1 FEBRUARY 1919, Page 23

Conjectures on Original Composition. By Edward Young. Edited by Edith

J. Morley. (Manchester University Press and Longman. 4s. 6d. net.)—In the wonderful year 1759 Young addressed to Samuel Richardson his spirited defence of original composition as opposed to sedulous imitation of the ancients. Miss Morley's interesting edition is the first separate reprint of the essay that has appeared since that time, though the " Conjectures " are published among Young's collected works. " Night Thoughts," though it charmed Robespierre, is not an exhilarating poem, but the prose tract, written when the author was seventy-five, Is distinctly amusing with all the Georgian courtliness of the man who wrote " Procrastination is the thief of Time." The argument, says the editor, " marks a definite epoch in English criticism," though it is trite enough ; nowadays the danger is lest the ancients—including all writers of the last generation—should be contemned or forgotten. The famous anecdote of Addison on his death-bed—" See in what peace a Christian can die I "—and Swift's remark about an elm with a withered crown—" I shall be like that tree, I shall die at top"— are given by Young in this essay.