Montgomery, Robert

Montgomery, Robert an Anglican clergyman, very noted especially as a writer of sacred poetry, was born at Bath, England, in 1807, and was educated at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he secured his A.B. in 1833, and A.M. in 1838. He took holy orders in 1835; became curate of Whittington, subsequently (1836) removed to London as minister of Percy Street Episcopal Chapel; afterwards went to Glasgow, where he preached for four years, but returned to London, and resumed functions at Percy Street Chapel in 1843, and there preached until his death, December 3, 1855. Montgomery's works comprise a large number of volumes in prose and verse, on themes more or less sacred. He is best known by his poem The Omnipresence of the Deity (1828), which has passed through twenty-eight editions, and The Christian Life: a Manual of Sacred Verse (1848,12mo; 6th edition, 1853, 24mo). The former of these provoked unusual severity of criticism — even lord Macaulay unmercifully poured his invectives against it: "His works have received more enthusiastic praise, and have deserved more unmixed contempt, than any which, as far as our knowledge extends, have appeared within the last three or four years... The circulation of this writer's poetry has been greater than that of Southey's Roderick, and beyond all comparison greater than that of Cary's Dante, or of the best works of Coleridge" (Macaulay, Essays, 1:257, 265-7, 269, 276). Nevertheless, as has been well said, the book must have pleased, or people would not have bought it in the face of such unfavorable comments. It must be stated also that the work on its appearance met with the high commendations of those illustrious writers, Southey, Wilson, Alison, and Sharon Turner. Montgomery's Christian Life was generally commended; and some Anglican writers were most enthusiastic in its praise. The Church of England Quarterly (April 9, 1849, No. 50, page 286) pronounced it "far superior to anything else from the author; and, of all the uninspired collections of religious poetry which any poet has ever produced in any Church or age or country, there is none which, in our opinion, can venture a comparison — intellectual or poetical with Montgomery's Christian Life." A writer in the Scottish Magazine goes even further: "To eulogize this divine now as a successful Christian poet would be to offer an indignity to all who have the slightest knowledge of what is passing in the literary world. His Omnipresence long ago stamped him as one of our greatest poets... We must, however, express our honest conviction that the present volume manifests higher and more intrinsic beauties and excellences than any one of his previous poetic works. And what will very much enhance it in the opinion of all true Churchmen is the fact that it is a thoroughly Church volumebreathing and inculcating her scriptural and catholic verities, exhibiting her in the thrilling and beautiful expression of a fond and sacred mother, who lovingly cares and unweariedly provides for the spiritual wants and comforts of her children. While all these poems are fraught with deep truth and lofty sentiments, portraying in poetical form the Church's creed and character, the duties and dangers the hopes and fears, the faults, privileges, and final destinies of a believer in the religion of Christ,... we must declare that we have not read anything more beautiful and heavenly, more eloquent and pathetic, than the poems on 'Baptism,' 'Visitation of the Sick.' 'Burial of the Dead,' 'Commination,' and the 'Eucharist.' Nothing like this volume has appeared since the 'Christian Year,' whether we' consider its style and tone, its sentiments, the variety of its metres, or the harmony of its verse. It is a 'Voice of the Church,' a kind of second 'Christian Year.' A list of all his works is given by Allibone (Diet. of Brit. and Amer. Auth. 2:1348-9). We have room only for mention of his other religious works. Of those in verse: A Universal Prayer, Death, Heaven, Hell (1828, 4to, and often): Satan: or Intellect without God (1830): — The Messiah (1832): — Luther; or the Ideal of the Reformation (1842): — The Sacred Gift: a Series of Meditations upon Scripture Subjects (1842): — The Sanctuary: a Companion in Verse for the English Prayer-book (1855). Of those in prose: The Gospel in Advance of the Age: a homily for the Times, with an Introduction on the

Spirit of the Bible and the Spirit of the Age (1st ed. 1847; 3d ed. revised and rearranged, with additional matter, etc., 1848, and often since): — The Ideal of the English Church (1845): — Christ our All in All (1845): — Eight Sermons: being Reflective Discourses on some Important Texts (1843, 8vo): — The Great Salvation, and our Sin in Neglecting it: a Religious Essay, in Three Parts (1846): — The Scottish Church, the English Schismatics (1846; 3d ed. with documentary evidence, 1847, 12mo). A collected edition of his poetical works (in 6 volumes, 8vo) was published in 1839-40, and his Christian Poetry, by Ed. Farr, in 1854 (12mo). Selections from them were also made under the title, Religion and Poetry, with an Introductory Essay by Archer Gurney (1847, 8vo); and Lyra Christiana (1851, 32mo). See Fraser's Magazine, 1:95, 721; 4:672; Westm. Rev. 12:355; Lond. Month. Rev. 117, 30; 121, 313; Blackwood's Magazine, 23:751-71; 26:241 sq.; Lond. Gentleman's Mag. 1856, part 1:313; [Lond.] Athenceum, 1832, page 348; South. Qu. Rev. 2:290; N.Y. Lit. and Theol. Review, 1:688; Breen, Mod. Eng. Lit.: its Blemishes and Defcts (1857), page 206; Koenen, Voorlozing over den Engelschen Dichter Rob. Montgomery (Amst. 1853, 8vo); and the excellent and very full article in Allibone's Dict, of Brit. and Amer. Auth. s.v. (J.H.W.)

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