Power for Sanity: Selected Editorials of William Cullen Bryant, 1829-1861

By William Cullen Bryant; William Cullen Bryant II | Go to book overview

speaker as a "gallant soldier" in the "battle we are fighting for Freedom against Slavery; in behalf of civilization against barbarism."29 After Lincoln's election in November as the first Republican President, Bryant called the result a vindication of principles for which he had himself fought during three decades. "It is most gratifying," he wrote,

to see what we believe to be a righteous cause--the cause of justice and humanity--after a long and weary struggle, closed by a decisive triumph. . . . we take this occasion to congratulate the old friends of the EVENING POST, who have read it for the last score of years or thereabouts, on this new triumph of the principles which it maintains. 30

In 1878 Parke Godwin said of Bryant, "His better discussions of current topics, if now collected, would form a most attractive and readable book, merely on account of the variety and aptness of the illustrations, and the delicacy of the humor."31 Godwin did, in truth, include a few editorials in the six volumes of Bryant's life and writings he assembled in 1882-1883. Later biographers have added a scant handful more. But a far larger store have lain unnoticed in the files of the Evening Post for over a century.

This selection, although still only a substantial sample, preserves the best of his wit and humor, his cultivation, and the force of his convictions. One may wonder why these essays, for such they are, have not been gathered before this, for, in the strength and clarity of his prose style, Bryant was, as Vernon Louis Parrington assured us fifty years after Bryant's death, a "power for sanity in a scurrilous generation." 32


NOTES
1.
Godwin to Evening Post, Bryant Homestead, Cummington, Massachusetts.
2.
Quoted in Allan Nevins, The Evening Post: A Century of Journalism ( New York: Boni & Liveright [ 1922]), pp. 362-63.
3.
Bigelow, William Cullen Bryant ( Boston & New York, 1897), p. 83.
4.
Leonard, in The Cambridge History of American Literature ( New York: Macmillan, 1917-1921), I, 276.
5.
Nevins, in "William Cullen Bryant," DAB.
6.
Mott, American Journalism ( New York: Macmillan, 1941), pp. 258, 344.
7.
Godwin to Evening Post, June 15, 1878.
8.
Mott, American Journalism, p. 258.
9.
Fish to Bryant, November 29, 1851, Library of Congress.
10.
Lawson, in Southern Literary Messenger, January 1840, p. 109.
11.
Dewey, Autobiography and Letters, ed. Mary E. Dewey ( Boston, 1884), pp. 85-86.

-xxiv-

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Power for Sanity: Selected Editorials of William Cullen Bryant, 1829-1861
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Foreword xvii
  • Introduction xix
  • Notes xxiv
  • Editorial Note xxvii
  • Editorials 1
  • Index 389
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