Biography of Fairbanks Bush

It is probable that Fairbanks Bush, son of Captain Timothy Bush, came to Norwich with his father when the latter settled in town. His place of birth is not known to us. He first appears as a voter in town in 1807. He married Amy Yeomans.

Previous to 1796 he removed to Orange, Vt., but later returned to Norwich, where he died February 24, 1873, lacking but twelve hours of having rounded out a life period of one hundred years.

Fairbanks Bush was Norwich’s minstrel poet. We are told that the spirit of our modern age is unfavorable to poetry. However that may be, the poetical temperament and endowment are still found among men, the poet is still born in the world.

Among our own townsmen, Mr. Fairbanks Bush was endowed in some degree with the poetic gift. As being a natural musician also, his poetry for the most part took a lyrical shape, which is everywhere the earliest and simplest artificial form of poetical composition. “Lyric poetry is made to be sung, and is song in its nature and essence, Mr. Bush was accustomed to sing his own verses very often from memory. Many that he composed and sung were never committed to writing, and consequently have been lost beyond recall. We give in the latter part of this book a few specimens of the style and scope of his verse.

As has so often been the case with the noble fraternity of the poets, fortune did not always smile upon the lot of Mr. Bush. Perhaps he had not worldly thrift; clearly his affairs were often involved in difficulty. The insatiate creditor, with his ally the sheriff, dogged his footsteps; evidences of which the reader will find in his verses. But though poverty may have clouded his life, there is no proof that his temper was soured or ever gave way to misanthropy. His pent up feelings found relief in song. He once wrote a cutting lampoon upon a Hartford lawyer who had sued him out of town. It happened that the attorney fell sick, and soon after died, from which the saying arose that he died of vexation, the effect of Bush’s poem.

In his personal conduct he was exemplary. He was among the earliest of his townsmen to denounce the crime of slavery. There is reason to believe that the author of “Norwich Wears the Bell” had thought and felt deeply concerning the falling off in the standing and repute of the town from the standard that prevailed in its early days. The movement of the verse is sprightly, but the undertone is sad. The innovations which he sees creeping into Norwich society are not creatures of his imagination, but public scandals, deserving the reprobation of all good men.

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