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Yet Pope is said by Ruffhead to have told Warburton, that Young had much of a sublime genius, though without common sense ; so that his genius, having no guide, was perpetually liable to degenerate into bombast. This made him pass a foolish youth, the sport of peers and poets ; but his having a very good heart enabled him to support the clerical character when he assurned it, first with decency, and afterward 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 cause of religion. Tindal used to spend much of his time at All Souls. “ The other boys,” said the atheist, “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.

After all, Tindal and the censurers of Young may be reconcilable. Young might, for two or three years, have tried that kind of life, in which his natural principles would not suffer him to wallow long. If this were so, he has left behind him not only his evidence in favour of virtue, but the potent testimony of experience against vice.

We shall soon see that one of his earliest productions was more serious than what comes from the generality of unfledged poets.

Young perhaps ascribed the good fortune of Addison to the “ Poem to his majesty,” presented, with a copy of verses, to Somers; and hoped that he also might soar to wealth and honour on wings of the same kind. His first poetical flight was 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. In order to reconcile the people to one, at least, of the new lords, he published, in 1712, An Epistle to the right honourable George lord Lansdowne. In this composition the poet pours out his panegyric with the extravagance

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* As my great friend is now become the subject of biography, it should be told, that every time I called upon Johnson during the time I was employed in collecting materials for this life, and putting it together, he never suffered me to depart without some such farewell as this; “ Don't forget that rascal Tindal, sir. Be sure to hang up the atheist.” Alluding to this anecdote, which Johnson had mentioned to me.

of a young man, who thinks his present stock of wealth will never be exhausted.

The poem seems intended also to reconcile the public to the late peace. This is endeavoured to be done by showing that men are slain in war, and that in peace “ harvests wave,

and commerce swells her sail.” If this be humanity, for which he meant it ; is it politics ? Another purpose of this epistle appears to have been, to prepare the public for the reception of some tragedy he might have in hand. His lordship’s patronage, he says, will not let him “ repent his passion for the stage;" and the particular praise bestowed on “ Othello” and “ Oroonoko,” looks as if some such character as Zanga was even then in contemplation. The affectionate mention of the death of his friend Harrison of New college, at the close of this poem, is an instance of Young's art, which displayed itself so wonderfully some time afterward in the Night Thoughts, of making the public a party in his private sor


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Should justice call upon you to censure this poem, it ought at least to be remembered that he did not insert it in his works; and that in the letter to Curll, as we have seen, he advises its omission. The booksellers, in the late body of English poetry, should have distinguished what was deliberately rejected by the respective authors.* This I shall be careful to do with regard to Young. “ I think," says he, “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 republished I have revised and corrected, and rendered them as pardonable as it was in my power to do."

Shall the gates of repentance be shut only against literary sin

ners ?


When Addison published" Cato" in 1713, Young had the honour of prefixing to it a recommendatory copy of verses. This is one of the pieces which the author of the Night Thoughts did not republish.

On the appearance of his Poem on the Last Day, Addison did not return Young's compliment ; but “ The Englishman” of

* Dr. Johnson, in many cases, thought and directed differently, particujarly in Young's Works. J. N.

October 29th. 1713, which was probably written by Addison, speaks handsomely of this poem. The Last Day was published soon after the peace. The vice chancellor's imprimatur, for it was printed at Oxford, is dated March the 19th. 1713. From the exordium Young appears to have spent some tinie on the composition of it. While other bards “ with Britain's hero set their souls on fire,” he draws, he says, a deeper scene. Marlborough had been considered by Britain as her hero ; but, when The Last Day was published, female cabal had blasted for a time the laurels of Blenheim. This serious poem was finished by Young as early as 1710, before he was thirty, for part of it is printed in the “ Tatler."* It was inscribed to the queen, in a dedication, which, for some reason, he did not admit into his works. It tells her, that his 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 a settled stipend as a writer for the court. In Swift's “ Rhapsody on Poetry" are these lines, speaking of the court ;

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

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

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

You cannot err on flattery's side.
Yet who shall say with certainty, that Young was a pensioner?
In all modern periods of this country, have not the writers on one
side been regularly called hirelings, and on the other patriots ?

Of the dedication the complexion is clearly political. It speaks in the highest terms of the late peace; it gives her majesty praise indeed for her victories, but says, that the author is more pleased to see her rise from this lower world, soaring above the

* Not in the Tatler, but in the Guardian, May 9, 1718. C.

clouds, passing the first and second heavens, and leaving the fix. ed stars behind her; nor will he lose her there, he says, but keep her still in view through the boundless spaces on the other side of creation, in her journey toward eternal bliss, till he beholds the heaven of heavens open, and angels receiving and conveying her still onward from the stretch of his imagination, which tires in her pursuit, and falls back again to earth.

The queen was soon called away from this lower world, to a place where human praise or human flattery, even less general than this, are of little consequence. If Young thought the dedication contained only the praise of truth, he should not have omitted it in his works. Was he conscious of the exaggeration of party? Then he should not have written it. The poem itself is not without a glance toward 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 ministry and their friends.

Before the queen's death, The Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love, was sent into the world. This poem is founded on the execution of lady Jane Grey and her husband lord Guildford, 1554, a story chosen for the subject of a tragedy by Edmund Smith, and wrought into a tragedy by Rowe. The dedication of it to the countess of Salisbury does not appear in his own edition. He hopes it may be some excuse for his presumption, that the story could not have been read without thoughts of the countess of Salisbury, though it had been dedicated to another. “ To behold," he proceeds, “a person only virtuous, stirs in us a prudent regret ; to behold a person only amiable to the sight, warms us with a religious indignation ; but to turn our eyes to a countess of Salisbury, gives us pleasure and improvement; it works a sort of miracle, occasions the bias of our nature to fall off from sin, and makes our very senses and affections converts to our religion, and promoters of our duty." His flattery was as ready for the other sex as for ours, and was at least as well adapted.

August the 27th. 1714, Pope writes to his friend Jervas, that he is just arrived from Oxford ; that every one is much concerned for the queen's death, but that no panegyrics are ready yet for the king. Nothing like friendship had yet taken place between Pope and Young ; for, soon after the event which Pope mentions,


VOL. 11.

Young published a poem on the queen's death, and his majesty's accession to the throne. It is inscribed to Addison, then secre. tary to the lords justices. Whatever were the obligations which he had formerly received from Anne, the poet appears to aim at something of the same sort from George. Of the poem the intention seems to have been, to show that he had the same extravagant strain of praise for a king as for a queen. To discover, at the very onset of a foreigner's reign, that the gods bless his new subjects in such a king, is something more than praise. Neither was this deemed one of his excusable pieces. We do not find it in his works.

Young's father had been well acquainted with lady Anne Whar. ton, the first wife of Thomas Wharton, Esq. afterward marquis of Wharton ; a lady celebrated for her poetical talents by Burnet and by Waller.

To the dean of Sarum's visitation sermon, already mentioned, were added some verses “ by that excellent poetess Mrs. Anne Wharton," upon its being translated into English, at the instance of Waller, by Atwood. Wharton, 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 dissolute descend. ant a friend and a companion. The marquis died in April, 1715. In the beginning of the next year the young marquis set out upon his travels, from which he returned in about a twelvemonth. The beginning of 1717 carried him to Ireland; where, says the Biog. raphia, “ on the score of his extraordinary qualities, he had the honour done him of being admitted, though under age, to take his seat in the house of lords."

With his unhappy character, it is not unlikely that Young went to Ireland. Froin his letter to Richardson on “ original composition," it is clear he was, at some period of his life, in that country. “I remember,” says he, in that letter, speaking of Swift, * as I and others were taking with him an evening walk, about a mile out of Dublin, he stopped short ; we passed on; but, per. ceiving he did not follow us, I went back and found him fixed as a statue, and earnestly gazing upward at a noble elm, which in its uppermost branches was much withered and decayed. Pointing at it, he said, “I shall be like that tree, I shall die at top." Is it not probable, that this visit to Ireland was paid when he had




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