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principles have poisoned my friend, my extravagance has beggared my boy, my unkindness 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 written 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," addressed to Richardson, the author of "Clarissa," appeared in 1759. Though he despair" of breaking through the frozen obstructions of age and care's incumbent cloud, into that flow of thought and brightness of expression which subjects so polite require;" yet is it more like the production of untamed, unbridled youth, than of jaded fourscore. Some sevenfold volumes put him in mind of Ovid's sevenfold channels of the Nile at the conflagretion:
Pulverulenta vocant, septem sine flumine valles.
Such leaden labours are like Lycurgus's iron money, which are so much less in value than in bulk, that it required 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 ancients. But an inventive genius may safely stay at home; that, like the widow's cruise, is divinely replenished from within, and affords us a miraculous delight. He asks why it should seem altogether impossible, that Heaven's latest editions of the human mind may be the most correct and fair? and Jonson, he tells us, was very learned, as Samson was very strong, to his own hurt. Blind to the nature of tragedy, he pulled down all antiquity on his head, and buried himself under it.
Is this "care's incumbent cloud," or "the frozen obstructions of age?"
In this Letter Pope is severely censured for hi's "fall from Homer's numbers, free as air, lofty and harmonious as the spheres, into childish shackles and tinkling sounds; for putting Achilles into 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 deathbed of Addison, might probably, at the close of his own life, afford no unuseful lesson for the deaths of others.
In the postscript, 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 sent, but 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,
"La Trappe, the 27th of Oct. 1761, "DEAR SIR,
"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 among those of your own papers that may possibly see the light by a posthumous publication. God send us health while we stay, and an easy journey!
My dear Dr. Young,
Notwithstanding Young had said, in his "Conjectures on original Composition," that "blank verse is verse unfallen, uncurst; verse reclaimed, re-enthroned in the true language of the gods:" notwithstanding he administered consolation to his own grief in this immortal anguage, Mrs. Boscawen was comforted in rhyme.
While the poet and the Christian were applying this comfort, Young had himself occasion for comfort, in consequence of the sudden death of Richardson, who was printing the former part of the poem Of Richardson's death he
When Heaven would kindly set us free,
And earth's enchantment end; It takes the most effectual means,
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 unusual anxiety that no more productions of his old age should disgrace his former fame. In his will dated February 1760, he desires of his executors, in a particular manner, that all his manuscript books 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 1000l. "that all his manuscripts might be destroyed as soon as he was dead, which would greatly oblige her deceased friend."
It may 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 Templegate." 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 a 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 Baker, 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 toll 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 shown in its proper place to the living, I should have had
less to say about Lorenzo. They who lament At last, at the age of fourscore, he was ap that these misfortunes happened to Young, for-pointed, in 1761, clerk of the closet to the Pringet the praise he bestows upon Socrates, in the cess Dowager. 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.
In his seventh satire he says,
When, after battle, I the field have SEEN
Spread o'er with ghastly shapes which once were
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 poet, and not a spy.
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 his 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 with many.
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 same verse which contains "oblitus meorum," contains also "obliviscendus et illis.” The brittle chain of worldly friendship and patronage is broken as effectually, when one goes beyond the length of it, as when the other does. To the vessel which is sailing from the shore, it only appears that the shore also recedes ; in life it is truly thus. He who retires from the world will find himself, in reality, deserted as fast, if not faster, by the world. The public is not to be treated as the coxcomb treats his mistress; to be threatened with desertion, in order to in. crease fondness.
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 his 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 lighted his surly satisfaction with his tub. thrown on this inquiry, by the following letter from Secker, only serves to show 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 long wondered, that more suitable notice of your great merit hath not been taken by persons, in power: but how to remedy the omission 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 I 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."
Young seems to have been taken at his word. Notwithstanding his frequent complaints of being neglected, no hand was reached out to pull him from that retirement of which he declared himself enamoured. Alexander assigned no palace for the residence of Diogenes, who boast
Of the domestic manners and petty habits of the Author of the " Night Thoughts," I hoped to have given you an account from the best authority: but who shall dare to say, To-morrow I will be wise or virtuous, or to-morrow I will do a particular thing? Upon inquiring for his housekeeper, I learned that she was buried two days before I reached the town of her abode.
In a letter from Tscharner, a noble foreigner, to Count Haller, Tscharner says, he has lately spent four days with Young at Welwyn, where the Author takes all the ease and pleasure mankind can desire. "Every thing about him shows the man, each individual being placed by rule. All is neat without art. He is very pleasant in conversation, and extremely polite.'
This, and more, may possibly be true; but Tscharner's was a first visit, a visit of curiosity and admiration, and a visit which the Author expected.
Of Edward Young an anecdote which wanders among readers is not true, that he was
Fielding's Parson Adams. The original of that famous painting was William Young, who was clergyman. He supported an uncomfortable existence by translating for the booksellers from Greek; and, if he did not seem to be his own friend, was at least no man's enemy. Yet the facility with which this report has gained belief in the world argues, were it not sufficiently known, that the Author of the "Night Thoughts" bore some resemblance to Adams.
The attention which Young bestowed upon the perusal of books is not unworthy imitation. When any passage pleased him, he appears to have folded down the leaf. On these passages he bestowed a second reading. But the labours of man are too frequently vain. Before he returned to much of what he had once approved, he died. Many of his books, which I have seen, are by those notes of approbation so swelled beyond their real bulk, that they will hardly shut. What though we wade in wealth or soar in fame! Earth's highest station ends in Here he lies! And dust to dust concludes her noblest song
for your sake, I did for the sake of myself and of the world. But this postscript you will not see before the printing of it; and I will say here, in spite of you, how I feel myself honoured and bettered by your friendship: and that, if I do credit to the church, after which I always longed, and for which I am now going to give in exchange the bar, though not at so late a period of life as Young took orders, it will be owing, in no small measure, to my having had the happiness of calling the Author of "The Rambler" my friend. H. C.
Oxford, Oct. 1782.
Or Young's poems it is difficult to give any general character; for he has no uniformity of manner; one of his pieces has no great resem blance to another. He began to write early, and continued long; and at different times had different modes of poetical excellence in view. His numbers are sometimes smooth, and sometimes rugged; his style is sometimes concatenated, and sometimes abrupt; sometimes dif
The Author of these lines is not without his fusive, and sometimes concise. His plan seems Hic jacet.
By the good sense of his son, it contains none of that praise which no marble can make the bad or the foolish merit; which, without the direction of a stone or a turf, will find its way, sooner or later, to the deserving.
M. S. Optimi Parentis EDVARDI YOUNG, LL.D Hujus Ecclesiæ rect.
Conjugis ejus amantissimæ,
Is it not strange that the Author of the "Night Thoughts" has inscribed no monument to the memory of his lamented wife? Yet, what marble will endure as long as the poems?
Such, my good friend, is the account which I have been able to collect of the great Young. That it may be long before any thing like what I have just transcribed be necessary for you, is the sincere wish of,
Lincoln's Inn, Sept. 1780.
P. S. This account of Young was seen by you in manuscript, you know, Sir; and, though I could not prevail on you to make any alteration, you insisted on striking out one passage, because it said, that, if I did not wish you to live long
to have started in his mind at the present moment; and his thoughts appear the effect of chance, sometimes adverse, and sometimes lucky, with very little operation of judgment.
He was not one of those writers whom experience improves, and who, observing their own faults, become gradually correct. His poem on the "Last Day," his first great performance, has an equability and propriety, which he afterwards either never endeavoured or never attained. Many paragraphs are noble, and few are mean, yet the whole is languid; the plan is too much extended, and a succession of images divides and weakens the general conception; but the great reason why the reader is disappointed is, that the thought of the LAST DAY makes every man more than poetical, by spreading over his mind a general obscurity of sacred horror, that oppresses distinction, and disdains expression.
His story of " Jane Grey" was never popular. It is written with elegance enough; but Jane is too heroic to be pitied.
The Universal Passion" is indeed a very great performance. It is said to be a series of epigrams; but if it be, it is what the Author intended his endeavour was at the production of striking distichs and pointed sentences; and his distichs have the weight of solid sentiment, and his points the sharpness of resistless truth.
His characters are often selected with discernment, and drawn with nicety; his illustrations were often happy, and his reflections often just. His species of satire is between those of Horace and Juvenal; and he has the gayety of Horace without his laxity of numbers, and the moralit of Juvenal with greater variation of images
The moral observations are so introduced, and so expressed, as to have all the novelty that can be required. Of "The Brothers" I may be allowed to say nothing, since nothing was ever said of it by the public.
He plays, indeed, only on the surface of life; | original.
To translate he never condescended, unless his "Paraphrase on Job" may be considered as a version in which he has not, I think, been unsuccessful; he indeed favoured himself, by choosing those parts which most easily admit the ornaments of English poetry.
He had least success in his lyric attempts, in which he seems to have been under some malignant influence: he is always labouring to be great, and at last is only turgid.
In his "Night Thoughts" he has exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and striking allusions, a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhyme but with disadvantage. The wild diffusion of the sentiments, and the digressive sallies of imagination, would have been compressed and restrained by confinement to rhyme. The excellence of this work is not exactness, but copiousness; particular lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whole; and in the whole there is a magnificence like that ascribed to Chinese plantation, the magnificence of vast extent and endless diversity.
His last poem was "Resignation;" in which he made, as he was accustomed, an experiment of a new mode of writing, and succeeded better than in his " Ocean" or his "Merchant.' was very falsely represented as a proof of decayed faculties. There is Young in every stanza, such as he often was in the highest vigour.
It must be allowed of Young's poetry that it abounds in thought, but without much accuracy or selection. When he lays hold of an illustration, he pursues it beyond expectation, sometimes happily, as in his parallel of Quicksilver with Pleasure, which I have heard repeated with approbation by a lady, of whose praise he would have been justly proud, and which is very ingenious, very subtle, and almost exact; but sometimes he is less lucky, as when, in his "Night Thoughts," it having dropped into his mind, that the orbs, floating in space, might be called the cluster of creation, he thinks on a cluster of grapes, and says, that they all hang on the great vine, drinking the "nectareous juice of immortal life."
His conceits are sometimes yet less valuable. In "The Last Day" he hopes to illustrate the re-assembly of the atoms that compose the human body at the "Trump of Doom" by the collection of bees into a swarm at the tinkling of a pan.
The prophet says of Tyre, that "her merchants are princes." Young says of Tyre in his "Merchant,"
Her merchants princes, and each deck a throne.
Let burlesque try to go beyond him.
He has the trick of joining the turgid and familiar: to buy the alliance of Britain," Climes were paid down." Antithesis is his favourite. "They for kindness hate:" and "because she's right she's ever in the wrong."
His versification is his own; neither his His tragedies, not making part of the Collec- blank nor his rhyming lines have any resemtion, I had forgotten, till Mr. Stevens recalled blance to those of former writers; he picks up them to my thoughts by remarking, that he no hemistichs, he copies no favourite expresseemed to have one favourite catastrophe, as hissions; he seems to have laid up no stores of three plays all concluded with lavish suicide; thought or diction, but to owe all to the fortuia method by which, as Dryden remarked, a tous suggestions of the present moment. Yet poet easily rids his scene of persons whom he I have reason to believe that, when once he had wants not to keep alive. In "Busiris" there formed a new design, he then laboured it with are the greatest ebullitions of imagination: but very patient industy; and that he composed the pride of Busiris is such as no other man with great labour and frequent revisions. can have, and the whole is too remote from known life to raise either grief, terror, or indignation. The "Revenge" approaches much nearer to human practices and manners, and therefore keeps possession of the stage; the first design seems suggested by "Othello;" but the reflections, the incidents, and the diction, are
His verses are formed by no certain model; he is no more like himself in his different productions than he is like others. He seems never to have studied prosody, nor to have had any direction but from his own ear. But with all his defects, he was a man of genius and a poet.