1712 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Philips

George Sewell, in Life of John Philips (1712) 3-4.



There was not an Allusion in his Poem [Paradise Lost], drawn from the Thoughts, or Expressions of HOMER or VIRGIL, which he could not immediately refer to, and by that, He perceiv'd what a peculiar Life, and Grace their Sentiments added to English Poetry; how much their Images rais'd their Words when translated gave to its Language. Nor was he less curious in observing the Force, and Elegancy of his Mother Tongue, but by the Example of his darling MILTON search'd backwards into the Works of our old English Poets, to furnish himself with proper, sounding, and significant Expressions, and prove the due Extent, and Compass of the Language. For this purpose he carefully read over CHAUCER, SPENCER, and others, and afterwards in his Writings did not scruple to revive any Words, or Phrases, which he thought deserv'd it, with that modest Liberty which HORACE allows of, either in the Coining of new, or restoring of ancient Expressions.