Saturday, November 5, 2016

William Cullen Bryant to Miss Christiana Gibson, of Edinburgh, August 18, 1864

roslyn, August 18th.

I wish I could write you a letter as bright and beautiful as this morning, and as full of freshness and life. A long and severe drought, in which all the vegetable world drooped and languished, has just closed, and the earth has been moistened with abundant showers. For a sultry atmosphere, a blood-red sun, and a sky filled with smoke from our great forests on fire, we have a golden sunshine flowing down through a transparent air, and a grateful breeze from the cool chambers of the northwest. Our usual fruits, meantime, with the exception of the raspberry, have not failed us; we have plenty of excellent pears, and I have just come in from gathering melons in the garden. This afternoon the school-children of the neighborhood are to have their annual feast of cake and pears on the green under the trees by my house, and I am glad they are to have so fine a day for it.

Julia has told you where the mistress of the mansion is at present — in a place where, for her at least,

“—good digestion waits on appetite,”

and some measure of health on both. In September I hope to have her back again, looking and feeling “amaist as weel's the new.” From the place where she has already passed several weeks — a sandy vale lying in the lap of the grand Adirondack Mountains, about ten miles west of Lake Champlain — she is seized with an adventurous desire to push her explorations to Saranac and its sister lakes—very picturesque, it is said—and this she will do, I suppose, next week. I do not go, for I am not a gregarious animal. I cannot travel, like the locusts, in clouds, at least with any degree of contentment. Yet, as my wife makes no objection, and reports her health improved, I encourage her to proceed. Meanwhile, I employ myself in reading Taine on “La Littérature Anglaise.” M. Taine has studied English literature thoroughly and carefully, and is almost always brilliant, but sometimes too elaborately so. He looks at everything through French spectacles, but his book is none the worse for that. He often exaggerates, but I have been much interested in his work. Look at it if it comes in your way.

How this dreadful Civil War lingers! We are now also making wry faces over the bitter fruits of that great folly against which I protested so vehemently, and almost alone as a conductor of the Republican press — of making paper a legal tender.

SOURCE: Parke Godwin, A Biography of William Cullen Bryant, Volume 1, p. 211-2

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