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He hy'd him to the fatal place
Where Margaret's body lay; And stretch'd him on the green-grass turf,
That wrapp'd her breathless clay.
And thrice he wept full sore;
And word spoke never more!
AMBROSE Phillips, descended from an ancient family in Leicestershire, was born in 1871; but of the early part of his life we have no account. He received his academical education at St. John's College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow, and here he first tried his poetical powers, in the collection of Cambridge verses, on the death of Queen Mary. It is also probable, that he wrote his once celebrated pastorals, while studying on the banks of the Cam.
His “Winter Piece," addressed to the Duke of Dorset, from Copenhagen, one of the finest descriptive poems in the English language, shews that he was a traveller, but on what account he visited the north, is now unknown. He afterwards became an author by profession; and performed several jobs for Tonson, for which Pope ridicules him, as if wiiting for money were any disgrace, and as if his own productions had been free gifts to the public.
In 1712, Phillips produced his celebrated tragedy of the “Distressed Mother," altered from Racine's Andromaque, which was performed with almost unexampled applause. His tragedies of “ the Briton” and of “ Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester," were not wholly unsuccessful, but they are now little read. :
His Pastorals, though they have more of nature than some other compositions of the same class, are entitled to little praise. Their commendation, however, in the Guardian excited the enmity of Pope, and he revenged himself by the most artful piece of irony that perhaps ever was written. Indeed, Pope and Phillips equally disagreed in politics as in poetry: the former was a tory, the latter a zealous whig.
The political sentiments of Phillips procured him, however, some notice. On the accession of George I. he was made a commissioner of the Lottery, and a Justice of the Peace for Westminster. But this did not satisfy his ambition; and having formed a connection with Dr. Boulter, who became primate of Ire. land, he removed to that country, gained considerable preferment, and was elected a member of parliament in Ireland.
On the death of his patron, he returned to England in 1748, with a fortue equal to his moderate wishes; but soon after, a stroke of the palsy brought him to the grave, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. Of his poetry, a few pieces are exquisite. Concerning the man we know little; and certainly nothing to his discredit.
TO THE HONOURABLE
Bloom of beauty, early flower Of the blissful bridal bower, Thou, thy parents pride and care, Fairest offspring of the fair, Lovely pledge of mutual love, Angel seeming from above, Was it not thou day by day Dost thy very sex betray, Female more and more appear, Female, more than angel dear, How to speak thy face and mien, (Soon too dangerous to be seen) How shall I, or shall the muse, Language of resemblance choose ? Language like thy mien and face, Full of sweetness, full of grace!
By the next returning spring, When again the linnets sing, When again the lambkins play, Pretty sportlings full of May, When the meadows next are seen, Sweet enamel ! white and green, And the year in fresh attire, Welcomes every gay desire, Blooming on shalt thou appear More inviting than the year, Fairer sight than orchard shows, Which beside a river blows: Yet, another spring I see, And a brighter bloom in thee: And another round of time, Çircling, still improves thy prime : And, beneath the vernal skies, Yet a verdure more shall rise,
Ere thy beauties, kindling flow,
Then the taper-moulded waste
Happy thrice, and thrice again, Happiest he of happy men, Who, in courtship greatly sped, Wins the damsel to his bed, Bears the virgin-prize away, Counting life one nuptial day: For the dark-brown dusk of hair, Shadowing thick thy forehead fair, Down the veiny temples growing O’er the sloping shoulders flowing ; And the smoothly pencil'd brow, Mild to him in every vow; And the fringed lid below, Thin as thinnest blossoms blow; And the hazely lucid eye, Whence heart-winning glances fly; And that cheek of health, o'erspread With soft-blended white and red; And the witching smiles which break Round these lips, which sweetly speak; And thy gentleness of mind, Gentle from a gentle kind;