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Memoir of James Montgomery, Esq.

(Jan. 1, And the warm visions of a wayward mind, he demanded such a character as would Whose transient splendour lett a gloom be recommend him to the confidence of his hind,

new employer. This he boldly asked, Frail as the clouds of sun-set, and as fair,

for his sertice had been faithful, and Pageants of light, resolving into air.”

not even the slightest spot had ever At last, the Moraviau brethren, finding stained his moral character. The good it impossible to cure the disease which man laid this letter before the Moravian sunk deeper and deeper into his heart, council of ministers at Fulnick, where abandoned their long cherished hope of they meet

to regulate the affairs of the seeing him a minister ; and he was placed society. They respected Montgomery, with a view to an apprenticeship with for his genius did them honour; and he a very worthy man of the same religious was beloved by them, for he was amiable, persuasion, who kept a retail shop at though he had disappointed their hopes: Mirfield, near Wakefield.

He was

they therefore agreed to write any testreated with the greatest tenderness timony which he might require, if he whilst he remained in this situation : but obstinately persisted in his resolutions the business making only a small demand to leave them." They, hovever, inon his time, he indulged in day-dreams, in structed his lae master to make him which he saw the world and its honours any offers he might find equal to the depicted in vivid colours; that world task of inducing him to return to the into which, in reality, he had as yet fold he had left. The worthy mediator scarcely advanced a single step. With then repaired to the young man at Rohis mind continually brooding on one therham. The meeting was affecting : point, it is scarcely to be wondered at, for both parties had feeling hearts. The that after he had been at Mirfield about elder, though he had deplored the froa year, and as he was not an articled wardness of his young friend, lored him apprentice, knowing that he could not for his amiable and ingenuous simplibe forced back, contrary to his own city, and for the very genius which wishes, and at an age when remote con had removed him from the influence sequences are not taken into calculation of sober counsels; and the runaway or obvious probabilities into contempla- loved and venerated the elder for the tion, he determined to quit his situation; goodness of his heart, and the parentand with the clothes on bis back, a like kindness he had always shewn bim. single change of linen, and three shil. They met in the inn yard, and forgetting lings and sixpence in his pocket, he car there were any spectators of the scene, ried his design into effect, leaving be- impelled by benevolent tenderness on hind him a letter to his employer, in the one hand, and by respectful and which he detailed the uneasiness of his grateful affection on the other, they mind, and gave a promise that he should rushed at once into each others arms, be heard from again in a few days. and burst into tears. It required all the “ Thus," to use his own words to a resolution of the youthful votary of amfriend, " at the age of sixteen, set out bition and the muses, to resist the kindJames Montgomery to begin the world." ness of the intreaties, and the flattering As he advanced towards the busy scene, offers which were made him to return. he found that the picture conceived by He, however, did resist them; and though his imagination was far from being his firmness gave pain to his old friend, correct in its outline, and much over it did not make him less kind. He supcharged with colour ; in short, he found plied his immediate wants, sent him the the world very unlike what he had clothes, &c. he had left at Mirfield, and, figured to himself at Fulnick, and from not content with giving him a written what he had conceived from the almost testimonial of the estimation in which as distant and indistinct view he had of be held him, he called personally on his it from Mirfield. The great object of protege's new employer, to recommend his wishes was to proceed at once to him to bis confidence and protection. London: for it was there his heated Mr. Montgomery remained at Hush imagination had depicted the honours only twelve months, which time was and the riches which awaited him; but passed in the fulfilment of his engageto go thither was impossible; and on inent, in cherishing a mclancholy which the fourth day he engaged himself in a resulted from the peculiarity of his cloissituation similar to that which he had tered, and perhaps too strictly religious left, at Wash, vear Rotherham, from education, and in the cultivation of those whence he fulfilled his promise of writ- talents which have since benefited the ing to his former protector, from whom world. Indeed, the conflict between his


Memoir of James Montgomery, Esq.


religious and his poetical feelings was at that timo published a very popular almost incessant, and whether

newspaper, to which during the con** To wither in the blossom of renown,

tinuation of this connection, which lasted And, unrecorded, to the dust

till Mr. Gales left England, Montgomery down

go Or for a name on earth to quit the prize occasionally contributed essays and verses, Of immortality beyond the skies,

which, notwithstanding the “ Sheffield Perplex'd his wavering choice.”

Register" was devoted to popular poWorld before the Flood. litics, were very seldom political; for, as At last, genius triumphed; and having the author of the sketch before quoted prepared the way for an introduction to has observed, “ the Muses had his whole the capital, by sending a rolume of ma- heart, and he sedulously cultivated their duscript poems to Mr. Harrison, a book- favours, though no longer with those seller in Paternoster Row, he removed false, yet animating hopes, which forto London.

merly stimulated his exertions." Mr. Harrison gave him a situation in It was the fate of the young poet to his shop, and encouraged him to cultivate conciliate the affections of all with whom his talents, though he declined publishing he came in contact in domestic society; his poems, not deeming them likely to and Mr. Gales and his amiable family vied better his fortune, or to list him up to with each other in demonstrating their fame. The bright star which had al- respect and regard for him; treating lured lim from Fulnick, from Mirfield, him like a brother, and nursing him with and from Wash, now seemed, to his the most solicitous tenderness, during a sickened hope, a very ignis fatuus; and long and painful illness, with which he in the darkness of disappointment he was aflicted in the year 1793. In 1794, lost sight of the splendid vision of im- when Mr. Gales left England, to avoid a mortality, and the munificent patronage political prosecution, Montgomery, by which sanguide anticipation had pro- the assistance of a gentleman, to whom, mised him. At the end of eight months, except in a knowledge of his talents, he having had a misunderstanding with was almost a stranger, became the pubNIr. Harrison, and having tried, in vain, lisher of the newspaper-the title of to induce a bookseller to treat with him which he changed for that of the “ Iris." for an Eastern tale in prose, to which of the politics of the “ Register,” it he had been persuaded to turn his atten- would be irrelevant to speak; but by the tion as more profitable than poetry, he observance of a greater degree of moderreturned to his last situationin Sorkshire, ation in censuring public measures, and where he was received with the heartiest by being less speculative in reform, the welcome, and all possible kindness for new editor gave offence to many of his his value being fairly appreciated, and readers; though others thought the his virtues understood, his employer paper had acquired a neir interest in the loved him with all the affection of a greater degree of originality and litefather. “It was this master," says the rary merit of its more miscellaneous writer of a “ Biographical Sketch of Mr. columus. Amongst other articles, was Montgomery,” published in the Monthly one which he denominated “ 'The EnMirror of January, 1837, “ that many thusiast:" this wils particularly attractyears afterwards, in the most calamitous ire to his friends, since they coald not period of Montgomery's life, sought ont see that the portrait exhibited was a him out in the midst of his mistortunes, playfully-sketched likeness of the mind not for the purpose of offering him con- of the editor himself. But with all his solation only, but of serving him sub- care to aroid the fate of his predecessor, stantially by every means in his power. it was not long before he fell into a snare, The interview which took place between which had all the appearance of having the old man and his former serrant the heen laid for him. Amongst the types, evening previous to the trial at Don- &c. in the printing office, when it was caster, will ever live in the remembrance transferred to him, was a song, which, of him who can forget an injury, but to use the technical phrase, had been not a kindness. No father could have set up in type some time before Mr. evinced a greater affection for a darling Gales left England ; this song, the type son; the tears he shed were honourable of which it was composed not being to his feelings, and were the best tes- wanted, remained in statu quo. timony to the conduct and integrity of a song written by a clergyman in IreJames Montgomery."

land, in commemoration of the demoliIn 1792, he removed to Sheffield, and tion of the Bastile, in 1789, and was engaged himself with Mr. Gales, who sung at Belfast, on the 14th July, 1792,

It was

Memoir of James Montgomery, Esq.

(Jan. 1, on the anniversary of that event. It him, correctly; but a magistrate in the had been copied into half the newspapers neighbourhood, who was also a volunin the kingdom, and had not the least teer officer, felt aggrieved at the narraallusion to the war, which broke out tive, and preferred a bill of indictment nine months after it uus written. Mont- against the printer for a libel, which was gomery was ignorant that the song was tried at Doncaster Sessions, in January, ready in his office for the press, till a 1796. The defence he set up was a hawker informed him of the fact, at the justification of the statement which same time requesting him to print a few he had published ; and a cloud of wit. quires for him: this, in the first instance, nesses established it. He was however was refused, as he was not in the habit found guilly, and sentenced to pay a of printing such articles for hawkers ;- fine of thirty pounds, and to suffer animportunity, however, prevailed; the other imprisonment in York Castle for song being in his eye perfectly harmless. the space of six months. Whatever may Others, it appeared, thought differently; be thought of the sentence, it is but jusfor the hawker was taken up a few days tice to both plaintiff and defendant, to afterwards at Wakefield, and there be- add, that the former treated the latter, came evidence against the printer, who after his return from York Castle, with was tried at the January Quarter Ses- marked kindness and attention; prosions, 1793, and found guilty of publish- moted his interest by every mean in his ing. This verdict, which was in fact an power, and even seemed to take a pleaacquittal, was refused by the court; and sure in shewing him marks of respect in the jury, on reconsidering for another public. A few years before he died, (for hour, then gave in a general verdiet of he has been dead many years,) when preguilty. The sentence, which was de- siding at the Quarter Sessions, he saw livered by M. A. Taylor, esq. who pre- Mr. Montgomery amongst the crowd of sided, was a fine of twenty pounds, and auditors, and instantly called to the prothree months imprisonment in York per officer to make way for him, inviting Castle,

him, at the same time, to coine up and Our author was not ruined by his in- sit upon the bench beside himself, where carceration; for an active friend super- he would be less inconvenienced. Mr. intended his business during his contine- Montgomery did seat himself there ment; and on his return, after the com- and who would not, at that moment, pletion of the sentence, he was wel- have envied his feelings? His was the comed home by all parties, as one “ more triumph of proclaimed truth and innosinned against than sinning." On re.. cence. And yet the circumstance resuming his editorial duties, in order to flected honour on the proper feeling and banish speculative politics as much as candour of his late prosecutor. possible from the “ Iris," he commenced Whilst Montgomery remained in York a series of essays, which he called “The Castle, where he had the satisfaction of Whisperer.” A very considerable portion being treated with respect by all around of genuine humour, both in prose and hin, and where, after a few days, be verse, was observable in these effusions ; was accommodated with an apartment and though they were hastily written, exclusively his own, and with the range and hastily published, to meet the public of the extensive Castle yard, he bore up eye, they will be read with much inter-' his spirits by the consciousness, that his est by those who may have the good for- sufferings were urmerited ; and filled up, tune to possess one of the very few his time by correspondence with his copies which in 1798) their ingenious, friends, by writing articles for his news. author published in a single volume, for paper, and by seizing the opportunity the originals in the * Iris" must have which secluded leisure afforded him, to nearly all perished by the accidents new-string his lyre; his which generally in ke newspaper litera

** chosen treasure, ture so short-lived.

Solace of his bleeding heart; It was not long, however, notwithstanding his anxiety to avoid giving of- for it was now that he composed the fence, before the amiable editor of the poems, which he afterwards (in 1797) “ Iris" wits again entangled in the treh published under the title of « Prison of law. He had scarcely become warın Amusements." He also revised, during, in his office, when a riot took place in liis seclusion, a work of greater magnithe streets of Sheffield, in whieh two' tude,replete with wit, and with such wild men were killed by the military. He de- sallies of humour, that no one could sup: tailed the circumstance, as it appeared to pose that they emanated from the same

Memoir of James Montgomery, Esq.

519 pen which traced the “ Harp of Sorrow." The woes that wring my bosom once wers This work, however, has been profitless; thine : for he could not be prevailed upon to let Be all thy virtues, all thy genius mine! it meet the public eye, though it was cal

| Like his great prototype - for such culated to have caused as many hearty will every one who is intimate with the peels of sympathizing langhter, as his features of Montgomery's mind promelancholy tones had drawn tears.

nounce Cowper to have been-with a He was liberated on the 5th of July, 1796, and immediately went to Scar: spirit humbly obedient to its God, and borough, in order to brace his shattered tremblingly alive to the due performance

of every moral obligation, extraordiconstitution, which, delicate as it was from nature, had suffered much from nary susceptibility, and perhaps, an exexcessive anxiety and imprisonment. He aggerated conviction of the awful situanow, for the first time since he was four exhibits occasionally a melancholy gloom

tion in which mortality is placed, he years of age, saw the sea. To a mind like his, the magnificence of the ocean, fancy, and arrests the progress of his

which enchains his vigorous and clastic and the high-piled grandeur of the York

playful pen. And, as he so well exshire coast, were sublime spectacles; and they afforded him uncommon gratifica- presses it in a passage of “ Jaran,"

" The world, whose charms his tion-a gratification which was repeated


young in subsequent visits, and which (in 1803) He found too mean for his immortal soul.

tions stole, gave birth to his poem on “ The Ocean;"

Wound into life through all his feelings a production which will be re::d with de

wrought, light as long as the language in which it Death and eternity possessed his thought. is written shall exist. This, his first visit to Scarborough, occupied about three “ The fame he followed, and the fame he weeks, after which, with improred health found, and spirits, he returned to Sheffield and Healed not his heart's immedicable wound; the duties of his occupation.

Admired, applauded, crowned where'er he In the following spring be published

roved, his « Prison Amusements."

These The bard was homeless, friendless, unbepoems were received, wherever they all else that breathed below the circling

loved. were seen, with approbation; but their author made no effort to put them in Were linked to earth by some endearing

sky, the way of notoriety; and he was still more careless of the fate of a series of He only, like the ocean weed uptorn, essays, which he drew from the pages of And loose along the world of waters borne, the " Iris," under the title of “The Was cast, companionless, from wave to Whisperer," in 1798. From this time wave, till in 1806 he produced the volume con On life's rough sea---and there was none to taining “ The Wanderer of Switzerland" — he confined his pen chiefly to his The picture which our poet has drawn editorial duties;, indulging himself in of the antediluvian bard, however, fails' cherishing those feelings which have in its generally close resemblance to himmarked in his character so striking a re self in one of its lives ; for although he semblance to that of the amiable and has never been married, and in that highly-gifted, but melancholy, Cowper; sense is “ homeless," he has nerer been a resemblance of which all his friends “ friendless," nor“ unbeloved ;" for few are fully sensible, and of which he him- persons can be acquainted with him self seemed to be aware, when in his without feeling an interest in his hap“West Indies" he thus speaks of the piness-and there is no one that knows poet of Olney, in a trocating the cause him intimately, who docs not love and of the poor negroes:

esteem him. But the other part of the " The muse to whom the lyre and lute be. portrait is so strikingly similar to his long,

own character, that the likeness is scarceWhose song of freedom is her noblest song, ly to be mistaken. The lyre, with awful indignation swept,

But to proceed. - The Wanderer of O'er the sweet lute in silent sorrow wept.-

Switzerland" was sent into the world, When Albion's crimes drew thunder from

It was read, and admired; and its aua. her tongueWhen Afric's woes o’erwhelmed her while thor was immediately acknowledged wor

thy of being registered on the roll of Lamented CowPER, in thy paths I tread:-. genuine poets. Another poem of a very Oh! that op me were thy meek spirit shed! different character had been prepared to

tie ;


she sung.

Memoir of James Montgomery, Esq.

(Jan. I, take the lead of the minor pieces which the foundation, though he intertwines are appended to the volume: but this the sublime and solemn strains of divine, the author superseded when nearly the ly inspired poesy, he is then the least atwhole of it was printed. Why he dis- tractive, because the thoughts have been carded the Loss of the Locks' lie has long familiar to liis readers. Human not declared; but having had the satisa nature has a greedy curiosity, a never faction of perusing this disinterested satisfied thirst for novelty ; and where child of the Muse, the writer of this disappointment follows expectancy, the article cannot help expressing his con- substitution of more sublime and more cern that the world has not been allowed important, but already known truths, to participate in the gratification it af are coolly received ; and even of the forded him. In 1809, the first edition most bewitching strokes of harmony, if of.“ The West Indies" was published in they are already familiar to the ear, quarto, with superb embellishments.- whatever talent be displayed, or howAs the work was not advertised in the ever skilful the variation, the approval usual manner, and as the expensive scale is always qualified. Thus, if our author, on which it was got up by Mr. Bow- in the “ World before the Flood,” had yer, the publisher, seemed to demand, not tied himself so closely to the letter of it was little known till it was printed in the text, his strains would have consa portable form: of which upwards of manded more attention, and would have ten thousand copies have been since sold. elicited more applause ; for where he The feeling and piety which pervade has found himself unshackled by the reevery page were to be expected from cord, he has burst boldly into the realms the pen of Montgomery; but the har- of invention, and enriched his pages with mony was not exclusively composed of the spoil. Where he did not feel himsuch notes as are best drawn from a self bound by conscience to use scriptural * Harp of Sorrow" – for there were phraseology, in elucidation of scriptural amongst them such as he blew from the facts, he repaired to the storehouse of trumpet of his wrath, and such as his his own brilliant imagination, and drew JUBAL struck when he swept the “ living from thence those interesting incidents lyre," and in indignant strains sung and tasteful decorations which he has so man's oppression

variously and happily applied throughr For now a bolder hand he flings

out the poem. And dives among the deepest strings;

Since he sung of the antediluvians, he Then forth the music brake like thunder." has published nothing except his news

The same observation applies to his paper, and a tribute to the memory of “ World before the Flood," published in the late Mr. Reynolds ; but he has had 1812, althongh, perhaps, from the very

on hand, for some time, a Poem, which title and subject, the popularity of that was announced for publication several volume has not equalled its precursors. months ago, but which procrastination, It is, however, a poem which must rise (still Cowper-like) has detained from the in estimation in proportion as it is press. Fastidious in the extreme in deknown; for no man of taste and feeling ciding where his reputation may be comcan possibly read it without wishing to mitted, and tremblingly fearful of putmake others participate in the pleasure ting forth a line which might possibly he has derived from it. In the course

be construed to militate, in the least of this sketch of the life of its author, degree, against any thing which he sereral passages bave been quoted of no deems a divine or a moral obligation, common interest; and if the poem is be tries every note with the most caretinequal in its interest, it has resulted ful solicitude, in the solitude of his from the subject itself, which fettered study, before he ventures to breathe the the imagination of the poet; obliging strain in public, lest a chord should ribim to correspond in his flights with brate in unison with some idea less pure the obscurely detailed circumstances re

than his own. When his promised lated of some of his PERSONÆ, in the poem appears, judging from what has sacred volume from which he drew them. been already seen, it is not too much to As a proof of this, it will be acknow- expect that the public stock of intellecledged, even by those who are most in tual pleasures will receive a valuable unison with the author, in devotedness increase, and the poet an additional to the holy text, that in those portions sprig to the Parnassian lie has so fairly of the narrative in which he has adhered earned and so modestly wears. the closest, and with the greatest rever

As the editor of a newspaper the subnce to the authority which furnished ject of this memoir must, to a certain

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