1787 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Giles Fletcher

Henry Headley, in Select Beauties of Ancient English Poetry (1787) 1:liv.



Giles Fletcher, the brother of Phineas, and author of Christ's Victory a poem rich and picturesque, and on a much happier subject than that of his brother, yet unenlivened by personification. He took the degree of bachelor of divinity,and died at Alderton in Suffolk in 1623, to use the emphatic expression of Wood, "equally beloved of the Muses and the Graces." — These two elegant brothers belonged to a family poetical in many of its branches; and Benlowes well observes, in his Verses to Phineas, "Thy very name's a poet." — Dr. R. Fletcher, the dramatic writer, was their cousin, the son of Dr. R. Fletcher, successively Bishop of Bristol, Worcester, and London, whose memory will be execrated as long as the manly and pathetic pages of Dr. Stuart will endure. This officious priest had the irreverence to imbitter the last minutes of the beautiful Mary Queen of Scots. The following are the words of Wood, one not much given to the melting mood: "At which time he, being the person appointed to pray with and for her, did persuade her to renounce her religion, contrary to all Christianity (as it was by many then present so taken), to her great disturbance." Wood, Ath. Ox. vol. I. p. 734. — It appears, from Giles Fletcher's dedication of his Poem to Dr. Nevyle, the master of Trinity College, that he was under great obligations to him. Speaking of the College he says, "In which, being placed by your favour only, most freely, without either any means from other, or any desert in myself, being not able to do more, I could do no less, than acknowledge that debt which I shall never be able to pay."