1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John G. C. Brainard

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 484.



Brainard (1795-1828) was a native of New London, Conn., son of a judge of the Supreme Court. He was educated at Yale College, and in 1822 went to Hartford to take editorial charge of the Connecticut Mirror. Samuel G. Goodrich, author of the Peter Parley Tales, was his intimate friend, and persuaded him to publish his first volume of poems. This appeared in New York, in 1826, from the press of Bliss & White. A second edition, with a memoir by J. G. Whittier, appeared in 1832; and this was followed by a third, in 1842, from the press of Hopkins, Hartford. "At the age of eight-and-twenty," says Goodrich, "Brainard was admonished that his end was near. With a submissive spirit, in pious, gentle, cheerful faith, he resigned himself to his doom. In person he was short; his general appearance that of a clumsy boy. At one moment he looked stupid, and then inspired. He was true in friendship, chivalrous in all that belongs to personal honor." An instance of his ready wit is given in a retort he addressed to a critic, who had objected to the use of the word "brine," as a word which "had no more business in sentimental poetry than a pig in a parlor;" to which the poet replied that his critic, "living inland, must have got his ideas of the salt-water from his father's pork-barrel."