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Night Thoughts." While it is remembered that from these he excluded many of his writings, let it not be forgotten that the rejected pieces contained nothing prejudicial to the cause of virtue, or of religion. Were every thing that Young ever wrote to be published, he would only appear perhaps in a less respectable light as a poet, and more despicable , as a dedicator ; he would not pass for a worse christian or for a worse man. This enviable praise is due to Young. Can it be claimed by every writer? His dedications, after all, he had perhaps no right to suppress. They all, I believe, speak, not a little to the credit of his gratitude, of favours received ; and I know not whether the author, who has once solemnly printed an acknowledgment of a favour, should not always print it.
Is it to the credit or to the discredit of Young, as a poet, that of his Night Thoughts the French are particularly fond ?
Of the epitaph on lord Aubrey Beauclerk, dated 1740, all I know is, that I find it in the late body of English poetry, and that I am sorry to find it there.
Notwithstanding the farewell which he seemed to have taken in the Night Thoughts of every thing which bore the least resemblance to ambition, he dipped again in politics. In 1745 he wrote Reflections on the public Situation of the Kingdom, addressed to the duke of Newcastle ; indignant, as it appears, to behold
ma pope bred princeling crawl ashore,
This political poem might be called a “ Night Thought.” Indeed it was originally printed as the conclusion of the Night Thoughts, though he did not gather it with his other works.
Prefixed to the second edition of Howe's“ Devout Meditations" is a letter from Young, dated January 19, 1752, addressed to Archibald Macauly, Esq. thanking him for the book, which he says, " he shall never lay far out of his reach ; for a greater denonstration of a sound head and a sincere heart he never saw."
In 1753, when The Brothers had lain by him above thirty years, it appeared upon the stage. If any part of his fortune had been acquired by servility of adulation, he now determined to deduct
from it no inconsiderable sum, as a gift to the society for the propagation of the gospel. To this sum he hoped the profits of The Brothers would amount. In his calculation he was deceived ; but by the bad success of his play the society was not a loser. The author made up the sum he originally intended, which was a thousand pounds, from his own pocket.
The next performance which he printed was a prose publica tion, entitled, “ The Centaur not fabulous, in six letters to a friend, on the life in vogue.” The conclusion is dated November 29, 1754. In the third letter is described the deathbed of the “gay, young, noble, ingenious, accomplished, and most wretched Altamont.” His last words were, “ my principles have poisoned my friend, my extravagance has beggared my boy, my unkindness has murdered my wife !” Either Altamont and Los renzo 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 despairs “ 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 it is 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 conAagration.
-ostia septem Pulverulenta vocant, septem sine flumine valles.
Such leaden labours are like Lycurgus's iron money, which was 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 his “ 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,
Not with too intense a care, 'Tis enough, that, when it fell,
Thou its ruin didst not share.
Envy's censure, flattery's praise,
Learn to tread life's dangerous maze,
With unerring virtue's clue.
Life's wide ocean trust no more';
With the tide, but near the shore.
Shall, whene'er the winds increase,
Waft thee to the port of peace.
And tempestuous passions free,
Easy shall thy passage be;
Cheerful thy allotted stay,
Hope shall meet thee on the way ;
Truth shall lead thee to the gate,
Mercy's self shall let thee in,
Full perfection shall begin.”
“La Trappe, the 27th. of Oct. 1761. “ DEAR SIR, “ You seemed to like the ode I sent you
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,
In 1762, a short time before his death, Young published Resignation. Notwithstanding the manner in which it was really forced from him by the world, criticism has treated it with no common severity. If it shall be thought not to deserve the highest praise, on the other side of fourscore, by whom, ept by Newton and by Waller, has praise been merited ?
To Mrs. Montague, the famous champion of Shakespeare, I am indebted for the history of Resignation. Observing that Mrs. Boscawen, in the midst of her grief for the loss of the admiral, derived consolation from the perusal of the Night Thoughts, Mrs. Montague proposed a visit to the author. From conversing with Young, Mrs. Boscawen derived still further consolation ; and to that visit she and the world were indebted for this poem. It compliments Mrs. Montague in the following lines ;
Yet write I must. A lady sues ;
How shameful her request !
Hers teeming with the best!
A friend you have, and I the same,
Whose prudent, soft address
Which died in your distress.
Extracting for your ease,
Too common; such as these.
By the same lady I was enabled to say, in her own words, that Young's unbounded genius appeared to greater advantage in the companion than even in the author; that the christian was in him a character still more inspired, more enraptured, more sublime, than the poet; and that, in his ordinary conversation,
-letting down the golden chain from high, He drew his audience upward to the sky. 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 language, 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 says;
When heaven would kindly set us free,
And earth's enchantment end;