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Around Thee thrown, tempest o'er tempest rolled,
One general song! To Him, ye vocal gales,
Breathe soft, whose spirit in your freshness breathes;
Oh! talk of Him in solitary glooms,
Where, o'er the rock, the scarcely-waving pine
Fills the brown shade with a religious awe.
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar,
Who shake the astonished world lift high to heaven
Ye headlong torrents, rapid and profound;
Sound his stupendous praise; whose greater voice
Soft roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flowers,
In mingled clouds to Him, whose sun exalts,
Whose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints.
As home he goes beneath the joyous moon.
From world to world, the vital ocean round,
Ye woodlands all, awake! a boundless song
The long resounding voice, oft breaking clear,
For me, when I forget the darling theme,
Should fate command me to the farthest verge
Since God is ever present, ever felt,
And where He vital breathes there must be joy.
Come then, expressive Silence, muse his praise!
EDWARD YOUNG was born in 1681, at Upham, near Winchester, of which parish his father, who was also Dean of Sarum, and fellow of Winchester College, was rector. He was educated at Winchester, till, October 13, 1703, he was chosen on the foundation of New College, Oxford. In less than a year, however, he removed to Corpus Christi, where he entered himself a gentleman commoner. Archbishop Tennison put him into a law fellowship in 1708, in the College of All Souls. He took the degree of bachelor in 1714, and became LL.D. in 1719.
Relinquishing successively his hopes of advancement at the bar, and his chances-proved to be rather poor-of court favour from his literary merits and political par
tizanship, he took orders in 1727; and was appointed chaplain to George II., in April, 1728. In 1730, he was presented by his college to the rectory of Welwyn, in Hertfordshire. The following year he married Lady Betty Lee, widow of Colonel Lee, and daughter to the Earl of Lichfield. His ecclesiastical preferment culminated in his appointment, in 1761, at the age of eighty, to be clerk of the closet to the Princess Dowager of Wales. He died at his parsonage-house, April 12th, 1765, aged eighty-four years, and was buried under the altar-piece of the church of Welwyn, by the side of his wife, who had preceded him to the grave.
The principal work of Young is his "Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality," which had its origin in a rapid and signal series of family bereavements. He was also the author of satires under the title of "Love of Fame, the Universal Passion;" "The Force of Religion; or, Vanquished Love," founded on the story of Lady Jane Grey; three tragedies entitled respectively "Busiris" (1719); "Revenge" (1721); and the "Brothers" (1723); a poem on the "Last Day," which his own age thought "elegant "; a "Paraphrase of part of the Book of Job;" "Conjectures on Original Composition," a prose work; and "Resignation," a poem. The two last were written when the indomitable author was upwards of eighty years of age.
Whoever speaks of the "Night Thoughts"- the poem with which we are especially concerned, as being that from which the following extracts are taken-is almost shut up to the use of certain fixed epithets and phrases. Only in the distribution of these is the display of individuality possible. We transcribe the verdict of Campbell, which is generally admirable for its propriety and nicety of discrimination:
"The Night Thoughts' certainly contain many splendid and happy conceptions, but their beauty is
thickly marred by false wit and over-laboured antithesis, and 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 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 by asking the moon if she would choose 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