1847 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Francis Quarles

Edward Farr, in Select Poetry, chiefly sacred, of the Reign of King James the First (1847) xx-xxi.



FRANCIS QUARLES was born in 1592, and died in 1642. He was a writer of the age of King James, and in that of Charles I. Those poems which he published within the period to which this volume refers, were, "A Feast for Wormes," "Pentelogia," "The History of Queen Esther," "Job Militant," "The Historie of Samson," "Sion's Sonets," "Sion's Elegies," and "Funerall Elegies," with some few minor poems. Of Quarles as a writer, Mr. Willmott remarks: "It has been the misfortune of this poet to realize his own aphorism, that 'Shame is the chronical disease of popularity, and that from fame to infamy is a beaten road.' The favourite of Lord Essex, and the sometimes darling of the 'plebeian judgments,' is n ow known to many only in the ridicule of Pope. But Quarles will live in spite of the Dunciad. His manly vigour, his uncompromising independence, his distinguished patriotism, and his exalted piety, cannot be entirely forgotten. These are flowers whose blossoms no neglect can wither." Perhaps the most popular poem of Quarles is his "Emblems," which first appeared in 1635, and which appears to have been imitations of some Emblems written in Latin by Herman Hugo, a Jesuit. The Emblems of Quarles were addressed to his "beloved friend Edward Benlowes," to whom he says, "You have put the therobo [a kind of lute] into my hand, and I have played: you gave the musician the first encouragement; the music returneth to you for patronage." From the various works of Quarles a rich volume of genuine poetry might be compiled, and should such a volume be published, it would redeem his name from the contempt into which it has so undeservedly fallen.