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The Life of Dr. Edward Young.
Dr. Young's father, whose name was also Ed- the witty and profligate Duke of Wharton,* and ward, was Fellow of Winchester College, Rector his gay companions, by whom his finances might of Upham in Hampshire, and in the latter part of be improved, but not his morals. This is the pehis life, Dean of Sarum; chaplain to William and riod at which Pope is said to have told Warburton, Mary, and afterwards to queen Ann. Jacob tells our young author had “much genius without comus that the latter, when Princess Royal, did him mon sense:” and it should seem likewise that he the honour to stand godmother to our poet; and possessed a zeal for religion with little of its practhat, upon her ascending the throne, he was ap- tical influence; for, with all his gaiety and ambipointed Clerk of the Closet to her Majesty. tion, he was an advocate for Revelation and Chris
It does not appear that this gentleman distin- tianity. Thus when Tindel, the atheistical philoguished himself in the Republic of Letters, other- sopher, used to spend much of his time at All wise than by a Latin Visitation Sermon, preached Souls, he complained: “ The other boys I can alin 1686, and by two volumes of Sermons, printed ways answer, because I know whence they have in 1702, and which he dedicated to Lord Bradford, their arguments, which I have read an hundred through whose interest he probably received some times; but that fellow Young is continually pesof his promotions. The Dean died at Sarum in tering me with something of his own.” 1705, aged 63; after a very short illness, as appears This apparent inconsistency is rendered the by the exordium of Bishop Burnet's sermon at the more striking from the different kinds of composiCathedral on the following Sunday. “ Death (said tion in which, at this period, he was engaged: viz. he) has been of late walking round us, and making a political panegyric on the new Lord Lansdowne, breach upon us, and has now carried away the and a sacred Poem on the Last Day, which was head of this body with a stroke; so that he, whom written in 1710, but not published till 1713. It you saw a week ago distributing the holy myste- was dedicated to the Queen, and acknowledges an ries, is now laid in the dust. But he still lives in obligation, which has been differently understood, the many excellent directions he has left us, both either as referring to her having been his godmohow to live and how to die."
ther, or his patron; for it is inferred from a couplet Our author, who was an only son, was born at of Swift's, that Young was a pensioned advocate his father's rectory, in 1681, and received the first of government: part of his education (as his father had formerly done) at Winchester College; from whence, in his
"Whence Gay was banished in disgrace,
Where Pope will never show his face, nineteenth year, he was placed on the foundation
- must torture his invention, of New College, Oxford; whence again, on the To flatter knaves, or lose his pension." death of the Warden in the same year, he was removed to Corpus Christi. In 1708, Archbishop This, however, might be mere report, at this peTennison nominated him to a law fellowship at riod, since Swift was not over-nice in his authoriAll Souls, where, in 1744, he took the degree of ties, and nothing is more common than to suppose Bachelor of Civil Law, and five years afterward the advocate, and the flatterer of the great, an hirethat of Doctor.
ling. Flattery seems indeed to have been our poBetween the acquisition of these academic hon-et's besetting sin through life; but if interest was ours, Young was appointed to speak the Latin his object, he must have been frequently disappointOration on the foundation of the Codrington Li.ed; and to those disappointments we probably owo brary; which he afterwards printed, with a dedi- some of his best reflections on human life. cation to the ladies of that family, in English. Of his Last Day, (his first considerable perform
In this part of his life, our author is said not ance) Dr. Johnson observes, that it “ has an equato have been that ornament to virtue and religion bility and propriety which he afterwards either which he afterwards became. This is easy to be accounted for. He had been released from parental
• At the instigation of this peer he was once candidate for authority by his father's death; and his genius and
a seat in Parliament, but without success, and the expencar conversation had introduced him to the notice of were paid by Wharton.
never endeavoured for, or never attained. Many connexion with the Duke of Wharton, who went paragraphs are noble, and few are mean; yet the thither in 1717. But he can not have long rewhole is languid: the plan is too much extended, mained there, as in 1719, he brought out his first and a succession of images divides and weakens tragedy of Busiris, at Drury Lane, and dedicated the general conception. But the great reason why it to the Duke of Newcastle. This tragedy had the reader is disappointed is, that the thought of been written some years, though now first performThe Last Day makes every man more than poeti-ed; for it is to our author's credit, that many of cal, by spreading over his mind a general obscurity his works were laid by him a considerable time beof sacred horror, that oppresses distinction and fore they were offered to the public. Our great disdains expression.” The subject is indeed truly dramatic critic pronounces this piece “too far reawful, and was peculiarly affecting to this cele- moved from known life," to affect the passions. brated critic, who never could, without trembling, His next performance was The Revenge, the meditate upon death, or the eternal world. The the dramatic character of which is sufficiently aspoet's theological system, moreover, was not, at certained by its still keeping possession of the stage. least when he wrote this, the most consistent and The hint of this is supposed to have been taken evangelical: I mean he had not those views of the from Othello; " but the reflections, the incidents, Christian atonement, and of pardoning grace, which and the diction, are original.” The success of this give such a glory to his Night Thoughts, and induced him to attempt another tragedy, which would much more have illumined this composition. was written in 1721, but not brought upon the All the preparation he seems to have there in view, stage for thirty years afterwards; and then withis
out success, as we shall have farther occasion to By tears and groans, and never-ceasing care, observe. It has been remarked, that all his plays "And all the pious violence of prayer,"
conclude with suicide,* and I much fear the freto fit himself for the Tribunal. Moreover, the quent introduction of this unnatural crime upon project of future misery is too awful for poetic en- the stage, has contributed greatly to its commission. largement, and makes the piece too terrible to be We have passed over our Author's Paraphrase read with pleasure; while the attempt to particu- on Part of the Book of Job, in order to bring his larize the solemnities of judgment, lowers their dramatic performances together. The Paraphrase sublimity, and makes some parts of the description, has been well received, and has often been printas Dr. Johnson has observed, appear mean, and ed with his Night Thoughts. This would be adeven bordering on burlesque. This poem, how- mired, perhaps, as much as any of his works, could ever, was well received upon the whole, and the we forget the original; but there is such a dignifibetter for being written by a layman, and it was ed simplicity even in our prose translation of the commended by the ministry and their party, be- poetic parts of scripture, that we can seldom bear cause the dedication flattered their mistress and to see them reduced to rhyme, or modern measures. her government-far too much, indeed, for the na- His next, and one of his best performances, is ture of the subject.
entitled The Love of Fame the Universal Passion, Dr. Young's next poem was entitled, the Force in seven characteristic Satires, originally publishof Religion, and founded on the deaths of Lady ed separately, between the years 1725 and 1728. Jane Grey and her husband. “It is written with This, according to Dr. Johnson, is a “very great elegance enough,” according to Dr. Johnson; but performance. It is said to be a series of epigrams, was "never popular:” for “ Jane is too heroic to be and if it be, it is what the author intended : his pitied.” The dedication of this piece to the count- endeavour was at the production of striking disess of Salisbury was also inexcusably fulsome, tichs, and pointed sentences; and his distichs have and, I think, profane. Indeed, the author himself the weight of solid sentiment, and his points the seems afterwards to have thought so; for when he sharpness of resistless truth. His characters are collected his smaller picces into volumes, he very often selected with discernment, and drawn with judiciously suppressed this and most of his other nicety; his illustrations are often happy, and his dedications.
reflections often just. His species of Satire is beIn some part of his life, Young certainly went tween those of Horace and Juvenal: he has the to Ireland,* and was there acquainted with the ec- gaiety of Horace without his laxity of numbers; centrical Dean Swist; and his biographers seem and the morality of Juvenal, with greater variety agreed, that this was, most probably, during his of images.” Swift, indeed, has pronounced of
these Satires, that they should have been either • From his seventh Satire it appears also, that he was once “ more merry, or more severe:" in that case, they abroad, probably about this time, and saw a field of battle covered with the slain; and it is affirmed that once, with a clas- Our author seems early to have been enamoured with the sic in his hand, he wandered into the enemy's encampment, Tragic Muse, and with the charms of melancholy. Dr. Rid. and had some difficulty to convince them, that he was only an ley relates, that, when at Oxford, he would sometimes shut up absent poet, and not a spy.
his room, and study by a lamp at mid-day
might probably have caught the popular taste more; as his visiter was a man of rank, his patron, and but this does not prove that they would have been his friend ; and as persuasion had no effect on him, better, The opinion of the Duke of Grafton, they took him, one by the right hand, and the other however, was of more worth than all the opinions by the left, and led him to the garden-gate. He of the wits, if it be true as related by Mr. Spence, then laid his hand upon his heart, and in the exthat his grace presented the author with two thou- pressive manner, for which he was so remarkable, sand pounds.“ Two thousand pounds for a po- uttered the following lines: em!" said one of the Duke's friends: to whom his “Thus Adam look'd when from the garden driven, grace replied, that he had made an excellent bar- And thus disputed orders sent from leav'n; gain, for he thought it worth four.
Like him I go, but yet to go am loth:
Like hinn I go, for angels drove us both. On the accession of George I., Young flattered
Hard was his fate, but mine still more unkind: him with an Ode, called Ocean, to which was pre- His Eve went with him, but inine stays behind." fixed an introductory Ode to the King, and an es
Another striking instance of his wit is related say on Lyric Poetry: of these the most observa- in reference to Voltaire: who, while in England, ble thing is, that the poet and the critic could not (probably at Mr. Doddington's seat in Dorsetshire,) agree: for the Rules of the Essay condemned the ridiculed, with some severity, Milton's allegorical Poetry, and the Poetry set at defiance the maxims
personages, Sin and Death ; on which Young, of the Essay. The biographer of British Poets who was one of the company, immediately adhas truly said, " he had least success in his lyric dressed him in the following extemporaneous disattempts, in which he seeins to have been under tich : some malignant influence: he is always labouring
" Thou art so witty, profligate, and thin, to be great, and at last is only turgid.”
Thou scem'st a Milion, with his Death and Sin." We now leave awhile the works of our author,
Soon after his marriage, our author again in. to contemplate the conduct of the man. About Julged his poetical vein in two vdes, called The this tirne his studies took a more serious turn; and, Sea Peace, with a poetical Dedication to Voltaire forsaking the law, which he had never practised, in which the above incident seems alluded to in wben he was almost fifty, he entered into orders, these lines, and was, in 1728, appointed Chaplain to the King.
"On Dorset downs, when Milton's page One of Pope's biographers relates, that, on this With Sin and Death provok'd thy rage." occasion Young applied to his brother poet for di
In 1731 he printed an Argument for Peace, rection in his studies, who jocosely recommended which afterward, with several of his smaller pieces, Thomas Aquinas, which the former taking seri- and most of his dedications, was consigned by his ously, he retired to the suburbs with the angelic own hand to merited oblivion : in which circumdoctor, till his friend discovered him, and brought stance he deserves both the thanks and imitation him back.
of posterity. His Vindication of Providence, and Estimate
About the year 1741 he had the unhappiness to of Human Life, were published in this year; they lose his wife; her daughter by Colonel Lee, and have gone through several editions, and are gene- this daughter's husband, Mr. Temple. What afrally regarded as the best of his prose compositions: fiiction he felt for their loss, may be seen in his but the plan of the latter never was completed. Night Thoughts, written on this occasion. They The following year he printed a very loyal sermon are addressed to Lorenzo, a man of pleasure, and on King Charles' Martyrdoin, entitled, An Apo- of the world; and who, it is generally supposed, logy for Princes. In 1730, he was presented by was his own son, then labouring under his father's his college to the rectory of Welwyn, in Ilertford- displeasure. His son-in-law is said to be characshire, worth about 3001. a year, beside the lordship terized by Philander, and his lady's daughter was of the manor annexed to it. This year he relaps- certainly the person he speaks of under the appeled again to poetry, and published a loyal Naval lation of Narcissa.—(See Night III.) In her last Ode, and Two Epistles to Pope, of which nothing illness, which was a consumption, he accompaniparticular need be said.
ed her to Montpellier, or, as Mr. Croft says, to He was married, in 1731, to Lady Elizabeth Lyons, in the south of France, at which place she Lee, widow of Colonel Lee, and daughter to the died soon after her arrival. Earl of Litchfield; and it was not long before she
Being regarded as an heretic, she was denied brought him a son and heir.
christian burial, and her afllicted father was obliged Sometime before his marriage, the Doctor walk- to steal a grave, and inter her privately with his ing in his garden at Welwyn, with his lady and own hands; * (See Night III.) In this celebrated another, a servant came to tell him a gentleman poem he thus addresses Death: wished to speak to him. “ Tell him," said the Doctor, “ I am too happily engaged to change my * I take the liberty of inserting here a passage from a letter situation.” The ladies insisted that he should go, written by Mr. W. Taylor, from Montpellier, to his sister,
" Insatiate archer! could no one susfice ?
Night Thoughts was written; for Night Seventh Thy shaft flew thrice, and thrice my peace was slain;
is dated, in the original edition, July 1744. And thrice, ere thrice yor moon had filled her horn."
For the literary merits of this work we shall These lines have been universally understood again refer to the criticism of Dr. Johnson, which of the above deaths; but this supposition can no is seldom exceptionable, when he is not warped by way be reconciled with Mr. Croit's dates, who political prejudices. “In his Night Thoughts," says, Mrs. Temple died in 1736, Mr. Temple in says the Doctor, speaking of our author," he has 1710, and Lady Young in 1741. Which quite in- exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, verts the order of the poet, who makes Narcissa's variegated with deep reflections and striking alludeath follow Philander's:
sions; a wilderness of thought, in which the fer"Narcissa follows e'er his tomb is closed."
tility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue, and Night II.
of every odour. This is one of the few poems in There is no possible way to reconcile these con- which blank verse could not be changed for rhyme, tradictions: either we must reject Mr. Croft's but with disadvantage. The wild diffusion of the dates, for which he gives us no authority, or we sentiments and the digressive sallies of imaginamust suppose the characters and incidents, if not tion, would have been compressed and restrained entirely fictitious, as the author assures us that by confinement to rhyme. The excellence of this they are not, were accommodated by poetic licence work is not exactness, but copiousness: particular to his purpose.
As to the character of Lorenzo, lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whether taken from real life, or moulded purely in whole; and in the whole there is a magnificence the author's imagination, Mr. Croft has sufficiently like that ascribed to Chinese plantations, the magproved that it could not intend his son, who was nificence of vast extent and endless diversity." but eight years old when the greater part of the So far Dr. Johnson.—Mr. Croft says, “Of
these poems the two or three first have been perused Mrs. Mouncher, in the preceding year 1799, which may be more eagerly and more frequently than the rest. considered as curious, and will be interesting and affecting to When he got as far as the fourth or fifth, his orithe admirers of Dr. Young and his Narcisa:
ginal motive for taking up the pen was answered: "I know you, as well as myself, are not a little partial to his grief was naturally either diminished or exDr. Young. Had you been with me in a solitary walk the other day, you would have shed a tear over the remains of his hausted. We still find the same pious poet; but dear Narcissa. I was walking in a place called the King's we hear less of Philander and Narcissa, and less Garden; and there I saw the spot where she was interred. of the mourner whom he loved to pity.” Mr. Mrs. II and mysell, had some conversation
Notwithstanding one might be tempted, from with the gardener respecting it; who told us, that about 43 years ago, Dr. Yoning was here with his daughter for her some passages in the Night Thoughts, to suppose health; that he used constantly to be walking backward and he had taken his leave of terrestrial things, in the forward in this garden (no doubt as he saw her gradually de alarming year 1745, he could not refrain from reclining, to find the most solitary spot, where he might show turning again to politics, but wrote Poetical Rehis last token of affection, by leaving her remains as secure fections on the State of the Kingdom, originally as possible from those savages, who would have denied her a christian burial: for at that time, an Englishman in this appended to the Night Thoughts, but never recountry was looked upon as an heretic, infidel, and devil
. printed with them. They begin now to verge from their bigotry, and allow them In 1733, his tragedy of The Brothers, written at least to be men, though not christians, I believe;) and that thirty years before, now first appeared upon the he bribed the under gardener, belonging to his father, to let stage. It had been in rehearsal when Young took him bury his daughter, which he did; pointed out the most solitary place, and dug the grave. The man, through a pri orders, and was withdrawn on that occasion. The vate door, admitted the Doctor at midnight, bringing his be- Rector of Welwyn devoted 10001. to “ The Soloved daughter, wrapped up in a sheet, upon his shoulder: he ciety for the propagation of the Gospel," and estilaid her in the hole, su down, and (as the man expressed il) mating the probable produce of this play at such a "rained tears!'"With pious sacrilege a grave I stole.' The man who was thus bribed is dead, but the master is still living sum, he perhaps thought the occasion might sanctiBefore the man died, they were one day going to dig, and see fy the means; and not thinking so unfavourably some flowers, &c. in his spot where she was buried. The of the stage as other good men have done, he comman said to his master, Don't dig there ; for, so many years mitted the monstrous absurdity of giving a play for ago, I buried an English lady there. The master was much the propagation of the gospel! The author was, surprised; and as Doctor Young's book had made much noise (as is often the case with authors) deceived in his in France, it led him to inquire into the matter: and only two years ago it was known for a certainty that that was the place, calculation. The Brothers was never a favourite and in this way: There was an English nobleman here, who with the public: but that the society might not was acquainted with the governor of this place; and wishing sufler, the doctor made up the deficiency from his to ascertain the fact, he obtained permission to dig up ground, where he found somne bones, which were examined
own pocket. by a surgeon, and pronounced to be the remains of a human - The Centaur not fabulous ; in Six letters to a
His next was a prose performance, entitled, body: this, therefore, puts the authenticity of it beyond a doubt." See Evan. Mag. for 1797, p. 444.
Friend on the Life in Vogue.” The third of these
letters describes the death-bed of “the gay, young, April 12, 1765, and was buried, according to his noble, ingenious, accomplished, and most wretched desire, by the side of his lady, under the altar-piece Altamont," whom report supposed to be Lord of that church, which is said to be ornamented in Euston. But whether Altamont or Lorenzo were a singular manner with an elegant piece of needlereal or fictitious characters, it is certain the author work by Lady Young, and some appropriate incould be at no loss for models for them among the scriptions, painted by the direction of the doctor. gay nobility, with whom he was acquainted. His best monument is to be found in his works;
In 1759, appeared his lively “Conjectures on but a less durable one in marble was erected by Original Composition;" which, according to Mr. his only son and heir, with a very modest and sen
more like the production of untam. sible inscription. This son, Mr. Frederick Young, ed, unbridled youth, than of jaded fourscore." This had the first part of his education at Winchester letter contains the pleasing account of the death school, and becoming a scholar upon the foundaof Addison, and his dying address to Lord War- tion, was sent, in consequence thereof, to New Colwick,—“See how a Christian can die!" lege, in Oxford; but there being no vacancy (though
In 1762, but little before his death, Young pub- the society waited for one no less than two years) lished his last, and one of his least esteemed poems, he was admitted in the mean time in Baliol, where Resignation," which was written on the follow- he behaved so imprudently as to be forbidden the ing occasion :-Observing that Mrs. Boscawen, in college.* This misconduct disobliged his father so the midst of her grief for the loss of the admiral, much, that it is said he would never see him afterderived consolation from a perusal of the Night wards: however, by his will he bequeathed to him Thoughts
, her friend Mrs. Montague, proposed a the bulk of his fortune, which was considerable, revisit to the author, by whom they were favourably serving only a legacy to his friend Stevens, the hatreceived; and were pleased to confess that his “ un- ter at Temple-gate, and 10001. to his house-keeper, bounded genius appeared to greater advantage in with his dying charge to see all his manuscripts dethe companion than even in the author; that the stroyed; which may have been some loss to posChristian was in him a character still more inspir- terity, though none, perhaps, to his own fame. ed, more enraptured, more sublime than the poet, Dr. Young, as a christian and divine, has been and that in his ordinary conversation,
reckoned an example of primeval piety. He was " Leuing down the golden chain from high, an able orator, but it is not known whether he He drew his audience upward to the sky." composed many sermons, and it is certain that he On this occasion, at the request of these ladies, published very few. The following incident does the author produced his Resignation, above-men- honour to his feelings: when preaching in his turn tioned, and which has been so unmercifully treated one Sunday at St. James's, finding he could not by the critics, but it has, in some measure, been gain the attention of his audience, his pity for rescued from their hands by Dr. Johnson, who their folly got the better of all decorum; he sat says, “ It was falsely represented as a proof of de- back in the pulpit, and burst into a flood of tears. Cayed faculties. There is Young in every stanza, His turn of mind was naturally solemn; and he such as he often was in his highest vigour." usually when at home in the country, spent many
We now approach the closing scene of our au- hours walking among the tombs in his own church thor's life of which, unhappily, we have few par- yard. His conversation, as well as writings, had ticulars. For three or four years before his death, all a reference to a future life; and this turn of he appears to have been incapacitated, by the in- mind mixed itself even with his improvements in firmities of age for public duty; yet he perfectly en- gardening; he had, for instance, an alcove, with a joyed his intellects to the last, and even his vivaci- bench so well painted in it, that at a distance it ty; for in his last illness, a friend mentioning the seemed to be rcal; but upon a nearer approach the recent decease of a person who had long been in a deception was perceived, and this motto appeared: decline, and observing " that he was quite worn to
INVISIBILIA NON DECIPIUNT. a shell before he died;"
very likely," replied the doctor; "but what is become of the kernel ?"_He
The things unseen do not deceive us. is said to have regretted to another friend, that his In another part of his garden was also this inNight Thoughts, of all his works most calculated scription: to do good, were written so much above the understanding of common readers, as to contract their
Mr. Croft denies this circumstance, and calls the poet's son sphere of usefulness: This, however, ought not, his friend.--He does not, however, pretend to vindicate the perhaps to be regretted, since there is a great suffi- conduct of the youth; but he relates his repentance and regret
, ciency of good books for common readers, and the which is far better. Perhaps it is not possible wholly to vinstyle of that work will always introduce it where dicate the father. Great genius, even accompanied with piety,
is not always mosi ornamental to domestic lise; and “the plainer compositions would not be read.
prose of ordinary occurrences, says Croft, " is beneath the He died at the Parsonage House, at Welwyn, dignity of poets."