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P. S. This account of Young was feen by you in manufcript you know, Sir; and, though I could not prevail on you to make any alterations, you infifted on striking out one paffage, only because it said, that, if I did not wish you to live long for your fake, I did for the fake of myself and of the world. But this postscript you will not fee before it is printed; and I will fay here, in fpite of you, how I feel myself honoured and bettered by your friendshipand that, if I do credit to the church, after which I always longed, and for which I am now going to give in exchange the bar, though not at fo late a period of life as Young took Orders, it will be owing, in no small measure, to my having had the happiness of calling the author of The Rambler my friend.

Sept. 1782.

H. C."


OF Young's Poems it is difficult to give any general character; for he has no uniformity of manner: one of his pieces has no great refemblance to another. He began to write early, and continued long; and at different times had different modes of poetical excellence in view. His numbers are fometimes smooth, and fometimes rugged; his ftyle is fometimes concatenated, and fometimes abrupt; fometimes diffufive, and fometimes concife. His plan feems to have started in his mind at the prefent moment, and his thoughts appear the effects of chance, sometimes adverse, and fometimes lucky, with very little operation of judgement.

He was not one of the writers whom experience improves, and who obferving their own faults become gradually correct. His Poem on the Last Day, his first great performance, has an equability and propriety, which he afterwards either never endeavoured

or never attained. Many paragraphs are noble, and few. are mean, yet the whole is languid; the plan is too much extended, and a fucceffion of images divides and weakens the

the general conception; but the great reafon why the reader is disappointed is, that the thought of the LAST DAY makes every man more than poetical, by fpreading over his inind a general obscurity of sacred horror, that oppreffes distinction, and difdains expreffion.

His ftory of Jane Grey was never popular. It is written with elegance enough, but Jane is too heroick to be pitied.

The Univerfal Paffion is indeed a very great performance. It is faid to be a series of Epigrams: but if it be, it is what the author intended: his endeavour was at the production of striking diftichs and pointed fentences; and his distichs have the weight of folid fentiment, and his points the sharpness of refistless truth. His characters are often felected with difcernment, and drawn with nicety; his illustrations are often happy, and his reflections often juft. His fpecies of fatire is between thofe of Horace and of Juvenal; he has the gaiety of Horace without his laxity of numbers, and the morality of Juvenal with greater variation of images. VOL. IV. Ee


He plays, indeed, only on the surface of life; he never penetrates the receffes of the mind, and therefore the whole power of his poetry is exhausted by a fingle perufal; his conceits please only when they surprise.

To tranflate he never condefcended, unless his Paraphrafe on Job may be confidered as a verfion; in which he has not, I think, been unfuccessful: he indeed favoured himself, by chufing those parts which moft eafily admit the ornaments of English poetry.

He had leaft fuccefs in his lyrick attempts, in which he seems to have been under fome malignant influence: he is always labouring to be great, and at laft is only turgid.

In his Night Thoughts he has exhibited a very wide difplay of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and striking allufions, a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy fcatters flowers of every hue and of every odour. This is one of the few poems in which blank verfe could not be changed for rhyme but with difadvantage. The wild diffufion of the fentiments, and the

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the digreffive fallies of imagination, would have been compreffed and restrained by confinement to rhyme. The excellence of this work is not exactnefs, but copioufnefs; particular lines are not to be regarded; the power is in the whole, and in the whole there is a magnificence like that afcribed to Chinese Plantation, the magnificence of vast extent and endless diverfity.

His last poem was the Refignation; in which he made, as he was accustomed, an experiment of a new mode of writing, and fucceeded better than in his Ocean or his Merchant. It was very falfely represented as a proof of decaying faculties. There is Young in every ftanza, fuch as he often was in his highest vigour.

His Tragedies not making part of the Collection, I had forgotten, till Mr. Steevens recalled them to my thoughts by remarking, that he seemed to have one favourite cataftrophe, as his three Plays all concluded with lavish fuicide; a method by which, as Dryden remarked, a poet easily rids his fcene of persons whom he wants not to keep alive. E e 2


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