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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 bis poers 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.
Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep!
From short (as usual) and disturb'd repose,
1 See 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 Speciinens. The criticisms of the latter, however, I cannot consider just.
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams and then DOE Tumultuous; where my wreck'd, desponding thought, 1109 From wave to wave of fancied misery, baile
30 At random drove, her helm of reason lost. To 10 Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain
1090 (A bitter change!) severer for severe, so TERÌhe Day too short for my distress; and Night, BESUE'en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the color of my fate.
Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne,
Silence, how dead! and darkness, how profound ! lan
Nor eye, nor listening ear, an object finds;
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
CHIC Fate! drop the curtain; I can lose no more.
The bell strikes one.' We take no note of time
But from its loss. To give it then a tongue, VISY Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
me box I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright, odw It is the knell of my departed hours:slidad es 10 Where are they? With the years beyond the flood. Ibon It is the signal that demands despatch:
ple How much is to be done! My hopes and fears iš Start up alarm’d, and o'er life's narrow verge o n
Look down-On what? a fathomless abyss; antasy BIC A. dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
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;
MAN'S RESOLUTIONS TO REFORM.
And why? Because he thinks himself immortal.
LIFE AND DEATH. Life makes the soul dependent on the dust; Death gives her wings to mount above the spheres. Through chinks, styled organs, dim life peeps at light; Death bursts th' involving cloud, and all is day; All eye, all ear, the disembodied power. Death has feign'd evils, nature shall not feel; Life, ills substantial, wisdom cannot shun. Is not the mighty mind, that son of heaven! By tyrant life dethroned, imprison'd, pain'd? By death enlarged, ennobled, deified ? Death but entombs the body; life the soul.
Earth's highest station ends in “Here he lies,”
SOCIETY NECESSARY FOR HAPPINESS.
INSUFFICIENCY OF GENIUS AND STATION WITHOUT VIRTUE.
Genius and art, ambition's boasted wings,
Great ill is an achievement of great powers.