1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Philip Massinger

Anonymous, in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 2:98-99.



Philip Massinger, a poet of no small eminence, was son of Mr. Philip Massinger, a gentleman belonging to the earl of Montgomery, in whose service he lived.

He was born at Salisbury, about the year 1585, and was entered a commoner in St. Alban's Hall in Oxford, 1601, where, though he was encouraged in his studies (says Mr. Wood) by the earl of Pembroke, yet he applied his mind more to poetry and romances, than to logic and philosophy. He afterwards quitted the university without a degree, and being impatient to move in a public sphere, he came to London, in order to improve his poetic fancy, and polite studies by conversation, and reading the world. He soon applied himself to the stage, and wrote several tragedies and comedies with applause, which were admired for the purity of their stile, and the oeconomy of their plots: he was held in the highest esteem by the poets of that age, and there were few who did not reckon it an honour to write in conjunction with him, as Fletcher, Middleton, Rowley, Field and Decker did. He is said to have been a man of great modesty. He died suddenly at his house on the bank side in Southwark, near to the then playhouse, for he went to bed well, and was dead before morning. His body was interred in St. Saviour's church-yard. and was attended to the grave by all the comedians then in town, on the 18th of March, 1669. Sir Aston Cokain has an epitaph on Mr. John Fletcher, and Mr. Philip Massinger, who, as he says, both lie buried in one grave. He prepared several works for the public, and wrote a little book against Scaliger, which many have ascribed to Scioppius, the supposed author of which Scaliger, uses with great contempt. Our author has published 14 plays of his own writing, besides those in which he joined with other poets, of which the following is the list [omitted].