Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

For the life of Young, the world is obliged to Mr. Herbert Crost, the English lexicographer, fora nietly a barrister of Lincolnos-Inn, now a clergyman, who was the friend of his son, and wished to vindicate him from some very mistaken remarks to his prejudice. Mr. Croft's narrative, which cahibits a successful imitation of Dr. Johnson's style, was fubje&ed to the revision of our great poctical bingrapher, who adopted it as an introduction to his critical examination of the genius and writings of Young.

The facts stated in the present account are chiefly taken from Mr. Croft's narrative, with the addition of fuch particulars as fubsequent refearches, or cafual information, have supplied.

Edward Young was born at Upham, near Winchester, in Jane 1681. He was the son of Dr. Edsrard Young, at that time Fellow of Winchester College, and Rector of Upham. In 1682, he was collated to the prebend of Gillingham-Minor, in the church of Salisbury, by Bishop Ward. He was afterwards, in confequence of his merit and reputation, or of the interest of Lord Bradford, to whom, in 1702, he dedicated two volumes of fermons, appointed Chaplain to King Wil. liam and Queen Mary, and preferred to the deanery of Salisbury. Jacob, who wrote in 1720, says, " he was Chaplain and Clerk of the Closet to the late Queen, who honoured him, by standing godmother to the poet." He died at Salisbury, in 1705. Burnet preached his funeral sernion, and belowed upon him a handsome eulogium.

He was placed on the foundation at Winchester College, where he remained till the election af. ter his eighteenth birth-day, the period at which those upon the foundation are superar.nuated; when, not being chosen to New College, Oxford, he, on the 13th of Odober 1703, was entered 20 independent member of that society, that he might live at little expence at the lodgings of the Warden, who was a particular friend of his father. In a few months, the Warden of New College died. He then removed to Corpus College. The prefident of this fociety, from a regard -also to his father, invited him thither, in order to lessen his academical expences. In 1708, he was nomipared to a law-fellowship at All Souls, by Archbishop Tenison; into whose hands it came by devolution. Such repeated patronages, while it justifies Burnet's praise of the father, reflects credit on the cor.duct of the son. The manner in which it was exerted, seems to prove, that the father did not leave behind him much wealth.

It is reported, that when he first found himself independent, and his own malter, at All Souls, he was not the ornament to religion and morality which he afterwards became.

Pope is said, by Ruffhead, to have told Warburton, that “ Young had passed a foolis youth, the fpert of peers; but his having a very good heart, enabled him to support the clerical character, when he assumed it, with decency, and afterwards with honour."

The authority of his father, indeed, had ceased some time before by his death ; and he was certainly not ashamed to be patronized by the Duke of Wharton," the fcorn and wonder of his days."

His father had been well acquainted with Mrs. Anne Wharton, the first wife of 'Thomas Wrar. tos, Esq. afterwards Marquis of Wharton, a lady celebrated for her poetical talents, by Burnet and by Waller. The father of the Duke of Wharton, had been the friend of his father; and, 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 eccentric and dissolute descendent, a friend and a companion. But the duke, it is to be supposed, did not at once sink into the depths of profligacy. That he had great and shining abilities, was acknowledged by his contemporaries, who entertained the greatest hopes ci his becoming an honour to his country. It is not unreafonable en imagine, that the bare acquaintance with such a man as Wharton proved to be, might give rise to the report of his having relaxed, in early youth, from the strict and rigid rules of virtue; of the truth of which, there is pot fefficient evidence.

The teftimony of Tindal, who spent much of his time at All Souls, is an unquestionable authority in favour of Young's warmth and ability in the cause of religion, in the early part of his life. " The other boys,” said he, “ I can always answer, because I always know whence they have their

arguments, which I have read a hundred times; but that fellow Young, is continually pestering me with something of his own."

In 1912, when Queen Anne called up to the House of Lords the sons of the Earls of Northampton and Aylesbury, and added, in one day, ten others to the number of peers, he published An Epifțle ta the Right Honourable George Lord Lansdown; in order to reconcile the people to one, ac least, oft the new lords. It seems intended also to reconcile the public to the late peace.

The affectionate mention of the death of his friend Harrison, of New College, at the close of the poem, is an instance of his art, which displayed itself so wonderfully afterwards in the Night I bougbts, of making the public a party in his private forrow.

Of this poem, there is no appearance in his own edition of his works, in 4 vols, 8vo; and prefixed to an edition by Curll and Tonson, in 1741, is a letter from Young to Curll, in which he advises its omision. “I think,” says he, in the preface to the Works of the Autbør of the Night Tboughts" the following pieces, in four volumes, to be the most excusable of all that I have written ; and I wish less apology was needful for these. As there is no recalling what is got abroad, the pieces here repu- , blished I have revised and corrected, and rendered them as pardonable as it was in my power to do." It is but justice to distinguish what the author of the Night Thoughts deliberately rejected.

When Addison published “ Cato,” in 1713, Young prefixed to it a recommendatory copy of verses. This is one of the pieces which he did not republish.

The Last Day was published the same year. The Vice-Chancellor's Imprimatur : for it was first printed at Oxford, is dated May 19. 1713. From the exordium, he appears to have spent some time in the compoution of it. While otheç bards with Britain's hero set their fouls on fore, he drews, he says, a deeper scene. This serious poem was finished by him as early as 1710; for part of it is printed in the “ Tatler.” The “ Englishman” of October 29. 1713, which was probably written by Addison, speaks handsomely of it. It was inscribed to the queen in a dedication; which, for Some reason, he did not admit into his works. It tells her, that the only title to the great honour he now does himself, is the obligation which he formerly received from her royal indulgence.

of this obligation nothing is now known, unless he alluded to her being his godmother. He is said, indeed, to have been engaged at 2 feteled stipend, as a writer for the court. In Swifi's Rhapsody on Poetry,” are these lines, speaking of the court :

Whence Gay was banish'd in disgrace,
Where Pope will never sow his face,
Where Y must torture his invention,

To flatter knaves, or lose his penfion.
That Y
--- means Young, seems clear from four other lines in the same poem :

Attend, ye Popes, and Youngs, and Gays,
And tune your harps, and strew your bays;
Your panegyrics here provide;

You cannot err on flattery's lide.
Of the dedication, the complexion is clearly political. It speaks in the highest terms of the peace
of Urrecht. Mr. Croft doubes whether he had a right to withdraw the praise he had once given,
and asks, “ Was he conscious of the exaggeration party? Then he thould not have written it.
If it contained only the praise of truth, he hould not have omitted it in his works.” Surely this is
denying a man the privilege of becoming wiser by his own experience! Young, in the warmth of
party zeal, might very honestly and încerely write a panegyric, which time, and a clearer know.
ledge of characters, might convince him was undeserved; all he could then do, was silently to sup-
press, as far as he was able, those errors into which an upright heart had betrayed his judgment.

The poem itself, is not without a glance towards politics, notwithstanding the subject. The cry, that the church was in danger, had not yet subsided. The Last Day, written by a layman, was much approved by the Tory miniltry, and their friends.

The Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love, was published before the queen's death. This poem is founded on the execution of Lady Jane Gray, and her busband, Lord Guildford Dudley, 1554; a nory chosen for the subject of an epistle by Cawth

tra Smith, and wrought into

1

tragedy by Rowe. The flattering dedication of it to the Countess of Salisbury, does not appear in his own edition.

On the 23d of April 1714, he took his degree of Bachelor of Civil Law; and, the same year, he published a poem on the Queen's death, and his Majesty's accession to the throne. It is inscribed to Addison, then Secretary to the Lords Justices. This poem he did not admit into his works.

la 1916, when the foundation of the Codrington Library was laid, he was appointed to speak the Latin Oration. In his letter to Curll, he says, “ If you will take my advice, I would have you omit the Oration on Codrington. I think the collection will fell better without it.” This orátion ke did not admit into his works.

In 1717, when Wharton, after his return from his travels, went to Ireland, it is not unlikely that Young accompanied his avowed friend and patron. From a passage relating to Swift, in his letter to Richardson, en original composition, it is clear he was, at some period of his life, in that country.

In 1719, he was received into the Earl of Exeter's family, as tutor to Lord Burleigh; which he soon quitted, upon the presing solicitations of Wharton, and his promises of serving and advaacing him in the world.

The same year, his Busiris, King of Egypt, was acted at the theatre in Drury-Lane, and net with feccess. The plot is of his own contrivance. The haughty message sent by Busiris to the Perfon Asbafador, is copied from that returned by the Ethiopian Prince to Cambyses, in the third book of Herodotus. The dialogue contains many striking beauties of sentiment and description, but it is written in a glaring ambitious style; the pride of Bufiris is such as no other man can have ; and the whole is too remote from human life, to raise either grief, horror, or indignation. It was inscribed to the Duke of Newcastle, “ because the late instances he had received of his Grace's undeserved and uncommon favour, in an affair of some consequence, foreign to the theatre, had taken from him the privilege of choosing a patron." The dedication he afterwards suppressed.

He took the degree of Doctor of Laws on the 10th of June 1719. The same year, hic lamento ed the death of Addison, in a letter addressed to their common friend, Tickell. According to Spence's MSS, they used to " communicate to each other whatever verses they wrote, even to the Icast things.”

The same year appeared A Paraphrase on part of the Book of Job, which he dedicated, in no common strain of flattery, to Lord Chancellor Parker. Of this work, his opinion may be known from bis letter to Curil:-" You seeni, in the collection you propose, to have omitted what I think may claim the first place in it; I mean, “ A Translation from part of Job, printed by Mr. Tonfon.” The dedication was only suffered to appear in Tonson's edition. In 1721, The Revenge, a tragedy, was acted at the theatre in Drury-Lane, and met with

very great success. This is his best dramatic performance. It approaches much nearer to human praca tices and manners than Bufiris, and therefore keeps possession of the stage. The firft design seems fuggested by “ Othello" and " Abdelazar;" but he has, in some respects, greatly improved on both. The refleâions, the incidents, and the diêlion, are original. The moral observations are so introduced and fo expressed, as to have all the novelty that can be required.

He dedicated this famous tragedy to Wharton. “ Your Grace,” says the dedication, “ has been pleased to make yourself accessary to the following scenes, not only by suggesting the most beautia ful incident in them, but by making all pollible provision for the success of the whole.” That Whara ton should have suggested the incident to which he alludes, is not unlikely, as his last mental exertion, in his quarters at Lerida in Spain, was some scenes of a tragedy, on the story of “ Mary Queen of Scots;" to which Lady Mary Wortley Montague wrote an epilogue, which is preserved in Dodfley's Collection."

He concludes his addrefs to Wharton, whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his poetry, but as the promoter of his forturc, thus : “My present forcune is his bounty, and

my

future his care, which, I will venture to say, will be always remembered to his hononr; since he, I know, intended his generosity as an encouragement to merit ; though, through his very pardonable partiality to one who bears him fo fincere a duty and respect, I happen to receive the benefit of it.” Ho cecluded thia dedication from his own cditien of his works.

To the patronage of this unhappy character, he was certainly, however, indebted for something material. Wharton's regard for Young, added to his “ lust of praise," procured to All Souls College a donation, which was not forgotten when he dedicated The Revenge.

Two annuities were also granted by the Duke to Young; one of which was dated March 24. 1719, and accounted for his Grace's bounty in a style princely and commendable, if not legal :" Considering that the public good is advanced by the enouragemcent 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 July 10. 1722.

When Lord Chancellor Hardwickc was to determine, March 14. 1740, whether these annuities were for legal considerations, Young, on his examination, swore, that he quitted the Exeter family, and refused an annuity of 1001., which had been offered him for life, if he would continue tutor to Lord Burleigh, upon the 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 600 l., dated March 15. 1721, in con. sideration of his taking several journeys, and being at great expences, in order to be chosen Member of Parliament, at the Duke's desire; and in consideration of his not taking two livings of 2001. and 4001., in the gift of All Souls College, on his Grace's promises of serving and advancing him in the world.

The attempt to get into Parliament was at Cirencester, where Young food a contested election, about 1721, in which he was unsuccessfal.

His Satires were originally published separately, under the title of The Love of Fame, or The Unie verfal Paffion. The first appeared in 1725. The fifth was not published till 1727, and the fixth not till 1728; when he gathered them into one publication, “ corrected and enlarged," and prefixed a preface, decisive in favour of laughing at the world; which he preserved, without any palliation, in the collection of his works. They were inscribed to the Duke of Dorset, Mr. D. dington, afterwards Lord Melcombe, Mr. Spencer Compton, afterwards Lord Wilmington, Lady Elizabeth Germain, Sir Robert Walpole, &c.

By the Universal Pafion, according to Mr. Croft, he acquired more than three thousand pounds. His son informed Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswell, in 1781, " that his father had received several thousand pounds of subscription-money for his Universul Pafion, but had loit it in the South Sea. Dr. Johnson thought this must be a mistake ; for he had never seen a subscription-book,"

It is related by Spence, in his MSS., on the authority of Mr. Rawlinson, that Young, upon the publication of his Universal Perfion, 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 Sidney and Lord Burleigh, respecting the « Faery Queene."

In 1726, he addressed a poem, called The Infallment, to Sir Robert Walpole, of which the title fufficiently explains the intention. It is among the pieces he did not admit into the number of his pardonable writings

At the accession of George II., he published Ocran, An Ode, concluding with a Wij. The hint of it was taken from the Royal Speech : .which recommended the increase and the encouragement of the feamien; that they might be invited, rather than compelled by force and violence, to enter into the service of their country; a plan which humanity must lament that policy has not even yet been able or willing to carry into execution. Prefixed to the original publication, were An Ode to the King, Pater Patrie, and an I. Jy on Lyric Puetry. He preserved neither of them in his own edition. The Ode itself, which in the firit edition, and in the lat, confifts of seventy-three stanzas, in his own edition is reduced to fifty-nine. Among the omitted pafiages, is the Wijb. The Eljay. on Lyric Poetry is so just and impartial, as to condeinn himself.

Soon after the appearance of Oizan, when he was almost fifty, he entered into arders; and, in April 1728, not long after he put on the gown, he was appointed Chaplain to the King.

The tragedy of The Brothers, which was already in rehearsal, he immediately withdrew from the, Rage, as unbecoming his new profefion,

It is related by Ruff head, that, when he determined on the church, he addressed himself to Fope, for intructions in theology; who, in a frolic, advised the diligent perusal of Thomas Aquinas. With this treasure, he retired from interruption, to an obscure place in the suburbs. Pope hearing nothing of him during half a year, and apprehending he might have carried the jest too far, soughe after him, and found him just in time to prevent what Ruffhead calls “ an irretrieveable derangement."

Not long after he took orders, he published, in prose, A True Eftimate of Human Life, 1728, dedicated to the Queen ; and a Sermon, preached before the House of Cummons, January 30. 1729, intituled, An Apology for Princes, or the Reverence due to Government. The True Efimate of Human Life, exhibits only the dark side. Being asked, why he did not give, as he promised, the bright representation ; he is faid to have replied, that he could not. By others it has been said, that this was finish. ed; but that, before there existed any copy, it was torn in pieces by a lady's monkey.

In 1930, he relapsed to poetry, and published Imperium Pelagi, a Naval Lyric; written in imitation of Firdar's Spirit, occafioned by bis Majesty's return from Hanover, September 1729, and the succeeding Peace. It is inscribed to the Duke of Chandos. In the preface he observes, that the ode is the most spirited kind of poetry, and that the Pindaric is the most spirited kind of ode. "This I speak,” he adds, with sufficient candour,“ at my own very great peril. But truth has an eternal title co our confession, though we are sure to suffer by it." It was one of the pieces which he deliberately refused to own. It was ridiculed in Fielding's “ Tom Thumb."

Not long after this Pindaric attempt, he published Tevo Epifiles to Mr. P pe, concerning the Authors of the Age, 1730. In July the same year, he was presented, by his college, to the rectory of Welwyn, in Hertfordshire, worth above sool a.year.

In May 1731, he married Lady Elizabeth Lee, davghter of the Earl of Litchfield, and widow of Colonel Lee, who left a son and two daughters. His connection with this lady, arose from his faeber's acquaintance with Mrs. Anne Wharton, who was the daughter and co-heiress of Sir Henry Lee of Ditchley, in Oxforddhire, and after of the Countess of Abingdon, celebrated by Dryden in a funeral panegyric, intituled, “ Eleanora."

His next publication was The Sea-Piece, in two odes, with a poetical dedication to Voltaire, whom he had seen when he was in Eogland, at Eastbury, the seat of Mr. Dodington, in Dorsetfhire, which Thomson, in his “ Autumn,” calls the “ Seat of the Muses,”

Where io the secret bower, and winding walk,

For virtuous Young and chce they twine the bay. He enjoys the credit of an extemporc Epigram on the French poet, who ridiculed, in the compaDy of the jealous English poet, Milton's." Allegory of Sin and Death.".

You are fo witty, profligate, and thin,

At once we think ibee Milton, Dea:h, and Sin. From the following passage in the poetical dedication of The Sea-Piece, it seems that this extempos raneous reproof was something more gentle than the distich now quoted,

No franger, Sir, though born in foreign climes ;
In Dorfii downs, when Milion's page
Wich Sin and Death provok'd thy rage,

Thy rage provok'd, who sooth'd with gentle rhymes.
In 1734, he publisbed The Foreign Address, or the befi Argument for Peace, occafioned by the Britis
Flert, and the Poffure of Affairs, written in the character of a failor, It is not to be found in his own edition
ef his works.

In 1941, he was deprived of his wife. She brought him one child, Frederick, now living, to whom the Prince of Wales was godfather. The Nigbt Tboughts, a species of poetry altogether his own, were begun immediately after the mournful event of 1741. The first Niglt appears in the books of the Company of Stationers, as the property of Doddley, in 1742. The preface to Vight feventh, is dated July 7. 1744.

In the short prcface to the Complaint, he tells us, " that the occasion of the poem was real, not fi&itioas; and that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these re Nections on the thought of the writer."

Whatever dames belong to these facts, or if the names be those generally supposer!; wiatever heightening a poet's forrow may have given the fads, it is generally understood, that be had really

« AnteriorContinuar »