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“ The hungry worm my sister is ;'
This winding-sheet I wear:
Till that last morn appear.
“ But, hark! the cock has warn'd me hence;
A long and late adieu !
Who died for love of you."
The lark sung loud; the morning smild,
With beams of rosy red:
And raving left his bed.
He hied him to the fatal place
Where Margaret's body lay; And stretch'd him on the green-grass turf,
That wrapp'd her breathless clay.
And thrice he call'd on Margaret's name,
And thrice he wept full sore ;
And word spoke never more !
BORN 1681.—DIED 1765.
Young's satires have at least the merit of contain.. ing a number of epigrams, and as they appeared rather earlier than those of Pope, they may boast of having afforded that writer some degree of example. Swift's opinion of them, however, seems not to have been unjust, that they should have either been more merry or more angry. One of his tragedies is still popular on the stage, and his Night Thoughts have many admirers both at home and abroad. Of his lyrical poetry he had himself the good sense to think but indifferently. In none of his works is he more spirited and amusing than in his Essay on Original Composition, written at the age of eighty.
The Night Thoughts have been translated into more than one foreign language; and it is usual for foreigners to regard them as eminently characteristic of the peculiar temperament of English genius. Madame de Stael has indeed gravely deduced the genealogy of our national melancholy from Ossian and the Northern Scalds, down to Dr. Young. Few Englishmen, however, will probably be disposed to recognize the author of the Night Thoughts as their national poet by way of eminence. His devotional gloom is more in the spirit of St. Francis of Asisium, than of an English divine; and his austerity is blended with a vein of whimsical conceit that is still more unlike the plainness of English character. The Night Thoughts certainly contain many splendid and happy conceptions, but their beauty is thickly marred by false wit and overlaboured antithesis: indeed his whole ideas seem to have been in a state of antithesis while he composed the poem. One portion of his fancy appears devoted to aggravate the picture of his desolate feelings, and the other half to contradict that picture by eccentric images and epigrammatic ingenuities. As a poet he was fond of exaggeration, but it was that of the fancy more than of the heart. This appears no less in the noisy hyperboles of his tragedies, than in the studied melancholy of the Night Thoughts, in which he pronounces the simple act of laughter to be half immoral. That he was a pious man, and had felt something from the afflictions described in the Complaint, need not be called in question, but he seems covenanting with himself to be as desolate as possible, as if he had continued the custom ascribed to him at college, of studying with a candle stuck in a human skull; while, at the same time, the feelings and habits of a man of the world, which still adhere
It appears, however, from Sir Herbert Croft's account of his life, that he had not lost the objects of his affection in such rapid succession as he feigns, when he addresses the “ Insatiate archer (Death) whose shaft Äew thrice, ere thrice yon moon had filled her horn."
to him, throw a singular contrast over his renunciations of human vanity. He abjures the world in witty metaphors, commences his poem with a sarcasm on sleep, deplores his being neglected at court, compliments a lady of quality by asking the moon if she would chuse to be called the "fair Portland of the skies”—and dedicates to the patrons of “ a much indebted muse," one of whom (Lord Wilmington) on some occasion he puts in the balance of antithesis as a counterpart to heaven. He was, in truth, not so sick of life as of missing its preferments, and was still ambitious not only of converting Lorenzo, but of shining before this utterly worthless and wretched world as a sparkling, sublime, and witty poet. Hence his poetry has not the majestic simplicity of a heart abstracted from human vanities, and while the groundwork of his sentiments is more darkly shaded than is absolutely necessary either for poetry or religion, the surface of his expression glitters with irony and satire, and with thoughts sometimes absolutely approaching to pleasantry. His ingenuity in the false sublime is very peculiar. In Night IX. he concludes his description of the day of judgment by shewing the just and the unjust consigned respectively to their “ sulphureous or ambrosial seats," while
“ Hell through all her glooms Returns in groans a melancholy roar;" this is aptly put under the book of Consolation. But instead of winding up his labours, he proceeds
through a multitude of reflections, and amidst 'many comparisons assimilates the constellations of heaven to gems of immense weight and value on a ring for the finger of their Creator. Conceit could hardly go farther than to ascribe finery to Omnipotence. The taste of the French artist was not quite so bold, when, in the picture of Belshazzar's feast, he put a ring and ruffle on the hand that was writing on the wall.
Here, however, he was in earnest comparatively with some other passages, such as that in which he likens Death to Nero driving a phaeton in a female guise, or where he describes the same personage, Death, borrowing the “ cockaded brow of a spend thrift," in order to gain admittance to “a gay circle." Men, with the same familiarity, are compared to monkeys before a looking-glass; and, at the end of the eighth book, Satan is roundly denominated a “ dunce 1;" the first time perhaps that his abilities were ever seriously called in question.
Shall we agree with Dr. Johnson when he affirms of the Night Thoughts that particular lines are not to be regarded, that the power is in the whole, and that in the whole there is a magnificence like that which is ascribed to a Chinese plantation, the magnificence of vast extent and endless variety? Of a Chinese plantation few men have probably a very
“ Nor think this sentence is severe on thee,
Concluding lines of Night 8th.