The dreaming pauses 'midst thy play, as if of sudden thought,
The speaking glances of thine eye, when with hope and gladness fraught—
These tell a tale of after times, when I no more shall guide
The wand'rings of thy youthful feet, or lead thee by my side—
When the fondness of a father's love thou never more canst know,
And I shall in an early grave sleep tranquilly and low.
|Virginia Capitol, c. 1831|
Still, the year had bright spots. In July, Sparhawk purchased and became editor of the Petersburg, Virginia, Intelligencer. Then, in August, his marriage to Eloise Warrell relieved any fear that when his disease took its final turn, there would be no one to take care of his children. By the start of 1838, he was well enough to go back to work. He arrived at the House of Delegates on the morning of January 6, where his colleagues noticed his mood was much improved.
Crossing the grounds of the Capitol after the House had adjourned, Sparhawk was stricken and called out for help. Passers by rushed to catch him as he crumpled to the ground. He cried for "Salt! Salt!", but any relief for the hemorrhage arrived too late. His body was carried to his mother-in-law's house, and he was buried the next day at Shockoe Hill.
An accomplished poet, prose writer, reporter, printer, editor, and a persistent instigator, Edward Vernon Sparhawk died a week shy of his 37th birthday. In a life marked with tragedies, he strived to be the person neither his father nor brother had the chance to become. Years earlier, coping with his brother's death at sea, he summarized the human journey:
So o'er the ocean of life as we're sailing,
Wild waves our peace annoy;
Seeming, each blast of the tempest prevailing,
Hope in our breast to destroy:
The calm of tranquility, softly returning,
Quells the storms of the breast;
The rainbow of hope, in our bosom still burning,
Points to eternal rest.
*Chris Hoffman is writing the first full biography of Edward Vernon Sparhawk. A member of the Boston Biographers Group, Chris lives with his wife, their cat, and their dog, and can be found on Twitter @xprhoff.