Page images
PDF
EPUB

sively, who all treated him like a son. So strong quitted England, was unluckily published from was the attachment of his master at Wash, his office. It was written by a clergyman to that even in the future troubles of the poet's commemorate the destruction of the Bastile in life he supported him, not merely with empty 1789, and was sung openly at Belfast in 1792. consolation, but with more solid and substantial The war broke out nine months after it was writaid. The master sought out his former servant ten, and half the newspapers in the kingdom when he was on the point of being tried in a had printed it; yet the unlucky ballad-singer, at court of law for libel, and comforted and con- whose suggestion it was carried to the press to soled him.

strike off a few copies, was arrested selling them The bent of Montgomery's mind was still to. at Wakefield, became evidence against the printwards literature. A newspaper which had been er, and in 1795 Montgomery was found "guilty very popular, published at Sheffield by a Mr. of publishing." This would not do for the ser. Gales, had received many of the young poet's vile judges, who made the jury re-consider their contributions. This paper was called the “Shef-verdict, and, after an hour's hesitation, they field Register.” It does not appear that Mont. brought in a verdict of guilty. Montgomery gomery contributed any political writing to its was fined twenty pounds, and imprisoned for pages, his communications being chiefly poetical; three months in the Castle of York. As always but he assisted Mr. Gales in his occupation, and happens in a country like England, when freedom removed to Sheffield for that purpose in 1792. of mind is interfered with, the sufferer is borne In the following year Montgomery was assailed above persecution by those honest sympathizing by illness, during which he was nursed, and spirits that step forward to his support. Montgo. most kindly treated, in the family of Mr. Gales, mery found his newspaper and business carefully having been, as usual, successful in winning the superintended by a friend, and he was welcomed sympathies of those around him. It was not from prison as the victim of an unjust sentence. long after this that a political prosecution was in. On his deliverance from his incarceration, he stituted against the proprietor of the “Sheffield resumed his professional labors, and avoided Register," and Mr. Gales left England to avoid a every extreme in politics. He printed numerous prosecution. At that time the quailing cause of essays in his paper, under different heads; some arbitrary authority, and divine political right, was humorous, others serious, but all agreeable and making its last struggles against freedom and entertaining. These essays were published in a common sense. Libels were sought for, and pros. volume, long out of print, and now not easily ecuted with rigor, and not even the most cau- attainable. tious individual of honest principles could be When the emissaries of the law lie in wait deemed safe from attack. Montgomery, on the to entangle a victim, they never fail to discover departure of Mr. Gales, being assisted by a friend, some charge, that may be twisted to bear them became the publisher of the newspaper himself; out in their object. Montgomery had scarcely the name of which he changed to that of the resumed his duties, when two men were killed " Iris.” It was now conducted with less party in a riot in the streets of Sheffield by the sol. violence than before, while a greater variety of diery. He gave a narrative of the circumstances miscellaneous matter was to be found in its col. correct enough, there is no doubt; but a volunums. The cause supported by Montgomery was teer officer, who was also a magistrate, feeling always that of political independence, humanity, his dignity or honor hurt by the statement, and freedom. The tone of his paper was ex-preferred a bill of indictment for libel against ceedingly temperate, but firm : indeed it was so the printer. It was tried at Doncaster in January moderate as to give offence to all violent party 1796. The defence made justified the truth of men who dealt in extremes, and imagined the the statement on very satisfactory testimony; cause of liberty could only be supported by but in vain—Montgomery was found guilty, and noisy declamation. In his newspaper he had a sentenced to six months' imprisonment and a series of articles inserted under the title of “ The fine of thirty pounds. It is remarkable, that Enthusiast," which attracted particular attention before the death of the individual who was the from being pictures of his own mind. There were cause of this prosecution, he seemed conscious other articles which drew much notice, from the of the injustice he had done Montgomery, by impress of genius they exhibited.

treating him with sedulous attention after the Notwithstanding the moderation of our poet- expiration of his term of imprisonment; and editor, it was not long before the fangs of the har.once, when presiding in a court of justice, call. pies of the law were upon him. A song written ing him from among the crowd to sit by his and prepared for publication before Mr. Gales side on the bench, that he might be kept from

the annoyance and pressure of the mob. The moniously and touchingly written. The “World poet took his seat accordingly; and it was, no before the Flood," which appeared in 1812, is doubt, a proud triumph to his feelings.

perhaps the least popular of his productions. During this imprisonment it was that he wrote In this work his wonted piety and the effects of his poems entitled “Prison Amusements," though his early education strongly appear, while he he did not publish them until 1797. In the has introduced various enlivening incidents to prison he was well accommodated, and had every break the uniformity of the subject. Since this indulgence afforded him; a large yard supplied poem, "Greenland," "The Pelican Island," and him with an airy promenade. He is also said numerous occasional pieces, have dropped from to have amused himself in composing a work his pen. His thoughts are all remarkable for of some bulk of a humorous character, but which their purity. He is the poet of religion and has not seen the light. He went to Scarborough morality. His political principles are those of a for the benefit of his health, as soon as he was free Englishman. liberated. This happened in July 1796, his In person, Montgomery is below the middle health having been much affected by anxiety height, and of slender frame; his complexion and imprisonment. It was from a visit to the fair, and hair yellow. His limbs are well pro. same place subsequently, that he composed his portioned. There is a cast of melancholy over his poem of “ The Ocean” in 1805. It was singular features, unless when they are lighted up by conthat the author of the “Prison Amusements" versation, and then his eyes show all the fire of should have suffered that and other published genius. In manner he is singularly modest and works to sleep from want of making them more unobtrusive, especially among strangers. It is known—he allowed them to drop into complete only in intercourse with his friends that he oblivion. In 1806 appeared “The Wanderer of opens with a power and eloquence which few Switzerland,” which, in spite of a severe criti- would expect of him. Though kind and amiable, cism in the Edinburgh Review, conferred upon he can wound keenly by wit and sarcasm in him great and deserved celebrity. It was not argument, but it is without a tincture of ill-na. until then that he took his station among the ture, and he generally conveys himself the cure better order of his country's poets. It is said for the wounds he inflicts, by the kindness with he was on the point of publishing another poem which he winds up his conclusions. As a poet, in preference, which has not yet been given to be ranks only in the second class of British living the world, though nearly ready for the press at writers. He never falls low, and rarely rises high; the time “The Wanderer of Switzerland” ap. his character may be designated as that of the peared. Mr. Bowyer printed Montgomery's next calm river, rather than the romantic torrent, work, “ The West Indies,” in a most expensive but his course is peculiarly his own. He is very form, with superb embellishments: nearly ten little of an imitator, and deserves immortal eulogy, thousand copies of the different editions were in that he has written no line sold. The humane feelings of the author ap.

which dying he could wish to blot. pear to predominate in this work; it is har.

184

[blocks in formation]

« These her infants-Oh their Sire,
Worthy of the race of TELL,
In the battle's fiercest fire,
-In his country's battle fell!”

1 St. Gothard is the name of the highest mountain in the can ton of Uri, the birth-place of Swiss independence.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

I More properly the Avalanches; immense accumulations of ice and snow, balanced on the verge of the mountains in such subtle suspense, that, in the opinion of the natives, the tread of he traveller may bring them down in destruction upon him. T'he Glaciers are more permanent masses of ice, and formed rather in the valleys than on the summits of the Alps.

WANDERER. * Stranger-friend, the tears that flow Down the channels of this cheek, Tell a mystery of woe Which no human tongue can speak. “ Not the pangs of Hope deferr'd' My tormented bosom tear :On the tomb of Hope interr'd Scowls the spectre of Despair.

* Where the Alpine summits rise,
Height o'er height stupendous hurlid;
Like the pillars of the skies,
Like the ramparts of the world:

“ In the valley of their birth,
Where our guardian mountains stand;
In the eye of heaven and earth,
Met the warriors of our land.

" Born in Freedom's eagle nest,

“ Like their sires in olden time, Rock'd by whirlwinds in their rage,

Armd they met in stern debate; Nursed at Freedom's stormy breast,

While in every breast sublime Lived my sires from age to age.

Glow'd the SPIRIT OF THE STATE “ High o'er Underwalden's vale,

« Gallia's menace fired their blood : Where the forest fronts the morn;

With one heart and voice they rose; Whence the boundless eye might sail

Hand in hand the heroes stood, O'er a sea of mountains borne;

And defied their faithless foes. “ There my little native cot

“ Then to heaven, in calm despair, Peep'd upon my father's farm :

As they turn'd the tearless eye, Oh! it was a happy spot,

By their country's wrongs they sware Rich in every rural charm!

With their country's rights to die. “There my life, a silent stream,

“Albert from the council came Glid along, yet seem'd at rest ;

(My poor daughter was his wife : Lovely as an infant's dream

All the valley loved his name; On the waking mother's breast.

Albert was my staff of life). “ Till the storm that wreck'd the world,

“ From the council-field he came : In its horrible career,

All his noble visage burn'd; Into hopeless ruin hurl'd

At his look I caught the fame; All this aching heart held dear.

At his voice my youth return'd. “On the princely towers of Beme

“ Fire from heaven my heart renew'd, Fell the Gallic thunder-stroke;

Vigor beat through every vein ; To the lake of poor Lucerne,

All the powers, that age had hew'd, All submitted to the yoke.

Started into strength again. “REDING then his standard raised,

“ Sudden from my couch I sprang, Drew his sword on Brunnen's plain ;'

Every limb to life restored ; But in vain his banner blazed,

With the bound my cottage rang, Reding drew his sword in vain.

As I snatch'd my fathers' sword. “Where our conquering fathers died,

“ This the weapon they did wield Where their awful bones repose,

On Morgarthen's dreadful day; Thrice the battle's fate he tried,

And through Sempach's 'iron field Thrice o'erthrew his country's foes.?

This the plowshare of their way. " Happy then were those who fell

" Then, my spouse! in vain thy fears Fighting on their fathers' graves !

Strove my fury to restrain ; Wretched those who lived to tell

O my daughter! all thy tears, Treason made the victors slaves !3

All thy children's, were in vain. “ Thus my country's life retired,

“Quickly from our hastening foes, Slowly driven from part to part;

Albert's active care removed, Underwalden last expired,

Far amidst the eternal snows, Underwalden was the heart.4

Those who loved us,—those beloved.2 1 Brunnen, at the foot of the mountains, on the borders of the Lake of L'ri, where the first Swiss Patriots, Walter Furst of resisted the French message, which required submission to the Uri, Werner Stauffacher of Schwitz, and Arnold of Melchtal new constitution, and the immediate surrender, alive or dead, of in Underwalden, conspired against the tyranny of Austria in nine of their leaders. When the demand, accompanied by a 1307, again in 1798, became the seat of the Diet of these three menace of destruction, was read in the Assembly of the District, forest cantons.

all the men of the Valley, fifteen hundred in number, took up 2 On the plains of Morgarthen, where the Swiss gained their arms, and devoted themselves to perish in the ruins of their first decisive victory over the force of Austria, and thereby se- country. cured the independence of their country; Aloys Reding, at the 1 At the battle of Sempach, the Austriang presented so im. hend of the troops of the little cantong, Uri, Schwitz, and Un penetrable a front with their projected spears, that the Swiss derwalden, repeatedly repulsed the invading army of France. were repeatedly compelled to retire from the attack, till a native

3 By the resistance of these small cantong, the French Geno- of Underwalden, named Arnold de Winkelried, commending ral Schawenbourg was compelled to respect their independence, his family to his countrymen, sprung upon the enemy, and and gave them a solemn pledge to that purport; but no sooner burying as many of their spears as he could grasp in his body, had they disarmed, on the faith of this engagement, than the made a breach in their line; the Swiss rushed in, and routed enemy carne suddenly upon them with an immense force; and the Austrians with a terrible slaughter. with threats of extermination compelled thein to take the civic 2 Many of the Underwalders, on the approach of the French oath to the new constitution, imposed upon all Switzerland. army, removed their families and cattle among the Higher Alps; 4 The inhabitants of the Lower Valley of Underwalden alone and themselves returned to join their brethren, who had en

187

« PreviousContinue »