[ocr errors]

And, screaming like a vulture in his ears,
Tells, one by one, his thoughts and deeds of share,

How wild the fury of his soul careers !
His swart eye flashes with intensest flame,
And like the torture's rack the wrestling of his frame.

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 Lover of the Fine Arts. It contained much that was beautiful, and gave promise of far higher excellence. In 1823, Mr. Brooks diçd, 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 Seven, 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

In 1943, 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 seren 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 off Asmodeus by means of " a smoke" made of "the liver and heart of a fish." In Mrs. Brooks's poem, The Bride of Seren, Zophiel is Asmodeus, and Egla is Sara, a maiden of exquisite beauty, grace, and tenderness; but though the poem sbows 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 !

The old man, feebly tottering forth, admires As much thy beauty, now life's dream is done,

As when he moved exulting in his fires. The infant strains his little arms to catch

The rays that glance about his silken hair; And Luxury hangs her amber lamps, to match

Thy face, when turn'd away from bower and palace fair. Sweet to the lip the draught, the blushing fruit;

Music and perfumes mingle with the soul;
How thrills the kiss, when feeling's voice is mute!

And light and beauty's tints enhance the whole.
Yet each keen sense were dulness but for thee:

Thy ray to joy, love, virtue, genius, warms; Thou never weariest; no inconstancy

But comes to pay new homage to thy charms. How many lips have sung thy praise, how long!

Yet, when his slumbering harp he feels thee woo, The pleasured bard pours forth another song,

And finds in thee, like love, a theme forever new. Thy dark-eyed daughters come in beauty forth,

In thy near realms; and, like their snow-wreaths fair, The bright-hair'd youths and maidens of the north

Smile in thy colors when thou art not there. 'Tis there thou bidst a deeper ardor glow,

And higher, purer reveries completest; As drops that farthest form the ocean flow,

Refining all the way, form springs the sweetest. Haply, sometimes, spent with the sleepless night,

Some wretch, impassion'd, from sweet morning's breath Turns his hot brow, and sickens at thy light;

But Nature, ever kind, soon heals or gives him death.


What bliss for her who lives her little day,

In blest obedience, like to those divine, Who to her loved, her earthly lord, can say,

“God is thy law, most just, and thou art mine." To every blast she bends in beauty meek:

Let the storm beat his arms her shelter kindAnd feels no need to blanch her rosy cheek

With thoughts befitting his superior mind. Who only sorrows when she sees him pain'd,

Then knows to pluck away Pain's keenest dart; Or bid Love catch it ere its goal be gain'd,

And steal its-venom ere it reach his heart.

'Tis the soul's food: the fervid must adore.

For this the heathen, unsufficed with thought, Moulds him an idol of the glittering ore,

And shrines his smiling goddess, marble-wrought. What bliss for her, even in this world of woe,

O Sire! who mak'st yon orb strewn arch thy throne; That sees thee in thy noblest work below

Shine undefaced, adored, and all her own! This I had hoped, but hope, too dear, too great,

Go to thy grave!-I feel thee blasted, now. Give me, Faie's sovereign, well to bear the fate

Thy pleasure sends: this, my sole prayer, allow!


The bard has sung, God never form’d a soul

Without its own peculiar mate, to meet
Its wandering half, when ripe to crown the whole

Bright plan of bliss, most heavenly, most complete!
But thousand evil things there are that hate

To look on happiness: these hurt, impede,
And, leagued with time, space, circumstance, and fate,

Keep kindred heart from heart, to pine, and pant, and bleed And as the dove to far Palmyra flying

From where her native founts of Antioch beam, Wenry, exhausted, longing, panting, sighing,

Lights sadly at the desert's bitter stream; So many a soul, o'er life's drear desert faring,

Love's pure congenial spring unfound, unquaffd, Suffers, recoils, then, thirsty, and despairing

Of what it would, descends and sips the nearest draught.


Day, in melting purple dying,
Blossoms, all around me sighing,
Fragrance, from the lilies straying,
Zephyr, with my ringlets playing,

Ye but waken my distress;

I am sick of loneliness.
Thou, to whom I love to hearken,
Come, ere night around me darken;
Though thy softness but deceive me,
Say thou’rt true, and I'll believe thee;

Veil, if ill, thy soul's intent,

Let me think it innocent!
Save thy toiling, spare thy treasure:
All I ask is friendship’s pleasure;
Let the shining ore lie darkling,
Bring no gem in lustre sparkling:

Gifts and gold are naught to me;
I would only look on thee!

Tell to thee the high-wrought feeling,
Ecstasy but in revealing;
Paint to thee the deep sensation,
Rapture in participation,

Yet but torture, if comprest
In a lone, unfriended breast.

Absent still! Ah! come and bless me!
Let these eyes again caress thee;
Once, in caution, I could fly thee:
Now, I nothing could deny thee;

In a look if death there be,
Come, and I will gaze on thee!


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, 1797, his paternal ancestor having originally settled in Duxbury, Massaehusetts. Ho was fitted for college chiefly under the Rev. Abiel Abbot, of Coventry, and entered Yale College in 1811. After receiving his degree, ho 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 beticeen Trne and False Religion, 1837; Life of Rev. Educard Dorr Griffin, 1838; Life of President Diciyht, (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, 1851,-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 clergynien of the orthodox Congregational Church. They were followed in 1858 by two more volumes, of same size, upon the Presbyterian Church, and in 1859 by another rolume, upon the Episcopal Church; and will, if his life and health permit, bei succeeded by volumes upon the clergymen of other denominations—the whole forming the most valuable and authentic books of reference of the kind in our language.



Let me now, for a moment, show you what the two systems, Atheism and Christianity- - can do, have done, for individual character; and I can think of no two names to which I may refer with more confidence, in the way of illustration, than Voltaire and Wilberforce; both of them names which stand out with prominence upon the world's history, and each, in its own way, imperishable.

Voltaire was perhaps the master-spirit in the school of French Atheism ;' and though he was not alive to participate in the horrors of the revolution, probably he did more by his writings to combine the elements for that tremendous tempest than any other

And now I undertake to say that you may draw a character in which there shall be as much of the blackness of moral turpitude as your imagination can supply, and yet you shall not have exceeded the reality as it was found in the character of this apostle of Atheism. You may throw into it the darkest shades of selfishness, making the man a perfect idolater of himself; you may paint the serpent in his most wily form to represent deceit and cunning; you may let sensuality stand forth in all the loathsomeness of a beast in the mire; you may bring out envy, and malice, and all the baser and all the darker passions, drawing nutriment from the pit; and when you have done this, you may contemplate the character of Voltaire, and exclaim, “ Here is the monstrous original !". The fires of his genius kindled only to wither and consume; he stood, for almost a century, a great tree of poison, not only cumbering the ground, but infusing death into the atmosphere; and though its foliage has long since dropped off, and its branches have withered, and its trunk fallen, under the hand of time, its deadly root still remains; and the very earth that nourishes it is cursed for its sake.

And now I will speak of Wilberforce; and I do it with gratitude and triumph,—gratitude to the God who made him what he was; triumph that there is that in his very name which ought to

"I am not aware that Voltaire ever formally professed himself an Atheist; and I well know that his writings contain some things which wouid seem inconsistent with atheistical opinions. But not only are many of bis works deeply pervaded by the spirit of Atheism, but there is scarcely a doctrine of natural religion which he has not somewhere directly and bitterly assailed; so that I cannot doubt that he falls fairly into the ranks of those who say, “ There is no God."

« ForrigeFortsett »