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Jamque alta cæli mænia corruunt,
Burnette, vestra augebit ignes,
En læta vernantes Favoni
Te, nostra quo tellus superbit,
LIFE OF JOHN PHILIPS.
John Philips was born on the 30th of December, 1676, at Bampton, in Oxfordshire; of which place his father Dr. Stephen Philips, archdeacon of Salop, was minister. The first part of his education was domestic; after which he was sent to Winchester, where, as we are told by Dr. Sewel, his biographer, he was soon distinguished by the superiority of his exercises; and, what is less easily to be credited, so much endeared himself to his schoolfellows by his civility and good-nature, that they, without murmur or ill-will, saw him indulged by the master with particular immunities. It is related, that, when he was at school, be seldom mingled in play with the other boys, but retired to his chamber; where his sovereign pleasure was to sit, hour after hour, while bis hair was combed by somebody, whose service he found means to procure'.
At school he became acquainted with the poets, ancient and modern, and fixed his attention particularly on Milton.
1 Isaac Vossius relates, that he also delighted in having his hair combed when he could have it done by barbers or other persons skilled in the rules of prosody.
In 1694 he entered himself at Christ-Church, a college at that time in the highest reputation, by the transmission of Busby's scholars to the care first of Fell, and afterwards of Aldrich. Here he was distinguished as a genius eminent among the eminent, and for friendship particularly intimate with Mr. Smith, the author of ‘Phædra and Hippolytus.' The profession which he intended to follow was that of Physic; and he took much delight in Natural History, of which Botany was his favourite part.
His reputation was confined to bis friends and to the university; till, about 1703, he extended it to a wider circle by the Splendid Shilling,' which struck the public attention with a mode of writing new and unexpected.
This performance raised him so high, that, when Europe resounded with the victory of Blenheim, he was, probably with an occult opposition to Addison, employed to deliver the acclamation of the Tories. It is said that he would willingly have declined the task, but that his friends urged it upon him. It appears that he wrote this poem at the house of Mr. St. John.
• Blenheim' was published in 1705. The next year produced his great work, the poem upon 'Cider,' in two books: which was received with loud praises, and continued long to be read, as an imitation of Virgil's Georgic, which needed not shun the presence of the original.
He then grew probably more confident of his own abilities, and began to meditate a poem on the • Last Day;' a subject on which no mind can hope to equal expectation.
This work he did not live to finish; his diseases, a slow consumption and an asthma, put a stop to his studies, and on Feb. 15, 1708, at the beginning of his thirty-third year, put an end to his life.
He was buried in the cathedral of Hereford; and