The last collection that will claim our notice is that of Francis Quarles, which appeared posthumously in 1646 under the title of ’The Shepheards Oracles: Delivered in Certain Eglogues. The interest of the volume lies not so much in its poetic merit, which however is considerable, as in the fact that it deals with almost every form of religious controversy at a critical point in English history. Quarles was a stanch Anglican, and he lashes Romanists and Precisians with impartial severity. One of the eclogues opens with a panegyric on Gustavus Adolphus, in the midst of which a messenger enters bearing the news of his death, thus fixing the date of the poem in all probability in the winter of 1632-3. In the eleventh and last the Puritan party is mercilessly satirized in the person of Anarchus, in allusion to the supposed socialistic tendency of its teaching. He is thus described in a dialogue between Philarchus and Philorthus (the lovers of order and justice presumably):
Philor. How like a
Meteor made of zeal and flame
The man appears!
Philar. Or like
a blazing Star
Portending change of State, or some sad War,
Or death of some good Prince.
is the trouble
Of three sad Kingdoms.
the very Bubble,
The froth of troubled waters.
Fill’d with Errata’s of the present Age.
Philar. The Churches Scourge—
Philor. The devils Enchiridion—
Philar. The Squib, the Ignis fatuus of Religion.
To their address Anarchus replies in a song which it would be easy to illustrate from the dramatic literature of the time, and which well indicates the estimation in which the faction was popularly held. Here is one verse:
Wee’l down with all
Where Learning is profest,
Because they practise and maintain
The Language of the Beast:
Wee’l drive the Doctors out of doores,
And Arts what ere they be,
Wee’l cry both Arts, and Learning down,
And, hey! then up goe we.
The whole song for sheer rollicking hypocrisy is without parallel in the language. The date of the poem is doubtful, but Quarles lived till 1644, and after two years of civil strife the terms which the interlocutors in the above passage apply to the Puritan party can hardly be regarded as prophetic.
Besides the works we have examined above, several others are known to have existed, though they are not now traceable. Thus ’The sweete sobbes, and amorous Complaintes of Shepardes and Nymphes in a fancye confusde by An Munday’ was entered on the books of the Stationers’ Company on August 19, 1583. Two years earlier, on August 3, 1581, had been entered ’A Shadowe of Sannazar.’