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Odyssey, in twelve books, was finished in April. In January he delivered an address on Italian Unity in the Academy of Music. In May he spoke at the dinner of the Joint High Commissioners, who had just completed a trade treaty between England and America. He also delivered an address on the Progress of German Literature at a dinner to the German ambassador. He addressed an open-air meeting at the unveiling of a statue to Professor Morse in Central Park in June, and later on spoke on the Darwinian Theory to the Williams Col. lege alumni. (See letter, p. 299, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) On December 7th he sent the last of the Odyssey to his publishers, Messrs. J. R. Osgood & Co. (See pp. 311-317, vol. ii, Godwin's
. Life, for details of the completion of this work.)
1872. After the completion of the Odyssey Mr. Bryant went to the Bahamas, Cuba, and Mexico. (See poem, A Memory, p. 318, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) In Mexico a formal reception was given to him, and he was made an honorary member of the Geographical Society. He was treated with the highest honors by President Juarez and all Mexico. (See Bryant's letter of acknowledgment, p. 322, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) He returned to New York in April. He presented a library to his native town of Cummington.
1873. During these years he made about a dozen speeches or more in behalf of the Home for Incurables of the Children's Aid Society, on municipal reform at a great meeting in Cooper Institute, for the opening of the new Princeton library, at the unveiling of the statue of Shakespeare in Central Park for his English friends, and at the erection of a statue to Sir Walter Scott for his Scotch friends, besides remarks at the Burns dinner, the dinner to Salvini the actor, and elsewhere. He prepared a volume for G. P. Putnam containing his orations and speeches. He addressed the people of Roslyn on the subject of Mexico, and went on a southern tour. He was elected to the Russian Academy, Baron Tolsteneff presenting his name in an eloquent oration. In July his address at the opening of the Princeton Library was delivered.
1874. He began his eightieth year with an address on Franklin before the Typographical Society on January 17th. On February 24th he made a speech at a free-trade mass meeting at Cooper Union. He wrote an introduction to a work on Picturesque America. On November 3d he was presented with an address, signed by thousands, congratulating him on reaching his eightieth year. (See pp. 348, 349, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.)
1875. A new edition of the Library of Poetry and Song was projected at this time, and Mr. Bryant gave it his hearty assistance, writing an introduction to it. (See pp. 353–356, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) Bryant at this time interested himself in a new edition of Shakespeare, writing a preface for it when finished. This was never published owing to delay about the illustrations. He was entertained by Governor Tilden at Albany, both branches of the Legislature adjourning in his honor. He addressed both Houses (See pp. 357–359, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) He began a poem on the growth of New York, but never finished it. (See p. 365, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) In September he delivered an address before the Goethe Society, and later presided at the breakfast given to Lord Houghton by the Century Club.
1876. He was asked to write a Centennial Ode, but sent only a hymn to be sung by the choir. His poem The Flood of Years was composed at this time, and on the 20th of June the commemorative vase of bronze was presented to him at Chickering Hall, Dr. Samuel Osgood making the presentation address. The Emperor of Brazil visited New York at this time, and greeted Mr. Bryant as an old friend, sending him a letter, the text of which will be found on p. 373, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.
1877. He delivered an address at the unveiling of the statue to Fitz-Greene Halleck in Central Park, and on November 3d attended a complimentary reception at the Goethe Club, making an address. Our Fellow-Worshippers was the closing poem of this year.
1878. In this the last year of his life Mr. Bryant walked daily to his office and back, a distance of three miles. He spoke at a reception to Lord Dufferin given by the Geographical Society; at a dinner given to Bayard Taylor, recently appointed minister to Germany; before the Society for the Suppression of Cruelty to Children; and at a breakfast of clergymen of all denominations. On February 2d he attended the meeting of the Geographical Society, at which Lord Dufferin was elected an honorary member on motion of Bayard Taylor. On April 10th he attended a “Commers" given by the German Social Science Association to Bayard Taylor. He says of this “ Commers": “ There were five hundred people at fifteen tables in an immense dining hall, besides the Arion singers in the gallery, who, in the clouds of tobacco smoke which ascended from the beer-drinkers below, looked like the gods on Olympus as they are sometimes seen in pictures. Beer and cigars composed the bill of fare, and the exercises consisted of songs and speeches,” etc. He attended a breakfast at the Clergymen's Club and made a speech. (See p. 393, vol. ii, Godwin's Life.) May 27th he wrote his last letter—a criticism of a poem sent to him by R. H. Stoddard.
On May 29th he came to the city, spent the morning working at his desk, and in the afternoon drove to Central Park, where he delivered an oration at the unveiling of a statue to the Italian patriot Mazzini. His last words in public were an apostrophe to civil and religious liberty :
Image of the Illustrious Champion of Civil and Religious Liberty, cast in enduring bronze to typify the imperishable renown of thy original! Remain for ages yet to come where we place thee in this resort of millions; remain till the day shall dawn-far distant though it may be—when the rights and duties of human brotherhood shall be acknowledged by all the races of mankind.
He went to the house of General James Grant Wilson after the ceremonies were over and fell on the doorstep, receiving injuries from which he died on the 12th of June, after an illness of several weeks. His funeral occurred on the 14th of June at All Souls' Church, and the interment took place at Roslyn. Thus as he had wished the old poet was laid at rest.
I gazed upon the glorious sky
And the green mountains round;
Within the silent ground,
And groves a joyous sound,
CHRONOLOGY OF BRYANT'S POEMS.
1803. In my ninth
year I began to make verses, some of which were utter nonsense. See pp. 22–23, Godwin's Life, for extracts from the poems.
1804. Description of School, declaimed on schoolroom floor.
1807. Above poem first published in the Hampshire Gazette of March 18th, under the signature of C. B., Northampton, Mass., March 18, 1807. Other pieces of verse were sent anonymously to the paper about the same time, but they can not now be identified.
1808. The Embargo, printed in Boston, 1808.
1811. Thanatopsis was written at this time. See pp. 98–101, Godwin's Life. Pp. 90-118, Godwin's Life, contain still further extracts from the unpublished poems of this period.