Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

are original.”—The success of this induced him to attempt another tragedy, which was written in 1721, but not brought upon the stage for thirty years afterwards; and then without success, as we shall have farther occasion to observe. It has been remarked, that all his plays conclude with suicide*, and I much fear the frequent introduction of this unnatural crime upon the stage, has contributed greatly to its commission.

We have passed over our Author's Paraphrase on Part of the Book of Job, in order to bring his drama. tic performances together. The Paraphrase has been well received, and has often been printed with his Night Thoughts. This would be admired, perhaps, as much as any of his works, could we forget the ori. ginal: but there is sụch a dignified simplicity even in our prose translation of the poetic parts of scripture,

* Our author seems early to have been enamoured with the Tragic Muse, and with the charms of melancholy. Dr. Ridley relates, that, when at Oxford, he would sometimes shut up his room, and study by a Jamp, at mid-day.

« ance.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that we can seldom bear to see them reduced to rhyme, or modern measures.

His next, and one of his best performances, is enti. tled, The Love of Fame the Universal Passion, in Seven characteristic Satires, originally published separately, between the years 1725 and 1728. This, according to Dr. Johnson, is a “very great perform

It is said to be a series of epigrams, and 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 Só with discernment, and drawn with nicety ; his illus. 56 trations are often happy, and his reflections often * just. His species of Satire is between those of Ho

race and Juvenal: He has the gaiety of Horace “ without his laxity of numbers ; and the morality of “ Juvenal, with greater variety of images.”_Swist indeed has pronounced of these Satires, that they should have been either “ more merry, or more se. os vere :" in that case, they might probably have caught the popular taste more ; but this does not prove that they would have been better. The opinion of the Duke of Grafton, however, was of more worth than all the opinions of the wits, if it be true as related by Mr. Spence, that his grace presented the author with two thousand pounds. “ Two thousand pounds for a “ poem !” said one of the Duke's friends: to whom his grace replied, that he had made an excellent bar.. gain, for he thought it worth four.

On the accession of George I, Young flattered hin. with an Ode, called Ocean, to which was prefixed an introductory Ode to the King, and an Essay on Lyric Poetry : of these the most observable thing is, that the poet and the critic could not agree : for the Rules of the Essay condemned the Poetry, and the Poetry set at defiance the maxims of the Essay. The biographer of British Poets has truly said, “ 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."

We now leave awhile the works of our author, to

[ocr errors]

“ Like him I go, but yet to go am loth: “ Like him I go, for angels drove us both, “ Hard was his fate, but mine still more unkind: “ His Eve went with him, but mine stays behind."

Another striking instance of his wit is related in reference to Voltaire: who, while in England, (probably at Mr. Doddington's seat in Dorsetshire) ridiculed, with some severity, Milton's allegorical personages, Sin and Death; on which Young, who was one of the company, immediately addressed him in the following extemporaneous distich:

“ Thou art so witty, profligate, and thin, " Thou seem'st a Milton, with his Death and Sin."

Soon after his marriage, our author again indulged his poetical vein in two odes, called The Sea Peace, with a Poetical Dedication to Voltaire, in which the above incident seems alluded to in these lines,

« On Dorset downs, when Milton's page
* With Sin and Death provok'd thy rage.”

In 1734 he printed an Argument for Peace, which afterward, with several of his smaller pieces, and most of his dedications, was consigned by his own hand to merited oblivion : in which circumstance he deserves both the thanks and imitation of posterity.

About the year 1741 he had the unhappiness to lose his wife; her daughter by Colonel Lee, and this daughter's husband, Mr. Temple. What affliction. he felt for their loss, may be seen in his Night Thoughts, written on this occasion. They are addressed to Lorenzo, a man of pleasure, and of the world ; and who, it is generally supposed, was his own son, then labouring under his father's displeasure. His son-in-law is said to be characterized by Philander, and his Lady's daughter was certainly the person he speaks of under the appellation of Narcise

2.-(See Night III.) In her last illness, which was a consumption, he accompanied her to Montpellier : or, as Mr. Croft says, to Lyons, in the South of France, at which place she died soon after her arria val.

sa

« ForrigeFortsæt »