James Gates Percival, an American poet, born at Berlin, Conn., Sept. 15, 1795, died at Hazel Green, Wis., May 2, 1856. At the age of 14 he wrote a burlesque poem on the times. He graduated in 1815 at Yale college, his tragedy of "Zamora" forming part of the commencement exercises. After teaching some time in Philadelphia he began the study of medicine, and in 1820 received his degree, but soon relinquished practice. In 1821 he published a volume of poetry, which contained the first part of " Prometheus " and a few minor poems. Having removed to Charleston, S. C, he published there in 1822 the first number of the " Clio," a pamphlet of about 100 pages, consisting principally of verse with a few prose essays added; a second part was composed entirely of verse. In 1823 he published in New York a collection of his poems, which was republished in London in 1824. In the latter year he was appointed assistant surgeon in the United States army, and was detailed to West Point as professor of chemistry in the military academy; but he soon resigned, and was made surgeon in connection with the recruiting service in Boston. There he contributed to the " United States Literary Gazette," and edited several works, one of which was a republication of Vicesimus Knox's " Elegant Extracts." In 1827 he removed to New Haven, and the same year published the third part of " Clio," and commenced an edition of Malte-Brun's geography, which was finished in 1832. He was also during the year 1827-'8 engaged in assisting in the preparation for the press of Webster's "Dictionary." In 1835 he was appointed, in connection with Prof. Charles U. Shep-ard, to make a geological and mineralogical survey of Connecticut, his report of which was published in 1842. From 1841 to 1844 he contributed to the New Haven journals metrical versions of German, Slavic, and other lyrics, and in 1843 published " The Dream of a Day." In 1853 he was engaged by the American mining company to survey their lead-mining region in Wisconsin, and in the following year he was appointed geologist of that state.
The first report was published in 1855, and he was preparing the second when he died. A complete edition of his poems was published in Boston in 1859 (2 vols. 8vo): and his life has been written by the Rev. J. H. Ward (Boston, 1866).