"When I behold a genius bright and base, / Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims; / Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere, / The glorious fragments of a soul immortal, / With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust."
— Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765)
Our boast but ill deserve. A feeble aid!
Dædalian engin'ry! if these alone
Assist our flight, Fame's flight is Glory's fall.
Heart-merit wanting, mount we ne'er so high,
Our height is but the gibbet of our name.
A celebrated wretch when I behold,
When I behold a genius bright and base,
Of towering talents, and terrestrial aims;
Methinks I see, as thrown from her high sphere,
The glorious fragments of a soul immortal,
With rubbish mix'd, and glittering in the dust.
Struck at the splendid, melancholy sight
At once compassion soft, and envy, rise---
But wherefore envy? Talents angel-bright,
If wanting worth, are shining instruments
In false Ambition's hand, to finish faults
Illustrious, and give Infamy renown.
(ll. 259-276, p. 156 in CUP edition)
Edward Young, Night the Sixth. The Infidel Reclaim'd. In Two Parts. Containing, The Nature, Proof, and Importance of Immortality. Part the First. Where, among other things, Glory, and Riches, are particularly consider'd. Humbly Inscrib'd to the Right Honourable Henry Pelham, First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer. (London: R. Dodsley, 1744). <Link to ECCO>
Text from The Complete Works, Poetry and Prose, of the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., 2 vols. (London: William Tegg, 1854). <Link to Google Books>
Reading Edward Young, Night Thoughts, ed. Stephen Cornford (New York: Cambridge UP, 1989).