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expressions in the “ Night Thoughts” would seem to prove, did not a passage in “ Night" Eight appear to shew that he had somebody in his eye for the groundwork at least of the painting. Lovelace or Lorenzo may be feigned characters; but a writer does not feign a name of which he only gives the initial letter.
Tell not Calista. She will laugh thee deac,
The Biographia, not satisfied with pointing out the son of Young, in that son's life-time, as his father's Lorenzo, travels out of its way into the his. tory of the son, and tells of his having been forbidden his college at Oxford for misbehaviour. How such anecdotes, were they true, tend to illustrate the life of Young, it is not easy to discover. Was the son of the author of the “ Night Thoughts indeed forbidden bris college for a time, at one of our universities? The author of “ Paradise Lose" is by some supposed to have been disgracefully ejected from the other. From juvenile follies who is free? But, whatever the Biographia choose to relate, the son of Young experienced no dismission from his college either lasting or temporary
Yet, were nature to indulge him with a second youth, and to leave him at the same tiine the experience of that which is past, he would probably spend it differently—who would not?--he would certainly be the occasion of less uneasiness to his father. But, from the same experience, he would as certainly, in the same case, be treated differently by his father.
Young was a poet: poets, with reverence be it spoken, do not make the best parents. Fancy and imagination seldom deign to stoop from their heights; always stoop unwillingly toʻthe low level of common duties. Aloof from vulgar life, they pursue their rapid fight beyond the ken of mortals, and descend not to earth but when compelled by necessity. The prose of ordinary occurrencez is beneath the dignity of poets'
He, who is connected with the author of the “ Night Thoughts,” only by veneration for the Poet and the Christian, may be allowed to observe, that Young is one of those, concerning whom, as you remark in your account of Addison, it is proper rather to say "nothing that is false than all that is true."
But the son of Young would almost sooner, I know, pass for a Lorenzo, than see himself vindicated, at the expence of his father's memory, from follies which, if it may be thought blameable in a boy to have commited them, it is surely praise-worthy in a man to lament, and certainly not only unnecessary but cruel in a biographer to record.
Of the “Night Thoughts,” notwithstanding their author's professed retirement, all are inscribed to great or to growing names.
He had not vel weaned himself from Earls and Dukes, from Speakers of the House of Commons, Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, and Chancellors of the Exchequer, In“ Night" Eight the politician plainly betrays himself
Think no post needful that demands a knave,
So Pethought: think better if you can. Yet it must be confessed, that at the conclusion of “ Night" Nine, weary perhaps of courting earthly patrons, he tells his soul,
And leave the racers of the world their own,
Dark, though not blind, like thee, Meonides :
How had ic blest mankind, and rescued me! To the author of these lines was dedicated, in 1756, the first volume of an “Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope," which attempted, whether justly or not, to pluck from Pope his “Wing of Fire," and to reduce him to a rank at least one degree lower than the first class of English poets. If Young accepted and approved the dedication, he countenanced this attack upon the fame of him whom he invokes as his Muse.
Part of “paper-sparing” Pope's Third Book of the “Odyssey," deposited in the Museum, is written upon the back of a letter signed E. Young, which is clearly the hand-writing of our Young. The Letter, dated only May the 2d, seems obscure; but there can be little doubt that the friendship he requests was a literary one, and that he had the highest literary opinion of Pope. The request was a prologue, I am told.
66 Dear Sir,
May the 2d. “ Having been often from home, I know not if you have done me the “ favour of calling on me. But, be that as it will, I much want that in
stance of your friendship I mentioned in my last; a friendship I am very « sensible I can receive froin no one but yourself. I should not urge this “ thing so much but for very particular reasons ; nor can you be at a loss to “ conceive how a 'trifle of this nature may be of serious moment to me; and " while I am in hopes of the great advantage of your advice about it, I shall « not be so absurd as to make any further step without it. I know you are “ much engaged, and only hope to hear of you at your entire leisure.
“ I am, Sir, your most faithful
“ E. YOUNG."
Nay, even after Pope's death, he says, in “ Night” Seven:
Pope, who couldst make immortals, art thou dead ? Either the “ Essay," then, was dedicated to a patron who disapproved its doctrine, which I have been told by the author was not the case; or Young appears, in his old age, to have bartered for a dedication, an opinion entertained of his friend through all that part of life when he must have been best able to form opinions.
From this account of Young, two or three short passages, which stand almost together in "Night” Four, should not be excluded. They afford a picture, by his own hand, from the study of which my readers may choose to form their own opinion of the features of his mind and the complexion of his life.
If this song lives, Posterity shall know
For future vacancies in church or state,
“ A fool at forty is a fool indeed.” After all, the siege seems to have been raised only in consequence of what the General thought his “ death-bed.”
By these extraordinary Poems, written after he was sixty, of which I have been led to say so much, I hope by the wish of doing justice to the living and the dead, it was the desire of Young to be principally known. He entitled the four volumes which he published himself. “ The Works of the · Author of the Night Thoughts." While it is remembered that from these hé excluded many of his writings, let it not be forgotten that the rejected pieces contained nothing prejudicial to the cause of virtue, or of religion. Were every thing that Young ever wrote to be published, he would only appear perhaps in a less respectable light as a poét, and more despicable as a dedicator: he would not pass for å worse christian, or for a worse man. This enviable praise is due to Young. Can it be claimed by every writer? His dedications, after all, he had perhaps no right to suppress. They all, I believe, speak, not a little to the credit of his gratitude, of favours received; and I know not whether the author, who has once solemnly printed an acknowledgement of a favour, should not always print it.
Is it to the credit or discredit of Young, as a poet, that of his “ Night “ Thoughts” the French are particularly fond?
Of the “ Epitaph on Lord Aubrey Beauclerk,” dated 1740, all I know is, that I find it in the late body of English Poetry, and that I am sorry to tind it there.
INotwithstanding the farewell which he seemed to have taken in the “ Night Thoughts" of every thing which bore the least resemblance to ambition, he dipped again in politics. In 1745 he wrote « Reflections on the
public Situation of the Kingdom, addressed to the Duke of Newcastle ;" indignant, as it appears, to behold
-a pope-bred princeling crawl ashore,
This political poem might be called a “Night Thought.” Indeed it was originally printed as the conclusion of the “ Night Thoughts.” though he did not gather it with his other works.
Prefixed to the second edition of Howe's “ Devout Meditations" is a Letter from Young, dated January 19, 1752, addressed to Archibald Macauly, Esq; thanking him for the book, which he says " he shall never “ lay far out of his reach: for a greater demonstration of a sound head and a sincere heart he never saw.”
In 1753, when “ The Brothers” had lain by him above thirty years, it appeared upon the stage. If any part of his fortune had been acquired by servility of adulation, he now determined to deduct from it noinconsiderable sum, as a gift to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. To this sum he hoped the profits of “ The Brothers” would amount. In this calculation he was deceived; but by the bad success of his play the Society was not a loser. The author made up the sum he originally intended, which was a thousand pounds, from his own pocket.
The next performance which he printed was a prose publication, entituled, “ The Centaur not fabulous, in six Letters to a friend on the Life in Vogue.” The conclusion is dated November 29, 1754. In the third Letter is described the death-bed of the "gay,young, noble, ingenious, accomplished and most “ wretched Altamont.” His last words were~- My principles “ have poisoned my friend, my extravagance has beggared my boy, my un“ kindness has murdered my wife!" Either Altamont and Lorenzo were the twin production of fancy, or Young was unlucky enough to know two characters who bore no little resemblance to each other in perfection of wickedness. Report has been accustomed to call Altamont Lord Euston.
“ The Old Man's Relapse,” occasioned by an Epistle to Walpole, if written by Young, which I much doubt, must have been writteni very late in life. It has been seen, I am told, in a Miscellany published thirty years before his death. In 1758, he exhibited “the Old Man's Relapse" in more than words, by again becoming a dedicator, and publishing a sermon addressed to the King.
The lively Letter in prose on " Original Composition," aduressed to Richardson the author of Clarissa, appeared in 1759. Though he despais “ of breaking through the frozen obstructions of age and care's incumbent “ cloud, into that flow of thought and brightness of expression which sub“ jects so polite require ;" yet is it more like the production of untamed, unbridled youth, than of jaded fourscore. Some sevenfold volumes put hiin in mind of Ovia's sevenfold channels of the Nile at the conflagration.
-ostia septem Pulverulenta vocant, septem sine flumine valles. VOLI. 40