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gious poetry in the hands of the author of the Night Thoughts, is not all which it might be, in deep practical experimental views, it has, notwithstanding, so high a character for seriousness and truth,—that it embodies so many essential principles of christianity, expressed in the liveliest imagery, and with classical grace.

It is, perhaps, a fault with Young, in respect to the religion of his poetry, that while it impresses the mind with a general and salutary thoughtfulness, it does not often create any signal alarm in the sinner's conscience, or exhibit the truth in such a manner, as to wrench from his grasp the idolized objects of this world, and subdue his spirit into penitence. It seems fitted rather to convince the speculative infidel of the truth of religion, and to make the serious more serious, than powerfully to move the feelings of irreligious persons, in respect to their immortal concerns. We can easily conceive, that an ungodly man may escape from the really important views and well-intended expostulations, in the great work of which we are speaking, with only a love of melancholy, or an admiration of genius. This effect, whenever it takes place, must be owing less, we think, to the author's theology, than to the splendor of his language, and the care with which he has labored his production to make it beautiful, as a work of art. It would be difficult to feel the solemnity of the subject of death, for example, under the glowing imagery of the following passage:

* Death! great proprietor of all! 'tis thine
To tread out empire, and to quench the stars.
The sun himself by thy permission shines;

And, one day, thou shalt pluck him from his sphere.' The precariousness of life is strikingly described in the following lines, but possibly we love rather to repeat them, than are filled with apprehension, that we may experience the reality :

"Where is to-morrow? In another world.
For numbers this is certain; the reverse
Is sure to none; and yet on this perhaps,
This peradventure, infamous for lies,
As on a rock of adamant, we build
Our mountain-hopes; spin out eternal schemos,
As we the fatal sisters could out-spin,

And, big with life's futurities, expire.' This is too much like the effect of that preaching, which, in describing the general judgment, for instance, aims at brilliant language and striking figures,-gracefully takes down the pillars of the creation, and employs our own poet's “swift archangel,” who

with his golden wing, As blots and clouds that darken and disgrace

The scene divine, sweeps suns and stars aside.' We remember, however, that the Night Thoughts includes many representations, that are little liable to such an objection.

Some, furthermore, have been disposed to prejudge the works of Young, from the commonly received opinion respecting the imperfections of his moral and religious character. At least, he is sometimes read with suspicion, on this account. The question respecting the poet's piety is neither unimportant nor uncalled for, in view of the effect of his poetry on the minds of his readers. Interested in his topics, we wish to know how they affected himself. Did he live under a realizing conviction of the truths and sentiments which he has so vividly painted ? Or did he frame them for the occasion, as, perhaps, an irreligious man might, though he would not be apt so to do? Was it from his own experience, that he pointed out the path of peace and holiness? Can we confide in his representations as a safe guide for souls ? Did he feel as he speaks, in those numerous passages which have been so long and greatly admired for their poetry and piety?

Several circumstances are stated in the accounts which have come down to us concerning the poet, from which the inference is derived, that he had not a deep-toned piety, if even his morals were irreproachable. But with these, some other facts do not seem wholly to agree. Croft, in his biography of the poet, which he furnished for Dr. Johnson, was disappointed in his attempt to learn Dr. Young's domestic manners and habits, from the best authority, his house-keeper, in consequence of having arrived at the place of her abode a few days after her death. It appears, however, from Mrs. Montague's testimony, which the biographer has noticed, that she was impressed not only by the poet's unbounded genius, but by his sublime character as a christian. The well known anecdote of the concern which Young felt, at the indifference of his hearers, while he was once preaching, would seem to show, that he was not incapable of appreciating the object of the sacred office: and a testimony which not long since we met with, in respect to the firmness of his conviction of the truth of the gospel, with the grounds of it, has satisfied us, that he could not, from any light consideration, have lived in direct and allowed variance from its rules. That he felt a personal interest

in the solemn representations which he has made of eternal things, it would be scarcely charitable to deny. It would appear, that they weighed upon his own spirit, when we find passages of a like tenor with the following, in The Last Day:

Then on the fatal book his hand he lays,
Which high to view supporting seraphs raise ;
In solemn form the rituals are prepar'd,
The seal is broken, and a groan is heard,
And then my soul ! (oh fall to sudden prayer,

And let the thought sink deep !) shalt thou be there ?" It may, perhaps be admitted, that he passed in part a dissipated youth,--that, as a minister, he was ambitious of preferment, though possibly not for its gold, and that he was not properly divested of those lax ideas respecting worldly amusements and conformity to fashion, which have, at times, so extensively prevailed among professors of religion. Of his youthful aberrations, if he was ever guilty of such as suspicion has attached to him, we may believe, that he repented, as Croft has substantially admitted. In doubt whether the censurers of Young, as to his early life, were correct, his biographer remarks, that he "might for two or three years have tried that kind of life, in which his natural principles would not suffer him to wallow long;" that, “if this were so, he has left behind him not only his evidence in favor of virtue, but the potent testimony of experience against vice;" and that he afterwards became “an ornament to religion and morality.” In the absence of positive information, any further than has appeared, we may be permitted to put the most favorable construction upon the character of the bard. We meet with several expressions in his poems, in which it was probably his design to indicate the moral complexion of his feelings, and the course of his life. If we may believe him to be sincere, our charity for his errors, may be surpassed by our respect for his ingenuous acknowledgments and matured estimates of the worth of religion. “If poets by profession do not make the best clergymen,” they need not be devoid of piety; nor should we wish, on any account, so far as Young is concerned, to detract from the force and beauty of the religious sentiments which he has expressed. Let them be suffered to make their full, unbroken appeal to the hearts and consciences of his readers !

Several passages already adduced may serve to show, in a degree, the religious character of Young's poetry; but a few of a more direct kind may be added from his principal work. We cannot but think, that the poet has conferred lasting obligations on every friend of christianity, by strains which breathe so sweetly its genius and spirit.

The solemn religious sense of death which the christian feels, together with his privilege of dying, is expressed in most serious and befitting terms:

"A death-bed's a detector of the heart,
Here tired dissimulation drops her mask,
Through life's grimace, that mistress of the scene !
Here real and apparent, are the same.
You see the man; you see his hold on heaven,
If sound his virtue; as Philander's, sound.
Heaven waits not the last moment; owns her friends
On this side death; and points them out to men,
A lecture, silent, but of sovereign power!

To vice, confusion; and to virtue peace.' This is preceded at a short distance by the often quoted, admired lines

• The chamber where the good man meets his fate,
Is privileg'd beyond the common walk

Of virtuous life, quite on the verge of heaven.' In Night IV. the scene of the crucifixion, with its moral import, is most pathetically, piously touched —

• With joy-with grief, that healing hand I see;' but it is too long to be quoted at length. In the whole compass of religious poetry we doubt whether any thing is more striking on this and kindred topics in the same book. On what wings of fire soared his muse, in describing the resurrection of Christ, and the ascension of his humanity to heaven!

And did he rise,' &c. through this and the succeeding paragraph. In the same connection he touches fearfully on human depravity:

• A rebel, midst the thunders of his throne,' is such a rebel as man dares to be. Nothing can be conceived to be more just as to the sentiment, or more consonant to christian experience, than the poet's representation of religion as connected with the cross of Christ.

Religion ! thou the soul of happiness ;

And groaning Calvary of thee?' with several subsequent lines will always, we think, give delight to the heart of evangelical piety. They express a warmth and depth of religious emotion demanded by the theme. How often has the christian, while contemplating this subject, in his rapt feelings exclaimed or felt, with the poet

· Eternity too short to speak thy praise !'

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His rebuke of lukewarmness-of unimpassioned praise, is no less deserved than it is withering:

O ye cold hearted, frozen formalists !
On such a theme, 'tis impious to be calm ;
Passion is reason, transport temper, here.
Shall heaven, which gave us ardor, and has shewn
Her own for man so strongly, not disdain
What smooth emollients in theology,
Recumbent virtue's downy doctors, preach ;

That prose of piety, a lukewarm praise ?' The common experience of the religious life from contact with the world, is described with an accuracy which christians have often felt.

• The world's infectious; few bring back at eve,
Immaculate, the manners of the morn.
Something we thought is blotted; we resolved,
Is shaken; we renounced, returns again.
Each salutation may slide in a sin

Unthought before, or fix a former flaw.' Who that knows the preciousness of prayer and communion with God, but responds most cordially to the strain of the bard !

A soul in commerce with her God, is heaven;
Feels not the tumults and the shocks of life ;
The whirls of passions, and the strokes of heart.
Praise, the sweet exhalation of our joy,
That joy exalts, and makes it sweeter still ;
Prayer ardent opens heaven, lets down a stream
Of glory on the consecrated hour

Of man, in audience with the Deity.' The rich thought and pious feeling of the following lines, expressed in Young's most condensed aphoristic manner, will close our already too numerous quotations.

• Heaven gives us friends to bless the present scene;
Resumes them to prepare us for the next.
All evils natural are moral goods ;
All discipline, indulgence, on the whole.
None are unhappy; all have cause to smile,
But such as to ihemselves that cause deny.
Our faults are at the bottom of our pains :
Error in act, or judgment is the source
Of endless sighs :
AMiction is the good man's shining scene;
Prosperity conceals his brightest ray;

I'll pay life's tax,
Without one rebel murmur, from this hour,
Nor think it misery to be a man;

Who thinks it is will never be a god.' A few words may be said, in conclusion, on the separate Nights or books of the great work, on which we have commented at


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