« EdellinenJatka »
THE LIFE OF 7. PHILIP S.
Joan Puilips was son of Dr. Stephen Philips, Archdeacon of Salop, and bora at Bampton, in Oxfordshire, on the 30th of December 1676.
After he had received a grammatical education at home, he was sent to Winchester school, where he distinguished himself by the superiority of his exercises, and endeared bimself to his schoolfellows by his civility and good-naturc.
It is related, that he seldom mingled in play with the other boys, but retired to his chamber, where his highest pleasurc was to have his hair combed by somebody; probably from the same rir diculous fancy that made Ifaac Voffius delight in having his hair combed by barbers, or other perfons skilled in the rules of prosody, as he himself relates in his treatise, “ De Poematum cantu eta viribus Rythmi.”
At school, he made himself master of the Latin and Greek languages, and was distinguished for bis happy imitation of the excellencies of the best classical writers.
Jn 1694, he was removed to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he performed his academical esercises with great applause; and carcfully Audied the works of the ancient and modern poets, particularly the Paradise Loft of Milton; whose founding words and stately construction he afterwards imitated in his own compositions.
He was not, however, so much addicted to the study of poetry, as to negle& natural philofophy; and as the profeflion which he intended to follow was that of physic, he took much delight in nas tural history, of which botany was his favourite department.
While he resided at Chritt Church, he was esteemed by the most eminent scholars in the college ; at that time in the highest reputation; and was diftinguished by the friendship of Smith, author of, “ Phædra and Hippolitus."
In 1903, he published The Splendid Shilling, a burlesque poem, which fruck the public attention, with a miode of writing, in which the opposition between the ftyle and the sentiment was unespected; and the application of Milton's phraseology to familiar' incidents, gave the words and things a new appearance.
It has the uncommon merit of being an original specimen of burlesque, that has lost nothing by time, the peculiar manners of which it did not, like Hudibras, represent, and therefore will be longer intelligible than that celebrated poem; which is not huilt on observations on nature.
This perforniance raised his reputation so high, that he was employed by Mr. St. John, afterwards Lord Viscount Bolingbroke, and the Tories, to write a poem on the Victory of Blenheim, probably in opposition to Addison, who was employed to write upon the same subject by Halifax and the Whigs.
Accordingly, his Blenleim appeared in 1705; and it was not denied to be a tolerable, poem even by those who did not allow its superiority to the “ Campaign” of Addison. It is the poem of a schon
lar, written with little comprehenfion of the qualities necessary to the composition of a modera hero, which Addison has displayed with fu much propriety.
In 1706, he published his greatest work, the Poem on Cider, in two books, the plan of which he laid at Oxford, and afterwards completed in London. It was read with universal approbation, as an imitation of Virgil's Georgic, which emulated the beauties of the finest production of aptie quity. It continued long to be read, and is entitled to this peculiar praise, That it is founded is truth; that the precepts it contains are exact and just; and that it is therefore at once a book d entertainment and of science.
About this time, he wrote a Latin Ode to his patron, St. John, in return for a present of wise and tobacco, which is gay and elegant, and exhibits several artful accommodations of clallic espres fions to new purposes.
He meditated a poems on the Laf Day, the design of which his friend Smith had probably seen, who thus speaks of it in the admirable Elegy which he wrote upon his death.
.. O had relenting Heaven prolong'd his days,
This work he did not live to finish ; a low consumption and an asthma put an end to his life on the 15th of February 1708, in the 32d year of his age. He was buried in the Cathedral of Hereford, with an epitaph ioscribed upon his grave-Itone by his mother; and Sir Simon Harcourt, afterwards Lord Chancellor, erected a monument to his memory, in Westminster Abbey, with a copious and elegant inscription, written by Dr. Atterbury, though commonly given to Dr. Freind.
Philips has been praised by Dr. Sewell, without contradiction, as a man model, blameless, and pious, who bore narrowness of fortune without discontent, and a tedious and painful illness withost impatience, beloved by all who knew him, but not ambitious to be known.
His conversation is commended for its innocent gaiety, “ He was free, familiar, and caly wish his friends, but somewhat reserved and silent amongst Atrangers : he was averse to disputes, and thought no time so ill spent, and no wit so ill used as that which was employed in such debates; bie whole life was distinguished by a natural goodness, and a well grounded and unaffected piety, a universal charity, and a teady adherence to his principles; no one observed the natural and cil duties of life with a frider regard, whether a fon, a friend, or a member of fociety; and be had the happiness to fill every one of those parts without even the suspicion either of unditifulacs, in üncerity, or disrespect."
His addi&tion to the pleasures of the pipe is mentioned, with this remark, chat in all his writings except Blenbeim, he has found an opportunity of celebrating tobacco.
His poetical character is given by Dr. Johnson, whose unfavourable opinion of blank verse wil weigh little with readers pocorrupted by literary prejudices.
“ His works are few; he unhappily pleased himself with blank verse, and supposed that the numbers of Milton, which impress the mind with veneration, combined as they are with subjects of inconceivable grandeur, could be sustained by images which at most can rise only to elegance.
“ He imitates Milton's numbers indeed, but imitaçes them very injudicioudy. Deformity is cafily copied ; and whatever there is in Milton which the reader wishes away, all chat is obfolete, peculiar, or licentious, is accumulated with great care by Fhilips. Those asperities, therefore, which are venerable io che Paradise I of, are contemptible in Blenheim.
" What study could confer, Philips had obtained; but natural deficience cannot be supplied. He seems not born to greatness and elevation. He is never lofty; nor dues he often surprise with una. pected excellence; but perhaps to his last poem may be applied what Tully fajd of the work of Lucretius, that it is written with much art, though with fer blazes of genins.",
MR. PHILIP'S DESIGNED DEDICATION
TO W. BROME, ESQ. OF EWITHINGTON, IN THE COUNTY OF HEREFORD.
manes of a departed one. There are, that have It would be too tedious an undertaking at this dedicated to their whores: God help those hentime to examine the rise and progress of Dedica- pecked writers that have been forced to dedicate tions. The use of them is certainly ancient, as to their own wives! But while I talk so much appears both from Greek and Latin authors; and of other men's patrons, I have forgot my own; we have reason to believe that it was continued and seem rather to make an eslay on Dedications, without any interruption till the beginning of this than to write one. However, Sir, I presume you century, at which time mottos, anagrams, and will pardon me for that fault; and perhaps like frontispieces being introduced, Dedications were me the better for saying nothing to the purpose. mightily discouraged, and at last abdicated. But You, Sir, are a person more tender of other men's to discover precisely when they were restored, and reputation than your own, and would hear every by whom they were first uthcred in, is a work | body commended but yourself. Should I buc that far transcends my knowledge; a work that mention your skill in turning, and the compaffion can jusly be expected from no other pen but that you shewed to my fingers ends when you gave me of your operose Doctor Bentley. Let us, therefore, a tobacco-ftopper, you would blush, and be conat present acquiesce in the dubiousness of their founded with your just praises. How much more antiquity, and think the authority of the past and would you, should'1 tell you what a progress you present times a sufficient plea for your patronizing, have made in that abstruse and useful language, and my dedicating this poem ; especially since the Saxon? Sioce, therefore, the recital of your in this age Dedications are not only fashionable, excellencies would prove so troublesome, I shall but almost necessary; and indeed they are now offend your modesty no longer. Give me leave so much in vogue, that a book without one is as to speak a word or two concerning the poem, and feldom seen as a bawdy-house without a Pratice I have done. This poem, Sir, if we consider the of Piety, or a poet with money. Upon this ac- moral, the newness of the subject, the variety of count, Sir, those who have no friends, dedicate to images, and the exa&ness of the similitudes that all good Christians; some to their booksellers; compose it, must be allowed a piece that was never Come, for want of a sublunary patron, to the equalled by the moderns or ancicats. The subject
of the poem is myself, a fubje& never yet handled ever excellent this poem is, in the reading of 2 by any poets. How fic to be handled by all, we you will find a vast difference between some pars may learn by those few divine commendatory and others; which proceeds not from your busverses written by the admirable Monsieur le Bog. ble fervant's negligence, but diet. This poen Y fince I am the subject, and the poet too, was begun when he had little victuals, and sa Thall say no more of it, left I hould seem vain- money; and was finished when he had the me glorious. As for the moral, I have taken parti- fortunc, ac a virtuous lady's house, to meet with cular care that it should lic incognito, not like the both. But I hope, in time, Sir, when hunge ancients, who let you know at first fight they and poverty shall once more be my companies design something by their verses. But here you to make amends for the defaults of this prem, bo inay look a good while, and perhaps, after all, find an Elsay on Minced Pies, which shall be devoted that the poet has no aim or delign, which must to you with all submißion, by, nceds be a diverting surprise to the reader. What thull i say of the limiles, that are so full of geo
Sir, graphy, that you must get a Welthman to understand them ? that so raise our ideas of the things
Your most obliged, they are applied to that are so extraordinarily quaint and well chofen, that there's nothing like
And humble servant, them? So that I think I may, without vanity, ky, Avia Pieridum peragre loca, &c. Yet, how