Thursday, April 15, 2010

Part Two: Daniel Taylor, Student at Yale University 1850-1851, By Evelyn Taylor:

In reading Daniel’s Journals written while a student at Yale and two of the letters he wrote to Cordelia Waller ( his future wife), I was struck by his imagery, his use of similes and metaphors, and his meditation. He was twenty three years old at the time.

The Romantic Poets such as Keats and Shelley came to mind, and I looked up the definition of Romanticism of 1820-1860. Romantic poetry was nature poetry, which habitually endowed the landscape with human life, passion, and expressiveness. It was also a poetry of meditation.

Certainly, as a sophomore at Yale in that period, Daniel would have been influenced by the poetry and literature of that period. He also was a very observant, sensitive, introspective, perceptive person with fantastic articulate powers.

There is nothing known in the history of Daniel that tells us what he was studying. I would say that he may have been leaning toward being a writer as in one letter he mentioned that on a holiday hike through Connecticut, he had met three women who had told him stories that he might publish someday.

Illness, again we do not know what that was, prevented him from returning to Yale to finish. He became a farmer and his journals then were itemized lists of things purchased and sold. What happened to the man of the Romantic Period?

I was telling these things to a friend whose husband has been a big farmer on the muck land of Elba for years. She said that Cornell has been doing Oral Biographies of farmers, and her family was chosen to be interviewed. Cornell said that farmers' journals were not personal, but lists like Daniel’s. They, therefore, did not know how farmers' made decisions, but when they started interviewing, found that farmers were answering their questions as they thought Cornell wanted them to.

So Cornell devised a game called “Farming” which was played by the farm family and recorded. An example of a question on a card would be: “This morning three of your pigs died. What are you going to do about it?”

I cannot help but feel sad that Daniel did not continue his education and his beautiful, lyrical writings. Did he ever have regrets? That we will never know!

1 comment:

Pat said...


Thank you so much for this!! Great writing, and thoughts on our Daniel.