« PreviousContinue »
translated into English, at the instance of Waller by Atwood. Wharton, after he became ennobled, did not drop the son of his old friend. In him, during the short time he lived, Young found a' patron, and in his dissolute descendant a friend and a companion. The Marquis died in April, 1715. In the beginning of the next year the young Marquis set out upon his travels, from which he returned in about a twelvemonth. The beginning of 1717 carried him to Ireland; where, says the Biographia, “on the score of “ his extraordinary qualities, he had the" honour done him of being “ admitted, though under age, to take bajs seat in the house of Lords."
With this unhappy character it is not unlikely that Young wentro Ireland. From his Letter to Richardson on “Original Composition, it is clear he was, at some period of his life, in thaç country. “I remember," says he, in that letter, speaking of Swift, “as I and others were taking with him
an evening walk, about a mile out of Dublin, he stopt short; we passed "on; but, perceiving he did not follow us, I went back, and found him “ fixed as a statue, and earnestly gazing upwards at a noble elm, which in “ its uppermost branches was much withered and decayed. Pointing at it," he said, “ I shall be like that tree, I shall die at.top." It is not probable, that this visit to Ireland was paid when he had an opportunity of going this ther with his avowed friend and patron.
From “ The Englishman” it appears that a tragedy by Young was in the theatre so early as 1713. Yet“ Busiris” was not brought upon Drury Lane Stage till 1719. It was inscribed to the Duke of Newcastle, “because the « late instances he had received of his Grace's undeserved and uncominon “ favour, in an affair of some consequence, foreign to the theatre, had taken “ from him the privilege of chusing a patron.” The dedication he afterwards suppressed.
“ Busiris” was followed in the year 1721 by “ The Revenge." He dedicated this famous tragedy to the Duke of Wharton. “ Your Grace,”
says the dedication, " has been pleased to make yourself accessary to the follow“ ing scenes, not only by suggesting the most beautiful incident in them, " but by making all possible provision for the success of the whole."
That his grace should have suggested the incident to which he alludes, whatever that incident might have been, is not unlikely. The last mental exertion of the superannuated youngman, in his quarters at Lerida, in Spain, was some scenes of a tragedy on the story of Mary Queen of Scots.
Dryden dedicated “ Marriage a la Mode" to Wharton's infamous relation Rochester ; whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his poetry, but as the promoter of his fortune. Young concludes his address to Wharton thus-"My present fortuneis his bounty, and my future his care; which “ I will venture to say will be always reinembered to his honour, since he, I know, intended his generosity as an encouragement to merit, though, through his very pardonable partiality to one who bears him so sincere a
“duty and respect, I happen to receive the benefit of it.” That he ever had such a patron as Wharton, Young took all the pains in his power to conceal from the world, by excluding this dedication from his works. He should have remembered, that he at the same time concealed his obligation to Wharton for the most beautiful incident in what is surely not his least beautiful composition. The passage just quured is, in a poem afterwards addressed to Walpole, literally copied :
Be this thy partial smile from censure free ;
L'Twas meant for merit, though it fell on me... While Young, who, in his “ Love of Fame," complains grievously how often “ dedications wash an Ethiop white;" was painting an amiable Duke of Wharton in perishable prose, Pope was, perhaps, beginning to describe the “ scorn and wonder of his days," in lasting verse.
To the patronage of such a character, had Young studied men as much as Pope, he would have known how little to have trusted. Young, however, was certainly indebted to it for something' material; and the duke's regard for Young, added to his -« Lust of Praise," procured to All Souls College a donation, which was not forgotten by the poet when he dedicated « The Revenge."
It will surprise you to see me cite second Atkins, Case 136, Stiles de sus the Attorney General, 14 March, 1740; as authority for the life of a poet, But biographers do not always find such certain guides as the oaths of the persons whom they record. Chancellor Hardwicke was to determine whether two annuities, granted by the Duke of Wharton to Young, were for legal considerations. One was dated the 24th of March, 1719, and accounted for his Grace's bounty in a style princely and commendable, if not legal“considering that the publick good is advanced by the encouragement of
learning and the polite arts, and being pleased therein with the attempts « of Dr. Young, in consideration thereof, and of the love I bear him, &c." The other was dated the roth of July, 1722.
Young, on his examination, swore that he quitted the Exeter family, and refused an annuity of 1001. which had been offered him for his life if he would continue tvior to Lord Burleigh, upon the pressing solicitations of the Duke of Wharton, and his Grace's assurances of providing for him in a much more ample manner. It also appeared that the duke had given him a bond for 6ool. dated the 15th of March, 17, 21, in consideration of his taking several journies, and being at great expences, in order to be chesea member of the House of Coinmons at the duke's desire, and in consideration of his not taking two livings of 20cl. and 400l. in the gift of All Souls College, on his Grace's promises of serving and advancing him in the world.
Of his adventures in the Exeter family I am unable to give any account. The attempt to get into parliament was at Cirencester, where Young stood a contested election. His grace discovered in him talents for oratory as well as for poetry. Nor was this judgment wrong. Young, after he took orders became a very popular preacher, and was much followed for the grace and animation of his delivery. By his oratorical talents he was once in his life, according to the Biographia, deserted. As he was preaching in his turn at at St James's, he plainly perceived it was out of his power to command the atten:ion of his audience. This so affected the feelings of the preacher, that he sat back in the pulpit, and burst into tears. But we must pursue his poetical life.
In 1719 he lamented the death of Addison, in a Letter addressed to their common friend Tickell. For the secret history of the following lines, if they contain any, it is now vain to seek :
In joy once join’d, in sorrow, now, for years~
Tickell, accept this verse, thy mournful due. From your account of Tickell it appears that he and Young used to “ communicate, to each other whatever verses they wrote, even to the least “
things.” In 1719 appeared a “Paraphrase on part of the Book of Job." Parker, to whom it is dedicated, had not long, by means of the seals, been qualified for a patron. Of this work the author's opinion may be known from his Letter to Curll: “ You seem, in the Collection you propose, to have “ oinitted what I think may claim the first place in it; I mean 'A Trans“ lation from Part of Job,' printed by Mr. Tonson." The dedication, which was only suffered to appear in Mr. Tonson's edition. while it speaks with satisfaction of his present retirement, seems to make an unusual struggle to escape from retirement. But every one who sings in the dark does not sing from joy. It is addressed, in no common strain of Hattery, to a chancellor, of whom he clearly appears to have had no kind of knowledge.
Of his Satires it would not have been iinpossible to fix the dates without the assistance of first editions, which, as you had occasion to observe in your account of Dryden, are with difficulty found. We must then have reserred to the poems, to discover when they were written. For these internal notes of time we should not have referred in vain. The first Satire laments that « Guilt's chief foe in Addison is fled.” The second, addressing himself, asks,
Is thy ambition sweating for a rhyme,
A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
The Satires were originally published seperately in folio, under the title of - The Universal Passion." These passages fix the appearance of the first to about 1725, the time at which it came out. As Young seldom suffered his pen to dry, after he had once dipped it in poetry, we may conclude that he began his Satires soon after he had written the “ Paraphrase on Job." The last Satire was certainly finished in the beginning of the year 1726. In December 1725 the king, in his passage from Helvoetsluys, escaped with great difficulty from a storm by landing at Rye; and the conclusion of the Satire turns the escape into a miracle, in such an encomiastick strain of compliment as poetry too olten seeks to pay to royalty, From the sixth of these poems we learn,
Midst empire's charms, how Carolina's heart
Glow'd with the love of virtue and of art. since the grateful poet tells us, in the next couplet,
Her favour is diffus'd to that degree,
Excess of goodness ! it has dawnod on me. Her Majesty had stood godmother and given her name to a daughter of the Lady whom Young married in 1731 ; and had perhaps shewn some attention to Lady Elizabeth's future husband.
The fifth Satire, “ On Women.” was not published till 1727 ; and the sixth not till 1728.
To these poems, when in 1728, he gathered them into one publication, he prefixed a preface ; in which he observes, that “no man can conversă “ much in the world, but, at what he meets with, he must either be insensible
or grieve, or be angry or smile. Now to smile at it, and turn it into ridi“ cule,” he adds, “ I think most eligible, as it hurts ourselves least, and “ gives vice and folly the greatest offence. Laughing at the misconduct of “ the world, will in a great measure, ease us of any more disagreeable pas“sion about it. One passion is more effectually driven out by another than
by reason, whatever some teach.” So wrote, and so of course thought, the lively and witty satirist at the grave age of almost fifty, who, many years earlier in life wrote the " Last Day.” After all, Swift pronounced of these satires, that they should either have been more angry, or more merry.
Is it noi somewhat singular that Young preserved, without any palliation this preface, 30 bluntly decisive in favour of laughing at the world, in the sarde collection of his works which contains the mournful, angry, gloomy < Night Thoughts?"
A: the conclusion of the preface he applies Plato's beautiful fable of the • Birth of Love" to mudern poety, with the addition, “ that poetry, like
G. « Love, is a little subject to blindness, which makes her mistake her way to “ preferments and honours; and that she retains a dutiful admiration of her “ father's family ; but divides her favours, '
and generally lives with her. “ mother's relations.” Poetry, it is true, did not lead Young to preferments or to honours, but was there not something like blindness in the flattery which he sometimes forced her, and her sister Prose, to utter? She was always, indeed, taught by him to entertain a most dutiful admiration of riches; but surely Young, though nearly related to Poetry, had no connexion with her whom Plato makes the mother of Love. That he could not well complain of being related to Poverty appears clearly from the frequent, bounties which his gratitude records, and from the wealth which he left behind him. By “The Universal Passion” he acquired no vulgar fortune, more than three thousand pounds. A considerable sum had already been swallowed up in the South-Sea : For this loss he took the vengeance of an author. His muse makes poetical use more than once of a South-Sea Dream.
It is related by Mr. Spence, in his Manuscript Anecdotes, on the authority of Mr. Rawlinson, that Young, upon the publication of his “ Universal “ Passion,” received from the Duke of Grafton two thousand pounds; and that, when one of his friends exclaimed, « Two thousand pounds for a
poem !” he said it was the best bargain he ever made in his life, for the poem was worth four thousand.
This story may be true ; but it seems to have been raised from the two answers of Lord Burghleigh and Sir Philip Sidney in Spencer's Lise.
After inscribing his Satires, not perhaps without the hope of preferments and honours, to such names as the Duke of Dorset, Mr. Dodirgton, Mr. Spencer Compton, Lady Elizabeth Germain, and Sir Robert Walpole, he returns to plain panegyric. In 1720, he addressed a poem to Sir Robert Walpole, of which the title sufficiently explains the intention. If Young must be acknowledged a ready celebrator, he did not endeavour, or did not choose, to be a lasting one, “ The Instalment” is among the pieces he did not admit into the number of his excuseahle writings. Yet it contains a couplet which pretends to pant after the power of bestowing immortality :
O how I long, enkindled by the theme,
In deep eternity to launch thy name ! The bounty of the former reign seems to have been continued, possibly increased, in this. Whatever it might have been, the poet thought he deserved it ; for he was not ashamed to acknowledge what, without his acacknowledgment, would now perhaps never have been known :
My breast, О Walpole, glows with grateful fire,