1895 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Giles Fletcher

W. J. Courthope, in History of English Poetry (1895-1910) 3:133.



The two Fletchers were evidently united by a strong fraternal affection, which reveals itself, not only in their mutual allusions to each other's work, but also in their common poetical aim. Both educated in the same university, they were equally inspired by the Cambridge genius. Their poetical object was to embody the spirit of Calvinistic theology in the allegorical forms of the Middle Ages, combined with the framework and diction of Latin epic or bucolic verse.

Their artistic merits have been very variously judged, Campbell and other critics, following the eighteenth-century canon of taste, have disparaged them as second-rate copyists of Spenser. In our own day they have been exalted, by a natural reaction, but with a tendency to exaggeration, as the forerunners and masters of Milton. The true proportion of their genius and their place in our literature may be more justly determined, if we regard them as forming the middle and connecting stage in the progress of English poetry from one of these great writers to the other.