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among the speakers were Cobden and Bright, and carried a letter of introduction to Wordsworth from Henry Crabb Robinson. He made

yet

other journeys to Europe and to the East.

Notable among Bryant's public addresses were the orations on Cooper (1852) and Irving (1860) delivered before the New York Historical Society. He was a founder and the third president of the Century Association, first president of the New York Homeopathic Society, president of the American Free Trade League, and member of literary and historical societies innumerable. He held no public office, but as time went on it might almost be said that an office was created for him that of Representative American. He seemed the incarnation of virtues popularly supposed to have survived from an older and simpler time. He was a great public character. The word venerable acquired a new meaning as one reflected on the career of this eminent citizen who was born when Washington was president, who as a boy had written satires on Jefferson, and who as a man had discussed political questions from the administration of John Quincy Adams to that of Hayes. Other men were as old as he, Bryant seemed to have lived longer.

* And when at last he fell, he fell as the granite 'column falls, smitten from without, but sound within.'1 His death was the result of an accident.

i W. C. Bronson.

1

He

gave the address at the unveiling of the statue of Mazzini in Central Park. Though wearied with the exertion and almost overcome by the heat, he was able to walk to the house of a friend. As he was about entering the door he fell backward, striking his head violently against the stone step. He never recovered from the effects of this fall, and died on June 12, 1878.

II

BRYANT'S CHARACTER

We seldom think of Bryant other than as he appears in the Sarony photograph of 1873. With the snowy beard, the furrowed brow, the sunken but keen eyes, a cloak thrown about the shoulders, he is the ideal poet of popular imagination. Thus must he have looked when he wrote "The Flood

of Years,' and it is difficult to realize that he did not look thus when he wrote ‘Thanatopsis. We do not readily picture Bryant as young or even middle-aged.

Parke Godwin saw him first about 1837. He had a wearied, almost saturnine expression of 'countenance. He was spare in figure, of medium height, clean shaven, and had an unusually large “head.' He spoke with decision, but could not be called a copious talker. His voice was noticeably

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sweet, his choice of words and accuracy

of

pronunciation remarkable. When anything was said to awaken mirth, his eyes gleamed with a singular ‘radiance and a short, quick, staccato but hearty laugh followed. He was more sociable when his wife and daughters were present than at other times. Bryant's reserve was always a conspicuous trait.

Under that prim exterior lurked fire and passion. In court he often lost his self-control.' It was thought that Bryant might keep a promise he once made of thrashing a legal opponent within an inch of his life (“if he ever says that again ') though the man was twice his size. Not long after he became editor-in-chief of the ‘Post’ Bryant cowhided a journalistic adversary who had bestowed upon him by name, 'the most insulting 'epithet that can be applied to a human being.' It was the only time his well-schooled temper outwitted him.

His friendships were strong and abiding. He had an inflexible will and a keen sense of justice, so keen that it drove him out of the law. No thought of personal ease or advantage could turn him from a course he had mapped out as right.

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· Bryant's apology to the public for his course, together with Leggete's statement as an eye-witness, will be found in the Even‘ing Post' of Thursday, April 21, 1831. Neither the guarded account of the episode in Godwin's Bryant, nor the brief notice in Haswell's Reminiscences of an Octogenarian is quite accurate.

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He was generous. His benefactions were many and judicious, and the manner of their bestowal as unpretending as possible.

Bryant'sʻunassailable dignity’was a marked trait of character. He refused an invitation to a dinner given Charles Dickens by a 'prominent citizen' of New York. "That man,' said Bryant, ‘has 'known me for years without asking me to his 'house, and I am not going to be made a stool'pigeon to attract birds of

passage

that 'flying about.'

He was perfectly simple-minded, incapable of assuming the air of famous poet or successful man of the world. Doubtless he relished praise, but he had an adroit way of putting compliments to one side, tempering the gratitude he really felt with an ironical humor.

may be

III

THE LITERARY CRAFTSMAN

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BRYANT was a deliberate and fastidious writer. His literary executors could never have said of him that they found neither blot nor erasure ‘among his papers. His copy, written on the

' backs of old letters or rejected manuscripts, was a wilderness of interlineations and corrections, and often hard to decipher.

Famous as he was for correctness, it seems a mere

debauch of eulogy to affirm that all of Bryant's contributions to the Evening Post’ do not contain as many erroneous or defective forms of expression' as 'can be found in the first ten numbers of 'the Spectator.' But there is little danger of overestimating his influence on the English of journalism during the forty years and more that he set the example of a high standard of daily writing. He was sparing of advice, though in earlier days he could not always conquer the temptation to amuse himself over the English of his brother editors. It has been denied that he had any part in compiling the famous “index expurgatorius,' but it is not unreasonable to suppose that this list, embodying traditions of the editorial office, had his approval. Bryant was for directness and precision in writing. Ideas must stand on their merits, if they have them, for such phrasing will define them perfectly. His

prose style may be studied in his books of travel and his addresses. The literary characteristic of Letters of a Traveller and its companion volumes is excessive plainness, a homely quality like that of a village pedagogue careful not to make mistakes. One is often reminded of the honest home

to

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As in an ironical leader commending journalists who refuse say that a man

was drowned,' a dangerous innovation, and, 'to preserve the purity of their mother tongue, stick to time-honored metaphors and say that the man found a watery grave.'— • Evening Post,' August 17, 1831.

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