1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ambrose Philips

Lord Byron, On the Rev. W. L. Bowles's Strictures (1821); Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 4:556-57.



In a portion of his reply, Mr. B. asserts that Pope "envied Phillips," because he quizzed his pastorals in the Guardian, in that most admirable model of irony, his paper on the subject. If there was anything enviable about Phillips, it could hardly be his pastorals. They were despicable, and Pope expressed his contempt. If Mr. Fitzgerald published a volume of sonnets, or a Spirit of Discovery, or a Missionary, and Mr. B. wrote in any periodical journal an ironical paper upon them, would this be "envy"? The authors of the Rejected Addresses have ridiculed the sixteen or twenty "first living poets" of the day, but do they "envy" them? "Envy" writhes, it don't laugh. The authors of the R.A. may despise some, but they can hardly "envy" any of the persons whom they have parodied; and Pope could have no more envied Phillips than he did Welsted, or Theobald, or Smedley, or any other given hero of the Dunciad. He could not have envied him, even had he himself not been not been the greatest poet of his age. Did Mr. Inge "envy" Mr. Phillips when he asked him, "How came your Pyrrhus to drive oxen and say, 'I am goaded on by love?'" This question silenced poor Phillips; but it no more proceeded from "envy" than did Pope's ridicule.