« PreviousContinue »
He thriveth on oppression without feeling; the ruin of his brother disturbeth him not. The tears of the orphan he drinketh as milk; the cries of the widow are music to his ear. His heart is hardened with the love of wealth; no grief or distress can make impression upon it.
But the curse of iniquity pursueth him; he liveth in continual fear. The anxiety of his mind, and the rapacious desires of his own soul, take vengeance upon him for the calamities he hath brought upon others.
O! what are the miseries of poverty, in comparison with the gnawings of this man's heart!
Let the poor man comfort himself, yea, rejoice ; for he hath many reasons. He sitteth down to his morsel in peace; his table is not crowded with flatterers and devourers. He is not enbare rassed with dependants, nor teased with the clamors of solicita. tion. Debarred from the dainties of the rich, he escapeth all their diseases. The bread that he eateth, is it not sweet to his taste ? the water he drinketh, is it not pleasant to his thirst? yea, far more delicious than the richest draughts of the luxurious. His labor preserveth his health, and produceth him a repose to which the downy bed of Sloth is a stranger. He limiteth his desires with humility; and the calm of contentment is sweeter to his soul than the acquirements of wealth and grandeur.
Let not the rich, therefore, presume on his riches, nor the poor despond in his poverty; for the providence of God dispenseth happiness to them both, and the distribution thereof is more equally made than the fool can believe.
When thou considerest thy wants, when thou beholdest thy imperfections, acknowledge his goodness, O Man! who honored thee with reason, endowed thee with speech, and placed thee in society to receive and confer reciprocal helps and mutual obligations.
Thy food, thy clothing, thy convenience of habitation, thy protection from the injuries, thy enjoyment of the comforts and the pleasures of life, thou owest to the assistance of others, and couldst not enjoy but in the bands of society. It is thy duty, therefore, to be friendly to mankind, as it is thy interest that men should be friendly to thee.
As the rose breatheth sweetness from its own nature, so the heart of a benevolent man produceth good works.
He enjoyeth the ease and tranquillity of his own breast; and rejoiceth in the happiness and prosperity of his neighbor. He openeth not his ear unto slander; the faults and the failings of
men give pain to luis heart. His desire is to do good, and he searcheth out the occasions thereof: in removing the oppression cf another, he relieveth himself.
From the largeness of his mind, he comprehendeth in his wishes the happiness of all men; and from the generosity of his heart, he endeavoreth to promote it.
EDWARD YOUNG. 1681—1765. EDWARD Yound, the celebrated author of the « Night Thoughts,” was born at Upham, in Hampshire, in 1681. He was educated at Oxford, where he took his degree of Bachelor of Civil Law in 1714, and his Doctor's degree in 1719. That he was distinguished for his ingenuity and learning above bis fellow-students and contemporaries, is known by a complaint of Tindal the infidel, who said, “The other boys I can always answer, because I know where they have their arguments, which I have read a hundred times: but that fellow Young is continually pestering me with something of his own." After publishing a number of poetical pieces of rather indifferent merit, in 1721 he gave to the public his tragedy of « Revenge,” which is one of the finest efforts of his genius; but unfortunately it was written after the model of the French drama, and though the thoughts are refined and full of imagination, and a true poetic feeling pervades the whole, it has hardly vitality enough to keep it alive as a drama.
In 1725 he published the first of his Satires, and in three or four years the other six followed, under the title of « The Love of Fame, the Universal Passion." They are evidently the production of a mind rendered acute by observation, enriched by reflection, and polished with wit; and they abound in ingenious and humorous allusions. Their chief defect is in the perpetual exaggeration of the sentiment. Goldsmith says, that “they were in higher reputation when published than they stand at present;" and that “Young seems fonder of dazzling than of pleasing, of raising our admiration for his wit than of our dislike of the follies he ridicules."1
In 1728 Young entered the church, and was appointed chaplain to George the Second. Three years after, he married Lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the Earl of Litchfield, and widow of Colonel Lee. She died in 1741, leaving one son. A daughter whom she had by her former husband, and who was married to Mr. Temple, son of Lord Palmerston, died in 1736, and Mr. Temple four years after. It has generally been believed that Mr. and Mrs. Temple were the Philander and Narcissa of the Night Thoughts. Mrs. Temple died of a consumption, at Lyons, on her way to Nice, and Young accompanied her to the continent. Some, most inconsiderately, have identified Young's son with the Lorenzo of the Night Thoughts. This is absurd, for when this character of the finished infidel was drawn by the father, the son was only eight years old.
1 Essay on English Poetry. Young's Satires were published before those of Pope. - To her death at Lyons the two lines in Night Third doubtless allude, for the city authorities refused to allow her to be buried in "consecrated" ground:
" While Nature melted, Superstition raved;
That mourn'd the dead, and this denied a grave."
Of the Night Thoughts, which were published from 1742 to 1744, Young's favorite and most finished poem, it may be said that they show a mind stored with reading and reflection, purified by virtuous feelings, and supported by religious hope. There are in them great fertility of thought and luxuriance of imagination, uncommon originality in style, and an accumulation of argument and illustration which seems almost boundless.' “In this poem,” says Dr. Johnson, “ Young has exhibited a very wide display of original poetry, variegated with deep reflections and striking allusions; a wilderness of thought, in which the fertility of fancy scatters flowers of every hue, and of every odor.”
In 1756 Dr. Joseph Warton paid a very just and elegant tribute to the poetical reputation of Young, by dedicating to him his most learned and instructive « Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope." Young was at that time the only survivor of that brotherhood of poets who had adorned and delighted the preceding age, and among whom Pope shone with such unrivalled lustre. In 1762, when he was upwards of fourscore, Young printed his poem of * Resignation,” in which, for the first time, a decay of his powers is nianifested. In April, 1765, he closed his long, useful, and virtuous life. He had performed no duty for the last three or four years, but he retained his intellects to the last.
In his personal manners, Young is said to have been a man of very social habits, and the animating soul of every company with whom he mixed. Nobody ever said more brilliant things in conversation. Dr. Warton, who knew him well, says that he was one of the most amiable and benevolent of men, most exemplary in his life and sincere in his religion. If he stooped below the dignity of his high profession, in courting worldly favor and applause, as without doubt he did, no one has more convincingly shown how utterly worthless was the object of this inconsistent ambition.
As a poet, if he ranks not in the first class, he takes a very high place in the second. If his taste be not the purest, or his judgment not always the best, he has an exuberance, a vigor, and an originality of genius, which amply atone for all his defects. As respects the moral influence of his poetry, there has been and can be but one opinion. No one can rise from the studious reading of the Night Thoughts, without feeling more the value of time, and the importance of improving it aright, both for the life that now is, and for that which is to come. It is a book full of the purest and noblest sentiments, which, if followed, cannot fail of making us wiser and better.
INTRODUCTION TO THE NIGHT THOUGHTS. THE VALUE OF TIME.
THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL.
From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose,
1 Sce Life, by Rev. J. Mitford. Read, also, his Life by Dr. Johnson--a biographical sketch in Drake's Essays—and another in the sixth volume of Campbell's Specimens. The criticisms of the Latter, however, I cannot consider just.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
'Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof: While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread, What though my soul fantastic measures trod O'er fairy fields; or mourn'd along the gloom Of pathless woods; or, down the craggy steep Hurl'd headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool; Or scaled the cliff; or danced on hollow winds, With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain? Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her nature Of subtler essence than the trodden clod; Active, aërial, towering, unconfined, Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fall. E'en silent night proclaims my soul immortal: E'en silent night proclaims eternal day. For human weal, heaven husbands all events; Dull sleep instructs, nor sport vain dreams in vain.
Why then their loss deplore, that are not lost!
They live! they greatly live a life on earth
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts;