indeed; and I have just put your letter among the few things to which I
recur when I wish to refresh my self-complacency. For the guidance in
my botanical studies to which you allude, I have ever held myself your
debtor; and that you may long live to diffuse a taste for the sciences you
pursue with so much ardour and success is the prayer of
Your Sincere friend,
WILLIAM C. BRYANT.
MANUSCRIPT: Unrecovered TEXT:
W. M. Smallwood, "Amos Eaton, Naturalist," New
York History, 18 ( April 1937), 187-188.
1. Amos Eaton ( 1776-1842, Williams 1799), an early popularizer of the natural
sciences through his lectures in western Massachusetts and eastern New York from 1817 to 1824 and his Manual of Botany for the Northern States ( 1817), became the
first professor of natural history at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1824. A friend
of Dr. Peter Bryant's, whom he called the "most dexterous operator that he had seen
handle the surgeon's knife," he later taught Cyrus and John Bryant at Troy, and renewed his acquaintance with Cullen at Great Barrington in 1820. On June 21, 1833, Eaton wrote him, "I read your poems from candle-lighting 'till this time [12:30 A.M.],
to my wife, wife's sister, daughter Sarah, and two nieces. My 13 year old William (of
whose presence I boast so much) heard me also. Tears fell like showers at some poems,
glee [glozed?] at others, love and friendship softened at others. Now Bryant (as you
and your wife have been my pupils in Botany, and I have your confidence) do tell me
plainly. Do these poems come from your little stooping puny self? Or does some singing, pitying, & fascinating, angel, use you as his vehicle, to relieve cold cloddy man
from the harsh tones of hardy science? I am frightened at the thought of having been
your teacher in 1820. Had you received your mission then? Did you then know, that
you was destined to charm your clamorous coarse old teacher? Did you laugh when
I affected to be your superior, because I knew the names of more weeds than you? Had
the sacred nine then called on you? Did you then translate, in fancy, my Claytonia,
my Anemone, my Solidago, &c. into verse, which you now sing so charmingly? Did you
then destine me to early Death, whose terrors you have almost annihilated in your
consolating hymn? Did you think of me, when you made your guide-board to the
woods? Did Green River (whose banks I trode with you) call up your remembrance of
your old School-master? There I showed you the Wind-flower, and traced its tender
"Tell me plainly--is a poet truly a Vates? Did you really feel your heavenly birth,
when I gave you the name of calyx, corol, and stamen, with loftily affected look?"
NYPL-BG. See also Life, 1, 2.
265. To Charity Bryant
Vergennes July 13 1833.
I was this morning with my wife looking for you in Weybridge, but
was told by a neighbour of yours who called himself Mr. Howard1 that
you had gone with Miss Drake2 to Massachusetts. We were much disappointed at this though we might have saved the trouble of a ride out of
our way through Weybridge had I taken the natural precaution to write
to you before setting out from home in order to learn whether you would
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Letters of William Cullen Bryant.
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: 376.
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