« PreviousContinue »
say 'I'm goaded on by love'? After which question he never spoke again.'
Of The Distrest Mother not much is pretended to be his own 2, 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 3, the Letter from Denmark* may be justly praised; the Pastorals, which by the writer of The Guardian were ranked as one of the four genuine productions of the rustick Muse, cannot surely be despicable. That they exhibit a mode of life which does 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 3. The numbers are smooth and spritely, 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 9.
In his translations from Pindar 10 he found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard, however he may fall below
It is not Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, but Orestes who says:
'Goaded on by love
There is nothing in the play as
3 The English Poets.
4 Ante, PHILIPS, 3. 5 Ante, PHILIPS, 19. 'His Pastorals, if the reader can so far lay aside all common sense as to forget the inherent absurdity of Pastorals, deserve much of the commendation which they once received.' SOUTHEY, Specimens, ii. 112.
Thackeray calls him 'a serious and dreary idyllic cockney.' English Humourists, ed. Phelps, p. 164.
his sublimity: he will be allowed, if he has less fire, to have more smoke.
He has added nothing to English poetry, yet at least half his 37 book deserves to be read1: perhaps he valued most himself that part which the critick would reject.
APPENDIX P (PAGE 314)
It was of Hacket Addison wrote:- -'It was the motto of a Bishop very eminent for his piety and good works in King Charles the Second's reign, Inservi Deo et laetare-Serve God and be cheerful.' The Freeholder, No. 45.
He died in 1670. His Life of Williams, under the title of Scrinia Reserata, was published in folio in 1693; Philips's abridgment, a small quarto, in 1700. The following is an instance of the two styles :
HACKET (p. 17).
'As the Greek Adagy goes, Nil sine Theseo, Theseus made one in every Master-piece of chivalry: Such was our Theseus to the Athens where he lived. And he was considerately lookt upon for such service, for he well understood anything he went about, he had a fineness to be Gracious with them to whom he was sent, and no man could deliver a Tale more smoothly, or wrinkle it less with digressions or Parentheses. To say much in brief, he had the Policy and Gravity of a Statesman before he had a Hair upon his Chin.'
PHILIPS (p. 19).
'He began to grow into considerable Repute and Esteem in his College. For, by that time he was 25 years old, or thereabout, he had the Honour to be imploy'd by his Society in some concerns of theirs.'
Coleridge said of the Life :- You learn more from it of that which is valuable towards an insight into the times preceding the Civil War than from all the ponderous histories and memoirs now composed about that period.' Table Talk, 1884, p. 229.
APPENDIX Q (PAGE 315)
Addison used to speak often very slightingly of Budgell, "One that calls me cousin," "the man that stamped himself into my acquaintance.' POPE, Spence's Anec. p. 161. Spence adds that 'Budgell lodged in the
His poems fill little more than 100 pages of Eng. Poets, lvii. Pope calls him the bard who
'Just writes to make his barrenness appear,
And strains from hard-bound brains eight lines a-year.'
Prol. Sat. 1. 181.
See also Pope's Macer, 1. 9. For 'Philips' costive head' see ante, PHILIPS, 25 n. 4. [Gray's poems fill only 61 pages of Eng. Poets, lxiv.]
room over Addison's. He walked much, and was troublesome to him. One night Addison was so tired of the noise that he invited him down to sup with him, and that began their acquaintance.'
[The second part of the anecdote can scarcely be true, for they were cousins, Addison's mother being a sister of William Gulston, Bishop of Bristol, while Budgell's was the Bishop's only daughter. N. & Q. 5 S. vi. 350 and Dict. Nat. Biog. i. 131, vii. 224.]
Perhaps Budgell was provincial in using the word 'cousin.' R. Polwhele, who was born in 1760, wrote in 1822 of Devonshire :-' Among the little gentry there are many affected people who think it vulgar to call their kinsmen, cousins. But not many years ago the Courtenays and the Fortescues had not dismissed the word from their vocabulary.' Traditions and Recollections, p. 722. Budgell was a Devonshire man.
He drowned himself on May 4, 1737, 'by jumping out of a boat at London Bridge. The Coroner's Jury brought him in lunatick.' Gent. Mag. 1737, P. 315. He was accused of forging a will. See Boswell's Johnson, ii. 229, v. 54; Pope's Prol. Sat. 1. 378; ante, ADDISON, 44, 115.
APPENDIX R (PAGE 324)
[In 1729 Carey, the author of Sally in our Alley, published with other poems one entitled Namby Pamby, intended as a parody on Philips's Ode To the Honourable Miss Carteret the infant daughter of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (Eng. Poets, lvii. 61). Carey, in ridicule of its 'infantine sentiments' and adopting the same metre, wrote this parody
in which all the songs of children at play are wittily introduced, and called it by a name which children might be supposed to call the author whose name was Ambrose [Philips], Namby Pamby.' Hawkins's Hist. of Music, v. 185. See also Cibber's Lives, v. 139. The following lines will serve as a specimen :
'Let your little verses flow
Now methinks I hear him say
Namby Pamby; or, a Panegyric on the New Versification, appended to Carey's Chrononhotonthologos, ed. 1777.]
In The Dunciad, ed. 1729, l. 322 in Bk. iii runs :—
'And Namby Pamby be preferr'd for wit.'
Pope adds in a note:-'An author whose eminence in the infantine style obtained him this name.' In later editions the line runs :— 'Lo! Ambrose Philips is,' &c.
In a suppressed couplet in Prol. Sat. Pope described him as—
Pope's Works (Elwin and Courthope), iii. 255.
In The Art of Sinking, ch. xi, he quotes him as an example of 'The Infantine.' Ib. x. 383. Speaking of Gay's Fables he wrote:-' Mr. Philips will take it ill to be taught that one may write things to a child without being childish.' Ib. vii. 67.
Swift, in his Bettesworth's Exultation, asks :—
'And who by the Drapier would not rather damn'd be
Than demigoddized by madrigal Namby.' Works, xii. 419. He parodied Philips's verses in Helter Skelter and On Rover, a Lady's Spaniel. Ib. xiv. 202, 347. See also Addison's Works, vi. 696, for other verses attributed to Swift.
Lamb, after quoting some verses by Wither, continues :-'To the measure in which these lines are written the wits of Queen Anne's days contemptuously gave the name of Namby Pamby, in ridicule of Ambrose Philips, who has used it in some instances, as in the lines on Cuzzoni, to my feeling at least, very deliciously.' Poems, Plays and Essays, ed. 1888, p. 300.
The following are the lines:
'Little Syren of the stage,
Eng. Poets, lvii. 59.
Writing of the small-pox which had attacked Miss Carteret Philips prettily says (ib. p. 78):—
'O'er her features let it pass
Like the breeze o'er springing grass.'
ILBERT WEST is one of the writers of whom I regret my inability to give a sufficient account; the intelligence which my enquiries have obtained is general and scanty'. 2 He was the son of the reverend Dr. West; perhaps him who published Pindar at Oxford about the beginning of this century2. His mother was sister to Sir Richard Temple, afterwards lord Cobham3. 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 5.
He continued some 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 7.
His adherence to lord Townshend ended in nothing but a nomination (May, 1729) to be clerk-extraordinary of the Privy Council, which produced no immediate profit; for it only placed
' Johnson wrote to West's cousin, Lord Westcote :-'I have another life in hand, that of Mr. West, about which I am quite at a loss; any information respecting him would be of great use.' John. Letters, ii. 188.
2 The poet's father, Dr. Richard West, with Robert Welsted, edited Pindar in 1697. His daughter married Admiral Hood, Viscount Bridport. Chatham Corres. ii. 439.
3 Ante, HAMMOND, 3; POPE, 202, 272. Her sister was the mother of Lords Lyttelton and Westcote. Burke's Peerage, under Lyttelton.
* He matriculated on March 16, 1721-2,aged 18; B.A. 1725. Alumni Oxon.
5 Ante, SAVAGE, 287.
Johnson, paraphrasing Prince Henry's speech in 1 Henry IV, ii. 8, beginning, I am not yet of Percy's mind,' writes:-'I am not yet of Percy's mind, who thinks all the time lost that is not spent in bloodshed, forgets decency and civility, and has nothing but the barren talk of a brutal soldier.' Shakespeare, iv. 155.
In The Idler, No. 21, he writes:'The most contemptible of all human stations is that of a soldier in time of peace.' See also Boswell's Johnson, iii. 267.
7 Townshend attended George I to Hanover in 1723 and 1725. Coxe's Walpole, ii. 253, 472.