The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1

By William Cullen Bryant II; Thomas G. Voss et al. | Go to book overview
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cover of the Analectic Magazine as being written by Lord Byron. It seems intended as a sequel to the Corsair-- It possesses some merit but I think it cannot be written by Lord Byron-- The flow of this poet's versification is admirably copied--but it seems to me to want his energy of expression, his exuberance of thought, the peculiar vein of melancholy which imparts its tinge to everything he writes--in short all the stronger features of his genius-- Conrad, whose character you used to admire and who makes his appearance in this tale as a Spanish peer under the name of Lara, --is degenerated into a lurking assassin--a midnight murderer-- But perhaps you have seen the poem-- For my part I never heard of it till I met with it at Mr. Howe's. May it not be the effort of some American Genius? Perhaps-- A notion has got into my head that it is of Cisatlantic origin. 2

[unsigned]

MANUSCRIPT: NYPL-GR (draft) PUBLISHED (in part): Life, I, 132-133.

1.
With his law practice declining because of the war, Samuel Howe had begun breeding Merino sheep, recently introduced from Spain. Some months after this letter was written George Downes, still studying with Howe, wrote Bryant, "Mr. Howe I suspect has given up all Idea of being a judge, he has given up study entirely has bought him a lot of land and has become a great farmer--these damn'd Merinos have been the ruin of him. He actually has not studied in the office more than one week since he first became connected with them. I am clearly of an opinion that a man in our profession ought not to engage in any active employment it entirely unfits him for study. Mr. Howe occasionally of an afternoon comes into the office and takes his book and attempts to read but in vain for not five minutes elapse before he is in the arms of Morpheus." July 6, 1815, NYPL-BG.
2.
Lara ( 1814) was, nevertheless, Byron's. But Bryant's judgment was sound; Lara was one of Byron's poorest works. The Corsair had been published earlier that year.

23. To Peter Bryant

Bridgewater-- Dec. 20 1814

Dear Father--

I got to this place last Thursday week--and upon putting myself into Eaton's scales found myself ten pounds heavier than when I started from Bridgewater.-- For the use of my horse I paid $7.20--at the rate of 6 cents per mile--the usual price here--it being the verdict of a jury of horse- jockeys that the horse returned in no better trim than he went-- My shoes cost me $2.25-- When I came here I found not a particle on the ground--although the sleighing was tolerably good at Worcester-- Now there is considerable snow here not enough however to make very good sleighing--but there is said to be more as you go farther north. If any body was to come down after your sleigh between now and February (in January they tell me the sleighing is the best here) I have no doubt but he might return in it without any difficulty-- I have written to Dr.

-48-

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