Sidor som bilder

by the uncertainty of its issue, he composed one or two touching Hymns, which testify the sincerity of his heart and the piety of his feelings. Probably the last words ever traced by his pen, were the lines written in his Bible on the evening preceding his execution, in which he renewed his expression of confidence in the mercy and intercession of our Saviour.

The following Hymn requires no criticism to recommend it.

Risc, oh, my soul, with thy desires to heaven,

And with divinest contemplation use
Thy time, where time's eternity is given,

And let vain thoughts no more thy thoughts abuse ;
But down in darkness let them lie,
So live thy better, let thy worse thoughts die.
And thou, my soul, inspired with holy flame,

View and review with most regardful eye
That holy cross whence thy salvation came,

On which thy Saviour and thy sin did die.
For in that sacred object is much pleasure,
And in that Saviour is my life, my treasure.
To Thee, O Jesu, I direct my eyes,

To thee my hands, to thee my humble knees,
- To thee my heart shall offer sacrifice,

To thee my thoughts, who my thoughts only sees.
To thee myself, myself and all I give ;

To thee I die, to thee I only live. The lover of poetry will always regret that Raleigh's retreats to his charming seat, at Sherborne, were not more frequent, and of longer continuance; and that the "pure contents" which, in his own words, were wont to "pitch their tents" upon those pastures, were unable to detain him from the empty vanities of the court.

I bring this hasty Introduction to an end with regret ;

I have said little where my heart prompted me to say much. I have been compelled to pass over, without notice, many who left their fame upon a harp-string, and from whose antique leaves might be gathered thoughts of the serenest piety and peace. Of some of these I shall have an opportunity of speaking in the following pages. I have walked through the burial-ground of our Elder Poets with no irreverent footstep, and I shall not have lingered there in vain, if I have renewed one obliterated inscription, or bound one flower upon their tomb.


GILES FLETCHER, the author of one of the finest religious poems to which the early part of the seventeenth century gave birth, has not received the attention due to his genius, either from his contemporaries, or from posterity. Yet in him and his brother Phineas we behold the two most gifted followers of Spenser; in their hands the torch of allegorical poetry, if I may employ the metaphor, was extinguished, and transmitted to no successor. William Browne was rather the imitator of Spenser in his pastoral vein, than in the arabesque imagery of the Faerie Queen. Of Giles Fletcher's life little has hitherto been told, and that little imperfectly. Mr. Chalmers has reprinted Christ's Victorie, with a prefatory notice of the writer, in his edition of the British Poets, but without adding much, if any thing, to the previous stock of knowledge. In the following memoir something has, perhaps, been accomplished towards the illustration of the poet's history, and the additional facts relating to his father will not, it is trusted, be uninteresting.

Dr. Giles Fletcher, the father of the poet, was the brother of Richard Fletcher, Bishop of London. Having been educated at Eton, in 1565, he was elected to King's College, Cambridge, where, in 1569, he took the degree of B.A.; that of M. A. in 1573; and LL.D. in 1581. Anthony Wood says that he became an excellent poet. The only specimens of his poetical talent I have seen are the verses upon the death of Walter Haddon *.

Haddon was a member of King's College, and one of the most eminent men of the age. His contemporaries speak in enthusiastic

Fictcher's political talents appear to have been highly appreciated by Elizabeth, who employed him as her Commissioner in Scotland, Germany, and the Low Countries. I have ascertained that he sat in Parliament in 1585, with Herbert Pelham, Esq., for the then flourishing town of Winchelsea *. In 1588, the memorable year of the Armada, he was sent to Russia, where he concluded a treaty with the Czar, beneficial to English commerce. Soon after his return, he published his observations upon that country; they were, however, soon suppressed, and not reprinted until 1613. They were afterwards incorporated in Hackluyt's Voyages t.

The worthy Fuller informs us that, upon Fletcher's arrival in London, he sent for his intimate friend Mr. Wayland, Prebendary of St. Paul's, and tutor to Fuller's father, "with whom he expressed his thankfulness to

[ocr errors]

terms of his mental and personal accomplishments. Archbishop Crait-
mer entertained a high opinion of his learning and talents, and availed
himself of his advice and assjatance in ecclesiastical atlairs. Haddon
died in London, February, 1571. Llis poems were collected by Thomas
Hatcher, a fellow of the same college, and one of his warmest admirers.

Ms. Park refers to Dr. Fletcher's poers in a note upon Warton's
History of Poetry, but in a manner to incline the reader to suppose
that the allusion was applicable to the author of Christ's l'ictorie.
The work which is entitled Poematum Grolteri Huddloni Legum
Doctoris, sparsire collectorum, Libri Duo, is exceedingly scarce. Thomas
Baker, the well-known antiquary, considered his copy, which afterwards
pessed into the collection of the Bishop of Ely, to be almost unique.
There is, however, a copy in the British Museum,

Notitia Parliamentaria, vol. j., p. 107.
+ As a picture of Russia in its deepest ignorance and barbarism, the
account of the “Russe Commonwealth" is very amusing. llis descrip-
tion of theological learning in Russia, towards the close of the sixteenth
cepiury, is singular, especially when contrasted with the glory of our
own country at that period. Fletcher relates the following anecdote of
a conversation with one of their " bishops, that are the choice men out
of all their monasteries." He "offered him a Russe Testament, and
turned him to the first chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, where he began
to read in very good order. I asked him first, what part of Scripture it
was that he had read! He answered that he could not well tell." How
many evangelists there were in the New Testament? He said he knew
not. How many apostles :here were ! He thought there were twelve."
p. 89, ed. 1591.

God for his return from so great a danger." The quaint historian, in his careless way, talks of the emperor being habited in blood, and adds that, if he had cut off the ambassador's head, he and his friends might have sought their own amends ; but, says he, the questio i is, where he would have found it. Certainly, if Fuller alludes to the head, its recovery would have been very questionable. But this story of the Czar's cruelty is an invention. The reigning emperor was Theodore Ivanowich, and Dr. Fletcher expressly assures us that “he was verie gentle, of an easie nature, quiet and mercyful." P. 110, ed. 1591.

On his return, Fletcher was made secretary (townclerk) to the city of London, and one of the Masters of the Court of Requests. The situation of trcasurer of St. Paul's he seems to have resigned in 1610 *. His death is thought to have taken place in the same year.

Dr. Fletcher also wrote a very curious Discourse concerns ing the Tartars, which Whiston reprinted in his Memoirs,

Giles Fletcher, the poet, we are told by Fuller, was born in the city of London t, and according to Mr. Chalmers's conjecture, about the year 15881. Fuller

• I find under a notice of Bayly, Bishop of Bangor

1610, 7 Febr. Ludov. Bayly, A.M., Admissus ad The-aurariam S. Pauli, per Resig. Egidii Fletcheri, LL.D. Reg. Lond.-Wood, Athen. "Oron, ed Bliss. b. 2. + Morthies of England, vol. ii., London, p. 82, ed. Nichols, 1811.

Chalmers (Biograph. Diet., Art “ FLETCHER") considers Giles the eldest son, whose birth he fixes in 1588, and that of Phineas, the younger, in 1584! The probability is, that Phineas was the elder. At ibe conclusion of the fourth book of Christ's Victorie, Giles speaks of

The Kentish lad that lately taught
His oaten reed the trumpet's silver sound.
Let his shrill trumpet with her silver blast
Of fair Eclecta and her spousal bed
Be the sweet pipe, and smooth encomiast,
But my green Nluse hiding her younger head

« FöregåendeFortsätt »