« 前へ次へ »
That friend, the spirit of my theme
Extracting for your ease,
Too common ; such as these.
By the fame Lady I am 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 ftill 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 Conje&tures on original Composition, that “ blank yerse is verse un* fallen, uncurft; verse reclaimed, re-inthroned 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 confort, in consequence of the sudden death of Richardson, who was printing the former
And earth's enchantment end;
And robs us of a friend. To Refignation was prefixed an Apology for its appearance : to which more credit is due than to the geperality of such apologies, from Young's unusual anxiety that no more productions of his old
should disgrace his former fame. In his will, dated February
1760, he desires of his executors, in a particular maxner, that all his manuscript books and writings whatever might be burned, except his book of accounts.
In September 1764 he added a kind of codicil, wherein he made it his dying intreaty to his housekeeper, to whom he left 1000l. “ that all his manu
scripts might be destroyed as soon as he was dead, “ which would greatly oblige her deceased friend.”
It may teach mankind the uncertainty of worldly friendships, to know that Young, either by surviving those he loved, or by outliving their affections, could only recollect the names of two friends, his housekeeper and a hatter, to mention in his will; and it may serve to repress that testamentary pride, which too often feeks for founding names and titles, to be informed that the author of the Night Thoughts did not blush to leave a legacy to his “ friend Henry Stevens, “ a hatter at the Temple-gate.” Of these two remaining friends, one went before Young. But, at eglıty-four “ where,” as he asks in The Centaur, " that world into which we were born?”
The fame humility which marked a latter and a housekeeper for the friends of the author of the Night Thoughts, had before bestowed the same title on his footman, in an epitaph in his Churcb-yard upon James Barker, dated 1749 ; which I am glad to find in the late collection of his works.
Young and his housekeeper were ridiculed, with more ill-nature than wit, in a kind of novel published by Kidgell in 1755, called The Card, under the names of Dr. Elwes and Mrs. Fusby.
In April 1765, at an age to which few attain, a period was put to the life of Young.
He had performed no duty for the last three or four years of his life, but he retained his intellects to the last.
Much is told in the Biographia, which I know not to have been true, of the manner of his burial-of the master and children of a charity-school, which he founded in his parish, who neglected to attend their benefactor's corpse; and of a bell which was not caused to coll so often as upon those occasions bells usually toll. Had that humanity, which is here lavished upon things of little consequence either to the living or to the dead, been shewn in its proper place to the living, I should have had less to say about Lorenzo. They who lament that these misfortunes happened to Young, forget the praise he bestows upon Socrates, in the Preface to Night Seven, for resenting his friend's request about his funeral.
During some part of his life Young was abroad, but I have not been able to learn any particulars. In his seventh Satire he says,
When, after battle, I the field have seen
Spread o'er with ghastly íhapes which once were men. And it is known that from this or from some other field he once wandered into the enemy's camp, with a classic in his hand, which he was reading intently; and had some difficulty to prove that he was only an absent poet, and not a spy.
The curious reader of Young's life will naturally inquire to what it was owing, that, though he lived almost forty years after he took Orders, which included one whole reign uncommonly long, and part of another, he was never thought worthy of the least prefer
The author of the Night Thoughts ended his days upon a Living which came to him from his Col.
lege without any favour, and to which he probably had an eye when he determined on the Church. To fatisfy curiosity of this kind is, at this distance of time, far from easy. The parties themselves know not often, at the instant, why they are neglected, nor why they are preferred. The neglect of Young is by fome ascribed to his having attached himself to the Prince of Wales, and to his having preached an offensive sermon at St. James's. It has been told me, that he had two hundred a year in the late reign, by the patronage of Walpole; and that, whenever the King was reminded of Young, the only answer was, he has a pension. Alt the light thrown on this inquiry, by the following Letter from Secker, only serves to shew at what a late period of life the author of the Night Thoughts solicited preferment.
“ Deanry of St. Paul's, July 8, 1758. ~ Good Dr. Young, “ I have long wondered, that more suitable notice “ of your grcat merit hath not been taken by persons “ in power. But how to remedy the omiffion I fee “ not. No encouragement hath ever been given me
to mention things of this nature to his Majesty. “ And therefore, in all likelihood, the only conse
quence of doing it would be weakening the little “ influence, which else I may possibly have on fume “ other occasions. Your fortune and your reputa“ tion set you above the need of advancement; and
your sentiments, above that concern for it, on your “ own account, which, on that of the Public, is “ fincerely felt by
“ Your loving Brother,
At last, at the age of fourscore, he was appointed, in
: 1761, Clerk of the Closet to the Princess Dowager. One obstacle must have stood not a little in the
way of that preferment after which his whole life panted. Though he took Orders, he never intirely shook off Politics. He was always the Lion of his master Milton, pawing to get free his binder parts. By this conduct, if he gained some friends, he made many enemies.
Again, Young was a poet ; and again, with reverence be it spoken, poets by profession do not always make the best clergymen. If the author of the Night Thoughts composed many sermons, he did not oblige the publick with many.
Besides, in the latter part of life, Young was fond of holding himself out for a man retired from the world. But he seemed to have forgotten that the same verse which contains oblitus meorum, contains also oblivifcendus & illis. The brittle chain of worldly friendship and patronage is broken as effectually, when one goes beyond the length of it, as when the other does. To the vefsel which is failing from the shore, it only appears that the shore also recedes; in life it is truly thus. He who retires from the world, will find himself, in reality, deserted as fast, if not faster, by the world. The publick is not to be treated as the coxcomb treats his mistress-to be threatened with desertion, in order to increase fondness.
Young seems to have been taken at his word. Notwithstanding his frequent complaints of being neglected, no hand was reached out to pull him from that retirement of which he declared himself enamoured. Alexander assigned no palace for the resi