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of verbiage of which these volumes consist. Before we go on to sketch out the story of Montgomery’s life, we should like to give our readers some notion of the great features of it during by far the longer part of its continuance.
For nearly fifty years, beginning when he was little more than two-and-twenty, Montgomery was editor, proprietor, printer, and publisher of the Sheffield Iris newspaper. He lived an odd kind of frowsy life, over a bookseller's shop, in one of the dirtiest streets of Sheffield. He was never married; but he lived all that time with three respectable women, who kept the bookseller's shop already mentioned, and whom he regarded as his sisters, though they were not in any way related to him. We form a very kindly impression of them ; and after the smirking impudence of Mr. Holland’s portrait, we turn with great satisfaction to that at the beginning of vol. vi., which shows us the pleasant homely features of Sarah Gales. Every evening, in the company of these worthy individuals, Montgomery smoked a single pipe. He was very fond of cats : he had always at least one pet of that race, which in the evening was wont to leap up into his lap and share his tea. From nervousness or indolence, he never could shave himself. Unlike most men who write much, to whom
The fair undress, best dress, which checks no vein,
is an essential both of comfort and of progress in their work, Montgomery always wrote, at every period of his life, when fully dressed in outgoing attire. The habit was probably acquired in his early days of editorship, when he sat in a room which opened into the shop, and always thought it necessary to appear in person to receive advertisements and orders of all kinds. He was keenly sensitive to cold, and went about shivering in a thick great-coat, even in the dog days. He was fairly educated, but had not the faintest claim to scholarship. He never was on the Continent; and but once in Scotland, and once in Ireland, in the last seventy years of his life. His newspaper began with a large circulation, being erected on the ruins of another put down by Government prosecution ; and at first his political views were extreme enough, but they became more and more moderate; he had not the push and energy needful for the conduct of a popular newspaper, and though his journal—a weekly one— was always respectably conducted, its circulation latterly grew small. He had no reporter; he rode about and collected accounts in person. He had a feeble frame, an over-sensitive mind, spirits almost equally depressed, a most sincere and amiable heart. Intense honesty, guileless simplicity, humble and unaffected piety, were characteristic of James Montgomery. His poetry we shall estimate hereafter: his prose was very prosy indeed ; his conversation in no way remarkable. In his letters and speeches he had an inveterate tendency to say everything in the greatest possible number of words. He was a true philanthropist; wealth and energy were all he wanted to have been another “Man of Ross.’ He was weak, no doubt, in many respects; but we do not wonder that all who knew him loved him. His poetry breathes a serene and simple piety, and he was as good as he wrote. But we have gathered from these seven volumes all that is worth recording of Montgomery's life, and we proceed to give our readers a sketch of it. On the coast of Ayrshire, ten miles north of Ayr, in a flat, sandy, uninteresting country, stands the ugly town of Irvine. There James Montgomery was born, on the 4th November, 1771. Much of the Ayrshire coast is very bold and striking; but for miles on either side of Irvine, the coast, and the country for a mile or two inland, is weary sand. So Montgomery was drawing on an imperfect recollection when he described his native shore as either rugged or romantic:—
The loud Atlantic ocean,
The poet’s father, John Montgomery, was born at Bally-Kennedy, in a parish bearing the euphonious name of Ahoghill, in the county of Antrim. His mother, Mary Blackley, was a native of the same place. They had four children—three sons, of whom James was the eldest, and a daughter, who died before the poet's birth. John Montgomery became a preacher among the Moravian Brethren, and was appointed minister of a small congregation at Irvine, where he remained for several years. The Brethren's church had, and has, but few members in Scotland, and after John Montgomery left Irvine, his congregation became extinct, and his humble chapel was turned into a weaver's shop. When his more distinguished son, at the age of wellnigh fourscore, revisited Irvine, he went to see the chapel where his father had preached. He found it thus desecrated—but there he enjoyed a foretaste of posthumous fame: he saw a tablet, which had been inserted in the wall, bearing an inscription that under that roof had been born James Montgomery, the poet. And although he had left Scotland with his parents at the age of four years, he recognised the features of the place. He remembered especially two large stone balls at the entrance to the gaol, placed there—he had been told—that the heads of malefactors might be knocked against them at entering. On leaving Irvine, Montgomery’s parents settled at Grace Hill, a Moravian settlement in the parish of Ahoghill; and here the poet received the first rudiments of education from Jemmy McCaffery, the parish schoolmaster. When he was seven years old, his father took him to Fulneck, in Yorkshire, where were a Moravian settlement and school. In 1783, John Montgomery and his wife went as missionaries to the West Indies, and their two younger sons, Robert and Ignatius, were sent to join their brother at the Brethren's school at Fulneck. When any Moravian minister devotes himself to the missionary work, his children are adopted and maintained by the brotherhood. The Moravian establishment at Fulneck consisted of a handsome range of buildings, in a pleasant retired situation, and looking upon a rich country. Fulneck is about six miles from Leeds. The air is salubrious; and the land attached to the institution, originally a tract of rough moorland, has been brought to fertility by the labours of the Brethren. The school was an excellent one; and its fame attracted many pupils whose parents were not of the Moravian community. Here James Montgomery remained during ten years, “distinguished for nothing but indolence and melancholy.” His odd appearance and over-sensitive temper made him a mark for the ridicule of his more vigorous companions; and here he laid the foundation of that shrinking, morbid disposition which went with him through life. He was very pale, very near-sighted, had “an abundant supply of carroty locks,’ and a scorbutic taint in his blood thus early manifested itself. Robinson Crusoe was the work which fired his youthful fancy; though even so innocent a work of fiction was tabooed by the stern discipline of the Brotherhood.
* Poetical Works, vol. ii. p. 166.
On being interrogated what first led him to court the Muses, Montgomery replied, “The master one day took several of the children out, and read Blair's Grave to them behind a hedge. My attention was strongly arrested, and a few lines made a powerful impression on my mind. I said to myself, if ever I become a poet, I will write something like this. I afterwards resolved, oddly enough, that I would write a round poem: this notion was perpetually in my head, an idea of round being my idea of perfection.” This he illustrated by referring to a glass