1856 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Carlos Wilcox

George and Evert Duyckinck, in Cyclopedia of American Literature (1856; 1875) 1:897-98.



CARLOS WILCOX was the son of a farmer of Newport, New Hampshire, where he was born, October 28, 1794. In his fourth year his parents removed to Orwell, Vermont. He entered Middlebury College soon after its organization, and on the completion of his course delivered the valedictory oration. He then went to Andover, where his studies were frequently interrupted by the delicate state of his health. He commenced preaching in 1818, but was obliged after a few months' trial to desist. The following two years were spent, with intervals of travelling, with a friend at Salisbury, Connecticut. His chief occupation was the composition of his poem, The Age of Benevolence, the first book of which he published at his own expense in 1822. In 1824 he accepted a call from the North Church at Hartford. He resigned this position in 1826 on account of his health. This being somewhat re-established by travel during the summer months, he accepted a call to Danbury at the end of the year. Here he died on the 29th of the following May.

His Remains were published in 1828. The volume contains two poems, The Age of Benevolence and The Religion of Taste, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and fourteen Sermons. Both of the poems are incomplete. It was the author's design that the first should extend to five books, of which he only lived to complete the first and portions of the three following. These are entitled, Benevolence, the Glory of Heaven; Benevolence on Earth, the resemblance of Heaven; the Need of Benevolence, and the Rewards of Benevolence. The second poem extends to one hundred and seven Spenserian stanzas.

The poems of Wilcox abound in passages of rural description of remarkable accuracy. The greater portion is, however, occupied with reflections on the power and beneficence of the Deity in the constitution of the material universe and the human mind. His verse always maintains correctness and dignity of expression, and often rises to passages of sublimity.