Read PHILIP FROWDE of The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) Vol. V, free online book, by Theophilus Cibber, on

This elegant poet was the son of a gentleman who had been post-master-general in the reign of queen Anne.  Where our author received his earliest instructions in literature we cannot ascertain; but, at a proper time of life, he was sent to the university of Oxford, where he had the honour of being particularly distinguished by Mr. Addison, who took him under his immediate protection.  While he remained at that university, he became author of several poetical performances; some of which, in Latin, were sufficiently elegant and pure, to intitle them to a place in the Musae Anglicanae, published by Mr. Addison; an honour so much the more distinguished, as the purity of the Latin poems contained in that collection, furnished the first hint to Boileau of the greatness of the British genius.  That celebrated critick of France entertained a mean opinion of the English poets, till he occasionally read the Musae Anglicanae; and then he was persuaded that they who could write with so much elegance in a dead language, must greatly excel in that which was native to them.

Mr. Frowde has likewise obliged the publick with two tragedies; the Fall of Saguntum, dedicated to sir Robert Walpole; and Philotas, addressed to the earl of Chesterfield.  The first of these performances, so far as we are able to judge, has higher merit than the last.  The story is more important, being the destruction of a powerful city, than the fall of a single hero; the incidents rising out of this great event are likewise of a very interesting nature, and the scenes in many places are not without passion, though justly subject to a very general criticism, that they are written with too little.  Mr. Frowde has been industrious in this play to conclude his acts with similes, which however exceptionable for being too long and tedious for the situations of the characters who utter them, yet are generally just and beautiful.  At the end of the first act he has the following simile upon sedition: 

  Sedition, thou art up; and, in the ferment,
  To what may not the madding populace,
  Gathered together for they scarce know what,
  Now loud proclaiming their late, whisper’d grief,
  Be wrought at length?  Perhaps to yield the city. 
  Thus where the Alps their airy ridge extend,
  Gently at first the melting snows descend;
  From the broad slopes, with murm’ring lapse they glide
  In soft meanders, down the mountain’s side;
  But lower fall’n streams, with each other crost,
  From rock to rock impetuously are tost,
  ’Till in the Rhone’s capacious bed they’re lost. 
  United there, roll rapidly away,
  And roaring, reach, o’er rugged rocks, the sea.

In the third act, the poet, by the mouth of a Roman hero, gives the following concise definition of true courage.

  True courage is not, where fermenting spirits
  Mount in a troubled and unruly stream;
  The soul’s its proper seat; and reason there
  Presiding, guides its cool or warmer motions.

The representation of besiegers driven back by the impetuosity of the inhabitants, after they had entered a gate of the city, is strongly pictured by the following simile.

  Imagine to thyself a swarm of bees
  Driv’n to their hive by some impending storm,
  Which, at its little pest, in clustering heaps,
  And climbing o’er each other’s backs they enter. 
  Such was the people’s flight, and such their haste
  To gain the gate.

We have observed, that Mr. Frowde’s other tragedy, called Philotas, was addressed to the earl of Chesterfield; and in the dedication he takes care to inform his lordship, that it had obtained his private approbation, before it appeared on the stage.  At the time of its being acted, lord Chesterfield was then embassador to the states-general, and consequently he was deprived of his patron’s countenance during the representation.  As to the fate of this play, he informs his lordship, it was very particular:  “And I hope (says he) it will not be imputed as vanity to me, when I explain my meaning in an expression of Juvenal, Laudatur & al-get.”  But from what cause this misfortune attended it, we cannot take upon us to say.

Mr. Frowde died at his lodgings in Cecil-street in the Strand, on the 19th of De.  In the London Daily Post 22d December, the following amiable character is given of our poet: 

“But though the elegance of Mr. Frowde’s writings has recommended him to the general publick esteem, the politeness of his genius is the least amiable part of his character; for he esteemed the talents of wit and learning, only as they were, conducive to the excitement and practice of honour and humanity.  Therefore,

“with a soul chearful, benevolent, and virtuous, he was in conversation genteelly delightful; in friendship punctually sincere; in death christianly resigned.  No man could live more beloved; no private man could die more lamented.”