Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

work will always introduce it where plainer compositions would not be read.

He died at the Parsonage House, at Welwyn, April 12, 1765, and was buried, according to his de. sire, by the side of his lady, under the altar-piece of that church; which is said to be ornamented in a singular manner with an elegant piece of needlework by Lady Young, and some appropriatc inscriptions, painted by the direction of the doctor.

His best monument is to be found in his works ; but a less durable one, in marble, was erected by his only son and heir, with a very modest and sensible inscription. This son, Mr. Frederick Young, had the first part of his education at Winchester school, and, becoming a scholar upon the foundation, was sent, in consequence thereof, to New College, in Oxford ; but there being no vacancy (though the society waited for one no less than two years) he was admitted in the mean time in Baliol, where he behaved so imprudently as to be forbidden the col

This misconduct disobliged his father so much, that it is said he would never see him after. wards : however, by his will he bequeathed to him the bulk of his fortune, which was considerable, reserv. ing only a legacy to his friend Stevens, the hatter at

lege.*

* Mr. Croft denies this circumstance, and calls the poet's son his friend.He does not, however, pretend to vindicate the conduct of the youth ; but he relates his repentance and regret, which is far better. Perhaps it is not possible wholly to vindicate the father. Great genius, even accompanied with piety, is not always most ornamental to domestic life ; and " the prose of ordinary occurrences," says Croft, " is beneath the dignity of poets.

3

spor

ке foll tho

ex:

Temple-gate, and 1005). to his house-keeper, with his dying charge to see all his manuscripts destroy. ed; which may have been some loss to posterity, though none, perhaps, to his own fame.

Dr. Young, as a christian and divine, has been reckoned an example of primeval piety. He was as able orator, but it is not known whether he composed many sermons; and it is certain that he published very few. The following incident does honour to his feelings : when preaching in his turn one Sunday at St. James's, finding he could not gain the attention of his audience, his pity for their folly got the better of all decorum ; he sat back in the pulpit, and burst into a flood of tears.

His turn of mind was naturally solemn; and he usually when at home in the country, spent mang hours walking among the tombs in his own church yard. His conversation, as well as writings, had all a reference to a future life ; and this turn of mind mixed itself even with his improvements in gardening; he had, for instance, an alcove, with a bench so well painted in it, that at a distance it seemed to be real; but upon a nearer approach the deception was per. ceived, and this motto appeared :

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

INVISIBILIA NON DECIPIUNT.

The things unseen do not deceive us.

In another part of his garden was also this inscription :

AMBULANTES IN HORTO AUDIERUNT VOCEM DEI. They heard the voice of God walking in the garden.

This seriousness occasioned him to be eharged with gloominess of temper; yet he was fond of rural sports and innocent amusements. He would some-times visit the assembly and the bowling green; and

we see in his satires that he knew how to laugh at *folly. His wit was poignant, and always levelled at those who shewed any contempt for deceney or religion ; an instance of which we have remarked in his extemporary epigram on Voltaire.

Dr. Young rose betimes, and engaged with his do-mestics in the duties of Morning Prayer. He is said

to have read but little ; but, he noted what he read, -and many of his books were so swelled with folding down his favourite passages, that they would hardly -shut. He was moderate in his meals, and rarely drank wine, except when he was ill; being (as he used to say) unwilling to waste the succours of sick. ness on the stability of health. After a slight refreshment, he retired to rest early in the evening, even though he might have company who wished to prolong his stay.

He lived at a moderate expence, rather inclined -to parsimony than profusion ; and seems to have possessed just conceptions of the vanity of the world ; yet (such is the inconsistency of man!) he courted honours and preferments at the borders of the grave, even so late as 1758; but none were then conferred. It has, however, been asserted, that he had a pension of 2001. a year from government, conferred under the auspices of Walpole.

At last, when he was full fourscore, the author of the Night Thoughts,

errest

“Who thought e’en gold itself might come a day toon, he

late,"

[ocr errors]

was made Clerk of the Closet to the Princess Dowa. ger of Wales. What retarded his promotion so long is not easy to determine. Some attribute it to his attachment to the Prince of Wales and his friends; and others assert, that the King thought him suffi. ciently provided for. Certain it is, that he knew no straits in pecuniary matters; and that in the method he has recommended of estimating human life, honours are of little value.

His merits as an author have already been considered in a review of his works ; and nothing seems necessary to be added, but the following general characters of his composition, from Blair and Johnson.

Dr. Blair says, in his celebrated lectures : “ Among moral and didactic poets, Dr. Young is of too great eminence to be passed over without notice. In all his works, the marks of strong genius 'appear. His Universal Passion, possesses the full merit of that animated conciseness of style, and lively description of character, which I mention as requisite in satirical and didactic compositions. Though his wit may often be thought too sparkling, and his sentences too pointed, yet the vivacity of his fancy is so great, as to entertain every reader. In his Night Thoughts there is much energy of expression ; in the three first, there are several pathetic passages; and scattered through them all, happy images and allusions, as well as pious reflections, occur. But the sentiments are frequently over-strained, and turgid ; and the style is too harsh and obscure to be pleasing."

[ocr errors]

The same eritic has said of our author in another place, that his “merit in figurative language is great, and deserves to be remarked. No writer, ancient or modern, had a stronger imagination than Dr: Young, or one more fertile in figures of every kind;

his metaphors are often new, and often natural and beautiful. But his imagination was strong and rich, rather than delicate and correct.”

These strictures may be thought severe; but it should be remembered, that an author derives far more honour from such a discriminate character, from a judicious critic, than from the indiscriminate commendation of an admirer. The following is the conclusion of Dr. Johnson's critique, and shall conclude these memoirs.

“ It must be allowed of Young's poetry, that it abounds in thought, but without much accuracy or „election. When he lays hold on a thought, he pursues it beyond expectation, [and] sometimes happily, as in his parallel of quicksilver and pleasure . which is very ingenious, very subtle, and almost exact

« His versification is his own; neither his blank nor his rhyming lines have any resemblance to those of former writers; he picks up no hemisticks, he copies no favourite expressions ; he seems to have laid up no stores of thought or diction, but to owe all to the fortuitous suggestions of the present moment. Yet I have reason to believe that, when he once formed a new design, he then laboured it with very patient industry, and that he composed with great labour and frequent revisions.

« ForrigeFortsæt »