On Dr. Young's Night Thoughts

Nights Thoughts – What are they? what is night and thought?

Night is a sable Gloom that covers all things

Below the Skies; here colour, form, and space

Promiscuous undistinguishable lie,

Save where when the silver Moon in her pale Lustre 5

Emit[s] her feeble Rays and glimering snows

To represent Reason’s dimsighted beam.

And what is thought? thought is the child of reason

By understanding or by Ignorance receiv’d

By wit or and Judgment or its stepdame folly. 10

Borne on the Wings of fancy round the Globe,

Above, Below, fleeting from World to World

Or else by Dullness clogg’d and fetter’d down,

Slowly it creeps along from thing to thing.

Young’s is a Moonshine Night – here reason’s child 15

Is nurs’d by Understanding, Wit, and Judgment.

Fancy too lends her aid and bears his thought.

Above the Sceptic’s reach who falsely boasts

A power of thinking; free deluded mortals,

Freethinkers, cannot dare nor think of bliss 20

Beyond the Grave, a bliss they cannot reach,

And misery at Death they would not think of.

Viler than brutes they spend their transient life

And therefore wish (in vain) like them to perish.

Not so ^the^ good the Man; he with boundless view 25

Joyful contemplates immortality.

Thrice happy Young, whose heavenly pen instructs

A Child in thought ambitiously to soar

Above this clod of Earth, above this bubble world,

Beyond this narrow span, this fleeting point 30

Of Life, he kindly wafts the flying thought

To yon unnumber’d Worlds, those glittering specks

Which we call Stars, freely to roam among them

And praise the wise omnipotent Creator.

And Our thoughts by his assisted climb above 35

Those unknown Worlds to Realms of bright glory,

Where God enthron’d in Majesty supreme

Smiles Happiness unspeakeable around.

Thought falters here – unable to conceive

The least, the thousandth part, of half the bliss 40

Abounding there. –

April 4, 1748

Text: Steele Collection, 10/2, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 4, p. 132.