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In vain we seek a heaven below the sky;
The world has false but flattering charms :
In our embrace the visions die :
We lose the pleasing dream.
Earth, with her scenes of gay delight,
Is but a landscape rudely drawn,
For fools to gaze upon ;
Look up, my soul, pant tow’rd th' eternal hills;
Those heavens are fairer than they seem;
Nor grief disturbs the stream.
No cursed soil, no tainted spring,
I am not concern'd to know
Glittering stones, and golden things,
But the treasures that are mine
I've a mighty part within
There are endless beauties more Earth hath no resemblance for; Nothing like them round the pole, Nothing can describe the soul : 'Tis a region half unknown, That has treasures of its own, More remote from public view Than the bowels of Peru ; Broader 'tis, and brighter far, Than the golden Indies are; Ships that trace the watery stage Cannot coast it in an age ; Harts, or horses, strong and feet, Had they wings to help their feet, Could not run it half way o'er In ten thousand days and more.
Yet the silly wandering mind,
The heavens invite mine eye,
The stars salute me round;
Thus grovelling on the ground.
And make attempts to fly;
To raise me swift and high.
And all their sparkling balls; They're but the porches to thy courts,
And paintings on thy walls
Heaven is my native air:
Impatient to be there.
From their old fleshy clod;
And set me near my God.
John Philips, the son of Dr. Stephen Philips, Archdeacon of Salop, was born at Bampton, Oxfordshire, in 1676. He was educated at Winchester school, from whence he removed to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he obtained a very high character, and where he employed his time in studying the older poets,-directing his more especial attention to the Paradise Lost.
His intention was to adopt the profession of physic; and he had devoted much of his care to botany, and other branches of natural history; but this pursuit he abandoned, when, in 1703, he published the Splendid Shilling. It gave him at once the reputation which science so much more tardily achieves, and introduced him to Bolingbroke, at whose request, and in whose house, he wrote the poem commemorating the battle of Blenheim. It was published in 1705, and obtained considerable popularity, although Addison had already enlightened the town by verse upon the same subject. The great theme, however, inspired neither of the two Poets. Blenheim is a dull, heavy, and spiritless composition; and the reader is at times persuaded that the author was indulging his taste for the burlesque rather than the heroic. Indeed the writer appears to be aware of his unfitness for the task, and speaks of himself as having
of war, with mean attempt." A subject more within the scope of his genius was soon afterwards presented to him. In 1706 he published the poem upon Cider, written on the model of the Georgics-a poem of which Dr. Johnson, usually so chary of praise, has said, “it need not shun the presence of the original.” A wide popularity followed the appearance of this work; but the writer did not long live to enjoy it. He died of consumption, at Hereford, in 1708, and was buried in the cathedral of that city; a monument was erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey.
He was a man modest, blameless, and pious; who bore narrowness of fortune without discontent, and a tedious and painful illness without impatience; beloved by all who knew him, but not ambitious to be known. He died honoured and lamented, in the full zenith of his fame. Such is the character drawn of him by his friend Dr. Sewell. A poet, Edmund Smith, has preserved one equally favourable.
". Though learn'd, not vain, and humble though admir'd.
We have named the three poems on which depend the fame of John Philips. He wrote but one other,- Cerealia,-an encomium upon the influence of “nappy ale." It is weak, and there is no certainty that it emanated from his pen. The Splendid Shilling, the earliest of our parodies, is still considered as one of the happiest specimens of the burlesque. On its first appearance it startled the world as something new. Its humour is quiet and droll; the treatment of so rude a subject in the lofty Miltonic style and measure, was a bold attempt; but as the writer was then totally unknown, the risk of failure which he incurred was very slight. We cann find in it the talent that others have found; while his poem of Cider, which has been generally regarded as of far less merit, to us appears a production of the highest and rarest order. It is at once “a book of entertainment and of science." It communicates a vast quantity of knowledge in a form the most agreeable and impressive; there is, indeed, no point or circumstance connected with the subject upon which the author has not offered some comment, and given some explanation ; passing from essays on the nature and culture of the soil, to rural sports, when labour is over,-from the seasons, their changes and effects, to the industry of the husbandman and the skill of the mechanic,- from the growth of the tree to the treatment of the varied fruit it bears,--and always with a grace, easy, unforced, and natural. The poem is, like the subject of it, essentially English--the style is nervous, clear and comprehensive; the writer, if rarely enthusiastic, is always satisfactory; and the reader derives exceeding pleasure as well as ample information from its perusal.
Thus naught is useless made; nor is there land But what or of itself or else compellid Affords advantage. On the barren heath The shepherd tends his flock, that daily crop Their verdant dinner from the mossy turf Sufficient; after them the cackling goose, Close grazer, finds wherewith to ease her want. What should I more? Ev'n on the cliffy height Of Penmenmaur, and that cloud-piercing hill Plinlimmon, from afar the traveller kens Astonish'd how the goats their shrubby browse Gnaw pendent; nor untrembling canst thou see