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From school he was sent in 1732 to Pembroke joyed without its abatements. Lyttelton was College, in Oxford, a society which for half a his neighbour and his rival, whose empire, spacentury has been eminent for English poetry cious and opulent, looked with disdain on the and elegant literature. Here it appears that he petty state that appeared behind it. For a while found delight and advantage ; for he continued the inhabitants of Hagley affected to tell their his name in the book ten years, though he took acquaintance of the little fellow that was tryno degree. After the first four years, he put on ing to make himself admired; but when by dethe civilian's gown, but without showing any grees the Leasowes forced themselves into nointention to engage in the profession.
tice, they took care to defeat the curiosity which About the time when he went to Oxford, the they could not suppress, by conducting their death of his grandmother devolved his affairs to visitants perversely to inconvenient points of the care of the Reverend Mr. Dolman, of view, and introducing them at the wrong end Brome, in Staffordshire, whose attention he al- of a walk to detect a deception; injuries of ways mentioned with gratitude.
which Shenstone would heavily complain. At Oxford he employed himself upon English Where there is emulation there will be vanity; poetry; and in 1737 published a small miscel- and where there is vanity there will be folly. * lany, without his name.
The pleasure of Shenstone was all in his eye; He then for a time wandered about, to ac- he valued what he valued merely for its Jooks; quaint himself with life, and was sometimes at nothing raised his indignation more than to ask London, sometimes at Bath, or any other place if there were any fishes in his water. of public resort; but he did not forget his poetry. His house was mean, and he did not improve He published in 1741 his “ Judgment of Her- it; his care was of his grounds. When he cules," addressed to Mr. Lyttelton, whose in- came home from his walks, he might find his terest he supported with great warmth at an floors flooded by a shower through the broken election : this was next year followed by “ The roof; but could spare no money for its reSchool-Mistress.”
paration. Mr. Dolman, to whose care he was indebted In time his expenses brought clamours about for his ease and leisure, died in 1745, and the him, that overpowered the lamb's bleat and the care of his own fortune now fell upon him. He linnet's song; and his groves were baunted by tried to escape it awhile, and lived at his house beings very different from fauns and fairies." with his tenants, who were distantly related : He spent his estate in adorning it, and his but, finding that imperfect possession inconve- death was probably hastened by his anxieties. nient, he took the whole estate into his own hands, more to the improvement of its beauty, than the increase of its produce.' Now was excited his delight in rural plea- been denied with some degree of warmth by Mr.
* This charge against the Lyttelton family has sures, and his ambition of rural elegance: he
Potter, and since by Mr. Graves. The latter says, began from this time to point his prospects, to
“ The truth of the case, I believe, was, that the Lytdiversify his surface, to entangle his walks, and
telton family went so frequently with their family to wind his waters; which he did with such
to the Leasowes, that they were unwilling to break judgment and such fancy, as made his little do- in upon Mr. Shenstone's retirement on every occamain the envy of the great, and the admiration sion, and therefore often went to the principal points of the skilful; a place to be visited by travellers, of view without waiting for any one to conduct and copied by designers. Whether to plant a
them regularly through the whole walks. Of this
Mr. Shenstone would sometimes peevishly complain : walk in undulating curves, and to place a bench though, I am persuaded, he never really suspected at every turn where there is an object to catch
any ill-natured intention in his worthy and muchthe view; to make water run where it will be valued neighbours."-R. heard, and to stagnate where it will be seen; to + Mr. Graves, however, expresses his belief that leave intervals where the eye will be pleased, this is a groundless surmise. “ Mr. Shenstone," he and to thicken the plantation where there is adds,“ was too much respected in the neighboursomething to be hidden ; demand any great hood to be treated with rudeness ; and though his
works, (frugally as they were managed,) added to powers of mind, I will not inquire: perhaps a
his manner of living, must necessarily have made surly and sullen spectator may think such per- him exceed his income, and, of course, he might formances rather the sport than the business of sometimes be distressed for money, yet he had too human reason. But it must be at least con- much spirit to expose himself to insults from trifling fessed, that to embellish the form of Nature is sums, and guarded against any great distress, by an innocent amusement; and some praise must anticipating a few hundreds: which his estate could be allowed, by the most supercilious observer, to
very well bear, as appeared by what remained to his him who does best what such multitudes are
executors after the payment of his debts, and his
legacies to his friends, and annuities of thirty pounds contending to do well.
a year to one servant, and six pounds to another; This praise was the praise of Shenstone; but, for his will was dictated with equal justice and ge like all other modes of felicity, it was not en- nerosity." —R.
He was a lamp that spent its oil in blazing. It | tions suit not ill to this description. is said, that, if he had lived a little longer, he of praisc are the domestic virtues, and his would have been assisted by a pension : such thoughts are pure and simple; but, wanting bounty could not have been ever more properly combination, they want variety. The peace of bestowed ; but that it was ever asked is not cer- solitude, the innocence of inactivity, and the tain; it is too certain that it never was enjoyed. unenvied security of an humble station, can fill
He died at the Leasowes, of a putrid fever, but a few pages. That of which the essence is about five on Friday morning, February 11, uniformity will be soon described. His elegies 1763; and was buried by the side of his brother have therefore too much resemblance of each in the churchyard of Hales. Owen.
other. He was never married, though he might have The lines are sometimes such as elegy requires, obtained the lady, whoever she was, to whom smooth and easy; but to this praise his claim is his “ Pastoral Ballad” was addressed. He is not constant; his diction is often harsh, imrepresented by his friend Dodsley as a man of proper, and affected; his words ill-coined, or ill. great tenderness and generosity, kind to all that chosen; and his phrase unskilfully inverted. were within his influence; but, if once offended, The lyric poems are almost all of the light not easily appeased : inattentive to economy, and and airy kind, such as trip lightly and nimbly careless of his expenses. In his person he was along, without the load of any weighty meanlarger than the middle size, with something ing. From these, however, Rural Elegance has clumsy in his form ; very negligent of his clothes, some right to be excepted. I once heard it and remarkable for wearing his grey bair in a praised by a very learned lady; and though the particular manner; for he held that the fashion lines are irregular, and the thoughts diffused was no rule of dress, and that every man was to with too much verbosity, yet it cannot be denied suit his appearance to his natural form. * to contain both philosophical argument and
His mind was not very comprehensive, nor poetical spirit. his curiosity active; he had no value for those Of the rest I cannot think any excellent : parts of knowledge which he had not himself “ The Skylark” pleases me best, which has, cultivated.
however, more of the epigram than of the ode. His life was unstained by any crime; the But the four parts of his “ Pastoral Ballad" Elegy 'on Jesse, which has been supposed to relate demand particular notice. I cannot but regret an unfortunate and criminal amour of his own, that it is pastoral; an intelligent reader, acwas known by his friends to have been suggest- quainted with the scenes of real life, sickens at ed by the story of Miss Godfrey, in Richardson's the mention of the crook, the pipe, the sheep, and 66 Pamela.”
the kids, which it is not necessary to bring forWhat Gray thought of his character, from ward to notice, for the poet's art is selection, the perusal of his letters, was this :
and he ought to show the beauties without the “ I have read too an octavo volume of Shen- grossness of the country life. His stanza seems stone's Letters. Poor man! he was always to have been chosen in imitation of Rowe's wishing for money, for fame, and other distinc- “ Despairing Shepherd.” tions; and his whole philosophy consisted in In the first part are two passages, to which if living against his will in retirement, and in a any mind denies its sympathy, it has no acplace which his taste had adorned, but which he quaintance with love or nature. only enjoyed when people of note came to see and commend it; his correspondence is about I prized every hour that went by, nothing else but this place and his own writings,
Beyond all that had pleased me before; with two or three neighbouring clergymen, who
But now they are past, and I sigh,
And I grieve that I prized them no more. wrote verses too."
His poems consist of elegies, odes, and bal. When forced the fair nymph to forego, lads, humorous sallies, and moral pieces.
What anguish I felt in my heart ! His conception of an elegy he has in his pre- Yet I thonght (but it might not be so) face very judiciously and discriminately explain
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart. ed. It is, according to his account, the effusion
She gazed, as I slowly withdrew, of a contemplative mind, sometimes plaintive,
My path I could hardly discern; and always serious, and therefore superior to So sweetly she bade me adieu, the glitter of slight ornaments. His composi- I thought that she bade me retur.
In the second this passage has its prettiness, * " These,” says Mr. Graves, “ were not precisely though it be not equal to the former :his sentiments, though he thought right enough, that every one should, in some degree, consult his par. I have found out a gift for my fair; ticular shape and complexion ip adjusting his dress; I have found where the wood-pigeons breed: ard that no fashion ought to sanctify wbat was un. But let me that plunder forbear, graceful, absurd, or really deformed.”
She will say 'twas a barbarous deed:
For he ne'er could be true, she averr'd,
marked in a few words, that his humour is Who could rob a poor bird of its young; sometimes gross, and seldom sprightly. Aud I loved her the more when I heard,
Of the moral poems, the first is “ The Choice Such tenderness fall from her tongue.
of Hercules,” from Xenophon. The numbers
are smooth, the diction elegant, and the thoughts In the third he mentions the common-places just ; but something of vigour is still to be of amorous poetry with some address :
wished, which it might have had by brevity and
compression. His “ Fate of Delicacy" has an 'Tis his with mock-passions to glow!
air of gayety, but not a very pointed and gene'Tis his in smooth tales to unfold,
ral moral. His blank verses, those that can How her face is as bright as the snow, And her bosom, be sure, is as cold ;
read them may probably find to be like the
blank verses of his neighbours. " Love and How the nightingales labour the strain,
Honour” is derived from the old ballad, “ Did With the notes of this charmer to vie;
you not hear of a Spanish Lady?”—I wish it How they vary their accents in vain,
well enough to wish it were in rhyme. Repine at her triumphs, and die.
“ The School Mistress," of which I know
not what claim it has to stand among the moral In the fourth I find nothing better than this works, is surely the most pleasant of Shennatural strain of Hope :
stone's performances. The adoption of a parti
cular style, in light and short compositions, conAlas! from the day that we met,
tributes much to the increase of pleasure; we What hope of an end to my woes,
are entertained at once with two imitations, of When I cannot endure to forget The glance that undid my repose ?
nature in the sentiments, of the original author
in the style; and between them the mind is Yet Time may diminish the pain :
kept in perpetual employment. The flower, and the shrub, and the tree,
The general recommendation of Shenstone is Which I rear'd for her pleasure in vain,
easiness and simplicity; his general defect is In time may have comfort for me.
want comprehension and variety. Had his
mind been better stored with knowledge, wheHis Levities are by their title exempted from ther he could have been great, I know not; he the severities of criticism ; yet it may be re- could certainly have been agreeable.
The following life was written, at my request, taken to tell that, of which proofs, with little by a gentleman who had better information than trouble, might have been procured.' I could easily have obtained ; and the public will perhaps wish that I had solicited and ob- EDWARD YOUNG was born at Upham, near tained more such favours from him. *
Winchester, in June, 1681. He was the son of
Edward Young, at that time fellow of Winches6 DEAR SIR,
ter College and rector of Upham; who was the “ In consequence of our different conversa- son of Jo. Young, of Woodhay, in Berkshire, tions about authentic materials for the life of styled by Wood, gentleman. In September, Young, I send you the following detail.
1682, the Poet's father was collated to the pre“ Of great men, something must always be bend of Gillingham Minor, in the church of Sasaid to gratify curiosity. Of the illustrious rum, by Bishop Ward. When Ward's faculAuthor of the “ Night Thoughts” much has ties were impaired through age, his duties were been told of which there never could have been necessarily performed by others. We learn from proofs; and little care appears to have been Wood, that at a visitation of Sprat's, July the
12th, 1686, the prebendary preached a Latin
sermon, afterwards published, with which the * See Gers, Mag.
, vol. lxx. p. 225.-N. bishop was so pleased, that he told the chapter
he was concerned to find the preacher had one | degree of bachelor of civil laws, and his doctor's of the worst prebends in their church. Some degree on the 10th of June, 1719. time after this, in consequence of his merit and Soon after he went to Oxford, he discovered, reputation, or of the interest of Lord Bradford, it is said, an inclination for pupils. Whether to whom, in 1702, he dedicated two volumes of he ever commenced tutor is not known. None sermons, he was appointed chaplain to King has hitherto boasted to have received his acadeWilliam and Queen Mary, and preferred to the mical instruction from the author of the “ Night deanery of Sarum. Jacob, who wrote in 1720, Thoughts.” says, “ he was chaplain and clerk of the closet It is probable that his College was proud of to the late queen, who honoured him by stand- him no less as a scholar than as a poet; for, in ing godmother to the Poet.” His fellowship. 1716, when the foundation of the Codrington of Winchester he resigned in favour of a gen-Library was laid, two years after he had taken tleman of the name of Harris, who married his his bachelor's degree, Young was appointed to only daughter. The Dean died at Sarum, after speak the Latin oration. This is at least partia short illness, in 1705, in the sixty-third year cular for being dedicated in English “ To the of his age. On the Sunday after his decease Ladies of the Codrington Family.” To these Bishop Burnet preached at the cathedral, and ladies he says, that “ he was unavoidably flung began his sermon with saying, “ Death has into a singularity, by being obliged to write an been of late walking round us, and making epistle dedicatory void of common-place, and breach upon breach upon us, and has now car- such a one was never published before by any ried away the head of this body with a stroke; author whatever; that this practice absolved 80 that he, whom you saw a week ago distri- them from any obligation of reading what was buting the holy mysteries, is now laid in the presented to them; and that the bookseller apdust. But he still lives in the many excellent proved of it, because it would make people stare, directions he has left us, both how to live and was absurd enough, and perfectly right.” how to die."
Of this oration there is no appearance in his The Dean placed his son upon the foundation own edition of his works ; and prefixed to an at Winchester College, where he had himself | edition by Curll and Tonson, 1741, in a letter been educated. At this school Edward Young from Young to Curll, if we may credit Curll, remained till the election after his eighteenth dated December the 9th, 1739, wherein he says, birth-day, the period at which those upon the that he has not leisure to review what he forfoundation are superannuated. Whether he merly wrote, and adds, “ I have not the did not betray his abilities early in life, or his • Epistle to Lord Lansdowne.' If you will masters had not skill enough to discover in their take my advice, I would have you omit that, pupil any marks of genius for which he merited and the Oration on Codrington. I think the reward, or no vacancy at Oxford offered them collection will sell better without them.” an opportunity to bestow upon him the reward There are who relate, that, when first Young provided for merit by William of Wykeham; found himself independent, and his own master certain it is, that to an Oxford fellowship our at All Souls, he was not the ornament to reliPoet did not succeed. By chance, or by choice, gion and morality which he afterwards became. New College cannot claim the honour of num- The authority of his father, indeed, had bering among its fellows him who wrote the ceased, some time before, by his death; and “ Night Thoughts.”
Young was certainly not ashamed to be patronOn the 13th of October, 1703, he was entered ised by the infamous Wharton. But Wharton an independent member of New College, that befriended in Young, perhaps, the poet, and parhe might live at little expense in the warden's ticularly the tragedian. If virtuous authors lodgings, who was a particular friend of his must be patronised only by virtuous peers, who father's, till he should be qualified to stand for a shall point them out? fellowsbip at All Souls. In a few months the Yet Pope is said by Ruff head to have told warden of New College died.
He then re
Warburton, that “ Young bad much of a submoved to Corpus Coilege. The president of lime genius, though without common sense ; so this society, from regard also for his father, in- that his genius, having no guide, was perpetualvited him thither, in order to lessen his acade- ly liable to degenerate into bombast. This made mical expenses. In 1708, he was nominated to him paşs a foolish youth, the sport of peers and a law-fellowship at All Souls by Archbishop poets, but his having a very good heart enabled Tenison, into whose ·bands it came by devolu- him to support the clerical character when he tion. Such repeated patronage, while it justi- assumed it, first with decency, and afterwards fies Burnet's praise of the father, reffects credit with honour.” on the conduct of the son: the manner in which They who think ill of Young's morality in it was exerted seems to prove that the father the early part of his life, may perhaps be wrong; did not leave behind much wealth.
but Tindal could not err in his opinion of On the 23d of April, 1714, Young took his Young's warmth and ability in the cause of re
ligion. Tindal used to spend much of his time | Thoughts,” of making the public a party in his at All Souls. “ The other boys,” said the private sorrow. Atheist, “ I can always answer, because I al- Should justice call upon you to censure this ways know whence they have their arguments, poem, it ought at least to be remembered that which I have read a hundred times; but that he did not insert it in his works; and that in fellow Young is continually pestering me with the letter to Curll, as we have seen, he advises something of his own.
its omission. The booksellers, in the late body After all, Tindal and the censurers of Young of English Poetry, should have distinguished may be reconcileable. Young might, for two what was deliberately rejected by the respective or three years, have tried that kind of life, in authors. * This I shall be careful to do with which his natural principles would not suffer regard to Young. “ I think,” says he, “ the him to wallow long. If this were so, he has following pieces in four volumes to be the most left behind him not only his evidence in favour excusable of all that I have written; and I wish of virtue, but the potent testimony of experience less apology was needful for these. As there is against vice.
no recalling what is got abroad, the pieces here We shall soon see that one of his earliest pro- republished I have revised and corrected, and ductions was more serious than what comes rendered them as pardonable as it was in my from the generality of unfledged poets.
power to do." Young perhaps ascribed the good fortune of Shall the gates of repentance be shut only Addison to the “ Poem to his Majesty,” pre- against literary sinners ? sented, with a copy of verses, to Somers; and When Addison published “ Cato” in 1713, hoped that he also might soar to wealth and Young had the honour of prefixing to it a rehonour on wings of the same kind. His first commendatory copy of verses. This is one of poetical flight was when Queen Anne called up the pieces which the Author of the “ Night to the House of Lords the sons of the Earls of Thoughts” did not republish. Northampton and Aylesbury, and added, in one On the appearance of his Poem on the Last day, ten others to the number of peers. In Day, Addison did not return Young's compli-' order to reconcile the people to one, at least, of ment; but “ The Englishman” of October 29, the new lords, he published, in 1712, “ An 1713, which was probably written by Addison, Epistle to the Right Honourable George Lord speaks handsomely of this poem. “ The Last Lansdowne.' In this composition the Poet Day” was published soon after the peace. The pours out his panegyric with the extravagance vice-chancellor's imprimatur, for it was printed of a young man, who thinks his present stock of at Oxford, is dated March the 19th, 1713. wealth will never be exhausted.
From the exordium, Young appears to have The poem seems intended also to reconcile the spent some time on the composition of it. While public to the late peace. This is endeavoured to other bards “ with Britain's hero set their souls be done by showing that men are slain in war, on fire,” he draws, he says, a deeper scene. and that in peace “ harvests wave, and Com- Marlborough had been considered by Britain as merce swells her sail." If this be humanity, her hero; but, when the “ Last Day” was pubfor which he meant it; is it politics? Another lished, female cabal had blasted for a time the purpose of this Epistle appears to have been, to laurels of Blenheim. This serious poem was prepare the public for the reception of some tra- finished by Young as early as 1710, before he gedy he might have in hand. His Lordship’s was thirty, for part of it is printed in the patronage, he says, will not let him “ repent his 66 Tatler.”+ It was inscribed to the Queen, in passion for the stage;" and the particular praise a dedication, which, for some reason, he did not bestowed on “ Othello” and “ Oroonoko" looks admit into his works. It tells her, that his only as if some such character as Zanga was even title to the great honour he now does himself, is then in contemplation. The affectionate men- the obligation which he formerly received from tion of the death of his friend Harrison, of New her royal indulgence. College, at the close of this poem, is an instance Of this obligation nothing is now known, of Young's art, which displayed itself so won- unless he alluded to her being his godmother. derfully some time afterwards in the “ Night He is said indeed to have been engaged at a set.
tled stipend as a writer for the court. In
Swift's “ Rhapsody on Poetry” are these lines, * As my great friend is now become the subject of sreaking of the courtTiography, it should be told, that, every time I called
Whence Gay was bapish'd in disgrace, upou Johnson during the time I was employed in ollecting materials for this life and putting it to
Where Pope will never show his face, gether, he never suffered me to depart without some Such farewell as this : “ Don't forget that rascal Tin- • Dr. Johnson, in many cases, thought and directed dal, Sir. Be sure to hang up the Atheist.” Alludiug differently, particularly in Young's Works.-J. N. to this anecdote, which Johnson bad wentioned to + Not in the Tatler," but in the Guardian," Mag