« VorigeDoorgaan »
« Our next observation shall be made upon (ly, his life was no otherwise diversified than by that remarkably kind Providence which brought successive publications. The series of his works the Doctor into Sir Thomas Abney's family, I am not able to deduce; their number and and continued him there till his death, a period their variety show the intenseness of his indusof no less than thirty-six years. In the midst try, and the extent of his capacity. of his sacred labours for the glory of God, and He was one of the first authors that taught good of his generation, he is seized with a most the dissenters to court attention by the graces of violent and threatening fever, which leaves him language. Whatever they had among them beoppressed with great weakness, and puts a stop fore, whether of learning or acuteness, was at least to his public services for four years. In commonly obscured and blunted by coarseness this distressing season, doubly so to his active and inelegance of style. He showed them, that and pious spirit, he is invited to Sir Thomas zeal and purity might be expressed and enforced Abney's family, nor ever removes from it till he by polished diction. had finished his days. Here he enjoyed the un He continued to the end of his life the teacher interrupted demonstrations of the trucst friend of a congregation; and no reader of his works ship. Here, without any care of his own,
can doubt his fidelity or diligence. In the pulhad every thing which could contribute to the pit, though his low stature, which very little exenjoyment of life, and favour the unwearied ceeded five feet, graced him with no advantages pursuits of his studies. Here he dwelt in a fa- of appearance, yet the gravity and propriety of mily, which for piety, order, harmony, and his utterance made his discourses
efficacious. every virtue, was an house of God. Here he I once mentioned the reputation which Mr. had the privilege of a country recess, the fra- Foster had gained by his proper delivery to my grant bower, the spreading lawn, the flowery friend Dr. Hawkesworth, who told me, that in garden, and other advantages, to soothe-his mind the art of pronunciation he was far inferior to and aid his restoration to health; to yield him,- Dr. Watts. whenever he chose them, most grateful intervals Such was his flow of thoughts, and such his from his laborious studies, and enable him to re- promptitude of language, that in the latter part turn to them with redoubled vigour and delight. of his life he did not precompose his cursory Had it not been for this most happy event, he sermons, but having adjusted the heads, and might, as to outward view, have feebly, it may sketched out some particulars, trusted for sucbe painfully, dragged on through many more cess to his extemporary powers. years of languor, and inability for public ser He did not endeavour to assist his eloquence vice, and even for profitable study, or perhaps by any gesticulations ; for, as no corporeal acmight have sunk into his grave under the over- tions have any correspondence with theological whelming load of infirmities in the midst of his truth, he did not see how they could enforce it. days; and thus the church and world would At the conclusion of weighty sentences he have been deprived of those many excellent ser gave time, by a short pause, for the proper immons and works which he drew up and pub- pression. lished during his long residence in this family. To stated and public instruction he added faIn a few years after his coming hither, Sir miliar visits and personal application, and was Thomas Abney dies; but his amiable consort careful to improve the opportunities which consurvives, who shows the Doctor the same re versation offered of diffusing and increasing the spect and friendship as before, and most happily influence of religion. for him and great numbers besides ; for, as her
By his natural temper he was quick of resentriches were great, her generosity and munifi- ment; but by his established and habitual praccence were in full proportion; her thread of life tice he was gentle, modest, and inoffensive. His was drawn out to a great age, even beyond that tenderness appeared in his attention to children, of the Doctor's; and thus this excellent man, and to the poor. To the poor, while he lived in through her kindness, and that of her daughter, the family of his friend, he allowed the third the present Mrs. Elizabeth Abney, who in a part of his annual revenue, though the whole like degree esteemed and honoured him, enjoyed was not a hundred a-year ; and for children he all the benefits and felicities he experienced at condescended to lay aside the scholar, the philohis first entrance into this family, till his days. sopher, and the wit, to write little poems of devowere numbered and finished; and, like a shock tion, and systems of instruction, adapted to their of corn in its season, he ascended into the re wants and capacities, from the dawn of reason gions of perfect and immortal life and joy.” through its gradations of advance in the morn
If this quotation has appeared long, let it be ing of life. Every man, acquainted with the considered that it comprises an account of six common principles of human action, will look and thirty years, and those the years of Dr. with veneration on the writer, who is at one Watts.
time combating Locke, and at another making a From the time of his reception into this fami- catechism for children in their fourth year. A
voluntary descent from the dignity of science is appendant to it; but his congregation would not perhaps the hardest lesson that humility can accept the resignation. teach.
By degrees his weakness increased, and at last As his mind was capacious, his curiosity ex- confined him to his chamber and his bed; where cursive, and his industry continual, his writings he was worn gradually away without pain, till are very numerous, and his subjects various. he expired, Nov. 25, 1743, in the seventy-fifth With his theological works I am only enough year of his age. acquainted to admire bis meekness of opposition Few men have left behind such purity of and his mildness of censure. It was not only in character, or such monuments of laborious piety. his book, but in his mind, that orthodoxy was He has provided instruction for all ages, from united with charity.
those who are lisping their first lessons, to the Of his philosophical pieces, his “ Logic" has enlightened readers of Malbranche and Locke; been received into the universities, and therefore he has left neither corporeal nor spiritual nature wants no private recommendation; if he owes unexamined; he has taught the art of reasoning, part of it to Le Clerc, it must be considered that and the science of the stars. no man, who undertakes merely to methodize His character, therefore, must be formed from or illustrate a system, pretends to be its author. the multiplicity and diversity of his attainments,
In his metaphysical disquisitions, it was ob- rather than from any single performance; for it served by the late learned Mr. Dyer, that he would not be safe to claim for him the highest confounded the idea of space with that of empty rank in any single denomination of literary digspace, and did not consider that though space nity; yet perhaps there was nothing in which might be without matter, yet matter being ex he would not have excelled, if he had not dividtended could not be without space.
ed his powers to different pursuits. Few books have been perused by me with As a poet, had he been only a poet, he would greater pleasure than his *t Improvement of the probably have stood high among the authors Mind," of which the radical principles may in- with whom he is now associated. For his judgdeed be found in Locke's “ Conduct of the Un-ment was exact, and he noted beauties and faults derstanding;" but they are so expanded and with very nice discernment; his imagination, as ramified by Watts, as to confer upon him the the “ Dacian Battle” proves, was vigorous and merit of a work in the highest degree useful and active, and the stores of knowledge were large pleasing. Whoever has the care of instructing by which his fancy was to be supplied. His ear others may be charged with deficience in his was well tuned, and his diction was elegant and duty if this book is not recommended.
copious, but his devotional poetry is, like that of I have mentioned his treatises of theology as others, unsatisfactory. The paucity of its topics distinct from his other productions ;' but the enforces perpetual repetition, and the sanctity truth is, that whatever he took in hand was, by of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative his incessant solicitude for souls, converted to diction. It is sufficient for Watts to have done theology. As piety predominated in his mind, better than others what no man has done well. it is diffused over his works; under his direction His poems on other subjects seldom rise higher it may be truly said, theologiæ philosophia ancilla- than might be expected from the amusements of tur, philosophy is subservient to evangelical in a man of letters, and have different degrees of struction; it is difficult to read a page without value as they are more or less laboured, or as the learning, or at least wishing, to be better.. The occasion was more or less favourable to invention. attention is caught by indirect instruction, and He writes too often without regular measures, he that sat down only to reason is on a sudden and too often in blank verse; the rhymes are compelled to pray.
not always sufficiently correspondent. He is It was therefore with great propriety that, in particularly unhappy in coining names expres1728, he received from Edinburgh and Aberdeen sive of characters. His lines are commonly an unsolicited diploma, by which he became a smooth and easy, and his thoughts-always redoctor of divinity. Academical honours would ligiously pure; but who is there that, to so much have more value, if they were always bestowed piety and innocence, does not wish for a greater with equal judgment.
measure of sprightliness and vigour! He is at He continued many years to study and to least one of the few poets with whom youth and preach, and to do good by his instruction and ignorance may be safely pleased ; and happy will example; till at last the infirmities of age dis- be that reader whose mind is disposed, by his abled him from the more laborious part of his verses or his prose, to imitate him in all but his ministerial functions, and, being no longer cap- nonconformity, to copy his benevolence to man, able of public duty, he offered to remit the salary and his reverence to God.
Of the birth or early part of the life of An- | Spectator, none indeed of the best, was devoted BROSE Philips I have not been able to find to its praise; while it yet continued to be any account.
His academical education he re- acted, another Spectator was written, to tell ceived at St. John's College, in Cambridge, * what impression it made upon Sir Roger; and where he first solicited the notice of the world on the first night a select audience, says Pope, * by some English verses, in the collection pub- was called together to applaud it. lished by the university on the death of Queen It was concluded with the most successful Mary.
epilogue that was ever yet spoken on the EngFrom this time how he was employed, or in glish theatre. The three first nights it was rewhat station he passed his life, is not yet dis-cited twice; and not only continued to be decovered. He must have published his Pastorals demanded through the run, as it is termed, of before the year 1708, because they are evidently the play, but whenever it is recalled to the stage, prior to those of Pope.
where by peculiar fortune, though a copy from He afterwards (1709) addressed to the uni- the French, it yet keeps its place, the epilogue versal patron, the Duke of Dorset, a “ Poetical is still expected, and is still spoken. Letter from Copenhagen,” which was pub The propriety of epilogues in general, and lished in the “ Tatler,” and is by Pope in one consequently of this, was questioned by a corof his first letters mentioned with high praise, respondent of “ The Spectator,” whose letter as the production of a man “ who could write was undoubtedly admitted for the sake of the very nobly.”
answer, which soon followed, written with Philips was a zealous whig, and therefore much zeal and acrimony. The attack and the easily found access to Addison and Steele; but defence equally contributed to stimulate curi. his ardour seems not to have procured him any osity and continue attention. It may be discothing more than kind words; since he was re vered in the defence, that Prior's epilogue to duced to translate the “ Persian Tales” for “ Phædra” had a little excited jealousy; and Tonson, for which he was afterwards reproach- something of Prior's plan may be discovered in ed, with this addition of contempt, that he the performance of his rival. Of this distinworked for half-a-crown. The book is divided guished epilogue the reputed author was the into many sections, for each of which, if he re wretched Budgel, whom Addison used to denoceived half-a-crown, his reward, as writers minate * “ the man who calls me cousin ;' and then were paid, was very liberal; but half-a- when he was asked how such a silly fellow crown had a mean sound.
could write so well, replied, “ The epilogue was He was employed in promoting the principles quite another thing when I saw it tirst.” It of his party, by epitomising Hacket's “ Life of was known in Tonson's family, and told to Archbishop Williams." The original book is Garrick, that Addison was himself the author written with such depravity of genius, such of it, and that, when it had been at first printed mixture of the fop and pedant, as has not often with his name, he came early in the morning, appeared. The epitome is free enough from af- before the copies were distributed, and ordered fectation, but has little spirit or vigour.f it to be given to Budgel, that it might add
In 1712 he brought upon the stage “ The weight to the solicitation which he was then Distrest Mother,” almost a translation of Ra- making for a place. cine's “ Andromaque.” Such a work requires Philips was now high in the ranks of literano uncommon powers; but the friends of Phi- ture. His play was applauded : his translations lips exerted every art to promote his interest. from Sappho had been published in “ The SpecBefore the appearance of the play a whole tator;" 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. • He took his degrees, A. .B. 1696, A. M. 1700.-C. + This ought to have been noticed before. published in 1700, when he aprears to have obtained a fellowship of St. Jobu's.-C.
The work which had procured him the first seasonable ; there had never, from the time of notice from the public was his six pastorals, Spenser, wanted writers to talk occasionally of which, flattering the imagination with Arcadi- Arcadia and Strephon; and half the book, in an scenes, probably found many readers, and which he first tried his powers, consists of diamight have long passed as a pleasing amuse- logues on Queen Mary's death, between Tityrus ment, had they not been unhappily too much and Corydon, or Mopsus and Menalcas. commended.
series or book of pastorals, however I know not The rustic poems of Theocritus were so high- that any one had then lately published. ly valued by the Greeks and Romans, that they Not long afterwards Pope made the first disattracted the imitation of Virgil, whose Ec- play of his powers in four pastorals, written in a logues seem to have been considered as preclud- very different form. Philips had taken Spenser ing all attempts of the same kind; for no shep- and Pope took Virgil for his pattern. Philips herds were taught to sing by any succeeding endeavoured to be natural, Pope laboured to be poet, till Nemesian and Calphurnius ventured elegant. their feeble efforts in the lower age of Latin li Philips was now favoured by Addison, and terature.
by Addison's companions, who were very willAt the revival of learning in Italy, it was ing to push him into reputation. The “ Guarsoon discovered that a dialogue of imaginary dian” gave an account of pastoral, partly critiswains might be composed with little difficulty; cal, and partly historical; in which, when the because the conversation of shepherds excludes merit of the modern is compared, Tasso and profound or refined sentiment; and for images Guarini are censured for remote thoughts and and descriptions, satyrs and fauns, and naiads unnatural refinements; and, upon the whole, and dryads, were always within call ; and woods the Italians and French are all excluded from and meadows, and hills and rivers, supplied va rural poetry; and the pipe of the pastoral muse riety of matter, which, having a natural power is transmitted by lawful inheritance from Theto soothe the mind, did not quickly cloy it. ocritus to Virgil, from Virgil to Spenser, and
Petrarch entertained the learned men of his from Spenser to Philips. age with the novelty of modern pastorals in La With this inauguration of Philips, his rival tin. Being not ignorant of Greek, and finding Pope was not much delighted ; he therefore nothing in the word eclogue of rural meaning, drew a comparison of Philip's performance with he supposed it to be corrupted by the copiers, his own, in which, with an unexampled and and therefore called his own productions æclogues, unequalled artifice of irony, though he has himby which he meant to express the talk of goat- self always the advantage, he gives the preferherds, though it will mean only the talk of ence to Philips. The design of aggrandizing goats. This new name was adopted by subse- himself he disguised with such dexterity, that, quent writers, and amongst others by our though Addison discovered it, Steele was deSpenser.
ceived, and was afraid of displeasing Pope by More than a century afterwards (1498) Man- publishing his paper. Published however it tuan published his Bucolics with such success, was (Guard. 40.); and from that time Pope that they were soon dignified by Badius with a and Philips lived in a perpetual reciprocation of comment, and, as Scaliger complained, received malevolence. into schools, and taught as classical; his com In poetical powers, of either praise or satire, plaint was vain, and the practice, however inju- there was no proportion between the combatdicious, spread far, and continued long. Man- ants; but Philips, though he could not pretuan was read, at least in some of the inferior vail by wit, hoped to hurt Pope with another schools of this kingdom, to the beginning of the weapon, and charged him, as Pope thought, present century. The speakers of Mantuan car with Addison's approbation, as disaffected to ried their disquisitions beyond the country, to the government. censure the corruptions of the church; and from Even with this he was not satisfied; for, inhim Spenser learned to employ his swains on deed, there is no appearance that any regard topics of controversy.
was paid to his clamours. He proceeded to The Italians soon transferred pastoral poetry grosser insults, and hung up a rod at Button's, into their own language ; Sanazzaro wrote with which he threatened to chastise Pope, who ““ Arcadia,” in prose and verse; Tasso and appears to have been extremely exasperated; for Guarini wrote “ Favole Boschareccie, or syl- in the first edition of his Letters he calls Philips van dramas ; and all the nations of Europe rascal," and in the last charges him with defilled volumes with Thyrsis and Damon, and taining in his hands the subscriptions for HoThestylis and Phylis.
mer delivered to him by the Hanover Club. Philips thinks it “ somewhat strange to con I suppose it was never suspected that he ceive how, in an age so addicted to the Muses, meant to appropriate the money; he only depastoral poetry never comes to be so much as layed, and with sufficient meanness, the gratifithought upon." His wonder seems very un cation of him by whose prosperity he was pained
Men sometimes suffer by injudicious kind In December, 1726, he was made secretary to ness ; Philips became ridiculous, without his the Lord Chancellor; and in August, 1733, beown fault, by the absurd admiration of his came judge of the Prerogative Court. friends, who decorated him with honorary gar After the death of his patron he continued lands, which the first breath of contradiction some years in Ireland; but at last longing, as it blasted.
seems, for his native country, he returned When upon the succession of the house of (1748) to London, having doubtless survived Hanover every whig expected to be happy, most of his friends and enemies, and among Philips seems to have obtained too little notice; them his dreaded antagonist, Pope. He found he caught few drops of the golden shower, however the Duke of Newcastle still living, though he did not omit what flattery could per- and to him he dedicated his poems collected into form. He was only made a commissioner of the a volume. lottery (1717), and, what did not much elevate Having purchased an annuity of four hunhis character, a justice of the peace.
dred pounds, he now certainly hoped to pass The success of his first play must naturally some years of life in plenty and tranquillity; dispose him to turn his hopes towards the stage; but his hope deceived him: he was struck with he did not however soon commit himself to the a palsy, and died* June 18, 1749, in his seventymercy of an audience, but contented himself eighth year. with the fame already acquired, till after nine Of his personal character all that I have years he produced (1722) “ The Briton," a tra- heard is, that he was eminent for bravery and gedy, which, whatever was its reception, is now skill in the sword, and that in conversation he neglected; though one of the scenes, between was solemn and pompous. He had great sensiVanoc, the British prince, and Valens, the Ro- bility of censure, if judgment may be made by man general, is confessed to be written with a single story which I heard long ago from Mr. great dramatic skill, animated by spirit truly Ing, a gentleman of great eminence in Staffordpoetical.
shire. “ Philips,” said he," was once at table, He had not been idle, though he had been si- when I asked him, How came thy king of Epilent; for he exhibited another tragedy the same rus to drive oxen, and to say, I'm goaded on year, on the story of “ Humphrey Duke of by love ?' After which question he never spoke Gloucester.” This tragedy is only remembered again. by its title.
Of “ The Distrest Mother" not much is preHis happiest undertaking was of a paper call- tended to be his own, and therefore it is no subed “ The Freethinker,” in conjunction with ject of criticism; his other two tragedies, I beassociates, of whom one was Dr. Boulter, who, lieve, are not below mediocrity, nor above it. then only minister of a parish in Southwark, Among the Poems comprised in the late Collecwas of so much consequence to the government, tion, the Letter from Denmark may be justly that he was made first, bishop of Bristol, and praised; the Pastorals, which by the writer of afterwards primate of Ireland, where his piety the “ Guardian” were ranked as one of the and his charity will be long honoured.
four genuine productions of the rustic muse, It may easily be imagined that what was
cannot surely be despicable. That they exhibit printed under the direction of Boulter would a mode of life which did not exist, nor ever have nothing in it indecent or licentious; its existed, is not to be objected : the supposition of title is to be understood as implying only free- such a state is allowed to pastoral. In his dom from unreasonable prejudice. It has been other poems he cannot be denied the praise of reprinted in volumes, but is little read; nor lines sometimes elegant; but he has seldom can impartial criticism recommend it as worthy much force or much comprehension. The of revival.
pieces that please best are those which, from Boulter was not well qualified to write diur- Pope and Pope's adherents, procured him thi nal essays; but he knew how to practise the li- | name of Namby Pamby, the poems of short berality of greatness and the fidelity of friend-lines, by which he paid his court to all ages and ship. When he was advanced to the height of characters, from Walpole, the “ steerer of the ecclesiastical dignity, he did not forget the com- realm,” to Miss Pulteney in the nursery. The panion of his labours. Knowing Philips to be numbers are smooth and sprightly, and the dicslenderly supported, he took him to Ireland, as tion is seldom faulty. They are not loaded with partaker of his fortune; and, making him his se much thought, yet, if they had been written by cretary, * added such preferments as enabled him Addison, they would have had admirers : little to represent the county of Armagh in the things are not valued but when they are done by Irish parliament.
those who can do greater.
In his translations from Pindar he found the
• The Archbishop's “ Letters,” published in 1769 (the originals of which are now in Christ Church Hbrary, Oxford) were collected by Mr. Philips.-C.
* At his house in Hanover-street, and was burica in Audley Chapel.-C.