Sheffield has been poetically fortunate. It has had the honour, not to give birth to two eminent poets — a mere accident, but to produce them. Neither Montgomery nor Elliott was born in Sheffield; but they were drawn to it as the trading capital of the district in which they were born; and there their minds, tastes, and reputations grew. In both poets are strongly recognisable the intellectual features of a manufacturing town. They are both of a popular and liberal tendency of mind. They, or rather their spirits and characters, grew amid the physical sufferings and the political struggles of a busy and high-spirited population, and by these circumstances all the elements of freedom and patriotism were strengthened to full growth in their bosoms. Montgomery came upon the public stage, both as a poet and a political writer, long before Elliott, though the difference of their ages is not so vast as might be supposed from this fact, being as near as possible ten years only.
It is not my object in this article to compare or to contrast the intellectual characters of these two genuine poets. They are widely different. In both, the spirit of freedom, of progress, of sympathy with the multitude, and of steady antagonism to oppression, manifest themselves, but with much difference of manner. Both possess great vigour, and fervour of feeling; but in James Montgomery the decorums of style are more strictly preserved. We feel that he received his education in a very different school to that of Ebenezer Elliott. In the still halls and gardens of the Moravian brethren, Montgomery imbibed the softness of bearing, and that peculiarly religious tone which distinguish him. Amidst the roughest and often most hostile crowd of struggling life, Elliott acquired a more fiery and battling aspect, and he learned involuntarily to thunder against evils, where Montgomery would reason and lament. Yet it would be difficult to say in which all that characterizes real patriotism, and real religion, most truly resides. In very different walks they have both done gloriously and well, and we will leave to others to decide which is the greater poet of the two. Elliott, by both circumstance and temperament, has been led to make his poetry bear more directly and at once upon the actual condition of the working classes; Montgomery has displayed more uniform grace, and in lyrical beauty has far surpassed his townsman, though not in the exquisite harmony of many portions of his versification. But, they are not now to be compared, but to he admired; and nothing is more beautiful than to hear in what tone and manner they speak of each other. Montgomery gives Ebenezer Elliott the highest praise for his genius, and says, that for years in the Iris he was the only one who could or would see the merit of the great but unacknowledged bard; while Elliott modestly dedicates his poem of Spirits and Men to the author of The World before the Flood, "as an evidence of his presumption and his despair."
Mr. Montgomery had a strictly religious education; he was the son of religious parents, and belonged to a preeminently religious body, the Moravian brethren; and the spirit of that parentage, education, and association, is deeply diffused through all that he has written. He is essentially a religious poet. It is what of all things upon earth we can well believe he most would desire to be; and that he is in the truest sense of the word. In all his poems the spirit of a piety, profound, and beautifully benevolent, is instantly felt. Perhaps there are no lyrics in the language which are so truly Christian; that is, which breathe the same glowing love to God and man, without one tinge of the bigotry that too commonly eats into zeal as rust into the finest steel. We have no dogmas, but a pure and heavenly atmosphere of holy faith, filial and fraternal affection, and reverence of the great Architect of the universe, and of the destinies of man. There is often a tone of melancholy, but it is never that of doubt. It is the sighing of a feeling and sensitive heart over the evils of life; but ever and anon this tone rises into the more animated one of conscious strength and well-placed confidence; and terminates in that paean of happy triumph which the Christian only can ascend to. There is no "dealing damnation round the land" in the religious poetry of James Montgomery; we feel that he has peculiarly caught the genuine spirit of Christ; and a sense of beauty and goodness, and of the glorious blessedness of an immortal nature, accompanies us through all his works. That is the spirit which, more than all other, distinguishes his lyrical compositions; and how many, and how beautiful are they! as, The Grave, The Joy of Grief, Verses on the Death of Joseph Browne, a prisoner for conscience sake in York castle, commencing, "Spirit, leave thine house of clay;" The Common Lot, The Harp of Sorrow, The Dial, The Molehill, The Peak Mountains, A Mother's Love, those noble Stanzas to the Memory of the Rev. Thomas Spencer, The Alps, Friends, Night, and the many in the same volume with the Pelican Island, perhaps some of them the most beautiful and spiritual things he ever wrote. The poetry of Montgomery is too familiar to most readers, and especially religiously intellectual readers, to need much quotation here; but a few stanzas may be ventured upon, and will of themselves more forcibly indicate the peculiar features of his poetical character, than much prose description.
The opening stanzas on the death of Thomas Spencer, embody his very creed and doctrine as a poet.
I will not sing a mortal's praise,
To thee I consecrate my lays,
To whom my powers belong;
Those gifts upon thins altar thrown,
O GOD accept; — accept thine own:
My gifts are Thine, — be Thine alone
The glory of my song.
In earth and ocean, sky and air,
All that is excellent and fair,
Seen, felt, or understood,
From one eternal cause descends,
To one eternal centre tends,
With GOD begins, continues, ends,
The source and stream of good.
I worship not the Sun at noon,
The wandering Stars, the changing Moon,
The Wind, the Flood, the Flame;
I will not bow the votive knee
To Wisdom, Virtue, Liberty;
"There is no GOD but GOD," for me:
Jehovah is his name.
Him through all nature I explore,
Him in his creatures I adore,
Around, beneath, above;
But clearest in the human mind,
His bright resemblance when I find,
Grandeur with purity combined,
I must admire and love.
I cannot resist transcribing one more specimen. It is one in which the quaint but adoring spirit of Quarles, Withers, or Herrick, seems to speak: nor shall I ever forget the thrilling tone in which I have heard it repeated by a sainted friend, in whom the love of her Saviour was the very life-blood of her heart, and who resembled him in his beneficent walk on earth as much, perhaps, as it is possible for mortal to do.
THE STRANGER AND HIS FRIEND.
"Ye have done it unto me." — Matt. xxv. 40.
A poor wayfaring man of grief
Hath often crossed me on my way,
Who sued so humbly for relief,
That I could never answer, "Nay:"
I had not power to ask his name,
Whither he went or whence he came;
Yet there was something in his eye
That won my love, I knew not why.
Once when my scanty meal was spread,
He entered; — not a word he spake;—
Just perishing for want of bread,
I gave him all; he blessed it, brake,
And ate, — but gave me part again:
Mine was an angel's portion then,
For while I fed with eager haste,
That crust was manna to my taste.
I spied him where a fountain burst
Clear from the rock; his strength was gone;
The heedless waters mocked his thirst,
He heard it, saw it hurrying on.
I ran to raise the sufferer up;
Thrice from the stream he drained my cup,
Dipt, and returned it running o'er;
I drank, and never thirsted more.
'Twas night; the floods were out; it blew
A winter hurricane aloof;
I heard his voice abroad, and flew
To bid him welcome to my roof;
I warmed, I clothed, I cheered my guest,
Laid him on my own couch to rest;
Then made the hearth my bed, and seemed
In Eden's garden while I dreamed.
Stript, wounded, beaten, nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side;
I raised his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment; he was healed:
I had myself a wound concealed;
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.
In prison I saw him next, condemned
To meet a traitor's doom at morn;
The tide of lying tongues I stemmed,
And honoured him 'midst shame and scorn:
My friendship's utmost zeal to try,
He asked if I for him would die;
The flesh was weak, my blood ran chill,
But the free spirit cried, "I will."
Then in a moment to my view,
The stranger darted from disguise;
The tokens in his hands I knew,
My Saviour stood before mine eyes:
He spake; and my poor name He named:
"Of me thou hast not been ashamed:
Those deeds shall thy memorial be:
Fear not, thou didst them unto Me."
But it is not merely in the lyrical productions of his muse that Montgomery has indicated the deep feeling of piety that lives as a higher life in him; in every one of those larger and very beautiful poems, in which we might have rather supposed him bent on indulging his literary ambition, and sitting down to a long and systematic piece of labour, which should remain a monument of the more continuous if not higher flights of his genius, we perceive the same still higher object of a sacred duty towards God and man. In no instance has he been content merely to develope his poetical powers, merely to aim at amusing and delighting. Song has been to him a holy vocation, an art practised to make men wiser and better, a gift held like that of the preacher and the prophet, for the purposes of heaven and eternity. In every one of those productions are still recognised the zealous and devoted spirit of one of that indefatigable and self-renouncing people, who from the earliest ages of the Christian Church have trod the path of persecution, and won the burning crown of martyrdom; and in the present age continue to send out from their still retreats in Europe an increasing and untiring succession of labourers, male and female, to the frozen regions of the north, and to the southern wilds of Africa, to civilize and Christianize those rude tribes, which others, bearing the Christian name, have visited only to enslave or extirpate. The Wanderer of Switzerland, the poem which first won him a reputation, was a glowing lyric of liberty, and denunciation of the diabolical war-spirit of the revolutionary French. It was animated by the most sacred love of country, and of the hallowed ground and hallowed feelings of the domestic hearth. The West Indies was a heroic poem, on one of the most heroic acts which ever did honour to the decrees of a great nation — the abolition of the slave trade. But it was a work not merely of triumph over what was done, but of incentive to what yet remained to do — to the abolition of slavery itself. Time has shown what a stupendous mustering of national powers that achievement has demanded. What a combination of all the eloquence, and wisdom, and exertions, of all the wisest, noblest, and best men of, perhaps, the most glorious period of our history, was needed! Time has shown that the very slave trade was only abolished on paper. That like a giant monster, that hideous traffic laughed at our enactments, and laughs at them still, having nearly quadrupled the number of its annual victims since the great contest against it was begun. But amongst those whose voice and spirit have been in fixed and perpetual operation against this vile cannibal commerce, none have more effectually exercised their influence than James Montgomery. His poem, arrayed in all the charms and graces of his noble art, has been read by every genuine lover of genuine poetry. It has sunk into the generous heart of youth; and who shall say in how many it has been in after years the unconscious yet actual spring of that manly demand for the extinction of the wrongs of the African, which all good men in England, and wherever the English language is read, still make, and will make till it be finally accomplished. What fame of genius can be put in competition with the profound satisfaction of a mind conscious of the godlike privilege of aiding in the happiness of man in all ages and regions of the earth, and feeling that it has done that by giving to its thoughts the power and privileges of a spirit, able to enter all houses at all hours, and stimulate brave souls to the bravest deeds of the heroism of humanity?
There are great charms of verse displayed in the poem of The West Indies. One would scarcely have believed the subject of the slave trade capable of them. But the genial, glowing descriptions of the West Indian islands, of the torrid magnificence of the interior of Africa—
Regions immense, unsearchable, unknown—
Amid the splendours of the solar zone;
A world of wonders, — where creation seems
No more the work of Nature, but her dreams,—
Great, wild, and wonderful.
The white villains of Europe, desecrating the name of Christian — Spaniards, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Danes, and Portuguese, all engaged in the brutal traffic, are all sketched with the same vigorous pencil; but the portraiture of the Creole is a master-piece, and I quote it because it still is not a mere picture, but a dreadful reality in the shape of Brazilian and North American, on which the humane cannot too fully reflect. If any one would see all that is here described, he has only now to make a ten days' voyage, and he will see it on an enormous scale in the southern states of the Free Republic of North America, as well as on the plains of the more torrid south.
Lives there a reptile baser than the slave?
—Loathsome as death, corrupted as the grave;
See the dull Creole, at his pompous board,
Attendant vassals cringing round their lord;
Satiate with food, his heavy eye-lids close,
Voluptuous minions fan him to repose;
Prone on the noonday couch he lolls in vain,
Delirious slumbers mock his maudlin brain;
He starts in horror from bewildering dreams;
His bloodshot eye with fire and frenzy gleams;
He stalks abroad; through all his wonted rounds,
The negro trembles, and the lash resounds,
And cries of anguish, thrilling through the air,
To distant fields his dread approach declare.
Mark, as he passes, every head reclined;
Then slowly raised — to curse him from behind.
This is the veriest wretch on nature's face,
Owned by no country, spurned by every race;
The tethered tyrant of one narrow span;
The bloated vampire of a living man:
His frame, — a fungus form of dunghill birth,
That taints the air, and rots above the earth;
His soul; — has he a soul, whose sensual breast
Of selfish passions is a serpent's nest?
Who follows headlong, ignorant and blind,
The vague, brute instincts of an idiot mind;
Whose heart 'mid scenes of suffering senseless grown,
Even from his mother's lap was chilled to stone;
Whose torpid pulse no social feelings move;
A stranger to the tenderness of love;
His motley harem charms his gloating eye,
Where ebon, brown, and olive beauties vie:
His children, sprung alike from sloth and vice,
Are born his slaves, and loved at market price:
Has he a soul? — With his departing breath
A form shall hail him at the gates of death,
The spectre Conscience, — shrieking through the gloom,
"Man, we shall meet again beyond the tomb!"
There are few more pathetic passages in the English language than these, describing the labours and the extinctions of the Charib tribes.
The conflict o'er, the valiant in their graves,
The wretched remnant dwindled into slaves:
—Condemned in pestilential cells to pine,
Delving for gold amidst the gloomy mine.
The sufferer, sick of life-protracting breath,
Inhaled with joy the fire-damp blast of death;
—Condemned to fell the mountain palm on high,
That cast its shadow from the evening sky,
E'er the tree trembled to his feeble stroke,
The woodman languished, and his heart-strings broke;
—Condemned in torrid noon, with palsied hand,
To urge the slow plough o'er the obdurate land,
The labourer, smitten by the sun's fierce ray,
A corpse along the unfinished furrow lay.
O'erwhelmed at length with ignominious toil,
Mingling their barren ashes with the soil,
Down to the dust the Charib people passed,
Like autumn foliage, withering in the blast;
The whole race sank beneath the oppressor's rod,
And left a blank among the works of GOD.
When we bear in mind that these beautiful passages of poetry are not the mere ornamental descriptions of things gone by and done with; but that, though races are extinguished, and millions of negroes, kidnapped to supply their loss, have perished in their misery, the horrors and outrages of slavery remain, spite of all we have done to put an end to them, — we cannot too highly estimate the productions of the muse which are devoted to the cause of these children of misery and sorrow, nor too often return to their perusal. According to the calculations of the Anti-slavery Society, there were, half a century ago, when the anti-slavery operations began, from two to three millions of slaves in the world; there are now said to be FROM SIX TO SEVEN MILLIONS! There were then calculated to be one hundred thousand slaves annually ravished from Africa; there are now calculated to he FOUR HUNDRED THOUSAND ANNUALLY! With these awful facts before us, I fear it will be long before the eloquent appeals of such writers as Montgomery and Cowper will cease to possess a living interest.
In the World before the Flood, and Greenland, the same great purpose of serving the cause of virtue is equally conspicuous. The one relates the contests and triumphs of the good over the vicious in the antediluvian ages, and is full of the evidences of a fine imagination and a lofty piety. Many think this the greatest of Mr. Montgomery's productions. It abounds with beauties which we must not allow ourselves to particularize here. In Greenland he celebrates the missionary labours of the body to which his parents and his brother belonged. In the Pelican Island he quitted his favourite versification, the heroic, in which he displays so much force and harmony, and employed blank verse. There is less human interest in this poem, but it is, perhaps, the most philosophical of his writings, and gives great scope to his imaginative and descriptive powers. He imagines himself as a sort of spiritual existence, watching the progress of the population of the world, from its inanimate state till it was thronged with men, and the savage began to think, and to be prepared for the visitation of the Gospel messengers of peace and knowledge. It may be imagined that vast opportunity is given for the recital of the wonders, awful and beautiful, of the various realms of nature — the growth of coral islands and continents in the sea, and the varied developments of life on the land. The last scene, with a noble savage and his grandchild, in which the old man is smitten with a sense of his immortality, and of the presence of God, and praying, is followed in his act of devotion by the child, is very fine. But I must only allow myself to quote, as a specimen of the style of this poem, so different to all others by the same author, one of its opening passages already referred to.
I was a Spirit in the midst of these,
All eye, ear, thought; existence was enjoyment;
Light was an element of life, and air
The clothing of my incorporeal form,—
A form impalpable to mortal touch,
And volatile as fragrance from the flower,
Or music in the woodlands. What the soul
Can make itself at pleasure, that I was;
A child in feeling and imagination;
Learning new lessons still, as Nature wrought
Her wonders in my presence. All I saw,
Like Adam, when he walked in Paradise,
I knew and named by surest intuition.
Actor, spectator, sufferer, each in turn,
I ranged, explored, reflected. Now I sailed
And now I soared; anon, expanding, seemed
Diffused into immensity, yet bound
Within a space too narrow for desire.
The mind, the mind, perpetual themes must task,
Perpetual power impel and hope allure.
I and the silent sun were here alone,
But not companions; high and bright he held
His course; I gazed with admiration on him—
There all communion ended; and I sighed
To feel myself a wanderer without aim,
An exile amid splendid desolation,
A prisoner with infinitude surrounded.
James Montgomery was born November 4, 1771, in the little town of Irvine, in Ayrshire; a place which has also had the honour of giving birth to John Galt, and of being for about six months the abode of Robert Burns, when a youth, who was sent there to learn the art and mystery of flax-dressing, but his master's shop being burnt, he quitted Irvine and that profession at the same time. The house in which Burns resided does not seem to be now very positively known, but it was in the Glasgow Vennel. The house where Montgomery was born is well known. It is in Halfway-street, and was pointed out to me by the zealous admirer and chronicler of all that belongs to genius, Mr. Maxwell Dick, of Irvine, in whose possession are some of the most interesting of the autograph copies of Burns's Poems, especially the Cotter's Saturday Night.
The house of Montgomery, at the time of his birth and till his fifth year, was a very humble one. His father was the Moravian minister there, and probably had not a large congregation. We know how the ministers of this pious people will labour on in the most physically or morally desolate scene, if they can hope but to win one soul. The cottage is now inhabited by a common weaver, and consists of two rooms only, on the ground floor, one of which is occupied by the loom. The chapel, which used to stand opposite, is now pulled down. This cottage stands in a narrow alley, back from the street. Mr. Dick said he accompanied Mr. Montgomery, some years ago, to this lowly cottage of his birth, and that no sooner had he entered the first room, which used to be, as it is still, the sitting-room, than the memory of his childhood came strongly back upon him, and he sat down and recounted various things which he recollected of the apartment, and of what had taken place in it.
Yet, as we have said, he was sent thence in his fifth year to Grace hill, a settlement still of the Moravian Brethren, near Ballymony, in the county of Antrim, in Ireland; and in which the poet, I believe, has at present a niece residing. In the following year he was again removed to the seminary of the Brethren at Fulneck, in Yorkshire. Soon after this his parents were sent out as missionaries to the West Indies, to preach to the poor slave the consoling doctrine of another and a better world, "where the wretched hear not the voice of the oppressor," and "where the servant is free from his master." There they both died. One lies in the island of Barbadoes, the other in Tobago.
Beneath the lion-star they sleep,
Beyond the western deep,
And when the sun's noon-glory crests the waves,
He shines without a shadow on their graves.
In the Fulneck academy, amongst a people remarkable for their ardour in religion, and their industry in the pursuit of useful learning, James Montgomery received his education. He was intended for the ministry, and his preceptors were every way competent to the task of preparing him for the important office for which he was designed. His studies were various: the French, German; Latin, and Greek languages; history, geography, and music: but a desire to distinguish himself as a poet amongst his schoolfellows, soon interfered with the plan laid out for him. When ten years old he began to write verses, and continued to do it with unabated ardour till the period when he quitted Fulneck in 1787; they were chiefly on religious subjects.
This early devotion to poetry, irresistible as it was, he was wont himself to regard as the source of many troubles. That it retarded his improvement at school, and finally altered his destination in life, seducing him to exchange an almost monastic seclusion from society, for the hurry and bustle of a world, which, for a time, seemed disposed to repay him but ill for the sacrifice. We cannot think that his opinions of this change remain the same now. In whatever character James Montgomery had performed his allotted work in this world, I am persuaded that he would have performed it with the same conscientious steadfastness. In his heart, the spirit of his pious parents, and of that society in which he was educated, would have made him a faithful servant of that Master whom he has so sincerely served. Whether he had occupied a pulpit here, or had gone out to preach Christianity in some far-off and savage land, he would have been the same man, faithful and devout. But it may well be questioned whether in any other vocation he could have been a tenth part as successfully useful as he has been. There was need of him in the world, and he was sent thither, spite of parentage, education, and himself. There was a talent committed to him that is not committed to all. He was to be a minister of God, but it was to be from the hallowed chair of poetry, and not from the pulpit. There was a voice to be raised against slavery and vice, and that voice was to perpetuate itself on the rhythmical page, and to kindle thousands of hearts with the fire of religion and liberty long after his own was cold. There was a niche reserved for him in the temple of poetry, which no other could occupy. It was that of a bard who, freeing his most religious lays from dogmas, should diffuse the love of religion by the religion of love. He himself has shown how well he knew his appointed business, and how sacredly he had resolved to discharge it, when, in A Theme for a Poet, he asks,—
What monument of mind
Shall I bequeath to deathless fame,
That after-times may love my name?
And after detailing the characteristics of the principal poets of the age, he adds:—
Transcendent masters of the lyre
Not to your honours I aspire;
Humbler, yet higher views
Have touched my spirit into flame;
The pomp of fiction I disclaim:
Fair Truth! be thou my muse:
Reveal in splendour deeds obscure—
Abase the proud, exalt the poor.
I sing the men who left their home,
Amidst barbarian tribes to roam,
Who land and ocean crossed,—
Led by a load-star, marked on high
By Faith's unseen, all-seeing eye,—
To seek and save the lost;
Where'er the curse on Adam spread,
To call his offspring from the dead.
Strong in the great Redeemer's name,
They bore the cross, despised the shame;
And, like their Master here,
Wrestled with danger, pain, distress,
Hunger, and cold, and nakedness,
And every form of fear
To feel his love their only joy,
To tell that love their sole employ.
The highest ambition of James Montgomery was, then, to do that by his pen which his brethren did by word of mouth. He had not abandoned that great object to which he had as an orphan been, as it were, dedicated by those good men in whose hands he had been left; he had only changed the mode of attaining it. At the very time that he quitted their tranquil asylum and broke forth into the world, he was, unknown to himself and them, following the unseen hand of Heaven. His lot was determined, and it was not to go forth into the wilderness of the north or south, of Labrador or South Africa, but of the active world of England. There wanted a bold voice, of earnest principle, to be raised against great oppressions; a spirit of earnest duty, to be infused into the heart of poetic literature; and a tone of heavenly faith and confidence given to the popular harp, for which thousands of hearts were listening in vain; and he was the man. That was the work of life assigned to him. He was to be still of the UNITAS FRATRUM — still a missionary; — and how well has he fulfilled his mission!
Fulneck, the chief settlement of the Moravian Brethren in England, at which we have seen that Montgomery continued till his sixteenth year, is about eight miles from Leeds. It was built about 1760, which was near the time of the death of Count Zinzendorf. It was then in a fine and little inhabited country. It is now in a country as populous as a town, full of tall chimneys vomiting out enormous masses of soot rather than smoke, and covering the landscape as with an eternal veil of black mist. The villages are like towns for extent. Stone and smoke are equally abundant. Stone houses, door-posts, window-frames, stone floors, and stone stairs, nay, the very roofs are covered with stone slabs, and when they are new, are the most complete drab buildings. The factories are the same. Where windows are stopped up, it is with stone slabs. The fences to the fields are stone walls, and the gate-posts are stone, and the stiles are stones reared so close to one another, that it is tight work getting through them. Not a bit of wood is to be seen except the doors, water-spouts, and huge water-butts, which are often hoisted in front of the house on the level of the second floor, on strong stone rests. The walls, as well as wooden frames in the fields, are clothed with long pieces of cloth like horses, and women stand mending holes or smoothing off knots in them, as they hang. Troops of boys and girls come out of the factories at meal times, as blue as so many little blue devils, hands, faces, clothes, all blue from weaving the fresh dyed yarn. The older mill girls go cleaner and smarter, all with coloured handkerchiefs tied over their heads, chiefly bright red ones, and look very continental. Dirty rows of children sit on dirty stone door-sills, and there are strong scents of oat cake, and Genoa oil, and oily yarn. There is a general smut of blackness over all, even in the very soil and dust. And Methodist chapels, — Salems and Ebenezers, — are seen on all hands. Who that has ever been into a cloth-weaving district, does not see the place and people?
Well, up to the very back of Fulneck, throng these crowds and attributes of cloth manufacturing. Leaving the coach and the high road, I walked on three miles to the left, through this busy smoke-land, and a large village, and then over some fields. Everywhere were the features of a fine country, but like the features of the people, full of soot, and with volumes of vapour rolling over it. Coming, at length, to the back of a hill, I saw emerging close under my feet a long row of stately roofs, with a belfry, or cupola, crowned with a vane in the centre. These were the roofs of the Moravian settlement of Fulneck, the back of which was towards me, and the front towards a fine valley, on the opposite slope of which were fine woods, and a fine old brick mansion. That is the house, and that the estate of a Mr. Tempest, who will have no manufactory on his land. This is the luckiest tempest that ever was heard of; for it keeps a good open space in front of Fulneck clear, though it is elbowed up at each end, and backed up behind with factories, and work-people's houses; and even beyond Mr. Tempest's estate, you see other tall soot-vomiting chimneys rearing themselves on other ridges; and the eternal veil of Cimmerian smoke-mist floats over the fair, ample, and beautifully wooded valley, lying between the settlement and these swarthy apparitions of the manufacturing system, which seem to long to step forward and claim all — ay, and finally to turn Fulneck into a weaving mill, as they probably will one day.
The situation, were it not for these circumstances, is fine. It has something monastic about it. The establishment consists of one range of buildings, though built at various times. There are the school, chapel, master's house, &c., in the centre, of stone, and a sister's and brother's house, of brick, at each end, with various cottages behind. A fine broad, terrace-walk extends along the front, a furlong in length, being the length of the buildings, from which you may form a conception of the stately scale of the place, which is one-eighth of a mile long. From this descend the gardens, play-grounds, &c., down the hill for a great way, and private walks are thence continued as far again, to the bottom of the valley, where they are further continued along the brook side, amongst the deep woodlands. The valley is called the Tong valley; the brook the Tong; and Mr. Tempest's house, on the opposite slope, Tong hall.
At the left hand, and as you stand in front of the building, looking over the valley, lies the burial-ground, or, as they would call it in Germany, the "Friedhof," or court of peace. It reminded me much of that of Herrnhut, except that it descends from you, instead of ascending. It is covered with a rich green turf, is planted round and down the middle with sycamore trees, and has a cross walk, not two or three, like Herrnhut. I asked Mr. Wilson, the director, who walked with me, whether this arrangement had not originally a meaning — these walks forming a cross. He said, he believed it had, and that the children were buried in a line, extending each way from the centre perpendicular walk, along the cross walk, from a sentimental feeling that they were thus laid peculiarly in the arms of Jesus, and in the protection of his cross. The grave-stones are laid flat, just as at Herrnhut, and of the same size and fashion. Here, however, we miss that central row of venerable tombs, of the Zinzendorf family, and those simple memorial stones lying around them, every one of which bears a name of patriarchal renown in the annals of this society of devoted Christians. Yet even here we cannot avoid feeling that we walk amid the ashes of the faithful descendants of one of the most remarkable and most ancient branches of God's church, whose history Montgomery has so impressively sketched in a few lines:—
When Europe languished in barbarian gloom,
Beneath the ghostly tyranny of Rome,
Whose second empire, cowled and mitred, burst
A phoenix from the ashes of the first;
From persecution's piles, by bigots fired,
Among Bohemian mountains Truth retired.
There, midst rude rocks, in lonely glens obscure,
She found a people, scattered, scorned, and poor;
A little flock through quiet valleys led,
A Christian Israel in the desert fed;
While roaming wolves that scorned the shepherd's hand,
Laid waste God's heritage through every land.
With those the lonely exile sojourned long;
Soothed by her presence, solaced by her song,
They toiled through danger, trials, and distress,
A band of virgins in the wilderness,
With burning lamps, amid their secret bowers,
Counting the watches of the weary hours,
In patient hope the Bridegroom's voice to hear,
And see his banner in the clouds appear.
But when the morn returning chased the night,
These stars that shone in darkness, sunk in light.
Luther, like Phosphor, led the conquering day,
His meek forerunners waned, and passed away.
Ages rolled by; the turf perennial bloomed
O'er the lorn relics of those saints entombed:
No miracle proclaimed their power divine,
No kings adorned, no pilgrims kissed their shrine;
Cold and forgotten, in their grave they slept:
But God remembered them: — their Father kept
A faithful remnant; o'er their native clime
His Spirit moved in his appointed time;
The race revived at his Almighty breath,
A seed to serve him from the dust of death.
"Go forth, my sons, through heathen realms proclaim
Mercy to sinners in a Saviours name."
Thus spake the Lord; they heard and they obeyed.
—Greenland lay wrapped in nature's heaviest shade;
Thither the ensign of the cross they bore
The gaunt barbarians met them on the shore
With joy and wonder, hailing from afar,
Through polar storms, the light of Jacob's star.
The internal arrangements of the establishment are just the same as at all their settlements. The chapel, very much like a Friends' meeting, only having an organ; and the bed-rooms of the children as large, ventilated from the roof, and furnished with the same rows of single curtainless beds, with white coverlets, reminding you of the sleeping-rooms of a nunnery.
My reception, though I took no introduction, was most kind and cordial. The brethren and sisters were well acquainted with the writings of both Mrs. Howitt and myself, and, of course, with our visit to Herrnhut. They have here about seventy boys and fifty girls, as pupils, who had just returned from the Midsummer holidays, and were, many of them, very busy in their gardens. As I heard their merry voices, and caught the glance of their bright eager eyes amongst the trees, I wondered how many would look back hereafter to this quiet sweet place, and exclaim, with the poet who first met the muse here,—
Days of my childhood, hail!
Whose gentle spirits wandering here,
Down in the visionary vale
Before mine eyes appear,
Benignly pensive, beautifully pale:
O days for ever fled, for ever dear,
Days of my childhood, hail!
When Montgomery removed from Fulneck, says a memoir to which the poet has directed my attention as accurate in its facts, the views of his friends were so far changed, that we find him placed by them in a retail shop, at Mirfield, near Wakefield. Here, though he was treated with great kindness, and had only too little business, and too much leisure to attend to his favourite pursuit, he became exceedingly disconsolate, and after remaining in his new situation about a year and a half, he privately absconded, and with less than five shillings in his pocket, and the wide world before him, began his career in pursuit of fame and fortune. His ignorance of mankind, the result of his retired and religious education; the consequent simplicity of his manners, and his forlorn appearance, exposed him to the contempt of some, and to the compassion of others to whom he applied. The brilliant bubble of patronage, wealth, and celebrity, which floated before his imagination, soon burst, and on the fifth day of his travels, he found a situation similar to the one he had left, at the village of Wath, near Rotherham. A residence in London was the object of his ambition; but wanting the means to carry him thither, he resolved to remain in the country till he could procure them. Accordingly, he wrote to his friends amongst the Moravian Brethren, whom he had forsaken, requesting them to recommend him to his new master, conscious that they had nothing to allege against him, excepting the imprudent step of separating himself from them; and not being under articles at Mirfield, he besought them not to compel him to return, he received from them the most generous propositions of forgiveness, and an establishment more congenial to his wishes. This he declined, frankly explaining the causes of his late melancholy, but concealing the ambitious motives which had secretly prompted him to withdraw from their benevolent protection. Finding him unwilling to yield, they supplied his immediate necessities, and warmly recommended him to the kindness of the master he had chosen. It was this master, with whom he remained only twelve months, that, many years afterwards, in the most calamitous period of Montgomery's life, sought him out amidst his misfortunes, not for the purpose of offering consolation only, but of serving him substantially by every means in his power. The interview which took place between the old man and his former servant, the evening previous to his trial at Doncaster, will ever live in the remembrance of him who can forget an injury, but not a kindness. No father could have evinced a greater affection for a darling son; the tears he shed were honourable to his feelings, and were the best testimony to the conduct and integrity of James Montgomery.
From Wath he removed to London, having prepared his way by sending a volume of his manuscript poems to Mr. Harrison, then a bookseller in Paternoster-row. Mr. Harrison, who was a man of correct taste and liberal disposition, received him into his house, and gave him the greatest encouragement to cultivate his talents, but none to publish his poems; seeing, as he observed, no probability that the author would acquire either fame or fortune by appearing at that time before the public. The remark was just; but it conveyed the most unexpected and afflicting information to our youthful poet, who yet knew little of the world, except from books, and who had permitted his imagination to be dazzled with the accounts which he had read of the splendid success and magnificent patronage which poets had formerly experienced. He was so disheartened by this circumstance, that, on occasion of a misunderstanding with Mr. Harrison, he, at the end of eight months, quitted the metropolis, and returned to Wath, where he was received with a hearty welcome by his former employer. While in London, having been advised to turn his attention to prose, as more profitable than verse, he composed an eastern story, which he took one evening to a publisher in the east end of the town. Being directed through the shop, to the private room of the great man, he presented his manuscript in form. The prudent bookseller read the title, marked the number of pages, counted the lines in a page, and made a calculation of the whole; then, turning to the author, who stood in astonishment at this summary mode of deciding on the merit of a work of imagination, he very civilly returned the copy, saying — "Sir, your manuscript is too small — it won't do for me — take it to K—, he publishes those kind of things." Montgomery retreated with so much confusion from the presence of the bookseller, that in passing through the shop, he dashed his unfortunate head against a patent lamp, broke the glass, spilled the oil, and making an awkward apology to the shopmen, who stood tittering behind the counter, to the no small mortification of the poor author, he rushed into the street, equally unable to restrain his vexation or his laughter, and retired to his home, filled with chagrin at this ludicrous and untoward misfortune.
From Wath, where Montgomery had sought only a temporary residence, he removed in 1792, and engaged himself with Mr. Gales of Sheffield, who then printed a newspaper, in which popular politics were advocated with great zeal and ability. To this paper he contributed essays and verses occasionally; but though politics sometimes engaged the service of his hand, the muses had his whole heart, and he sedulously cultivated their favour; though no longer with those false, yet animating hopes, which formerly stimulated his exertions. In 1794, when Mr. Gales left England, a gentleman, to whom Montgomery was an almost entire stranger, enabled him to undertake the publication of the paper on his own account but it was a perilous situation on which he entered; the vengeance which was ready to burst upon his predecessor, soon fell upon him.
At the present day it would scarcely be believed, were it not to be found in the records of a court of justice, that in 1795, Montgomery was convicted of a libel on the war then carrying on between Great Britain and France, by publishing, at the request of a stranger whom he had never seen before, a song written by a clergyman of Belfast, nine months before the war began. This fact was admitted in the court; and though the name of this country did not occur in the libel, nor was there a single note or comment of any kind whatever affixed to the original words, which were composed at the time and in censure of the Duke of Brunswick's proclamation and march to Paris, he was pronounced guilty, and sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and a fine of twenty pounds. Mr. M. A. Taylor presided on this occasion. The first verdict delivered by the jury, after an hour's deliberation, was "Guilty of publishing." This verdict, tantamount to an acquittal, they were directed to reconsider, and to deduce the malicious intention, not from the circumstances attending the publication, but from the words of the song. Another hour's deliberation produced the general verdict of "Guilty." This transaction requires no comment.
Scarcely had Montgomery returned to his home, when he was again called upon to answer for another offence. A riot took place in the streets of Sheffield, in which, unfortunately, two men were shot by the military. In the warmth of his feelings he detailed the dreadful occurrence in his paper. The details were deemed a libel, and he was again sentenced to six months' imprisonment, and a fine of thirty pounds. The magistrate who prosecuted him on this occasion is now dead, and Montgomery would be the last man in the world who could permit anything to be said here, in justification of' himself, which might seem to cast a reflection on the memory of one, who afterwards treated him with the most friendly attention, and promoted his interest by every means in his power.
The active imagination of Montgomery had induced him to suppose that the deprivation of liberty was the loss of every earthly good; in confinement he learned another lesson, and he bore it with fortitude and cheerfulness. In York castle he had opportunities of amusement, as well as leisure for study; and he found kindness, consolation, and friendship within the walls of a prison. During confinement he wrote, and prepared for the press, a volume of poems, which he published, in 1797, under the title of Prison Amusements; but his spirits and hopes were now so broken that he made no exertion to recommend this work to the public.
I went in August, 1845, to visit York castle, with the particular object of seeing the room which Montgomery occupied during his last imprisonment, and where he wrote the Prison Amusements, and by his own description of it corrected a curious mistake which the keepers had made. "The room which I occupied," said Mr. Montgomery to me, "is upstairs, and is distinguished by a round window between two Ionic pillars, at the end of the building nearest to the city and Clifford's tower, and facing the Court house." On requesting the turnkey to show me that as the room where Montgomery had been confined, he assured me that it was not the room, but the true place was the corresponding room at the opposite end of the building. It was not easy to persuade him. He went to the gate-keeper, who supported his view of the case, assuring me that his father was turnkey at the time, and that it was well known, and had been always shown as Montgomery's room. There could be no mistake. I asked them if they thought it possible that a man could be shut up six months in a prison, and after fifty years could give so exact a description of the spot as Montgomery had given me — showing the above identification in my note-book, as written down from Montgomery's statement at the moment — and be mistaken? But men in authority are not readily convinced. What! could all the clever turnkeys of York castle, for fifty years almost to a day, have been showing a wrong room to thousands of visitors? Impossible! — I was therefore obliged to bring another impossibility to render their impossibility more impossible, and that was the impossibility of seeing through, not merely a stone wall, but a stone house. I told them that Montgomery said that he could see the meadows along the Ouse from his window; and that such intense longings for liberty did the sight of people taking their walks there daily give him, that the moment he was liberated he hurried out of the court, descended to the Ouse, and perambulated its banks just where he had seen the people so often walking. This was a poser. It was only from the window described by Montgomery that any such view could be obtained. Facing it, was merely the court wall, over which the river could be seen; but facing the other window stood the Court house — that was a terribly stout impossibility; and so the lords of locks and bolts gave up the point, and said, "Well, it was very odd that everybody should have been wrong for fifty years, and that the room should be wrong — how could it have got wrong?" That is an interesting question which, perhaps, in the course of the next half century their united wisdom may contrive to set right.
The castle is a spacious affair. It consists of buildings of different dates and styles, and an ample court. No part of it is old, except a large round tower, called Clifford's tower, which stands on a mount just within the walls. The rest consists of four buildings. One is the Court house, in which the county assizes are held, parallel with the river Ouse, from which it is but a few hundred yards distant. Opposite to this is what was once the felons' and crown-prisoners' prison; a building with several Ionic columns in the centre, and two at each end. This is now chiefly occupied by a turnkey's family, and the female prisoners. The large area between these buildings is closed at one end by the debtors' prison, and at the other by Clifford's tower. Between the tower and the turnkey's house just mentioned, stands the new felons' prison. This, as well as the outer court walls and entrance gate, is built of solid stone in castellated style. The room occupied by Montgomery is now in the turnkey's house, and is the bedroom of the servant.
The felons' prison is much in the shape of a fan, forming alternate ranges of cells and courtyards, where the prisoners walk in the daytime. The assizes being just over, there were scarcely any prisoners in the jail except those convicted and awaiting their punishments, of which none were capital, but most of them transportation. These men were all clothed in the convict's dress, a jacket and trousers of coarse cloth, of broad green and yellow check. They were mostly basking in the sun in groups, on the pavement of their respective court-yards, and appeared anything but sad. The whole prison seemed as if hewed out of solid stone; and everywhere were gates of iron, closing with a clang and a twank of the lock behind you, which must sound anything but cheering to a prisoner just conducted in. The openings into the different court-yards were filled with massy iron railing; and the pavements, walls, everything else, was one mass of solid stone. Many of the stones in the wall were nine feet long, and of proportionate quadrature. The chapel presented a range of partitions with strong bars, as for a wild beast's den, in front, and doors behind, so that the prisoners from separate cells are let in there, and cannot get sight of each other. The partition for the women is boarded up in front, so that they are quite unseen, except to the preacher. The windows were everywhere, as it were, a complete network of knotted iron bars; and the dining-rooms of the prisoners were those long winding passages of massy stone, along which we went to their cells. In these, with the iron gates locked behind them, they stand at a long narrow board fixed along the wall, about the width of a plate, and take their meals. No place surely was at once so clean, and so hopelessly ponderous and strong. The very idea of it seemed to weigh on one like a nightmare, and make one stretch ourself, as for a sense of freedom.
The few women who were in prison, were, of course, convicts. They all rose at our entrance into their room, where they were all together, and curtsied very respectfully, and if one were to judge from their countenances, we could not think them very criminal. The men seemed hardy, reckless, and inclined to be insolent, for every word uttered in passing along these courts of solid stone was flung back from wall to wall, and was heard in the remotest corners; and more than once, we heard the convicts take up our words, imitate them in a burlesque style, and then join in laughter at their own audacity. There were numbers of them that we should not be glad to meet in a solitary wood. But the women, had I not known that they were convicts, I should have regarded as a set of as decent, modest, and honest women of the working class as one usually sees. There was no expression of hardened guilt or gross depravity about them. A thoroughly debased woman is one of the most revolting objects in creation; but how rarely is woman's nature so thoroughly degraded! How long do the feminine qualities of gentleness and amiability outlive in them the temptations and incentives to crime! How often are they the tools and victims of men, and how often and readily might they be called back from error to the purest and most devoted virtue!
The beds of all the prisoners were laid on iron frames, supported on solid stones, so that they could cut no wood from them for any purposes of escape. Everywhere, above and below, all was stone, stone, solid stone, and bars of massy iron; and yet out of even this place there have been escapes.
But the most extraordinary scene in the whole place is an iron cage in the lobby of the keeper's house, containing the irons of the most signal malefactors, and the weapons with which they committed their murders. There are Dick Turpin's shackles, with a massy bar of iron, about two feet long, and more than twenty-eight pounds weight, which were put on his legs when he had twice escaped out of the castle; and a girdle of iron to put round his waist, with chains and iron handcuffs for his hands. There is the most horrid collection of hedge-stakes, huge and knotted pieces of rails, of pokers, and hammers, of guns, and knives, and razors, with which murders have been perpetrated, each of which the jailer relates. There is a huge piece of a spar and a heavy stone with which one murderer destroyed his victim. The stakes with which three men knocked out the brains of another in a wood. There is a stone, I suppose ten pounds weight, at least, hanging by the cord which a mother put round the neck of her infant, and sunk it to the bottom of a pond. There is a piece of the skull of Daniel Clarke, murdered, as it is said, by Eugene Aram; and hats battered in, or shot through by the assassin. There are iron bludgeons terminated with knobs of lead, to conceal under coats; and crowbars bent at the end, to force open doors. These, with the casts of the heads of some of the most noted murderers, form a sufficiently horrible spectacle. It is a history of human ferocity and guilt, actually written in iron and in blood, which still dyes the dreadful instruments of its perpetration with its dismal rust of death. Escaping from this exhibition, I did not do as one of the visitors said he must go and do — get a stout glass of brandy to rid him of his queerness, — but I did as Montgomery did on escaping from the prison, — went and walked along the footpath by the Ouse, under the noble elms which he had so often seen waving in their greenness from his cell.
From the period of his imprisonment in this place, Mr. Montgomery has continued to reside in Sheffield. For the long period of half a century he has been essentially bound up with the literary and social progress of the place. Editing, for the greater part of that period, the Iris newspaper, on which his name and writings conferred a popular celebrity; and from time to time sending forth one of his volumes of poetry, there is no question that the influence of his taste and liberal opinions has been greatly instrumental in the growth of that spirit of intelligence and moral culture which highly distinguish Sheffield. With the religious world, as was to be expected, James Montgomery has always stood in high esteem, and in the most friendly relation. The names of Montgomery and Sheffield will always mutually present each other to the mind of the man of taste. Through his own exertions, the proceeds of his pen, and a small pension of £150 a-year, in testimony of his poetic merit, the poor orphan who set out from the little shop at Mirfield to seek fame and fortune with less than five shillings in his pocket, has now for some years retired to an enjoyment of both; and no man ever reached the calm sunshine of life's evening with a purer reputation, or a larger share of the grateful affection of his townsmen, or of the honour of his countrymen in general. One of his oldest friends, from whose written statements I have been enabled to draw some of the facts here given, has sketched the following well-merited character of James Montgomery: "It may be said, that nature never infused into a human composition a greater portion of kindness and general philanthropy. A heart more sensibly alive to every better, as well as every finer feeling, never beat in a human breast. Perhaps no two individuals, in manners, pursuits, character, and composition, ever more exactly corresponded with each other, than Montgomery and Cowper. The same benevolence of heart, the same modesty of deportment, the same purity of life, the same attachment to literary pursuits, the same fondness for solitude and retirement from the public haunts of men; and to complete the picture, the same ardent feeling in the cause of religion, and the same disposition to gloom and melancholy. His person, which is rather below the middle stature, is neatly formed; his features have the general expression of simplicity and benevolence, rendered more interesting by a hue of melancholy that pervades them. When animated by conversation, his eye is uncommonly brilliant, and his whole countenance is full of intelligence. He possesses great command of language; his observations are those of an acute and penetrating mind, and his expressions are frequently strikingly metaphorical and eloquent. By all who see and converse with him he is esteemed; by all who know him, he is beloved."
Strangers visiting Sheffield will have a natural curiosity to see where Montgomery so many years resided, and whence he sent forth his poems and his politics. That spot is in the Hartshead; one of the most singular situations for such a man and purpose often to be met with. Luckily, it is in the centre of the town, and not far to seek. Going up the High-street, various passages under the houses lead to one common centre — the Hartshead, a sort of cul de sac, having no carriage road through, but only one into it, and that not from the main street. The shop, which used to be the Iris office, is of an odd ogee shape, at the end of a row of buildings. It has huge, ogee-shaped windows, with great, dark green shutters. The door is at the corner, making it a three-cornered shop. It is now a pawnbroker's shop, the door and all round hung with old garments. The shelves are piled with bundles of pawned clothes, ticketed. The houses round this strange, hidden court, in which it stands, are nearly all public-houses, as the Dove and Rainbow, and the like, with low eating-houses, and dens of pettifogging lawyers. From what funny corners do poetic lucubrations, to say nothing of political ones, sometimes issue! The Hartshead seems just one of that sort of places in which the singular orgies of the working children of Sheffield, traced out by the Commissioners of Inquiry into the condition of children and young persons in the manufacturing districts, are held. "There are beer-houses," says the Rev. Mr. Farish, "attended by youths exclusively, for the men will not have them in the same houses with themselves. In those beer-houses the youths of both sexes are encouraged to meet, and scenes destructive of every vestige of virtue or morality ensue."
The sub-commissioner visited several of these places, attended by a policeman. He says: "We commenced our visits at about half-past nine at night. In the first place we entered, there were two rows of visitors along each side of the room, amounting to forty or fifty. They were almost entirely boys and girls under seventeen years old. They were sitting together, every boy having apparently his companion by his side. A tall woman, with one or two attendants, was serving them with drink, and three or four men were playing on wind instruments in a corner. Several boys were questioned as to their ages and occupations. Some were grinders, some hafters, and a few had no calling which it was convenient to name to the police. Some were as young as fourteen, but mostly about fifteen or sixteen years old. The younger children do not usually remain so late at these places. We visited several others. In some they were singing, in others dancing, in all drinking. In three successively they were playing at cards, which the police seized. On one occasion we went into a long and brilliantly lighted room, of which the ceiling was painted like a bower. Benches and tables were ranged along the side of each wall. This place was up a dark and narrow lane, and was crowded with young people and men and women of notorious character. There must have been a hundred persons there."
But from a glance at the orgies, which, spite of all that education and the philanthropist have so long been doing, still are to be found in the dark purlieus of the manufacturing town, we must hasten to bid adieu to the poet of religion and refinement. James Montgomery resides at the Mount, on the Glossop road, the WEST END of Sheffield. It is, I suppose, at least a mile and a half from the old Iris office, and is one regular ascent all the way. The situation is lovely, lying high; and there are many pleasant villas built on the sides of the hill in their ample pleasure grounds, the abodes of the wealthy manufacturers. The Mount, par excellence, is the house, or rather terrace, where Montgomery lives. It is a large building, with a noble portico of six fine Ionic columns, so that it looks a residence fit for a prince. It stands in ample pleasure grounds, and looks over a splendid scene of hills and valleys. The rooms enjoy this fine prospect over the valleys of the Sheaf and Porter, which, however, was obscured while I was there with the smoke blowing from the town.
In the drawing-room hangs the portrait of the Incognita, on whom the beautiful lyric under that title was written, and which may be found in the same volume as Greenland. As is there stated, he saw the picture at Leamington; it hung, in fact, in his lodgings, and completely fascinated his fancy — and no wonder. One may imagine the poet, continually met on returning from his walks by that "vision of delight," addressing it in the words of that charming poem.
It is evidently a family portrait, and is no doubt by Lely or Kneller, probably by the latter; at all events, by a master. It is of the size of life, three-quarters figure; a slender young lady in a pale silk dress. She is very beautiful, and the expression of her countenance is extremely amiable. All that Mr. Montgomery could learn from his landlady was, that it had belonged to Sir Charles Knightly of Warwickshire; and there can, therefore, be little doubt that this fascinating creature, fit to inspire any poet, was one of his family. The landlady, no great judge of either beauty or art, said she was willing to sell it for two guineas, and Montgomery, in a joyful astonishment, at once paid her the money, and secured the prize.
Below Mr. Montgomery's house, on the other side of the road, lie the botanic gardens. These, stretching down the hill side, lie charmingly. They are extensive and delightful. The kind and active poet, though in his seventy-fifth year, would accompany me to see them. You enter by a sort of Grecian portico, and to the right hand, along the top of the gardens, see a fine, long conservatory, in which the palms, parasitical, and other tropical plants are in the most healthy state. The curator, a very sensible Scotchman, seemed to have a particular pleasure in pointing out his plants to us. What struck me most was, however, not so much the tropical plants, as the size to which he has cultivated certain plants which we commonly see small. The common, sweet-scented heliotrope, in a pot, was at least five feet high, and had a stem quite woody, and at least an inch in diameter. It formed, in fact, a tree, and being in full bloom, filled all the conservatory with its odour. The fuchsias were the same, though this is not so unusual. They were tied up to rods, and reaching to the very roof, formed archways hung with their crimson blossoms. The scarlet geraniums were the same; had stems nearly as thick as one's wrist, and were not, I suppose, less than twelve feet high. How much superior to the dwarf state in which we usually keep this magnificent plant! The curator said that they cut all the side branches from these plants quite close, in the autumn or early spring, and that they shoot out afresh and flower.
The gardens themselves are extensive, beautifully varied, richly stocked, and sloped with fine turf. In one place you come to secluded waters and thickets; in another, to an open wide lawn, all filled with beds of every imaginable kind of roses in glowing masses; in another, to the remains of the original forest, with its old trees and heathery sward; and with fine views over the neighbouring valleys in different directions. It is a most delightful place for walking in, and is naturally a great resort and luxury of the poet's. We traversed it, I suppose, for a couple of hours in all directions, and talked over a multitude of poets and poetry. I was glad to find Montgomery as ardent an admirer of Tennyson and of Moile's State Trials as myself, my review of the latter poet in the Eclectic having first brought them under his notice. At the gate of these pleasant gardens I take my present adieu of James Montgomery, the most genuinely religious poet of the age. With a wisdom, founded not on calculation, but on a sacred sense of duty, he had made even his ambition subservient to his aspirations as a Christian, and he has thus reared for himself a pedestal in the poetic Walhalla of England peculiarly his own. The longer his fame endures, and the wider it spreads, the better it will be for virtue and for man.