Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Adams, Sarah Flower

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ADAMS, SARAH FLOWER (1805–1848), poetess, wife of William Bridges Adams, and daughter of Benjamin and sister of Eliza Flower [see Adams, William Bridges, and Flower, Benjamin], was born at Great Harlow, Essex, 22 Feb. 1805. After the death of her father in 1827 she lived with the family of Mr. W. J. Fox, and became a contributor to the ‘Monthly Repository,’ then conducted by him. In 1834 she married Mr. W. B. Adams, and died of decline in August 1848. Her principal work, ‘Vivia Perpetua, a Dramatic Poem,’ was published in 1841. She is likewise authoress of numerous contributions to the ‘Monthly Repository,’ chiefly in the years 1834 and 1835, and of a long poem in ballad metre, entitled ‘The Royal Progress,’ on the surrender of the sovereignty of the Isle of Wight to Edward I by Isabella, Countess of Albemarle, which appeared in the ‘Illuminated Magazine’ for 1845. She also composed several hymns, set to music by her sister, and used in the services at Finsbury Chapel; numerous unpublished poems on social and political subjects, principally written for the Anti-Corn Law League, specimens of which will be found in the fourth volume of Fox's ‘Lectures to the Working Classes;’ and a little religious catechism entitled ‘The Flock at the Fountain.’ Although Mrs. Adams was endowed with so much dramatic talent as to have meditated adopting the stage as a profession, the bent of her literary genius was rather lyrical than dramatic. ‘Vivia Perpetua,’ but moderately interesting as a play, is couched throughout in a fine strain of impassioned emotion, symbolising, in the guise of Vivia's conversion to christianity, the authoress's own devotion to the high ideals which inspired her life. This truth of feeling redeems Mrs. Adams's eloquence from the imputation of rhetoric, and, notwithstanding the artlessness of the construction and the conventionality of the stage accessories, renders her work genuinely impressive. Vivia's monologue on forswearing the altar of Jupiter is especially eloquent. The authoress, however, was more happily inspired in her hymns, which, as simple expressions of devotional feeling at once pure and passionate, can hardly be surpassed. ‘Nearer to Thee’—often erroneously attributed to Mrs. Beecher Stowe—is known wherever the English language is spoken; and the lines beginning ‘He sendeth sun, He sendeth shower,’ are even more exquisite in their blended spirit of fervour and resignation. All who knew Mrs. Adams personally speak of her with enthusiasm; she is described as a woman of singular beauty and attractiveness, delicate and truly feminine, high-minded, and in her days of health playful and high-spirited. She left no descendants.

[W. J. Fox, Lectures addressed chiefly to the Working Classes, vol. iv. lect. 9; Westminster Review, vol. 1. pp. 540–42; private information from Mrs. Bridell Fox and Mr. W. J. Linton.]

R. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.2
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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101 i 31 Adams, Sarah F.: for 1827 read 1829