Phillips, Edward (1630-1696?) (DNB00)

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PHILLIPS, EDWARD (1630–1696?), author, and nephew of Milton, born in August 1630 in the Strand, near Charing Cross, was son of Edward Phillips, secondary of the crown office in the court of chancery, by Ann, only sister of John Milton the poet. The father died in 1631. His first-born child, a girl, died soon after birth in the winter of 1625-6, and was the subject of Milton's poem, 'O fairest flower, no sooner blown than blasted.' Edward was the second child; John (1631-1706) [q. v.], the second son, was born posthumously. After 1633 their mother married her first husband's friend and successor in the crown office, Thomas Agar, by whom she had two daughters, Mary and Anne Agar.

Edward and his brother were educated by their uncle, the poet. On the latter's return from Italy in the autumn of 1639, Edward attended daily at his lodgings, near St. Bride's churchyard, Fleet Street, to receive instruction, and when Milton removed to 'a pretty garden-house,' in Aldersgate Street, Edward was sent to board with him. He remained till he was more than twenty a member of his uncle's household, which was stationed in the Barbican from September 1643 till 1647, in High Holborn for a short time in that year, and subsequently at Charing Cross, near Spring Gardens. The course of study through which his uncle conducted him included a very liberal allowance of Latin and Greek literature. Besides the acknowledged classics, he made the acquaintance of such writers as Aratus, Dionysius Afer, and Manilius; nor were the Italian and French tongues neglected. Many branches of mathematics were seriously attacked, and the youth ploughed through masses of divinity. At Michaelmas 1650 Edward went to Oxford, and matriculated at Magdalen Hall on 19 Nov. He left the university after a few months' stay in 1651 without a degree, and sought a livelihood in London in private tuition or in work for the booksellers, which he looked to obtain either by his own ability or his uncle's influence. Although his views, religious, political, and moral, took, almost immediately on his leaving Oxford, the opposite direction to that in which his uncle had trained him, he maintained affectionate relations with Milton until the latter's death, and often stayed under the poet's roof. In 1662 he spent much time with Milton in Jewin Street, and read over ' Paradise Lost ' as it was composed.

His first publication was a poem prefixed to Henry Lawes's 'Ayres,' 1653, and verses by him 'to his friend Thomas Washbourne' preface the latter's 'Divine Poem,' 1654. In 1656 he published two novels in separate volumes, 'The Illustrious Shepherdess' and 'The Imperious Brother,' translated from the Spanish of Juan Perez de Montalvan. The first is dedicated to the Marchioness of Dorchester in 'an extraordinary style of fustian and bombast' (Godwin). Presentation copies of each to Bishop Barlow, then the librarian, are in the Bodleian Library.

In 1654-5 Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, brother-in-law of the poet William Drummond, brought to London some of Drummond's unpublished manuscripts, and Phillips edited some sixty small poems from the collection in 'Poems by that most Famous Wit, William Drummond of Hawthornden.' He contributed a prose preface, signed E. P., in which he sensibly criticised Drummond's poetic faculty, and may have incorporated the views of his uncle. He signed in full some commendatory verses.

In 1658, after many years' labour, he brought out, at the expense of Nathaniel Brookes, a publisher who found much employment for both him and his brother, a very respectable effort in lexicography, entitled ‘A New World of Words, or a General Dictionary, containing the Terms, Etymologies, Definitions, and Perfect Interpretations of the proper significations of hard English words throughout the Arts and Sciences,’ fol. (new editions are dated 1662, 1671, 1678, 1696; 1700 and 1706—both called the sixth—with large additions by J. Kersey; and 1720—the seventh—also edited by Kersey). There are dedicatory epistles to Sir William Paston, Sir Robert Bolles of Scampton, and Edward Hussy of Catthorpe, Lincolnshire, besides an interesting list of specialists who had assisted Phillips. Elias Ashmole was the authority for ‘antiquities,’ Greatorex for mathematical instruments, and ‘Mr. Taverner’ for fishing. Thomas Blount asserted that Phillips largely plagiarised his ‘Glossographia,’ 1656, in his first edition, and wrote to Wood in 1670 complaining that Phillips was meditating a raid on his newly published ‘Law Dictionary,’ in order to improve a forthcoming edition of the ‘New World of Words.’ In support of these charges Blount issued in 1673 ‘A World of Errors discovered in the “New World of Words.”’ Stephen Skinner, in ‘Etymologicon,’ 1671, poured equal scorn on Phillips's efforts in philology. Phillips freely borrowed without acknowledgment hints from Skinner's work in later issues of his own volume. Meanwhile, in August 1658, again under the auspices of Nathaniel Brookes, Phillips published a humorous volume, called ‘Mysteries of Love and Eloquence, or the Arts of Wooing and Complimenting as they are managed in the Spring Garden, Hide Park, and other eminent places.’ The preface is addressed ‘To the youthful gentry.’ There follow imaginary conversations for lovers, with models of letters, an art of logic, a rhyming dictionary, reprints of poems and songs, a description of a few parlour games, and a vocabulary of epithets. The whole is entertaining, but often licentious, and offers a curious commentary on the strict training to which his uncle had subjected him in youth. A new edition, in 1699, bore the title of ‘The Beau's Academy.’

This undertaking proved only a temporary aberration from virtuous paths. The rest of Phillips's literary life was devoted to serious subjects. In 1660 he published a new edition of Baker's ‘Chronicle,’ contributing a continuation from 1650 to 1658, into which he imported a strong royalist bias. For a fourth edition of Baker, in 1662, he brought the history down to Charles II's coronation in May 1661, and was entrusted by Monck, through his brother-in-law (Sir Thomas Clarges), with Monck's private papers, in order to enable him to give a full account of the Restoration. A sixth edition appeared in 1674, a seventh in 1679, and an eighth in 1684.

On 24 Oct. 1663 Phillips became tutor at Sayes Court, near Deptford, at 20l. a year, to the son of John Evelyn, the diarist. ‘He was not,’ writes Evelyn, ‘at all infected by his uncle's principles, though he was brought up by him.’ Evelyn describes Phillips as ‘a sober, silent, and most harmless person, a little versatile in his studies, understanding many languages, especially the modern.’ He left Evelyn's house in February 1664–5 to become tutor to Philip (afterwards seventh earl of Pembroke), son of Philip Herbert, fifth earl. In 1667 he was still at Wilton, where his pupil's father, according to Evelyn, made ‘use of him to interpret some of the Teutonic philosophy to whose mystic theology the earl was much addicted.’ He seems to have left Wilton in 1672. Under the will of his stepfather, Agar, proved on 5 Nov. 1673, he received 200l. to be laid out in the purchase of an annuity for his life or some place of employment for his better subsistence, whichever should seem most for his benefit.

In 1669 he brought out a new edition (the seventeenth) of ‘Joannis Buchleri Sacrarum Profanarumque Phrasium Poeticarum Thesaurus.’ To it he appended two original essays in Latin—one a short treatise on the ‘Verse of the Dramatic Poets,’ the other a ‘Compendious Enumeration of the Poets, Italian, German, English, &c., the most famous of them, at least, who have flourished from the time of Dante Alighieri to the present age.’ In the second essay Phillips bestowed on Milton's ‘Paradise Lost’ the first printed words of praise that it received. The work ‘is reputed,’ he wrote, ‘to have reached the perfection of this kind of [i.e. epic] poetry.’

After resuming his life as a hack-writer in London, he obtained, on 14 Sept. 1674, while Milton was on his deathbed, a license to publish, and in 1675 he published, his ‘Theatrum Poetarum,’ an index of the names of poets of all countries and ages, but chiefly English, arranged alphabetically, with occasional brief criticisms. An introductory ‘Discourse on Poets and Poetry’ (addressed to his friends Thomas Stanley of Cumberlo Green, Hertfordshire, and Edward Sherburn, clerk of the ordnance) embodies criticism couched in such dignified language that a long series of critics has traced in it the hand of Milton. Milton is also credited with supplying his nephew with the enlightened criticism that figures in the volume on Shakespeare and Marlowe. Phillips excuses himself for mentioning his uncle's name without any elaborate notice because it ‘did not become him to deliver his judgment,’ but he compensates his readers for the omission by inserting a very high-flown eulogy on his brother John. In the Bodleian Library is Phillips's presentation copy to Bishop Barlow. William Winstanley's ‘Lives of the English Poets,’ 1687, largely plagiarises Phillips's ‘Theatrum.’ Sir S. Egerton Brydges reissued in 1800 vol. i. (only) of a heavily annotated reprint of Phillips's notices of English poets. A copy of this, with manuscript notes by J. P. Collier, is in the British Museum. A third edition of Brydges's reprint appeared in an edition limited to one hundred copies in 1824.

In September 1677, on Evelyn's recommendation, Phillips entered the service, apparently at Euston, Suffolk, of Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington, lord chamberlain, who wanted ‘a scholar to read to and entertain him sometimes.’ He also instructed in languages the earl's nephew, Henry Bennet, and the earl's daughter, a girl of ten, who was already married to Henry Fitzroy, duke of Grafton. Phillips dedicated the fourth edition of his ‘World of Words’ to the youthful duchess in 1678. Before November 1679 he was discharged of the duty, and thereupon, according to Wood, he ‘married a woman with several children, taught school in the Strand, near the Maypole, lived in poor condition, though a good master; wrote and translated several things merely to get a bare livelihood.’

In 1676 his geographical and topographical supplement to John Speed's ‘Theatre of Great Britain’ saw the light, and he probably edited the Latin edition of Milton's ‘Letters of State.’ In 1682 he issued his ‘Tractatulus de modo formandi voces derivativas Linguæ Latinæ;’ in 1684 his ‘Enchiridion Linguæ Latinæ,’ or a ‘Compendious Latin Dictionary … for all learners,’ and his ‘Speculum Linguæ Latinæ.’ Both the latter were, according to Wood, ‘all or mostly’ taken from notes prepared by his uncle Milton for a Latin dictionary. Milton's widow, according to Aubrey, gave all her husband's papers to Phillips before 1681. There followed in 1685 Phillips's ‘Poem on the Coronation of his most Sacred Majesty King James II and his Royal Consort,’ fol.; an historical romance, ‘The Minority of St. Lewis,’ dedicated to the Duke of Norfolk; and an English translation of his own ‘Tractatulus’ of 1682. In 1694 he published a translation of Milton's ‘Letters of State,’ with a short but valuable memoir, which has been liberally utilised by later biographers. Godwin reprinted it in his biography of Phillips and his brother in 1815. The fifth edition of his ‘World of Words’ is dated 1696, and he doubtless died soon afterwards.

On 4 July 1696 died ‘Mr. Phillips, philizer to the county of Middlesex, a place worth 400l. a year’ (Luttrell, iv. 81); but it is improbable that this officer is identical with Milton's nephew.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. iv. 760–4; William Godwin's Lives of Edward and John Phillips, 1815; Masson's Life of Milton; Evelyn's Diary.]

S. L.