« PreviousContinue »
Where Y- must torture his invention
works a sort of miracle, occasions the bias of To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.
our nature to fall off from sin, and makes our
very senses and affections converts to our reliThat Y- means Young seems clear from four gion, and promoters of our duty." His flattery other lines in the same poem :
was as ready for the other sex as for ours, and
was at least as well adapted. Attend, ye Popes apd Youngs and Gays' And tune your harps and strew your bays ;
August the 27th, 1714, Pope writes to his Your panegyrics here provide ;
friend Jervas, that he is just arrived from OxYou cannot err on flattery's side.
ford ; that every one is much concerned for the
Queen's death, but that no panegyrics are ready Yet who shall say with certainty, that Young yet for the King. Nothing like friendship had was a pensioner? In all modern periods of yet taken place between Pope and Young; for, this country, have not the writers on one side soon after the event which Pope mentions, been regularly called hirelings, and on the other Young published a poem on the Queen's death, patriots?
and his Majesty's accession to the throne. It Of the dedication the complexion is clearly is inscribed to Addison, then secretary to the political. It speaks in the highest terms of the lords justices. Whatever were the obligations late peace; it gives her Majesty praise indeed which he had formerly received from Anne, for her victories, but says, that the Author is the Poet appears to aim at something of the more pleased to see her rise from this lower same sort from George. Of the poem the inworld, soaring above the clouds, passing the tention seems to have been, to show that he had first and second heavens, and leaving the fixed the same extravagant strain of praise for a stars behind her; nor will he lose her there, he King as for a queen. To discover, at the very says, but keep her still in view through the onset of a foreigner's reign, that the gods bless boundless spaces on the other side of creation, his new subjects in such a king, is something in her journey towards eternal bliss, till he be more than praise. Neither was this deemed holds the heaven of heavens open, and angels re- one of his excusable pieces. We do not find it ceiving and conveying her still onward from in his works. the stretch of his imagination, which tires in Young's father had been well acquainted with her pursuit, and falls back again to earth. Lady Anne Wharton, the first wife of Thomas
The Queen was soon called away from this Wharton, Esq. afterwards Marquis of Wharlower world, to a place where human praise or ton; a lady celebrated for her poetical talenta human fattery, even less general than this, are by Burnet and by Waller of little consequence. If Young thought the To the Dean of Sarum's visitation sermon, dedication contained only the praise of truth, he already mentioned, were added some verses “by should not have omitted it in his works. Was that excellent poetess Mrs. Anne Wharton," he conscious of the exaggeration of party? upon its being translated into English, at the Then he should not have written it. The
instance of Waller, by Atwood. Wharton, itself is not without a glance towards politics, after he became ennobled, did not drop the son notwithstanding the subject. The cry that the of his old friend. In him, during the short church was in danger had not yet subsided. time he lived, Young found a patron, and in his The “ Last Day," written by a layman, was dissolute descendant a friend and a companion. much approved by the ministry and their The Marquis died in April, 1715. In the befriends.
ginning of the next year the young Marquis set Before the 'Queen's death, “ The Force of out upon his travels, from which he returned Religion, or Vanquished Love,” was sent into in about a twelvemonth. The beginning of the world. This poem is founded on the exe- 1717 carried him to Ireland; where, says the cution of Lady Jane Grey, and her husband, Biographia, “ on the score of his extraordinary Lord Guildford, 1554, a story chosen for the qualities, he had the honour done him of being subject of a tragedy by Edmund Smith and admitted, though under age, to take his seat wrought into a tragedy by Rowe. The dedica- in the House of Lords." tion of it to the Countess of Salisbury does not With this unhappy character, it is not unlikely appear in his own edition. He hopes it may be that Young went to Ireland. From his letter some excuse for his presumption, that the story to Richardson on “ Original Composition," it could not have been read without thoughts off is clear he was, at some period of his life, in the Countess of Salisbury, though it had been that country. “ I remember,” says he, in that dedi cated to another. “ To behold,” he pro- letter, speaking of Swift, “ as I and others ceeds, a person only virtuous, stirs in us a were taking with him an evening walk, about prud ent regret; to behold a person only amiable a mile out of Dublin, he stopped short; we to the sight, warms us with a religious indigna- passed on; but perceiving he did not follow us, tion; but to turn our eyes to a Countess of Sa- I went back and found him fixed as a statue, lisbury, gives us pleasure and improvement; it and earnestly gazing upward at a noble elm,
which in its uppermost branches was much To the patronage of such a character, had withered and decayed. Pointing at it, he said, Young studied men as much as Pope, he would . I shall be like that tree, I shall die at top.'' have known how little to have trusted. Young, Is it not probable that this visit to Ireland was however, was certainly indebted to it for somepaid when he had an opportunity of going thi. thing material ; and the Duke's regard for ther with his avowed friend and patron ? Young, added to his “ lust of praise," procured
From “ The Englishman" it appears that a to All Souls College a donation, which was not tragedy by Young was in the theatre so early as forgotten by the poet when he dedicated “ The 1713. Yet “ Busiris” was not brought upon Revenge.' Drury-lane stage till 1719. It was inscribed to It will surprise you to see me cite second Ato the Duke of Newcastle, “ because the late in- kins, Case 136, Stiles versus the Attorney Gene stances he had received of his Grace's undeserved ral, March 14, 1740, as authority for the life of and uncommon favour, in an affair of some con- a poet. But biographers do not always find sequence, foreign to the theatre, had taken from such certain guides as the oaths of the persons him the privilege of choosing a patron.” The whom they record. Chancellor Hardwicke was dedication he afterwards suppressed.
to determine whether two annuities, granted by “ Busiris" was followed in the year 1731 by the Duke of Wharton to Young, were for legal “ The Revenge." He dedicated this famous considerations. One was dated the 24th of March, tragedy to the Duke of Wharton. “ Your 1719, and accounted for his Grace's bounty in a Grace,” says the dedication, “ has been pleased style princely and commendable, if not legal to make yourself accessary to the following considering that the public good is advanced scenes, not only by suggesting the most beauti- by the encouragement of learning and the polite ful incident in them, but by making all possible arts, and being pleased therein with the attempts provision for the success of the whole.”
of Dr. Young, in consideration thereof, and of That his-Grace should bave suggested the in- the love I bear him,” &c. The other was dated cident to which he alludes, whatever that inci- the 10th of July, 1722. dent might have been, is not unlikely. The last Young, on his examination, swore that he mental exertion of the superannuated young quitted the Exeter family, and refused an an. man, in his quarters at Lerida, in Spain, was nuity of one hundred pounds, which had been some scenes of a tragedy on the story of Mary offered him for life if he would continue tutor Queen of Scots.
to Lord Burleigh, upon the pressing solicita. Dryden dedicated “ Marriage-a-la-Mode” to tions of the Duke of Wharton, and his Grace's Wharton's infamous relation Rochester, whom assurances of providing for him in a much he acknowledges not only as the defender of his more ample manner. It also appeared that the poetry, but as the promoter of his fortune. Duke had given him a bond for six hundred Young concludes his address to Wharton thus-pounds, dated the 15th of March, 1721, in con“ My present fortune is his bounty, and my fu- sideration of his taking several journeys, and ture his care, which I will venture to say will being at great expenses, in order to be chosen be always remembered to his honour, since he, member of the House of Commons, at the I know, intended his generosity as an encour- Duke's desire, and in consideration of his not agement to merit, though, through his very par- taking two livings of two hundred pounds and donable partiality to one who bears him so sin- four hundred pounds, in the gift of All Souls cere a duty and respect, I happened to receive. College, on his Grace's promises of serving and the benefit of it.” That he ever had such a pa- advancing him in the world. tron as Wharton, Young took all the pains in Of his adventures in the Exeter family I am his power to conceal from the world, by exclud- unable to give any account. The attempt to get ing this dedication from his works. He should into parliament was at Cirencester, where have remembered that he at the same time con- | Young stood a contested election. His Grace cealed his obligation to Wharton for the most discovered in him talents for oratory as well as beautiful incident in what is surely not his least for poetry: nor was this judgment wrong. beautiful composition. The passage just quoted Young, after he took orders, became a very pois, in a poem afterwards addressed to Walpole, pular preacher, and was much followed for the literally copied :
grace and animation of his delivery. By his
oratorical talents he was once in his life, accordBe this thy partial smile from censure free!
ing to the Biographia, deserted. As he wa 'Twas meant for merit, though it fell on me.
preaching in his turn at St. James's, he plainly While Young, who, in his “ Love of Fame," perceived it was out of his power to command complains grievously how often “ dedications the attention of his audience. This so affected wash an Æthiop white,” was painting an ami- the feelings of the preacher, that he sat back in able Duke of Wharton in perishable prose, Pope the pulpit and burst into tears. But we inust was, perhaps, beginning to describe the “ scorn pursue his poetical life. aud wouder of his days” in lasting verse.
In 1719 he lamented the death of Addison, in
a letter addressed to their common friend since the grateful poet tells us, in the next Tickell. For the secret bistory of the following couplet, ines, if they contain any, it is now vain to seek:
Her favour is diffused to that degree,
Excess of goodness, it has dawn'd on me.
Her Majesty bad stood godmother, and given
her name to the daughter of the lady whom From your account of Tickell it appears that Young married in 1731 ; and had perhaps shown he and Young used to “ communicate to each some attention to Lady Elizabeth's future hus.
ther whatever verses they wrote, even to the band. past things.”
The fifth Satire, “ On Women,” was not In 1719 appeared a “ Paraphrase on Part of published till 1727; and the sixth not till 1728. the Book of Job.” Parker, to whom it is dedi- To these poems, when, in 1728, he gathered cated, had not long, by means of the seals, been them into one publication, he prefixed a Preface; qualified for a patron. Of this work the Author's in which he observes, that “no man can conopinion may be known from his letter to Curll: verse much in the world, but at what he meets “ You seem, in the Collection you propose, to with he must either be insensible or grieve, or have omitted what I think may claim the first be angry or smile. Now to smile at it, and turn place in it; I mean a Translation from Part of it into ridicule,” he adds, “ I think most eliJob, printed by Mr. Tonson.” The Dedica- gible, as it hurts ourselves least, and gives vice tion, which was only suffered to appear in Mr. and folly the greatest offence. Laughing at the Tonson's edition, while it speaks with satisfac- misconduct of the world will, in a great measure, tion of his present retirement, seems to make an ease us of any more disagreeable passion about unusual struggle to escape from retirement. But it. One passion is more effectually driven out every one who sings in the dark does not sing by another than by reason, whatever some from joy. It is addressed, in no common strain teach.”. So wrote, and so of course thought, of flattery, to a chancellor, of whom he clearly the lively and witty satirist at the grave age of appears to have had no kind of knowledge. almost fifty, who, many years earlier in life,
Of his Satires it would not have been possible wrote “ The Last Day.” After all, Swift proto fix the dates without the assistance of first nounced of these Satires, that they should either editions, which, as you had occasion to observe have been more angry or more merry. in your account of Dryden, are with difficulty Is it not somewhat singular that Young prefound. We must then have referred to the served, without any palliation, this Preface, so poems, to discover when they were written. bluntly decisive in favour of laughing at the For these internal notes of time we should not world, in the same collection of his works which have referred in vain. The first Satire laments, contains the mournful, angry, gloomy, “ Night that “ Guilt's chief foe in Addison is fled." Thoughts ?” The second, addressing himself, asks
At the conclusion of the Preface he applies
Plato's beautiful fable of “ The Birth of Love" Is thy ambition sweating for a rhyrtu,
to modern poetry, with the addition “ that Thou unambitious fool, at this late time
poetry, like love, is a little subject to blindness, A fool at forty is a fool indeed
which makes her mistake her way to preferThe Satires were originally published separately ments and honours; and that she retains a dutiin folio, under the title of " The Universal Pas- ful admiration of her father's family; but dision. These passages fix the appearance of the vides her favours, and generally lives with her first to about 1725, the time at which it came mother's relations.” Poetry, it is true, did not
As Young seldom suffered his pen to dry lead Young to preferments or to honours; but after he had once dipped it in poetry, we may
was there not something like blindness in the conclude that he began his Satires soon after he flattery which he sometimes forced her and her had written the Paraphrase on Job. The last sister Prose to utter? She was always, indeed, Satire was certainly finished in the beginning of taught by him to entertain a most dutiful adthe year 1726. In December, 1725, the King, miration of riches ; but surely Young, though in his passage from Helvoetsluys, escaped with nearly related to Poetry, had no connection with great difficulty from a storm by landing at Rye; her whom Plato makes the mother of Love, and the conclusion of the Satire turns. the escape That he could not well complain of being relate into a miracle, in such an encomiastic strain of to Poverty appears clearly from the frequent compliment as poetry too often seeks to pay to bounties which his gratitude records, and from royalty.
the wealth which he left behind him. By From the sixth of these poems we learn,
- The Universal Passion” he acquired no vulgar
fortune, more than three thousand pounds. A Midst empire's charms, how Carolina's heart considerable sum had already been swallowed Glow'd with the love of virtue and of art; up in the South Sea. For this loss he took the
vengeance of an author. His muse makes in the first edition, and in the last, consists of poetical use more than once of a South Sea seventy-three stanzas, in the Auther's own edidream.
tion is reduced to forty-nine. Among the It is related by Mr. Spence in his Manu- omitted passages is a “ Wish,” that concluded script Anecdotes, on the authority of Mr. Raw- the poem, which few would have suspected linson, that Young, upon the publication of his Young of forming; and of which, few after “ Universal Passion,” received from the Duke having formed it, would confess something like of Graftun two thousand pounds, and that, their shame by suppression. when one of his friends exclaimed, “ Two It stood originally so high in the Author's thousand pounds for a poem !” he said it was opinion, that he entitled the poem, “ Ocean, an the best bargain he ever made in his life, for Ode. Concluding with a Wish.” This wish the poem was worth four thousand.
consists of thirteen stanzas. The first runs This story may be true; but it seems to have thus : been raised from the two answers of Lord Burghley and Sir Philip Sidney in Spenser's
Along the vale After inscribing his Satires, not perhaps
Of humble live secure from foes ! without the hopes of preferment and honours,
My friend sincere, to such names as the Duke of Dorset, Mr.
My judgment clear,
And gentle business my repose! Dodington, Mr. Spencer Compton, Lady Elizabeth Germaine, and Sir Robert Walpole, he
The three last stanzas are not more remarkreturns to plain panegyric. In 1726 he ad
able for just rhymes : but, altogether, they dressed a poem to Sir Robert Walpole, of which the title sufficiently explains the intention. It will make rather a curious page in the life of
Young: Young must be acknowledged a ready celebrator, he did not endeavour, or did not choose, to be a lasting one. 66 The Instalment” is among
And golden dreams, the pieces he did not admit into the number of May I, unsanguine, cast away! his excusable writings. Yet it contains a couplet
Have what I have, which pretends to pant after the power of be
And live, not leave, stowing immortality:
Enamour'd of the present day!
Ol bow I long, enkindled by the theme,
My hours my own! lo deep eternity to launch thy name.
My faults unknown!
Then leave one beain
Of honest fame! been continued, possibly increased, in this.
And scorn the labour'd monument ! Whatever it might have been, the Poet thought he deserved it; for he was not ashamed to ac
Uphurt my arn knowledge what, without his acknowledgmeat,
Till that great TURN would now perhaps never have been known :
When mighty Nature's self shall die,
Time cease to glide, My breast, o Walpole, glows with grateful fire,
With human pride, The streams of royal bounty, turn'd by thee,
Sunk in the ocean of eternity ! Refresh the dry domains of poesy.
It is whimsical, that he, who was soon to bid If the purity of modern patriotism will term adieu to rhyme, should fix upon a measure in Young a pensioner, it must at least be confessed which rhyme abounds even to satiety. Of this he was a grateful one.
he said, in his “ Essay on Lyric Poetry," preThe reign of the new monarch was ushered fixed to the poem-" For the more harmony in by Young with “ Ocean, an Ode.” The hint likewise I chose the frequent return of rhyme, of it was taken from the royal speech, which which laid me under great difficulties. But recommended the increase and the encourage difficulties overcome, give grace and pleasure. ment of the seamen; that they might be “ in-Nor can I account for the pleasure of rhyme in vited rather than compelled by force and vio- general (of which the moderns are too fond) lence, to enter into the service of their coun- but from this truth." Yet the moderns surely try;" a plan which humanity must lament that deserve not much censure for their fondness of policy has not even yet been able or willing to what, by their own confession, affords pleasure, carry into execution. Prefixed to the original and abounds in harmony. publication were an “ Ode to the King, Pater The next paragraph in his Essay did not ocPatriæ," and an “ Essay on Lyric Poetry.' cur to him when he talked of “that great turn" It is but justice to confess, that he preserved in the stanza just quoted. « But then the wri. Deither of them; and that the Ode itself, which ter must take care that the difficulty is over.
some. That is, he must make rhyme consist by the biographer of Pope, which places the ese with as perfect sense and expression, as could siness and simplicity of the Poet in a singular be expected if he was perfectly free from that light. When he determined on the church, he shackle."
did not address himself to Sherlock, to AtterAnother part of this Essay will convict the bury, or to Hare, for the best instructions in following stanza of, what every reader will dis-. theology; but to Pope, who, in a youthful frocover in it, “ involuntary burlesque.”
lic, advised the diligent perusal of Thomas
Aquinas. With this treasure Young retired The northern blast,
from interruption to an obscure place in the The shatter'd mast,
suburbs. His poetical guide to godliness hearThe syrt, the whirlpool, and the rock, The breaking spout,
ing nothing of him during half a year, and apThe stars gone out,
prehending he might have carried the jest too The boiling streight, the monster's shock. far, sought after him, and found him just in
time to prevent what Ruffhead calls “ an irreBut would the English poets fill quite so trievable derangement." many volumes, if all their productions were to That attachment to his favourite study, which be tried, like this, by an elaborate essay on each made him think a poet the surest guide to his particular species of poetry of which they exhi- new profession, left him little doubt whether bit specimens?
poetry was the surest path to its honours and If Young be not a lyric poet, he is at least a preferments. Not long indeed after he took orcritic in that sort of poetry; and, if his lyric ders, he published in prose, 1728, “ A true Espoetry can be proved bad, it was first proved so timate of Human Life,” dedicated, notwithby his own criticism. This surely is candid. standing the Latin quotations with which it
Milbourn was styled by Pope “ the fairest of abounds, to the Queen ; and a sermon preached critics," only because he exhibited his own ver-before the House of Commons, 1729, on the sion of Virgil co be compared with Dryden's martyrdom of King Charles, intituled, “ An which he condemned, and with which every Apology for Princes, or the Reverence due to reader had it not otherwise in his power to com- Government.” But the “ Second Course,” the pare it. Young was surely not the most unfair counterpart of his “ Estimate,” without which it of poets for prefixing to a lyric composition an cannot be called “ A true Estimate,” though in Essay on Lyrio Poetry, so just and impartial as 1728 it was announced as “ soon to be pubto condemn himself.
ished,” never appeared ; and his old friends the We shall soon come to a work, before which muses were not forgotten. In 1730, he relapsed we find indeed no critical essay, but which dis- to poetry, and sent into the world “ Imperium. dains to shrink from the touchstone of the se- | Pelagi: a Naval Lyric, written in Imitation of verest critic; and which certainly, as I remem- Pindar's Spirit, occasioned by his Majesty's ber to have heard you say, if it contain some of Return from Hanover, September, 1729, and, the worst, contains also some of the best things the succeeding Peace.” It is inscribed to the in the language.
Duke of Chandos. In the Preface we are told, Soon after the appearance of “ Ocean,” when that the ode is the most spirited kind of poetry, he was almost fifty, Young entered into orders. and that the Pindaric is the most spirited kind In April, 1728,* not long after he had put on of ode. “ This I speak," he adds, “ with sufthe gown, he was appointed chaplain to Georgeficient candour, at my own very great peril. the Second.
But truth has an eternal title to our confession, The tragedy of “ The Brothers," which was though we are sure to suffer by it.” Behold, already in rehearsal, he immediately withdrew again, the fairest of poets. Young's “ Imperium. from the stage. The managers resigned it with Pelagi” was ridiculed in Fielding's “ Tom some reluctance to the delicacy of the new cler-Thumb;" but, let us not forget that it was one gyman. The epilogue to “ The Brothers,” the of his pieces which the Author of the « Night only appendages to any of his three plays which Thoughts” deliberately refused to own. he added himself, is, I believe, the only one of Not long after this Pindaric attempt, he pubthe kind. He calls it an historical epilogue. lished Epistles to Pope, “ concerning the AuFinding that “ Guilt's dreadful close his nar- thors of the Age," 1730. Of these poems one row scene denied,” he, in a manner, continues occasion seems to have been an apprehension the tragedy in the epilogue, and relates how lest from the liveliness of his satires, he should Rome revenged the shade of Demetrius, and not be deemed sufficiently serious for promotiou punished Perseus “ for this night's deed.” in the church. Of Young's taking orders, something is told In July, 1730, he was presented by his Cole
lege to the rectory of Welwyn, in Hertfordshire. • Davies, in his Life of Garrick, says 1720, and In May, 1731, he married Lady Elizabeth Lee, that it was produced thirty-three years after, which | daughter of the Earl of Lichfield, and widow of corresponds with the date iu p. 284.-C.
Colonel Lee, His connection with this lady