1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Philips

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 65.



From an original Picture, in the Collection of the Earl of Harcourt.

This is the man who celebrated cider and tobacco in verse, and lifted up to temporary fame the "splendid shilling." He was deemed, in his time, we believe, no despicable imitator of Milton. At present, we do not trouble ourselves with such comparisons. Phillips's Shilling is left to itself as a coin out of date and no longer current; the author's reputation, and his once celebrated poem, live in our minds rather as traditions, than as things recorded, which any and every reader may peruse if he will. Phillips, in short, is not read, but talked of, as the author of "The Splendid Shilling." His poem of "Cider" is well enough in its way, as are also his verses on "Tobacco," though they and all others must yield the palm to Mr. Charles Lamb's delightful rhymes on the same subject.

Brother of Bacchus later born,
The old world was sure forlorn
Wanting thee—

he sings, and goes on praising and abusing the herb of the "Oronoque," with all the caprice of a lover and the spirit of a poet and a wit.