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" It grieves me to think these Pieces should be lost to the World, and be for
ever buried in Obfcurity." “ The PURPLE ISLAND abounds with pic-
А NE W EDITION,
LO N D ON:
M DCC LXXXIII.
N E W EDITION
P U R P LE IS LA N D.
T has often been lamented by wise and good Men,
that whilst such a Number of useless and pernicious Writings are daily issuing from the Press, so many valuable Authors of the last Century should continue to remain in Obscurity. No one appears to have been more sensible of this, than the late excellent Mr. James HERVEY, Author of the Meditations
among the Tombs, &c. by whom several scarce and useful Books were rescued from the Pit of Oblivion. In the Letters written to his Friends, we find mention made of this very Poem ; which was put into his Hands a few Weeks before his Decease: with which he was so well pleased, that he intended revising it for the Press; and to add another Poem entitled Christ's VICTORY AND TRIUMPH IN HEAVEN AND ON Earta*. To this he says, he “ was more particularly inclined, there
being so few Scriptural Poems in our Language, wrote by Men of Genius.”
Written by Gues FLETCHER, Brother to the Author of the Purple Islande It was first printed at Cambridge in 1610.
Concerning the Author, little Information can now be obtained. He was the Son of GIles FLETCHER, L. L. D. (who was Brother to Dr. RICHARD FLETCHER, Bishop of London in 1594*) of whom we have the following Account in the Biographical Dictionary.
" He was a very ingenious and learned Man; was born in Kent, and 6 received his Education at Eton; from thence he “ went to King's College, Cambridge. Was an excellent * Poet, and very accomplished Person ; whose Abilities “ recommended him to Queen ELIZABETH, by whom he 6 was employed as a Commissioner to Scotland, Germany, * and the Low Countries. In 1588, he was sent Am" baffador to Muscovy, from whence he returned to
England with Safety and Honour. He left two Sons, * Giles and PHINEAS, both learned Men."
PHINEAS was educated at King's College, Cambridge, and beneficed at Hilgay in Norfolk. This Poem procured him the Title of The Spenser of the Age, from his Cotemporaries ; particularly by QUARLES, Author of the Emblems, &ct. Some may consider this as paying him too high a Compliment; yet it is acknowledged by all, that in this Piece there is great Fertility of Invention, a glowing Imagination, a Display of much Learning, and a Vein of Piety. This Poem being allegorical, it may be neceffary to say something concerning that Species of Writing
An Allegory is a figurative Speech, in
* Dr. RICHARD FLETCHER was the Father of John FLETCHER the celebrated Dramatic Writer. + See bis Verses addressed to the Author, Page xii.
which more is contained than what the literal Meaning conveys.
Thus the Roman Commonwealth is addressed by Horace under the Pi&ture of a Ship. The Fables of Esop, the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, and the Æneid of Virgil, are all reckoned of this Kind. The Use of it is of very early Date, and both Plato and Socrates, who are considered as the wiselt amongt the Heathens, recommended it. But what fully evinces its Excellence and Utility is the frequent Use made of it in the Scriptures, and by our blessed Lord himself.
We have several Examples of allegorical Writing in the English Language both in Prose and Verse: amongst the latter, the following Piece has been greatly admired by those into whose Hands it has fallen ; and which many wished to see reprinted, being exceeding scarce, and seldom to be purchased at any Rate.
As the Stanza used by the Author (nearly as in Spenser's Fairy Queen) is
very different from the Measure in which most modern Poetry is written, it may seem awkward at first to some Persons. This the Editor found to be the case with some of his Acquaintance; but who, after reading a few Pages, acknowledged it became both familiar and pleasing. It is requested of the Reader, to peruse all the Pieces prefixed to the Poem; and pay particular Attention to the Notes as they occur in the II. III. IV. and V. Cantos, which contain a full Description of that wonderful Structure the human Body. As this Poem was written near 'Two Hundred Years