1633 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Shepheards Oracles: Eglogue II. Brito. Luscus.

The Shepheards Oracles: Delivered in Certain Eglogues. By Fra: Quarles.

Francis Quarles


The second eclogue is flighting contest between an Anglican and Roman Catholic. Brito and Luscus rehearse the chief points of controversy: the Catholic church impoverishes its parishioners, while the Protestant churches are given to faction. The hostilities are opened by the Anglican clergyman who sets out to expose the hypocrisy of his opponent. Though reluctant to be drawn, Luscus rises to a fine retort.

George Saintsbury: "I should be very sorry both as a student and as a lover of literature not to possess Davies, Breton, Quarles, and the rest, and not to read them from time to time. But I cannot help warning those who are not professed students of the subject that in such writers they have little good to seek; I cannot help noting the difference between them and other writers of a very different order, and above all I cannot help raising a mild protest against the encomiums which are sometimes passed on them" History of Elizabethan Literature (1887; 1909) 292-93.

W. W. Greg: "Quarles was a staunch Anglican, and he lashes Romanists and Precisians with impartial severity" Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama (1906) 118.



BRITO.
Graze on my Lambs, here's nothing to disquiet
Your gentle peace, or interupt your diet:
Why croud ye thus so neer your frighted dams?
Here's neither Wolf, nor Fox; Graze on, my Lambs:
Graze on, my Sheep; why gaze ye to and fro,
As if ye fear'd some evill? Why gaze ye so?
What serves your Shepheard for, if not to keep
Your hearts secure from feares? Graze on, my sheep:
Forbeare my Lambs, to feare ye know not what,
And feed; your feeding makes your shepheard fat:
But who comes yonder? 'Seemes farre off to be
Our creeping Shepheard Luscus: and 'tis he:
I thought my Lambs had something in the wind,
They left to graze and lookt so oft behind:
They love that Luscus, on the selfe same manner,
As dogs, by' instinct of nature, love the Tanner:
See here he comes: Lord, how my lambs divide
Their eching paces to the farther side!

LUSCUS.
The blessed Virgin, and S. Francis keep
The joviall Shepheard, and his jolly sheep.

BRITO.
Would not the blessed Virgins blessing doe,
Without the blessing of S. Francis too?

LUSCUS.
Why, captious Brito, Store is held no Sore;
And two Saints blessings make us blest the more.

BRITO.
Is Luscus, then, my soule two blessings deep,
Or am I joyn'd in Patent with my sheep?
But tell me now, my Saint-imploring brother,
One Cypher being added to another,
What makes the totall summe?

LUSCUS.
No summe at all.

BRITO.
Such were the blessings, thy late tongue let fall:
But 'twas thy blinded love, and, to repend thee;
That blessed Virgins blessed Son amend thee:
But say, what ayl'st thou, Luscus, that thy skin
Appeares so course, and thy pale cheekes so thin?
Me thinks thine eyes are dim, those eyes of thine,
That lately were so radiant, and did shine
Like blazing starres, (which oftentimes foreshow
The fall of some great Prince, or overthrow
Of prosperous States) how dull, how dead they look!
As if the style of some new-answer'd Book
Had overwatch'd them, or thy hollow cheek
Had been at buffets with an Ember week.

LUSCUS.
Plump faces, Brito, are esteem'd the least
Of Shepheards care; Good Shepheards may not feast,
They must bin sober, keep their bodies chast;
A Shepheards calling is to watch and fast:
Their lips must tast no Cates, their eyes, no sleep;
Such diet, Brito, Roman Shepheards keep.

BRITO.
Or should, good Luscus: Shepheards love their ease
Too well, to make a dye of that disease:
Their faces are not alwayes faithfull signes
Of hide-bound Ribs, and narrow wasted loynes:
Shepheards can make Good-friday on their Cheeke,
When their full hearts, at home, keep Easter weeke.

LUSCUS.
Curse on those Shepheards, that bin so untrue.

BRITO.
That Curse, I feare, belongs to some of you:
Your Roman faces can look thin, by art,
Their eye can weep teares, strangers to their heart.

LUSCUS.
Rash are those censures, and those words misguided,
Where Hearts and Charity, are so farre divided:
But tell me, Brito; what have we misdone
To earne so sharp a censure? Whereupon
Ground'st thou thy harsh conceit? what has our nation
Committed, worthy of so foul taxation?

BRITO.
I'le tell thee if thy patience will but lend
A quiet eare; Plain dealing speakes a friend.

LUSCUS.
Speake freely then, Luscus shall find an eare;
Thou shalt not speake, what Luscus will not heare.

BRITO.
When our great Master-shepheard, (under whom
We serve, being substituted in his roome)
Forsooke this vale, and tooke his journey on,
To take possession of his fathers Throne,
He cal'd his under Shepheards, to whose care
He lent his flocks, (those flocks he priz'd more deare
Then his owne life) to them he recommended
The highest trust that ever yet depended
On care of man: To them he did enlarge
His strict Commands, to execute that charge,
With greatest faith and loyalty, to keep
His Lambs from danger, and to feed his Sheep;
Nay, Luscus, the more fully to declare
His gracious pleasure, and his tender care
In that behalfe, what his desire did move
His zeale did quicken on the Bands of love;
Nay more, that word, whose accent had the power
To ruine Heaven and Earth, and, in one hower,
To build a thousand more, (whose very breath
At the first motion could blow life or death)
He thrice repeated, O my Shepheards keep
My Flocks; O feed my Lambs; O fold my Sheep:
Yet did our bounteous Master not regard.
His good alone; our Pan was not so hard,
(Although our lifes, and all that we enjoy
Lye prostrate at his pleasure) to imploy
The busie hands of us poore Shepheard swaines,
Or to require our unrewarded paines:
He gives us peace, and freedome; He sustaines us
With full and wholsome diet; He maintaines us
In needfull raiment; keeps us sound in health;
Gives us content; the very height of wealth:
Besides, at every Shearing he allowes
A golden Girland, to adorne our browes;
And when our faithfull hands shall give account
Of our improv'd endeavours, we shall mount
Into our Masters joy, where, being drest
In Robes, and Crownes, we shall enjoy that rest,
Prepar'd for faithfull Shepheards, and there sing
Perpetuall Past'rals to our Shepheard-King:
But they whose slumbring eyes have misattended
Their wandring flocks, whose hands have not defended
Their worried lambs, those Shepheards shal make good
Their owne defaults, with their owne dearest blood.

LUSCUS.
Brito, this night, the Moone begins to gain
Her waned light; I feare, she threatens rain;
These busie Gnats, I doubt, conspire together,
To bring us tidings of some change of weather.

BRITO.
Luscus, 'twere much for faithlesse Shepheards ease,
If no worse Gnats might suck their blood then these.

LUSCUS.
The Sun shines hot; the Southern wind blows warme:
But kindly showers would do these grounds no harme.

BRITO.
Lesse harme, good Luscus, (if my thoughts bin true)
Then this discourse (which you so baulk) does you:
We talk of Shepheards; our discourse relates
Of thriving flocks; and you of Showres and Gnats:
A pleasing subject may command your eare,
But what you like not you are slow to heare:
A Roman Swain can heare, and yet can choose;
His eares, like Jugglers, can play fast and loose,
For his advantage, nay, (and what appeares
More strange) he can be deaf to what he heares.

LUSCUS.
What ayles this peevish Shepheard? I attended
Till I was tyred, and his Tale was ended;
What would'st thou more with my obtunded eare?

BRITO.
That, Shepheard, which thou seem'st so loth to heare;
That, which observed with attentive heed,
Will make thy heart-strings crack, and thy heart bleed.

LUSCUS.
Speake, Shepheard, then, whilst I renew my eare:
A Roman spirit scornes a childish Feare.

BRITO.
I, Luscus, 'tis the want of Childish feare
That makes thee lend a fear-disdaining eare:
Thou art a Shepheard; (else, the fouler shame
T' usurp the honour of so high a name)
A Roman Shepheard too, that does professe
To feed the flock; and yet does nothing lesse;
You take the croppe; your flocks, alas, but gleane,
And what makes you so fat, makes them so leane;
God knows you feed your selves: by what Commission
Plough you those Pastures, for your owne provision,
Which our good Shepheard sever'd out, to keep
And to maintaine his poore deceived sheep?
Who gave you licence thus, bold Swaines, to pinch
Your Masters gracious bounty, and to inch
His bounteous favours, that can but allow
The Headlands, but the margents of your Plough,
To feed so faire a flock? Nay, more then so,
They are forbid those slender Headlands too,
Untill the slow-pac'd sythe, has shorne them downe
So late, that winter flouds have overflowne
Their saplesse swaths, and fill'd them so with sand
And earthy trash, brought downe from th' upper land
By th' unresisted current of the flood,
That 'tis but flatter'd with the name of food:
Nay, more then that, poore flocks, they are forbid
To feed at large, as heretofore they did,
They must be tether'd now, must be bereaven
Of the sweet moysture, of the dew of heaven:
Nor must their slender food be simply such
As heaven had made it; no, 'tmust have a touch
Of new Invention, which our wise God Pan
Ne're thought on; since, devis'd by wiser man:
It must be mingled with fast growing Flagges,
Mire-rooted rushes, sweet'ned with the Bragges
Of pious Thrift; nor must the hungry flocks
Take what they please; it must be serv'd in Locks,
And Ostry Bottles; neither when they would
They must be fed, nor yet with what they should:
To day, they must be dieted, and fast
From common food; no lesse then death, to tast:
To morrow, pamper'd with excesse, (and nurst
With a full hand) may ravin till they burst:
Brave Shepheards, Luscus; fit to serve such flocks!
Where you command, Lambs need not feare the Fox.

LUSCUS.
No wonder, Brito, that your Censures be
So sharpe to us, that so much disagree
Among your selves: you Britain Shepheards are
So strangely factious, that you would even jarre
With your owne shadowes, had no substance been
Subjected to the venome of your spleen:
Look, first at home, and seek to reconcile
Your selves, that mixe like Vineger with Oyle;
Then snarle: Till heaven shall send you such a season,
It is your Faction speakes, and not your Reason.

BRITO.
We have our factions, Swaine, you speake but true;
They must have Itch that touch such Blanes as you:
You broach new fangles; you devise new waies,
And give more licence to licencious daies:
You limit, you distinguish as you please;
You take no paines but in contriving ease,
And plotting how to pamper Flesh and Blood,
Masking true Evills with apparent Good:
Thus you corrupt our Shepheards, and even those
That of themselves are apt enough (God knowes)
To love their eases; Shepheard, when we jarre
Among our selves, we doe but onely warre
Against your Doctrines, which too much encrease
Among us: No, such warres conclude a Peace.

LUSCUS.
Our doctrines, Brito? Recollect thy thought,
Whose doctrin was it, that Swaine Luther taught?
Who taught your wisdomes to forsake your flocks,
And let them ramble on the barren Rocks,
And wander God knowes where? who taught your hearts,
(More hard then Marble) those well practis'd arts
Of cruell Piety, to prize Conceit,
And wilde Opinion at a higher rate
Then all their lives, and rather beare the losse
Of your whole flocks, then brand them with a Crosse,
Our Masters Sheepmarke? These conceits are yours,
Good Britain Swaine; These doctrines were not ours.

BRITO.
Fanne not my smoth'ring Fiers, lest their flame
Torment your neighb'ring shins: should I but name
The Tithe of that base dunghill trash, brought in
By your Dominicans, scaveng'd out agin
By worse Franciscans; the perpetuall Jarres
Twixt your hot Jesuits and your Seculars;
How Thomas snarles at Scotus; and how hee
Snarles back at Thomas; how your new Decree
Confronts the old; and how your last does smother
The first; and how one Councell thwarts another;
'Twould stop your mouth, and make you scorn the schooles,
Or wisely pray for more encrease of fooles:
But to conclude, the Shepheards charge is given
To us; and if an Angel come from heaven,
And teach new wayes, whose rules should disaccord
From what our Master-shepheard left by word
To our performance, I would teach mine eare
A scornfull deafnesse; or (if forc'd to heare)
My tongue should find the courage to defye
His words, and boldly give his face the lye:
But see! the treble shades begin to damp
The moystn'd earth; and the declining Lamp
Invites our lips to silence; day growes old:
'Tis time to draw our willing flocks to fold:
Hark, hark, my Wether rings his evening bell;
I must away.

LUSCUS.
Shepheard Good night.

BRITO.
Farewell.

[pp. 13-23]