Bridgewater 8 August 1815
My dear Sir
I enclose you the writ you sent me last spring. I put it into the hands of an officer as soon as I received your last, but the creature neglected to make service of it till yesterday--the last moment of grace.
Your remarks upon publick speaking I read with the more interest as they come from one who has practised that art with such distinguished success. Yet I must acknowledge that their effect upon me was considerably lessened by the reflection that mere industry could never have supplied that eloquence--you must be content sir not to claim the whole merit of producing it, to yourself--you must ascribe much of it to the bounty of Nature, assisted I have no doubt, by art but still entitled to the credit of furnishing the raw material which was afterwards to be worked up into such polish and elegance. 1
I never could believe that the maxim Orator fit holds good in its full extent. It may be true that any man of common sense and common utterance may by practice and diligent endeavour be brought to talk decently well upon some occasions--but, what we currently term Eloquence according to my weak judgement depends as much upon the original constitution of the mind as any other faculty whatever. This however is not the place for a disquisition of this kind.
Next week by the leave of Providence and the Plymouth bar I become a limb of the law. 2 You inquire in what part of the world I intend to take up my abode. This is a hard question. I have formed a thousand projects; I have even dreamed of the West Indies--after all it may be left to mere chance to determine-- I hope soon to see you and have the benefit of your advice upon this subject-- My best remembrances to all who have not forgot me--and tell Mr. Downes that I should write to him did I not expect to see him so soon.
believe me sir
with the highest esteem & respect
W C BRYANT
MANUSCRIPT: NYPL-GR (draft) PUBLISHED (in Part): Life, I, 139.