1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Sprague

Samuel Austin Allibone, in Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:2210-11.



Charles Sprague, b. in Boston, Oct. 26, 1791, became a clerk in a mercantile house in 1804; was a partner in the same, 1816-20; Teller of the State Bank, Boston, 1820-25; Cashier of the Globe Bank, Boston, 1825 to present date, (Jan. 1870.) There have been three collective editions of Mr. Sprague's writings: N. York, 1841, 12mo, and 1850, 12mo, and — The Poetical and Prose Writings of Charles Sprague, Revised by the Author, (the only complete edition,) — Bost., 1850, 12mo. The best-known of the contents of this volume are an Ode on Shakspeare, delivered at the Boston Theatre in 1823, (pub. in Boston Prize Poems, &c. 1824, and reviewed by William H. Prescott in N. Amer. Rev., July, 1824, 253;) a metrical essay on Curiosity, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College, 1829, (pub. Bost., 1829, 8vo, and reviewed by W. B. O. Peabody in N. Amer. Rev., — April, 1830, 313;) a Centennial Ode at the Celebration of the Settlement of Boston, 1830, 8vo, (see Phila. Museum, xviii, 353;) a Fourth of July Oration, 1825, and Address on Intemperance, 1827; and the poems; The Winged Worshippers; Lines on the Death of M. S. C.; The Brothers; The Family Meeting; Art; I See Thee Still; and Lines to a Young Mother. Mr. Sprague was a contributor to Goodrich's Token, (see Goodrich's Recollec., ii. 274,) and to Buckingham's New England Galaxy. Specimens of his poetry will be found in The Boston Book, 1837, 12mo. (reviewed in Lon. Athen. 1838, 389;) Griswold's Poets and Poetry of America; Duychkinck's Cyc. of Amer. Lit.; Cleveland's Comp. of Amer. Lit.; Hilliard's F. C. Reader; Loring's Hundred Boston Orators; and in Beautiful Poetry, Lon., 1858. See notices of his writings in Lon. Athen., 1835, 147; Blackw. Mag. xvii. 202, (by John Neal,) xxxviii, 259; N. Eng. Mag., iii. 80, (with portrait;) N. Amer. Rev. liii. 533, lvii. 8 (by E. Whipple, and repub. in his Essays, &c., i. 39;) Liv. Age, xxiv. 90, (from Boston Post;) H. T. Tuckerman's Sketch of Amer. Lit. ch. iii.

"His prologues are the best which have been written since the time of Pope. His 'Shakspeare Ode' has hardly been exceeded by anything in the same manner, since Gray's 'Progress of Poetry.' But the true power and originality of the man are manifested in his domestic pieces. 'The Brothers,' 'I See Thee Still,' and 'The Family Meeting' are the finest consecrations of natural affection in our literature." — EDWARD P. WHIPPLE, ubi supra.

"But here is Sprague, — the American Pope, as he has been called for his terseness, his finished elegance, his regularity of metre, and his nervous point." — London Athen., 1838, 389.

"Amidst a host of competitors, Charles Sprague received the prize six times, for producing the best poems for the American stage, — an instance unprecedented in our literary annals." — Loring's Hundred Boston Orators, 413.