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When upon the succession of the house of Hanover every whig expected to be happy, Philips seems to have obtained too little notice ; he caught few drops of the golden shower, though he did not omit what fate tery could perform. He was only made a commissoner of the lottery (1717,) and what did not much elevate his character, a justice of the peace.
The success of his first play must naturally dispose him to turn his hopes towards the stage; he did not however soon commit himself to the mercy of an audience, but contented himself with the fame already acquired, till after nine years he produced (1722) The Briton, a tragedy, which, whatever was its reception, is now neglected; though one of the scenes, between Vanoc, the British prince, and Valens, the Roman general is confessed to be written with great dramatic skill animated by spirit truly poetical.
He had not been idle, though he had been silent; for he exhibited another tragedy the same year, on the story of Humphrey Duke of Gloucester. The tragedy is only remembered by its title.
His happiest undertaking was of a paper called, “ The Freethinker,” in conjunction with associates, of whom one was Dr. Boulter, who, then only minister of a parish in Southwark, was of so much consequence to the government, that he was made first bishop of Bristol, and afterwards primate of Ireland, where his piety and his charity will be long honoured.
It may casily be imagined that what was printed under the direction of Boulter would have nothing in it indecent or licentious; its title is to be understood as implying only freedom from unreasonable prejudice. It has been reprinted in volumes, but is little read; nor can impartial criticism recommend it as worthy of revival.
Boulter was not well qualified to write diurnal essays; but he knew how to practise the liberality of greatness, and the fidelity of friendship. When he was advanced to the height of ecclesiastical dignity, he did not forget the companion of his labours. Knowing Philips to be! slenderly supported, he took him to Ireland, as partaker of his fortune ; and, making him his secretary," added such preferments as enabled him to represent the county of Armagh in the Irish parliament.
In December, 1726, he was made secretary to the lord chancellor; and in August, 1733, became judge of the prerogative court.
After the death of his patron, he continued some years in Ireland; but at last longing as it seems, for his native country, he returned (1748). to London, having doustless survived most of his friends and enemies, and among thein his dreaded antagonist Pope. He found however the duke of Newcastle still living, and to him be dedicated his poems collected into a volume.
Having purchased an annuity of four hundred pounds, he now certainly hoped to pass some years of life in plenty and tranquillity but his hope deceived him : he was struck with a palsy, and diedt June 18, 1749, in his seventy-eighth year.
Of his personal character all that I have heard is, that he was eminent for bravery and skill in the sword, and that in conversation he was solemn and pompous. He had great sensibility of censure, if judgment may be made by a single story which I heard long ago from Mr. Ing, a gentleman of great eminence in Stafford
* The archbishop's “ Letters,” published in 1769 (the ori. ginals of which are now in Christ church library, Oxford) were collected by Mr. Philips. C.
7 At his house in Hanover-street, and was buried in Audley chapel. c.
shire. “ Philips," said he, “ was once at table, when I asked him how came thy king of Epirus to drive oxen, and to say I'm goaded on thy love?' After which question he never spoke again.
Of The Distrest Mother not much is pretended to be his own, and therefore it is no subject of criticism: his other two tragedies, I believe, are not below mediocrity, nor above it. Among the poems comprised in the late collection, the Letter from Denmark may be justly praised; the pastorals, which by the writer of the 6 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 had 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 bis sublimity; he will be allowed, if he has less fire, to have more smoke.
He has added nothing to English poetry, yet at least balf his book deserves to be read: perhaps he valued most himself that part which the critic would reject.
GILBERT WEST is one of the writers of whom I regret iny in ability to give a sufficient account; the intelligence which my inquirers have obtained is gene. ral and scanty.
He was the son of the reverend Dr. West ; perhaps* him who published “ Pindar" at Oxford about the beginning of this century. His mother was sister to sir Richard Temple, afterwards lord Cobham. His father, purposing to educate him for the church, sent him first to Eton, and afterwards to Oxford ; but he was seduced to a more airy mode of life, by a commission in a troop of horse, procured him by his uncle.
He continued soine time in the army ; though it is reasonable to suppose that he never sunk into a mere soldier, nor ever lost the love, or much neglected the pursuit, of learning; and afterwards, finding himself more inclined to civil employment, he laid down his commission, and engaged in business under the lord Townshend, then secretary of state, with whom he attended the king to Hanover.
His adherence to lord Townshend ended in nothing but a nomination (May 1729) to be clerk extraordinary of the privy council, which produced no immedi.
* Certainly him. It was published in 1697. C.
ate profit; for it only placed him in a state of expectation and right of succession, and it was very long before a vacancy admitted him to profit.
Soon afterwards he marri d, and settled himself in a very pleasant house at Wickham in Kent, where he devoted himself to learning, and to piety Of his learning the late collection exhibits evidence, which would have been yet fuller, if the dissertations which accompany his version of Pindar had not been improperly ornitted. Of his piety the influence has, I hope, been extended far by his “ Observations on the Resurrection,” published in 1747, for which the university of Oxford created him a docier of laws by diploma (March 30, 1748) and would doubtless have reached yet further had he lived to complete what he had for some time meditąted, the evidences of the truth of the New Testamen'. Perhaps it may not be without affect to tell, that he reads the prayers of the public liturgy every morning to his family, and that on Sunday evening he called his servants into the parlour, and read to them first a sera mon and then prayers. Crashaw is now not the only maker of verses to whom may be given the two venerable names of poet and saint.
He was very often visited by Lyttleton and Pitt, who, when they were weary of faction and debates, used at Wick han to find books and quiet, a decent table, and literary conversation. There is at Wickham a walk made by Pitt ; and, what is of far more importance, at Wickham Lyttelton received that conviction which produced his “ Dissertation on St. Paul."
These two illustrious friends had for a while listened to the blandishments of infidelity; and when West's book was published, it was bought by some who did not know his change of opinion, in expectation of new objections against christianity; and as infidels do not