1662 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Quarles

Thomas Fuller, in History of the Worthies of England (1662) 1:334.



FRANCIS QUARLES Esquire, son to James Quarles Esquire, was born at Stewards, in the Parish of Rumford in this County [Essex], where his son (as I am informed) hath an Estate in expectancy. He was bred in Cambridge, and going over to Ireland, became Secretary to the Reverend James Ussher, Arch-bishop of Armagh. He was a most excellent Poet, and had a mind byassed to devotion. Had he been contemporary with Plato (that great back-friend to Poets,) he would not onely have allowed him to live, but advanced him to an office in his Common wealth.

Some Poets, if debarr'd profaness, wantonness, and Satyricalness, (that they may neither abuse God, themselves, nor their neighbours,) have their tongues cut out in effect. Others onely trade in wit at the second hand, being all for translations, nothing for invention. Our Quarles was free from the faults of the first, as if he had drank of Jordan instead of Helicon, and slept on Mount Olivet for his Pernassus, and was happy in his own invention. His visible Poetry (I mean his Emblems) is excellent, catching therein the eye and fancy at one draught, so that he hath out-Alciated therein, in some mens judgement. His Verses on Job are done to the life, so that the Reader may see his sores, and through them the anguish of his soul.

The troubles in Ireland, where his losses were great, forced his return hither, bearing his crosses with great patience; so that (according to the advice of Saint Jerome) Verba vertebat in opera, and practiced the Job he had described, dying about the year 1643.