it you had engaged me in it so much that I would not have exchanged it
for any other.
5 It is not possible for me, in this retirement, to judge of
the progress it is making in the literary world; --all however that have
read it, whom I have seen, speak favourably of it. --You should not wish,
however, that it might start into popularity all at once--that would be a
bad omen. You must suffer the world to get in love with it gradually, if
you mean they shall remain attached to it long. --I feel, on the whole, a
strong confidence that it will succeed.--
Please to give my regards to all my friends in Cambridge--
I am Sir
WILLIAM C. BRYANT
MANUSCRIPT: NYPL-GR ADDRESS: Richard H. Dana Esq DOCKETED: W. C. Bryant / July
30-21 PUBLISHED (in Part): Life, I, 166, 171.
This is the first of more than one hundred letters Bryant wrote Richard Henry
Dana ( 1787-1879) over a period of fifty-seven years. See "Bryant's Correspondents."
Dana gave high praise to "Green River," Bryant's first contribution to The
Idle Man: "I do not say that it is better than the Water Fowl, but with that exception it is beyond any thing that I have read of American poetry." June 18, 1821, MHS.
Bryant was writing his Phi Beta Kappa poem, "The Ages," in Spenserian
stanzas, difficult because of their tight rhyme scheme and end-stopped thought units.
He used this form only once again, in "After a Tempest" ( 1824). Another troublesome
problem was oral delivery, which Willard Phillips had anticipated in a letter dated
July 13. Remembering Bryant's early fear of public speaking, and anxious that his
protégé should perform well before a Cambridge audience, Phillips gave him a thorough lesson in elocution, passing from practice, breathing, voice placement, diet, and
rest, to phrasing, rhetorical embellishments, and gesture. NYPL-BG.
After triumphs in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia during his first visit to
this country, the British tragedian Edmund Kean ( 1787-1833) returned to Boston in May 1821 just as the theater season was waning. After playing two nights to poor
houses, he left the theater abruptly during his third performance and refused to return. "Boston was vastly incensed, regarding the tragedian's action as an insult; other
cities took up the quarrel, recrimination followed, a newspaper war began, Kean apologized in the public prints, but to no avail; his season was wrecked, and he hastily returned to England." George C. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1927), II, 591-592.
Having seen Kean play Hamlet, Richard II, Lear, Othello, and Sir Giles Overreach, Dana wrote in The Idle Man, "How can I describe one who is nearly as versatile and almost as full of beauties as nature itself? . . . Kean, in truth, stands very
Much in that relation to other players whom we have seen, that Shakespeare does to
other dramatists." "Kean's Acting," reprinted in Dana Poems and Prose Writings
( Philadelphia and Boston, 1833), pp. 421-422.
72. To Frances F. Bryant
Boston Aug. 25 1821
My, dear Frances--
You observed in what an elegant style I went from Great Barrington
to Sheffield. Seated on a rough board, laid on top of a crazy waggon whose