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Keep thy conscience from offence,
And tempestuous passions free,
Easy shall thy passage be,
Cheerful thy allotted stay,
Truth shall lead thee to the gate,
Mercy's self shall let thee in,
The poem was accompanied by a letter.
"My dear Dr. Young,
"La Trappe, the 27th of Oct. 1761. "DEAR SIR,
To "Resignation" was prefixed an Apology for its appearance: to which more credit is due than to the generality of such apologies, from
"You seemed to like the ode I sent you for your amusement: I now send it you as a preIf you please to accept of it, and are wil-Young's unusual anxiety that no more producling that our friendship should be known when tions of his old age should disgrace his former we are gone, you will be pleased to leave this fame. In his will, dated February 1760, he deamong those of your own papers that may pos- sires of his executors, in a particular manner, sibly see the light by a posthumous publication. that all his manuscript books and writings God send us health while we stay, and an easy whatever might be burned, except his book of journey.
Yet write I must. A lady sues:
And friend you have, and I the same,
In 1762, a short time before his death, Young published "Resignation." Notwithstanding the manner in which it was really forced from him by the world, criticism has treated it with no common severity. If it shall be thought not to deserve the highest praise, on the other side of fourscore, by whom, except by Newton and by Waller, has praise been merited?
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 seeks for sounding names and titles, to be informed that the Author of the "Night Thoughts" did "not
To Mrs. Montagu, the famous champion of Shakspeare, I am indebted for the history of "Resignation." Observing that Mrs. Boscawen, in the midst of her grief for the loss of the admi-blush to leave a legacy to his friend Henry Steral, derived consolation from the perusal of the vens, a hatter at the Templegate." Of these two Night Thoughts," Mrs. Montagu proposed a remaining friends, one went before Young. But visit to the Author. From conversing with at eighty-four, "where," as he asks in The CenYoung, Mrs. Boscawen derived still further con- taur, "is that world into which we were born?" solation; and to that visit she and the world were indebted for this poem. It compliments Mrs. Montagu in the following lines;
The same humility which marked a batter 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 "Churchyard" upon James Baker, dated 1749; which I am glad to find in the late collection of his works.
That friend, the spirit of thy theme
Extracting for your ease,
Will leave to me the dreg, in thoughts
Too common; such as these.
By the same lady I was 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 still 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 Conjectures on Original Composition," that "blank verse is verse unfallen, uncurst; verse reclaimed, re-enthroned 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 comfort, in consequence of the sudden death of Richardson, who was printing the former part of the poem. Of Richardson's death he says
When Heav'n would kindly set us free,
And earth's enchantment end;
It takes the most effectual means,
In September, 1764, he added a kind of codicil, wherein he made it his dying entreaty to his housekeeper, to whom he left 1000. "that all his manuscripts might be destroyed as soon as he was dead, which would greatly oblige her deceased friend."
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 three or four years, but he retained his intellects to the last.
know not to have been true, of the manner of Much is told in the "Biographia," which I his burial; of the master and children of a charity school, which he founded in his parish, who and of a bell which was not caused to toll as neglected to attend their benefactor's corpse; 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 shown 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 | Author of the "Night Thoughts" composed his funeral. many sermons, he did not oblige the public with many.
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 shapes which once were men. It is known also, that from this or from some other field he once wandered into the 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 narally inquire to what it was owing, that though he fived 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 preferment. The Author of the "Night Thoughts" ended his days upon Young seems to have been taken at his word. a living which came to him from his college Notwithstanding his frequent complaints of bewithout any favour, and to which he probably ing neglected, no hand was reached out to pull had an eye when he determined on the church. him from that retirement of which he declared To satisfy curiosity of this kind is, at this dis- himself enamoured. Alexander assigned no patance of time, far from easy. The parties them-lace for the residence of Diogenes, who boasted selves know not often, at the instant, why they his surly satisfaction with his tub. are neglected, or why they are preferred. The neglect of Young is by some 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 any one reminded the King of Young, the only answer was, "he has a pension." All the light thrown on this inquiry, by the following letter from Secker, only serves to show at what a late period of life the Author of the "Night Thoughts" solicited preferment:
Of the domestic manners and petty habits of the Author of the "Night Thoughts," I hoped to have given you an account from the best authority: but who shall dare to say, To-morrow I will be wise or virtuous, or to-morrow I will do a particular thing? Upon inquiring for his housekeeper, I learned that she was buried two days before I reached the town of her abode.
In a letter from Tscharner, a noble foreigner, to Count Haller, Tscharner says, he has lately spent four days with Young at Welwyn, where the author takes all the ease and pleasure mankind can desire. "Every thing about him shows the man, each individual being placed by rule. All is neat without art. He is very pleasant in conversation, and extremely polite."
This and more may possibly be true; but Tscharner's was a first visit, a visit of curiosity and admiration, and a visit which the Author na-expected.
"Deanery of St. Paul's, July 8, 1758. "Good Dr. Young,
"I have long wondered, that more suitable notice of your great merit hath not been taken by persons in power: but how to remedy the omission I see not. No encouragement hath ever been given me to mention things of this ture to his Majesty. And therefore, in all likelihood, the only consequence of doing it would be weakening the little influence which I may possibly have on some other occasions. Your fortune and your reputation 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 sincerely felt by "Your loving brother, "THO. CANT."
At last, at the age of fourscore, he was appointed, in 1761, clerk of the closet to the Princess Dowager.
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 "obliviscendus et 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 vessel which is sailing 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 public is not to be treated as the coxcomb treats his mistress; to be threatened with desertion, in order to increase fondness.
One obstacle must have stood not a little in the way of that preferment after which his whole life seems to have panted. Though he took orders, he never entirely shook off politics. He was always the lion of his master Milton, "pawing to get free his hinder 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
Of Edward Young an anecdote which wanders among readers is not true, that he was Fielding's Parson Adams. The original of that famous painting was William Young, who was a clergyman. He supported an uncomfortable existence by translating for the booksellers from Greek; and, if he did not seem to be his own friend, was at least no man's enemy. Yet the facility with which this report has gained belief in the world argues, were it not sufficiently known, that the Author of the "Night Thoughts" bore some resemblance to Adams.
The attention which Young bestowed upon the perusal of books is not unworthy imitation. When any passage pleased him he appears to have folded down the leaf. On these passages he bestowed a second reading. But the labours of man are too frequently vain. Before he returned to much of what he had once approved, he died. Many of his books, which I have seen, are by those notes of approbation so swelled beyond their real bulk, that they will hardly shut,
What though we wade in wealth or soar in fame'
The Author of these lines is not without his Hic | yet the whole is languid; the plan is too much jacet. extended, and a succession of images divides and weakens the general conception; but the great reason why the reader is disappointed is, that the thought of the LAST DAY makes every man more than poetical, by spreading over his mind a general obscurity of sacred horror, that oppresses distinction, and disdains expression.
His story of "Jane Grey" was never popular. It is written with elegance enough; but Jane is too heroic to be pitied.
The "Universal Passion" is indeed a very great performance. It is said to be a series of epigrams; but if it be, it is what the Author intended: his endeavour was at the production of striking distichs and pointed sentences; and his distichs have the weight of solid sentiment, and his points the sharpness of resistless truth.
His characters are often selected with discernment, and drawn with nicety; his illustrations were often happy, and his reflections often just. His species of satire is between those of Horace and Juvenal; and he has the gayety of Horace without his laxity of numbers, and the morality of Juvenal with greater variation of images. He plays, indeed, only on the surface of life; he never penetrates the recesses of the mind, and therefore the whole power of his poetry is exhausted by a single perusal; his conceits please only when they surprise.
To translate he never condescended, unless his "Paraphrase on Job" may be considered as a version: in which he has not, I think, been unsuccessful; he indeed favoured himself, by choosing those parts which most easily admit the ornaments of English poetry.
He had least success in his lyric attempts, in which he seems to have been under some malignant influence: he is always labouring to be great, and at last is only turgid.
In his "Night Thoughts" he has exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and striking allusions, a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one of the few poems in which blank verse could not be changed for rhyme but with disadvantage. The wild diffusion of the sentiments, and the digressive sallies of imagination, would have been compressed and restrained by confinement to rhyme. The excellence of this work is not exactness, but copiousness; particular lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whole; and in the whole there is a magnificence like that ascribed to Chinese plantation, the magnificence of vast extent and endless diversity.
His last poem was "Resignation;" in which he made, as he was accustomed, an experiment of a new mode of writing, and succeeded better than in his "Ocean" or his "Merchant." It was very falsely represented as a proof of decayed faculties. There is Young in every stanza, such as he often was in the highest vigour.
By the good sense of his son, 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, sooner or later, to the deserving.
EDVARDI YOUNG, LL.D.
Is it not strange that the Author of the "Night Thoughts" has inscribed 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 necessary for you, is the sincere wish of,
P. S. This account of Young was seen by you in manuscript, you know, sir; and, though I could not prevail on you to make any alteration, you insisted on striking out one passage, because it said, that, if I did not wish you to live long for your sake, I did for the sake of myself and of the world. But this postscript you will not see before the printing of it; and I will say here, in spite 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 so 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. H. C.
Oxford, Oct. 1782.
Or Young's poems it is difficult to give any general character; for he has no uniformity of manner; one of his pieces has no great resem blance 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 sometimes smooth, and sometimes rugged; his style is sometimes concatenated, and sometimes abrupt; sometimes diffusive, and sometimes concise. His plan seems to have started in his mind at the present moment; and his thoughts appear the effect of chance, sometimes adverse, and sometimes lucky, with very little operation of judgment.
He was not one of those writers whom experience improves, and who, observing 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,
His tragedies, not making part of the Collec tion, I had forgotten, till Mr. Stevens recalled them to my thoughts by remarking, that he seemed to have one favourite catastrophe, as his three plays all concluded with lavish suicide; a method by which, as Dryden remarked, a poet easily rids his scene of persons whom he wants
not to keep alive. In "Busiris" there are the
Her merchants princes, and each deck a throne.
His conceits are sometimes yet less valuable. In "The Last Day" he hopes to illustrate the
re-assembly of the atoms that compose the bu man body, at the "Trump of Doom," by the collection of bees into a swarm at the tinkling of a pan.
tion, he pursues it beyond expectation, sometimes happily, as in his parallel of Quicksilver with Pleasure, which I have heard repeated with approbation by a lady, of whose praise he would have been justly proud, and which is very ingenious, very subtle, and almost exact; but sometimes he is less lucky, as when, in his "Night Thoughts," it having dropped into his mind that the orbs, floating in space, might be called the cluster of creation, he thinks on a cluster of grapes, and says, that they all hang on the great vine, drinking the "nectareous juice of immortal life."
It must be allowed of Young's poetry that it abounds in thought, but without much accuracy or selection. When he lays hold of an illustra-nor his rhyming lines have any resemblance to those of former writers; he picks up no hemistichs, he copies no favourite expressions; he seems to have laid up no stores of thought or diction, but to owe all to the fortuitous sugges tions of the present moment. Yet I have reason to believe that, when once he had formed a new design, he then laboured it with very patient industry; and that he composed with great labour and frequent revisions.
OF DAVID MALLET, having no written memorial, I am able to give no other account than such as is supplied by the unauthorised loquacity of common fame, and a very slight personal knowledge.
The prophet says of Tyre, that "her merchants are princes." Young says of Tyre in his "Merchant,"
He was by his original one of the Macgregors, a clan, that became, about sixty years ago, under the conduct of Robin Roy, so formidable and so infamous for violence and robbery, that the name was annulled by a legal abolition; and when they were all to denominate themselves anew, the father, I suppose, of this author, called himself Malloch.
He has the trick of joining the turgid and familiar; to buy the aliiance of Britain, "Climes were paid down." Antithesis is his favourite. "They for kindness hate:" and "because she's right she's ever in the wrong."
His versification is his own; neither his blank
His verses are formed by no certain model; he is no more like himself in his different productions than he is like others. He seems never to have studied prosody, nor to have had any direc tion but from his own ear. But with all his defects, he was a man of genius and a poet.
[persons of the highest rank and the highest character, to wits, nobles, and statesmen.
Of his works, I know not whether I can trace the series. His first production was "William and Margaret;"* of which though it contains nothing very striking or difficult, he has been envied the reputation; and plagiarism has been boldly charged, but never proved.
Not long afterwards he published "The Excursion," (1728,) a desultory and capricious view of such scenes of nature as his fancy led him, or his knowledge enabled him to describe. It is not devoid of poetical spirit. Many of his images are striking, and many of the paragraphs are elegant. The cast of diction seems to be copied from Thomson, whose "Seasons" were then in their full blossom of reputation. He has Thomson's beauties and his faults.
David Malloch was, by the penury of his parents, compelled to be janitor of the high school at Edinburgh; a mean office, of which he did not afterwards delight to hear. But he surmounted the disadvantages of his birth and fortune; for when the Duke of Montrose applied to the College of Edinburgh for a tutor to educate his sons, Malloch was recommended; and I never heard that he dishonoured his credentials. When his pupils were sent to see the world,ment, or rather expansion, of a fragment which they were entrusted to his care; and having con- Pope printed in a Miscellany long before he enducted them round the common circle of modish travels, he returned with them to London, where by the influence of the family in which he resided, he naturally gained admission to many
His poem on "Verbal Criticism" (1733) was written to pay court to Pope, on a subject which he either did not understand, or willingly misrepresented; and is little more than an improve
*Mallet's "William and Margaret" was printed in Aaron Hill's "Plain Dealer," No. 36, July 24, 1724. In its original state it was very different from what it is in the last edition of his works.
There is in this | how little confidence can be placed in posthumous
While he was in the Prince's service he pub-
In 1740, he produced, as has been already mentioned, "The Mask of Alfred," in conjunction with Thomson.
grafted it into a regular poem.
Having cleared his tongue from his native pronunciation so as to be no longer distinguished as a Scot, he seems inclined to disencumber himself from all adherences of his original, and took upon him to change his name from Scotch Malloch, to English Mallet, without any imaginable reason of preference which the eye or ear can discover. What other proofs he gave of disrespect to his native country, I know not; but it was remarked of him, that he was the only Scot whom Scotchmen did not commend.
About this time Pope, whom he visited familiarly, published his "Essay on Man," but concealed the author; and when Mallet entered one day, Pope asked him slightly what there was new. Mallet told him, that the newest piece was something called an “Essay on Man," which he had inspected idly, and seeing the utter inability of the author, who had neither skill in writing nor knowledge of the subject, had tossed it away. Pope, to punish his self-conceit, told him the secret.
A new edition of the works of Bacon being prepared (1750) for the press, Mallet was employed to prefix a life, which he has written with elegance, perhaps with some affectation; but with so much more knowledge of history than of science, that when he afterwards undertook the Life of Marlborough, Warburton remarked, that he might perhaps forget that Marlborough was a general, as he had forgotten that Bacon was a philosopher.
When the Prince of Wales was driven from the palace, and setting himself at the head of the opposition, kept a separate court, he endeavoured to increase his popularity by the patronage of literature, and made Mallet his under secretary, with a salary of two hundred pounds a year; Thomson likewise had a pension; and they were associated in the composition of "The Mask of Alfred," which in its original state was played at Cliefden, in 1740; it was afterwards almost wholly changed by Mallet, and brought upon the stage at Drury-lane, in 1751, but with no great
Mallet, in a familiar conversation with Garrick, discoursing of the diligence which he was then exerting upon the Life of Marlborough, let him know, that in the series of great men quickly to be exhibited, he should find a niche for the hero of the theatre. Garrick professed to wonder by what artifice he could be introduced; but Mallet let him know, that, by a dexterous anticipation, he should fix him in a conspicuous place. "Mr. Mallet," says Garrick, in his gratitude of exultation, "have you left off to write for the stage?" Mallet then confessed that he had a drama in his hands. Garrick promised to act it; and "Alfred" was produced.
The long retardation of the Life of the Duke of Marlborough, shows, with strong conviction,
For some time afterwards he lay at rest. After a long interval, his next work was "Amyntor and Theodora," (1747,) a long story in blank verse; in which it cannot be denied that there is copiousness and elegance of language, vigour of sentiment, and imagery well adapted to take possession of the fancy. But it is blank verse. This he sold to Vaillant for one hundred and twenty pounds. The first sale was not great, and it is now lost in forgetfulness.
Mallet, by address or accident, perhaps by his dependence on the Prince, found his way to Bolingbroke; a man whose pride and petulance made his kindness difficult to gain, or keep, and whom Mallet was content to court by an act, which, I hope, was unwillingly performed. When it was found that Pope had clandestinely printed an unauthorized number of the pamphlet called "The Patriot King," Bolingbroke, in a fit of useless fury, resolved to blast his memory, and employed Mallet (1749) as the executioner of his vengeance. Mallet had not virtue, or had not spirit, to refuse the office; and was rewarded, not long after, with the legacy of Lord Bolingbroke's works.
Many of the political pieces had been written during the opposition to Walpole, and given to Franklin, as he supposed, in perpetuity. These, among the rest, were claimed by the will. The question was referred to arbitrators; but, when they decided against Mallet, he refused to yield to the award; and by the help of Millar the bookseller, published all that he could find, but with success very much below his expectation.
In 1755, his mask of "Britannia" was acted at Drury-lane; and his tragedy of "Elvira" in 1763; in which year he was appointed keeper of the book of entries for ships in the port of London.
In the beginning of the last war, when the na