A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Montgomery, James

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Montgomery, James (1771-1854). -- Poet, s. of a pastor and missionary of the Moravian Brethren, was b. at Irvine, Ayrshire, and ed. at the Moravian School at Fulneck, near Leeds. After various changes of occupation and abode, he settled in Sheffield in 1792 as clerk to a newspaper. In 1796 he had become ed. of the Sheffield Iris, and was twice imprisoned for political articles for which he was held responsible. In 1797 he pub. Prison Amusements; but his first work to attract notice was The Wanderer of Switzerland (1806). It was followed by The West Indies (1809), The World before the Flood (1812), Greenland (1819), and The Pelican Island (1828), all of which contain passages of considerable imaginative and descriptive power, but are lacking in strength and fire. He himself expected that his name would live, if at all, in his hymns, and in this his judgment has proved true. Some of these, such as For ever with the Lord, Hail to the Lord's Anointed, and Prayer is the Soul's sincere Desire, are sung wherever the English language is spoken. M. was a good and philanthropic man, the opponent of every form of injustice and oppression, and the friend of every movement for the welfare of the race. His virtues attained wide recognition.