respect for his judgment; and, in the second place, with no guide to a selection of books, read the good and the bad indiscriminately. Nor was a perversion of taste, so far as bad books were read, the only consequence. Mary's health-she was of a delicate constitution—from sitting up late at night, and often in a cold room, to devour, rather than read, the fascinating works of fic. tion that she was able to obtain from one source or another, was seriously injured; and her parents remarked, with anxiety, her altered appearance, without in the least suspecting the cause.
THE POWER OF FICTION.
Thus matters went on, until Mary, so deeply loved by her father, was addressed by a young man for whom Deacon Prescott entertained a dislike almost equal to what he felt for novels and tales of fiction. The rigid, uncompromising old Puritan, the moment he saw what was going on, acted with his usual decision. There was no temporizing in his policy.
“Mary, if that young man comes here again, I shall request him not to repeat the visit,” said the father, on the occasion of Edward Baldwin's first formal visit to the lovely maiden.
Tears came to the eyes of Mary, and a bright flush to her cheeks. Her head drooped, and her bosom heaved strongly; but she made no answer, and as soon as it was respectful to do so, arose and left her father's presence.
Deacon Prescott considered the matter as settled. Mary had always been a loving, obedient child, and the thought that she would go directly counter to his wishes, did not once cross his mind. But he erred. The very fact of opposition to the young man, caused her to think of him with more favor. She could not understand the objection as anything but an unfounded prejudice.
Baldwin came again, and the Deacon, true to his purpose, desired him not to repeat the visit. The manner in which this was done was offensive, and the young man was indignant; but it did not in the least touch his regard for Mary, to whoin he wrote a long letter, fully declaring the nature of his feelings for her, and begging her to give him an interview. They met according to his wish, when pledges of affection were exchanged. From that hour, Edward Baldwin was all the world to the truehearted Mary. They met frequently, at the house of a friend. In due time, thoughts of marriage came, and the lovers began to look forward to a union. The desire, on both sides, to conciliate the father and gain his consent, was very strong, and an attempt was made by the
young man to effect this. He called upon the old gentleman, and frankly stated the relation that existed between him and Mary, and earnestly desired his approbation and consent to a marriage union. But all availed not. The young man he looked upon as carnal-minded, and given to worldly follies. In his eyes he was a mere pleasure-seeker; one who, without religious principles, was afloat upon the great ocean of life possessed of neither chart nor compass. To resign his daughter into the hands of such a man, he considered little better
than an act of insanity, and he would never consent to do it.
The final result was, that Mary left her father's house secretly, and was married to Baldwin. When she wrote home, conjointly with her husband, announcing the fact, and earnestly desiring that opposition to what was inevitable might no longer exist, the old man retumed no answer. They wrote again, but he remained silent. With her hand
her heart to repress its agitated pulsations, Mary then went back to her father's house, and sought forgiveness. But her tearful, imploring face could not move the inflexible old man. Sternly he waved her away, uttering, as he did so, the words—
“ You have dissolved the tie between us ; you are no longer my child !"
With a fainting spirit, Mary went back to her home, and fell, with a gush of tears and a cry of pain, upon the breast of her husband. He asked no question, for he understood all too well. But he held her tightly to his bosom, while he cursed the evil spirit of unforgiveness that had so wronged his innocent, loving, gentle-hearted bride.
No further attempt was made, on the part of the young couple, to bend the old man from his stern spirit of resentment.
Months passed, nay, even years went by, and Deacon Prescott, in all that time, had not once seen his daughter, who, shortly after her marriage, removed to another city with her husband. Mary corresponded with her sister and mother, but her father would not see her letters, nor hear with patience any allusion that was made to her. But he was not permitted to indulge his humor unopposed. The mother often strove with him, and sought, by every means in her power, to restore Mary to her old place in her father's heart. She did not know how desolate his heart was without the smiling image of his favorite child, nor how strongly nature pleaded for her to be brought back again into his acknowledged affections. But he could not forgive an act of disobedience like that. Mary had chosen her own way.
She had gone from his side, and taken for her companion one whom he utterly disliked and disapproved. The act was wrong, and she must suffer the full penalty.
It happened, two years or so from the time that Mary left her father's house, and while her father still retained his unbending position towards her, that the old man was in company