Puslapio vaizdai

Could we but climb where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o'er,

Not Jordan's stream nor death's cold flood
Should fright us from the shore.

It is needless to multiply quotations from a book so familiarly known and so constantly used in public, social, and private worship, as the Psalms and Hymns of Watts. Though unequal, they are sometimes eminently beautiful. Let us take for example of their happiest and frequent excellence, the following stanza.

Pure are the joys above the sky,
And all the region peace;
No wanton lips nor envious eye
Can see or taste the bliss.


Born 1681-Died 1765.

THE father of Young was a pious and honored clergyman in the Church of England. The poet was educated principally at Oxford University, where he obtained a fellowship in law. In this profession he never practised, but seems to have made poetry his chief employment, till in 1728 he entered into orders, and was appointed chaplain to the king. In 1730 he was presented to a rectory of three hundred pounds, and in the year following married the lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the earl of Litchfield. This lady died in 1741, in which year he commenced his Night Thoughts.

In the early part of his life, Young is said to have been ambitious and profligate; but it is remarkable that his earliest poetry is of the most serious cast, and the following anecdote is related of his conversation. The infidel, Tindal, used to spend much of his time at the college where Young resided. "The other boys," said the atheist, "I can always answer, because I always know whence they have their arguments, which I have read a hundred times; but that fellow, Young, is continually pestering me with something of his own."

As a clergyman, he was distinguished for his piety and eloquence. His turn of mind was solemn, and his conversation, as well as his writings, all had reference to a future state. Yet he seems always to have been greatly addicted to flattery, and he did not cease to seek for preferment, even till his death.

As a poet, he possessed a very strong and sublime imagination, unaccompanied to an equal degree by delicacy of judg ment or refinement of taste. Hence his poems, while they

contain a great number of noble and powerful passages, abound likewise in false and meretricious ornament, unnatural thoughts, harsh expressions, and laboured conceits. The felicity and splendour of his conceptions is continually interrupted with false wit and antithesis. If at one moment he speaks from the heart, at the next his thoughts are evidently produced by a strained and exaggerated fancy.

"He has been well described in a late poem," says Campbell," as one in whom

'Still gleams and still expires the cloudy day

Of genuine poetry.'

The reader most sensitive to his faults must have felt, that there is in him a spark of originality which is never long extinguished, however far it may be from vivifying the entire mass of his poetry. Many and exquisite are his touches of sublime expression, of profound reflection, and of striking imagery. It is recalling but a few of these, to allude to his description, in the eighth book, of the man, whose thoughts are not of this world; to his simile of the traveller, at the opening of the ninth book, to his spectre of the antediluvian world, and to some parts of his very unequal description of the conflagration; above all, to that noble and familiar image,

'When final ruin fiercely drives

Her ploughshare o'er creation."

It is true, that he seldom, if ever, maintains a flight of poetry long free from oblique associations, but he has individual passages, which Philosophy might make her texts, and Experience select for her mottos."

The moral influence of his poetry is excellent in the highest degree. No person can arise from the perusal of his Night Thoughts, without feeling more deeply the value of time, the awful solemnity of death, and the unspeakable importance of a preparation for eternity.


THE bell strikes One. We take no note of time
But from its loss: to give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke

I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours.

Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands dispatch:

How much is to be done! My hopes and fears
Start up alarm'd, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss.

And can eternity belong to me,

Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?

How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man!
How passing wonder He who made him such!
Who center'd in our make such strange extremes,
From different natures marvellously mix'd,
Connexion exquisite of distant worlds!
Distinguish'd link in being's endless chain!
Midway from nothing to the deity!
A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt!
Though sullied and dishonor'd, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!

A worm! a god!--I tremble at myself,
And in myself am lost. At home a stranger,
Thought wanders up and down, surpris'd aghast,
And wondering at her own. How reason reels!

O what a miracle to man is man!

Triumphantly distress'd ! what joy! what dread !—
Alternately transported and alarm'd;

What can preserve my life! or what destroy!
An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave;
Legions of angels can't confine me there.

"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 scal'd the cliff, or danc'd 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, unconfin'd,
Unfetter'd with her gross companion's fa.l.
Ev'n silent night proclaims my soul immortal;
Ev'n 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?
Why wanders wretched Thought their tombs around
In infidel distress? Are angels there?
Slumbers, rak'd up in dust, ethereal fire?

They live! they greatly live a life, on earth Unkindled, unconceiv'd, and from an eye

Of tenderness let heavenly pity fall
On me, more justly number'd with the dead.
This is the desert, this the solitude:
How populous, how vital is the grave!
This is Creation's melancholy vault.
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades!
All, all on earth is shadow, all beyond
Is substance; the reverse is Folly's creed.
How solid all, where change shall be no more!


Br Nature's law, what may be may be now;
There's no prerogative in human hours.
In human hearts what bolder thought can rise
Than man's presumption on to-morrow's dawn?
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 nountain-hopes, spin out eternal schemes,
As we the Fatal Sisters could outspin,
And, big with life's futurities, expire.

Not ev'n Philander had bespoke his shroud;
Nor had he cause; a warning was denied.
How many fall as sudden, not as safe!
As sudden, though for years admonish'd home;
Of human ills the last extreme beware;
Beware, Lorenzo! a slow-sudden death;
How dreadful that deliberate surprise!
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is push'd out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time:
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
frequent, would not this be strange ?

If not so

That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.

Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears The palm, "That all men are about to live,” For ever on the brink of being born: All pay themselves the compliment to think They one day shall not drivel, and their pride On this reversion takes up ready praise; At least their own; their future selves applauds,



How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodg'd in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodg'd in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
'Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,

And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,

And that through every stage. When young, indeed
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,

Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,

As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan ;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve ;
In all the magnanimity of thought

Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.

And why? because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of Fate
Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where past the shaft no trace is found.
As from the wing no scar the sky retains,
The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
So dies in human hearts the thought of death:
Ev'n with the tender tear which Nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.


WISDOM, though richer than Peruvian mines,
And sweeter than the sweet ambrosial hive,
What is she but the means of happiness?
That unobtain'd, than folly more a fool;
A melancholy fool, without her bells.
Friendship, the means of wisdom, richly gives
The precious end, which makes our wisdom wise.
Nature, in zeal for human amity,

Denies or damps an undivided joy.

Joy is an import; joy is an exchange;

Joy flies monopolists; it calls for two:

Rich fruit! heaven-planted! never pluck'd by one.
Needful auxiliars are our friends, to give

To social man true relish of himself.
Full on ourselves descending in a line,
Pleasure's bright beam is feeble in delight:
Delight intense is taken by rebound:

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