« PreviousContinue »
Johnson therefore entirely forgets, or passes by, the “ Theatrum Poetarum,” published in 1675, on which the present compilation is founded : and of which the reader is requested to attend to the opinion of a lamented author, who on the subject of poetry, must be admitted by all impartial judges, to have far exceeded that able biographer, not only in taste, but in learning.
The following is the full title of Phillips's · book.
.“ Theatrum Poetarum, or a compleat collection of the Poets, especially the most eminent of all ages, the Ancients distinguish't from the Moderns in their several alphabets. With some obfervations and reflections upon many of them, particularly those of our own nation. Together with a prefatory discourse of the Poets and Poetry in general.
By Edward Phillips. - 6. Švaboos Őrtiva Modão φιλεύνται γλυκερη οι απο τοματος ρεeι αυδη.
- Hesiod. Theogn, London. Printed for Charles Smith, at the Angel, near the Inner Temple-gate in Fleet-street. Anno MDCLXXV.”
A3 - The The late poet-laureat Warton, in his edition of Milton's juvenile poems, * says, “ There is good reason to suppose, that MIL" TON threw many additions and corrections “ into the THEATRUM POETARUM, a book “ published by his nephew Edward Phillips, " in 1675. It contains criticisms far above " the taste of that period: among tbese is the “ judgment on Shakespearet, which was not " then, I believe, the general opinion, and “ which perfe&tly coincides both with the fen- . “ timents and words of Milton in L'Allegro: ** " Or sweetest Shakespeare, fancy's child
Warble his native wood-notes wild.” Again, in his History of English Poetry, I he says, “ Phillips, Milton's nephew, in a " work which I think discovers many traces of “ Milton's band, calls Marlow,"f&c. “ Such “ criticisms,” he adds, “ were not common " after the national taste had been just corrup“ ted by the false and capricious refinements of " the court of Charles the second."||
* P. 60. + See this volume, p. 240. III. p. 440, Ś See this volume, p. 113, 116. || After such praise, the censure of that tasteless though useful, drudge, Anthony Wood, who calls the work a “ brief, roving, and cursory account (without time) of the antient and modern poets,
From this book of Phillips, all that the compiler of the present work had occasion to select, were the English poets, which were most awkwardly placed in the alphabetical order of their christian names: and of these the present volume comes no lower than such as flourished as early as the close of Queen Elizabeth's reign.
They are now changed into a chronological order, of which the advantage seems fufficiently obvious.
To these, which are printed at the commencement of every article between inverted commas, the Compiler has added such particulars as amount to a brief life of each poet, with such lists and dates of their writings, and estimates of their cha. racters and genius, as subsequent biographers and critics, and his own reading and observation have furnished him with. His great authority and luminary has been that admirable critic and historian, Mr. Tho
need be little regarded : especially as the same page which contains it, calls his uncle, our immortal and divine epic poet, “ that villainous leading incendiary John Milton.” Ath. II. p. 1117.
mas Warton, in his three quarto volumes on English Poetry: and of this elegant writer, he has, as far as possible, used the very words, because he knew every alteration would mar their beauty or their propriety.
The indefatigable, though tasteless Ano · thony Wood, has principally supplied him with facts and dates, but the modern books of biography and criticism have not been neglected; and every writer of poetry, omitted by Phillips, with whose name the compiler's researches could furnish him, has been introduced in his proper place, though not under a separate title ; such distinction having been shewn to those only, whom Phillips thought worthy to be ins serted in a list of English poets,
6th May, 1799.
BY EDWARD PHILLIPS,
To the most learned, vertuous, and by me most honour'd Pair of Friends Thomas Stanly,* of Cumberlo Green in Hertfordshire, and Edward Sherburn*, Clerk of his Majesties Ordnance in the Tower of London, Esqs.
A Soft as I seriously consider with myself ** most worthy associates in learning and vertue, and my most honoured friends, what a vast difference there is, or at least
* Of these two poets the account will belong to the reign of Charles II. which with those of James 1, and Charles I. is intended to form another volume. Editor.