RICHARD FLECKNOE, an English poet and dramatic writer in the reign of Charles II whose productions, although not without some proportion of merit, would not have preserved his name so long as the satire of Dryden, entitled Mac Flecnoe, is said to have been originally a Jesuit, and to have had connections with some persons of high distinction in London, who were of the Roman catholic persuasion. What was the cause of Dryden's aversion is not determined. Some have said that when the revolution was completed, Dryden, having some time before turned papist, became disqualified for holding his place of poet-laureat. It was accordingly taken from him, and conferred on Flecknoe, a man to whom Dryden is said to have had already a confirmed aversion; and this produced the famous satire, called from him Mac Flecknoe, one of the most spirited and amusing of Dryden's poems; and, in come degree, the model of the Dunciad. That this is a spirited poem is as certain, as that all the preceding account from Cibber and his copiers is ridiculous. Shadwell was the successor of Dryden, as laureat, and in this poem is ridiculed as the poetical son of Flecknoe. However contemptibly Dryden treated Flecknoe, the latter at one time wrote an epigram in his praise, which, with his religion, might have conciliated both Dryden and Pope. Perhaps Dryden, says a modern critic, was offended at his invectives against the obscenity of the stage, knowing how much he had contributed to it. Be this as it may, Flecknoe himself wrote some plays, but not more than one of them was acted. His comedy, called Damoiselles a la mode, was printed in 1667, and addressed to the duke and duchess of Newcastle; the author had designed it for the theatre, and was not a little chagrined at the players for refusing it. He said upon this occasion: "For the acting this comedy, those who have the government of the stage have their humours, and would be intreated; and I have mine, and won't intreat them: and were all dramatic writers of my mind, they should wear their old plays thread-bare, ere they should have any new, till they better understood their own interest, and how to distinguish between good and bad."
His other dramatic pieces are, Ermina, or the Chaste Lady; Love's Dominion; and, The Marriage of Oceanus and Britannia. The second of these performances was printed in 1654, and dedicated to the lady Elizabeth Claypole; to whom the author insinuates the use of plays, and begs her mediation to gain a licence for acting them. It was afterwards republished in 1664, under the title of Love's Kingdom, and dedicated to the marquis of Newcastle. The author then with great pains introduced it on the stage, but it was condemned by the audience, which Flecknoe styles the people, and calls them judges without judgment. He owns that his play wants much of the ornaments of the stage; but that, he says, may be easily supplied by a lively imagination. His other works consist of, 1. Epigrams and Enigmatical Characters, usually bound up with his Love's Dominion; but there is a separate edition in 1670, 8vo, "by Richard Flecnoe, priest." 2. Miscellanea, or poems of all sorts, with divers other pieces" 1653, 12mo. 3. Diarium, or the Journal, divided into twelve jornadas, in burlesque verse, Lond. 1656, 12mo. Mr. Harris mentions also a book in the catalogue of the Bodleian library written by one Rich. Flecknoe, entitled The Affections of a pious soul unto Christ, 1640, 8vo. He thinks it probable this was the same person, and that he wrote it in his younger years, "before his principles were debauched by the world." Flecknoe died in the summer of 1678, according to Mr. Malone, who speaks with as much contempt of Flecknoe as if he were personally interested in Dryden's antipathies. Mr. Southey, in his Omniana, has a far more favourable opinion of our poet, and confirms it by extracts from his works, some of which refute Mr. Harris's opinion of Flecknoe's principles being debauched. He indeed every where expresses an abhorrence of immorality.