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A Short Biographical Sketch of EDWARD YOUNG (1683 to 1765)

by John W. Cousin

YOUNG, EDWARD (1683-1765). —Poet, s. of the Rector of Upham, Hampshire, where he was b. After being at Winchester School and Oxf. he accompanied the Duke of Wharton to Ireland. Y., who had always a keen eye towards preferment, and the cult of those who had the dispensing of it, began his poetical career in 1713 with An Epistle to Lord Lansdowne. Equally characteristic was the publication in the same year of two poems, The Last Day and The Force of Religion. The following year he produced an elegy On the Death of Queen Anne, which brought him into notice. Turning next to the drama he produced Busiris in 1719, and The Revenge in 1721. His next work was a collection of 7 satires, The Love of Fame, the Universal Passion. In 1727 he entered the Church, and was appointed one of the Royal Chaplains, and Rector of Welwyn, Herts, in 1730. Next year he m. Lady Elizabeth Lee, the widowed dau. of the Earl of Lichfield, to whom, as well as to her dau. by her former marriage, he was warmly attached. Both d., and sad and lonely the poet began his masterpiece, The Complaint, or Night Thoughts (1742-44), which had immediate and great popularity, and which still maintains its place as a classic. In 1753 he brought out his last drama, The Brothers, and in 1761 he received his last piece of preferment, that of Clerk to the Closet to the Princess Dowager of Wales. Four years later, in 1765, he d. The poems of Y., though in style artificial and sometimes forced, abound in passages of passion and power which sometimes reach the sublime. But the feelings and sentiments which he expresses with so much force as a poet form an unpleasantly harsh contrast with the worldliness and tuft-hunting of his life.

Book: Shattered Sighs