Edward Young’s first publication was an ‘Epistle to… Lord Lansdoune’ written in 1713, followed by a ‘Poem on the Last Day’, dedicated to Queen Anne.
In 1714, he published ‘The Force of Religion: or Vanquished Love’ which was dedicated to the Countess of Salisbury. It was about the execution of Lady Jane Grey and her husband.
He wrote an epistle to Joseph Addison, ‘On the late Queen’s Death and His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne’ in 1714, in which he hurried to shower praise on the new king.
He met Philip, Duke of Wharton, whom he accompanied to Dublin in 1717. In the following years, he produced the play, ‘Busiris’. His play ‘Revenge’ was dedicated to Wharton.
Wharton had promised him two annuities of £100 each and £600 as expenditure. After Wharton failed to pay, Young pleaded his case before Lord Chancellor Hardwicke in 1740, but gained only the annuity.
From 1725 to 1728, he published a series of seven satires on “The Universal Passion” dedicated to the Duke of Dorset, George Bubb Dodington, Sir Spencer Compton, Lady Elizabeth Germain and Sir Robert Walpole.
In 1726, he received a pension of £200 a year through Walpole. He continued to seek preferment until the end of his life, but the king regarded his pension as adequate settlement.
Young was known for seeking patronage for his poetry, his theatrical works, and his career in the church. However, he failed mainly because he picked patrons whose fortunes were declining.
In 1728, his satires were compiled into the collection, “Love of Fame, the Universal Passion”. He also became a royal chaplain. Two years later, he obtained the college living of Welwyn, Hertfordshire.
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“The Conjectures” was a declaration of independence against the tyranny of classicism, and was considered a milestone in the history of English, and European, literary criticism. It was translated into German with favorable reviews.
His writings in the late 1720s include “The Instalment”, “Cynthio”, “A Vindication of Providence “, a sermon, and “An Apology for Punch”, a sermon.
In the 1730s, his publications included “Imperium Pelagi, a Naval Lyrick”, “Two Epistles to Mr. Pope concerning the Authors of the Age”, “A Sea-Piece”, and “The Foreign Address, or The Best Argument for Peace”
His other works include “The Centaur not Fabulous; in Five Letters to a Friend”, “An Argument... for the Truth of His [Christ’s] Religion”, a sermon preached before the king, and “Resignation”, a poem.
Young’s “The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality”, famously known as “Night-Thoughts”, is a long poem written in blank verse published in nine parts in the years starting from 1742 to 1745.
In 1759, he published the critical prose, “Conjectures on Original Composition”. In which he emphasized the importance of originality being more valuable than classic indoctrination or imitation.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1731, he married Lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the Earl of Lichfield. She was the widow of Colonel Francis Lee, also her cousin, and had a daughter by him who married Henry Temple.
He had a son named Frederick who was rather ill-mannered. Edward Young refused to see him until before his death when he forgave his son, and bequeath everything he had to him.
Mrs. Temple and Lady Elizabeth Young died within a few years of each other. These successive deaths are supposed to be the events referred to in “Night Thoughts”.