« ZurückWeiter »
manner. The duke also prevailed on Young, as a scribes, must be true ; but they did not permanently political supporter, to come forward as a candidate influence his conduct. He was not weaned from the for the representation of the borough of Cirencester world till age had incapacitated him for its purin parliament, and he gave him a bond for £600 to suits; and the epigrammatic point and wit of his defray the expenses. Young was defeated, Whar- Night Thoughts,' with the gloomy views it pre
sents of life and religion, show the poetical artist
forced with a commanding energy and persuasion. Edward Young.
Epigram and repartee are then forgotten by the ton died, and the court of chancery decided against poet; fancy yields to feeling; and where imagery is the validity of the bond. The poet, being now quali- employed, it is select, nervous, and suitable. In fied by experience, published a satire on the Uni- this sustained and impressive style Young seldom versal Passion—the Love of Fame, which is at once remains long at a time; his desire to say witty and keen and powerful, and the nearest approach we smart things, to load his picture with supernumehave to the polished satire of Pope. When upwards rary horrors, and conduct his personages to their of fifty, Young entered the church, wrote a pane- sulphureous or ambrosial seats,' soon converts the gyric on the king, and was made one of his majesty's great poet into the painter and epigrammatist. The chaplains. Swift has said that the poet was com- ingenuity of his second style is in some respects as pelled to
wonderful as the first, but it is of a vastly inferior torture his invention
order of poetry. Mr Southey thinks, that when To flatter knaves, or lose his pension.
Johnson said (in his Life of Milton') that the
good and evil of eternity were too ponderous for the But it does not appear that there was any other wings of wit,' he forgot Young. The moral critic reward than the appointment as chaplain. In 1730, could not, however, but have condemned even witty Young obtained from his college the living of Wel thoughts and sparkling metaphors, which are so inwyn, in Hertfordshire, where he was destined to congruous and misplaced. The ‘Night Thoughts,' close his days. He was eager to obtain further pre- like · Hudibras,' is too pointed, and too full of comferment, but having in his poetry professed a strong pressed reflection and illustration, to be read conlove of retirement, the ministry seized upon this as tinuously with pleasure. Nothing can atone for the a pretext for keeping him out of a bishopric. The want of simplicity and connection in a long poem. poet made a noble alliance with the daughter of the In Young there is no plot or progressive interest. Earl of Lichfield, widow of Colonel Lee, which Each of the nine books is independent of the other. lasted ten years, and proved a happier union than The general reader, therefore, seeks out favourite the titled marriages of Dryden and Addison. The passages for perusal, or contents himself with a lady had two children by her first marriage, to single excursion into his wide and variegated field. whom Young was warmly attached. Both died; But the more carefully it is studied, the more exand when the mother also followed, Young com- traordinary and magnificent will the entire poem posed his Night Thoughts.' Sixty years had appear. The fertility of his fancy, the pregnancy strengthened and enriched his genius, and aug- of his wit and knowledge, the striking and felicitous mented even the brilliancy of his fancy. In 1761 combinations everywhere presented, are indeed rethe poet was made clerk of the closet to the markable. Sound sense is united to poetical imaPrincess Dowager of Wales, and died four years gery; maxims of the highest practical value, and afterwards, in April 1765, at the advanced age of passages of great force, tenderness, and everlasting eighty-four.
truth, are constantly rising, like sunshine, over the A life of so much action and worldly anxiety has quaint and gloomy recesses of the poet's imaginararely been united to so much literary industry and tiongenius. In his youth, Young was gay, and dissi- The glorious fragments of a fire immortal, pated, and all his life he was an indefatigable courtier. In his poetry he is a severe moralist and With rubbish mixed, and glittering in the dust. ascetic divine. That he felt the emotions he de- | After all his bustling toils and ambition, how finely
does Young advert to the quiet retirement of his And fondly dream each wind and star our friend; country life
All in some darling enterprise embarked :
But where is he can fathom its event?
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite, her lawful prize!
Some steer aright, but the black blast blows hard, With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril; Here, on a single plank, thrown safe ashore,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of proof I hear the tumult of the distant throng,
Full against wind and tide, some win their way, As that of seas remote, or dying storms;
And when strong effort has deserved the port,
And tugged it into view, 'tis won ! 'tis lost ! And meditate on scenes more silent still;
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate : Pursue my theme, and fight the fear of death.
They strike ! and while they triumph they expire. Here like a shepherd, gazing from his hut,
In stress of weather most, some sink outright: Touching his reed, or leaning on his staff,
O'er them, and o'er their names the billows close; Eager ambition's fiery chase I see;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born.
Others a short memorial leave behind,
Like a flag floating when the bark's ingulfed ;
It floats a moment, and is seen no more.
One Cæsar lives; a thousand are forgot.
How few beneath auspicious planets born
(Darlings of Providence! fond Fate's elect !) Earth's highest station ends in 'here he lies,'
With swelling sails make good the promised port, And dust to dust concludes her noblest song.
With all their wishes freighted ! yet even these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain ; And when he argues in favour of the immortality of Free from misfortune, not from nature free, man from the analogies of nature, with what ex. They still are men, and when is man secure ? quisite taste and melody does he characterise the As fatal time, as storm ! the rush of years changes and varied appearances of creation Beats down their strength, their numberless escapes Look nature through, 'tis revolution all;
In ruin end. And now their proud success All change, no death; day follows night, and night
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow: The dying day; stars rise and set, and set and rise :
What pain to quit the world, just made their own, Earth takes the example. See, the Summer gay,
Their nest so deeply downed, and built so high! With her green chaplet and ambrosial flowers,
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars. Droops into pallid Autumn: Winter gray,
With such a throng of poetical imagery, bursts of Horrid with frost and turbulent with storm,
sentiment, and rays of fancy, does the poet-divine Blows Autumn and his golden fruits away,
clothe the trite and simple truths, that all is vanity, Then melts into the Spring: soft Spring, with breath and that man is born to die! Favonian, from warm chambers of the south, Recalls the first. All, to reflourish, fades :
These thoughts, 0 Night ! are thine ; As in & wheel, all sinks to reascend:
From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs, Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,
In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere, He thus moralises on human life
Her shepherd cheered ; of her enamoured less
Than I of thee. And art thou still unsung,
Immortal silence ! where shall I begin ? Too subtle is the movement to be seen ;
Where end ? or how steal music from the spheres Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone.
To soothe their goddess ? Warnings point out our danger; gnomons, time;
O majestic Night ! As these are useless when the sun is set,
Nature's great ancestor ! Day's elder born ! So those, but when more glorious reason shines.
And fated to survive the transient sun ! Reason should judge in all ; in reason's eye
By mortals and immortals seen with awe! That sedentary shadow travels hard.
A starry crown thy raven brow adorns, But such our gravitation to the wrong,
An azure zone thy waist ; clouds, in heaven's loom So prone our hearts to whisper that we wish,
Wrought through varieties of shape and shade, 'Tis later with the wise than he's aware :
In ample folds of drapery divine, A Wilmington' goes slower than the sun :
Thy flowing mantle form, and, heaven throughout, And all mankind mistake their time of day;
Voluminously pour thy pompous train :
Inspiring aspect !-claim a grateful verse ;
And, like a sable curtain starred with gold, We take fair days in winter for the spring,
Drawn o'er my labours past, shall clothe the scene. And turn our blessings into bane. Since ost
This magnificent apostrophe has scarcely been Man must compute that age he cannot feel,
equalled in our poetry since the epic strains of He scarce believes he's older for his years.
On Life, Death, and Immortality.
Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep ! And again in a still nobler strain, where he com- He, like the world, his ready visit pays pares human life to the sea,
Where Fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes : Self-Aattered, unexperienced, high in hope,
Swift on his downy pinion flies from wo, When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers gay, And lights on lids unsullied with a tear, We cut our cable, launch into the world,
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose
I wake: how happy they who wake no more ! 1 Lord Wilmington.
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
|| I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain ? Tumultuous; where my wrecked desponding thought Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her nature From wave to wave of fancied misery
Of subtler essence than the common clod : At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
Even silent night proclaims my soul immortal ! Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain
Why, then, their loss deplore that are not lost? (A bitter change !), severer for severe:
This is the desert, this the solitude : The day too short for my distress; and night, How populous, how vital is the grave! E'en in the zenith of her dark domain,
This is creation's melancholy vault, Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom; Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne, The land of apparitions, empty shades ! In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
All, all on earth, is shadow, all beyond Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world.
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed; Silence how dead! and darkness how profound ! How solid all, where change shall be no more! Nor eye nor listening ear an object finds;
This is the bud of being, the dim dawn, Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
The twilight of our day, the vestibule ; Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause ;
Life's theatre as yet is shut, and death, An awful pause ! prophetic of her end.
Strong death alone can heave the massy bar, And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled :
This gross impediment of clay remove,
And make us embryos of existence free
The future embryo, slumbering in his sire. (That column of true majesty in man),
Embryos we must be till we burst the shell, Assist me: I will thank you in the grave;
Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life, The grave your kingdom: there this frame shall fall The life of gods, oh transport ! and of man. A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts ; But what are ye?
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh. Thou, who didst put to flight
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon, Primeval Silence, when the morning stars,
Here pinions all his wishes ; winged by heaven
To fly at infinite : and reach it there
In his full beam, and ripen for the just,
And is it in the flight of threescore years
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptured or alarmed, Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve
At aught this scene can threaten or indulge, Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear :
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.
[Thoughts on Time.]
But from its loss : to give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke, Connexion exquisite of distant worlds !
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright, Distingushed link in being's endless chain !
It is the knell of my departed hours. Midway from nothing to the Deity!
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood. A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt!
It is the signal that demands despatch: Though sullied and dishonoured, still divine ! How much is to be done? My hopes and fears Dim miniature of greatness absolute !
Start up alarmed, and o'er life's narrow verge An heir of glory! a frail child of dust :
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss. Helpless immortal! insect infinite !
A dread eternity! how surely mine! A worm ! a god! I tremble at myself,
And can eternity belong to me, And in myself am lost. At home, a stranger,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour? Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast,
O time! than gold more sacred ; more a load And wondering at her own. How reason reels !
Than lead to fools, and fools reputed wise. Oh what a miracle to man is man!
What moment granted man without account? Triumphantly distressed ! what joy! what dread !
What years are squandered, wisdom's debt unpaid ! Alternately transported and alarmed !
Our wealth in days all due to that discharge. What can preserve my life ! or what destroy !
Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door, An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Insidious Death; should his strong hand arrest, Legions of angels can't confine me there.
No composition sets the prisoner free. Tis past conjecture ; all things rise in proof:
Eternity's inexorable chain While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread,
Fast binds, and vengeance claims the full arrear. What though my soul fantastic measures trod O'er fairy fields; or mourned along the gloom Youth is not rich in time; it may be poor; Of silent woods; or, down the craggy steep
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay Hurled headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool; No moment, but in purchase of its worth ; Or scaled the cliff; or danced on hollow winds, And what it's worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
Lorenzo! no: on the long destined hour,
From everlasting ages growing ripe,
When the Dread Sire, on emanation bent,
And big with nature, rising in his might, On all important time, through every age,
Called forth creation (for then time was born) Though much, and warm, the wise have urged, the man
By Godhead streaming through a thousand worlds ; Is yet unborn who duly weighs an hour.
Not on those terms, from the great days of heaven, “I've lost a day '--the prince who nobly cried,
From old eternity's mysterious orb Had been an emperor without his crown.
Was time cut off, and cast beneath the skies ; Of Rome ? say, rather, lord of human race :
The skies, which watch him in his new abode, He spoke as if deputed by mankind.
Measuring his motions by revolving spheres, So should all speak; so reason speaks in all :
That horologe machinery divine. From the soft whispers of that God in man,
Hours, days, and months, and years, his children play, Why fly to folly, why to frenzy fly,
Like numerous wings, around him, as he flies ; For rescue from the blessings we possess ?
Or rather, as unequal plumes, they shape Time, the supreme !—Time is eternity;
His ample pinions, swift as darted flame, Pregnant with all that makes archangels smile.
To gain his goal, to reach his ancient rest, Who murders Time, he crushes in the birth
And join anew eternity, his sire : A power ethereal, only not adored.
In his immutability to nest, Ah ! how unjust to nature and himself
When worlds that count his circles now, unhinged, Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
(Fate the loud signal sounding) headlong rush Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
To timeless night and chaos, whence they rose. We censure Nature for a span too short; That span too short we tax as tedious too;
But why on time so lavish is my song: Torture invention, all expedients tire,
On this great theme kind Nature keeps a school To lash the lingering moments into speed,
To teach her sons herself. Each night we die And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves. Each morn are born anew; each day a life;
And shall we kill each day! If trifling kills, Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
Sure vice must butcher. O what heaps of slain And seems to creep, decrepit with his age.
Cry out for vengeance on us ! time destroyed
Is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.
Throw years away?
Throw empires, and be blameless : moments seize;
Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish, We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live; When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid day stand still, Time wasted is existence; used, is life :
Bid him drive back his car and re-in part And bare existence man, to live ordained,
The period past, re-give the given hour.
Lorenzo ! more than miracles we want.
[The Man whose Thoughts are not of this world.) Time's use was doomed a pleasure, waste a pain, That man might feel his error if unseen,
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw, And, feeling, fly to labour for his cure ;
What nothing less than angel can exceed, Not blundering, split on idleness for ease.
A man on earth devoted to the skies ;
Like ships in seas, while in, above the world. We push time from us, and we wish him back ;
With aspect mild, and elevated eye, Life we think long and short ; death seek and shun. Behold him seated on a mount serene, Oh the dark days of vanity ! while
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm ; Here, how tasteless! and how terrible when gone!
All the black cares and tumults of this life, Gone ? they ne'er go ; when past, they haunt us Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet, still:
Excite his pity, not impair his peace. The spirit walks of every day deceased,
Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred and the slave, And smiles an angel, or a fury frowns.
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewildered in the vale; in all unlike!
What stronger demonstration of the right? | Time used. The man who consecrates his hours
The present all their care, the future his. By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,
When public welfare calls, or private want, At once he draws the sting of life and death :
They give to Fame; his bounty he conceals. He walks with nature, and her paths are peace. Their virtues varnish Nature, his exalt. 'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours,
Mankind's esteem they court, and he his own. And ask them what report they bore to heaven,
Theirs the wild chase of false felicities; And how they might have borne more welcome news.
His the composed possession of the true. Their answers form what men experience call ;
Alike throughout is his consistent peace, If wisdom's friend her best, if not, worst foe.
All of one colour, and an even thread;
While party-coloured shreds of happiness, All-sensual man, because untouched, unseen, With hideous gaps between, patch up for them He looks on time as nothing. Nothing else
A madman's robe; each puff of Fortune bluws Is truly man's ; 'tis fortune's. Time's a god.
The tatters by, and shows their nakedness. Hast thou ne'er heard of Time's omnipotence ?
He sees with other eyes than theirs : where they For, or against, what wonders can he do !
Behold a sun, he spies a Deity. And will: to stand blank neuter he disdains.
What makes them only smile, makes him adore. Not on those terms was time (heaven's stranger !) scnt Where they see mountains, he but atoms secs. On his important embassy to man.
An empire in his balance weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship as divine ;
[From the Love of Fame.]
Not all on books their criticism waste; He lays aside to find his dignity;
The genius of a dish some justly taste,
And eat their way to fame! with anxious thought No dignity they find in aught besides.
The salmon is refused, the turbot bought. They triumph in externals
(which conceal Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse :
Impatient Art rebukes the sun's delay, Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And bids December yield the fruits of May. | And nothing thinks so great in man as man.
Their various cares in one great point combine Too dear he holds his interest to neglect
The business of their lives, that is, to dine ; Another's welfare, or his right invade:
Half of their precious day they give the feast, Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey.
And to a kind digestion spare the rest. They kindle at the shadow of a wrong ;
Apicius here, the taster of the town, 1. Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on heaven,
Feeds twice a-week, to settle their renown.
These worthies of the palate guard with care Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe. Nought but what wounds his virtue wounds his peace. The sacred annals of their bills of fare; A covered heart their character defends;
In those choice books their panegyrics read, A covered heart denies him half his praise.
And scorn the creatures that for hunger feed; With nakedness his innocence agrees,
If man, by feeding well, commences great, While their broad foliage testifies their fall.
Much more the worm, to whom that man is meat. Their no-joys end where his full feast begins ; His joys create, theirs murder future bliss.
Belus with solid glory will be crowned ; To triumph in existence his alone;
He buys no phantom, no vain empty sound,
But builds himself a name; and to be great,
Sinks in a quarry an immense estate;
In cost and grandeur Chandos he'll outdo;
And, Burlington, thy taste is not so true;
And full perfection is arrived at last;
When lo! my lord to some small corner runs,
And leaves state-rooms to strangers and to duns. Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer: Next day the fatal precedent will plead ;
The man who builds, and wants wherewith to pay, Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life.
Provides a home, from which to run away. Procrastination is the thief of time;
In Britain what is many a lordly scat,
But a discharge in full for an estate ?
Some for renown on scraps of learning dote,
And think they grow immortal as they quote. That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
To patch-work learned quotations are allied ;
Both strive to make our poverty our pride.
Let high birth triumph ! what can be more great ? All pay themselves the compliment to think
Nothing—but merit in a low estate. They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
To Virtue's humblest son let none prefer On this reversion takes up ready praise ;
Vice, though descended from the Conqueror. At least their own; their future selves applaud;
Shall men, like figures, pass for high or base, How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Slight or important only by their place ? Time lodged in their own hands is Folly's vails;
Titles are marks of honest men, and wise ; That lodged in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The fool or knave that wears a title, lies. The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
They that on glorious ancestors enlarge, 'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
Produce their debt instead of their discharge.
[The Emptincss of Riches.]
Can gold calm passion, or make reason shine! Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
Can we dig peace or wisdom from the mine? As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
Wisdom to gold prefer, for 'tis much less At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
To make our fortune than our happiness : Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
That happiness which great ones often see, At fifty chides his infamous delay,
With rage and wonder, in a low degree, Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
Themselves unblessed. The poor are only poor. In all the magnanimity of thought
But what are they who droop amid their store ? Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same. Nothing is meaner than a wretch of state.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal. The happy only are the truly great.
Are but poor arts to mark them from the throng. The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
See how they beg an alms of Flattery:
A decent competence we fully taste;
It strikes our sense, and gives a constant feast;