Write me something to put me in good humour. Your gallantries
have generally something unique in them--and I should like to hear
what you are doing in that way--
Adieu-- God bless you--
WILLIAM C. BRYANT
MANUSCRIPT: NYPL-GR (draft) PUBLISHED (in part): Life, I, 138.
Since this letter was apparently written before election day, May 3, it is dated
conjecturally about May 1.
In colonial New England elections were held the Wednesday before Easter,
which was then also "Inauguration Day," when governor and council were seated ceremoniously in a holiday atmosphere, with "Election Cake" and more convivial refreshments. This custom was continued into the ninteenth century, though the celebration
came at a later date after votes had been counted. Inauguration Day, still also called
"Election Day," was held on the first Wednesday in May, which in 1815 fell on the
third. Samuel Eliot Morison, Builders of the Bay Colony ( Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1964), p. 86; A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles, ed.
Mitford M. Mathews
( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), p. 548.
The use of this picturesque term for the professional man's signboard, or
"shingle," derives perhaps from an early slang characterization of money as "ginger-
Bryant was obviously out of touch with Elisha Hubbard, who, according to Downes, was now settled in a comfortable law practice at Williamsburg. See 21.1. Cullen was probably ascribing to Hubbard the uncertainty he was beginning to feel
of his own readiness to enter the courtroom.
Downes obliged him, writing on July 6, "I think you do injustice to your talents and your application. If I were conscious of possessing those qualities in the degree you do I should have no fear for the future." NYPL-BG.
30. To Peter Bryant
Bridgewater May 24, 1815
I have found a good opportunity to send to Cummington--but unluckily have nothing to write. I am however alive, as this scrawl will abundantly testify--and well--as to which point you must be satisfied with my
--I presume that you in Cummington as well as we in Bridgewater
were a little surprised that Bonaparte should so suddenly resume the
sceptre of France.
1 The exile of Elba has outwitted all Europe. We, I
think, may dread, in common with other nations, the consequences of
this event. They, by due concert and proper measures, may perhaps ensure their own safety, even if they should not have the power or inclination to pull him again from the throne--we have no security against his
artifices and emissaries but in the virtue of the people, which I fear is not
I am told that you have half a score of pupils--that you have bought