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In December 1726 he was made secretary to the Lord Chancellor ; and in August 1733 became judge of the Prerogative Court.
After the death of his patron he continued some years in Ireland; but at last longing, as it seems, for his native country, he returned (1748) to London, having doubtless survived most of his friends and enemies, and among them his dreaded antagonist Pope. He found however the duke of Newcastle still living, and to him he dedicated his poems collected into a volume.
Having purchased an annuity of four hundred pounds, he now certainly hoped to pass some years of life in plenty and tranquillity; but his hope deceived him: he was struck with a palsy, and died June 18, 1749, in his seventyeighth year.
Of his personal character all that I have heard is, that he was eminent for bravery and skill in the sword, and that in conversation he was solemn and pompous. He had great sensibility of censure, if judgement may be made by a single story which I heard long ago from Mr. Ing, a gentleman of great eminence in Staffordshire. “Philips,"
, said he,
was once at table, when I asked him, How came thy king of Epirus to drive oxen, and to say I'm goaded on by love? After which question he never spoke again."
Of the “Distrest Mother" not much is pretended to be his own, and therefore it is no subject of criticism : his other two tragedies, I believe, are not below mediocrity, nor above it. Among the Poems comprised in the late col. lection, the “ Letter from Denmark” may be justly praised; the Pastorals, which by the writer of the “Guardian” ranked as one of the four genuine productions of the rus
He was registrar and not judge, and obtained his appointment in Sept. 1734.
? Ambrose Philips has been said to be the original of Pope's Macer, A Character, Ald. P. vol. ii. p. 184.
tick Muse, cannot surely be despicable. That they exhibit a mode of life which does not exist, nor ever existed, is not to be objected; the suppositisn of such a state is allowed to Pastoral. In his other poems he cannot be denied the praise of lines sometimes elegant; but he has seldom much force, or much comprehension. The pieces that please best are those which, from Pope and Pope's adherents, procured him the name of Namby Pamby,' the poems of short lines, by which he paid his court to all ages and characters, from Walpole the steerer of the realm, to miss Pulteney in the nursery. The numbers are smooth and spritely, and the diction is seldom faulty. They are not loaded with much thought, yet if they had been written by Addison they would have had admirers : little things are not valued but when they are done by those who cannot do greater.
In his translations from Pindar he found the art of reaching all the obscurity of the Theban bard, however he may fall below his sublimity; he will be allowed, if he has less fire, to have more smoke.
He has added nothing to English poetry, yet at least half his book deserves to be read : perhaps he valued most himself that part, which the critick would reject.”
In the first edition of the Dunciad, line 326 stood thus :
“ And Namby Pamby be preferred for Wit.” This nickname was afterwards replaced by “ Ambrose Philips.”
2 Boswell gives a few “ readings” in this Life. Boswell's Johnson, vol. iv. p. 18.
ILBERT WEST is one of the writers of whom I
regret my inability to give a sufficient account; the intelligence which my enquiries have obtained is general and scanty.
He was the son of the reverend Dr. West; perhaps him who published “Pindar" at Oxford about the beginning of this century. His mother was sister to Sir Richard Temple, afterwards lord Cobham. His father, purposing to educate him for the Church, sent him first to Eton, and afterwards to Oxford ; ? but he was seduced to a more airy mode of life, by a commission in a troop of horse procured him by his uncle.
He continued some time in the army; though it is reasonable to suppose that he never sunk into a mere soldier, nor ever lost the love or much neglected the pursuit of learning; and afterwards, finding himself more inclined to civil employment, he laid down his commission, and engaged in business under the lord Townshend, then secretary of state, with whom he attended the king to Hanover.
His adherence to lord Townshend ended in nothing but a nomination (May 1729) to be clerk-extraordinary of the
1 Pindari Carmina, &c., Cura R. West et Rob. Welsted, Oxon, 1697, fol.
2 Gilbert West, son of Richard, of Westminster, doctor, Christchurch, matriculated 16th March, 1721-2, aged 18; B.A., 1725; D.C.L. by diploma, 20th March, 1748. Foster, Alumini Oxoniensis.