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are, therefore, not considered as rivals by the distributors of fame.
He apparently professed himself a poet, and added his name to those of the other wits in the version of Juvenal; but he is a very licentious translator, and does not recompense his neglect of the author by beauties of his own. In his original poems, now and then, a happy line may, perhaps, be found, and, now and then, a short composition may give pleasure. But there is, in the whole, little either of the grace of wit, or the vigour of nature.
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 domestick ; 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 miugled 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 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
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 of the passage that contains this ridiculous fancy, the following is a translation : "Many people take delight in the rubbing of their limbs, and the combing of their hair; but these exercises would delight much more, if the servants at the baths, and of the barbers, were so skilful in this art, that they could express any measures with their fingers. I remember that more than once I have fallen into the hands of men of this sort, who could imitate any measure of songs in combing the hair, so as sometimes to express very intelligibly iambics, trochees, dactyls, &c. from whence there arose to me no small delight." See his treatise de Poematum Cantu et Viribus Rythmi. Oxon. 1673. p. 62. H.
that of physick; and he took much delight in natural history, of which botany was bis favourite part.
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 publick 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 Georgicks, 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 ou 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 sir Simon Harcourt, afterwards lord chancellor, gave him a monument in Westminster Abbey. The inscription at Westminster was written, as I have heard, by Dr. Atterbury, though commonly given to Dr. Freind.
Si tumulum desideras,
Qualis quantusque vir fuerit,
Testetur hoc saxum A MARIA PHILIPS matre ipsius pientissima Dilecti filii memoriæ non sine lacrymis dicatum.
His epitaph at Westminster:
Herefordiæ conduntur ossa,
Immortale suum ingenium,
Miro animi candore,
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
Primoque pæne par.
Res seu tenues, seu grandes, seu mediocres
Et vidit, et 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.
Obijt Herefordiæ, Feb. 15, 1708. 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.