Worthington March 27, 1813.
Notwithstanding my utter amazement at receiving a letter from you 2 I am very glad to find you so well contented with your literary prison. As I presume you are to have the valedictory I take this opportunity to inform you that if I do not attend the commencement at Williams College next fall, I shall most likely do myself the pleasure of hearing you spout at Yale. On the profession of law I am happy to hear you express so favourable an opinion, --and the more so because it was something different from what I expected. You will forgive me, if I confess that I thought you a little prejudiced in that particular. With your remarks on the study of mineralogy, I readily concur. Though I cannot scarcely boast of a smattering of it, yet it has always been a subject of interest to me from its connection with chemistry. The banished Duke in Shakespeare's As you like it
"Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing." 3
Indeed all the departments of natural history, so far from deserving neglect, afford an inexhaustible source of information to the most eager inquiry after knowledge and of gratification to the most unwearied curiosity.
You will easily believe me when I tell you that I like natural history better than natural philosophy, --not forgetting Botany to which I slightly attended last summer, as a sauce to my Blackstone. 4
I am not sorry that Clapp has resumed his collegiate studies but I am sorry that he has found it necessary to enter the Junior class. 5 Remember me to him, and likewise to my witty friend Clark who I hear has become a member of your class, --or college (which is it?). 6
You mention the speakers at the bar. I hope you will fulfill your intimation which I consider almost a promise of giving me a few sketches of their different merits as a specimen of your skill in drawing characters as well as for my information. I should here close my letter had I not remarked at the conclusion a request to "tell you whether you ought to study law or not." What you ought to do is a question which you must [settle?] with your own conscience. Yet of all studies I cannot help thinking that of the law would most interest you. It has been called dry, but you are doubtless acquainted with a class of people to whom drudgery and labour are synonymous. The study requires diligence of research which you eminently possess; --accuracy of reasoning and nicety of discrimination in which you excel; --its connection with the History of our grandmother-country England is intimate, and I may add inseparable;
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Publication information: Book title: The Letters of William Cullen Bryant. Volume: 1. Contributors: William Cullen Bryant II - Editor, Thomas G. Voss - Editor, William Cullen Bryant - Author. Publisher: Fordham University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1975. Page number: 25.