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"that, and the oration on Codrington. I think the "collection will fell better without them."
There are who relate, that, when first Young found himself independent, and his own mafter at All Souls, he was not the ornament to religion and morality which he afterwards became.
The authority of his father, indeed, had ceafed, fome time before, by his death; and Young was certainly not ashamed to be patronized by the infamous Wharton. But Wharton befriended in Young, perhaps, the poet, and particularly the tragedian. If virtuous authors must be patronized only by vir tuous peers, who fhall point them out?
Yet Pope is faid by Ruffhead to have told Warburton, that "Young had much of a fublime genius, though without common fenfe; fo that his genius, having no guide, was perpetually liable to degenerate into bombaft. This made him país a foolish youth, the sport of peers and poets: but his having a very good heart enabled him to fupport the clerical character when he affumed it, firft with decency, and afterwards with honour."
They who think ill of Young's morality in the early part of his life, may perhaps be wrong; but Tindal could not err in his opinion of Young's warmth and ability in the caufe of religion. Tindal used to spend much of his time at All Souls. "The "other boys," faid the Atheist, "I can always anfwer, "because I always know whence they have their arguments, which I have read a hundred times; "but that fellow Young is continually peftering me "with fomething of his own *." After
As my great friend is now become the fubject of biography, it fhould be told, that, every time I called upon Johnson during the
After all, Tindal and the cenfurers of Young may be reconcileable. Young might, for two or three years, have tried that kind of life, in which his natural principles would not fuffer him to wallow long. If this were fo, he has left behind him not only his evidence in favour of virtue, but the potent teftimony of experience against vice.
We fhall foon fee that one of his earliest productions was more ferious than what comes from the generality of unfledged poets.
Young perhaps afcribed the good fortune of Addifon to the "Poem to his Majefty," prefented, with a copy of verses, to Somers; and hoped that he also might foar to wealth and honours on wings of the fame kind. His first poetical flight was when Queen Anne called up to the Houfe of Lords the fons of the Earls of Northampton and Aylesbury, and added, in one day, ten others to the number of peers. In order to reconcile the people to one, at leaft, of the new lords, he published, in 1712, "An Epistle to the Right Honourable George Lord "Lanídowne." In this compofition the poet pours out his panegyrick with the extravagance of a young man, who thinks his prefent ftock of wealth will never be exhausted.
The poem feems intended alfo to reconcile the publick to the late peace. This is endeavoured to be done by fhewing that men are flain in war, and
the time I was employed in collecting materials for this life and putting it together, he never suffered me to depart without fome fuch farewell as this: "Don't forget that rafcal Tindal, Sir. "Be sure to hang up the Atheist." Alluding to this anecdote, which Johnson had mentioned to me.
that in peace" harvests wave, and Commerce fwells "her fail." If this be humanity, for which he meant it; is it politicks? Another purpose of this epifle appears to have been, to prepare the publick for the reception of fome tragedy he might have in hand. His lordship's patronage, he fays, will not let him "repent his paffion for the ftage;" and the particular praife beftowed on "Othello" and "Oroonoko" looks as if fome fuch character as Zanga was even then in contemplation. The affectionate mention of the death of his friend Harrison of New College, at the clofe of this poem, is an inftance of Young's art, which difplayed itself so wonderfully fome time afterwards in the "Night Thoughts," of making the publick a party in his private forrow.
Should juftice call upon you to cenfure this poem, it ought at least to be remembered that he did not infert it in his works; and that in the letter to Curll, as we have feen, he advifes its omifion. The bookfellers, in the late body of English Poetry, fhould have didinguished what was deliberately rejected by the refpective authors. This I shall be careful to do with regard to Young. "I think," fays he, "the following pieces in four volumes to be the most "excufeable of all that I have written; and I with
lefs aptly was needful for thefe. As there is no "recalling what is got abroad, the pieces here re"published I have revifed and corrected, and ren"dered them as pardonable as it was in my power to
* Dr. 'ohrson, in many cafer, thought and directed differently, particularly in Young's Works. J. N.
Shall the gates of repentance be shut only against literary finners?
When Addison publifhed "Cato" in 1713, Young had the honour of prefixing to it a recommendatory copy of verfes. This is one of the pieces which the author of the "Night Thoughts" did not republish.
On the appearance of his "Poem on the Laft Day," Addifon did not return Young's compliment; but "The Englishman" of October 29, 1713, which was probably written by Addison, speaks handsomely of this poem. The "Last Day" was published foon after the peace. The vice-chancellor's imprimatur, for it was printed at Oxford, is dated May the 19th, 1713. From the exordium Young appears to have spent some time on the compofition of it. While other bards" with Britain's hero fet their fouls on "fire," he draws, he fays, a deeper fcene. Marlborough had been confidered by Britain as her hero; but, when the "Laft Day" was published, female cabal had blafted for a time the laurels of Blenheim. This ferious poem was finifhed by Young as early as 1710, before he was thirty; for part of it is printed in the "Tatler." It was infcribed to the Queen, in a dedication, which, for fome reafon, he did not admit into his works. It tells her, that his only title to the great honour he now does himfelf, 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 faid indeed to have been engaged at a fettled ftipend as a writer for the Court. In Swift's "Rhapsody on “Poetry” are these lines, fpeaking of the Court――
Whence Gay was banish'd in difgrace,
That Y means Young feems clear from four other lines in the fame poem:
Attend, ye Popes and Youngs and Gays,
Yet who fhall fay with certainty, that Young was a penfioner? In all modern periods of this country, have not the writers on one fide been regularly called Hirelings, and on the other Patriots ?
Of the Dedication the complexion is clearly political. It fpeaks in the higheft terms of the late peace; it gives her Majefty praise indeed for her victories, but fays that the author is more pleased to see her rife from this lower world, foaring above the clouds, paffing the first and second heavens, and leaving the fixed flars behind her; nor will he lofe her there, he fays, but keep her ftill in view through the boundless spaces on the other fide of Creation, in her journey towards eternal blifs, till he behold the heaven of heavens open, and angels receiving and conveying her still onward from the ftretch of his imagination, which tires in her purfuit, and falls back again to earth.
The Queen was foon called away from this lower world, to a place where human praise or human flattery, even less general than this, are of little confequence. If Young thought the dedication contained only the praise of truth, he fhould not have omitted