Слике страница
PDF
ePub

JAMES MONTGOMERY.

JAMES MONTGOMERY was born in Irvine, Ayr- | by the upright and unimpeachable tenor of his lifeshire, in 1771. His parents belonged to the church even more than by his writings-the persuasive of the United Brethren, commonly called Mora- and convincing advocate of religion. In his pervians,-a sect by no means numerous in England, sonal appearance, Montgomery is rather below than and still more limited in Scotland. Having pre- above the middle stature: his countenance is viously sojourned for a short time at a village in the peculiarly bland and tranquil; and but for the Irish county of Antrim, they placed the future poet occasional sparklings of a clear gray eye, it could at the school of their society at Fulnick, near Leeds, scarcely be described as expressive. and embarked for the West Indies as missionaries Very early in life, Montgomery published a among the negro slaves. They were the victims of volume of poems. They were not, it would appear, their zeal and humanity ; the husband died in Bar- favourably received by the public; and he writes, badoes, and the wife in Tobago.

the disappointment of his premature poetical hopes After remaining two years at Fulnick, and, like brought with it a blight which his mind has never other men of genius, disappointing the expectations recovered. “For many years,” he adds,“ I was of his friends as a student," from very indolence,” as mute as a moulting bird ; and when the power he was placed by them in a retail shop at Mirfield of song returned, it was without the energy, selfnear Wakefield. This ungenial employment he confidence, and freedom which happier minstrels considered himself—not being under indentures among my contemporaries have manisested.” The at liberty to relinquish at the end of two years, Wanderer of Switzerland was published in 1806 ; with a view to try his fortune in the great world. the West Indies, in 1810; the World before the After spending other two years at a village near Flood, in 1813; Greenland in 1819; the Pelican Rotherham, and a few months with a bookseller in Island, in 1827: he has since contented himself London, he engaged as an assistant with Mr. with the production of occasional verses. Joseph Gales of Sheffield, who, published a news Those who can distinguish the fine gold from the paper ;-to the management of which, in 1794, he " sounding brass” of poetry, must place the name succeeded. This, though conducted with compara- of James Montgomery high in the list of British tive moderation, exposed him to much enmity-poets; and those who consider that the chiefest rather inherited from his predecessor than actually duty of such is to promote the cause of religion, incurred by himself. The liberty of the press in virtue, and humanity, must acknowledge in him those days was, like faith,“ the substance of things one of their most zealous and efficient advocates. hoped for;” a sentence of condemnation, or even a He does not, indeed, often aim at bolder flights of word of reproach, against men in “high places,” imagination ; but if he seldom rises above, he never was punished as libellous. Montgomery did not sinks beneath, the object of which he desires the indeed share the fate of some of his stern sectarian attainment. If he rarely startles us, he still more forefathers; but in lieu of maiming and pillory, rarely leaves us dissatisfied; he does not attempt he had to endure fine and imprisonment. Within that to which his powers are unequal, and thereeighteen months, and when he had scarcely arrived fore is at all times successful. To the general at manhood, his exertions in the cause of rational reader, it will seem as if the early bias of his mind freedom had twice consigned him to a jail. During and his first associations had tinged—we may not the thirty years that followed, however, he was say tainted—the source from whence he drew his permitted to publish his opinions, without being inspirations, and that his poems are “sicklied o’er” the object of open persecutions. Wearied out, at with peculiar impressions and opinions which fail length, he relinquished his newspaper, in 1825. to excite the sympathy of the great mass of manRecently one of the government grants to British kind. We should, however, recollect, that, although worthies has been conferred upon him; and it he has chiefly addressed himself to those who think must be recorded to his honour-by Sir Robert Peel. with him, his popularity is by no means confined

The poet continues to reside in Sheffield, -to them ; but that those who read poetry for the esteemed, admired, and beloved: a man of purer delight it affords them, and without any reference mind, or more unsuspected integrity, never existed. to his leading design, acknowledge his merit, and He is an honour to the profession of letters; and contribute to his fame.

572

THE WANDERER OF SWITZER

LAND.

IN SIX PARTS.

ADVERTISEMENT. The historical facts alluded to in The Wanderer of Switzerland may be found in the supplement to Coxe's Travels, in Planta's History of the Helvetic Confederacy, and in Zschokke's Invasion of Switzerland by the French, in 1798, translated by Dr. Aikin.

SHEPHERD. “Welcome, wanderer as thou art,

All my blessings to partake ; Yet thrice welcome to my heart,

For thine injured country's sake. « On the western hills afar

Evening lingers with delight, While she views her favourite star

Brightening on the brow of night. “ Here, though lowly be my lot,

Enter freely, freely share All the comforts of my cot,

Humble shelter, homely fare. “Spouse, I bring a suffering guest,

With his family of grief ;
Give the weary pilgrims rest,
Yield the exiles sweet relief.”

SHEPHERD'S WIFE.
“I will yield them sweet relief:

Weary pilgrims ! welcome here ; Welcome, family of grief,

Welcome to my warmest cheer."

PART I. A Wanderer of Switzerland and his family, consisting of

his wise, his daughter, and her young children, emigraling from their country, in consequence of its subjugation by the French, in 1798, arrive at the cottage of a shepherd, beyond the frontiers, where they are hospitably entertained.

SHEPHERD.
“WANDERER, whither dost thou roam ?

Weary wanderer, old and gray ;
Wherefore hast thou left thine home

In the sunset of thy day?

WANDERER.

“ When in prayer the broken heart

Asks a blessing from above, Heaven shall take the wanderer's part,

Heaven reward the stranger's love."

SHEPHERD.

WANDERER. “In the sunset of my day,

Stranger! I have lost my home : Weary, wandering, old, and gray

Therefore, therefore do I roam. “ Here mine arms a wife enfold,

Fainting in their weak embrace ; There my daughter's charms behold,

Withering in that widow'd face. · These her infants-0 their sire,

Worthy of the race of Tell, In the battle's fiercest fire,

In his country's battle fell !”

“ Haste, recruit the failing fire,

High the winter-fagots raise ; See the crackling fames aspire ;

O how cheerfully they blaze! “ Mourners, now forget your cares,

And, till supper-board be crown'd, Closely draw your fireside chairs;

Form the dear domestic round.”

WANDERER,

SHEPHERD.

“Switzerland, then, gave thee birth ?”

“ Host, thy smiling daughters bring,

Bring those rosy lads of thine ; Let them mingle in the ring

With these poor lost babes of mine.”

SHEPHERD.

WANDERER. “Ay—'twas Switzerland of yore; But, degraded spot of earth,

Thou art Switzerland no more: “O’er thy mountains sunk in blood,

Are the waves of ruin hurl'd; Like the waters of the flood

Rolling round a buried world.”

“ Join the ring, my girls and boys;

This enchanting circle, this Binds the social loves and joys:

'Tis the fairy ring of bliss !"

SHEPHERD. “ Yet will time the deluge stop;

Then may Switzerland be blest; On St. Gothard's* hoary top

Shall the ark of Freedom rest.”

WANDERER. “ No irreparably lost,

On the day that made us slaves, Freedom's ark, by tempest tost,

Founder'd in the swallowing waves.”

WANDERER.
“O ye loves and joys! that sport

In the fairy ring of bliss,
Oft with me ye held your court:

I had once a home like this! « Bountiful my former lot

As my native country's rills; The foundations of my cot

Were her everlasting hills. « But those streams no longer pour

Rich abundance round my lands; And my father's cot no more

On my father's mountain stands.

St. Gothard is the name of the highest mountain in the canton of Uri, the birthplace of Swiss independence.

WANDERER.

“ By a hundred winters piled,

When the glaciers,* dark with death, Hang o'er precipices wild,

Hang-suspended by a breath : “ If a pulse but throb alarm,

Headlong down the steeps they fall; For a pulse will break the charm,

Bounding, bursting, burying all. “Struck with horror stiff and pale,

When the chaos breaks on high, All that view it from the vale,

All that hear it coming, die :“In a day and hour accurst,

O'er the wretched land of Tell, Thus the Gallic ruin burst,

Thus the Gallic glacier fell !”

SHEPHERD. “ Hush that melancholy strain ; Wipe those unavailing tears.

WANDERER. “Nay-I must, I will complain;

'Tis the privilege of years: “ 'Tis the privilege of wo

Thus her anguish to impart: And the tears that freely flow Ease the agonizing heart.”

SHEPHERD. “ Yet suspend thy griefs a while;

See the plenteous table crown'd; And my wife's endearing smile

Beams a rosy welcome round. “Cheese, from mountain dairies prest,

Wholesome herbs, nutritious roots, Honey, from the wild-bee's nest,

Cheering wine and ripen'd fruits : “ These, with soul-sustaining bread,

My paternal fields afford :On such fare our fathers fed ;

Holy pilgrim! bless the board."

“Stranger-friend, the tears that flow

Down the channels of this cheek,
Tell a mystery of wo

Which no human tongue can speak.
“Not the pangs of hope deferr’d'

My tormented bosom tear :-
On the tomb of hope interr'd

Scowls the spectre of despair.
“ Where the Alpine summits rise,

Height o'er height stupendous hurl'd;
Like the pillars of the skies,

Like the ramparts of the world :
« Born in freedom's eagle nest,

Rock'd by whirlwinds in their rage,
Nursed at freedom's stormy breast,

Lived my sires from age to age.
“High o'er Underwalden's vale,

Where the forest fronts the morn;
Whence the boundless eye might sail

O'er a sea of mountains borne ;
“ There my little native cot

Peep'd upon my father's farm :-
0! it was a happy spot,

Rich in every rural charm !
“ There, my life, a silent stream,

Glid along, yet seem'd at rest;
Lovely as an infant's dream

On the waking mother's breast.
“ Till the storm that wreck'd the world,

In its horrible career,
Into hopeless ruin hurl'd

All this aching heart held dear.
“ On the princely lowers of Berne

Fell the Gallic thunder-stroke;
To the lake of poor Lucerne,

All submitted to the yoke.
“REDING then his standard raised,

Drew his sword on Brunnen's plain ;*
But in vain his banner blazed,

Reding drew his sword in vain.
“Where our conquering fathers died,

Where their awful bones repose,
Thrice the battle's fate he tried,

Thrice o'erthrew his country's foes.t
“Happy then were those who fell

Fighting on their father's graves !
Wretched those who lived to tell

Treason made the victors slaves !!

PART II.

After supper, the Wanderer, at the desire of his host,

relates the sorrows and sufferings of his country during the invasion and conquest of it by the French, in connexion with his own story.

SHEPHERD.

* Brunnen, at the foot of the mountains, on the borders “ WANDERER! bow'd with griefs and years,

of the Lake of Uri, where the first Swiss patriols, Walter

Furst of Uri, Werner Stauffacher of Schwitz, and Arnold Wanderer, with the cheek so pale,

of Melchtal in Underwalden, conspired against the ty. O give language to those tears!

ranny of Austria in 1307, again in 1798, became the seat Tell their melancholy tale.”

of the diet of these three forest cantons.

+ On the plains of Morgarthen, where the Swiss gained

their first decisive victory over the force of Austria, and * More properly the avalanches; immense accumula. thereby secured the independence of their country; Aloys lions of ice and snow, balanced on the verge of the moun. Reding, at the head of the troops of the little cantons, Uri, tains in such subtle suspense, that, in the opinion of the Schwitz, and Underwalden, repeatedly repulsed the natives, the tread of the traveller may bring them down invading army of France. in destruction upon him. The glaciers are more perma By the resistance of these small cantons, the French nent masses of ice, and formed rather in the valleys than General Schawenbourg was compelled to respect their on the summits of the Alps.

independence, and gave them a solemn pledge to that

“ Thus my country's life retired,

“Quickly from our hastening foes, Slowly driven from part to part;

Albert's active care removed,
Underwalden last expired,

Far amidst th' eternal snows,
Underwalden was the heart."

Those who loved us,—those beloved.* “ In the valley of their birth,

“ Then our cottage we forsook ; Where our guardian mountains stand;

Yet as down the steeps we passid,
In the eye of heaven and earth,

Many an agonizing look
Met the warriors of our land.

Homeward o'er the hills we cast. “ Like their sires in olden time,

“Now we reach'd the nether glen, Arm'd they met in stern debate;

Where in arms our brethren lay;
While in every breast sublime

Thrice five hundred fearless men,
Glow'd the spirit of the state.

Men of adamant were they ! “Gallia's menace fired their blood :

“ Nature's bulwarks, built by time, With one heart and voice they rose ;

'Gainst eternity to stand, Hand in hand the heroes stood,

Mountains, terribly sublime,
And defied their faithless foes.

Girt the camp on either hand.
“ Then to heaven, in calm despair,
As they turn'd the tearless eye,

“ Dim behind, the valley brake By their country's wrongs they sware

Into rocks that fled from view;
With their country's rights to die.

Fair in front the gleaming lake

Roll'd its waters bright and blue. “ Albert from the council came

“Midst the hamlets of the dale, (My poor daughter was his wife; All the valley loved his name;

Stantz,t with simple grandeur crown'd, Albert was my staff of life.)

Seem'd the mother of the vale,

With her children scatter'd round. “ From the council field he came : All his noble visage burn'd;

“ Midst the ruins of the dale At his look I caught the flame;

Now she bows her hoary head,
At his voice my youth return’d.

Like the widow of the vale “ Fire from heaven my heart renew'd,

Weeping o'er her children dead.
Vigour beat through every vein ;

Happier then had been her fate,
All the powers, that age had hew'd,

Ere she fell by such a fne,
Started into strength again.

Had an earthquake sunk her state, “ Sudden from my couch I sprang,

Or the lightning laid her low !"
Every limb to life restored ;

SHEPHERD.
With the bound my cottage rang,

“ By the lightning's deadly flash As I snatch'd my fathers' sword.

Would her foes had been consumed ! “ This the weapon they did wield

Or amidst the earthquake's crash
On Morgarthen's dreadful day;

Suddenly, alive, entomb'd!
And through Sempach'st iron field
This the ploughshare of their way.

“Why did justice not prevail ?” “ Then, my spouse! in vain thy fears

WANDERER.
Strove my fury to restrain ;

“Ah! it was not thus to be !"
O my daughter! all thy tears,
All thy children's, were in vain.

“ Man of grief! pursue thy tale purport; but no sooner had they disarmed, on the faith of To the death of liberty." this engagement, than the enemy came suddenly upon them with an immense force; and with threats of extermination compelled them to take the civic oath to the new constitution, imposed upon all Switzerland.

PART III. * The inhabitants of the lower valley of Underwalden alone resisted the French message, which required sub-The Wanderer continues his narrative, and describes the mission to the new constitution, and the immediate sur.

battle and massacre of Underwalden. render, alive or dead, of nine of their leaders. When the

WANDERER. demand, accompanied by a menace of destruction, was read in the assembly of the district, all the men of the “ From the valley we descried, valley, fifteen hundred in number, took up arms, and

As the Gauls approach'd our shores, devoted themselves to perish in the ruins of their country. † Al the battle of Sempach, the Austrians presented so

Keels that darken'd all the tide, impenetrable a front with their projected spears, that the

Tempesting the lake with oars. Swiss were repeatedly compelled to retire from the attack, lilla native of Underwalden, named Arnold de Winkelried, * Many of the Underwalders, on the approach of the commending his family to his countrymen, sprung upon French army, removed their families and cattle among the enemy, and burying as many of their spears as he the higher Alps; and themselves returned 10 join their could grasp in his body, made a breach in their line; the brethren, who had encamped in their native valley, on the Swiss rushed in, and routed the Austrians with a terrible borders of the lake, and awaited the attack of the enemy. slaughter.

The capital of Underwalden.

SHEPHERD.

“ Then the mountain echoes rang

With the clangour of alarms : Shrill the signal trumpet sang;

All our warriors leapt to arms.

“In that valley, on that shore,

When the graves give up their dead,
At the trumpet's voice once more

Shall those slumberers quit their bed.
“For the glen that gave them birth

Hides their ashes in its womb: 0! 'tis venerable earth,

Freedom's cradle, freedom's tomb.

“ On the margin of the flood,

While the frantic foe drew nigh, Grim as watching wolves we stood,

Prompt as eagles stretch'd to fly. “In a deluge upon land

Burst their overwhelming might; Back we hurl'd them from the strand,

Oft returning to the fight. “ Fierce and long the combat held

Till the waves were warm with blood, Till the booming waters swellid

As they sank beneath the flood.*

“ Then on every side begun

That unutterable fight;
Never rose th' astonish'd sun

On so horrible a sight.

“Once an eagle of the rock

('Twas an omen of our fate) Stoop'd, and from my scatter'd flock

Bore a lambkin to his mate.

« For on that triumphant day

“While the parents fed their young, Underwalden's arms once more

Lo! a cloud of vultures lean,
Broke oppression's black array,

By voracious famine stung,
Dash'd invasion from her shore.

Wildly screaming, rush'd between. “Gaul's surviving barks retired,

“ Fiercely fought the eagle-twain, Muttering vengeance as they fled;

Though by multitudes opprest,
Hope in us, by conquest fired,

Till their little ones were slain,
Raised our spirits from the dead.

Till they perish'd on their nest. « From the dead our spirits rose,

• More unequal was the fray To the dead they soon return'd;

Which our band of brethren waged ;
Bright, on its eternal close,

More insatiate o'er their prey
Underwalden's glory burn'd.

Gaul's remorseless vultures raged. “ Star of Switzerland! whose rays

« In innumerable waves, Shed such sweet expiring light,

Swoln with fury, grim with blood,
Ere the Gallic comet's blaze

Headlong rollid the hordes of slaves,
Swept thy beauty into night:-

And ingulf'd us with a flood. “ Star of Switzerland! thy fame

“In the whirlpool of that flood, No recording bard hath sung;

Firm in fortitude divine,
Yet be thine immortal name

Like th' eternal rocks we stood,
Inspiration to my tongue !+

In the cataract of the Rhine.* “ While the lingering moon delay'd

« Till by tenfold force assail'd, In the wilderness of night,

In a hurricane of fire,

When at length our phalanx fail'd,
Ere the morn awoke the shade
Into loveliness and light:-

Then our courage blazed the higher.

“ Broken into feeble bands, “ Gallia's tigers, wild for blood,

Fighting in dissever'd parts,
Darted on our sleeping fold:

Weak and weaker grew our hands,
Down the mountains, o'er the flood,

Strong and stronger still our hearts.
Dark as thunder clouds they rollid.

« Fierce amid the loud alarms, “By the trumpet's voice alarm'd,

Shouting in the foremost fray,
All the valley burst awake;

Children raised their little arms
All were in a moment arm'd,

In their country's evil day.
From the barriers to the lake.

“ On their country's dying bed,

Wives and husbands pour'd their breath; * The French made their first attack on the valley of Underwalden from the lake: but, alter a desperate con.

Many a youth and maiden bled, flict, they were victoriously repelied, and two of their

Married at thine altar, Death. vessels, containing five hundred men, perished in the engagement.

† In the last and decisive baitle, the Underwalders * At Schaffhausen. See Coxe's Travels. were overpowered by two French armies, which rushed + In this miserable conflici, many of the women and upon them from the opposite mountains, and surrounded children of the Underwalders fought in the ranks by their their camp, while an assault, at the same time, was made husbands, and fathers, and friends, and fell gloriously for upon them from the lake.

their country.

« ПретходнаНастави »