John Fletcher

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That soul that can
Be honest is the only perfect man.

John Fletcher (baptized 1579-12-20 - died in August 1625) was a Jacobean playwright. After William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, he was one of the most prolific and influential of the Jacobean dramatists. In succession to Shakespeare, he became the chief dramatist for the leading company of London, the King's Men.


  • O woman, perfect woman! what distraction
    Was meant to mankind when thou wast made a devil!
    • Monsieur Thomas (1639), Act. III, sc. i.
  • Man is his own star, and the soul that can
    Render an honest and a perfect man
    Commands all light, all influence, all fate.
    Nothing to him falls early, or too late.
    Our acts our angels are, or good or ill,
    Our fatal shadows that walk by us still.
    • The Honest Man's Fortune (1647), epilogue. Compare: "Every man hath a good and a bad angel attending on him in particular all his life long", Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy, part i. sect. 2, memb. 1, subsect. 2.
  • That soul that can
    Be honest is the only perfect man.
    • The Honest Man's Fortune (1647), epilogue. Compare: "An honest man's the noblest work of God", Alexander Pope, Essay on Man, epistle iv. line 248.
  • Weep no more, nor sigh, nor groan,
    Sorrow calls no time that's gone;
    Violets plucked, the sweetest rain
    Makes not fresh nor grow again.
    • The Queen of Corinth (1647), Act III, sc. ii. Compare: "Weep no more, Lady! weep no more, Thy sorrow is in vain; For violets plucked, the sweetest showers Will ne'er make grow again", Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, "The Friar of Orders Gray".
  • Of all the paths lead to a woman's love
    Pity's the straightest.
    • The Knight of Malta (1647), Act I, sc. i.
  • There is no jesting with edge tools.
    • The Little French Lawyer (1647), Act IV, sc. vii.
  • Let's meet and either do or die.
    • The Island Princess (1647), Act II, sc. iv. Compare: "Let us do or die", Robert Burns, Bannockburn; same in Thomas Campbell, Gertrude of Wyoming, part iii. stanza 37.
  • Hence, all you vain delights,
    As short as are the nights
    Wherein you spend your folly!
    There's naught in this life sweet
    But only melancholy;
    O sweetest melancholy!
    • The Nice Valor (1647), Melancholy. Compare: "Naught so sweet as melancholy", Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy.

Rollo, Duke of Normandy (1639)

  • Drink today, and drown all sorrow;
    You shall perhaps not do't tomorrow.
    • Act II, sc. ii.
  • And he that will to bed go sober
    Falls with the leaf in October.
    • Act II, sc. ii. The following well-known catch, or glee, is formed on this song: "He who goes to bed, and goes to bed sober, Falls as the leaves do, and dies in October; But he who goes to bed, and goes to bed mellow, Lives as he ought to do, and dies an honest fellow".
  • Three merry boys, and three merry boys,
    And three merry boys are we.
    As ever did sing in a hempen string
    Under the gallows tree.
    • Act III, sc. iii. Compare: "Three merry men be we", George Peele, Old Wives' Tale, 1595. John Webster (quoted), Westward Hoe, 1607.
  • Hide, oh, hide those hills of snow
    Which thy frozen bosom bears,
    On whose tops the pinks that grow
    Are of those that April wears!
    But first set my poor heart free,
    Bound in those icy chains by thee.
    • Act V, sc. ii. Compare: " Take, O, take those lips away, That so sweetly were forsworn; And those eyes, the break of day, Lights that do mislead the morn: But my kisses bring again, bring again; Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain", William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure.


  • All things that are
    Made for our general uses are at war,—
    Even we among ourselves.
    • Upon an "Honest Man's Fortune."
  • Hit the nail on the head.
    • Love's Cure, Act ii. Sc. 1.
  • I find the medicine worse than the malady.
    • Love's Cure, Act iii. Sc. 2. Compare: "The remedy is worse than the disease", Francis Bacon, Of Seditions.
  • He went away with a flea in 's ear.
    • Love's Cure, Act iii. Sc. 3.
  • Fountain heads and pathless groves,
    Places which pale passion loves.
    • The Nice Valour. Act iii. Sc. 3.
  • Something given that way.
    • The Lover's Progress, Act i. Sc. 1.
  • Deeds, not words.
    • The Lover's Progress, Act iii. Sc. 4. Compare: "Deeds, not words", Samuel Butler, Hudibras, part i, canto i, line 867.

See also

Beaumont and Fletcher
The Two Noble Kinsmen

External links

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