Bryant, William Cullen
Bryant, William Cullen an eminent journalist and poet, was born at Cummington, Massachusetts, November 3, 1794. When he was but ten years of age he translated from several of the Latin poets with so much accuracy and beauty that his translations were deemed worthy of publication. The Embargo, a political satire, written when he was thirteen years old, was printed in Boston in 1808. Pursuing his studies at Williams College for two years. he was especially distinguished for his attainments in the classics and belles-lettres. When but eighteen years of age (1815) he was admitted to the bar, and began the practice of his profession in Plainfield, Massachusetts, from which he shortly removed to Great Barrington. It wvas at this period of his life that he wrote his Thanatopsis, and published it in the North Amnerican Review in 1816 one of the most remarkable poems in the English language, glowing with the spirit of natural religion, and pervaded with the most devout reverence for the invisible Creator of the universe. Four years afterwards (1821) he delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at the Commencement of Harvard University, his celebrated poem, The Ages, which, with some other of his poems made up a volume, which was published the same year. Having devoted ten years to the practice of his profession, he decided to retire from the bar and enter upon a kind of work more congenial to his tastes. Accordingly he removed to New York in 1825, and became the editor of the New York Review, which was afterwards merged into the United States Review. His connection with The Evening Post (N.Y.) commenced in 1826, and continued until his death. A full edition of his works was brought. out in 1832. This edition, with a flattering preface written by Washington Irving, was published in England not long .after its appearance in this' country. Carey & Hart, in 1846, published his complete poetical works.' and subsequently Messrs. D. Appleton & Co. became his publishers. Mr. Bryant travelled extensively, both in-the United States and in foreign countries. The results' of his observations, both at home and abroad, he gave to the public through the columns of The Evening Post. The letters thus written were collected into book form, and are among tye most interesting and instructive volumes of travel in the language. His love for the classics, which, amid the pressure of his professional duties, was never lost, showed itself in his elegant translation of the Iliad, which was published in 1870, and of the Odyssey, published in 1871. These translations are among the best that have been made into our language, of the epics of Homer.
Mr. Bryant has written some religious poetry which is worthy of mention in a work like this. As we have seen, at the very outset of his career, a devout, serious spirit inspired those great works. of his genius which laid the foundation of his justly-earned fame. We find choice gems scattered through his works, which makes us feel that he was conscious of the purest thoughts and the most elevated emotions. Among these we may include the hymns bearing the titles, Blessed are they that Mourn; No Man Knoweth his Sepulchre; Hymn of the Waldenses; Song of the Stars; A Forest Hymn; Hymn of the City; The Love of God; A Hymn of the Sea; The Mother's Hymn; He hath Put all Things under His Feet; and Receive thy Sight. One of his reviewers uses this language: "His poetry overflows with natural religion, with what Wordsworth calls the 'religion of the woods.'" Mr. Bryant died at his beautiful country residence, near the village of Roslyn, Long Island (N.Y.), June 12, 1878. See Griswold, Poets and Poetry of America; Osgood, Address before the Goethe Society; Duyckinck, Cyclop. of Amer. Literature, 1:899 sq. For list of references to articles reviewing Bryant's works, see Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v. (J.C.S.)