1856 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Bingham Davis

Evert A. and George L. Duyckinck, Cyclopedia of American Literature (1856) 2:2.



One of the members of this [Callopean] Society was Richard Bingham Davis, who was much admired for his poetical talents. In his appearance and manners he is said to have reminded his associates of Oliver Goldsmith. His person was clumsy, his manner awkward, his speech embarrassed, and his simplicity most remarkable in one who had been born and brought up in the midst of a crowd of his fellow creatures. He was born in New York, August 21, 1771, was educated at Columbia College, modestly pursued the business of his father, in carving or sculpture in wood, but was induced in 1796 to undertake the editorial department in the Diary, a daily gazette published in New York, for which he wrote during a year. He was too sensitive, and his literary tastes, which lay in the direction of the belles lettres, were too delicate for this pursuit. He next engaged in mercantile affairs. In 1799 he fell a victim to the yellow fever then prevailing in New York, carrying the seeds of the disease with him to New Brunswick, New Jersey, where he died in his twenty-eighth year. His poems were expressions of personal feeling and sentiment, and have a tinge of melancholy. They were collected by his friends of the Callopean Society after his death and published by Swords in 1807, with a well written prefatory memoir from the pen of John T. Irving. An "Ode to Imagination" shows his earnestness, as a clever "Elegy to an Old Wig found in the street," does his humor. He was also a contributor to the Drone papers in the New York Magazine, where he drew a well written character of himself under the name of Martlet.