EPITAPH ON CLAUDE PHILLIPS,
AN ITINERANT MUSICIAN[a].
Phillips! whose touch harmonious could remove
The pangs of guilty pow’r, and hapless love,
Rest here, distress’d by poverty no more,
Find here that calm thou gay’st so oft before;
Sleep, undisturb’d, within this peaceful shrine,
Till angels wake thee, with a note like thine.
[a] These lines are among Mrs. Williams’s Miscellanies: they are, nevertheless, recognised as Johnson’s, in a memorandum of his handwriting, and were probably written at her request. This Phillips was a fiddler, who travelled up and down Wales, and was much celebrated for his skill. The above epitaph, according to Mr. Boswell, won the applause of lord Kames, prejudiced against Johnson as he was. It was published in Mrs. Williams’s Miscellanies, and was, at first, ascribed to Garrick, from its appearing with the signature G.–Garrick, however, related, that they were composed, almost impromptu, by Johnson, on hearing some lines on the subject, by Dr. Wilkes, which he disapproved. See Boswell, i. 126, where is, likewise, preserved an epigram, by Johnson, on Colley Cibber and George the second, whose illiberal treatment of artists and learned men was a constant theme of his execration. As it has not yet been inserted among Johnson’s works, we will present it to the readers of the present edition, in this note.