1] Philips wisely explained the meaning of this poem (see this editor's italics below) in his dedication of it to William Brome, who had sent him a pound of tobacco (Lloyd Thomas, 108-111, from Bodleian Ms. Rawlinson Letters, XXXI, ff. 142-43):
To Wm. Brome of Ewithington in
the County of Hereford Gent
Sr It would be too tędious an undertaking at this time
to examine the rise and progress of dedications. The use
of them is certainly antient as appears both from Greek
and Latin authors, and we have reason to believe that it
was continued without any interruption till the beginning of
this century, at which time Mottos, anagrams, and Frontispieces
being introduced, dedications were mightily disencouraged,
and at last abdicated. But to discover precisely
when they were restord, and by whom they were first
ushered in is a work that far transcends my knowledge,
a work that can justly be expected from no pen but that
of the operose dr B. Let us therefore at present accquiesce
in the dubiousness of their antiquity, and think the
authority of the past and present time's a sufficient plea
for your patronizing and my dedicating this poem, especially
since in this age they are not only fashionable, but almost
necessary. And indeed they are so much now in vogue
that a book without one is as seldom seen as a Bawdy
House without a practice of Piety or a poet with money.
Upon this account, Sr those, that have no friends dedicate
to all good Christians, some to their Booksellers, some for
want of a sublunary patron to the manes of a departed
one. There are that have dedicated to their whores,
God help those Henpeckt writers that have been forced
to dedicate to their own wives. But whilst I talk so much
of other mens patrons I have forgot my own, and seem
rather to make an Essay on dedications, than to write one.
However Sr I presume youll pardon me for that fault,
and perhaps like me the better for saying nothing to the
purpose. You, Sr, are a person more tender of other mens
reputations then your own, and would hear every body
commended but your self. Should I but mention your
skill in Turning, and the compassion you shewed to my
Fingers ends, when you gave me a Tobacco Stopper, you
would blush and be confounded with your just praises,
how much more would you, should I tell what a progress
you have made in that abstruse and useful language the
Saxon. Since therefore the recital of your excellencies
would prove so troublesom I shall offend your modesty
no longer, give me leave to speak a word or two
concerning the poem and I have done. This Poem, Sr
if we consider the moral, the newness of the subject the
variety of images, the exactness of the similtude that
compose it, must be allowed a piece that was never equalld
by the moderns or antients. The subject of the poem is
my self, a subject never yet handled by any poet, but how
fit to be handle by all we may learn from those few
divine commendatory verses written by the admirable
Monsieur le Rag, yet since I am the subject and the Poet
too I shall say no more of it least I should seem vain
glorious, as for the moral I have took a particular care,
that it should lye incognito, not like the antients who let
you know at first sight they design something by their
verses, but here you may look a good while, and perhaps
after all find that the poet has no aim or design, which
must needs be a diverting surprize to the reader. What
shall I say of the similes that are so full of Geography, that
you must get a Welsh Map to understand them that to
raise our Ideas of the thing they are applyd to? that are
so extraordinary quaint and well chosen, that theres
nothing like them? so that I think without vanity I
may say -- avia Pieridum perago loca &c. Yet however
excellent this Poem is, in the reading of it youll find a
vast difference, between some parts and others which
proceeds not from your humble servants negligence but
diet, this poem was begun when he had little victuals and
no moneys, and finished when he had the misfortune at
a Vertuous Iadies house to meet with both. But I hope
in times, Sr when Hunger and Poverty shall once more
be my companions, to make amends for the defaults of
this Poem by an Essay on minc'd pyes, which shall be
devoted to you with all submission by Sr.
Your most obliged and
6] Juniper's: an unidentified publican named after a word for "gin."
Magpye: a public house at 5 Grove Street (formerly Magpie Lane), in Oxford (Lloyd Thomas, 89).
15] Tiff: weak alcoholic drink.
21] Mundungus: bad-smelling tobacco (from Spanish `mondongo').
23] Cambro-Britain: Welshman.
24] Cadwalader: son of Cadwallon, 7th-century (and final) king of the Britons.
Arthur: son of Uther Pendragon, and king of Britain, whose court was at Camelot.
27] Cestrian: of Chester.
29] th' Arvonian Mart: the market at Carnarvon.
30] Maridunum: Carmarthen.
31] Brechinia: Brecon.
Vaga's Stream: the Wye River.
32] Ariconium: a Latin site "near the village of Weston-under-Penyard, three miles from Ross, in the Wye Valley" (Lloyd Thomas, 97, n. 7).
34] Massic, Setin, or renown'd Falern: all wines named for the places where they are grown -- Massicus, mountain in Roman Campania (now Mote Massico); Setia, Roman city in Latium (now Sezza); and the Falernian region In Roman Campania.
36] Dunn: agent who collects debts.
67] Pallas: the Greek Athene, goddess of war and inventer of the cultivation of the olive.
79] Arachne: a young woman of Lydia whom Minerva transformed into a spider for challenging the goddess to a contest of spinning.
117] John-Apple: an apple that can keep for two years and is just right for consumption when withered.
121] Galligaskins: baggy trousers.
126] Eurus and Auster: the east wind and the south wind.
127] Boreas, that congeals the Cronian Waves: the west wind. Lloyd Thomas refers to John Milton's Paradise Lost, X: 289-91 (89).
132] Lilybean Shoar: the Sicilian coast near Messina.
133] Scylla, or Charybdis (dang'rous Rocks): supposed guarding the strait between Italy and Sicily, and a peril to classical mariners.
140] lave: bale out (water).
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: John Philips, The Poems of John Philips, ed. M. G. Lloyd Thomas (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1927): 1-8. PR 3619 P3 1927 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1701
Publication date note: A Collection of Poems (London: for Daniel Brown and Benjamin Tooke, 1701): 393-400.
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1999.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/10
Rhyme: irregularly rhyming
Other poems by John Philips