1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Philips

John Aikin, in Select Works of the British Poets (1820) 208.



JOHN PHILIPS, an English poet, was the son of Dr. Stephen Philips, archdeacon of Salop. He was born at Bampton, in Oxfordshire, in 1676, and received his classical education at Winchester school. He was removed to Christ-Church college, in Oxford, in 1694, where he fully maintained the distinction he had already acquired at school, and obtained the esteem of several eminent literary characters. In 1703 he made himself known by his poem of The Splendid Shilling, a pleasant burlesque, in which he happily imitated the style of Milton. The reputation he acquired by this piece caused him to be selected by the leaders of the Tory party to celebrate the victory of Blenheim, in competition with Addison, an attempt which, however, seems to have added little to his fame.

His didactic poem on Cyder, published in 1706, considered as his principal performance, and is that with which his name is chiefly associated. It became popular, and raised him to eminence among the poets of his age and class. This, and the Splendid Shilling, are the pieces by which will chiefly deserve to be remembered. Philips died of a pulmonary affection, in February 1708, at his mother's house in Hereford, greatly regretred by his friends, to whom he was endeared by his modesty, kindness, and blamelessness of his character. Besides a tablet, with a Latin inscription in Hereford cathedral, he was honoured with a monument in Westminster Abbey, erected by Lord Chancellor Harcourt, with a long and classical epitaph, composed by Atterbury.