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Was of a Kentish family, cousin to the celebrated dramatic
writer, and son to the learned Dr Giles Fletcher, whom Wood calls an excellent poet (ambassador to Russia, and author of the History of that Commonwealth, a little volume, suppressed ou its first publication in 1591, but reprinted in 1643 ) Phineas, like his father, was educated at Eton, and King's College, Cambridge, where he entered in 1600, and afterwards took the degrees of A. B. and A. M. In 16żl he was presented to the benefice of Hilgay, in Norfolk, which he seems to have held twenty. nine years. He was the author of “ Siceledes,” a piscatory drama or pastoral, 4to. 1631, (originally intended to have been performed before James I. in 1614) and “ The “ Purple Island, or the Isle of Man,” in twelve cantos of seven-lined stanzas, being an allegorical description of the human body and mind. This poem, which deserves to be better known, was printed at Cambridge, 1633, 4to.
together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poeticall “ Miscellanies.” Mr Headley, whose remarks on Fletcher well merit the reader's attention, observes that “ Milton “ read and imitated him, and that he is eminently entitled
“ to a very high rank among our old English classics." Fletcher's “Purple Island” may be found in Dr Anderson's
Poets, with a biographical account prefixed.
[From the sixth Piscatory Eclogue.]
Love's sooner felt than seen; his substance thin
Betwixt those snowy mounts in ambush lies ; Oft in the eyes he spreads his subtle gin;
He therefore soonest wins that fastest flies. Fly thence, my dear, fly fast, my Thomalin! Who him encounters once, for ever dies.
But if he lurk between the ruddy lips,
Unhappy soul, that thence his nectar sips, While down into his heart the sugar'd poison slips !
Oft in a voice he creeps down through the ear;
Oft from a blushing cheek he lights his fire;
Oft in a soft smooth skin doth close retire;
Himself's a dart, when nothing else can move:
Who then the captive soul can well reprove, When Love and Virtue's self become the darts of
To Mr Jo. Tomkins. THOMALIN, my lief, thy music strains to hear More wraps my soul, than when the swelling
winds On craggy rocks their whistling voices tear:
Or when the sea, if stopt his course he finds, With broken murmurs thinks weak shores to fear, Scorning such sandy cords his proud head binds :
More than where rivers in the summer ray,
Through covert glades cutting their shady way, Run tumbling down the lawns, and with the peb
Thy strains to hear, old Chamus from his cell
Comes guarded with an hundred Nymphs around; An hundred Nymphs, that in his rivers dwell,
About him flock with water-lilies crown'd: For thee the Muses leave their silver well, And marvel where thou all their art hast found.
There sitting they admire thy dainty strains,
And, while thy sadder accent sweetly plains, Feel thousand sugar'd joys creep in their melting
How oft have I, the Muses' bower frequenting, Miss'd them at home, and found them all with
Whether thou sing'st sad Eupathus lamenting,
Or tunest notes to sacred harmony, The ravish'd soul with thy sweet songs consenting, Scorning the earth, in heavenly ecstacy, Transcends the stars, and with the angels' train Those courts surveys; and now, come back
again, Finds yet another heaven in thy delightful strain.
Ah! could’st thou here thy humble mind content
Lowly with me to live in country cell, And learn suspect the court's proud blandishment,
Here might we safe, here might we sweetly dwell. Live Pallas in her towers and marble tent, But ah! the country bowers please me as well.
There with my Thomalin I safe would sing,
And frame sweet ditties to thy sweeter string; There would we laugh at spite and Fortune's thun
No Flattery, Hate, or Envy lodgeth there;
There no Suspicion wall'd' in proved steel, Yet fearful of the arms herself doth wear;
Pride is not there; no tyrant there we feel. No clamorous laws shall deaf thy music ear: They know no change, nor wanton Fortune':
Thousand fresh sports grow in those dainty places,
But seeing fate my happy wish refuses,
Let me alone enjoy my low estate,
Only scorn'd poverty and Fortune's hate
Safe in my humble cottage will I rest;
And lifting up from my untainted breast