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Charles Read, ed., A Cabinet of Irish Literature (3 vols., 1876-78), cites his first work, Hierothamalium, or the Heavenly Nuptials (1926); further notes that Marvel speaks of him as an old man, in Rome 1643; ceased to assume character of priest after Restoration; stayed a time in Lisbon, kindly treated by King John of Portugal; his Loves Dominion, a Dramatick Piece (1654), dedicated to Lady Elizabeth Claypole; rep. as Loves Kingdom (1664 [sic]); Christie gives this reason for the animosity to Flecknoe in his Globe edition of Drydens Works, The plan of the poem required a dead author, and Flecknoe suited the purpose; it may be that Dryden believed Flecknoe to be author of a pamphlet by R. F., publ. in 1668, in defence of Sir Robert Howard against Dryden in a controversy about rhyme and blank-verse, and had nursed his wrath for 14 years. CAB selects Silence; Of Drinking; On Travel; To Dryden [the muses darling and delight/Than whom none ever flew so high a flight ...]; On the Death of Our Lord [... and wouldst thou die/for such a wretched worm as I]; extract from Loves Kingdom [Palemon, First Priest, Philander, Second Priest speak]; On who Turned Day into Night [of Solomon, from Choicest Epigrams and Characters]; The Sower of Dissension [He is the devils day labourer ... God bless my friends from them; from ibid.]
Justin McCarthy, ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), selects Of Drinking and Of Travel, and calls him Irish by birth, Order of Jesus; rescued from oblivion by satirical genius of Dryden: All human things are subject to decay; / And when fate summons, monarch must obey. / This Flecknoe found, who, like Augustus, young / Was called to empire, and had governed long; / In prose and verse was owned without dispute / Throughout the realms of nonsense absolute. JMC finds this utterly unjust and defends him as a traveller who made a voyage from Lisbon to Brazil, 1646-50; other works cited are Loves Dominion (1654), the only one of his plays acted, reprinted as Loves Kingdom (1674 [?err; see CAB, infra]); Damoiselles a la Mode (1677), addressed to Duke and Duchess of Newcastle, and Sir W. Davenants Voyage to the Other World [n.d], both witty exposés of literary and dramatic foibles; witty and graceful epigram on Dryden by return; unpopularity with actors due to his attacks on the immorality of the stage; The Idea of His Highness Oliver [Cromwell], late Lord Protector (London: 1659) gives appreciative estimate of his character as soldier and statesman; also Ermina, or the Chaste Lady; The Marriage of Oceanus and Britannia; Epigrams and Enigmatical Characters (1670); Miscellanea (1653, being various kinds of poems and other pieces; Diarium, or the Journal, in 12 Jornadas, in burl. verse (London: 1656), 12o; Discourse on the English Stage; d. 1678. JMC selects 3-stanza song, Of Drinking [the fountains drink caves subterren/The rivulets drink the fountains dry // ... // By this who does not plainly see, / How in our throats at once is hurled-/Whilst merrily we drink be- / The quintessence of the world? / ... Let us too drink as well as they.]; On Travel [... The best of every country where they come; / Their language, manners, fashions, and their us, / Purged from their dross ... Or else return far worse by bringing home / The worst of every land where he does come.
Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946), cites Southey on Flecknoe: not the despicable writer that one might suppose him to be from the niche in which his mighty enemy has placed him [that is, in his role as Drydens King of Dullness]; quotes from MacFlecknoe, In prose and verse was ownd without dispute / Through all the realms of Nonsense absolute. In a note to Popes Dunciad (1751), which opens with the lines, High on the gorgeous seat that far outshone / Henleys gilt tub, or Flecknoes Irish throne [...], he is referred to as an Irish priest; visited by Andrew Marvell in Rome in 1645, writing satirical verses on his poetic and musical ineptitude. The evidence of his death date is in a poem of Drydens, dedicating his Limberham to Lord Vaughan, where he compares himself for worst poet in the world with Flecknoe, he of scandalous memory, who left it last. Walter Scott characterised him in his edition of Dryden as fitted for an incorrigible scribbler, by a happy fund of self-satisfaction, upon which neither the censures of criticism nor the united hisses of a whole nation could make the slightest impression. Kavanagh lists Loves Dominion, tragi-com. (Lincolns Inns Fields 1664) 1654; reissued in 1664 under the title Loves Kingdom and printed with prefixed Discourse of the English Stage, intended as a pattern for the reformed stage; comments, further, It was through his criticism of theatrical immorality that Flecknoe incurred the enmity of Dryden. Langbaine records that, whatever about its excellent Morality and its adherence to the three unities, it had the misfortune to be damned by the audience; constrainted to represent moral plots rendering Folly ridiculous, Vice odious, and Vertue and Noblenesse amiable and lovely. The essay includes a homage to Charles II; rep. in J. E. Spingarn, Critical Essays of 17th Century, Vol. ii, 91-96. [See Peter Kavanagh, Irish Theatre, 1946, Chap. IV.]
Margaret Drabble, ed., The Oxford Companion to English Literature (OUP 1986), notes that he was said to be Roman Catholic priest, interested in experimental forms, many of his works publ. privately; Miscellanea includes defence of stage, in Discourse upon Languages and a lament for the silence of the theatres under the Commonwealth; his Ariadne (1654) prob. first English opera, music - by himself - now lost; preface discusses the use of recitative showing him familiar with contemp. Italian developments; Loves Dominion, pastoral with songs (1654), performed privately on the continent; acted as Loves Kingdom after the Restoration; reputation for insipidity results from Marvells earlier satire (?1645) which suggested to Dryden his attack on Shadwell. SEE ALSO, sep. entry for Drydens MacFlecknoe, or A Satyr upon the True-Blew-Protestant Poet, T. S., poem, publ. 1682, def. edn. 1684, representing Shadwell as heir to the kingdom of dullness, currently [err] governed by the minor writer Flecknoe, it brilliantly exploits the crudity of Shadwells farces, notably The Virtuoso, ... &c. Note that the Sir Paul Hervey (Oxford Companion, 1967 edn.) reproduces ODNB short version verbatim [said to have been an Irish priest, &c].
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