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Sublimely thus, with transport unconfin'd,
Through nature's infinite dominions soars,
It is always gratifying to contemplate the triumph of genius over time, place, and circumstance; to behold her setting at nought the malice and the frowns of fortune; lifting her head above the storm that assails her; displaying her richest endowments, and issuing her sublimest emanations from the walls of a prison.
The next extract, somewhat faulty from the recurrence of the same rhyme in two following stanzas, will close my selections from Montgomery's Prison Amusements. It is here introduced, because it unfolds not only the acuteness of his sufferings during the first hours of confinement, but the train of think¬ ing, and the feeling which taught him resignation, even under the pressure of great bodily indisposition.
He tells us, that his Muse
Then melting her voice to the tenderest tone,
The lovely enthusiast began
To sing in sweet numbers, the comforts unknown
Who hated, forsaken, tormented, opprest,
And wrestling with anguish severe,
Can turn his eye inward, and view in his breast
A conscience unclouded and clear.
The captive look'd up with a languishing eye,
He saw the meek Angel of Hope standing by,
Her strain then exalting, and swelling her lyre,
From a Tale too True.
Montgomery's last production has passed the ordeal of criticism with success, and attained a place in the estimation of the public, to which it is entitled by its intrinsic excellence. The Wanderer of Switzerland, indeed, has been received with kindness, and treated with hospitality: his story has been heard with attention, and the tear has been shed upon his sorrows. For the present, therefore, all observations on this volume may be deferred, for the purpose of introducing a short extract from the poem which originally occupied the place of the Wanderer of Switzerland, and which was cancelled, after being printed off, from motives, though not satisfactory to his friends, honourable to his feelings. The title of the poem was, " The Loss of the Locks," an heroi-comic tale, in three cantos, founded on the origin of the two curious kinds of crystal, enclosing very fine threads of red and green shorl, resembling inlaid tresses of real hair, called Venus's and Thetis's hair. These elegant stones are found in Siberia, whither, by a poet's magic, the author transports the two goddesses, and lays them asleep in a cavern, on rocks of ice, whence they escape with the loss of their locks. The beauties and faults of this work of wild imagination, are of a singular kind. It has many passages written with great felicity; many descriptions where grace, beauty, and sublimity may be found. It contains likewise an instance of genius misemployed, an attempt at humour awkward and unsuccessful, and it exhibits an elegant mind doing an ungracious thing, and not doing it well. Hercules with the distaff was not more out of character. The following passage; describing the principal event of the poem, is too favourable to be regarded as a fair specimen of the whole, but will prove the most gratifying quotation that could be selected for the readers of this article.
"Our beauteous captives rais'd their heads,
And sprang triumphant from their beds;
Left the rich harvest of their locks;
As Berenice's beams appear,
Enshrin'd in heaven's own sapphire sphere,
So in that cavern's hideous womb,
A richer constellation shone.
Here the bright sea nymph's curls were seen,
Fastidious must the taste of that man be, who could peruse this extract from the "Loss of the Locks," and withhold from its author the name and the honours of a poet: his character, as a candidate for these honours, is all that remains to be added; though but a sketch, the lineaments given will be found to be
The various qualifications esential to poetry are to be found in the poems of Montgomery-richness of fancy, strength and splendour of imagination, bold and appropriate metaphor, great vigour of thought, and grace and fervour of expression; they have a smooth, harmonious flow of versification, united with great tenderness and feeling; his cadences and his pauses are peculiarly his own; so likewise are the general tone and colouring that pervade them. His strains have but little similitude to those of any other poet, one alone excepted: sometimes he has borrowed the harp of Collins, whose spirit breathing upon its strings, makes melancholy music.
It was originally my inteution to introduce a series of extracts from Montgomery's last volume, calculated to display his peculiar excellence as a poet, his character, his feelings, and his modes of thinking; but having already trespassed considerably upon the space generally allotted to biographical articles in your miscellany, permit him to solicit a few pages in your next number.
Sheffield, January 12, 1807,
ACCOUNT OF THE SWISS REVOLUTION,
'Tis Liberty alone that gives the flow'r
THE Helvetians, supposed originally to have been either of Gal
lic or Teutonic extraction, are accounted the most ancient inhabitants of Switzerland: they were a people famed for their heroic bravery, and enthusiastic love of liberty. The first particular mention made of them in history, relates to their reiterated but ineffectual attempts, in conjunction with the Cimbri, to establish themselves in the north of Italy, (a. c. 285—100). Animated by the ambitious counsels of their chiefs, Divicon and Orgetorix, about fifty years afterwards, they crossed the Rhine, with a view of subjugating Celtic Gaul; but their design was frustrated in its outset, by the vigilance and activity of Julius Cæsar, who, after totally defeating them on the confines of Burgundy, drove them back into their own country, and converted a considerable part of it, (lying to the west, and consisting principally of flat lands) into a Roman province. The Helvetians remained vassals of the Roman empire until the middle of the fifth century, when the Burgundians entered Switzerland under Mérouée, and subjected those provinces, which are situated between the Rüss, the Rhone, and Mount Jura, whilst the Allemanians possessed themselves of the remaining part, which lies between the Rüss and the Rhine. Shortly after, in 530, Clovis, king of the Franks, after subduing
To those who wish to become more intimately acquainted with this history, I recommend the perusal of Wattenwyl's Histoire de la Confédération Helvétique ; Tieffenthal's Histoire des Helvétiens; Johannes Mueller's Geschichte der Schweitzer (History of the Swiss); and Geschichte der Schweitzerischer Eydgenossenschaft (Histofy of the Swiss Confederacy); Thesaurus Historiæ Helvetica (Fuessli's Edit.); Tschudii Chronicon Helveticum (fr. 1000---1470); and Zurlauben's Histoire militaire des Suisses. Of these, Tschudi's Chronicles are looked upon as the most authentic. S. D.
the Allemanians, made himself master of their dominions in Switzerland, and his son, having annihilated the kingdom of Bur gundy, those of the Swiss provinces, which were annexed to it, also fell into the hands of the Franks. Switzerland continued under their dominion till 843, at which period Lewis the Pious divided it between his two sons, Lothar, on whom he bestowed that part which had before belonged to Burgundy, and Lewis, to whom he gave that which the Allemanians had possessed. Lothar II. son of the former, succeeded him both in his Austrasian and Swiss dominions, and at his death, Lewis, his uncle, inheriting them, the whole of Switzerland thus became united under one crown (843-888). He was succeeded by his son Charles the Fat, upon whose demise, Rudolph I. Duke of Little Burgundy, assumed the regal title, and took possession of the southern part of Switzerland, while the northern became tributary to Arnulph, emperor of Germany. The Brisgan and Alsace were afterwards ceded by Henry I. who then swayed the imperial sceptre, to Rudolph's son (in consideration of a lance, which he had brought with him from Italy, and was said to have been that with which the side of our Saviour was pierced previous to his descent from the cross!) Rudolph II. died in 937, after a reign of 26 years, during which he considerably increased his dominions, and was succeeded by his son Conrad. This prince, after expelling the Huns, a most ferocious race of men, from the north of Switzer land, which they had horribly devastated, employed the remainder of his reign in sedulously promoting the welfare of his-→→ subjects, and died, universally lamented, in 993. His second son, Rudolph III. a weak, pusillanimous, and bigotted monarch, thereupon acceded to the throne of Burgundy. Unceasingly de voted to the ecclesiastics, among whom he had been educated, and of too slothful a disposition to assume the reins of government himself, he confided them to their direction. They soon began to abuse the power with which they had been entrusted, and completely alienated the affections of the Swiss from their sovereign; who, alarmed at the symptoms of discontent which broke out among them, as well as at the preparations which were making by Otho William, regent of Burgundy, to dethrone him, made over his kingdom to Henry II. emperor of Germany, and, upon his death, to Henry's successor, Conrad II. Thus was Switzer land incorporated with the German empire, A.D. 1032. Notwithstanding the violent opposition of many of the Helvetian