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The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1

By William Cullen Bryant II; Thomas G. Voss et al. | Go to book overview

39. To Peter Bryant

Great Barrington 29 April 1817--

Dear Sir

I have been several times on the eve of writing to you since I visited Hampshire 1 and am a little ashamed that I have no better excuse than that of indolence for neglecting it. I enclose you a ten dollar bill which I wish you would take the trouble to forward to Dr. Porter and get endorsed on the note he holds against me. 2 I have an agricultural question to submit to you. Whether Plaister of Paris would not be a good manure for your Cummington soil. I have been induced to think on this subject by observing the immense advantages which attend its use here where there is a plaister-mill, and where the farmers scatter it on their grounds as regularly as the manure of their barn-yards. In cold wet lands it is said to be of little or no benefit but dry sterile hungry soils overgrown with five-finger and other rigid worthless plants have been rendered fertile by its use and now produce fine crops of clover and other grasses. It is spread on the surface of the soil in ploughed lands immediately after the seeds are committed to the earth;--on pastures at any time of the year. It is usual to allow a bushel to the acre, but many are of opinion that a much smaller quantity a peck for instance--if evenly distributed over the ground would be of equal advantage. 3

My business goes on at the old rate. I have been well since I saw Hampshire except another little touch of the pleurisy--which went off with a little blood from the arm-- I write with a lame hand which must be my apology for not writing more and for writing so illegibly-- Remember me to the family and all my friends-- I should be happy to hear from you--

Your affectionate Son
W C BRYANT

MANUSCRIPTS: NYPL-GR (draft and final) ADDRESS: Dr. Peter Bryant / Cummington.

1.
Sarah Snell Bryant diary, cited in "Youth," p. 199, reports two visits by Cullen to Cummington in 1817, but indicates no dates.
2.
Jacob Porter; see 6.1. No details of this debt have been recovered, but it was probably incurred during Bryant's removal from Plainfield to Great Barrington the preceding fall.
3.
This is the earliest indication of a studious interest in agricultural problems which Bryant took during his later life, after he had acquired large country properties. In October 1817 he composed an ode for the annual celebration of the Berkshire Agricultural Society, as he did in several subsequent years. These were widely printed in the newspapers of neighboring villages and towns. See Poetical Works, I, 71-72, 336-338, for three of these odes.

-70-

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