1858 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Sprague

Charles D. Cleveland, in Compendium of American Literature (1858; 1859) 352-53.



This finished poet and graceful prose-writer was born in Boston on the 26th of October, 1791. He was educated in his native city, and placed at an early age in a mercantile house, and at the age of twenty-one engaged in business on his own account. After a few years, he was elected cashier of the Globe Bank, in Boston, which office he still holds.

Mr. Sprague is an eminent and encouraging example of the union of large business capacity and exact business habits with a love of literature and signal success in its pursuit. He was born a poet, and no forms of the counting-house or of the bank could repress his native genius. He early published a series of prologues, which attracted much attention, and in 1823 was a successful competitor for the Prize Ode at an exhibition in Boston in honor of Shakspeare. On the 4th of July, 1825, he delivered an oration before the inhabitants of Boston, which is above the ordinary productions of that character. In 1827, he delivered an admirable Oration before the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance; and in 1829, a poem before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard University, entitled Curiosity. This is the longest of his poetical productions, and has many passages of signal beauty. In 1830, he pronounced an ode at the Centennial Celebration of the settlement of Boston, which has, perhaps, a little more finish than the "Shakspeare Ode;" but it displays not so much spirit, vigor, or genius. Besides these, Mr. Sprague has written many smaller pieces, which have fully sustained his early reputation.