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lue, if they were always bestowed with equal judge
He continued many years to study and to preach, and to do good by his inftruction and example; till at last the infirmities of age difabled him from the more laborious part of his minifterial functions, and being no longer capable of publick duty, he offered to remit the falary appendant to it; but his congregation would not accept the refignation.
By degrees his weakness increased, and at last confined him to his chamber and his bed; where he was worn gradually away without pain, till he expired Nov. 25, 1748, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.
Few men have left behind fuch purity of character, or fuch monuments of laborious piety. He has provided inftruction for all ages, from thofe who are lisping their first leffons, to the enlightened readers of Malbranche and Locke; he has left neither corporeal nor fpiritual nature unexamined; he has taught the art of reasoning, and the science of the stars.
His character, therefore, must be formed from the multiplicity and diverfity of his attainments, rather than from any single performance; for it would not be fafe to claim for him the highest rank in any fingle denomination of literary dignity; yet perhaps there was nothing in which he would not have excelled, if he had not divided his powers to different pursuits.
As a poet, had he been only a poet, he would probably have stood high among the authors with whom he is now affociated. For his judgement was exact, and he noted beauties and faults with very nice difcernment; his imagination, as the Dacian Battle proves, was vigorous and active, and the ftores of
knowledge were large by which his fancy was to be fupplied. His ear was well-tuned, and his diction was elegant and copious. But his devotional poetry is, like that of others, unfatisfactory. The paucity of its topicks enforces perpetual repetition, and the fanctity of the matter rejects the ornaments of figurative diction. It is fufficient for Watts to have done better than others what no man has done well.
His poems on other fubjects feldom rife higher than might be expected from the amufements of a Man of Letters, and have different degrees of value as they are more or less laboured, or as the occafion was more or lefs favourable to invention.
He writes too often without regular measures, and too often in blank verfe: the rhymes are not always fufficiently correfpondent. He is particularly unhappy in coining names expreffive of characters. His lines are commonly smooth and eafy, and his thoughts always religiously pure; but who is there that, to fo much piety and innocence, does not wish for a greater measure of spritelinefs and vigour? He is at least one of the few poets with whom youth and ignorance may be fafely pleafed; and happy will be that reader whose mind is difpofed by his verfes, or his profe, to imitate him in all but his non-conformity, to copy his benevolence to man, and his reverence to God.
A. PHILIP S.
F the birth or early part of the life of AMBROSE PHILIPS I have not been able to find any account. His academical education he received at St. John's College in Cambridge, where he first folicited the notice of the world by fome English verses, in the collection publifhed by the University on the death of queen Mary.
From this time how he was employed, or in what station he paffed his life, is not yet difcovered. He must have published his Paftorals before the year 1708, because they are evidently prior to thofe of Pope.
He afterwards (1709) addreffed to the univerfal patron, the duke of Dorfet, a poetical Letter from Copenhagen, which was published in the Tatler, and is by Pope in one of his first letters mentioned with high praife, as the production of a man who could write very nobly.
Philips was a zealous Whig, and therefore eafily found access to Addifon and Steele; but his ardour feems not to have procured him any thing more than
kind words; fince he was reduced to tranflate the Perfian Tales for Tonfon, for which he was afterwards reproached, with this addition of contempt, that he worked for half-a-crown. The book is divided into many fections, for each of which if he received half-a-crown, his reward, as writers then were paid, was very liberal; but half-a-crown had a mean found.
He was employed in promoting the principles of his party, by epitomifing Hacket's Life of Archbishop Williams. The original book is written with fuch depravity of genius, fuch mixture of the fop and pedant, as has not often appeared. The Epitome is free enough from affectation, but has little spirit or vigour.
In 1712 he brought upon the ftage The Diftreft Mother, almost a tranflation of Racine's Andromaque. Such a work requires no uncommon powers, but the friends of Philips exerted every art to promote hist intereft. Before the appearance of the play a whole Spectator, none indeed of the best, was devoted to its praife; while it yet continued to be acted, another Spectator was written, to tell what impreffion it made upon Sir Roger; and on the first night a felect audience, fays Pope *, was called together to applaud it.
It was concluded with the moft fuccefsful Epilogue that was ever yet fpoken on the English theatre. The three first nights it was recited twice; and not only continued to be demanded through the run, as it is termed, of the play, but whenever it is recalled to the ftage, where by peculiar fortune, though a copy from the French, it yet keeps its place, the Epilogue is ftill expected, and is ftill fpoken.
The propriety of epilogues in general, and confequently of this, was queftioned by a correfpondent of the Spectator, whofe Letter was undoubtedly admitted for the fake of the answer, which foon followed, written with much zeal and acrimony. The attack and the defence equally contributed to ftimulate curiofity and continue attention. It may be difcovered in the defence, that Prior's Epilogue to Phædra had a little excited jealoufy; and fomething of Prior's plan may be discovered in the performance of his
Of this diftinguished Epilogue the reputed author was the wretched Budgel, whom Addifon used to denominate the man who calls me coufin; and when he was asked how fuch a filly fellow could write fo well, replied, The Epilogue was quite another thing when I faw it firft. It was known in Tonfon's family, and told to Garrick, that Addison was himfelf the author of it, and that when it had been at first printed with his name, he came early in the morning, before the copies were distributed, and ordered it to be given to Budge!, that it might add weight to the folicitation which he was then making for a place.
Philips was now high in the ranks of literature. His play was applauded; his tranflations from Sappho had been published in the Spectator; he was an important and diftinguished affociate of clubs witty and political; and nothing was wanting to his happiness, but that he fhould be fure of its continuance.
The work which had procured him the first notice from the publick was his Six Paftorals, which, flattering the imagination with Arcadian fcenes, probably