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here, the Biographer adds with his usual acrimony : « From this wonder-working academy « I do not know that there ever proceeded any “ man very eminent for knowlege. Its only ge« nuine product (*), I believe, is a small His« tory of Poetry, written in Latin by his ne« phew Phillips, of which , perhaps, none of « my readers ever heard. »
In 1648, E. Phillips became a Student of Magdelen Hall in Oxford; where he continued till 1631 : and the title of the work, to which Johnson alludes, is thus given by Anthony Wood.
« Tractatulus de Carmine Dramatico Poetarum, præsertim in choris tragicis, et veteris como
« Compendiosa. Enumeratio Poetarum , (saltem quortni faina itiaxime enituit), qui a tempore Paaus. Abgerić usque ad hanc ætatem claruerunt : nempe Italorum, Germanorum, Anglorum, etc.
These two things were added tɔ the 17th Edition of Joh. Buchlerus's Book, entitled « Sacrarum Profanarumque Phrasium Poeticarum Thesaurus. Lond. 1669, 8o.
(1) Johnson omits any notice of the writings of John PailLIPS, the other nephew, for whom see vol. 11, p. 41, of this Reprint.
Johnson therefore entirely forgets or passes by, the THEATRUM POETARUM published in 1675; of which the Reprint is here given.
Of this work the reader is requested to attend to the opinion of a lamented author, who on a subject of poetry must be admitted to have surpassed Johnson, at least in taste and classical learning
Mr. THOMAS WARTON, in his Edition of Milton's Juvenile Poems (p. 60.) 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 these is the judgment on Sha« kespeare, which was not then, I believe, the « general opinion; and which perfectly coincides « both with the sentiments and words of Mil« Ton in L'Allegro;
« Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child ,
Again in his History of Poetry, W ARTON says :
« PHILLIPS, Milton's nephew, in a work « which I think discovers many traces of Mil« Ton's hand, calls Marlowe, etc (see p. XVII.)
« Such criticisms » he adds, « were not common, a after the national taste had been just corrupted « by the false and capricious refinement of « the Court of Charles II. » Hist. E. P. III. p. 440.
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 Ancient and « Modern Poets, » 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.» (See Ath. II, p. 117.)
From this Book of PHILLIPS, all that the present Edilor had occasion to select were the English Poets, which were most awkwardly placed in the alphabetical order of their christian
Mr. Godwin has published the LIVES OF John and EDWARD PHILLIPS, since the former Edition of this REPRINT was given : he takes
very little notice of the THEATRUM POETARUM.
BY THE EDITOR.
- VERY one knows that the LIVES of certain ENGLISH POETS have been written by D.r SAMUEL Johnson, about forty five years ago. But perhaps there are those, who may require to be reminded that these Lives do not include any poets of a date anterior to the reign of Charles I. The fact is, that the Booksellers having undertaken to reprint a Collection of those Poets, whose works were still in demand in the market, engaged D.r Johnson to write the Lives of such as were so selected. At that epoch it was found that the older poets were not called for by the Public. The blame therefore, which has been thrown on Johnson for the nar. rowness of his choice, was not merited. It would have been quite impossible that that learned philologist and critic should by his own judgment have omitted such poets as CUAUCER and SPENSER.
It is perhaps to be attributed to the amiable and accomplished Thomas Waator's admirable History of English Poetry, of which only two volumes had then lately appeared, and to Steevens , Malone, and Fariner, the antiquarian annotators on Shakespeare, that soon afterwards a strong curiosity regarding our ancient poets was awakened. But of almost all the minor poels of these former times, the works, from ha
ving fallen into oblivion, had become exceedingly rare. And a mania for collecting them now arose among a certain class of curious Literati. — Even notices of the authors were only to be found dispersed in old and exploded Volumes.
At this crisis, being myself under the infection of the spreading mania, I thought I should perform an acceptable service by selecting the brief but rather numerous Characters of English Poets from the small forgotten work, the Theatrum Poetarum, by Edward Phillips , 1675, in-12.° I accordingly printed a first volume, with my own numerous additions to the text of Phillips, in 1800, in-8.° It brought the Poets down to the death of Queen Elizabeth. From a sort of indolence and ennui for which I can find no fair apology, I never finished the other Volume, which would have brought the Poets down to 1675.
At the distance of twenty four years, in a foreign country; — and removed from almost all the necessary books of reference; I have undertaken to compleat this task. But as the first volume is itself become scarce, I have reprinted Phillips's text of this first Part; since it only filled two sheets, : and I have again reprinted Phillips's noble Preface.
I have not given to the second volume similar additions to those which I in the former Edition made to the first. It would have been impossible to do it perfectly or satisfactorily without the use of an ample English Library. If I live, I may yet do it at a future day, when I can have that convenience.
I have in my Advertisement confirmed by the authority of Warton the favourable opinion of Phillips's work, which induced me to reprint the selections from it. The criticisms are such as modern fastidiousness may pronounce vague and loose : but for the most part I have found them, after