Edward Young (16831765)



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Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900) YOUNG, EDWARD (1683–1765), poet, was born at Upham, near Winchester. Croft gives the year as 1681, but the parish register shows that he was baptised on 3 July 1683, and the later date agrees with the statements of his age on entering school and college. He was the son of Edward Young, rector of Upham and fellow of Winchester. The elder Young was afterwards made dean of Salisbury and chaplain to William and Mary, perhaps through the interest of Francis Newport, earl of Bradford [q. v.], to whom he dedicated two volumes of sermons. It is asserted in Jacob's ‘Poetical Register’ (1720) that he was the ‘clerk of the closet’ to Princess (afterwards Queen) Anne, and that she was godmother to his son. He died in 1705 in his sixty-third year. The son's name is on the election roll for Winchester in August 1694 (when his age is stated as ten years), and he was admitted a scholar in 1695. He rose very slowly in the school, and, though in 1702 he was on the election roll for New College, he was superannuated before a vacancy occurred. On 3 Oct. 1702 he matriculated as a commoner at New College (his age is then said to be nineteen), where he lived in the lodge of the warden, a friend of his father. The warden dying in the same year, he entered Corpus College as a gentleman commoner, the expenses being, it is said, less there than at any other college. In 1708 Archbishop Tenison, upon whom the right of appointment had devolved, nominated him to a law fellowship at All Souls' out of respect for his father. The facts seem to imply that Young so far owed more to his father's merits than to any of his own. Pope afterwards told Warburton that Young had more genius than common sense, and had consequently passed ‘a foolish youth, the sport of peers and poets’ (Ruffhead, Pope, p. 290 n.) ‘There are who relate,’ says Croft, ‘that Young at this time’ was not the ornament to ‘religion and morality which he afterwards became.’ At Oxford he argued with the deist Tindal [see under Tindal, Matthew]. Young graduated as B.C.L. on 23 April 1714 and D.C.L. on 10 June 1719. He was meanwhile trying to push his way in London. One of his closest friends was Thomas Tickell [q. v.], who in 1710 became a fellow of Queen's College, Oxford, and was soon afterwards one of Addison's ‘little senate.’ Young was admitted to the same literary circles. His first publication was an ‘Epistle’ to George Granville, lord Lansdowne [q. v.], recently raised to the peerage as one of the famous twelve supporters of the peace. Young praises Lansdowne as a second Shakespeare, and more plausibly as a colleague of Bolingbroke. He bewails in the same poem Swift's client, William Harrison (1685–1713) [q. v.], the ‘partner of his soul.’ Harrison was also a Winchester and New College man; and Young travelled, probably from Oxford, to see him on his death-bed (14 Feb. 1712–13). Though Young was courting tories, he was on friendly terms with the whigs. He wrote one of the poems prefixed to Addison's ‘Cato,’ and in the ‘Guardian’ (9 May 1713) Steele quoted some lines from his ‘Last Day’ as a manuscript poem about to appear. It was published (license dated 19 May 1714) at Oxford, with a dedication to the queen. In 1714 he also published the ‘Force of Religion,’ a poem (upon the execution of Lady Jane Grey and her husband), with a dedication to the Countess of Salisbury; and an epistle to Addison upon the death of the queen, with an ardent welcome to her successor. Young suppressed this epistle and various dedications in his own edition of his poems; and we may hope that he was a little ashamed of having bestowed his incense so freely. Meanwhile he had formed connections, the history of which is only to be conjectured from some proceedings before Lord-chancellor Hardwicke in 1740 (J. T. Atkyns, Reports, 1794, ii. 152, case 135). The question then arose whether certain bonds of Philip Wharton, duke of Wharton [q. v.], held by Young, had been given for legal considerations. An annuity of 100l. had been granted by Wharton to Young on 24 March 1719, on the ground that in Wharton's opinion the public good was advanced by ‘the encouragement of learning and the polite arts.’ This, however, had not been paid, and, by way of discharging the debt, Wharton granted another annuity of 100l. on 10 July 1722. Young swore that, upon Wharton's promises of preferment, he had refused an offer of a life annuity of 100l. offered by Lord Exeter on condition of his continuing to be tutor to Lord Burghley. There was also a bond for 600l. from Wharton, dated 12 March 1721, in consideration of Young's expenses in standing for the House of Commons (at Cirencester), and refusing to take two livings worth 200l. and 400l. a year in the gift of All Souls' College. Nothing more is known of the Exeter tutorship. The chancellor decided in favour of Young's claim for the annuities, and against the claim for 600l. The connection with Wharton must have begun about 1715. It was through Young's influence that Wharton gave a subscription of over 1,000l. to the new buildings at All Souls'. Young in 1716 pronounced a Latin oration upon the laying of the first stone of the library. Young also accompanied Wharton to Dublin in the beginning of 1717, and there saw something of Swift. On 7 March 1718–19 Young's play of ‘Busiris’ was produced at Drury Lane. It had a run of nine nights, and was ridiculed by Fielding, among other tragedies of the time, in ‘Tom Thumb.’ On 18 April 1721 the ‘Revenge,’ which ran for only six nights, was acted at the same theatre. The play, a variation upon the theme of ‘Othello,’ afterwards had a long popularity on the stage. The character of Zanga, Young's Iago, gave opportunity for effective rant; although Young's mixture of bombast and epigrammatic antithesis is apt to strike the modern reader as it struck Fielding. It was dedicated to Wharton, with a statement that Wharton suggested the ‘most beautiful incident,’ whatever that may be, in the play. Wharton's departure from England at the end of 1725 put an end to any hopes of advantage from this questionable patronage. Another gift, however, is mentioned. In 1725 Young began the publication of a series of satires called ‘The Universal Passion,’ finally collected in 1728. According to Spence, Wharton made him a present of 2,000l. for the poem, and defended himself to friends by saying that it was worth 4,000l. Croft takes this as an adaptation of the saying attributed to Lord Burghley when remonstrating with Queen Elizabeth about Spenser's pension—‘All this for a song!’ Croft himself asserts, what seems to be improbable, that Young made 3,000l. by his satires, which compensated him for a ‘considerable sum’ previously ‘swallowed up in the South Sea.’ Young's son told Johnson that the money lost was that made by the satires, which inverts the dates. The satires, though very inferior to Pope's, showed Young to be Pope's nearest rival, and were often compared favourably with the work of the greater writer. They imply that Young had hopes in a fresh quarter. The third (1725) is dedicated to Bubb Dodington, with whom Young was very intimate, and who was about this time coming into office, to be a rare instance, as Young hopes, of ‘real worth’ gaining its price. Dodington, born in 1691, cannot have been, as Doran says, a ‘fellow student’ at Oxford, if indeed he was at Oxford at all. In any case he was a promising Mæcenas, and was for many years intimate with Young. Christopher Pitt [q. v.] in an ‘Epistle of Dr. Young’ (1722), and Thomson in his ‘Autumn,’ both speak of Young's visits to Dodington at Eastbury. It was at Dodington's house at Eastbury that Young met Voltaire, and made the often-quoted epigram:
Thou art so witty, profligate, and thin, At once we think thee Milton, Death, and Sin.
The last satire of the ‘Universal Passion’ is dedicated to Sir Robert Walpole, to whom he had already addressed a poem called ‘The Instalment’ (i.e. in the order of the Garter, 1726). Walpole is there complimented on having turned the royal bounty towards Young. Young received (25 June 1726; see the grant published by Doran, p. xxxvii) a pension of 200l. a year. It does not appear whether this was a reward for any particular services, though it is suggested that he may have been a writer for the government. Swift in the ‘Rhapsody on Poetry’ (1753) says that Young
Must torture his invention To flatter knaves or lose his pension.
Swift had previously ridiculed Young's flattery of Walpole and Sir Spencer Compton in ‘Verses written upon reading the “Universal Passion,”’ though in his letters he occasionally mentions Young respectfully. Young was prompted by the first parliamentary speech of George II (27 Jan. 1727–1728) to produce an ode called ‘Ocean,’ to which was prefixed an ‘Essay upon Lyric Poetry.’ The essay is commonplace and the ode delightfully absurd. He afterwards sinned once or twice in the same way. About this time Young apparently decided that his most promising career would be in the line of ecclesiastical preferment. He took orders at an uncertain date, and in April 1728 was appointed chaplain to the king. Ruffhead declares that upon his ordination he ‘asked Pope to direct him in his theological studies.’ Pope recommended Aquinas. Young retired to study his author ‘at an obscure place in the suburbs.’ Pope sought him out six months later, and was just in time to prevent an irretrievable ‘derangement.’ The story, said to be told by Pope to Warburton, is probably some joke converted into a statement of fact. Young was already known to Pope in the time of quarrel with Tickell and Addison (1715). ‘Tragic Young’ is mentioned by Gay as one of the friends who welcome Pope's ‘return from Troy.’ He often refers to Pope with great respect, and in 1730 addressed him in two epistles ‘upon the authors of the age’—that is, Pope's antagonists in the war roused by the ‘Dunciad.’ An undated letter from Young to Mrs. Howard (soon afterwards Lady Suffolk), first published in the ‘Suffolk Letters’ (i. 284–7), and conjecturally dated 1727, was probably written in 1730. An incidental reference to Townshend as still in office shows that it cannot have been later. Young, however, says that he is ‘turned of fifty,’ that he has been seven years in his majesty's service, and that he is still without preferment. He says that he has in some way given up 300l. a year in consequence of his expectations of royal favour. Letters in the Newcastle Papers, now in the British Museum, show that he was still complaining bitterly to the Duke of Newcastle in 1746 and as late as 1758. He says that he is the only person who, having been in the king's service before his accession to the throne, had yet received nothing. It does not appear what his special services had been, though in 1746 he says that they began twenty-four years previously, and evidently considers that they deserved at least a deanery. In July 1730 he was presented by All Souls' to the rectory of Welwyn in Hertfordshire, worth 300l. a year. On 27 May 1731 he married Lady Elizabeth, younger daughter of Edward Henry Lee, first earl of Lichfield [see under Lee, George Henry, third Earl], and widow of Colonel Lee. Young, according to Croft, was known to this lady through her relationship to Anne Wharton, first wife of the elder Wharton, who had been a friend of his father, the dean. To the same friendship is ascribed, but on vague conjecture, Young's connection with the Duke of Wharton. For some years Young published nothing except another absurd ode in 1734, called ‘The Foreign Address,’ and written ‘in the character of a sailor.’ He had one child by his wife, called Frederick after his godfather, the Prince of Wales. Lady Elizabeth had a daughter by her former husband, married to Henry Temple, son of Henry Temple (1673?–1757), first viscount Palmerston [q. v.] Mrs. Temple died of consumption at Lyons in October 1736 on her way to Nice; Young had accompanied her, and passed the winter at Nice. Temple died on 18 Aug. 1740, and Lady Elizabeth in January 1741. Reference in the ‘Night Thoughts’ to three deaths happening ‘ere thrice yon moon had filled her horn’ is apparently a poetical allusion to these misfortunes. Mrs. Temple is supposed to be Narcissa, while Philander in the same poem represents Temple. A story afterwards became current that ‘Narcissa’ had died at Montpellier, where her grave was pointed out in a garden. Young in the ‘Night Thoughts’ (‘Third Night’) describes a surreptitious burial made necessary by the superstitious refusal of a grave to a heretic. Mrs. Temple is proved by records to have been regularly buried in the protestant ground at Lyons. It has therefore been argued that Young may have had a daughter, who may have died at Montpellier in 1741, and may have been buried in the manner described. It is easier to suppose that he was taking a poetic license (see Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vols. iii. iv. and v.; in 4th ser. viii. 484–5 is a reference to various pamphlets on the subject. The documents in regard to Mrs. Temple's death and her epitaph are given in Breghot du Lut's Nouveaux Mélanges, &c., 1829–31, pp. 362–8). Judicious critics have also pointed out that the infidel Lorenzo in the same poem could not be meant for the poet's own son, inasmuch as the son was only eight years old at the time of publication. ‘The Complaint; or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality,’ appeared in June 1742, and was followed by the later ‘Nights.’ The ‘Night Thoughts’ achieved immediate popularity, and Young was now regarded as an ornament to religion and literature. He never obtained, however, the preferment to which he thought himself entitled. Apparently his hopes, like those of his friend Dodington, depended mainly upon the Prince of Wales, who was never able to reward his adherents. As Young said characteristically in the ‘Fourth Night:’
My very master knows me not; I've been so long remembered, I'm forgot.
He had, however, become rich and led a dignified life of retirement at Welwyn. He was a friend of the Duke of Portland, and occasionally visited Tunbridge Wells and Bath. Mrs. (Elizabeth) Montagu describes him at Tunbridge Wells in 1745, where he received her homage affably and made little excursions with her. She was surprised to find that his chief intimate was Colley Cibber. A common friend of Young and Cibber was Samuel Richardson, who corresponded with him from 1744 to 1759. A ‘Caroline’ mentioned in these letters was apparently Miss (called Mrs.) Hallows, daughter of Daniel Hallows, rector of All Hallows, Hertfordshire. Her father died in 1741, when Young wrote an epitaph placed in the chancel of the church (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. ix. 501). The daughter became Young's housekeeper, and, as his friends thought, came to have too great power in the family. Young and his housekeeper were caricatured in a rubbishy novel called ‘The Card’ by John Kidgell [q. v.] In 1753 Young brought out the tragedy of ‘The Brothers,’ written many years before, and suppressed when he took orders and thought that play-writing was not consistent with his new profession. He now proposed to give the profits to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. It was played at Drury Lane on 3 March 1753, and ran eight nights, but produced only 400l. Young, who had anticipated 1,000l., liberally paid the full sum to the society (Richardson, Correspondence, vi. 246). He afterwards wrote ‘The Centaur not Fabulous’ (1754), a kind of ‘Night Thought’ in prose; and a letter (to Richardson) upon ‘Original Composition’ (1759) which shows remarkable vivacity for a man of nearly eighty. This book was much admired by Klopstock and his friends, who were beginning to aim at originality (see Gervinus, Geschichte der deutschen Dichtung, 1853, iv. 332). Archbishop Secker, in a letter of July 1758 (printed by Croft), wonders that Young had received no preferment; but points out to him that his fortune and reputation put him above the need of it, and judiciously infers that he is too wise to feel concern for such things. In 1761 he was appointed ‘clerk of the closet’ to the princess dowager in succession to Stephen Hales [q. v.] In October 1761 his old friend Dodington (Lord Melcombe), who also had at last got his reward by a peerage, sent him an ode full of most edifying sentiments. In 1762 Mrs. Boscawen, who had found consolation for the loss of her husband, Admiral Edward Boscawen (1711–1761) [q. v.], in her perusal of ‘Night Thoughts,’ was introduced by Mrs. Montagu to the author. He administered further consolation in person and by his last publication, a poem called ‘Resignation.’ It shows the decay of his power. Young's last years were melancholy. He was never cheerful, as his son told Johnson, after the death of his wife. Details of his growing infirmity are given in the correspondence with Birch of his last curate, John Jones (1700–1770) [q. v.] Jones was persuaded to stay on with him, though complaining a good deal of the old man's irritability and the influence of Mrs. Hallows. Young's only son had been educated at Winchester, and was afterwards at Balliol, where he seems to have got into trouble (Biogr. Brit.). Young had refused to see him for many years. In Young's last illness, however, Mrs. Hallows properly sent for the son. The father was then too ill to see him, but sent a message of forgiveness, and left to him the bulk of his property. Young died on 5 April 1765. He left a legacy of 1,000l. to Mrs. Hallows, one to ‘his friend Henry Stevens, a hatter at the Temple Gate,’ and a third to Jones, who was one of his executors. He also left directions, which were apparently not executed, that all his papers should be destroyed. Young had built a steeple to his church (Richardson, Corresp. ii. 19), and had founded a charity school in the parish. The life in the ‘Biographia Britannica’ asserts that proper respect was not paid at his funeral by the parishioners, who were not sufficiently appreciative of their rector's merits. Jones, however (Lit. Anecd. i. 634), says that he was ‘decently buried’ under the communion table near his wife, with a proper attendance of the clergy. Few anecdotes are told of Young's personal habits. A story told by Pope (Works, x. 261) is supposed to apply to him, and to illustrate the absence of mind for which he was famous. He is said in the ‘Biographia’ to have spent many hours a day ‘among the tombs,’ which is perhaps an inference from his poetry; and he put up an alcove in his garden, where a bench was painted so as to produce an illusion of reality. Under it was inscribed Invisibilia non decipiunt. He did better by planting a fine avenue of lime trees in the rectory garden, which still thrives. On 30 Sept. 1781 it formed a ‘handsome Gothic arch,’ much admired by Johnson and Boswell. The house in which he lived (not the rectory) remains, and his writing-desk is shown there. The house was in 1781 occupied by Young's son, to whom Johnson said, ‘I had the honour to know that great man your father.’ Johnson, however, seems only to have met him at Richardson's house to discuss the letter upon ‘Original Composition.’ Owing to Young's retirement in later years he had passed out of the personal knowledge of most literary contemporaries. His poetry had become very popular, and he is mentioned with reverence by literary ladies such as Mrs. Montagu and Mrs. Delany. Young shared the talent of Pope for coining proverbial sentences. They include such copybook phrases as ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’ (‘First Night,’ i. 393), and a version of the familiar epigram in ‘men talk only to conceal the mind’ (Satire ii. 289). His laboured and sententious style made a singular success when employed in the service of religious sentimentalism. Young claimed to add the orthodox element which was wanting in Pope's rationalistic ‘Essay on Man,’ and his religious gloom was in edifying contrast to Pope's doctrine that whatever is is right. He was an early representative of the sentimentalism which was combined with a higher genius in his friend Richardson. The strain was taken up with almost equal popularity in James Hervey's ‘Meditations among the Tombs’ (1745–6). ‘Night Thoughts’ obtained a right to a place in all the libraries of the religious public, and has scarcely yet lost it. Such an achievement shows real power which the literary critic is apt to overlook. George Eliot thought it worth while to expose Young's feelings as man and author in an essay on ‘Worldliness and Otherworldliness’ (reprinted in her ‘Essays’ from the Westminster Review of 1857). His mixture of bombast and platitude is of course indefensible, and it is easy to question the sincerity of a man who courted Wharton, the most reckless spendthrift, and Dodington, the most profligate politician of his age. Young's gloom was no doubt partly that of a disappointed preferment-hunter, but probably was genuine enough in its way, and as sincere as that of most writers who bring their churchyard contemplations to market. Whatever his intrinsic merits, his poetry had very remarkable influence both in France and Germany. Klopstock wrote a poem upon his death, and he was considered by other German writers to be superior to Milton. In France the ‘Night Thoughts’ divided enthusiasm with ‘Clarissa Harlowe’ and ‘Ossian.’ A loose translation by Letourneur (1769), with a preliminary dissertation, made a great sensation and went through several editions. The poem was admired by Diderot, Robespierre (who ‘kept it under his pillow’ during the Revolution), and by Madame de Stael. Young was sharply criticised by Chateaubriand, but was still read by Lamartine and the French ‘romantics.’ An interesting account of Young's popularity in France is given in M. Texte's ‘Rousseau and the Cosmopolitan Spirit in Literature’ (English translation, 1899, pp. 304–14. See also Diderot, Œuvres (1877), xx. 13; Chateaubriand, Mélanges Littéraires, vi. 374; Madame de Stael, Œuvres (1830), iv. 212, 219; Grimm, Correspondance (1831), viii. 30, 31, 47, 310). Young gave a portrait of himself, painted by Joseph Highmore [q. v.] in 1754, to Richardson, by whose widow it was left to All Souls' (see Gent. Mag. 1817 ii. 210, 392). It is said to be the only portrait, but an engraving from another by Louis Peter Boitard [q. v.] is prefixed to the Aldine edition by Mitford. Young's works are: 1. ‘Epistle to … Lord Lansdowne,’ 1713, fol. 2. ‘The Last Day,’ 1714, 8vo. 3. ‘The Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love: a poem in two books,’ 1714, fol. 4. ‘On the late Queen's Death and his Majesty's Accession,’ 1714, fol. 5. ‘Oratio … cum jacta sunt Bibliothecæ Fundamenta’ (with English dedication to ladies of the Codrington family, second of ‘Orationes duæ’ (the first by D. Cotes), 1716, 8vo. 6. ‘Paraphrase on part of the Book of Job,’ 1719, 4to. 7. ‘Busiris, King of Egypt: a Tragedy,’ 1719, 12mo. 8. ‘A Letter to Mr. Tickell, occasioned by the Death of … J. Addison,’ 1719, fol. 9. ‘The Revenge: a Tragedy,’ 1721, 8vo; French translation in 1787; edited by J. R. Kemble in 1814. 10. ‘The Universal Passion:’ ‘first satire,’ 1725, fol., ‘second,’ ‘third,’ and ‘fourth,’ also in 1725, ‘last’ in 1726, ‘fifth’ in 1727, and ‘sixth’ in 1728. Collected under Young's name in 1728 as ‘The Love of Fame, in seven characteristic satires,’ when the ‘last’ becomes the ‘seventh satire.’ 11. ‘The Instalment’ (i.e. of Sir R. Walpole as knight of the Garter), 1726, fol. 12. ‘Cynthio’ (poem on death of the Marquis of Carmarthen), 1727, fol. 13. ‘Ocean: an Ode, to which is prefixed an Ode to the King and a Discourse on Ode,’ 1728, 8vo. 14. ‘A Vindication of Providence; or a true Estimate of Human Life,’ 1728, 4to. 15. ‘An Apology for Princes …’ (sermon before the House of Commons on 30 Jan. 1729), 8vo. 16. ‘Imperium Pelagi: a naval lyric written in imitation of Pindar's spirit, occasioned by his Majesty's return in September 1729,’ 1730, 8vo (the ‘lyric’ is headed ‘The Merchant’). 17. ‘Two Epistles to Mr. Pope concerning the Authors of the Age,’ 1730, fol. 18. ‘The Sea-piece,’ 1730 (two odes, with dedication to Voltaire). 19. ‘The Foreign Address … in the Character of a Sailor,’ 1734, 8vo. 20. ‘The Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality’ (anonymous). First four ‘Nights’ in 1742, 4to; fifth, 1743; sixth and seventh, 1744; eighth and ninth, 1745. The folio edition, with designs by Blake, appeared in 1797, and one with designs by Stothard in 1799. Besides the general title, the second ‘Night’ was entitled ‘On Time, Death, and Friendship,’ the third ‘Narcissa,’ the fourth ‘The Christian Triumph,’ the fifth ‘The Relapse,’ the sixth and seventh ‘The Infidel Reclaimed,’ the eighth ‘Virtue,’ ‘Apology,’ and the ninth ‘The Consolation.’ There are translations into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, and Magyar. 21. ‘Reflections on the Public Situation of the Kingdom,’ 1745 (a poem added to ‘Night Thoughts’). 22. ‘The Brothers: a Tragedy,’ 1753, reissued 1778 (German translation in 1764). 23. ‘The Centaur not Fabulous’ (‘in six letters to a friend on the life in vogue’), 1754, 8vo; 4th edit. 1786. 24. ‘Conjectures on Original Composition’ (a letter to the author of ‘Sir Charles Grandison’), 1759, 8vo. 25. ‘Resignation,’ in two parts, and a ‘postscript to Mrs. Boscawen,’ 1762, 4to, Philadelphia, 1791. Curll published an edition of Young's ‘Works’ in 1741 in 2 vols. 8vo, with a letter from the author wishing success to the undertaking, but declining to revise it himself. The works revised by the author were published in 1757 in 4 vols. 12mo, to which a fifth was added in 1767, and a seventh (edited by Isaac Reed) in 1778. Two two-volume editions of Young's works appeared in 1854, one edited by Nichols with Doran's life, and the other with Mitford's life at Boston, U.S.A. The ‘Beauties of Young,’ ed. A. Howard, appeared in 1834.
[The first life of Young appeared in the Biographia Britannica, 1766. Some errors were corrected in the Gent. Mag. for 1766, p. 310. Sir Herbert Croft [q. v.] wrote the life included in Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Croft took some pains to obtain information, but without much success. Later lives by John Mitford, prefixed to the Aldine edition of Young's Poems, and by Dr. Doran, prefixed to an edition of the poems in 1854, add a little, but the materials are scanty. See also Nichols's Lit. Anecdotes, pp. 585–640 (John Jones's letters to Birch), ii. 697–8, and a few other references; Biographia Dramatica; Spence's Anecdotes (Singer), 1820 pp. 147, 254, 327, 354, 374, 378, 389, 456; Warton's Essay on Pope, 1806, ii. 396; Mrs. E. Montagu's Letters 1813, iii. 9, 12, 17 seq.; Lady M. W. Montagu's Works (Moy Thomas), 1887 ii. 13, 15, 16; Richardson's Corresp. iii. 1–58, v. 142–54; Boswell's Johnson (Hill), iv. 59, 119–21, v. 269 and elsewhere); Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope); Genest's Hist. of the Stage, ii. 642, iii. 50, iv. 360; Villemain's Œuvres, 1856, vii. 317–328, x. 313–35. In the British Museum are some letters from Young to George Keate [q. v.] from 1760 to 1764 (Addit. MS. 30992), and a few (see above) in the Newcastle Papers. In Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iii. 137, v. 221, and vii. 401, passages are quoted from letters of Young to Tickell of 1726–7; but these letters are not now discoverable. A number of letters from Young to the Duchess of Portland (mentioned in Mrs. Delany's Autobiography, ii. 159, and supposed to be in possession of the present Duke of Portland) are also not forthcoming. Information has been kindly given by the present warden of All Souls', by the Rev. A. C. Headlam, rector of Welwyn, and the Rev. E. H. Tew, rector of Upham, and by Mr. C. W. Holgate, who has supplied extracts from the register of Winchester school. The writer has also to thank for various suggestions M. Thomas, maître de conférences at Rennes, who is engaged upon a study of Young.]
L. S.
Encyclopædia Britannica 11th edition (1911) YOUNG, EDWARD (1683–1765), English poet, author of Night Thoughts, son of Edward Young, afterwards dean of Salisbury, was born at his father's rectory at Upham, near Winchester, and was baptized on the 3rd of July 1683. He was educated on the foundation at Winchester College, and matriculated in 1702 at New College, Oxford. He soon removed to Corpus Christi, and in 1708 was nominated by Archbishop Tenison to a law fellowship at All Souls', for the sake of Dean Young, who died in 1705. He took his degree of D.C.L . in 1719. His first publication was an Epistle to …. Lord Lansdoune (1713). It was followed by a Poem on the Last Day (1713), dedicated to Queen Anne; The Force of Religion, or Vanquish'd Love (1714), a poem on the execution of Lady Jane Grey and her husband, dedicated to the countess of Sahsbury; and an epistle to Addison, On the late Queen's Death and His Majesty's Accession to the Throne (1714) in which he made indecent haste to praise the new king. The fulsome style of these dedications ill accords with the pious tone of the poems, and they are omitted in the edition of his works drawn up by himself. About this time began his connexion with Philip, duke of Wharton, whom he accompanied to Dublin in 1717. In 1719 his play of Busiris was produced at Drury Lane, and in 1721 his Revenge. The latter play was dedicated to Wharton, to whom it owed, said Young, its "most beautiful incident." Wharton promised him two annuities of £100 each and a sum of £600 in consideration of his expenses as a candidate for parliamentary election at Cirencester. In view of these promises Young said that he had refused two livings in the gift of All Souls' College, Oxford, and had also sacrificed a life annuity offered by the marquess of Exeter if he would act as tutor to his son. Wharton failed to discharge his obligations, and Young, who pleaded his case before Lord Chancellor Hardwicke in 1740, gained the annuity but not the £600. Between 1725 and 1728 Young published a series of seven satires on The Universal Passion. They were dedicated to the duke of Dorset, Bubb Dodington (afterwards Lord Melcombe), Sir Spencer Compton, Lady Ehzabeth Germain and Sir Robert Walpole, and were collected in 1728 as Love of Fame, the Universal Passion. This is qualified by Samuel Johnson as a "very great performance," and abounds in striking and pithy couplets. Herbert Croft asserted that Young made £3000 by his satires, which compensated losses he had suffered in the South Sea Bubble. In 1726 he received, through Walpole, a pension of £200 a year. To the end of his life he continued to urge on the government his claims to preferment, but the king and his advisers persisted in regarding this sum as an adequate settlement. Young was nearly fifty when he decided to take holy orders. It was reported that the author of Night Thoughts was not, in his earher days, "the ornament to religion and morality which he afterwards became," and his intimacy with the duke of Wharton and with Lord Melcombe did not improve his reputation. A statement attributed to Pope probably gives the correct view. "He had much of a sublime genius, though without common sense; so that his genius, having no guide, was perpetually liable to degenerate into bombast. This made him pass a foolish youth, the sport of peers and poets; but his having a very good heart enabled him to support the clerical character when he assumed it, first with decency and afterwards with honour" (O. Ruffhead, Life of A. Pope, p. 291). In 1728 he was made one of the royal chaplains, and in 1730 was presented to the college living of Welwyn, Hertfordshire. He married in 1731 Lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the 1st earl of Lichfield. Her daughter, by a former marriage with her cousin Francis Lee, married Henry Temple, son of the 1st viscount Palmerston. Mrs Temple died at Lyons in 1736 on her way to Nice. Her husband and Lady Elizabeth Young died in 1740. These successive deaths are supposed to be the events referred to in the Night Thoughts as taking place "ere thrice yon moon had filled her horn" (Night i.). In the preface to the poem Young states that the occasion of the poem was real, and Philander and Narcissa have been rather rashly identified with Mr and Mrs Temple. M. Thomas suggests that Philander represents Thomas Tickell, who was an old friend of Young's, and died three months after Lady Elizabeth Young. It was further supposed that the infidel Lorenzo was a sketch of Young's own son, a statement disproved by the fact that he was a child of eight years old at the time of publication. The Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality, was published in 1742, and was followed by other "Nights," the eighth and ninth appearing in 1745. In 1753 his tragedy of The Brothers, written many years before, but suppressed because he was about to enter the Church, was produced at Drury Lane. Night Thoughts had made him famous, but he lived in almost uninterrupted retirement, although he continued vainly to solicit preferment. He was, however, made clerk of the closet to the princess dowager in 1761. He was never cheerful, it was said, after his wife's death. He disagreed with his son, who had remonstrated, apparently, on the excessive influence exerted by his housekeeper Miss (known as Mrs) Hallows. The old man refused to see his son before he died, but is said to have forgiven him, and left him his money. A description of him is to be found in the letters of his curate, John Jones, to Dr Samuel Birch. He died at Welwyn on the 5th of April 1765. Young is said to have been a brilliant talker. He had an extraordinary knack of epigram, and though the Night Thoughts is long and disconnected it abounds In brilliant isolated passages. Its success was enormous. It was translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish and Magyar. In France it became one of the classics of the romantic school The suspicion of insincerity that damped the enthusiasm of English readers acquainted with the facts of his career did not exist for French readers. If he did not invent "melancholy and moonlight" in literature, he did much to spread the fashionable taste for them. Madame Klopstock thought the king ought to make him archbishop of Canterbury, and some German critics preferred him to Milton. Young wrote good blank verse, and Samuel Johnson pronounced Night Thoughts to be one of "the few poems" in which blank verse could not be changed for rhyme but with disadvantage.
Other works by Young are: The Instalment (to Sir R. Walpole, 1726); Cynthia (1727); A Vindication of Providence … (1728), a sermon; An Apology for Punch (1729), a sermon; Imperium Pelagi, a Naval Lyrick … (1730); Two Epistles to Mr Pope concerning the Authors of the Age (1730); A Sea-Piece … (1733): The Foreign Address, or The Best Argument for Peace (1734); The Centaur not Fabulous; in Five Letters to a Friend (1755): An Argument … for the Truth of His [Christ's] Religion (1758), a sermon preached before the king; Conjectures on Original Composition … (1759), addressed to Samuel Richardson; and Resignation … (1762), a poem. Night Thoughts was illustrated by William Blake in 1797, and by Thomas Stothard in 1799. The Poetical Works of the Rev. Edward Young … were revised by himself (or publication, and a completed edition appeared in 1778. The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young …, with a life by John Doran, appeared in 1854. His Poetical Works are included in the Aldine Edition of the British Poets, with a life by J. Mitford (1830–1836, 1857 and 1866). Sir Herbert Croft wrote the life included in Johnson's Lives of the Poets, but the critical remarks are by Johnson. For Youngs influence on foreign literature see Joseph Texte, Jean Jacques Rousseau, A Study of the Literary Relations between France and England during the Eighteenth Century (Eng. trans., 1889), pp. 304–14; and J. Barnstoff, Young's Nachtgedanken und ihr Einfluss auf die deutsche Litteratur (1895). See also W. Thomas, Le Poète Edward Young (Paris, 1901), who gives an exhaustive study of Young's life and work.