wisdom-- No man having drank old wine straightway desireth new for
he saith the old is better.
MANUSCRIPT: NYPL-GR (draft) TEXT: Berkshire Star, Stockbridge, Thursday, October 31, 1822.
This letter concerns the imminent election in the congressional district which
included Berkshire County and several towns in western Hampshire County, including
An anonymous article in the Pittsfield Sun of October 24, 1822, urged the election to Congress of William C. Jarvis of Pittsfield.
Bryant adopts here the guise of the untutored rural commentator on public affairs popularized earlier by John Dickinson ( 1732-1808) in his Letters from a Farmer
in Pennsylvania to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies ( 1767-1768), and by Samuel Seabury
( 1729-1796), who published a series of Loyalist pamphlets in 1774-1775 under
the pseudonym "The Westchester Farmer."
Henry Williams Dwight ( 1788-1845), the incumbent, was a Stockbridge lawyer
and a breeder of sheep and cattle who was at one time president of the Berkshire Agricultural Society. First elected to Congress in 1820, he represented his district there
until 1830, when he declined renomination. BDAC.
William Charles Jarvis (c 1786-1836), a native of Boston, was a lawyer who then
represented his adopted town of Pittsfield in the state legislature. Joseph Ward Lewis, "Berkshire Men of Worth," Berkshire County Eagle, August 14, 1935, p. 12.
The Republican; or, A Series of Essays on the Principles and Policy of Free
States (Pittsfield, 1820). Jarvis' "respect for the bench and indeed for the whole judicial
process which amounted almost to reverence," drew from Thomas Jefferson the caustic
"civility," "You seem . . . to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us
under the despotism of an oligarchy." Quoted in Birdsall, Berkshire County, pp. 248, 250, from a letter from Jefferson to Jarvis dated September 28, 1820.
Jarvis' proponent in the Pittsfield Sun had demanded, "On questions when the
gigantic powers of eastern talents and eastern wealth were reared against the country
interest, was he not the bold and fearless advocate of your rights?" Had he not urged
a tax on "the immense sums of money invested in Insurance Companies, and which
heretofore have escaped unnoticed and untaxed?"
In adopting this pseudonym, which suggests the humble weaver, Bryant probably had in mind Jonathan Swift Dublin draper in The Drapier's Letters ( 1724).
85. To Richard H. Dana
Great Barrington Nov. 17 1822.
I have been some disappointed at not having seen you in Great Barrington this fall--though I hardly expected you would tempt the Yellow
Fever, in New York.
There is some justice in your reproofs. I acknowledge myself to be a
bad correspondent--but I am not without apology. I write very little--
there is a sort of sterility, I believe, in my genius,--but why, my dear sir,
must you always wait for an answer from me before you write again--I