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of the too frequent recurrence of the subject, there is, most undoubtedly, a pleasure to be derived from contemplating the drapery and decoration of beauty and fashion, as they existed a century ago, especially when these portraits are grouped and coloured by masters of such acknowledged skill and fidelity.
12. EDWARD YOUNG, the only son of Dr. Edward Young, Dean of Sarum and rector of Upham, near Winchester, was born at Upham in June 1681. He was placed by his father upon the foundation of Winchester College; and in his eighteenth year, the period of superannuation at this school, was removed to New College, Oxford. Here, however, he did not remain long; for on the death of the warden, which happened before the expiration of a year, he entered himself a gentleman commoner of Corpus Christi, and, in 1708, was elected to a law-fellowship at All-Souls. On the 23d of April, 1714, he became a batchelor of civil laws; and, on the 10th of June, 1719, doctor.
As the literary labours of Dr. Young are very numerous, and many of them but little read in the present day, we shall confine this short sketch to the consideration of those only which have contributed to give him a permanent station in
the records of fame. His early productions are remarkable for their flattery and adulation; of which, in a more advanced period of life, he was so much ashamed, that he suppressed the poems and dedications which had, in these respects, the most grossly offended.
His Poem on the Last Day is the first of his compositions entitled to notice. It was published at Oxford in May, 1713, and was well received by the public. It contains several splendid passages; but, as a whole, must be pronounced tedious and uninteresting. The subject, indeed, is an unfavourable one; as with it are already connected some of the most sublime ideas which revelation affords, and beyond which no uninspired poet can hope to soar. Dr. Ogilvie has since attempted the same theme; and though more bold in his imagery than Young, and more uniformly dignified and harmonious in the structure of his verse, he too must be confessed to have failed.
The next piece of Young, which, in the order of time, possesses any considerable merit, is the Paraphrase on Part of the Book of Job; a daring effort, when the grandeur and sublimity of the original are duly considered. He selected, however, with much judgment those descriptions which would best admit the beauties and ampli
fication of modern verse, and has succeeded in rendering his paraphrase highly pleasing and poetical. "Young," very justly observes Dr. Aikin," has made little addition to the primitive imagery; but has rendered it more clear and precise, while it retains all its force and splendour. The descriptions are not always accurate, and the language sometimes borders upon extravagance; but his object was poetical effect, and this he has produced in an uncommon degree. Thus, after his highly wrought picture of the lion in his nightly ravages, he fixes and concentrates the impression of terror, by the figure of the flying shepherd, who
shudders at the talon in the dust.
This is a stroke of real genius * !"
In 1719, the same year which produced his Paraphrase on Job, he commenced his dramatic career by the production of the tragedy of Busiris on the stage of Drury-lane. This was succeeded, in 1721, by The Revenge; and, in 1753, by The Brothers. Of these tragedies, the first exhibits most of the poet; the second, though not displaying so much fire and imagination, is superior in fable, character, and manners; and the third is greatly inferior to both. The Re
* Letters on English Poetry, p. 108.
venge still supports its interest with the public, and may be esteemed a standard play.
The year 1725 presented our author to the world in the character of a Satirist.
title of the Love of Fame the Universal Passion, he has endeavoured to trace, in seven satires, the effects of this principle on the human mind. They were finished and collected into one publication in 1728, and met with so much patronage, as to obtain for the poet more than three thousand pounds. They are written in a style very different from the rest of his works; with an union of vivacity and ease indeed, which he has nowhere else attained. They abound in portrait painting, and are replete with wit, pleasantry, and point. His ridicule and satire never once assume the appearance of rancour or of spleen; and it seems evidently to have been his intention to shame vice and folly, rather by ludicrous representation than by bitter sarcasm or angry reproof.
The chief faults in the satires of Young appear to have arisen from a too great partiality to antithesis and epigrammatic point: occasionally used, they give weight and terseness to sentiment; but, when profusely lavished, offend both the judgment and the ear. The poet likewise, instead of faithfully copying from human life, has
too often had recourse to the sources of a fertile imagination; hence his pictures, though vividly and richly coloured, are defective in that truth of representation which can alone impart to them a due degree of moral influence *.
Nearly at the period of his completion of the satires, our author exchanged his profession of the law for that of divinity. He had never practised the former, and for the latter he had always entertained a peculiar partiality. On his assuming the clerical character, a circumstance has been related which presents us with a very striking idea of his credulity and simplicity. "When he had determined to go into orders," relates Ruffhead, "he addressed himself, like an honest man, for the best directions in the study of theology. But to whom did he apply? It may, perhaps, be thought, to Sherlock or Atterbury; to Burnet or Hare. No! to Mr. Pope; who, in a youthful frolic, recommended Thomas Aquinas to him. With this treasure he retired,
*The following simile from the satire on Woman is admirably exact and illustrative:
Pleasures are few, and fewer we enjoy ;
If seiz'd at last, compute your mighty gains :