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ONE morning, some years ago, Lord Brougham on entering a room, found his private secretary busily engaged in writing, and begged that he might not disturb him. The young man is said to have put away his manuscript, in a little confusion, replying, “It is not of the slightest consequence, my lord ; I was only writing a child's book.” “A child's book," repeated his patron in a grave tone, “ I am the more anxious then not to interfere with your occupation; you could not possibly be engaged on a more important work. It is a very serious matter to write for a child.”
We agree with Lord Brougham ; and we extend his remark to books for young people. It is a very
serious matter to write for a youthful reader. We deeply realize the responsibility, and it is always with very grave feelings that we sit down to our editorial desk. If our friends ever think our pages look too seriousnot that we have heard such complaints—let them remember that ancient saying, “What is written remains."
The printed page is indeed composed of fragile and perishable materials; in the year 1954, it may be impossible to meet with the Youths' Magazine for the present year. Its modest pages may have mouldered away, and its memory be forgotten amidst the magnificent literary treasures which a new century of science and art probably will create. Yet, in one sense it will still exist, and still exert its moral influence. The impressions which the minds of its readers are now receiving from it, cannot be altogether lost, although they may frequently appear to vanish and leave no trace behind. They will embody themselves in some appropriate action, however slight, and
will have their due share in forming and controlling character. No reader will rise up from perusing a single Number of our Magazine, precisely the same person that he was when he cut open its leaves, and began to glance over its pages. He will have altered for good or for evil.
For good or for evil! It is this which makes us tremble as we write. We are influencing for weal or for woe, the thousands of dear young people who eagerly await our monthly visit. They will either have their Christian principles strengthened anew, and their Christian course accelerated by the stirring remembrances” of which an apostle speaks, or they
will have emotions awakened that are allowed to die
away without leading them to “newness of life," and will thus render our loving labour part of that indurating process by which the unconverted are gradually placing themselves in a hopeless spiritual condition. So far as we set forth the salvation of Christ, are we, whether through the pulpit or through the press, a savour of death, or a savour of life.
And the good or the evil thus produced, will have a reproductive power. Good and evil are like the fruit tree of Genesis, “whose seed was in itself.” They will go on making more good and evil. So that if we do our readers good by our humble Magazine, we shall, some how or other, do posterity good to the very end of time. What is written will remain : not in the library, but upon the heart; not as acknowledged by antiquarian book collectors, but as unconsciously experienced by the fathers and mothers of other generations. The man of science tells us that, when we speak we disturb the air, not for a few yards only, but all around the globe! This is, we believe, as true of mind as of matter. What an instructive history would be the history of a single word! Spoken in due season, oh, how good would it prove to be.
We desire that such thoughts as these to which our pen now gives expression may ever be in our mind when we write for the young. We desire, also, that our contributors may derive from them many holy and earnest impulses. And we believe that