1633
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On the excellent moral Poem, entituled the Isle of Man.

The Purple Island, or the Isle of Man: together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall Miscellanies. By P. F.

Edward Benlowes


Two irregular Spenserians appear as commendatory verses; they are written in the stanza of Phineas Fletcher's Purple Island and signed "E. Benlowes | Benevolus."

Robert Aris Willmott: "Benlowes was a member of St. John's College, Cambridge, and a picture of him used to hang in the Master's Lodge. Born to the possession of a respectable estate, he became at an early age the patron of poets, and Brent Hall, in Essex, where he resided, was the scene of frequent hospitality. He was the author of several works, and among others of a poem, Theophila, or Love's Sacrifice, now exceedingly rare. Butler, in the character of "a small poet," satirized his poetical attempts with more spleen than propriety. Benlowes was improvident as he was generous, and his latter days were clouded by grief and poverty" Lives of Sacred Poets (1834) 212.

George Saintsbury: "According to [Antony Wood], he was born about 1603, the son and heir of a man of fortune who owned Brent Hall, in Essex. He was sent to St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1620; and after leaving the University, made the grand tour. Some say that he was brought up a Roman Catholic; others that he adopted Roman Catholicism abroad; but it is agreed that he died a faithful Anglican. According to Butler he served in the Civil War, which may have assisted his lavishness to friends and relations, and his expenditure on collecting and otherwise, in producing that exhaustion of his fortune which is also agreed upon. He spent the last eight years of his life at Oxford, making good use of the Bodleian, but (according to Wood) in a state of great poverty, which on the same authority) even shortened his life by insufficient provision of food and firing during a severe winter. At any rate he died in December, 1676, aged seventy-three, and was buried in St. Mary's" Caroline Poets (1905-21) 1:307n.



Lord! how my youth with this vain world hath err'd,
Applauding theirs as th' onely happy fate,
Whom to some Empire bloud, choice, chance preferr'd,
Or who of learned arts could wisely prate;
Or travelling the world, had well conferr'd
Mens natures with the mysteries of state!
But now thy wiser Muse hath taught me this,
That these and most men else do aim at blisse;
But these and most men else do take their aim amisse.

Reign o're the world, not o're this Isle of Man,
Worse then a slave thou thine own slaves obey'st.
Study all arts devis'd since time began,
And not thy self, thou studiest not, but play'st.
Out travell wise Ulysses, (if you can)
Yet misse this Isle, thou travell'st not, but stray'st.
Let me (O Lord) but reigne o're mine own heart,
And master be of this self-knowing art,
I'le dwell in th' Isle of Man, ne're travell forrain part.

[Sig. ¶4v.]