1714 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ambrose Philips

Alexander Pope to John Caryll, 8 June 1714; Works of Pope, ed. Elwin and Courthope (1871-1889) 6:209-11.



June 8, 1714.

The question you ask in relation to Mr. Addison and Philips, I shall answer in a few words. Mr. Philips did express himself with much indignation against me one evening at Button's Coffeehouse, as I was told, saying that I was entered into a cabal with Dean Swift and others to write against the whig interest, and in particular to undermine his own reputation and that of his friends Steele and Addison: but Mr. Philips never opened his lips to my face, on this or any like occasion, though I was almost every night in the same room with him, nor ever offered me any indecorum. Mr. Addison came to me a night or two after Philips had talked in this idle manner, and assured me of his disbelief of what had been said, of the friendship we should always maintain, and desired I would say nothing further of it. My Lord Halifax did me the honour to stir in this matter, by speaking to several people to obviate a false aspersion, which might have done me no small prejudice with one party. However, Philips did all he could secretly to continue the report with the Hanover Club, and kept in his hands the subscriptions paid for me to him, as secretary to that Club. The heads of it have since given him to understand that they take it ill; but upon the terms I ought to be with a man whom I think a scoundrel I would not ask him for this money, but commissioned one of the players, his equals, to receive it. This is the whole matter; but as to the secret grounds of this malignity, they will make a very pleasant history when we meet [Pope's ironic praise of Philips in Guardian No. 40]. Mr. Congreve and some others have been much diverted with it, and most of the gentlemen of the Hanover Club have made it the subject of their ridicule on their secretary. It is to this management of Philips that the world owes Mr. Gay's Pastorals. The ingenious author is extremely your servant, and would have complied with your kind invitation, but that he is just now appointed secretary to my Lord Clarendon, in his embassy to Hanover.

I am sensible of the zeal and friendship with which, I am sure, you will defend your friend in his absence, from all those little tales and calumnies which a man of any genius or merit is born to. I shall never complain while I am happy in such noble defenders, and in such contemptible opponents. May their envy and ill-nature ever increase, to the glory and pleasure of those they would injure; may they represent me what they will, as long as you think me what I am, your, &c.