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With misery hath rived !
And mark the Caledonian maid,
Of glowing cheek, of auburn braid,
Blue Cheviot's sloping height above,
She rolls her soft blue eyes of love
Along the western sky-bound wave,
Anxious to view the bark so brave,
That bears her soldier home;
But, ah! the unrelenting glaive,
Has sent him to an early grave,
No tender friend to soothe or save
From carnage and the tomb!
On Mississippi's side he fell,
Whose rapids roared his dying knell !
Glassy and dim that manly eye,
Which lighted love and ecstacy;
Once flamed with hope of proud renown,
And looked the fear of danger down!
The last thought of his throbbing breast,
Turned to the maid he erst had press'd,
When with fond hope supremely bless'd,
No fields of conflict known: But Hope, thou art a baseless dream, That wak'st to life thy mimic theme; For mark the change !—the big tears trace Their passage down his pallid face,
He heaves the parting groan!
Stern War! what fateful deeds are thine,
With dripping blood thy garments shine,
And Ruin, Rage, with thee combine,
Whose eyes wild terrors flash!
The Horrors form thy dreadful train,
And Cruelty conducts thy wain,
Of bleeding sinews is the rein,
Of clotted braids each courser's mane,
Of scorpion fangs the lash!
The wheels thy thirsty fury draws
O’er all divine and human laws;
Dashing through each devoted realm
Those waves which roll but to o’erwhelm;
And like the flood which whilom rose,
Sweep from the world whate'er oppose !
Such is thy worth, disastrous war,
And such thy ruins, hurl'd afar,
That, when the glorious day may be,
For fate to strike his spear through thee,
Thy eulogy's thy victim's groans,
Thy monument their bleaching bones!
Was born in 1791, in Boston, where he has always resided. He was educated at one of the public schools in his native town, and during the early part of his life, gave his attention to mercantile pursuits. He is at present the Cashier of the Globe Bank, which situation he has held for several years. He has ever been actively devoted to business, and has cultivated letters only during hours of leisure.
Mr Sprague, we believe, was first introduced to the public, as a poet, on the occasion of obtaining a prize for a theatrical prologue. He has since written several others, which have not only been adjudged worthy of prizes, but are esteemed superior to all productions of the kind, excepting only those of Pope and Johnson. These, however they may be the principal things by which this author is known to the public at large, are not all that he has written, nor in our opinion, are they the best. The “Winged Worshippers ” is one of the most beautiful little pieces in our language, and that entitled “ Art,” is perfect in its way.
This author may be selected, as perhaps farther in his manner of writing from the prevalent taste of the day, than any other American poet. While the current poetry of the hour is diffuse, feeble, irregular, and pointless, his is condensed, forcible, sustained, and significant. He wastes no words-he does not dilute his meaning, and expand one idea into a whole poem, lest some sickly appetite should be shocked at the disproportion between the sense and the sound. On the contrary, every sentence is bursting with thought; he deals in no dreamy obscurity–he allows no inharmonious line to pass all is finished, and full of purpose. The lines of Roscommon, on another subject, will apply with great justice to this writer and some of his popular cotemporaries.
“ The weighty bullion of one sterling line, Drawn in French wire, would through whole pages shine."
Yet Mr Sprague is a popular poet, and we think it even more creditable to the author than the public, that being characterised by such traits as these, he can obtain applause, when the fashionable minstrelsy is distinguished by opposite qualities. Those, who like ourselves regard the taste in poetry that reigns now over a large portion of readers, as an illusion destined soon to pass away, can have no difficulty in foreseeing the perpetuity of such reputation as that which belongs to the author under review.
Beside the few pieces of poetry which Mr Sprague is known to have written, are two prose compositions of merit. One is an oration written for the fourth of July, 1825, and an address before the Massachusetts Society for the suppression of Intemperance, in 1828. They are both beautiful compositions ; the latter is a striking instance, in which the glowing pictures of the imagination, are made to serve the practical purposes of the understanding.
PROLOGUE, ON THE OPENING OF THE NEW YORK THEATRE,
SEPTEMBER 1, 1821. When mitred Zeal, in wild, unholy days, Bared his red arm, and bade the fagot blaze, Our patriot sires the pilgrim sail unfurl'd, And Freedom pointed to a rival world.
Where prowl'd the wolf, and where the hunter roved,
Faith raised her altars to the God she loved ;
Toil, link'd with Art, explored each savage wild,
The lofty forest bow'd, the desert smiled;
The startled Indian o'er the mountains flew,
The wigwam vanish'd, and the village grew;
Taste rear'd her domes, fair Science spread her page,
And Wit and Genius gather'd round the stage!
The Stage!-where Fancy sits, creative queen,
And waves her sceptre o'er life's mimic scene ;
Where young-eyed Wonder comes to feast his sight,
And quaff instruction while he drinks delight.--
The Stage !-that threads each labyrinth of the soul,
Wakes laughter's peal, and bids the tear-drop roll ;
That hoots at folly, mocks proud fashion's slave,
Uncloaks the hypocrite, and brands the knave.
The child of Genius, catering for the Stage,
Rifles the wealth of every clime and age.
He speaks! the sepulchre resigns its prey,
And crimson life runs through the sleeping clay.
The wave, the gibbet, and the battle field,
At his command, their festering tenants yield.
Pale, bleeding Love comes weeping from the tomb,
That kindred softness may bewail her doom;
Murder's dry bones, reclothed, desert the dust,
That after times may own his sentence just;
Forgotten Wisdom, freed from death's embrace,
Reads awful lessons to another race ;
And the mad tyrant of some ancient shore,
Here warns a world that he can curse no more.
May this fair Dome, in classic beauty rear'd,
By Worth be honor’d, and by Vice be fear’d.
May chasten’d Wit here bend to Virtue's cause,
Reflect her image, and repeat her laws;
And Guilt, that slumbers o'er the sacred page,
Hate his own likeness, shadow'd from the Stage.
Here let the Guardian of the Drama sit,
In righteous judgment o'er the realms of wit.
Not his the shame, with servile pen to wait
On private friendship, or on private hate;
To Hatter fools, or Satire's javelin dart,
Tipp'd with a lie, at proud Ambition's heart ;
His be the nobler task to herald forth
Young, blushing Merit, and neglected Worth ;
To brand the page where goodness finds a sneer,
And lash the wretch that breathes the treason here.
Here shall bright Genius wing his eagle flight,
Rich dew-drops shaking from his plumes of light,
Till, high in mental worlds, from vulgar ken
He soars, the wonder and the pride of men.
Cold Censure here to decent Mirth shall bow',
And Bigotry unbend his monkish brow;
Here Toil shall pause, his ponderous sledge thrown by,
And Beauty bless each strain with melting eye.
Grief, too, in fiction lost, shall cease to weep,
And all the world's rude cares be laid to sleep.
Each polish'd scene shall Taste and Truth approve,
And the Stage triumph in the people's love,
PROLOGUE ON THE OPENING OF THE NEW PHILADELPHIA
THEATRE, DECEMBER 1, 1822.
When learning slumber'd in the convent's shade,
And holy craft the groping nations sway'd,
By dulness banned, the Muses wander'd long,
Each lyre neglected, and forgot each song ;
Till Heaven's bright halo wreathed the Drama's dome,
And great Apollo call’d the pilgrims home.
Then their glad harps, that charm'd old Greece, they swept,
Their altars throng’d, and joy's high sabbath kept.
Young Genius there his glorious banners rear'd,
To float forever loved, forever fear'd.
The cowl's device, the cloister's legend known,
Old Superstition tumbled from his throne;
Back to his cell the king of gloom retired,
The buskin triumphd, and the world admired!
Since that proud hour, through each unfetter'd age,
The sons of light have cluster'd round the stage.
From Fiction's realms her richest spoils they bring,
And Pleasure's walls with Rapture's echoes ring.
Here hermit Wisdom lays his mantle down,
To win with smiles the heart that fears his frown;
In mirth's gay robe he talks to wondering youth,
And Grandeur listens to the voice of Truth.
Beauty, with bounding heart and tingling ear,
Melts at the tale to love and feeling dear;
Their sacred bowers the sons of learning quit,
To rove with fancy, and to feast with wit;
All come to gaze, the valiant and the vain,
Virtue's bright troop, and Fashion's glittering train.
Here Labor rests, pale Grief forgets her wo,
And Vice, whose mildew breath taints all below,
Even Vice looks on!—For this the Stage was rear'd,
To scourge the fiend, so cherish'd, scorn'd and fear'd
Not tied alone to poverty's cold walls,
He dwells with pomp, treads plenty's marble halls ;
Proudly he sits where senate-sages meet,
Gravely he dooms in judgment's awful seat;
God's lovely temple shall behold him there,
With eye upturn'd, and aspect false as fair;
Even at the altar's very horns he stands,
And breaks and blesses with polluted hands.
Then hither let the unblushing villain roam,
Satire shall knot its whip and strike it home.