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“In vain thy hungry mountaineers
“What boots thy highborn host of beggars,
“ In vain thy lads around thee bandy,
“ Douglas, who draws his lineage down
“But see Argyle, with watchful eyes,
“ Is thus thy haughty promise paid
The notorious Richard Savage is the author of several poetical compositions, published in the last fifteen or twenty years of his tempestuous and unhappy life, which he closed in Bristol jail in 1743, at the age of forty-six. Savage's poem called The Bastard has some vigorous lines, and some touches of tenderness as well as bursts of more violent passion ; but, as a whole, it is crude, spasmodic, and frequently wordy and languid. His other compositions, some of which evince a talent for satire, of which assiduous cultivation might have made something, have all passed into oblivion. The personal history of Savage, which Johnson's ardent and expanded narrative has made universally known, is more interesting than his verse ; but even that owes more than half its attraction to his biographer. He had, in fact, all his life, apparently, much more of another kind of madness than he ever had of that of poetry.
Fenton and Broome the former of whom died in 1730 at the age of forty-seven, the latter in 1745, at what age is not known – are chiefly remembered as Pope's coadjutors in his translation of the Odyssey. Johnson observes, in his Life of Fenton, that the readers of poetry have never been able to distinguish their Books from those of Pope ; but the account he has given here and in the Life of Broome of the respective shares of the three, on the information, as he says, of Mr. Langton, who had got it from Spence, may be reasonably doubted. It differs, indeed, in some respects from that given in Spence's Anecdotes, since published. A critical reader will detect very marked varieties of style and manner in the different parts of the work. It is very clear, for instance, that the nineteenth and twentieth Books are not by Pope, and have not even received much of his revision : they are commonly attributed to Fenton, and we should think rightly. But it is impossible to believe, on the other hand, that the translator of these two Books is also the translator of the whole of the fourth Book, which is
likewise assigned to Fenton in Johnson's statement.
But, oh, beloved by heaven, reserved to thee,
grace peculiar will the Gods afford
To thee, the son of Jove, the beauteous Helen's lord.
See under Ripley rise a new Whitehall,
And Pope's, translating ten whole years with Broome.
stood to be the W. B. who, in the sixth chapter of the Art of Sinking in Poetry, entitled “Of the several kinds of geniuses in the Profound, and the marks and characters of each,” heads the list of those described as “the Parrots, that repeat another's words in such a hoarse, odd voice, as makes them seem their own.” And Broome, as Johnson has observed, is quoted more than once in the treatise as a proficient in the Bathos. Johnson adds, “ I have been told that they were afterwards reconciled; but I am afraid their peace was without friendship.” The couplet in the Dunciad, at least, was ultimately altered to —
Hibernian politics, O Swift ! thy fate,
And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate. Both Broome and Fenton published also various original compositions in verse, but nothing that the world has not very willingly let die. Fenton, however, although his contributions to the translation of the Odyssey neither harmonize well with the rest of the work, nor are to be commended taken by themselves, had more force and truth of poetical feeling than many of his verse-making contemporaries : one of his pieces, his ode to Lord Gower, is not unmusical, nor without a certain lyric glow and elevation.
Another small poet of this age is Ambrose Philips, whose Six Pastorals and tragedy of The Distressed Mother brought him vast reputation when they were first produced, but whose name has been kept in the recollection of posterity, perhaps, more by Pope's vindictive satire. An ironical criticism on the Pastorals in the Guardian, which took in Steele, who published it in the 40th number of that paper (for 27th April, 1713), was followed long afterwards by the unsparing ridicule of the Treatise on the Art of Sinking in Poetry, in which many of the illustrations are taken from the rhymes of poor Philips, who is held up in one place as the great master both of the infantine and the inane in style, and is elsewhere placed at the head of the clan of writers designated the Tortoises, who are described as slow and dull, and, like pastoral writers, delighting much in gardens : “ they have,” it is added, s for the most part, a fine embroidered shell, and underneath it a heavy lump."1 Philips, in some of his later effusions, had gone, in
1 According to Johnson, Gay's Pastorals were written at Pope's instigation, in ridicule of those of Philips ; “but,” it is added, “the effect of reality and truth became conspicuous, even when the intention was to show them grovelling and VOL. II.
pursuit of what he conceived to be nature and simplicity, into a style of writing in short verses with not overmuch meaning, which his enemies parodied under the name of Namby-pamby. On the whole, however, he had no great reason to complain : if his poetry was laughed at by Pope and the Tories, it was both lauded, and very substantially rewarded, by the Whigs, who not only made Philips a lottery commissioner and a justice of peace for Westminster, but continued to push him forward till he became member for the county of Armagh in the Irish parliament, and afterwards judge of the Irish Prerogative Court. His success in life is alluded to in the same part of the Dunciad where Broome is brought in, — in the line,
Lo! Ambrose Philips is preferred for wit ! This Namby-pamby Philips, who was born in 1671 and lived till 1749, must not be confounded with John Philips, the author of the mock-heroic poem of The Splendid Shilling (published in 1703), and also of a poem in two books, in serious blank verse, entitled Cider, which has the reputation of being a good practical treatise on the brewing of that drink. John Philips, who published likewise a poem on the battle of Blenheim, in rivalry of Addison, was a Tory poet, and the affectation of simplicity, at least, cannot be laid to his charge, for what he aims at imitating or appropriating is not what is called the language of nature, but the swell and pomp of Milton. His serious poetry, however, is not worth much, at least as poetry. John Philips was born in 1676, and died in 1708.
Two or three more names may be merely mentioned. Leonard Welsted, who was born in 1689, and died in 1747, also, like Ambrose Philips, figures in the Dunciad and in the Treatise of Martinus Scriblerus, and produced a considerable quantity both of verse and prose, all now utterly forgotten. Thomas Yalden, who died a Doctor of Divinity in 1736, was a man of wit as well as the writer of a number of odes, elegies, hymns, fables, and other compositions in verse, of which one, entitled a Hymn to Darkness, is warmly praised by Dr. Johnson, who has given the author a place in his Lives of the Poets. In that work, too, may be found an account of Hammond, the author of the Love Elegjes,
degraded. These Pastorals became popular, and were read with delight, as just representations of rural manners and occupations, by those who had no interest in the rivalry of the poets, nor knowledge of the critical dispute.” – Life of Gay.