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possible, of his former companions, one of the duke of Wharton's set. The poet styles him “gay friend ;" an appellation not very natural from a pious incensed father to such a being as he paints Lorenzo, and that being his son.
But let us see how he has sketched this dreadful portrait, from the sight of some of whose features the artist himself must have turned
with horror. A subject more shocking, if his only child really sat to him, than the crucifixion of Michael Angelo; upon the horrid story told of which, Young composed a short poem of fourteen lines in the early part of his life, which he did not think deserved to be republished. In the "First Night," the address to the poet's supposed son iş,
Lorenzo, fortune makes her court to thee. In the “ Fifth Night,”
And burns Lorenzo still for the sublime
Of life, to hang his airy nest on high ?
In foreign realms, for thou hast travell’d far,
So wept Lorenzo fáir Clarissa's fate;
And died to give him, orphan'd in his birth!
Lorenzo, to recriminate is just,
I grant the man is vain who writes for praise. But, to cut short all inquiry; if any one of these passages, if any passage in the poems be applicable, my friend shall pass for Lorenzo. The son of the author of the Night Thoughts was not old enough, when they were written, to recriminate, or to be a father. The Night Thoughts were begun immediately after the mournful event of 1741. The first “ Night's" appear, in the books of the company of stationers, as the property of Robert Dodsley, in 1742. The preface to “ Night Seven” is dated July
the 7th. 1744. The marriage, in consequence of which the supposed Lorenzo was born, happened in May, 1731. Young's child was not born till June, 1733. In 1741 this Lorenzo, this finished infidel, this father to whose education vice had for some years put the last hand, was only eight years old.
An anecdote of this cruel sort, so open to contradiction, so impossible to be true, who could propagate ? Thus easily are blasted the reputations of the living and of the dead.
Who, then, was Lorenzo ? exclaim the readers I have mentioned.
If we cannot be sure that he was his son, which would have been finely terrible, was he not his nephew, his cousin ?
These are questions which I do not pretend to answer. For the sake of human nature, I could wish Lorenzo to have been only the creation of the poet's fancy; like the Quintus of Anti Lucretius, quo nomine," says Polignac, " quemvis Atheum intellige." That this was the case, many expressions in the Night Thoughts would seem to prove, did not a passage in “ Night Eight” appear to show that he had something in his eye for the groundwork at least of the painting. Lovelace or Lorenzo may be feigned characters; but a writer does not feign a name of of which he only gives the initial letter.
Tell not Calista. She will laugh thee dead,
Or send thee to her hermitage with LThe Biographia, not satisfied with pointing out the son of Young, in that son's life time, as his father's Lorenzo, travels out of its way into the history of the son, and tells of his having been forbidden his college at Oxford for misbehaviour. How such anecdotes, were they true, tend to illustrate the life of Young, it is not easy to discover. Was the son of the author of the Night Thoughts, indeed, forbidden his college for a time, at one of the universities ? The author of " Paradise Lost” is by some supposed to have been disgracefully ejected from the other. From juvenile follies who is free ? But, whatever the Biographia chooses to relate, the son of Young experienced no dismission from his college either lasting or temporary.
Yet, were nature to indulge him with a second youth, and to leave him at the same time the experience of that which is past, he would probably spend it differently, who would not ? he would certainly be the occasion of less uneasiness to his father. But,
from the same experience, he would as certainly, in the same case, be treated differently by his father.
Young was a poet; poets, with reverence be it spoken, do not make the best parents. Fancy and imagination seldom deign to stoop from their heights ; always stoop unwillingly to the low level of common duties. Aloof from vulgar life, they pursue their rapid flight beyond the ken of mortals, and descend not to earth but when compelled by necessity. The prose of ordinary occurrences is beneath the dignity of poets.
He who is connected with the author of the Night Thoughts, only by veneration for the poet and the christian, may be allowed to observe, that Young is one of those concerning whom, as you remark in your account of Addison, it is proper rather to say “ nothing that is false than all that is true."
But the son of Young would almost sooner, I know, pass for a Lorenzo; than see himself vindicated, at the expense of his father's memory, from follies which, if it may be thought blamable in a boy to have committed them, it is surely praiseworthy in a man to lament, and certainly not only unnecessary but cruel in a biographer to record.
Of the Night Thoughts, fotwithstanding their author's professed retirement, all are inscribed to great or to growing names. He had not yet weaned himself from earls and dukes, from the speakers of the house of commons, lords commissioners of the treasury, and chancellors of the exchequer. In “ Night Eight" the politician plainly betrays himself;
Think no post needful that demands a knave.
So P- thoughts think better if you can. Yet it must be confessed, that at the conclusion of “ Night Nine," weary perhaps of courting earthly patrons, he tells his soul,
And leave the racers of the world their own. The “ Fourth Night” was addressed by “ a much indebted muse" to the honourable Mr. Yorke, now lord Hardwicke ; who meant to have laid the muse under still greater obligation, by the living of Shenfield in Essex, if it had become vacant.
The First Night” concludes with this passage ;
Dark, tho' not blind, like thee, Meonides;
To the author of these lines was dedicated, in 1756, the first volume of “ An essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope," which attempted, whether justly or not, to pluck from Pope his
wing of fire," and to reduce him to a rank at least one degree lower than the first class of English poets. If Young accepted and approved the dedication, he countenanced this attack upon the fame of him whom he invokes as his muse.
Part of paper sparing" Pope's third book of the “ Odyssey, deposited in the museum, is written upon the back of a letter signed “ E. Young,” which is clearly the handwriting of our Young. The letter, dated only May the 2d. seems obscure ; but there can be little doubt that the friendship he requests was a literary one, and that he had the highest literary opinion of Pope. The request was a prologue, I am told.
May the 2d. “ Having been often from home, I know not if you have done me the favour of calling on me. But, be that as it will, I much want that instance of your friendship I mentioned in my last ; a friendship I am very sensible I can receive from no one but yourself. I should not urge this thing so much but for very particular reasons ; nor can you be at a loss to conceive how a trifle of this nature may be of serious moment to me; and while I am in hopes of the great advantage of your advice about it, I shall not be so absurd as to make any further step without it. I know you are much engaged, and only hope to hear of you at your entire leisure. “ I am, sir, your most faithful $ and obedient servant,
« E. YOUNG."
" DEAR SIR,
Nay, even after Pope's death, he says, in “ Night Seven,"
Pope, who could'st make immortals, art thou dead ? Either the “ Essay," then, was dedicated to a palron who disapproved its doctrine, which I have been told by the author was not the case ; or Young appears, in his old age, to have bartered for a dedication, an opinion entertained of his friend through all that part of life when he must have been best able to form opinions.
From this account of Young, two or three short passages, which stånd almost together in “ Night Four,” should not be excluded. They afford a picture, by his own hand, from the study of which my readers may choose to form their own opinion of the features of his mind and the complexion of his life.
Ah me! the dire effect
When in his courtiers' ears I pour my plaint,
Twice told the period spent on stubborn Troy,
If this song lives, posterity shall know
Deduct from the writer's age “twice told the period spent on stubborn Troy," and you will still leave him more than forty when he sat down to the miserable siege of court favour. He has before told us
“ A fool at forty is a fool indeed.” After all, the siege seems to have been raised only in consequence of what the general thought his “ deathbed.”
By these extraordinary poems, written after he was sixty, of which I have been led to say so much, I hope, by the wish of doing justice to the living and the dead, it was the desire of Young to be principally known. He entitled the four volumes which he published himself, “ The Works of the Author of the