페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

ers,

rum, 1624. 2.“ Manuale Chronologicum veteris Testamenti,” 1635. 3. “Chronologiæ Veteris Testamenti accuratum Examen," 1637, &c.?

PHILIPS (Ambrose), an English poet, was descended from an ancient family in Leicestershire, and educated at St. John's-college, in Cambridge, where he took his degrees of A.B. in 1696, and A.M. in 1700, at which time he obtained a fellowship. While at college also he is supposed to have written his “ Pastorals,” which involved him 80 seriously with the wits and critics of the age. When he quitted the university, and repaired to the metropolis, he became, as Jacob expresses himself, “one of the wits at Button's ;” and there contracted an acquaintance with the gentlemen of the belles lettres, who frequented it. Sir Richard Steele was his particular friend, and inserted in his Tatler, No. 12, a little poem of his, called “ A Winter Piece," dated from Copenhagen, the 9th of May, 1709, and addressed to the earl of Dorset. Sir Richard thus mentions it with honour: “ This is as fine a piece as we ever had from any of the schools of the most learned paint

Such images as these give us a new pleasure in our sight, and fix upon our minds traces of resection, which accompany us wherever the like objects occur.” Pope, too, who had a confirmed aversion to Philips, while he affected to despise his other works, always excepted this out of the number, and mentioned it as the production of a man who could write very nobly.”

Steele was also an admirer of Philips's “ Pastorals,” which had then obtained a great number of readers; and was about to form a critical comparison of Pope's Pastorals with those of Philips, with a view of giving the preference to the latter. Pope, apprized of Steele's design, and always jealous of his own reputation, contrived the most artful method to defeat it; which was, by writing a paper for the Guardian, No. 40, after several others had been employed there on pastoral poetry, upon the inerits of Philips and himself; and so ordering it, as that himself was found the better versifier, while Philips was preferred as the best Arcadian. Upon the publication of this paper, the enemies of Pope exulted to see him placed below Philips in a species of poetry upon which he wąs supposed to value himself; but were extremely mortified soon after

Moreri.Dict, Hist.

to find that Pope himself was the real author of the paper, and that the whole criticism was an irony. The next work Philips published, according to the common account, was “ The Life of John Williams, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Bishop of Lincoln, and Archbishop of York, in the reigps of James and Charles I.” He is supposed to have undertaken this, for the sake of making known his political principles, which were those of the Whigs. But we doubt whether this, which was published in 1700, was not prior to the publication of his pastorals.

In the mean time, he fell under the severe displeasure. of Pope, who satirized him with his usual keenness. It was said he used to mention Pope as an enemy to the government; and it is certain that the revenge which Pope took upon him for this abuse, greatly ruffled his temper. Philips was not Pope's match in satirical attack, and therefore had recourse to another weapon, for he stuck up a rod at Button's coffee house, with which he threatened to chastise his antagonist whenever he should meet him. But Pope prudently declined going to a place where he must have felt the resentment of an enraged author, as much superior to him in bodily strength, as inferior in genius and skill in versifying.

Besides Pope, there were some other writers who have written in burlesque of Philips's poetry, which was singular in its manner, and not difficult to imitate; particuJarly Mr. Henry Carey, who by some lines in Philips's style, and which were once thought to be dean Swift's, fixed on that author the name of Namby Pamby. Isaac Hawkins Browne also imitated him in his Pipe of Tobacco. This, however, is written with great good humour, and though intended to burlesque, is by no means designed to ridicule Philips, he having made the same trial of skill on Swift, Pope, Thomson, Young, and Cibber. As a dramatic writer, Philips has certainly considerable merit, and one of his plays long retained its popularity. This was “ The Distressed Mother," from the French of Racine, acted in 1711. The others were,

“ The Briton,” a tragedy, acted in 1721; and “ Humfrey Duke of Gloucester," acted also in 1721. The “ Distrest Mother” was concluded with the most successful Epilogue, written by Budgell, that ever was spoken in the English theatre. It was also highly praised in the Spectator.'

of

[ocr errors]

Philips's circunstances were in general, through his life, not only easy, but rather affluent, in consequence of his being connected, by his political principles, with persons great rank and consequence. He was concerned with Dr. Hugh Boulter, afterwards archbishop of Armagh, the right honourable Richard West, lord chancellor of Ireland, the rev. Mr. Gilbert Burnet, and the rev. Mr. Henry Stevens, in writing a series of Papers, many of them very excellent, called “The Free-Thinker,” which were all published together by Philips, in 3 vols. 8vo. In the latter part of queen Anne's reign, he was secretary to the Hanover club, a set of noblemen and gentlemen who had formed an association in honour of that succession, and for the support of its interests; and who used particularly to distinguish in their toasts such of the fair sex as were most zealously attached to the illustrious house of Brunswick. Mr. Philips's station in this club, together wïth the zeal shewn in his writings, recommending him to the notice and favour of the new government, he was, soon after the accession of king George 1. put into the commission of the peace, and in 1717, appointed one of the commissioners of the lottery. On his friend Dr. Boulter's being made primate of Ireland, he accompanied that prelate, and in Sept. 1734, was appointed registrar of the prerogative court at Dublin, had other considerable preferments bestowed on him, and was elected a member of the house of commons there, as representative for the county of Armagh. At length, having purchased an annuity for life, of 400l. per annum, he came over to England some time in 1748, but did not long enjoy bis fortune, being struck with a palsy, of which he died June 18, 1749, in his seventy-eighth year, at his house in Hanover-street; and was buried in Audley chapel. “ Of his personal character," says Dr. Johnson, “all'I have heard is, that he was eminent for bravery and skill in the sword, and that in conversation he was somewhat solemn and pompous.” He is somewhere called Quaker Philips, for what does not appear. Paul Whitehead relates, that when Mr. Addison was secretary of state, Philips applied to him for some preferment, but was coolly answered, “ that it was thought that he was already provided for, by being made'a justice for Westminster.” To this observation our author with some indignation replied, “ Though poetry was a trade he could not live by, yet he scorned to owe subsistence to another which he ought not to live by.” VOL. XXIV.

GG

[ocr errors]

Among his poems," says Dr. Johnson, the Letter from Denmark,' may be justly praised; the Pastorals,' which by the writer of the Guardian were ranked as one of the four genuine productions of the rustic muse, cannot surely be despicable. That they exhibit a mode of life which did not exist, nor ever existed, is not to be objected; the supposition of such a state is allowed to Pastoral. In his other poems he cannot be denied the praise of lines sometimes elegant; but he has seldom much force, or much comprehension. The pieces that please best are those which, from Pope and Pope's adherents, procured him the name of Namby Pamby, the poems of short lines, by which he paid his court to all ages and characters, 'from Walpole, the “ steerer of the realm," to Miss Pulteney in the nursery. The numbers are smooth and sprightly, and the diction is seldom faulty. They are not loaded with much thought, yet, if they had been written by Addison, they would have bad admirers : little things are not valued but when they are done by those who can do greater. In his translations from Pindar he found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard, however he may fall below his sublimity; he will be allowed, if he has less fire, to have more smoke. He has added nothing to English poetry, yet at least half his book deserves to be read : perhaps he valued most himself that part which the critick would reject.” 1

PHILIPS (CATHERINE), an English lady once highly praised for her wit and accomplishments, was the daughter of Mr. Fowler, a merchant of London, and born there Jan. 1, 1631. She was educated at a boarding-school at Hackney; where she distinguished herself early for her skill in poetry. When very young, she became the wife of James Philips, of the priory of Cardigan, esq. and afterwards went with the viscountess of Dungannon into Ireland. At the request of the earl of Orrery, she translated from the French, and dedicated to the countess of Cork, “ Corneille's tragedy of Pompey;" which was several times acted at the new theatre there in 1663 and 1664, in which last year it was published. She translated also the four first acts of “Horace,” another tragedy of Corneille; the fifth being done by sir John Denham. She died of the

;

1 Johnson's Lives.-Pope's Works, Bowles's edition. --Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian with notes, edit. 1806.-Cibber's Lives.

small pox in London, the 22d of June, 1664, to the regret of all the beau-monde, in the thirty-third year of her age : “ having not left," says Langbaine, “any of her sex her equal in poetry.” — "She not only equalled,” adds he, “all that is reported of the poetesses of antiquity, the Lesbian Sappho and the Roman Sulpitia, but justly found her admirers among the greatest poets of our age :" and then he mentions the earls of Orrery and Roscommon, Cowley, and others. Cowley wrote an ode upon her death. Dr. Jeremy Taylor had addressed to her his " Measures and Offices of Friendship :” the second edition of which was printed in 1657, 12mo. She assumed the name of Orinda, and gave that of Antenor to her husband; she had likewise a female friend Anne Owen, who was Lucasia. In 1667, were printed, in folio, “ Poems by the most de. servedly admired Mrs. Catherine Philips, the matchless Orinda. To which is added, Monsieur Corneille's Pompey and Horace, tragedies. With several other translations from the French;" and her portrait before them, engraven by Faithorn. There was likewise another edition in 1678, folio; in the preface of which we are told, that she wrote her familiar letters with great facility, in a very fair hand, and perfect orthography; and if they were collected with those excellent discourses she wrote on several subjects, they would make a volume much larger than that of her poems. In 1705, a small volume of her letters to sir Charles Cotterell was printed under the title of “Letters from Orinda to Poliarchus :" the editor of which tells us, that “they were the effect of an happy intimacy between herself and the late famous Poliarchus, and are an admirable pattern for the pleasing correspondence of a virtuous friendsbip. They will, sufficiently instruct us, how an intercourse of writing between persons of different sexes ought to be managed with delight and innocence; and teach the world not to load such a commerce with censure and detraction, when it is removed at such a distance from even the appearance of guilt.” All the praise of her contemporaries, however, has not been sufficient to preserve her works from oblivion.'

PHILLIPS (EDWARD), one of the nephews of Milton, was the son of Edward Phillips, who came from Shrews-

Cibber's Lives.—Biog. Dram.-Censura Lit, vol. II.-Ballard's English Ladies.-Nichols's Poems, vol. II.

« 이전계속 »