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EDWARD PHILLIPS (163o-1696)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 406 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EDWARD PHILLIPS (163o-1696), English author, son of Edward Phillips of the crown office in chancery, and his wife Anne, only sister of John Milton, the poet, was born in August 163o in the Strand, London. His father died in 1631, and Anne Phillips eventually married her husband's successor in the crown office, Thomas Agar. Edward Phillips and his younger brother, John, were educated by Milton. Edward entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in November i65o, but left the university in 1651 to be a bookseller's clerk in London. Although he entirely differed from Milton in his religious and political views, and seems, to judge from the free character of his Mysteries of Love and Eloquence (1658), to have undergone a certain revulsion from his Puritan upbringing, he remained on affectionate terms with his uncle to the end. He was tutor to the son of John Evelyn, the diarist, from 1663 to 1672 at Sayes Court, near Deptford, and in 1677—1679 in the family of Henry Bennet, earl of Arlington. The date of his death is unknown but his last book is dated 1696. His most important work is Theatrum poetarum (1675), a list of the chief poets of all ages and countries, but principally of the English poets, with short critical notes and a prefatory Discourse of the Poets and Poetry, which has usually been traced to Milton's hand. He also wrote A New World in Words, or a General Dictionary (1658), which went through many editions; a new edition of Baker's Chronicle, of which the section on the period from 165o to 1658 was written by himself from the royalist standpoint; a supplement (1676) to John Speed's Theatre of Great Britain; and in 1684 Enchiridion linguae latinae, said to have been taken chiefly from notes prepared by Milton. Aubrey states that all Milton's papers came into Phillips's hands, and in 1694 he published a translation of his Letters of State with a valuable memoir _ His brother, JOHN PHILLIPS (1631—1706), in 1652 published a Latin reply to the anonymous attack on Milton entitled Pro Rege et populo anglicano. He appears to have acted as unofficial secretary to Milton, but, disappointed of regular political employment, and chafing against the discipline he was under, he published in 16J5 a bitter attack on Puritanism entitled a Satyr against Hypocrites (1655). In 1656 he was summoned before the privy council for his share in a book of licentious poems, Sportive Wit, which was suppressed by the authorities but almost immediately replaced by a similar collection, Wit and Drollery. In Montelion (166o) he ridiculed the astrological almanacs of William Lilly. Two other skits of this name, in 1661 and 1662, also full of course royalist wit, were probably by another hand. In 1678 he supported the agitation of Titus Oates, writing on his behalf, says Wood, " many lies and villanies." Dr Oates's Narrative of the Popish Plot indicated was the first of these tracts. He began a monthly historical review in 1688 entitled Modern History or a Monthly Account of all considerable Occurrences, Civil, Ecclesiastical and Military, followed in 1690 by The Present State of Europe, or a Historical and Political Mercury, which was supplemented by a preliminary volume giving a history of events from 1688. He executed many translations from the French, and a version (1687) of Don Quixote. An extended, but by no means friendly, account of the brothers is given by Wood, Athen. oxon. (ed. Bliss, iv. 764 seq.), where a long list of their works is dealt with. This formed the basis of William Godwin's Lives of Edward and John Phillips (1815), with which is reprinted Edward Phillips's Life of John Milton.
End of Article: EDWARD PHILLIPS (163o-1696)
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