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Francis Meres

Francis Meres (1565 - January 29, 1647), English divine and author, was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565.

He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1587, and M.A. in 1591. Two years later he was incorporated M.A. of Oxford. His kinsman, John Meres, was high sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1596, and apparently helped him in the early part of his career. In 1602 he became rector of Wing in Rutland, where he had a school.

Meres rendered immense service to the history of Elizabethan literature by the publication of his Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury (1598). It was one of a series of volumes of short pithy sayings, the first of which was Politeuphuia: Wits Commonwealth (1597), compiled by John Bodenham or by Nicholas Ling, the publisher. The Palladis Tamia contained moral and critical reflections borrowed from various sources, and embraced sections on books, on philosophy, on music and painting, and a famous "Comparative Discourse of our English poets with the Greeke, Latin, and Italian poets." This chapter enumerates the English poets from Chaucer to Meres's own day, and in each case a comparison with some classical author is instituted.

The book was issued in 1634 as a school book, and has been partially reprinted in the Ancient Critical Essays (1811-1815) of Joseph Haslewood, Professor E. Arber's English Garner, and Gregory Smith's Elizabethan Critical Essays (1904). A sermon entitled Gods Arithmeticke (1597), and two translations from the Spanish of Luís de Granada entitled Granada's Devotion and the Sinners' Guide (1598) complete the list of his works.