Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

For the life of Young, the world is obliged to Mr. Herbert Crost, the English lexicographer, formerly a barrister of Lincoln's-Inn, now a clergyman, who was the friend of his son, and wished to vindicate him from some very mistaken remarks to his prejudice. Mr. Croft's narrative, which exbibits a successful imitation of Dr. Johnson's style, was subjected to the revision of our great poetical biographer, who adopted it as an introduction to his critical examination of the genius and writings of Young.

The facts fated in the present account are chiefly taken from Mr. Croft's narrative, with the addition of fuch particulars as subsequent researches, or casual information, have supplied.

Edward Young was born at Upham, near Winchester, in June 1681. He was the fon of Dr. Edward Young, at that time Fellow of Winchester College, and Rector of Upham. In 1682, he was collated to the prebend of Gillingham-Minor, in the church of Salisbury, by Bishop Ward. He was afterwards, in consequence of his merit and reputation, or of the interest of Lord Bradford, to whom, in 1902, he dedicated two volumes of fermons, appointed Chaplain to King William and Queen Mary, and preferred to the deanery of Salisbury. Jacob, who wrote in 1720, fays, " he was Chaplain and Clerk of the Closet to the late Queen, who honoured him, by fanding godmother to the poet." He died at Salisbury, in 1705. Burnet preached his funeral sermon, and bestowed upon him a handsome eulogium.

He was placed on the foundation at Winchester College, where he remained till the election af. ter his eighteenth birth-day, the period at which those upon the foundation are superannuated; when, not being chosen to New College, Oxford, he, on the 13th of O&ober 1703, was entered as independent member of that fociety, that he might live at little expence at the lodgings of the Warden, who was a particular friend of his father. In a few months, the Warden of New College died. He then removed to Corpus College. The president of this society, from a regard also to his father, invited him thither, in order to lessen his academical expences. In 1708, he was nomiDated to a law-fellowlhip at All Souls, by Archbishop Tenison; into whose hands it came by devolution. Such repeated patronages, while it justifies Burnet's praise of the father, reflects credit on the condu& of the son. The manner in which it was exerted, seems to provę, that the father did not leave behind him much wealth.

It is reported, that when he first found himself independent, and his own master, at All Souls, he was not the ornament to religion and morality which he afterwards became.

Pope is said, by Ruffhead, to have told Warburton, that “ Young had passed a foolis youth, the sport of peers; but his having a very good heart, enabled him to support the clerical character, when he assumed it, with decency, and afterwards with honour.”

The authority of his father, indeed, had ceased some time before by his death ; and he was certainly not ashamed to be patronized by the Duke of Wharton, “ the scorn and wonder of his days."

His father had been well acquainted with Mrs. Anne Wharton, the first wife of Thomas What. too, Esq. afterwards Marquis of Wharton, a lady celebrated for hep poeticat talents, by Burner and by Waller. The father of the Duke of Wharton, had been the friend of his father; and, 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 eccentric and dissolute descendent, a friend and a companion. But the doke, it is to be supposed, did not at once fink into the depths of profligacy. That he had great and shining abilities, was acknowledged by his contemporaries, who entertained the greatest hopes of his becoming an honour to his country. It is not unreasonable to imagine, that the bare acquaintance with such a man as Wharton proved to be, might give rise to the report of his having relaxed, in early youth, from the frict and rigid rules of virtue; of the truth of which, there is pot fufficient evidence.

The testimony of Tindal, who spent much of his time at All Souls, is an unqucftionable authoa rity in favour of Young's warmth and ability in the cause of religion, in the early part of his life. ** The other beys," said he, “ I can always answer, because I always know whence they have their

[ocr errors]

arguments, which I have read a hundred times; but that fellow Young, is continually peltering me with something of his own.".

In 1912, 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, he published An Frutle to the Right Honourable George Lord Lansdown; in order to reconcile the people to one, at lealt, of the new lords. It seems intended also to reconcile the public to the late peace.

The affectionate mention of the death of his friend Harrison, of New College, at the close of the poem, is an instance of his art, which displayed itself so wonderfully afterwards in the Night Thoughts, of making the public a party in his private forrow.

Of this poem, there is no appearance in his own edition of his works, in 4 vols, Evo; and prehxcd to an edition by Curll and Tonfon, in 1741, is a letter from Young to Curll, in which he advifes its omission. “ I think,” says he, in the preiace to the Works of the Autbor of the Aigbt Tbewobito "thie following pieces, in four volumes, to be the most excusable of all chat I have written ; and I with 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." It is but justice to distinguish what the author of the Night Thoughts deliberately rejected.

When Addison published “ Cato, in 1713, Young prefixed to it a recommendatory copy of ver. ses. This is one of the pieces which he did not republith.

The Last Day was published the same year, The Vice-Chancellor's Imprima!ur : for it was first printed at Oxford, is dated May 19.1713. From the exordium, he appears to have spent some time in the composition of it. While other bards with Britain's bero set their fouls on fore, he draws, he says, a deeper scene. This serious poeni was finified by him as early as 1710; for part of it is printed in the “ Tatler.”. The “ Englishman" of October 29. 1713, which was probably written by Addison, fpeaks handsomely of it. It was inscribed to the queen in a dedication; which, for fome reason, he did not admit into his works. It tells her, that the only citle 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 seculed (tipend, 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 pengon.
That Y--- means Young, seems clear from four other lines in the same poem s

Attend, ye Popes, and Youngs, and Gays,
1. And tune your harps, and itrew your bays;

Your panegyrics here provide;

Yon cannot err on flattery's side, of the dedication, the complexion is clearly political. It speaks in the highest terms of the peace of Utrecht. Mr. Groft doubts whether he had a right to withdraw the praise he had once given, and alks,“ Was he conscious of the exaggeration of party? Then he should not have writren it. If it contained only, the praise of truth, he should not have omitted it in his works.” Surely this is denying a man the privilege of becoming wisér by his own experience! Young, in the warmth of party zeal, might very honestly and sincerely write a panegyric, which time, and a clearer knowledge of characters, might convince hinz was undeserved ; all he could then do, was filently to fuppress, as far as he was able, those errors into which an upright beart had betrayed his judgment.

The poem itself, is not without a glance towards politics, notwithstanding the subject. The cry, that the church was in danger, had not yet fubsided. The Las Day, written by a layman, was much approved by. the Tory ministry, and their friends.

The Force of Religion, or Vanguished Love, was published before the queen's death. This poem is founded on the execution of Lady Jane Gray, and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, 1554; a Rory chosen for the subject of an epistle by Cawthorn, a tragedy by Smith, and wrought into a

$6

tragedy by Rowe. The flattering dedication of it to the Countess of Salisbury, does not appear in bis own edition.

On the 23d of April 1714, he took his degree of Bachelor of Civil Law; and, the same year, he published a poem on the Queen's death, and his Majesty's accession to the throne. It is inscribed to Addison, then Secretary to the Lords Justices. This poem he did not admit into his works.

In 1916, when the foundation of the Codrington Library was laid, he was appointed to speak the Latin Cration. In his letter to Curll, he says, If you will take my advice, I would have you, omic the Oration on Codrington. I think the collection will sell better without it. This oration he. did not admit into his works.

In 1717, when Wharton, after his return from his travels, went to Ireland, it is not unlikely that . Young accompanied his avowed friend and patron. From a passage relating to Swift, in his letter to Richardson, ta original composition, it is clear he was, at some period of his life, in that country.

In 1719, he was received into the Earl of Exeter's family, as tutor to Lord Burleigh, which he foon quitted, upon the pressing IJlicitations of Wharton, and his promiles of serving and advalcing him io the world.

The fame year, his Bufiris, King of Egypt, was acted ac the theatre in Drury-Lane, and met with futiefs. The plet is of his own contrivance. The haughty message sent by Busiris to the Persian dabelalar, is copied from that returned by the Ethiopian Prince to Cambyses, in the third book of Herudotus. The dialogue contains many striking beauties of fenţinient and description, but it is written in a glaring ambitious style; the pride of Bwiris is such as no other man can have; and the whoie is too remote from human life, to raise either grief, horror, or indignation. It was inscribed to the Duke of Newcastle, “ because the late izistances he had received of his Grace's undeserved and uncommon in an affair of some consequence, foreig the theatre, had taken from him the privilege of choosing a patron." The dedicacion he afterwards suppressed.

He took the degree of Doctor of Laws ou the roth of June 1719. The same year, he lamented the death of Addison, in a letter addressed to their comnion friend, Tickell. According to Space's MSS, they used to " communicate to each other whatever verses they wrote, cven to the kast things."

The same year appeared A Paraphrase on part of the Book of Job, which he dedicated, in no com. earn strain of fiartery, to Lord Chancellor Parker. Of this work, his opinion may be known from bis letter to Curll :-" You seem, in the collection you propose, to have onitted what I think may daim the first place in it; I'mean, " A Translation from part of Job, printed by Mr. Tonson.”. The dedication was only suffered to appear in Tonson's edition. lo 1721, The Revenge, a tragedy, was acted at the theatre in Drury-Lane, and met with

very great success. This is his best dramatic performance. It approaches much vearer to human practices and manners than Busiris, and therefore keeps poffeffion of the stage. The first design seems Ezgefted by “ Ochello" and " Abdelazar;" but he has, in some respects, greatly improved on both. Tee refie@ions, the incidents, and the di&ion, are original. The moral observations are so introdteed and so expressed, as to have all the novelty that can be required.

He dedicated this famous tragedy to Wharton. “ Your Grace," says the dedication, “ has been pleased to make yourself accessary to the following scenes, nct only by suggesting the most beautifaiitcident in them, but by making all peffible provision for the success of the whole.” That Whartca ihoald have suggeited the incidene to which he alludes, is not unlikely, as his last mental exertiga, in his quarters at Lerida in Spain, was some scenes of a tragedy, on the story of “Mary Queen of Scots;" to which Lady Mary Wortley Montague wrote an epilogue, which is preserved in Doulle;'s Collection."

He concludes his address to Wharton, whom he acknowledges not only as the defender of his pretry, but as the promoter of his fortune, thus : " My present fortune is his bounty, and my future tis care; which, I will venture to say, will be always remembertd to his honcur ; ünce he, I know, ideeded his generosity as an encouragement to merit; though, through his very pardonable partiality to one who bears him fo fiocere a duty and respect, I happen to receive the benefit of it." He added this dedication from his own cdition of his works.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

To the patronage of this unhappy character, he was certainly, however, indebted for foniething material. Wharton's regard for Young, added to his “ luft of praise,”, procured to All Souls Cola lege a donation, which was not forgotten when he dedicated The Revenge.

Two annuities were also granted by the Duke to Young ; one of which was dated March 24. 1719, and accounted for his Grace's bounty in a style princely and commendable, if not legal :-“ Considering that the public good is advanced by the enouragemcent of learning, and the police arts, and being pleased therein with the attempts of Dr. Young; in consideration thereof, and of the love I bear' him, &c.” The other was dated July 10. 1722.

When Lord Chancellor Hardwicke was to determine, March 14. 1740, whether these annuities were for legal considerations, Young, on his examination, swore, that he quitted the Exeter family, and refused an annuity of 1001., which had been offered him for life, if he would continue tutor to Lord Burleigh, upon the solicitations of the Duke of Wharton, and his Grace's assurances of providing for him in a niuch more ample manner.

It also appeared, that the Duke had given him a bond for 6ool., dated March 15. 1721, in confideration of his taking several journeys, and being at great expences, in order to be chosen Member of Parliament, at the Duke's desire; and in consideration of his not taking two livings of 2001. and 400l., in the gift of All Souls College, on his Grace's promises of serving and advancing him in the world.

The attempt to get into Parliament was at Cirencester, where Young stood a contested election, about 1721, in which he was unsuccessful.

His Satires were originally published separately, under the title of The Love of Fame, or The Unie verfal Paffion. The first appeared in 1725. The fifth was not published till 1727, and the sixth not till 1728; when he gathered them into one publication," corrected and enlarged,” and prefixed a preface, decisive in favour of laughing at the world; which he preserved, withoué any palliation, in the collection of his works. They were inscı ibed to the Duke of Dorset, Mr. Dedington, afterwards Lord Melcombe, Mr. Spencer Compton, afterwards Lord Wilmington, Lady Elizabeth Germain, Sir Robert Walpole, &c.

By the Universal Puffion, according to Mr. Crofi, he acquired more than three thousand pounds. His son informed Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswell, in 1781, "chat his father had received several thousand pounds of subscription-money for his Universal Pafion, but had lost it in the South Sea. Dr. Johnson thought this must be a mistake; for he had never seen a subscription book.”

It is related by Spence, in his MSS., on the authority of Mr. Rawlipfon, that Young, upon the publication of his Universal Pofion, received from the Duke of Grafton two thousand pounds; and that, when one of his friends exclaimed “ two thousand pounds for a poem,” he said it was the best bargain he ever made in his life; for the poem was worth four thousand. This story may be true ; but it seems to have been raised from the two answers of Sidney and Lord Burleigh, respecting the

Faery Qucene.”

In 1726, he addressed a poem, called The Infallment, to Sir Robert Walpole, of which the title sufficiently explains the intention. It is among the pieces he did not admit into the number of his pardonable writings.

At the accession of George II., he published Ocean, An Ode, concluding witb a Wifi. The hint of it was taken from the Royal Speech; which recommended the increase and the encouragement of the seamen; that they might be invited, rather than compelled by force and violence, to enter into the fervice of their country; a plan which humanity must lament that policy has not even yet been able or willing to carry into execution. Prefixed to the original publication, were An Ode to the King, Pater Patriæ, and an Elay on Lyric Poetry. He preserved neither of them in his own edition. The Oide itself, which in the first edition, and in the last, consists of seventy-three ftanzas, in his own edition is reduced to filty-nine. Among the omitted passages, is the Wife. The Ej ay or Lyric Poetry is so just and impartial, as to condemn himself.

Soon after the appearance of Ocean, when he was almost fifty, he entered into orders; and, in April 1728, not long after he put on the gown, he was appointed Chaplain to the King,

The tragedy of The Brosbers, which was already in rehearsal, he immediately withdrew from the Dage, as unbecoming his new profeflion.

« ZurückWeiter »