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Melting like melody into the ear,
EXTRACT FROM PROMETHEUS.
Our thoughts are boundless, though our frames are frail,
I feel it, though the flesh is weak, I feel
We are as barks afloat upon the sea,
Our home is not on earth; although we sleep,
How awful is that hour, when conscience stings
Deep in his soul, the thundering voice that rings,
And, screaming like a vulture in his ears,
MARIA BROOKS, 1795–1845.
MARIA Gowen (known by the name of “Maria del Occidente,” given to her by the poet Southey) was descended from a Welsh family, and born in Medford in 1795. She early displayed uncommon powers of mind, which were judiciously cultivated and directed by an intelligent and educated father. She was married very early in life to Mr. John Brooks, a merchant-tailor of Boston, who, a few years after their marriage, lost the greater part of his property, when Mrs. Brooks resorted to poetry for her amusement and consolation. In 1820, she gave to the public a small volume, entitled Judith, Esther, and other Poems, by a Lorer of the Fine Arts. It contained much that was beautiful, and gave promise of far higher excellence. In 1823, Mr. Brooks died, and she went to reside with a paternal uncle in Cuba, where, in 1824, she completed her first canto of Zophiel, or The Bride of Seren, which she had planned and nearly written before leaving Boston. It was published in Boston in 1825: other cantos were written from time to time, and the sixth was published in 1829.
Mrs. Brooks's uncle having died, leaving her an ample income, she returned soon after to the United States, and in 1831 visited England, where she was cordially welcomed by the poet Southey, who pronounced her “the most impassioned and most imaginative of all poetesses.” When she left England, she intrusted to his care her completed work, which he carried through the press, in London, in 1833. After returning home, she had printed, for private circulation, Idomen, or the Vale of the Yumuri, being simply her own history, under a different name. In 1843, she sailed for Matanzas, in Cuba, where she died on the 11th of November, 1845.
Zophiel, or The Bride of Seven, Mrs. Brooks's chief poem, is a beautiful tale of an exiled Jewish maiden in Media, and is evidently suggested by the Book of Tobit in the Apocrypha. Sara, the heroine in Tobit, is married to seven husbands successively, who all die on entering the bridal chamber, being killed by Asmodeus, the evil spirit. At last Tobias, the son of Tobit, being instructed by the angel Raphael how to overcome the evil spirit, marries Sara, and drives of Asmodeus by means of “a smoke” made of “the liver and heart of a fish.” In Mrs. Brooks's poem, The Bride of Seven, Zophiel is Asmodeus, and Egla is Sara, a maiden of exquisite beauty, grace, and tenderness; but though the poem shows much artistic skill and has many passages of great beauty and power, it is deficient in simplicity and true human feeling, and receives rather the homage of the intellect than of the heart. Hence, while it commands the warm approbation of the few, it will never please or interest the many. Some of Mrs. Brooks's minor poems, however, have all the finish of Zophiel, and at the same time interest our feelings.
How beauteous art thou, O thou morning sun –
As much thy beauty, now life's dream is done,
The infant strains his little arms to catch
And Luxury hangs her amber lamps, to match
Sweet to the lip the draught, the blushing fruit;
How thrills the kiss, when feeling's voice is mute
Yet each keen sense were dulness but for thee:
Thou never weariest; no inconstancy
How many lips have sung thy praise, how long !
The pleasured bard pours forth another song,
Thy dark-eyed daughters come in beauty forth,
The bright-hair'd youths and maidens of the north
'Tis there thou bidst a deeper ardor glow,
As drops that farthest form the ocean flow,
Haply, sometimes, spent with the sleepless night,
Turns his hot brow, and sickens at thy light;
What bliss for her who lives her little day,
'Tis the soul's food: the fervid must adore.—
The bard has sung, God never form'd a soul
Its wandering half, when ripe to crown the whole
But thousand evil things there are that hate
And, leagued with time, space, circumstance, and fate,
And as the dove to far Palmyra flying
Weary, exhausted, longing, panting, sighing,
So many a soul, o'er life's drear desert faring,
Suffers, recoils, then, thirsty, and despairing -
Day, in melting purple dying,
Thou, to whom I love to hearken,
Save thy toiling, spare thy treasure:
Gifts and gold are naught to me;
Tell to thee the high-wrought feeling,
Absent still ! Ah come and bless me !
WILLIAM B. SPRAGUE.
The life of Dr. Sprague, like the lives of most literary men, has been but little fertile in incidents. He was born in Andover, Connecticut, on the 16th of October, 1795, his paternal ancestor having originally settled in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Poo was fitted for college chiefly under the Rev. Abiel Abbot, of Coventry, and entered Yale College in 1811. After receiving his degree, he entered the Theological Seminary at Princeton, and when he had completed his course ther, he was invited to become a colleague with the Rev. Dr. Joseph Lathrop, ** West Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was settled August 25, 1819. In July, 1829, he resigned his charge there, and on the 26th of the next month was installed pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Albany, New York, where he has continued to this day, in a life of constant employment and most extended usefulness.
Dr. Sprague's published works have been very numerous, and all of them are excellent in their kind. The following, we believe, are the chief of them:— Letters to a Daughter, 1822; Letters from Europe, 1828; Lectures to Young People, 1831; Lectures on Revirals, 1832; Hints on Christian Intercourse, 1834; Contrast between True and False Religion, 1837; Life of Rev. Edicard Dorr Griffin, 1838; Life of President Dwight, (in Sparks's American Biography,) 1845; Aids to Early Religion, 1847; Words to a Young Man's Conscience, 1848; Letters to Young Men, founded on the Life of Joseph, 1854,-of which eight editions have been issued; European Celebrities, 1855. In 1856 appeared, in large octavo form, the first two volumes of the great work on which his fame will chiefly rest, Annals of the American Pulpit. These comprise the lives of deceased clergymen of the orthodox Congregational Church. They were followed in 1858 by two more volumes, of the same size, upon the Presbyterian Church, and in 1859 by another volume, upon the Episcopal Church; an i will, if his life and health permit, be