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of comic humour. These attributes had so much effect on the public, that during the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries, many of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays had possession of the stage, while those of Shakspeare were laid upon the shelf.” The “Woman Hater," the “Maid's Tragedy,"
Philaster,” the “Two Noble Kinsmen,” “ King and No King,” the “Scornful Lady," and the “Honest Man's Fortune,” are considered among the best of their compositions. We have placed among our selections from Sacred Poetry, Beaumont's noble lines from the lastmentioned drama, commencing with “Oh! man, thou image of thy Maker's good !"
BORN, 1577; Died, 1643. AMONG the Sacred poets Sandys occupies a high position. His life does not present any remarkable inci. dents. He was the youngest son of Dr. Edwin Sandys, who was then Archbishop of York. George was born in the palace occupied by his father, at BishopsThorpe, in 1577. He studied at the University of Oxford in 1589, but did not take a degree. After leaving that eminent seat of learning, he commenced in 1610 his travels through the greater part of Europe; and before he returned to his native country, he visited Egypt and the Holy Land. He stopped for some time at Rome, and devoted himself with great ardour to the study of classical remains in that ancient capital. The fruits of his researches in foreign countries, were exhibited in a volume giving an account of his extensive tour, which was published in 1615. This work was generally admired, and was followed by a translation of the Metamorphoses of Ovid, a Paraphrase of the Psalms of David, and of the hymns dispersed through the Old and New Testaments. These works were published between the years 1636 and 1639. Pope and Dryden speak highly of his translations. The latter productions give him a high rank, in the opinion of competent judges, among the contributors to religious poetry. He composed a paraphrase upon Job and Eoclesiastes, and a metrical version of the Song of Solomon; he also translated a Latin tragedy of Grotius, called the “ Passion of Christ,” from which several pleasing specimens have been republished at various times. He died at Bexley Abbey, in Kent, the residence of his niece, Lady Margaret Wyot, in March, 1643.
Cibber has written a memoir of this amiable poet; and Wilmott, in his “Lives of the English Sacred Poets,” observes, with regard to his character, that "he had passed a religious and useful life, and had opened a new spring of comfort to his Christian brethren, which was not without a beneficial influence upon the stream of our literature. No cloud appears to have darkened the evening of his days; he lived and died among his friends, admired, beloved, and revered. The Rev. R. Cattermole, in his valuable “ Selections of Sacred Poetry of the Seventeenth Century,” says of his translations, that “among the many attempts which have been made to render the incomparable songs of the inspired lyrist into English metre, no other displays,equally with that of Sandys, the combination of poetry, with terse and correct versification, and a strict adherence to the sense of the original.” The Rev. H. J. Todd published, in 1839, “ Selections from Sandys' Metrical Paraphrases,” to which he has prefixed an account of the
BORN, 1584; DIED, 1650. PHINEAS FLETCHER, the brother of Giles Fletcher, who occupies a high rank among the early English poets, was born in 1584, and died in 1650. He entered as a scholar in King's College, Cambridge, in 1600. Having completed his education, he became a clergyman of the Church of England, and obtained the living of Hilgay, in Norfolk, which was presented to him by Sir Henry Willoughby. The principal poem of this author is “The Purple Island”-in twelve cantos, containing an allegorical description of the body and soul of man. Phineas Fletcher also wrote “ Piscatory Eclogues,” a “History of the Founders and Benefactors of Cam
bridge University," a drama called “Sicelides;" and be translated a few of the Psalms of David in verse.
The following observations on the chief work of this author are taken from Chambers's “Cyclopedia of English Literature:"_“The Purple Island' was published in 1633, but written much earlier, as appears from some allusions in it to the Earl of Essex. The name of the poem conjures up images of poetical and romantic beauty, such as we may suppose a youthful admirer and follower of Spenser to have drawn. A perusal of the work, however, dispels this illusion. The Purple Island of Fletcher is no sunny spot 'amid the melancholy main,' but is an elaborate and anatomical description of the body and mind of man.
He begins with the veins, arteries, bones, and muscles of the human frame, picturing them as hills, dales, streams, and rivers, and describing with great minuteness their different meanderings, elevations, and appearances. It is admitted that the poet was well skilled in anatomy, and the first part of his work is a sort of lecture fitted for the dissecting-room. From this sketch of Fletcher's poem it will be apparent, that its worth must rest, not upon plot, but upon isolated passages and particular descriptions. Some of his stanzas have all the
flow and mellifluous sweetness of Spenser's “Faery Queene;" but others are marred by affectation and quaintness, and by the tediousness inseparable from long-protracted allegory. His fancy was luxuriant; and, if better disciplined by taste and judgment, might have rivalled the softer scenes of Spenser.' Phineas Fletcher's stanzas on the “Instability of Human Greatness," and his beautiful description of the "Happiness of the Shepherd's Life," exhibit a striking example of the melody and sweetness which characterize his language. In Southey's Select Poets, and in Chalmers's “ Lives of the Poets,” further particulars may be obtained respecting this writer, whom Cowley characterized, in the language of extravagant panegyric, as the “Spenser of his age. Phineas Fletcher's poetical claims are estimated with much more discrimination by Willmott, to whose notice of him we refer our readers for fuller particulars. PHILIP MASSINGER.
BORN, 1584; DIED, 1640. PHILIP MASSINGER holds a distinguished place among the old English dramatists. Of his personal history there are but few well-authenticated facts recorded by his biographer. His father held a situation in the establishment of Henry, second Earl of Pembroke, but of what rank does not appear to have been correctly ascertained. His son Philip was born at Salisbury in 1584, and received a part of his education in the family of his father's noble patron. In his eighteenth year he entered as a commoner in Oxford University, where he remained only four years. Various causes have been assigned for his sudden removal. Some writers have ascribed it to his father's death, and others to his hav, ing become a member of the Roman Catholic Church Gifford, the latest and best informed editor of Massinger's works, is of opiņion that the poet was a Roman Catholic, and that his change of religion was the real cause of his abrupt departure from Oxford.
On leaving college he bad no certain means of support; and he was, therefore, compelled by necessity to write for the stage. He went to London in 1606; and until 1622 there is no proof to show that he had published any of his dramatic productions ; although it is supposed that he was employed during that interval in preparing them for the press, and in assisting some of his literary companions, who contributed to the same department of authorship. Gifford endeavours to account for this long interregnum of sixteen years, by supposing that Massinger was at first deterred by extreme modesty from writing alone, and that he preferred employing his pen for others, until he acquired sufficient confidence to rely upon his own intellectual resources. He composed a great variety of plays, amounting to thirty-eight in number, eighteen of which have been preserved; and eight others are said to have been in the collection of Mr. Warburton, which his servant destroyed. He seems to have struggled all his life with pecuniary difficulties and poverty.
He was found dead in his bed on the 17th of March, 1640, in his own house, near the theatre, on the Bankside, London. He was buried in the adjoining churckyard of St. Saviours. There is no stone or inscription to mark where his remains are interred. The only record left of him is a melancholy entry in the parish register, in these emphatic words, “ Philip Massinger, a stranger.” Of his private life very little is known. There is a brief memoir of him in “The Encyclopedia Britannica," the author of which observes : '“all the writers of Massinger's life unite in representing him as a man of singular candour, modesty, gentleness, and affability; nor does it appear that he ever made or found an enemy. He seems to have maintained a constant struggle with adversity; since not only the stage, from which his natural reserve seems to have prevented him from deriving the natural advantage, but even the bounty of his particular friends, on which he chiefly relied, left him in a state of absolute dependence. Jonson, Fletcher, Shirley, and others, not inferior to him in abilities, had their periods of good fortune, their bright as well as their stormy hours; but Massinger seems to have enjoyed no gleam of sunshine. His life was all one wintry day, and shadows, clouds, and darkness rested on it.'
For upwards of seventy years after Massinger's death his works were utterly neglected. In 1759, 1761, and 1779, three editions of his plays appeared successively; but those have lost their interest and value since Gifford's more correct edition was published in 1808 in four volumes, and reprinted in 1813. That the tendency of Massinger's plays is less objectionable, and that the impurity of his language and allusions is less offensive than the same faults in the works of his predecessors must be admitted. Still, he was not free from the grossness common to the age, though there is reason to believe that he was naturally disposed to respect and practise what was virtuous. Gifford justly observes, that “his greatest praise is, not only that he was more moral than his hrother poets, but that he treats with