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After some wayside hardships and wanderings, he got engaged as shop-boy in the pretty Yorkshire village of Wath, where he remained for a twelvemonth. He next removed to London, intent on publishing a volume of poetry; but the Brethren of the Row were as adverse to his poetical ambition as the Brethren of Fulneck; and he was glad to obtain employment from one of the number, Harrison, a well-known publisher, as clerk and assistant. He soon tired of London, and retraced his steps back to Wath, perhaps induced in some degree by recollection of a certain Nancy Wainwright, one of the Wath beauties, whom, I am afraid," he says, "I sometimes looked at in church more than was proper." The looks came to nothing; and this is the only instance of any thing like an approach to gallantry in the long bachelor life of Montgomery.


In his twenty-first year he made another and final removal. He went to Sheffield as clerk to Mr. Gales, an auctioneer and publisher of a weekly newspaper, the Sheffield Register. This paper was liberal in its tone and tendencies, and Mr. Gale was marked out as a disaffected man. The whole nation was at that time agitated by the example or by dread of revolutionized France; spies and informers abounded; and local rulers, like the government, were jealous and eager to convict. The Sheffield editor was wrecked in the political storm; the Register went down, and in its place

the Iris came forth, with James Montgomery for its conductor and proprietor.

He was now in a congenial and independent position; he had a weekly outlet for all his thoughts and musings, whether in prose or verse; and, though no politician, he had a true poet's love of liberty, and hatred of meanness, fraud, or oppression. He was determined to be prudent; he was by nature inoffensive; yet within a twelvemonth, before he had completed his twenty-fifth year, he was twice convicted, fined, and imprisoned for libels. He had printed for a hawker some copies of two old songs that remained in type in the office. One of them related to the destruction of the Bastile in 1789, and was surmounted by a rude wood-cut representing Liberty and the British lion. hawker sold the songs in the streets, ingeniously drawing attention to his wares by crying "straws to sell." The purchaser of a straw, price one halfpenny, obtained a copy of the ballads; and one of the Sheffield constables, acute as Dogberry, smelt treason in this device of the straws, and in the "effigies" of Liberty and the Lion. The printer was traced; he was found to be the suspected editor of the Iris; and Montgomery, after a form of trial, was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in York Castle, and to pay a fine of 201.


His second offence consisted in some reflections on the conduct of a colonel of militia, who had displayed superabundant zeal and recklessness in

quelling a street riot. After an extraordinary scene of contradictory evidence, a verdict was given against the publisher of the Iris, and he was sent again to York Castle, but for a period of six months, and with the further penalty of a fine of 30%. Such oppression seems almost incredible now; and Montgomery said, that "no man who did not live amidst the delirium of those evil days and that strife of evil tongues, could imagine the bitterness of animosity which infatuated the zealous partisans." In his own case he lived to see it all extinguished. He ultimately found friends among his old opponents—even the fiery militia colonel; but for some years he was neither democratic enough for the wild reformers, nor submissive enough to serve the purposes of the local magnates, and his editorial life was truly a life of martyrdom. He was able to retire from it altogether in the year 1825, and on that occasion a great public banquet, presided over by Viscount Milton, was given him by his townsmen and neighbors, men of all ranks, classes, and distinctions. Politics and political strife were now buried forever, and there was a long day of warmth and sunshine after the cold blasts of the morning.

The literary career of Montgomery dates from his incarceration in York Castle. He wrote there, and published in 1797, Prison Amusements, a series of short poems, which had only a local reputation. In 1805 he issued another poem, The Ocean; and

in 1806, The Wanderer of Switzerland, and other Poems. The last of these volumes had gone through two editions, when it happened to fall into the critical hands of Francis Jeffrey, and received a check which, to the sensitive poet, seemed to threaten nothing less than the annihilation of his hopes and labors. The Edinburgh Review denounced the unfortunate volume in a style of such authoritative reprobation as no mortal verse could be expected to survive. The critic, however, proved a bad prophet: the work continued popular because it was really worthy of popularity; and the criticism must be set down as one of those wanton sins against good taste and proper feeling which the Review occasionally perpetrated in its nonage, before it had attained to years of discretion.

Montgomery's next poetical production was written to commemorate the abolition of the slavetrade, and was entitled The West Indies. It is in the heroic couplet of Dryden and Pope, and exhibits the poet's command of that peculiarly English style of verse, the best of all for narrative poetry. In 1813 appeared The World before the Flood, also in the same measure; in 1819, Greenland, a poem founded on the Moravian mission to that remote territory; and in 1827 The Pelican Island, a descriptive poem in blank verse, which is unquestionably the most original and powerful of all Montgomery's works. Numerous exquisite little pieces

from his pen came forth in the annuals and other periodicals; and he collected two volumes of published under the quaint title of Prose

sketches, by a Poet.

In the winter of 1830-31 he delivered a course of lectures on poetry and general literature at the Royal Institution, which were afterwards published in one volume. He was now recognized as a standard English classic, unrivalled in popular sacred poetry and in the poetry of the domestic affections by all but Cowper. His verse was clear, copious, and flowing; always musical, and often strikingly picturesque. If he had no secret beauties of diction or subtle trains of thought and imagination, his works displayed a high and pure moral feeling and strong religious faith, untinctured by sectarian formality or exclusiveness. In his poetry, as in his life, James Montgomery exhibited a catholic spirit that embraced whatever was lovely and of good report. He looked beyond the grave, but never neglected any form of suffering humanity, or call of active duty and brotherly sympathy.

In 1841 a collected edition of Montgomery's works was published in four volumes; and so late as 1853 he issued a series of Original Hymns. To his limited means the small hoard accumulated through years of toil and anxiety - the government, on the recommendation of Sir Robert Peel, added a pension of 150l. per annum. The latter years of the old poet were thus passed in ease and

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