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The author of thefe lines is not without his Hic jacet.
By the good fenfe of his fon, it contains none of that praise which no marble can make the bad or the foolish merit; which, without the direction of a stone or a turf, will find its way, fooner or later, to the deferving.
Is it not ftrange that the author of the "Night "Thoughts" has infcribed no monument to the memory of his lamented wife? Yet, what marble will endure as long as the poems?
Such, my good friend, is the account which I have been able to collect of the great Young. That it may be long before any thing like what I have just transcribed be neceffary for you, is the fincere wish of,
Your greatly obliged Friend,
P. S. This account of Young was feen by you in manufcript, you know, Sir; and, though I could not prevail on you to make any alteration, you infifted on ftriking out one paffage, because it said, that, if I did not wish you to live long for your fake, I did for the fake of myself and of the world. But this postscript you will not fee before the printing of it; and I will fay here, in fpite of you, how I feel myself honoured and bettered by your friendship: and that, if I do credit to the Church, after which I always longed, and for which I am now going to give in exchange the Bar, though not at fo late a period of life as Young took Orders, it will be owing, in no small measure, to my having had the happiness of calling the author of The Rambler" my friend.
OF Young's Poems it is difficult to give any ge. neral character; for he has no uniformity of manner: one of his pieces has no great refemblance to another. He began to write early, and continued long; and at different times had different modes of poetical excellence in view. His numbers are fometimes fmooth, and fometimes rugged; his ftyle is fometimes concatenated, and fometimes abrupt; fometimes diffufive, and fometimes concife. His plan feems to have ftarted in his mind at the prefent moment; and his thoughts appear the effect of chance, fometimes adverfe, and fometimes lucky, with very little operation of judgement.
He was not one of thofe writers whom experience improves, and who, obferving their own faults, become gradually correct. His Poem on the "Last Day," his first great performance, has an equability and propriety, which he afterwards either never endeavoured or never attained. Many paragraphs are noble, and few are mean, yet the whole is languid; the plan is too much extended, and a fucceffion of images divides and weakens the general conception; but the great reafon why the reader is dif appointed is, that the thought of the LAST DAY makes every man more than poetical, by fpreading over his mind a general obfcurity of facred horror, that oppreffes diftinction, and difdains expreffion.
His ftory of" Jane Grey" was never popular. It is written with elegance enough; but Jane is too heroick to be pitied.
The "Univerfal Paffion" is indeed a very great performance. It is faid to be a series of Epigrams : but, if it be, it is what the author intended: his endeavour was at the production of ftriking diftichs and pointed fentences; and his diftichs have the weight of folid fentiments, and his points the sharpness of refistlefs truth.
His characters are often felected with difcernment, and drawn with nicety; his illuftrations are often happy, and his reflections often juft. His fpecies of fatire is between thofe of Horace and Juvenal; and he has the gaiety of Horace without his laxity of numbers, and the morality of Juvenal with greater variation of images. He plays, indeed, only on the furface of life; he never penetrates the receffes of the mind, and therefore the whole power of his poetry is exhausted by a single perusal; his conceits please only when they fsurprise.
To tranflate he never condefcended, unless his "Pa"raphrafe on Job" may be confidered as a verfion in which he has not, I think, been unfuccefsful; he indeed favoured himself, by chufing thofe parts which most eafily admit the ornaments of English poetry.
He had leaft fuccefs in his lyrick attempts, in which he feems to have been under fome inalignant influence he is always labouring to be great, and at last is only turgid.
In his "Night Thoughts" he has exhibited a very wide difplay of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and ftriking allufions, a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy fcatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one
of the few poems in which blank verfe could not be changed for rhyme but with difadvantage. The wild diffufion of the fentiments, and the digreffive fallies of imagination, would have been compreffed and reftrained by confinement to rhyme. The excellence of this work is not exactnefs but copioufnefs; partilar lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whole; and in the whole there is a magnificence like that afcribed to Chinese plantation, the magnificence of vaft extent and endless diverfity.
His laft poem was the "Refignation;" in which he made, as he was accustomed, an experiment of a new mode of writing, and fucceeded better than in his "Ocean" or his "Merchant." It was very falfely represented as a proof of decaying faculties. There is Young in every stanza, fuch as he often was in his higheft vigour.
His tragedies, not making part of the Collection, I had forgotten, till Mr. Steevens recalled them to my thoughts by remarking, that he feemed to have one favourite catastrophe, as his three plays all concluded with lavish fuicide; a method by which, as Dryden remarked, a poet eafily rids his fcene of perfons whom he wants not to keep alive. In "Bufiris" there are the greatest ebullitions of imagination: but the pride of Bufiris is fuch as no other man can have, and the whole is too remote from known life to raise either grief, terror, or indignation. The "Revenge" approaches much nearer to human practices and manners, and therefore keeps poffeffion of the ftage: the first defign feems fuggefted by "Othello;" but the reflections, the incidents, and the diction, are original. The moral obfervations are fo introduced, and