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THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER.
FAREWELL to the Hero, whose chivalrous name Bade the land of his fathers rise highest in fame; Farewell, Macedonia, to all that was dear; Farewell to thy glory's unbroken career. The Triumphs of Empire have fled with a breath, And the Day-star of Conquest is faded in death. With the soul that once gave thee command over all, With the arm that upheld thee, proud land, thou must fall; For the Spirit that warm'd thee for ever hath flown, And left thee to weep o'er his sepulchre's stone.
Time was that the lightning, which erst used to play From yon eyeball that glares with a powerless ray, Would have flash'd through the din, and the tumult of fight, As the meteor gleams 'mid the darkness of night. Time was, that yon arm would have dealt out the blow With the thunderbolt's force on the helm of the foe; And Fancy might think, as the blood-reeking crest Of the King and the Warrior shone high o'er the rest, That the God of the battle was goading his car Through the ranks of the vanquish’d, the tide of the war. Time was,—but those glories have long pass'd away, Like the breeze of the North o'er the sea-ruffled
spray; Like the rose-bud of Summer they died in their bloom, And Memory pauses to weep o'er their doom.
Oh! Fiend of Ambition, look down on the shame That has darken'd the ray of thy Votary's fame ; And blush to confess that in
low estate Lies the remnant of all that was mighty and great. And shook not the world, and its kingdoms with dread? And quail'd not the sky as the parting life fled ?
And fell not the Hero where nations pursued,
Now, joy to ye, Thebans, whose heart's blood bedew'd
ON THE WRITINGS OF JAMES MONTGOMERY.
The true spirit of criticism, as well as of poetry, has revived in our days; and when that spirit had once developed itself, it was not to be supposed that so fair and extensive, as well as peculiarly interesting a field for its exercise as that of modern poetry, should remain long unoccupied. Accordingly, it has been the fortune of our great contemporaries to have their great characteristic excellencies islustrated, and the interior sources of those excellencies developed, by minds more or less qualified for the task,-minds of various capacity, and which have exerted themselves in very different ways, but all endued with a deep sense of the beautiful in poetry, and the power of embodying that sense in words. Of good criticism, indeed, as of other good things, we may have too much; and we are almost tempted to wish, that, like the Dutch in their Spice Islands, we could consume one half of the precious commodity, in order to make the rest more valuable. I only mention this circumstance, however, as exonerating me from pursuing the track in which so many maturer and more highly-endowed intellects are engaged, and as justifying me in confining my efforts to those little neglected corners of our contemporary literature, which, while the circumstance of their being yet untouched renders the task of their explorer more easy, may also, from the comparatively contracted grasp of mind which is required for their survey, appear more suited to the humble capacities of “ The Etonian."
I mean not, however, to intimate, that the writings of James Montgomery have escaped the notice of the cen
It will be remembered that his earliest publication was the object of a severe criticism in the “Edinburgh Review.” This was answered by a just and spirited article in the “Quarterly," which, from its style, appears to be the production of an individual, eminent for his efficient and unpretending patronage of youthful merit; - an individual whose warm benevolence, no less than his unsullied integrity, his abilities, and his extraordinary learning, will be held in honourable remembrance, when the clamour, which the spirit of party and his own indiscretion have raised against him, shall have died away. Since that period, however, though the popularity of Montgomery, before considerable, has continued, or even increased, I am not aware of the appearance of any adequate critique on his writings, nor have I seen his name mentioned by any of the modern critics, except occasionally in a census of our whole poetical population, or as one of a particular class of writers. Feeling, therefore, as I sincerely do, my incompetency to the task of a regular review, and declining any such attempt, I yet
presume to hope that a summary of such detached remarks as have occurred to me on the writings of the author now before me may not be unacceptable to “ The Etonian;" and, in the retrospective view of his various works which this will include, I may be permitted to make my most copious quotations from the last volume, as being less generally known than the rest. It is more easy to comprehend than to define the
peculiar genius of a writer; and that of Montgomery, though inferior in magnitude to those of most of his contemporaries, is sufficiently original. The character of his mind seems to be rather that of delicacy than of strength*; combining with a keen perception of the beauty inherent in the milder feelings of our nature, a power of embodying that beauty in language. There is a feminine beauty in his compositions, as well as a feminine weakness; and their effect, if I may be permitted to use a fanciful illustration, resembles the sweet influences” of the evening star. All objects appear to him, through the medium of his own imagination, invested with a certain tender brilliancy peculiarly his own, and to which I have seen nothing exactly similar elsewhere. The Quarterly Reviewer happily compares him to Klopstock; but in his temper and sentiments, as displayed in his writings, he bears more resemblance to Cowper than to any other writer that I know. Differing from him in kind and degree of talent, almost as much as it is possible for one genuine poet to differ from another, he has all his delicacy, timidity, and acuteness of feeling, his high moral tone, his patriotic warmth, his enthusiastic love of nature, and his heartfelt and affectionate respect for the female sex. Like Cowper, too, a tinge of melancholy pervades his writings; but it is nothing more than a tinge: its effect is like a gentle shade diffused over all his works, chastening, and solemnizing, and resembling that so beautifully described in the picture of his antediluvian heroine :
* It is of his poetry I speak. I have heard that his occasional articles in The Sheffield Iris (of which he is joint editor) are characterized by a vigour which is not visible in his poems. The few specimens I have seen confirm this opinion.
“ Time had but touch'd her form to finer grace,
Years had but shed their favours on her face,
And shut from rifling winds its coy perfume." Another feature of resemblance between Cowper and his successor is that which distinguishes the latter from all his contemporary poets—his peculiar religious system, which I allude to on account of the influence which it exerts upon his writings. It must be allowed that this system is, in some parts at least, highly favourable to poetry. The sublime purity, and, if I may so speak, absoluteness of its moral precepts, the devotional feeling which it inculcates, and the mysterious beauty which it throws around the most ordinary things, when viewed in its own light, are among its poetical features. We may observe everywhere, in the writings of our author, how a familiarity with religious subjects tinges the stream of the imagination, and converts the feelings of the mind and the beauties of nature into reflections and remembrances of the things unseen.” To him the
To him the graces and glories of creation appear invested with an awful sanctity: she is, as it were, a chaste and transcendently beautiful, bride, separate and consecrated to one.
Amidst scenes which, to another mind, would suggest classical or romantic recollections, he is reminded of the marvellous histories and the sublime theology of Scripture.
-“ O’er eastern mountains seen afar, With golden splendor, rose the morning star, As if an Angel-centinel of night,
From earth to heaven, had wing'd his homeward flight,VOL. II.