Henry Gally Knight

John Holland, "Henry Gally Knight" Poets of Yorkshire; comprising Sketches of the Lives, and Specimens of the Writings of those Children of Song (1845) 193-94.

This highly respectable country gentleman, who at present represents the hundred of Bassetlaw in Parliament, is the grandson of the Rev. H. Gally, D.D., whose two sons took the surname of Knight, in consequence of their father having married Elizabeth, co-heir and survivor of the last direct male representative of the old family of Knight of Langold and Firbeck, near the picturesque ruins of Roche Abbey. At the former of these places, Henry Gally Knight, Esq., was born in 1788. Some interesting notices of his family, as well as of the estates of this gentleman, will be found in "Hunter's South Yorkshire." After an elegant notice of the mother of our poet, of whose piety the present church at Firbeck is an enduring monument, and whose active and sympathizing benevolence yet lives in the memory of the ancient inhabitants of the neighbourhood, the historian adds: — "The literary spirit of the family lives in the son, who, on his return from extensive travel in Spain, Sicily, Greece, Syria, and Arabia, published a little volume of poems, which he called 'Eastern Sketches.' He has abandoned the house at Langold for the mansion at Firbeck, an old Elizabethan fabrick, but which, in his hands, has been made to fall in with views of modern convenience and elegance, while he has also adorned it by extensive gardens and pleasure grounds." There is a good mezzotinto likeness of Mr. Knight, engraved from a painting by Sir Martin Archer Shee, at the expense of the tenants of Mr. Knight, and presented to him by his tenantry in 1841, as a testimony of their respect for his character.

Mr. Knight's Eastern Sketches consist of three Stories, respectively entitled Ilderim, Phrosyne, and Alashtar, the scenery of each poem being laid in a different country or province: thus the local of Ilderim is Syria; Phrosyne, Greece; and Alashtar, Arabia. To extract portions of these pieces would be unsatisfactory to the reader, and unjust to Mr. Knight, for it is only when read and considered as a whole that their merits can be duly appreciated. The following lines will shew that a survey of classic scenery has not unfitted the English poet for gathering with grace and feeling a home flower.

I came where the Hall of my Fathers had stood,
And mournfully wander'd around;
The blue smoke no longer curl'd over the wood,
But fragments encumber'd the ground.

In vain each old haunt I endeavour'd to trace,
Where all was a mouldering heap;
The garden a desert, and scarcely a place
For remembrance to rest on, and weep.

At length, as I linger'd with painful delay,
I glanc'd on a leaflet of green,
That, entangled with ruin, was forcing its way,
The sole thing of life to be seen—

I ran to the spot, and, relieving the wreath
From the fragments, its features I knew;
A plant well remember'd and lov'd — for beneath
My Mother's own casement it grew.

There once, when the turret was braving the sky,
Around it that rose had entwin'd;
Had leant on its bosom, and deck'd it on high,
With verdure and blossoms combin'd.

And now, when the turret was gone to the ground,
The garden a wilderness bare,
At its post the pale floweret, though wounded, was found,
In pride, or adversity — there!

Oh! methought, as I gaz'd on its petals of white,
Like woman's affection they blow,
That graces and shares our meridian height,
But clings round us closer in woe.