A NEW MAGAZINE FOR CHILDREN.*
Good Woods for the Young is edited by Dr. Macleod, and is, therefore, sure of a large circulation in the thousands of families who already enjoy the genial, generous, and religious spirit of his long-established Good Words, which, however, are certainly not addressed specially to the old. The children may fairly claim something more peculiarly theirs, and the nursery ought to have its good words quite as much as the parlour. And who knows how many bad words may be banished by a journal like this, which will drive out idleness and dullness, and introduce new, pleasant, and fantastic ideas every month, with the " To be con- tinued," which will here keep up the excitement through the month as surely as it does in the magazines that deal in older but possibly not better stories ? The style of Good Words in type and illustrations is here retained, the latter being very charming woodcuts, vastly superior in taste to the coarse, black drawings of large ungainly figures on yellow paper, which the higher-priced magazines are educating us to like. The writers are first-class, and the promise given by this first number is excellent.
One only misgiving we had on first seeing this magazine. Can these writers really write to children? It is a task in which some of the greatest writers have failed. Thackeray tried it, and failed most egregiously, in the Rose and the Ring. Ruskin and Charles Kingsley are the two modern writers of eminence who have imbued their writings most deeply with the freshness and absence from the dryness and dogmatism of older years which makes them live really with children as children. We rejoice to find that Kingsley is one of the contributors. But we soon stumble upon most unchildlike things, of which the following beginning of the story of a dog told by himself may serve as a sample. It is by the author of John Halifax :—"My name is Johnny,—at least that is my domestic and pet name, which I generally go by. My other, if I gave it, might break in too much upon the sanctity of my private life—a proceeding obnoxious to both dogs and men."
Now, what can children know of the private and the public life —they whose life is all one, who live openly and have no secrets, confide equally in all who are kind to them, and whose thoughts and talk can have nothing of the prudential character which conies only when age and the formation of the intellect produce differences of opinion, parties, and sects? And what is to them the sanctity of private life ? The idea of any sanctity but that which they are taught to ascribe to the Divine Being, whom they dimly appre- hend, is simply inconceivable to them. And then they are • Good ll'ards for the Young. Edited by Dr. Macleod. London: Strahan and Oa. further told that this breaking in upon an incomprehensible sanctity is a proceeding obnoxious to both dogs and men ! We should be sorry to know the child that could digest this pompous sentence, or, still worse, could see the propriety of what runs so counter to its native openness.
Some observations of Dr. Macleod's illustrate another error in dealing with children—that of making them partizans in the dog- matic contests of which they can know nothing. Of what use is it to talk of the party whose errors are to be avoided to those who live in blissful ignorance of men being divided into parties at all ? Thus, Dr. Macleod warns his youthful readers at the outset of a Sunday story, that " you must not suppose that I have any sym- pathy with all the silly and unworthy talk about everything not of the story kind being a ' bore,' and ' dry,' and so forth. No. It is, no doubt, natural for young people to look upon the learning of their Catechism and the acquiring of Scripture knowledge as less attractive than that which is merely amusing and exciting. . . . Well, then, as I said before, I have no sympathy with this talk, and this dislike to steady application to solid and useful studies," itc. If the child, who knows nothing of "this talk," is to be only told of it to condemn it, why should Dr. :Macleod mention it at all ? Does he set up his ninepin for the pleasure of knocking it down directly ? He knows little of children if he does not see that they will yield assent equally to his or to the opposite doctrine in the preface, to get on quickly to the story. If the writers will avoid not only long words, but what one might term long thoughts, and put on the childlike mind as well as garb, this magazine will achieve a great success.