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reserving only a legacy to his friend Stevens, the hatter at Temple-gate, and 1000l. to his house-keeper, with his dying charge to see all his manuscripts destroyed ; 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 an 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 many 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 perceived, and this motto appeared ;
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,
This seriousness occasioned him to be charged with gloominess of temper; yet he was fond of rural sports and innocent amusements. He would sometimes visit the assem. bly 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 decency or religion ; an instance of which we have remarked in his extemporary epigram on Voltaire.
Dr. Young rose betimes, and engaged with his domestics 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 sickness 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 seenis 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,
" Who thought e'en gold itself might come a day too late,”
was made Clerk of the Closet to the Princess Dowager of Wales. What retarded his promotion so long it 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 sufficiently 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 requi“ site 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 illusions, as well as pious reflections,
But the sentiments are frequently over-strained, “ and turgid ; and the style is too harsh and obscure to be “ pleasing.”
The same critic 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 selection.
“ When he lays hold of a thought, he pursues it beyond
expectation, [and] sometimes happily, as in his parallel of quicksilver with pleasure .... which is very ingenious, very subtle, and almost exact . ar His versification is his own; neither his blank nor his
rhyming lines have any resemblance to those of former « writers; he picks up no hemesticks, 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 so believe that, “ when once he had formed a new design, he then laboured “ it with very patient industry, and that he composed with
great labour and frequent revisions.
“ His verses are formed by no certain model ; he is no “ inore like himself in his different productions than he is 6 like others. He seems never to have studied prosody, nor “ to have any direction, but from his own ear. But with all « his defects, he was a man of genius, and a poet."
P.S. The materials of the above Life are taken from the Article referring to our author in Johnson's Lives of the Poets, written by Mr. Herbert Croft, with the Critique of Dr. Johnson, compared with the Biographia Britannica, and other respectable authorities.