The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1

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

II
Following Two Professions
1816-1821
(LETTERS 34 TO 80)

HAVING BEEN ADMITTED TO THE BAR on August 15, 1815, Byrant--as he put it to a former fellow-student--"lounged away" three months at his home in Cummington. His phrase was surely imprecise, for during this time he wrote the first draft of "Thanatopsis" and an incomplete version, or "Fragment," of the poem later entitled "Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood." And he busily hunted a community in which to locate his legal practice.

Bryant's problem was troublesome. To settle in a large town or a city, such as New Bedford or Boston, which he saw as the most attractive prospect, would require capital his father could not provide. William Baylies urged on him, as offering a young lawyer the best opportunities, certain rural towns such as Truro on Cape Cod, or Freetown, between Bridgewater and New Bedford, but to Cullen these seemed to promise only more of the isolation in which he had once been unhappy at Worthington. Northampton, where his father's friends Samuel Howe and Judge Joseph Lyman might have helped, was the Hampshire County seat and already well served by attorneys. Having explored possible openings in towns nearer home, such as Williamsburg and Ashfield, Bryant finally accepted, in December 1815, what seemed the least attractive choice, the little farming village of Plainfield just north of Cummington where he had prepared for college under Moses Hallock.

Six unhappy months at Plainfield, which Bryant describes rather bitterly in the first letter written thereafter which is now recovered, ended with his receiving through Samuel Howe an invitation to enter into partnership with an established lawyer, George Ives, at Great Barrington in the Housatonic Valley, forty miles from Cummington. Here, after eight months with his more experienced partner, Bryant bought Ives out and began practice by himself.

The young poet who had now "mixed with the world" and been "stained" by its "follies" could still look only "coldly on the severe beauties of Themis," as he told Baylies a few days after parting from Ives in May 1817. Meanwhile, Peter Bryant furthered his son's literary interests. In a desk drawer in his office he happened on some of Cullen's verses. Taking them to Boston when he attended the legislature in June, he left them with his friend Willard Phillips, then an editor of the North American Review. The anonymous appearance in that journal in September 1817 of "Thanatopsis" and "A Fragment" ( "Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood"), incomplete as they then were, encouraged Cullen four months later to submit two finished poems to the North American Review, one of which was "To a Waterfowl."

Soon afterward, at Phillips' invitation to contribute a prose article to his journal, Bryant produced a critical essay on American poetry which showed him to be a perceptive student of his own craft. Several more of his articles were ac-

-62-

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The Letters of William Cullen Bryant - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Key to Manuscript Sources Often Cited in FootNotes vi
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Editorial Plan 4
  • Bryant Chronology 1794-1836 6
  • Bryant''s Correspondents 1809-1836 9
  • I- Student of Life and the Law 1809-1815 (letters 1 To 33) 17
  • 2- To Austin Bryant 20
  • 2- To Austin Bryant 21
  • 2- To Austin Bryant 23
  • 5- To John Avery 25
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 27
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 28
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 30
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 31
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 32
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 33
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 35
  • 6- To Jacob Porter 36
  • 14- To William Baylies 38
  • 15- To Peter Bryant 39
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 41
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 42
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 43
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 44
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 45
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 46
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 47
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 48
  • 16- To Elisha Hubbard 49
  • 25- To Austin Bryant 50
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 52
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 53
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 54
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 56
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 57
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 58
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 59
  • 26- To Peter Bryant 60
  • II- Following Two Professions 1816-1821 (letters 34 To 80) 62
  • 35- To William Baylies 65
  • 35- To William Baylies 66
  • 35- To William Baylies 67
  • 35- To William Baylies 68
  • 39- To Peter Bryant 70
  • 40- To William Baylies 71
  • 41- To Peter Bryant 72
  • 42- To Miss Sarah S. Bryant 72
  • 43- To Frances Fairchild 74
  • 44- To Willard Phillips 75
  • 44- To Willard Phillips 76
  • 44- To Willard Phillips 77
  • 44- To Willard Phillips 78
  • 48- To Peter Bryant 80
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 81
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 82
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 83
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 84
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 86
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 88
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 89
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 90
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 92
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 93
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 94
  • 49- To Willard Phillips 94
  • 63- To Henry D. Sewall 96
  • 64- To Mrs. Sarah S. Bryant 97
  • 65- To Miss Sarah S. Bryant 98
  • 66- To Henry D. Sewall 102
  • 67- To Miss Sarah S. Bryant 103
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 103
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 104
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 105
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 106
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 107
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 110
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 110
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 112
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 113
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 113
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 114
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 116
  • 68- To.William J. Spooner 117
  • III- The Roads Diverge 1822-1825 (letters 81 To 127) 121
  • 82- To Richard H. Dana 124
  • 82- To Richard H. Dana 126
  • 82- To Richard H. Dana 128
  • 82- To Richard H. Dana 131
  • 82- To Richard H. Dana 133
  • 87- To Charles Sedgwick and Others 136
  • 88- To Charles Sedgwick 136
  • 89- To Charles Webster, Editor, Berkshire Star 138
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 141
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 146
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 147
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 148
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 149
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 151
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 152
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 153
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 153
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 154
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 155
  • 90- To Andrews Norton 156
  • 103- To Richard H. Dana 157
  • 104- To Charles Sedgwick 159
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 160
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 161
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 162
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 162
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 162
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 164
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 165
  • 105- To Willard Phillips 165
  • 113- To Jared Sparks 166
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 166
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 167
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 168
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 169
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 170
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 171
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 171
  • 114- To Charles Sedgwick 172
  • 122- To Frances F. Bryant 173
  • 123- To Frances F. Bryant 174
  • 123- To Frances F. Bryant 175
  • 123- To Frances F. Bryant 175
  • 123- To Frances F. Bryant 177
  • 127- To Frances F. Bryant 179
  • IV- Sitting in Judgment 1825-1827 (letters 128 To 194) 181
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 184
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 185
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 186
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 188
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 190
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 192
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 193
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 194
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 195
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 197
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 198
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 199
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 200
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 200
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 202
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 203
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 206
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 209
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 211
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 211
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 212
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 213
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 213
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 215
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 216
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 217
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 219
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 221
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 222
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 223
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 226
  • 129- To Richard H. Dana 227
  • 161- To Charles Folsom 229
  • 162- To Charles Folsom 229
  • 162- To Charles Folsom 230
  • 162- To Charles Folsom 231
  • 162- To Charles Folsom 231
  • 66.To Charles Folsom 234
  • 167- To Charles Folsom 238
  • 168- To Charles Folsom 238
  • 169- To Charles Folsom 238
  • 169- To Charles Folsom 239
  • 169- To Charles Folsom 239
  • 169- To Charles Folsom 240
  • 173- To Richard H. Dana 241
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 242
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 243
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 244
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 244
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 245
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 246
  • 174- To Charles Folsom 247
  • 181- To Charles Folsom 249
  • 182- To Frances F. Bryant 249
  • 183- To Richard H. Dana 250
  • 184- To Charles Folsom 251
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 251
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 252
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 252
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 253
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 253
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 254
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 255
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 255
  • 185- To Frances F. Bryant 256
  • V- Fellow in the Arts 1828-1831 (letters 195 To 222) 260
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 263
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 265
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 265
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 267
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 268
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 269
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 270
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 270
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 273
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 275
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 277
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 279
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 279
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 279
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 282
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 283
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 284
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 286
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 289
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 290
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 291
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 292
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 293
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 294
  • 196- To Gulian C. Verplanck 295
  • 221- To Mrs. Sarah S. Bryant 297
  • 222- To the Readers of the Evening Post 299
  • VI- Journalist, Poet, Traveler 1831-1834 (letters 223 To 287) 304
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 307
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 308
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 309
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 310
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 311
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 311
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 313
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 315
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 317
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 319
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 321
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 322
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 323
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 326
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 327
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 327
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 328
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 329
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 333
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 336
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 341
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 345
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 350
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 355
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 359
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 361
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 362
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 364
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 364
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 365
  • 224- To Frances F. Bryant 365
  • 256- To Gulian C. Verplanck 367
  • 257- To Gulian C. Verplanck 367
  • 257- To Gulian C. Verplanck 368
  • 257- To Gulian C. Verplanck 369
  • 260- To Mrs. Sarah S. Bryant 370
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 373
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 374
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 375
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 375
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 376
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 377
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 379
  • 261- To Gulian C. Verplanck 380
  • 269- To Richard H. Dana 382
  • 270- To Richard H. Dana 383
  • 271- To Richard H. Dana 384
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 386
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 389
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 389
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 391
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 391
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 393
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 394
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 395
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 396
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 399
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 400
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 403
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 404
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 404
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 406
  • 272- To John Howard Bryant 407
  • VII- Proud Old World 1834-1836 (letters 288 To 314) 409
  • 289- To John Rand 413
  • 289- To John Rand 415
  • 289- To John Rand 418
  • 289- To John Rand 419
  • 289- To John Rand 423
  • 289- To John Rand 427
  • 289- To John Rand 428
  • 289- To John Rand 430
  • 289- To John Rand 433
  • 289- To John Rand 435
  • 289- To John Rand 439
  • 289- To John Rand 442
  • 289- To John Rand 445
  • 289- To John Rand 446
  • 289- To John Rand 449
  • 304- To William Leggett 451
  • 305- To Susan Renner 457
  • 306- To Julia Sands 460
  • 307- To William Ware 465
  • 308- To William Leggett 472
  • 309- To Susan Renner 473
  • 309- To Susan Renner 475
  • 309- To Susan Renner 477
  • 309- To Susan Renner 479
  • 309- To Susan Renner 483
  • 309- To Susan Renner 485
  • Abbreviations and Short Titles 487
  • Index 491
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