1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Montgomery

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 3:245-47.



This amiable man, whose poetry is so justly esteemed by the public, has lately given to the world a volume both curious and talented, entitled The Chimney-Sweeper's Friend and Climbing Boy's Album, which contains much beautiful poetry from various poets on this heart-rending subject. The profits are laudably given to The Society for bettering the Condition of the Climbing Boys of Sheffield.

The poems of which the greater part of the book is composed (for at least one third of it is prose), are unequal. None, however, it must be confessed, make a very near approach to mediocrity. Those from the pens of Messrs. Bowring and Montgomery "stick fiery off indeed." Our space precludes the possibility of our giving both: we therefore present the reader with the one written by the Editor of this interesting volume. The being who can read it unmoved, must be heartless indeed.

A WORD WITH MYSELF.
I know they scorn the Climbing Boy,
The gay, the selfish, and the proud;
I know his villainous employ
Is mockery with the thoughtless crowd.

So be it — brand with ev'ry name
Of burning infamy his heart;
But let his country bear the shame,
And feel the iron at her heart.

I cannot coldly pass him by,
Stript, wounded, left by thieves half dead;
Nor see an infant Lazarus lie
At rich men's gates, imploring bread.

A frame as sensitive as mine;
Limbs moulded in a kindred form;
A soul degraded, yet divine,
Endear to me my brother worm.

He was my equal at his birth,
A naked, helpless, weeping child;
And such are born to thrones on earth,
On such hath ev'ry mother smil'd.

My equal he will be again,
Down in that cold oblivious gloom,
Where all the prostrate ranks of men
Crowd without fellowship the tomb.

My equal in the Judgment Day,
He shall stand up before the throne,
When ev'ry veil is rent away,
And good and evil only known.

And is he not mine equal now—
Am I less fall'n from God and truth—
Though "Wretch" be written on his brow,
And leprosy consume his youth?

If holy Nature yet have laws,
Binding on man, of woman born,
In her own Court I'll plead his cause,
Arrest the doom and share the scorn.

Yes, let the scorn that haunts his course,
Turn on me like a trodden snake,
And hiss and sting me with remorse,
If I the fatherless forsake.