The family of Fletcher was rendered illustrious in the literary history of the 17th century, by a constellation of poetic power. Dr. Giles Fletcher, an accomplished scholar, and himself, as Wood the antiquary says, "an excellent poet," left two sons, Phineas and Giles, both of whom deserve an eminent place among our early English classics. John Fletcher, the dramatic writer, the associate of Beaumont, was their cousin. With reason, therefore, might the writer of a copy of verses, prefixed to the works of Phineas Fletcher, say,
—Thy very name's a poet.
The principal composition of this author is "The Purple Island," a poem in twelve cantos, containing an allegorical description of the body and soul of man — a subject which no degree of skill in the poet could render agreeable as a whole to modern readers. It abounds, however, with passages of powerful description and great beauty both of thought and style.