William Cullen Bryant 1794 - 1878
March 16, 2008
William Cullen Bryant 1794 - 1878 was an active and tireless supporter and patron of homeopathy and an American romantic poet, journalist, and long time editor of the New York Evening Post, which he used to widely publicise homeopathy.
In 1856, Frances Bryant was a patient of Rocco Rubini in Naples. William Cullen Bryant knew homeopath Ferdinand L Wilsey, the companion and friend of Hans Burch Gram, and he was a friend of Amos Gerald Hull and John Franklin Gray.
William Cullen Bryant knew practically everybody in New York at this time, including Edwin Thomas Booth, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Jenny Lind, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and many others. He was also often with James T Fields, one of America’s most famous publisher of American writers, and a partner in Ticknor and Fields, who had a bookstore known as Parnassus Corner on Old Corner which was frequented by the social elite of the day including Louisa May Alcott, John Greenleaf Whittier, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, James Russell Lowell, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe,Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, William Makepeace Thackeray,Charles Dickens, Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Bret Harte, Bayard Taylor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Nathaniel Parker Willis who described Parnassus Corner as ‘the hub in which every spoke of the radiating wheel of Boston intellect had a socket.. ‘.
William Cullen Bryant is remembered as one of the principal authorities on homeopathy and as a hymnist for the Unitarian Church—both legacies of his father’s enormous influence on him.
American poet, philanthropist, and militant homeopath. Lay member of New York Homeopathic Society in 1834 and President of The Board of Trustees of the New York Homeopathic Medical College from 1860 - 1872 and he was President of the New York Homeopathic Society.
William Cullen Bryant was also a leading advocate of abolition and a supporter of Abraham Lincoln.
The group, led by William Cullen Bryant, the noted poet and editor of the Evening Post, was particularly concerned with the condition of hospitals and medical education.
During those pre-Civil War years, New York City was plagued with slums, garbage-laden streets and the population lived with the constant threat of epidemics. Much of the city lacked running water.
Of particular concern to Bryant were some then common medical practices used to treat disease, such as bleedings, purges, the use of leeches and the administering of strong and unpalatable drugs in enormous doses.
Bryant was zealously devoted to the branch of medicine known as homeopathy, which, among its tenets, advocated moderation in medicinal dosage, exercise, a good diet, fresh air and rest in treating illness.
The school opened its doors on the corner of 20th street and Third Avenue as the New York Homeopathic Medical College… Bryant served as the medical school’s first president and held the office of present of the Board of Trustees for 10 years.
Bryant was a follower of homeopathy and the establishment of the college was a reaction to both the needs of the people of New York and to the harsh methods of the common medical practices of the time.
Advocates of homeopathy included numerous respected members of American society: novelist Louisa May Alcott; poet and journalist William Cullen Bryant; newspaper editor Horace Greeley; novelists Nathaniel Hawthorne and William James; poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; politicians William Henry Seward and Daniel Webster; and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Some of the popularity of homeopathy emanated from the public’s distaste for the harsh orthodox therapeutic regimens of bleeding, blistering, and purgatives then in common use.
Commonly, orthodox physicians used medicines compounded from arsenic, lead, mercury, and a variety of strong herbs to purge the body of disease causing matter.
Dr. Benjamin Rush, the father of American medicine, taught medical students that bloodletting was useful in all general and chronic disease. In 1856 alone, two American firms imported 800,000 leeches for medical bloodletting. Individuals who became ill frequently avoided orthodox physicians because the proffered treatment was ineffective and possibly more hazardous than the illness itself.
George Putnam published the books of many classic American authors including his close friend Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant, James Fenimore Cooper, and Edgar Allan Poe
- these men were all advocates of homeopathy.
William Cullen Bryant was mentored by Washington Irving who recommended homeopathy to his friends, including John Pendleton Kennedy. Washington Irving assisted Nathaniel Hawthorne and Bryant in their careers, and Bryant won recognition as America’s leading poet. Washington Irving also mentored homeopathic supporters Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Edgar Allan Poe. William Cullen Bryant gave the eulogy At Washington Irving’s funeral .
William Cullen Bryant was a friend of Edwin Thomas Booth and when Edwin Thomas Booth’s brother John assassinated Abraham Lincoln, it was feared that this dreadful deed would crush Edwin Thomas Booth such that he would never appear in public again. Homeopathic supporter William Cullen Bryant began to publish extracts from Boston newspapers in support of Edwin, and he went onto publish extracts from Edwin Thomas Booth’s letters to support his loyalty to the Union cause.
His literary salon was packed with the influential people of the time, including Louisa May Alcott, John Greenleaf Whittier, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, James Russell Lowell, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Julia Ward Howe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charles Dickens, Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Bret Harte, Bayard Taylor, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edwin Booth, and Nathaniel Parker Willis who described Parnassus Corner as ‘the hub in which every spoke of the radiating wheel of Boston intellect had a socket.. ‘.
William Cullen Bryant also supported Henry Beecher Stowe and he was a regular attender at Henry’s church, which often hosted lectures on the ‘burning questions‘ of the day, including abolitionism, evolutionism, Swedenborgianism, life in the prairies.
Henry Beecher Stowe and William Cullen Bryant both came out in support of homeopath Eliza W Farnham’s brave experiment Life in Prairie Land and women’s rights, and also to support the new medical inventions and phrenology, despite newspaper campaigns against them, and the Cleveland Lecture circuit he supported.
He was the second son of Peter Bryant, a physician and surgeon of no mean scholarship, refined in all his tastes, and a public-spirited citizen. Peter Bryant was the great-grandson of Stephen Bryant, an English Puritan emigrant to Massachusetts Bay about the year 1632. The poet’s mother, Sarah Snell, was a descendant of Mayflower pilgrims.
He was born in the log farmhouse built by his father two years prior, at the edge of the pioneer settlement among those boundless forests. By parentage, by religious and political faith, and by hardness of fortune, the earliest of important American poets was appointed to a life typical of the first century of American national existence, and of the strongest single racial element by which that nation’s social order has been moulded and promoted.
Rated by the amount of time given to school books and college classes, Bryant’s early education was limited. After the village school he received a year of exceptionally good training in Latin under his mother’s brother, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Snell, of Brookfield, followed by a year of Greek under the Rev. Moses Hallock, of Plainfield, and at sixteen entered the sophomore class of Williams College.
Here he was an apt and diligent student through two sessions, and then, owing to financial reasons, he withdrew without graduating, and studied classics and mathematics for a year, in the vain hope that his father might yet be able to send him to Yale.
But the length of his school and college days would be a very misleading measure of his training. It is his own word that, two months after beginning with the Greek alphabet, he had read the New Testament through.
On abandoning his hope to enter Yale, the poet turned to and pursued, under private guidance at Worthington and at Bridgewater, the study of law.
At twenty-one he was admitted to the bar, opened an office in Plainfield, presently withdrew from there, and at Great Barrington settled for nine years in the attorney’s calling, with an aversion for it which he never lost.
At the age of twenty-six Bryant married, at Great Barrington, Frances Fairchild, with whom he enjoyed a happy union until her death nearly half a century later. In the year of his marriage he suffered the bereavement of his father’s death.
In 1825 he ventured to lay aside the practice of law, and removed to New York City to assume a literary editorship. Here for some months his fortunes were precarious, until in the next year he became one of the editors of the _New York Evening Post_.
In the third year following, 1829, he came into undivided editorial control, and became also chief owner. He enjoyed his occupation, fulfilling its duties with an unflagging devotion to every worthy public interest until he died in 1878, in the month of his choice, as indicated in his beautiful poem entitled ”June.”
Though Bryant’s retiring and contemplative nature could not overpower his warm human sympathies, it yet dominated them to an extent that made him always, even in his journalistic capacity and in the strenuous prose of daily debate, a councillor rather than a leader.
It was after the manner of the poet, the seer, that he was a patriot, standing for principles much more than for measures, and, with an exquisite correctness which belonged to every phase of his being, never prevailing by the accommodation of himself to inferiors in foresight, insight or rectitude.
His vigorous and stately mind found voice in one of the most admirable models of journalistic style known in America.
He was founder of a distinct school of American journalism, characterized by an equal fidelity and temperance, energy and dignity.
Though it is as a poet that he most emphatically belongs to history. His renown as a poet antedated the appearance of his first volume by some four or five years. ”American poetry”… “may be said to have commenced in 1817 with… ’Thanatopsis’ and ’Inscription for the entrance of a wood.‘”
This poem, ”Thanatopsis”, which revealed a voice at once as new and as old as the wilderness out of which it reverberated, had been written at Cummington in the poet’s eighteenth year, and was printed in 1817 in the North American Review; the “Inscription” was written in his nineteenth, and in his twenty-first, while a student of law at Bridgewater, he had composed his lines ”To a Water-fowl”, whose exquisite beauty and exalted faith his own pen rarely, if ever, surpassed.
The poet’s gift for language made him a frequent translator, and among his works of this sort his rendering of Homer is the most noted and most valuable.
But the muse of Bryant, at her very best, is always brief-spoken and an interpreter initially of his own spirit. Much of the charm of his poems lies in the equal purity of their artistic and their moral beauty.
On the ethical side they are more than pure, they are — it may be said without derogation — Puritan. There is scarcely a distempered utterance in the whole body of his poetical works, scarcely one passionate exaggeration. He faces life with an invincible courage, an inextinguishable hope and heavenward trust, and the dignity of a benevolent will which no compulsion can break or bend.