Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Sprague, Charles

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
Appletons' Sprague Charles.jpg
Appletons' Sprague Charles signature.png

SPRAGUE, Charles, poet, b. in Boston, Mass., 26 Oct., 1791; d. there, 22 Jan., 1875. His father, Samuel, a native of Hingham, Mass., was one of the party that threw the tea into Boston harbor. The son was educated at the Franklin school of Boston, and at the age of ten lost the use of his left eye by an accident. In 1804 he entered mercantile life, and in 1816 was taken into partnership by his employers. In 1820 he became teller in the State bank, and on the establishment of the Globe bank in 1824 he was employed as cashier, serving there until 1865, when he retired from business. Mr. Sprague first attracted attention as a poet when he won a prize for the best prologue at the opening of the Park theatre in New York. He achieved similar success at the opening of other theatres in Philadelphia, Salem, and Portsmouth. In 1823 he obtained the prize for the best ode to be recited at the exhibition in the Boston theatre of a pageant in honor of Shakespeare, and in 1830 he pronounced an ode at the centennial celebration of the settlement of Boston. In 1829 he delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa society of Harvard a poem on “Curiosity,” which was considered his best production. Among his shorter poems are the “Ode to Shakespeare” and “Winged Worshippers.” Edwin P. Whipple says: “His prologues are the best which have been written since the time of Pope. His ‘Shakespeare Ode’ has hardly been exceeded by anything in the same manner since Gray's ‘Progress of Poesy.’ 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.” There have been several collections of Mr. Sprague's writings (New York, 1841); his “Prose and Poetical Writings, revised by the Author” (Boston, 1850); and other editions (1855 and 1876). — His son, Charles James, poet, b. in Boston, Mass., 16 Jan., 1823, was educated in private schools, and became cashier of the Globe bank in 1864, serving until 1882. For many years he was curator of botany in the Boston society of natural history, and he is known among cryptogamists for his collection of lichens. He has published several lists of New England fungi. Mr. Sprague has contributed poems to journals and magazines, and has written articles for scientific papers. During the past thirty years he has translated numerous poems for part-songs.