The life and works of William Cullen Bryant
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22 AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY:
to one of them, took him by the button, and, leading him away,
seated him beside himself. His power extended to other de
linquencies. He was directed by law to see that the Sabbath
was not profaned by people wandering- in the fields and ang
ling in the brooks. At that time a law, no longer in force,
directed that any person who absented himself unnecessarily
from public worship for a certain length of time should pay a
fine into the treasury of the county. I remember several per
sons of whom it was said that they had been compelled to pay
this fine, but I do not remember any of them who went to
church afterward.
In my ninth year I began to make verses, some of which
were utter nonsense. My father ridiculed them, and endeav
ored to teach me to write only when I had something to say.
A year or two later my grandfather gave me as an exercise
the first chapter of the Book of Job to turn into verse. I put
the whole narration into heroic couplets, one of which I re
member, as the first draught.
& quot; His name was Job, evil he did eschew,
To him were born seven sons ; three daughters too. & quot;
My father did not allow this doggerel to stand, but I for
get what I put in its place.* For this task I was rewarded
with the small Spanish coin then called a ninepenny piece. I
paraphrased afterwards the Hundred and Fourth Psalm. In
* Mr. Bryant had forgotten this ; but among his papers was found the following,
which is probably a part of his amended version :
& quot; Jot), good and just, in Uz had sojourned long,
He feared his God and shunned the way of wrong.
Three were his daughters, and his sons were seven,
And large the wealth bestowed on him by heaven.
Seven thousand sheep were in his pastures fed,
Three thousand camels by his train were led ;
For him the yoke a thousand oxen wore,
Five hundred she asses his burdens bore.
His household to a mighty host increased,
The greatest man was Job in all the East. & quot; G.
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