Introduction [chapter]

2020 The Power For Sanity  
INTRODUCTION THE DAY AFTER THE FUNERAL OF William Cullen Bryant on June 14, 1878, his son-in-law, Parke Godwin, wrote from Carlsbad, Germany, to the New York Evening Post a tribute to its editor-in-chief and principal owner, with whom he had from time to time been associated in its conduct: "No one of our journalists ever attained and preserved such uniform elevation, dignity and purity of manner." 1 Godwin's judgment anticipated the comments of many of his contemporaries in their appraisals of
more » ... Bryant's editorial career. At one of many memorials after Bryant's death, George William Curtis said, "'The fact is no such man ever sat before or since in the editorial chair.' " 2 John Bigelow extended the comparison. "It is doubtful," he wrote, "if so wise, comprehensive, and edifying a system of political ethics as might be compiled from Mr. Bryant's editorial contributions to the 'Evening Post' can be found elsewhere in the literature of our own or of any other country." 3 Such encomia echo in the present century. William Ellery Leonard, an historian of American letters, thought that "in no other has there been such culture, scholarship, wisdom, dignity, moral idealism."4 Allan Nevins, recounting Bryant's conduct of his paper, called his "stately, elevated style" a "model for American journalism," adding that "many of his editorial utterances display a grandeur of style, and a force and eloquence not to be matched in the press of the period." 5 Newspaper historian Frank Luther Matt saw Bryant as a "great liberal [who] has seldom been done fulljustice by modern writers." Mott proposed a reason for this neglect: contrasting Bryant with his erratic, colorful, and more easily recalled rival, Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Matt noted, "the one was relatively steadfast, far seeing; the other was tempestuous and eccentric." 6 f his sometime employer, Godwin remarked,
doi:10.1515/9780823296231-003 fatcat:pad2fg4jx5emllbsgefolr74vy