1822
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On a late Loss.

Connecticut Mirror (3 June 1822).

John G. C. Brainard


Two Prior stanzas (without the alexandrine) anonymously published in the Connecticut Mirror in 1822 and reprinted in Brainard's Original Pieces (1825). The poem is "supposed to have been intended as a tribute to the memory of the late Mr. Fisher, Professor of Mathematics in Yale College, who was lost in the 'Albion'" Christian Register 1 (14 June 1822) 176. John G. C. Brainard was a student at Yale (B.A. 1815). A different, one-stanza version of the poem appears in Remains (1832).

Author's note: "Professor Fisher was Professor of Mathematics in Yale College, elected in 1817. Anxious to enlarge his knowledge in his favorite science, to which he had devoted his life, he set sail for Europe in the packet ship Albion, which was lost in a terrific storm off the coast of Ireland, April 22d, 1822, and but very few of the passengers or crew were saved. Among the lost, was the promising and gifted subject of these lines" in Cleveland, in Compendium of American Literature (1858) 196.

The Christian Observer [New Haven]: "The loss of the Albion was a theme for almost every poet in the land, from Dr. Percival downwards. But Mr. Brainard's two stanzas are 'of a higher mood'; and not be very far out of the place in the same rank with the poem [Lycidas] from which his motto is selected" 7 (June 1825) 325.

Samuel Griswold Goodrich: "The Albion was a packet ship plying between New York and Liverpool. She sailed from the former port April 1, 1822, and went ashore on the 22d of the same month. She had twenty-four seamen and twenty-eight passengers: seven of the former and two of the latter only, were saved. Among the persons lost was Alexander W. Fisher, Professor of Mathematics in Yale College. He, was a young man — twenty years old — of fine genius, and great expectations were entertained as to his future achievements. A person who escaped from the wreck, whom I chanced to meet, told me that the last he saw of Mr. Fisher, he was in his berth with a pocket-compass in his hand, watching the course of the vessel. A moment after she struck, and he saw him no more. The ship went to pieces on the rocks, in face of high perpendicular cliffs. The people of the neighborhood rendered all possible assistance, but their efforts were but partially successful. The struggles of the sufferers, clinging to ropes, yards, and points of the rocks, in the very sight of persons on shore, were fearful, and the details given of these scenes, rendered the event one of the most agonizing on record" in Recollections of a Lifetime (1857) 2:161-62n.



The breath of air that stirs the harp's soft string,
Floats on, to join the whirlwind and the storm;
The drops of dew exhaled from flowers of spring,
Rise and assume the tempest's threatening form;
The first mild beam of morning's glorious sun,
Ere night, is sporting in the lightning's flash;
And the smooth stream, that flows in quiet on,
Moves but to aid the overwhelming dash
That wave and wind can muster, when the might
Of earth, and air, and sea, and sky unite.

So science whisper'd in thy charmed ear,
And radiant learning beckon'd thee away.
The breeze was music to thee, and the clear
Beam of thy morning, promised a bright day.
And they have wreck'd thee! But there is a shore
Where storms are hush'd — where tempests never rage,—
Where angry skies, and raging seas no more
With gusty strength their roaring warfare wage.
By thee its peaceful margent shall be trod,
Thy home is heaven, and thy friend is GOD.

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