Alaric Watts: The Siege of Belgrade

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Alaric Watts was the son of John Mosley Watts and grandson of William Watts, a Leicester physician of repute. After leaving school he made his living as a teacher for a short time, and in 1818-19 was part of the staff of the New Monthly Magazine in London. At about the same time he became a contributor to the Literary Gazette.

In 1822, leaving his position at the Gazette, he was made editor of the Leeds Intelligencer (1822-23), in the columns of which he was one of the first to advocate measures for protecting workers in factories against accidents from machinery.

 In 1823 he published his first volume of verse, Poetical Sketches, and in 1824 he became the editor of the Literary Souvenir (till 1838), of which he also became the proprietor two years later. During his ownership he secured the co-operation of some of the most famous men of letters of that period. In 1825 he went to Manchester as editor of the Manchester Courier, a position which he resigned a year later.

In 1827 he assisted in founding the Standard as a sub editor, while the first editor was Stanley Lees Giffard, and in 1833 he started the United Service Gazette, which he edited for 8 years.

In 1839 he helped Rosina Bulwer Lytton with a manuscript of Cheveley and during that time he offered her to stay some time at his cottage. During the same year he returned to the Standard as an editor and took a job at theMorning Herald where he worked until 1846.

Mr. Watts met and married his wife Priscilla Zillah Maden Watts (born Wiffen) in the early 1820s with whom he had a child named Alaric Alfred Watts (1825-1901). Mrs. Watts also published and wrote for newspapers and magazines like The New Year’s Gift and Juvenile Souvenir (1829-36) until she died in 1873, nine years after her husband.

Watts was also interested in a number of provincial Conservative newspapers which were not financially successful, so by 1848, he was sentenced for some time in debtors’ prison before declaring bankruptcy in 1850.

In 1854, Lord Aberdeen came to his rescue by awarding Watts a civil service pension. In 1856 he was back to edition to publish the first edition of Men of the Time.

Watts died in London on the 5 April 1864. His poems were collected as Lyrics of the Heart and published in 1850. In 1867 a collection of his poems was published in a volume entitled The Laurel and the Lyre.



Siege of Belgrade*

AN Austrian army, awfully arrayed,
Boldly by battery besieged Belgrade.
Cossack commanders cannonading come,
Dealing destruction's devastating doom.
Every endeavor engineers essay,
For fame, for fortune fighting - furious fray!
Generals 'gainst generals grapple - gracious God!
How honors Heaven heroic hardihood!
Infuriate, indiscrminate in ill,
Kindred kill kinsmen, kinsmen kindred kill.
Labor low levels longest, lofiest lines;
Men march 'mid mounds, 'mid moles, ' mid murderous mines;
Now noxious, noisey numbers nothing, naught
Of outward obstacles, opposing ought;
Poor patriots, partly purchased, partly pressed,
Quite quaking, quickly "Quarter! Quarter!" quest.
Reason returns, religious right redounds,
Suwarrow stops such sanguinary sounds.
Truce to thee, Turkey! Triumph to thy train,
Unwise, unjust, unmerciful Ukraine!
Vanish vain victory! vanish, victory vain!
Why wish we warfare? Wherefore welcome were
Xerxes, Ximenes, Xanthus, Xavier?
Yield, yield, ye youths! ye yeomen, yield your yell!
Zeus', Zarpater's, Zoroaster's zeal,
Attracting all, arms against acts appeal!

*In the Siege of Belgrade from 15 September to 8 October 1789, an army of Habsburg Austria led by Feldmarschall Ernst Gideon Freiherr von Laudon besieged an Ottoman Turkish force in the fortress of Belgrade. After a three week leaguer, the Austrians stormed and captured the fortress. Austria held the city until 1791 when it handed Belgrade back to the Ottomans according to the terms of the peace treaty.