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In sorrow o'er Lord Walter’s bier,
FAREWELL TO THE MUSE. Exchant Ress, farewell! who so oft has decoy'd me, At the close of the evening through woodlands to roam, Where the forester, lated, with wonder espied me Explore the wild scenes he was quitting for home. Farewell ! and take with thee thy numbers wild speaking, The language alternate of rapture and wo; Oh! none but some lover, whose heartstrings are breaking The pang that I feel at our parting can know.
Each joy thou couldst double, and when there came sorrow, Or pale disappointment to darken my way, What voice was like thine, that could sing of tomorrow, Till forgot in the strain was the grief of to-day ! But when friends drop around us in life's weary waning, The grief, queen of numbers, thou canst not assuage; Nor the gradual estrangement of those yet remaining, The languor of pain, and the chillness of age.
'Twas thou that once taught me, in accents be-
If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight: For the gay beams of lightsome day Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray. When the broken arches are black in night, And each shafted oriel glimmers white; When the cold light's uncertain shower Streams on the ruin’d central tower; When buttress and buttress, alternately, Seem framed of ebon and ivory; When silver edges the imagery. And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; When distant Tweed is heard to rave, And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave; Then go!—but go alone the while— Then view St. David's ruin'd pile ! And, home returning, soothly swear, Was never scene so sad and fair!
JAMEs Montgomery is the most popular of the religious poets who have written in England since the time of Cowper, and he is more exclusively the poet of devotion than even the bard of Olney. Probably no writer is less indebted to a felicitous selection of subjects, since the themes of nearly all his longer productions are unpleasing and unpoetical ; but for half a century he has been slowly and constantly increasing in reputation, and he has now a name which will not be forgotten, while taste and the religious sentiment exist together.
Mr. Montgomery is the oldest son of a Moravian clergyman, and was born at Irvine, in Scotland, on the fourth of November, 1771. At a very early age he was placed by his parents, who had determined to educate him for the Moravian ministry, at one of the seminaries of their church, where he remained ten years. At the end of this period, he decided not to study the profession to which he had been destined, and was in consequence placed with a shopkeeper in Yorkshire. Ill satisfied with his employment, he abandoned it at the end of a few months, and when but sixteen made his first appearance in London, with a manuscript volume of poems, of which he vainly endeavoured to procure the publication. In 1792 he went to Sheffield, where he was soon after engaged as a writer for a weekly gazette published by a Mr. Gales, and in 1794, on the flight of his employer from England to avoid a political prosecution, he himself became publisher and editor, and changing the name of the paper to “The Iris,” conducted it with much taste, ability, and moderation. It was still, however, obnoxious to the government, and Mr. Montgomery was prosecuted for printing in it a song commemorative of the destruction of the Bastile, fined twenty pounds, and imprisoned three months in York Castle. On resuming his editorial duties he carefully avoided partisan politics, but after a brief period he was arrested for an offensive passage in an account which he gave of a riot in Sheffield, and was again imprisoned. It was during 10
his second imprisonment, that he wrote his Prison Amusements, which appeared in 1797. From this time his poems followed each other in rapid succession. In 1805 he published the Ocean, in 1806 the Wanderer of Switzerland, in 1810 the West Indies, in 1812 the World before the Flood, in 1819 Greenland, in 1822 Songs of Zion, in 1827 the Pelican Island, and in 1835 A Poet's Portfolio, or Minor Poems. Beside these, he has written Songs to Foreign Music, and several smaller volumes of miscellaneous pieces. Mr. Montgomery had published but few of these works before his reputation was established as a poet of a high order. The Wanderer of Switzerland was severely criticised in the Edinburgh Review, and the West Indies was received by the critics with less favour than it merited. Greenland was more popular than his earlier works; the subject more in unison with his devotional
cast of thought; and the poem is full of
graphic descriptions, and rich and varied imagery. The patient and earnest labours of the Moravian missionaries are described in it with a sympathetic and genuine enthusiasm. The minor poems of Mr. Montgomery, his
little songs and cabinet pieces, will be the
most frequently read, and the most generally admired. They have the antique simplicity of pious GeoRGE Withers, a natural unaffected earnestness, joined to a pure and poetical diction, which will secure to them a permanent place in English literature. The character of his genius is essentially lyrical; he has no dramatic power, and but little skill in narrative. His longest and most elaborate works, though they contain beautiful and touching reflections, and descriptions equally distinguished for minuteness, fidelity, and beauty, are without incident or method; but his shorter pieces are full of devotion to the Creator, sympathy with the suffering, and a cheerful, hopeful philosophy. Mr. Montgomery is now seventy-four years of age. He resides in Sheffield, where he is regarded by all classes with respect and af
fection. G 73
“The Soul, of origin divine,
“The sun is but a spark of fire,
The head that of this pillow press'd, That aching head, is gone to rest; Its little pleasures now no more, And all its mighty sorrows o'er, For ever, in the worm's dark bed, For ever sleeps that humble head' My friend was young, the world was new ; The world was false, my friend was true; Lowly his lot, his birth obscure, His fortune hard, my friend was poor; To wisdom he had no pretence, A child of suffering, not of sense; For Nature never did impart A weaker or a warmer heart. His fervent soul, a soul of flame, Consumed its frail terrestrial frame; That fire from Heaven so fiercely burn'd, That whence it came it soon return'd : And yet, O Pillow ! yet to me, My gentle friend survives in thee; In thee, the partner of his bed, In thee, the widow of the dead. On Helicon's inspiring brink, Ere yet my friend had learn'd to think, Once as he pass'd the careless day Among the whispering reeds at play, The Muse of Sorrow wander'd by ; Her pensive beauty fix’d his eye; With sweet astonishment he smiled; The Gipsy saw—she stole the child; And soft on her ambrosial breast Sang the delighted babe to rest; Convey'd him to her inmost grove, And loved him with a mother's love. Awaking from his rosy nap, And gayly sporting on her lap, His wanton fingers o'er her lyre Twinkled like electric fire: Quick and quicker as they flew, Sweet and sweeter tones they drew; Now a bolder hand he flings, And dives among the deepest strings; Then forth the music brake like thunder; Back he started, wild with wonder. The Muse of Sorrow wept for joy, And clasp'd and kiss'd her chosen boy. Ah! then no more his smiling hours Were spent in childhood's Eden-bowers; The fall from infant-innocence, The fall to knowledge drives us thence: O Knowledge' worthless as the price, Bought with the loss of Paradise. As happy ignorance declined,
And reason rose upon his mind, Romantic hopes and fond desires Sparks of the soul's immortal fires) Kindled within his breast the rage To breathe through every future age,
To clasp the flitting shade of fame,
To build an everlasting name,
Stript of his fondest, dearest claim,
Yet other secret griefs had he,
Whate'er those pangs from me conceal’d,
FRIEND after friend departs;
Beyond the flight of Time,
There is a world above,
Thus star by star declines,
DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST OF AMERICA.
The N first Columbus, with the mighty hand Of grasping genius, weigh’d the sea and land: The floods o'erbalanced:—where the tide of light, Day after day, roll'd down the gulf of night, There seem'd one waste of waters:—long in vain His spirit brooded o'er the Atlantic main; When sudden, as creation burst from nought, Sprang a new world through his stupendousthought, Light, order, beauty —While his mind explored The unveiling mystery, his heart adored; Where'er sublime imagination trod, He heard the voice, he saw the face, of God. The winds were prosperous, and the billows bore The brave adventurer to the promised shore; Far in the west, array'd in purple light, Dawn'd the new world on his enraptured sight: Not Adam, loosen'd from the encumbering earth, Waked by the breath of God to instant birth, With sweeter, wilder wonder gazed around, When life within, and light without, he found; When, all creation rushing o'er his soul, [whole. He seem'd to live and breathe throughout the So felt Columbus, when, divinely fair, At the last look of resolute despair, The Hesperian isles, from distance dimly blue, With gradual beauty open'd on his view. In that proud moment, his transported mind The morning and the evening worlds combined, And made the sea, that sunder'd them before, A bond of peace, uniting shore to shore. Wain, visionary hope' rapacious Spain Follow'd her hero's triumph o'er the main, Her hardy sons in fields of battle tried, Where Moor and Christian desperately died. A rabid race, fanatically bold, And steel'd to cruelty by lust of gold, Traversed the waves, the unknown world explored, The cross their standard, but their faith the sword; Their steps were graves; o'er prostrate realms they trod; [God. They worshipp'd Mammon while they vow'd to Let nobler bards in loftier numbers tell How Cortez conquer'd, Montezuma fell; How fierce Pizarro's ruffian arm o'erthrew The sun's resplendent empire in Peru; How, like a prophet, old Las Casas stood, And raised his voice against a sea of blood, Whose chilling waves recoil'd, while he foretold His country's ruin by avenging gold. —That gold, for which unpitied Indians fell, That gold, at once the snare and scourge of hell, Thenceforth by righteous Heaven was doom'd to Unmingled curses on the spoiler's head; [shed For gold the Spaniard cast his soul away— His gold and he were every nation's prey.