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received his information from Mr. Ramsay, who married the poet's widow; and it is to be regretted that his account is so brief and uncircumstantial. I think Fletcher's birth may be carried back two or three years, for we shall presently find him hailing the accession of James in 1603, in strains such as a boy of fourteen or fifteen could scarcely be expected to produce. He was sent, it appears, at an early age, to Westminster School, from which he was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge. This is the relation of Fuller; but I am unable to reconcile it with the declaration of Giles Fletcher himself. In the dedication of Christ's Victorie, to Dr. Nevil, he speaks with all the ardour of a young and noble heart of the kindness he had experienced from that excellent man. He mentions his having reached down" as it were out of heaven, a benefit of that nature and price, than which he could wish none (only heaven itself excepted) either more fruitful and contenting for the time that now is present, or more comfortable and encouraging for the time that is already past, or more hopeful and promising for the time that is yet to come." And further on, he expressly states that he was placed in Trinity College by Dr. Nevil's "only favour, most freely, without either any means from other, or any desert" in himself. This praise could not have been consistent with truth, if Fletcher had obtained his election from Westminster School *. Nevil merited the laudatory epi
Under old Chamus' faggy banks that spread
Their willow locks abroad, &c. Eclecta, or Intellect, in the Purple Island, is the leader of the virtues and good qualities of the heart. The Purple Island was, therefore, composed before the publication of Christ's Victorie.
Having been permitted to refer to the Register Book of Westminster School by the favour of the Rev. Williamson, the present Head Master, I am enabled to state positively that Fletcher was not elected from Westminster to Cambridge. There is no evidence that he was on
thet applied to him by Camden *, whether we look upon him as the public benefactor of the college over which he presided, or in the still more endearing character of the benevolent and disinterested patron of the poor and the learned. Bishop Hacket was also a partaker of his generosity. Plume informs us, in his life of that prelate, that when Hacket's father, although personally unknown to Dr. Nevil, applied to him for his interest to procure his son's election from Westminster to Trinity College, the worthy master replied, that the boy should go to Cambridge, "or he would carry him on his own back.” I shall have occasion to recur to Nevil in the life of Herbert t.
The accession of James furnished a theme of praise to all the nation; "the very poets with their idle pamphlets," writes that unwearied correspondent Mr. Chamberlain, "promise themselves great part in his favour 1." The University of Cambridge put forth its welcome under the ingenious title of Sorrowc's Joy $, and the writers evinced their skill in blending their mourning with gladness, and while they lamented that “Phæbe"
the foundation of the school. The probability is, that he was a Townboy, and obtained the patronage of Dr. Nevil.
• Megadorpstas, “ Magnificent."
+ For an interesting notice of Dr. Nevil, the reader is referred to Todd's Account of the Deans of Coi!erbury. He was appointed to the mastership of Trinity College by Queen Elizabeth in 1592-3, and we learn from a MS. quoted by Mr. Todd, and in his own possession, that before the departure of James from the University in 1614-15, he visited Dr. Nevil, who was too infirm to leave his rooms, and after having thanked him for the generosity and splendour of his entertainment, he concluded by saying that he was proud of such a subject.
In a letter to Sir Dudley Carleton, April 13, 1603. Printed in Nichols's Progresses of King James I.
Sorrowes Joy, or a Lamentation for our Deceased Soveraigne Elisabeth, with a Triumph for the Prosperous Succession of our Gratious King James. Printed by Joha Legal, printer to the Vaiversity of Cambridge,
was gone, they remembered that a
« Phæbus" was shining in her place*.
The contribution of Giles Fletcher--A Canto upon the
Piping thy songs unto the dancing twig,
So let the friendly prickle riever dig
Thy watchful breast, with woound or small or big,
Sliding with shrinking silence, never take
The picture of the snake "sliding with shrinking silence," is one of the happiest touches of description I have ever seen.
It would be impossible more vividly to represent the sudden rustling of the leaves, and the 'shrinking " stillness that follows. The idea is partly borrowed from Virgil.
The following verses upon the "velvet-headed violets," arc equally meritorious in a different manner :
So let the silver dew but lightly lie,
Like little watery worlds, within your azure sky,
Phineas Fletcher has a poem in the same volume,
• See verses ia Sorrowe's Joy, by H. Campion, of Emanuel College,
dated from King's College, but very inferior to his brother's.
Christ's Victorie was apparently composed before Fletcher took his Bachelor's degree. Fuller says, that it discovered the piety of a saint and the divinity of a doctor; the piety is more evident than the theological skill. The first edition appeared at Cambridge in 1610, and a second was not required until 1632. It is sufficiently clear, therefore, that the poem could not have been popular; and Phineas Fletcher, in some verses addressed to his brother upon its publication, entreats him not to esteem the censure of "malicious tongues * !" That Fletcher was dissatisfied with the reception of his work, may be inferred from the circumstance of his relinquishing the cultivation of the Muse, and applying himself to the study of school divinity. It is not, however, improbable that he occasionally indulged his taste in classical composition. In the library of King's College is a small MS., presented to it on the 2nd of February, 1654-5, by S. Th., supposed by Mr. Cole to mean Samuel Thoms, with this title :-Ægidii Fletcheri versio Poetica Lamentationum Jeremiat. It is dedicated, in a copy of hexameter verses, to the amiable and upright Whitgift. Ornatissimo doctissimoque viro Do. Doctori Whitgifto Ægidius Fletcherus salutem. Whitgift was Master of Trinity College from 1570 to June 1577, and the translation might, therefore, have been an offering of respect from the poet's father, but as the Archbishop lived till 1603, it is possible that it may have emanated from the son. Whitgift, like his friend Nevil, was a sincere encourager of learning and merit; he supported several poor
• "Upon my brother, Mr. G. F., his book intituled Christ's Victorie and Tritemph.
Cole's Ms. Collections in British Museum.
scholars in his own house, and enabled others to pursue their studies at the University. The author of Christ's Victorie may have participated in this munificence.
Though "cross to the grain of his genius," Fuller tells us that Fletcher attained to "good skill” in scholastic divinity; he had too much capacity and amplitude of mind to fail in any pursuit to which he devoted his attention. A fellowship at the same time rewarded his labours, and enabled him to gratify his love of a Collegelife. Fuller does not inform us in what year Fletcher received ordination, but it could not have been long after the publication of his poem; for in 1612 he published at Cambridge, in 12mo., The Young Divine's Apology for his continuance in the University, with certain Meditations, written by Nathaniel Pownoll, late student of Christchurch College, Oxon, and dedicated to the cloquent Dr. King, at that time Bislıop of London. This book I have not been able to obtain, and I am indebted for the knowledge of its existence to the MS, collections of the indefatigable Cole*. It would certainly tend to illustrate the poet's history.
Of Fletcher's theological acquirements we have no memorials; but we are entitled to conclude that he was an able and earnest preacher. We learn from Fuller, that
• Since this paragraph has been written, I have looked into Watts's Bibliotheca Britannica, vol. 2, and find the following notice :-" Pownoll, Nathaniel, late student of Christ Church, Oxford. The Young Divine's Apologie for continuing so long in the Universitie, with certain Medi. tations, Canterbury, 1612, 12mo.” Of course it is impossible to reconcile this accoudi with Cole, whose expressions are, In 1612, he (G. Fletcher) printed at Cambridge, The Young Divine's Apologie for his continuance in the University, with certain Meditations, written by Nathaniel Pownoli, late student of Christ's College, Oxon, and dedicated to John, Bishop of London, among the uncatalogued books of the old University Library.” The general accuracy of Waris is well known, and I believe the collections of Cole have an equal claim to that distinc. tion. Ja this instance I feel inclined to follow the authority of Cole, for it is evident that he had himself seen the book.