Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

PERSUASION.

“ Man's life is like a Sparrow, mighty King !
That, stealing in while by the fire you sit
Housed with rejoicing friends, is seen to flit
Safe from the storm, in comfort tarrying.
Here did it enter—there, on hasty wing
Flies out, and passes on from cold to cold;
But whence it came we know not, nor behold
Whither it goes. Even such that transient thing,
The human Soul; not utterly unknown
While in the Body lodged, her warm abode;
But from what world she came, what woe or weal
On her departure waits, no tongue hath shown;
This mystery if the Stranger can reveal,
His be a welcome cordially bestow'd !"

From Ecclesiastical Sketches.

SONNET

COMPOSED UPON WESTMINSTER BRIDGE, SEPT. 3, 1803.

Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples, lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

This poet was born at the little town of Irvine, in Ayrshire, North Britain, on the 4th of November, 1771. As his parents belonged to that strict and exemplary class of Christians called Moravians, the education of the poet was carefully conducted upon their religious principles, to which he adhered through life, and which he has so beautifully embodied in his poetry. He was also taught at one of their seminaries the Latin, Greek, French, and German languages.

The excessive fastidiousness of his instructors made them subject the writings • of even the most moral of our poets to severe curtailments before they entrusted

them to the perusal of their pupils; and the natural consequence of this was, that Montgomery, who from his tenth year had shown a decided love of poetry, procured the works unmutilated, and read them by stealth. At last, when he had reached the age of fifteen, he was detected by his teachers in the felonious act of perpetrating an epic poem, entitled Alfred the Great, of which he had already written two books. The good brethren were alarmed at the discovery, as their pupil was destined for the work of the ministry, and they strictly charged him to renounce the temptations of rhyme; but in vain. They might as well have tried, like Canute, to check the flow of the tide by a simple man. date—and they were therefore obliged to leave the poet to his own devices. At the age of seventeen he boldly threw himself upon the world, and came to London; but, as might be expected, no bookseller was hardy enough to publish the poems of an unknown boy. This disappointment cooled his love of literary adventures, and after a few years of hopeless struggle he became the publisher of a newspaper, called The Iris, in the town of Sheffield. Misfortune, however, still dogged his footsteps; for as he wrote at a period of political suspicion, cer. tain articles in his journal were unjustly condemned as libellous, and in 1795 he found himself within the walls of a prison. Scarcely had the period of his sentence expired, when he was again committed upon a new, and equally fri. volous charge. Better times, however, succeeded, when Montgomery could state his sentiments without fear of their being misinterpreted; his upright character and amiable manners impressed society with love and esteem, while his poetical talents, evinced by successive publications, attained a high and merited popularity. A few years ago he received one of those government pensions bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves by eminence and usefulness in authorship. He still resides at Sheffield, esteemed as one of the most moral and pure-minded of poets, and only in the second rank among those illustrious names that have shed a glory upon the nineteenth century.

DEATH OF ALBERT.

“On that melancholy plain,

In that conflict of despair,
How was noble Albert slain?

How didst thou, old warrior, fare?"
“ In the agony of strife,

Where the heart of battle bled,
Where his country lost her life,

Glorious Albert bow'd his head.
“ When our phalanx broke away,

When our stoutest soldiers fell,
-Where the dark rocks dimm’d the day,

Scowling o'er the deepest dell;

“ There like lions old in blood,

Lions rallying round their den, Albert and his warriors stood;

We were few, but we were men. “ Breast to breast we fought the ground,

Arm to arm repell’d the foe; Every motion was a wound,

And a death was every blow. “ Thus the clouds of sunset beam

Warmer with expiring light; Thus autumnal meteors stream

Redder through the darkening night. “Miracles our champions wrought

Who their dying deeds shall tell ? O how gloriously they fought!

How triumphantly they fell! “One by one gave up the ghost,

Slain, not conquer'd—they died free. Albert stood-himself a host :

Last of all the Swiss was he.

a

“So, when night with rising shade

Climbs the Alps from steep to steep, Till, in hoary gloom array'd,

All the giant mountains sleep; High in heaven their monarch stands,

Bright and beauteous from afar, Shining unto distant lands

Like a new-created star.

[ocr errors]

“ While I struggled through the fight,

Albert was my sword and shield; Till strange horror quench'd my sight,

And I fainted on the field.

“Slow awakening from that trance,

When my soul return’d to day, Vanish'd were the fiends of France,

-But in Albert's blood I lay. “ Slain for me, his dearest breath

On my lips he did resign; Slain for me, he snatch'd his death

From the blow that menaced mine.

“ He had raised his dying head,

And was gazing on my face;
As I woke--the spirit fled,
But I felt his last embrace.”

From The Wanderer of Switzerland.

DISCOVERY AND CONQUEST OF AMERICA.

Then first Columbus, with the mighty hand
Of grasping genius, weigh'd the sea and land;

The floods o'erbalanced :—where the tide of light,
Day after day, rolld down the gulf of night,
There seem'd one waste of waters :-long in vain
His spirit brooded o'er th’ Atlantic main;
When sudden, as creation burst from nought,
Sprang a new world through his stupendous thought,
Light, order, beauty!-While his mind explored
Th’unveiling mystery, his heart adored;
Where'er sublime imagination trod,
He heard the voice, he saw the face, of God.

The winds were prosperous, and the billows bore
The brave adventurer to the promised shore;
Far in the west, array'd in purple light,
Dawn'd the new world on his enraptured sight :
Not Adam, loosen’d from th' encumbering earth,
Waked by the breath of God to instant birth,
With sweeter, wilder wonder gazed around,
When life within, and light without, he found;
When, all creation rushing o'er his soul,
He seem'd to live and breathe throughout the whole.
So felt Columbus, when, divinely fair,
At the last look of resolute despair,
The Hesperian isles, from distance dimly blue,
With gradual beauty open'd on his view.
In that proud moment, his transported mind
The morning and the evening worlds combined,
And made the sea, that sunderd them before,
A bond of peace, uniting shore to shore.

Vain, visionary hope! rapacious Spain
Follow'd her hero's triumph o'er the main,
Her hardy sons in fields of battle tried,
Where Moor and Christian desperately died.

MONTGOMERY.

125

A rabid race, fanatically bold,
And steeld to cruelty by lust of gold,
Traversed the waves, the unknown world explored,
The cross their standard, but their faith the sword;
Their steps were graves ; o'er prostrate realms they trod;
They worshipp’d Mammon while they vow'd to God.

Let nobler bards in loftier numbers tell
How Cortez conquer’d, Montezuma fell;
How fierce Pizarro's ruffian arm o'erthrew
The Sun's resplendent empire in Peru;
How, like a prophet, old Las Casas stood,
And raised his voice against a sea of blood,
Whose chilling waves recoil'd while he foretold
His country's ruin by avenging gold.

- That gold, for which unpitied Indians fell,
That gold, at once the snare and scourge of hell,
Thenceforth by righteous Heaven was doom'd to shed
Unmingled curses on the spoiler's head;
For gold the Spaniard cast his soul away-
His gold and he were every nation's prey.

From The West Indies.

[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« ForrigeFortsæt »