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AMBROSE PHILIPS.

AMBROSE PHILIPS, a poet and miscellaneous writer, was born in 1671, claiming his descent from an ancient Leicestershire family. He received his education at St. John's College, Cambridge ; and, attaching himself to the Whig party, he published, in 1700, an epitome of Hacket's life of Archbishop Williams, by which he obtained an introduction to Addison and Steele. Soon after, he made an attempt in pastoral poetry, which, for a time, brought him into celebrity. In 1709, being then at Copenhagen, he addressed to the Earl of Dorset some verses, descriptive of that capital, which are regarded as his best performance; and these, together with two translations from Sappho's writings, stand pre-eminent in his works of this class. In 1712 he made his appearance as a dramatic writer, in the tragedy of “ The Distrest Mother,” acted at Drury-lane with great applause, and still considered as a stock play. It cannot, indeed, claim the merit of originality, being closely copied from Racine's “ Andromacque;" but it is well written, and skilfully adapted to the English stage.

A storm now fell upon him relatively to his pastorals, owing to an exaggerated compliment

VOL. VII.

from Tickell, who, in a paper of the Guardian, had made the true pastoral pipe descend in succession from Theocritus to Virgil, Spenser, and Philips. Pope, who found his own juvenile pastorals undervalued, sent to the same paper a comparison between his and those of Philips, in which he ironically gave the preference to the latter. The irony was not detected till it encountered the critical eye of Addison; and the consequence was, that it ruined the reputation of Philips as a composer of pastoral.

When the accession of George I. brought the Whigs again into power, Philips was made a Westminster justice, and, soon after, a commissioner for the lottery. In 1718, he was the editor of a periodical paper, called “ The Freethinker.” In 1724, he accompanied to Ireland his friend Dr. Boulter, created archbishop of Armagh, to whom he acted as secretary. He afterwards represented the county of Armagh in parliament; and the places of secretary to the Lord Chancellor, and Judge of the Prerogative Court, were also conferred upon him. He returned to England in 1748, and died in the following year, at the age of seventy-eight.

The verses which he composed, not only to young ladies in the nursery, but to Walpole when Minister of State, and which became known by the ludicrous appellation of namby-pamby, are easy and sprightly, but with a kind of infantile air, which fixed upon them the above name,

TO THE EARL OF DORSET.

Copenhagen, March 9. 1709. From frozen climes, and endless tracts of snow, From streams which northern winds forbid to flow, What present shall the Muse to Dorset bring, Or how, so near the Pole, attempt to sing ? The hoary winter here conceals from sight All pleasing objects which to verse invite. The hills and dales, and the delightful woods, The flowery plains, and silver-streaming floods, By snow disguis'd, in bright confusion lie, And with one dazzling waste fatigue the eye.

No gentle breathing breeze prepares the spring,
No birds within the desert region sing.
The ships, unmov'd, the boisterous winds defy,
While rattling chariots o'er the ocean fly.
The vast Leviathan wants room to play,
And spout his waters in the face of day.
The starving wolves along the main sea prowl,
And to the Moon in icy valleys howl.
O'er many a shining league the level main
Here spreads itself into a glassy plain:
There solid billows of enormous size,
Alps of green ice, in wild disorder rise.

And yet but lately have I seen, ev'n here,
The winter in a lovely dress appear.
Ere yet the clouds let fall the treasur'd snow,
Or winds begun through hazy skies to blow,

At evening a keen eastern breeze arose,
And the descending rain unsullied froze.
Soon as the silent shades of night withdrew,
The ruddy morn disclos'd at once to view
The face of Nature in a rich disguise,
And brighten'd every object to my eyes :
For every shrub, and every blade of grass,
And every pointed thorn, seem'd wrought in glass;
In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show,
While through the ice the crimson berries glow.
The thick-sprung reeds, which watery marshes yield,
Seem'd polish'd lances in a hostile field.
The stag, in limpid currents, with surprise,
Sees crystal branches on his forehead rise.
The spreading oak, the beech, and towering pine,
Glaz'd over, in the freezing ether shine.
The frighted birds the rattling branches shun,
Which wave and glitter in the distant sun.
When, if a sudden gust of wind arise,
The brittle forest into atoms flies,
The crackling wood beneath the tempest bends,
And in a spangled shower the prospect ends :
Or, if á southern gale the region warm,
And by degrees unbind the wintery charm,
The traveller a miry country sees,
And journeys sad beneath the dropping trees :
Like some deluded peasant, Merlin leads (meads :
Through fragrant bowers, and through delicious
While here enchanted gardens to him rise,
And airy fabrics there attract his eyes,
His wandering feet the magic paths pursue,
And, while he thinks the fair illusion true,

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