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Such leaden labours are like Lycurgus's iron money, which was so much less in value than in bulk, that it requadred barns for strong boxes, and a yoke of oxen to draw five hundred pounds.
If there is a famine of invention in the land, we must travel, he says, like Joseph's brethren, far for food; we must visit the remote and rich antients. But an inventive genius may safely stay at home ; that, like the widow's cruse, is divinely replenished from within, and affords us a miraculous delight. He asks why it should sèem altogether impossible, that Heaven's latest editions of the human mind may be the most correct and fair? And Johnson, he tells us, was very learned, as Sampson was very strong to his own hurt. Blind to the nature of tragedy, he pulled down all antiquity on his head, and buried himself uncer it.
Is this " care's incumbent cloud," or " the frozen obstructions of age ?"
In this letter Pope is severely censured for his “fall from Homer's numbers, free c as air, lofty and harmonious as the spheres, into childish shackles and “ tinkling sounds; for putting Achilles in petticoats a second time:" but we are told that the dying swan talked over an Epic plan with Young a few weeks before his decease.
Young's chief inducement to write this letter was, as he confesses, that he might erect a monumental marble to the memory of an old friend. He, who employed his pious pen for almost the last time in thus doing justice to the exemplary death-bed of Addison, might probably, at the close of his own life, afford no unuseful lesson for the deaths of others.
In the postcript he writes to Richardson, that he will see in his next how far Addison is an original. But no other letter appears.
The few lines which stand in the last edition, as “sent by Lord Melcombe “ to Dr. Young, not long before his Lordship's death,” were indeed so seuf, hut were only an introduction to what was there meant by “ The Muse's " latest Spark.” The poem is necessary, whatever may be its merit, since the preface to it is already printed. Lord Melcombe called his Tusculum « La Trappe."
“ Love thy country, wish it well,
Not with too intense a care,
Thou its ruin didst not share.
With unmoved indifference view ;
With unerring Virtue's clue.
Life's wide ocean trust no more ;
With the tide, but near the shore,
Thus prepar'd, thy shorten'd sail
Shall, whene'er the winds increase,
Waft thee to the Port of Peace.
And tempestuous passions free,
Easy shall thy passage be ;
Chearful thy allotted stay,
Hope shall meet thee on the way;
Mercy's self shall let thee in,
Full perfection shall begin."
“ La Trappe, the 27th of Oct. 17630 " Dear Sir, 6. You seemed to like the ode I sent you for
your amusement; I now “ send it you as a present. If you please to accept of it, and are willing that
our friendship should be known when we are gone, you will be pleased
to leave this those of your own papers that may possibly see the “ light by a posthumous publication. Gud send us health while we stay, " and an easy journey?
My dear Dr. Young,
6. MELCOMBE." In 1762, a short time before his death, Young published “ Resignation.” Notwithstanding the manner in which it was really forced from him by the world, criticism has treated it with no common severity. If it shall be thought not to deserve the highest praise, on the other side of fourscore, by whom, except by Newton and by Waller, has praise been merited ?
To Mrs. Montagu, the famous champion of Shakspeare, I am indebted for the history of “Resignation.” Observing that Mrs. Boscawen, in the inidst of her grief for the loss of the admiral, derived consolation from the perusal of the “Night Thoughts,” Mrs. Montagu proposed a visit to the author. From conversing with Young, Mrs. Boscawen derived still further consolation; and to that visit she and the world were indebted for this poem. It compliments Mrs. Montagu in the following lines : 4 0 2
Yet, write I must, A Lady sues,
How shameful her request !
Her's teeming with the best !
A friend you have and I the same,
Whose prudent soft address
Which died in your distress.
Extracting for your ease,
Too common ; such as these. By the same Lady I am enabled to say, in her own words, that Young's unbounded genius appeared to greater advantage in the companion, than even in the author; that the Christian was in him a character still more inspired, more enraptured, more sublime than the poet; and that, in his ordinary conversation,
letting down the golden chain from high,
He drew his audience upward to the sky. Notwithstanding Young had said, in his “ Conjectures on original Com position,” that “ blank verse is verse unfallen, uncurst ; verse reclaimed, re“inthroned in the true language of the Gods :” notwithstanding he admi. nistered consolation to his own grief in this immortal language. Mrs Boscawen was comforted in rhyme.
While the poet and the christian vere applying this comfort, Young had himself occasion for comfort, in consequence of ihe sudden death of Richardson, who was printing the former part of the poem. Of Richardson's death he says
When heaven would kindly set us free,
And carth's enchantment end;
And robs us of a friend, To “ Resignation” was prefixed an Apology for its appearance : to which more credit is due than to the generality of such apologies, from Young's urusual anxiety that no more productions of his old age should disgrace his former fame. In bis will, dated February 1760, he desires of his executors, in a particular manner, that all bis manuscript book and writings whatever, might be burned, except his book of accounts.
In September 1764 he added a kind of codicil, wherein he made it his dying intreaty to his housekeeper, to whom he left soool. “ that all his ma“ nuscripts might be destroyed as soon as he was dead, which would greatly
oblige her deceased friend.”
It máy teach mankind the uncertainty of worldly friendships, to know that Young, either by surviving those he loved, or by outliving their affections, could only recollect the names of two friends, his housekeeper and a hatter, to mention in his will; and it may serve to repress that testamentary pride, which too often seeks for sounding names and titles, to be informed that the author of the “ Night Thoughts” did not blush to leave a legacy to his “ friend Henry Stevens, a hatter at the Temple-gate.” Of these two remaining friends, one went before Young. But, at eighty-four “where,", as he asks in The Centaur,“ is that world into which we were born?”
The same humility which marked a hatter and housekeeper for the friends of the author of the “ Night Thoughts,” had before bestowed the same title on his footman, in an epitaph in his “ Church-yard" upon James Barker, dated 1749; which I am glad to find in the late collection of his works.
Young and his housekeeper were ridiculed, with more ill-nature than wit, in a kind of novel published by Kidgell in 1755, called “The Card," under the names of Dr. Elwes and Mrs. Fusby.
In April 1765, at an age to which few attain, a period was put to the life of Young.
He had performed no duty for three or four years, but he retained his intellects to the last.
Much is told in the “Biographia,” which I know not to have been true, of the manner of his burial: of the master and children of a charity-school, which he founded in his parish, who neglected to attend their benefactor's corpse; and of a bell which was not caused to tell as often as upon those occasions bells usually toll. Had that humanity, which is here lavished upon things of little consequence either to the living or to the dead, been shewn in its proper place to the living, I should have had less to say about Lorenzo. They who lament that these misfortunes happened to Young, forget the praise he bestows upon Socrates, in the Preface to“ Night” Seven, for resenting his friend's request about his funeral.
During some part of his life Young was abroad, but I have not been able to learn any particulars.
Hj In his seventh Satire he says,
When, after battle, I the field have seen
Spread o'er with gbastly shapes which once were men. It is known also, that from this or from some other field he once wandered into the camp, with a classic in his hand, which he was reading intently; and had some difficulty to prove that he was only an absent poct, and not a spy
The curious reader of Young's life will naturally inquire to what it was owing that, though he lived almost forty years after he took Orders, which included one whole reign uncommonly long, and part of another, he was never thought worthy of the least preferment. The author of the “Night * Thoughts” ended his days upon a Living which came to him from bis College without any favour, and to which he probably had an eye when he determined on the Church. To satisfy curiosity of this kind is, at this distance of time, far from easy. The parties themselves know not often, at the instant, why they are neglected, or why they are preferred. The neglect of Young is by some ascribed to his having attached himself to the Prince of Wales, and to his having preached an offensive sermon at St. James's. It has been told me that he had two hundred a year in the late reign, by the patronage of Walpole; and that, whenever any one reminded the King of Young, the only answer was, “ he has a pension.” All the light thrown on this inquiry, by the following Letter from Secker, only serves to shew at what a late period of life the author of the “ Night “ Thoughts” solicited preferment:
Deanery of St. Paul's, July 8, 1758. « Good Dr. Young, “ I have lung wondered, that more suitable notice of your great merit “ hath not been taken by persons in power. But how to remedy the omis“ şion I see not.
No encouragement hath ever been given me to mention " things of this nature to his Majesty. And therefore, in all likelihood, “ the only consequence of doing it would be weakening the little influence, " which else 1 may possibly have on some other occasions. Your fortune “ and your reputation set you above the need of advancement; and your “ sentiments, above that concern for it, on your own account, which, on “ that of the public, is sincerely felt by,
“ Your loving Brother,
“ Tho. CANT.”
At last at the age of fourscore, he was appointed, in 1761, Clerk of the Closet to the Princess Dowager.
One obstacle must have stood not a little in the way of that preferment after which his whole life seems to have panted. Though he took Orders, he never entirely shook off Politics. He was always the Lion of his master Milton, “pawing to get free bis hinder parts." By this conduct, if he gained some friends, he made many enemies.
Again, Young was a poet; and again, with reverence be it spoken, poets by profession do not always make the best clergymen. If the author of the “ Night Thoughts" composed many sermons, he did not oblige the public
Besides, in the latter part of life, Young was fond of holding himself out for a man retired from the world. But he seemed to have forgotten that the