1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Phineas Fletcher

George Ellis, in Specimens of Early English Poets (1801; 1845) 3:43.



Phineas Fletcher was of a Kentish family, cousin to the celebrated dramatic writer, and son to the learned Dr. Giles Fletcher, whom Wood calls an excellent poet (ambassador to Russia, and author of the History of that Commonwealth, a little volume, suppressed on its first publication in 1591, but reprinted in 1643). Phineas, like his father, was educated at Eton, and King's College, Cambridge, where he entered in 1600, and afterwards took the degrees of A.B. and A.M. In 1621 he was presented to the benefice of Hilgay, in Norfolk, which he seems to have held twenty-nine years. He was the author of Siceledes, a piscatory drama or pastoral, 4to, 1631, (originally intended to have been performed before James I., in 1614,) and The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man, in twelve cantos of seven-lined stanzas, being an allegorical description of the human body and mind. This poem, which deserves to be better known, was printed at Cambridge, 1633, 4to, "together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies." Mr. Headley, whose remarks on Fletcher well merit the reader's attention, observes that "Milton read and imitated him, and that he is eminently entitled to a very high rank among our old English classics."