1858 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Henry Dana

Charles D. Cleveland, in Compendium of American Literature (1858) 416-17.



RICHARD H. DANA, the poet and essayist, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 15th of November, 1787. His father, Francis Dana, was minister to Russia during the Revolution, and subsequently member of the Massachusetts Convention for adopting the Constitution, member of Congress, and chief justice of his native State. At the age of ten, the son went to live with his maternal grandfather, the Hon. William Ellery, of Newport, R. I., one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here he remained till he entered Harvard College. On leaving college, in 1807, he went to Baltimore, and entered as a law student in the office of Gen. Robert Goodies Harper. That atmosphere, however, did not suit him, and he returned and finished his studies, and commenced practice in his native town. He soon found the profession of the law too laborious for his health, and not congenial to his tastes, and he gave it up, and made an arrangement with his relative, Prof. Edward T. Channing, to assist him in conducting the North American Review, which had then been established about two years. In 1821, he published his Idle Man, in numbers, in which were some of his most admirable tales. But the general tone of it was too high to be popular, and the publication was relinquished. His first poem, The Dying Raven, he published in 1825, in the New York Review, then edited by the poet Bryant. Two years after, he published The Buccaneer and other Poems, and in 1833 his Poems and Prose Writings. His Lectures on Shakspeare, which have been delivered in many cities, he has not given to the public. In 1849, he published a new edition of his entire collected works. He resides now at a most picturesque residence in Cape Ann, and the incidents of his life are purely domestic.