1718 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ambrose Philips

Charles Gildon, in Complete Art of Poetry (1718) 1:156-57.



You find Boileau recommends to you the reading of Virgil and Theocritus, that you may arrive at the just Stile and Manner of the PASTORAL. We have them both in the English Tongue, and therefore the unlearned in Greek and Latin may make their Advantage of their Perusal. Give me leave to recommend another of much more Modern Date, I mean a Cotemporary of our own, Mr. Ambrose Philips, who is beyond Controversy the third at least in this kind of Poesy. In him you will find the true and genuine Simplicity of the Pastoral both in the Diction and in the Sentiments, that is, in the Language, and in the Thoughts. This sort of Poem has been the Bow, in which most of our young Dablers in Rhime have try'd their Strength; but alas! not one besides Mr. Philips has hit the Mark; and if you compare him with the very best of France or Italy, you will easily perceive how much he has excelled them all. I dare not set trim on a foot with Virgil, it would look too much like Flattery, in an Age when Envy will not allow Justice to the living Author; but I am very much deceiv'd if Posterity do not afford him a fir greater Esteem than he at present enjoys, though I think all tolerable Judges give him the first Place among the Moderns.