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he worked for half-a-crown. The book is divided into many sections, for each of which if he received halfa-crown, his reward, as writers then were paid, was very liberal; but half-a-crown had a mean sound.
He was employed in promoting the principles of his party, by epitomising Hacket's “ Life of Archbishop Williams," The original book is writien with such depravity of genius, such mixture of the fop and pedant, as has not often appeared. The epitome is free enough from affectation, but has little spirit or vigour.*
In 1712 he brought upon the stage “ The Distrest Mother," almost a translation of Racine's “ Andromaque.” Such a work requires no uncommon powers ; but the friends of Philips exerted every art to promote his interest. Before the appearance of the play, a whole 6 Spectator,” none indeed of the best, was devoted to its praise ; while it yet continued to be acted, another « Spectator" was written, to tell what impression it made upon sir Roger; and on the first night a select audience, says Pope,t was called together to applaud it,
It was concluded with the most successful epilogue that was ever yet spoken on the English theatre. The three first nights it was recited twice ; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play, but whenever it is recalled to the stage, where by peculiar fortune, though a copy from the French, it yet keeps its place, the epilogue is still expected, and is still spoken.
The propriety of epilogues in general, and consequently of this, was questioned by a corespondent of “ The Spectator," whose letter was undoubtedly ad
This ought to have been noticed before. It was published in 1700, when he appears to have obtained a fellowship of St. John's. C. + Spence
mitted for the sake of the answer, which soon followed, written with much zeal and acrimony. The aitack and the defence equally contributed to stimulate curiosity and continue attention. It may be discovered in the defence, that Prior's epilogue to “ Phædra" had a little excited jealousy; and something of Prior's plan may be discovered in the performance of his rival. Of this distinguished epilogue the reputed author was the wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denominate* " the man who calls me cousin;" and when he was asked how such a silly fellow could write so well, replied, “The epilogue was quite another thing when I saw it first.” It was known in Tonson's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himself the author of it, and that, when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budgel, that it might add weight to the solicitation which he was then making for a place.
Philips was now high in the ranks of literature, His play was applauded; his translations from Sappho had been published in “ The Spectator ;" he was an important and distinguished associate of clubs, witty and political ; and nothing was wanting to his happiness, but that he should be sure of its continuance.
The work which had procured him the first notice from the public was his six pastorals, which, flattering the imagination with Arcadian scenes, probably found many readers, and might have long passed as a pleasing amusement, had they not been unhappily too much commended.
1 he rustic poems of Theocritus were so highly valued by the Greeks and Romans, that they attracted
the imitation of Virgil, whose eclogues seem to have been considered as precluding all attempts of the same kind; for no shepherds were taught to sing by any succeeding poet, till Nemesian and Calphurnius ventured their feeble efforts in the lower age of Latin literature.
At the revival of learning in Italy, it was soon discovered that a dialogue of imaginary swains might be composed with little difficulty ; because the conversation of shepherds excludes profound or refined sentiment; and for images and descriptions, satires and fauns; and Naiads and Dryads, were always within call; and woods and meadows, and hills and rivers, supplied variety of matter, which, having a natural power to sooth the mind, did not quickly cloy it. Petrarch entertained the learned men of his
with the novelty of modern pastorals in Latin. Being not ignorant of Greek, and finding nothing in the word ecLogue of rural meaning, he supposed it to be corrupted by the copiers and therefore called his own productions æglogucs, by which he meant to express the talk of goatherds, though it will mean only the talk of goats. This new name was adopted by subsequent writers, and amongst others by our Spenser.
More than a century afterwards (1498) Mantuan published his Bucolics with such success, that they were soon dignified by Badius with a comment, and, as Scaliger complained, received into schools, and taught as classical ; his complaint was vain, and the practice, however injudicious, spread far, and continued long. Mantuan was read, at least in some of the inferior schools of this kingdom, to the beginning of the present century. The speakers of Mantuan carried their disquisitions beyond the country, to censure the corruptions of the church; and from him Spenser learned to employ his swains on topics of controversy.
The Italians soon transferred pastoral poetry into their own language : Sanazzaro wrote “ Arcadia,” in prose and verse; Tasso and Guarini wrote « Favole Boschareccie," or Sylvan Dramas; and all the nations of Europe filled volumes with Thyrsis and Damon, and Thestylis and Phyllis.
Philips thinks it “ somewhat strange to conceive how, in an age so addicted to the muses, pastoral poetry never comes to be so much as thought upon.” His wonder seems very unseasonable ; there had never, from the time of Spenser, wanted writers to talk occasionally of Arcadia and Strephon; and half the book, in which he first tried his powers, consists of dialogues on queen Mary's death, between Titryrus and Corydana or Mopsus and Menalcas. A series or book of pastorals, however, I know not that any one had then lately published.
Not long afterwards Pope made the first display of his powers in four pastorals, written in a very different form. Philips had taken Spenser, and Pope took Virgil for his pattern. Philips endeavoured to be natural, Pope laboured to be elegant.
Philips was now favoured by Addison, and by Addison's companions, who were very willing to push him into reputation. The Guardian” gave an account of pastoral, partly critical, and partly historical in which when the merit of the modern is compared, Tasso and Guarini are censured for remote thoughts and unnatural refinements; and, upon the whole, the Italians and French are all excluded from rural poetry; and the pipe of the pastoral muse is transmitted by lawful inheritance from Theocritus to Virgil, from Virgil to Spenser, and from Spenser to Philips.
With this inauguration of Philips, his rival Pope was Het much delighted; he therefore drew a comparison
of Philip's performance with his own, in which, with an unexampled and unequalled artifice of irony, though he has himself always the advantage, he gives the preference to Philips. The design of aggrandizing himself he disguised with such dexterity, that though Addison discovered it, Steele was deceived, and was afraid of displeasing Pope by publishing his paper. Published however it was (“ Guard. 40.”;) and from that time Pope and Philips lived in a perpetual reciprocation of malevolence.
In poetical powers, of either praise or satire, there was no proportion between the combatants; but Philips, though he could not prevail by wit, hoped to hurt Pope with another weapon, and charged him, as Pope thought, with Addisons approbation, as disaffected to the government
Even with this he was not satisfied; for, indeed, there is no appearance that any regard was paid to his clamours. He proceeded to grosser insults, and hung up a rod at Button's, with which he threatened to chastise Pope who appears to have been extremely exasperated; for in the first edition of his letters be calls Philips “ rascal,” and in the last still charges him with detaining in his hands the subscriptions for Homer delivered to him by the Hanover club.
I suppose it was never suspected that he meant to appropriate the money ; he only delayed, and with sufficient meanness, the gratification of him by whose prosperity he was pained.
Men sometimes suffer by injudicious kindness; Philips became ridiculous, without his own fault, by the absurd admiration of bis friends, who decorated him with honorary garlands, which the first breath of con. tradiction blasted.