141(Vain Efforts!) still the battering Waves rush in
142Implacable, 'till delug'd by the Foam,
143The Ship sinks found'ring in the vast Abyss.
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 tædious 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.
31] Brechinia: Brecon. Vaga's Stream: the Wye River. Back to Line
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). Back to Line
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. Back to Line