« PředchozíPokračovat »
Born at Bampton in Oxfordshire Educated at Winchester and Christ
Church, Oxford Publishes “The Splendid Shilling,' * Blenheim,' and Cider' - Death and Burial in Hereford Cathedral - Monument in Westminster Abbey – Works and Character.
Joux 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, he seldom mingled in play with the other boys, but retired to his chamber, where his sovereign pleasure was to sit, hour after hour, while his 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.
In 1694 he entered himself at Christchurch, 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 eininent, and for friendship particularly intimate with Mr. Smith, the author of Phædra and Hippolitus.' The profession which he intended to follow was that of physic; and he took much delight in natural history, of which botany was his
His reputation was confined to his 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 greatest 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,
1 I find it in ' A Collection of Poems,' in 8vo., printed in 1701, for David Brown and Ben. Tooke, where it consists of 141 lines. This was followed in 1705 by a stolen and imperfect impression printed by Ben. Bragge, and the same year by the correct copy, viz., 'The Splendid Shilling. An imitation of Milton. Now first correctly published. London : printed for Tho. Bennet, at the Half-Moon, in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1705,' folio, 144 lines.
? • Bleinheim, a poem, inscribed to the Right Honourable Robert Harley, Esq. London: printed for Tho. Bennet, at the Half-Moon, in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1705,' folio. Bennet was then the Tory bookseller, Tonson the Whig bookseller.
3 Rather 1708. "Cyder. A poem. In Two Books. London : printed for Jacob Tonson, within Gray's Inn Gate, next Gray's Inn Lane, 1708,'8vo. On the 27th November, 1707, Tonson entered into an agreement with Philips to give him for his poem of 'Cyder,' in two books, forty guineas; one hundred copies on large paper, and two dedication copies bound in Turkey leather. For a second edition he was to give him ten guineas. On the 24th January, 1707-8, Philips signed the following receipt:
January 24, 1707. Received then of Jacob Tonson forty guineas in full for the copy of a poem intituled “Cyder,' in two books. I say received by me,
These facts I derive from the original agreement and receipt sold (1854) to Mr. Monckton Milnes among the effects of Mr. Pickering, the well-known publisher. I have one of the large paper copies.
DEATH AND BURIAL.
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 ; 4 and Sir Simon Harcourt, afterwards Lord Chancellor, gave him a
a monument in Westminster Abbey. The inscription at Westminster was written, as I have heard, by Dr. Atterbury, though commonly given to Dr. Freind.
His Epitaph at Here ford.
Ætat, suæ 32.
Si Tumulum desideras,
Testetur hoc saxum
His Epitaph at Westminster.
Herefordiæ conduntur Ossa,
Immortale suum Ingenium,
Miro animi candore,
* His mother was living at Hereford; and in the cathedral, prior to the recent restorations under Dean Merewether, the stone which his mother placed over his grave was to be seen with its Latin inscription.
Litterarum Amæniorum sitim, Quam Wintoniæ Puer sentire cæperat, Inter Ædis Christi Alumnos jugiter explevit.
In illo Musarum Domicilio Præclaris Æmulorum studiis excitatus, Optimis scribendi Magistris semper intentus,
Carmina sermone Patrio composuit A Græcis Latinisque fontibus feliciter deducta, Atticis Romanisque auribus omnino digna, Versuum quippe Harmoniam
Rythmo didicerat. Antiquo illo, libero multiformi Ad res ipsas apto prorsus, & attemperato, Non numeris in eundem ferè orbem redeuntibus, Non Clausularum similiter cadentium sono
Metiri : Uni in hoc laudis genere Miltono secundus,
Primoque pene Par.
Et videt, & assecutus est,
Fas sit Huic,
Alterum tibi latus claudere,
Non dedecebit Chorum.
Simon HARCOURT Miles,
Quoad viveret Fautor,
Hoc illi Saxum poni voluit.
Salop, Filius, natus est Bamptoniæ
in agro Oxon. Dec. 30, 1676. Obiit Herefordiæ, Feb. 15, 1708.9
5 When the inscription for the monument of Philips, in which he was said to be soli Miltono secundus, was exhibited to Dr. Sprat, then dean of Westminster, he refused to admit it; the name of Milton was, in his opinion, too detestable to be read on the wall of a building dedicated to devotion. Atterbury, who succeeded him, being author of the inscription, permitted its reception.-JOHNSON: Life of Milton, vol. i. p. 130.
ô There is a portrait of Philips by Riley, at Nuneham, in Oxfordshire.
'THE SPLENDID SHILLING.'
Philips has been always praised, without contradiction, as a man modest, blameless, and pious, who bore narrowness of fortune without discontent, and tedious and painful maladies without impatience ; beloved by those that knew him, but not ambitious to be known. He was probably not formed for a wide circle. His conversation is commended for its innocent gaiety, which seems to have flowed only among his intimates ; for I have been told that he was in company silent and barren, and employed only upon the pleasures of his pipe. His addiction to tobacco is mentioned by one of his biographers, who remarks that in all his writings, except • Blenheim,' he has found an opportunity of celebrating the fragrant fume. In common life he was probably one of those who please by not offending, and whose person was loved because his writings were admired. He died honoured and lamented before any part of his reputation had withered, and before his patron St. John had disgraced him.
His works are few. “The Splendid Shilling' has the uncommon merit of an original design, unless it may be thought precluded by the ancient · Centos.' To degrade the sounding words and stately construction of Milton by an application to the lowest and most trivial things, gratifies the mind with a momentary triumph over that grandeur which hitherto held its captives in admiration ; the words and things are presented with a new appearance, and novelty is always grateful where it gives no pain.
But the merit of such performances begins and ends with the first author. He that should again adapt Milton's phrase to the
gross incidents of common life, and even adapt it with more art, which would not be difficult, must yet expect but a small part of the praise which Philips has obtained; he can only hope to be considered as the repeater of a jest.
“ The parody on Milton,” says Gildon, “is the only tolerable production of its author.” This is a censure too dogmatical and violent. The
of Blenheim' was never denied to be tolerable, even by those who do uot allow its supreme excellence. It is indeed the poem of a scholar, all inexpert of war-of a man