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obscurity of sacred horror, that oppresses distinction and disdains expression 1.
His story of Jane Grey was never popular. It is written with elegance enough, but Jane is too heroick to be pitied.
The Universal Passion3 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 5. His characters are often selected with discernment and drawn with nicety'; his illustrations are often happy and his reflections often just. His species of satire is between those of Horace and of Juvenal: he has the gaiety of Horace without his laxity of numbers, and the morality of Juvenal with greater variation of images. He plays, indeed, only on the surface of life; he never penetrates the recesses of the mind, and therefore the whole power of his poetry is exhausted by a single perusal: his conceits please only when they surprise 3.
158 To translate he never condescended, unless his Paraphrase
Ante, COWLEY, 146; MILTON, 248; JOHN PHILIPS, 7.
2 The Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love, Eng. Poets, ix. 45.
3 Love of Fame, The Universal Passion in Seven Characteristical Satires, ib. p. 69.
Dr. Warton writes in his Dedica-
'Should reason guide thee with her
And pour on misty doubt resist
67 Johnson repeated two passages
For these passages see ib. n. 2 and Satires, v. 145, v.
'Young, in the Preface to his
Universal Passion, writes:-'Horace appears in good humour while he censures. . . Juvenal is ever in a passion; he has little valuable but his eloquence and morality; the last of which I have had in my eye, but rather for emulation than imitation, through my whole work.' Eng. Poets, 1x. 73.
Swift, in 1732, says of his brothersatirists:-'Dr. Young is the gravest among us, and yet his satires have many mixtures of sharp raillery.' Works, xvii. 398. See also ib. xii. 383 for Swift's verses On Reading Dr. Young's Satire, and ib. xiv. 360 for On Two Modern Celebrated Poets, which ends:
'Then in a saw-pit and wet weather Should Young and Philips drudge together.'
'Young seems fonder of dazzling than pleasing; of raising our admiration for his wit than our dislike of the follies he ridicules.' GOLDSMITH, Works, iii. 439.
'These Satires are wearing out of fashion.' Ann. Reg. 1765, ii. 33. Ante, POPE, 75.
on Job' may be considered as a version, in which he has not, I think, been unsuccessful; he indeed favoured himself by chusing those parts which most easily admit the ornaments of English poetry.
He had least success in his lyrick attempts, in which he seems 159 to have been under some malignant influence: he is always labouring to be great, and at last is only turgid2.
In his Night Thoughts he has exhibited a very wide dis- 160 play 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 5. The wild diffusion of the sentiments and the digressive sallies of imagination would have been compressed and restrained by confinement to rhyme
No space between
Thy bosom green, O Deep! and the blue concave lies.' "The last time I saw Dr. Young he was severely censuring the false pomp of fustian writers and the nauseousness of bombast.' J. WARTON, Essay on Pope, ii. 205.
3 The Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, Nighti, is in the June list of books in Gent. Mag. 1742, p. 336, under Divinity. An extract from Night ii is given ib. Dec. 1742, p. 656. Nights i-iv are in the June list, and Night v in the Dec. list of 1743, pp. 336, 672. Night vi is in the April list and Night vii in the July list, 1744, pp. 232, 400; Night viii in the July list, 1745, p. 392, and Night ix in the Jan. list, 1746, p. 48. 'He received of Dodsley 200 guineas for the first three Nights. Swift's Works, 1803, xviii. 320 n.
'The title of my poem,' Young said, 'was not affected; for I never compose but at night, except some
times when I am on horseback.' Spence's Anec. p. 378.
Coleridge, writing of Schiller's Robbers and its imitations, continues: -'About that time, and for some years before it, three of the most popular books in the German language were the translations of Young's Night Thoughts, Hervey's Meditations and Clarissa. Biographia Literaria, ed. 1847, ii. 259.
'No English poem,' wrote Southey in 1807, 'has ever been so popular on the Continent as the Night Thoughts. It pleases all readers; for there is genius enough for the few, and folly enough for the many.' Specimens, ii. 333.
Young, I believe, is not mentioned by Voltaire, though to him was dedicated in 1730 A Sea Piece. Eng. Poets, lxii. 223.
'Danton took the Night Thoughts to prison with him.' J. G. Alger's Englishmen in the French Revolution, p. 144.
'Burns was a great reader of Young, as the Scotch indeed universally are.' T. CAMPBELL, British Poets, p. 467.
See also Dict. Nat. Biog. lxiii. 372 for his popularity abroad.
5 Ante, MILTON, 276; THOMSON, 47:
• Post, AKENSIDE, 18. Gray suffered from rhyme in a different way.
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 2.
His last poem was the Resignation 3, in which he made, as he was accustomed, an experiment of a new mode of writing, and succeeded better than in his Ocean 5 or his Merchant. It was very falsely represented as a proof of decaying faculties'. There is Young in every stanza, such as he often was in his highest vigour. 162 His Tragedies not making part of the Collection, I had forgotten, till Mr. Steevens recalled them to my thoughts by remarking, that he seemed to have one favourite catastrophe, as his three plays all concluded with lavish suicide'; a method by
'Extreme conciseness of expression,'
""Poets are not upon oath, and
Boswell's Johnson, ii. 96, v. 269. 'The power of the poem, instead of "being in the whole," lies in short, vivid and broken gleams of genius.' CAMPBELL, British Poets, p. 466.
For Wesley's amending the poem see his Journal, 1827, iii. 341.
Johnson refers to Sir William Chambers's Dissertation on Oriental Gardening, 'in which,' writes Boswell, 'we are told all odd, strange, ugly and even terrible objects are introduced for the sake of variety.' Boswell's Johnson, v. 186.
Goldsmith wrote of the Night Thoughts (Works, iii. 439):-'They are spoken of differently, either with exaggerated applause or contempt, as the reader's disposition is either turned to mirth or melancholy.'
"The fault of Young in his Night Thoughts," said Gray, was redun
Works, ii. 217.
5 Eng. Poets, lx. 187. Post, YOUNG, 165. ''That taper which blazed as it declined was at last shamefully exhibited to the public as burning in the socket in Resignation.' Ann. Reg. 1765, ii. 35.
George Steevens, who 'republished Johnson's Shakespeare.' Boswell's Johnson, ii. 204.
9 Young is said to have been 'the great poet and ode-maker,' humorously described by Pope, who had never heard of the blade-bone in a
which, as Dryden remarked, a poet easily rids his scene of persons whom he wants not to keep alive. In Busiris there are the greatest ebullitions of imagination; but the pride of Busiris is such as no other man can have, and the whole is too remote from known life to raise either grief, terror, or indignation 2. The Revenge approaches much nearer to human practices and manners, and therefore keeps possession of the stage3; the first design seems suggested by Othello, but the reflections, the incidents, and the diction are original. 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 Publick". It must be allowed of Young's poetry that it abounds in 163
shoulder of mutton. And yet this man, so ignorant in modern butchery, has cut up half a hundred heroes, and quartered five or six miserable lovers in every tragedy he has written.' Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), x. 261.
''The dagger and the cup of poison are always in a readiness.' Dryden's Works, vi. 410.
Suicide is always to be had without expense of thought.' Post, GRAY, 47.
It was published in 1719. 'It appeared with success at Drury Lane.' Biog. Dram. ii. 72.
Pope (Imit. Hor., Epis. i. 6. 87) says of Timon:'Or if three ladies like a luckless play,
Takes the whole house upon a poet's day.'
'The play,' writes Warton, 'was once said to be Busiris.' Warton's
finds its origin in a story in The Guardian, No. 37.
5 Wedderburne 'in a scurrilous invective against Dr. Franklin' quoted The Revenge:-'Amidst these tranquil events here is a man who, with the utmost insensibility of remorse, stands up and avows himself the author of all. I can compare him only to Zanga :—
"Know then 'twas II forged the letter-I disposed the picture
I hated-I despised-and I destroy."
I ask, my Lords, whether the re-
It is in the March list of books
in Gent. Mag. 1753, p. 150, price Is. 6d. See also ib. p. 135.
I have seen Young's receipt to Dodsley, dated March 7, 1753, for £147 for the copyright.
7 Horace Walpole wrote of 'theatric genius' (Works, 1798, i. 129) :—' It turned to tuneful nonsense in The Mourning Bride, grew stark mad in Lee; whose cloak, a little the worse for wear, fell on Young; yet in both was still a poet's cloak. It recovered its senses in Hughes and Fenton, who were afraid it should relapse, and accordingly kept it down with a timid but amiable hand-and then it languished.'
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, having it 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 3.'
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