+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error


THE name that we have chosen for this
publication expresses, generally, the desire
we have at heart in originating it.

We aspire to live in the Household affections,
and to be numbered among the Household
thoughts, of our readers. We hope to
be the comrade and friend of many thousands
of people, of both sexes, and of all ages and
conditions, on whose faces we may never look.
We seek to bring into innumerable homes,
from the stirring world around us, the
knowledge of many social wonders, good and evil,
that are not calculated to render any of us less
ardently persevering in ourselves, less tolerant
of one another, less faithful in the progress of
mankind, less thankful for the privilege of
living in this summer-dawn of time.

No mere utilitarian spirit, no iron binding of
the mind to grim realities, will give a harsh
tone to our Household Words. In the bosoms
of the young and old, of the well-to-do and of
the poor, we would tenderly cherish that light
of Fancy which is inherent in the human
breast; which, according to its nurture, burns
with an inspiring flame, or sinks into a sullen
glare, but which (or woe betide that day!) can
never be extinguished. To show to all, that
in all familiar things, even in those which are
repellant on the surface, there is Romance
enough, if we will find it out:—to teach the
hardest workers at this whirling wheel of toil,
that their lot is not necessarily a moody, brutal
fact, excluded from the sympathies and graces
of imagination; to bring the greater and the
lesser in degree, together, upon that wide field,
and mutually dispose them to a better acquaintance
and a kinder understandingis
one main object of our Household Words.

The mightier inventions of this age are not,
to our thinking, all material, but have a kind
of souls in their stupendous bodies which may
find expression in Household Words. The
traveller whom we accompany on his railroad
or his steamboat journey, may gain, we hope,
some compensation for incidents which these
later generations have outlived, in new
associations with the Power that bears him
onward; with the habitations and the ways of
life of crowds of his fellow creatures among
whom he passes like the wind; even with the
towering chimneys he may see, spirting out
fire and smoke upon the prospect. The swart
giants, Slaves of the Lamp of Knowledge,
have their thousand and one tales, no less
than the Genii of the East; and these, in all
their wild, grotesque, and fanciful aspects, in
all their many phases of endurance, in all their
many moving lessons of compassion and
consideration, we design to tell.

Our Household Words will not be echoes
of the present time alone, but of the past too.
Neither will they treat of the hopes, the
enterprises, triumphs, joys, and sorrows, of
this country only, but, in some degree, of those
of every nation upon earth. For nothing can
be a source of real interest in one of them,
without concerning all the rest.

We have considered what an ambition it is
to be admitted into many homes with affection
and confidence; to be regarded as a
friend by children and old people; to be
thought of in affliction and in happiness;
to people the sick room with airy shapes
‘that give delight and hurt not,’ and to be
associated with the harmless laughter and
the gentle tears of many hearths. We know
the great responsibility of such a privilege; its
vast reward; the pictures that it conjures
up, in hours of solitary labour, of a
multitude moved by one sympathy; the solemn
hopes which it awakens in the labourer's
breast, that he may be free from self-reproach
in looking back at last upon his work, and
that his name may be remembered in his
race in time to come, and borne by the dear
objects of his love with pride. The hand that
writes these faltering lines, happily associated
with some Household Words before to-day, has
known enough of such experiences to enter
in an earnest spirit upon this new task, and
with an awakened sense of all that it involves.

Some tillers of the field into which we now