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

Shepheards Oracles: Eclogue IIII. Nullifidius. Pseudo-catholicus.

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

Francis Quarles


In an eclogue filled with black humor, a scoffer and a high-church clergyman find common cause in making private gain from the Church. Pseudo-catholicus makes a long speech comparing pastoral duties to the art of falconry, by which the high and noble ones can be effectively educated to hunt for their trainers.

Robert Southey had apparently written to Charles Lamb about Quarles's eclogues about the time he was composing his own own "English Eclogues"; Lamb writes to him: "I am glad you have put me on the scent after old Quarles. If I do not put up those eclogues, and that shortly, say I am no true-nosed hound" 1798; in Letters, ed. Thomas Noon Talfourd (1837) 1:111-12.



NULLIFIDIUS.
Ho, Shepheard ho! What aile thine eyes to take
Such early slumbers? Shepheard, ho, awake:
Ho, Shepheard, ho! Lord how secure he lies!
What, not a word? For shame, for shame, arise:
Ho, Shepheard, ho! I think, his drouzy head
Is nail'd to th' ground, I think our Shepheard's dead:
Ho, Shepheard, ho!

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
I prithee leave thy hoing.

NULLIFIDIUS.
Then leave thy blowing, and disclose thine eyes:
Ho, Shepheard, ho! 'Tis time, 'tis time to rise:
Til thou leave snorting Swaine, I'le ne'er leave calling;
Ho, Shepheard, ho!

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
I prithee leave thy bauling.

NULLIFIDIUS.
Then Shepheard wake, there is a Wolf broke in
Among thy sheep; what fallen asleep agin?
Ho, Shepheard, ho!

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
I prithee, let me sleep,
P'sh, what care I for either Wolf or Sheep?

NULLIFIDIUS.
Look, Shepheard, look, here flowes a curious Cup
Of dainty sparkling Nectar, full charg'd up
To th' brim; see how her sprightly dancing bubbles
Defie degenerous feares, and the dull troubles
Of poore afflicted hearts; look how they swell
In proud disdain, as if they threaten'd Hell
With bold defiance, or would undertake
A prosperous duell with th'infernall Lake:
See how she mantles; see with what a grace
She lookes upon thee; smiles upon thy face:
Ho, Shepheard, ho!

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
I, there's a voice, would raise
A dying soule, and give the dead new daies;
I, there's a Rapture! what blest Angels tongue
Has broke my slumbers with so sweet a song?
What Nullifidius! O, the sweetest straine,
That e're was sung! But, where's the Nectar, Swaine?
Sure jolly Shepheard, Pan will turn my friend;
I never dreame, but still my dreames portend
Some good or other; As I lay asleep
Beneath this shrub, me thought my thirsty Sheep
Demanded water; in my troubled dreames,
Me thought I sent them to the flowing streames,
To drink their fill; with that, they made reply,
There is no water, for the streames are dry:
So having said, me thought that one among
The flock unstopt my Bottle, whence there sprung
Cleare crystall streames, that water did abound;
Me thought those streames no sooner felt the ground
But turn'd to blood; whereat being sore affraid,
Me thought, I Crost my selfe, and after said
Three Ave Maries, and three Creeds; and then,
The blood turn'd water, and grew cleare agen:
And there I wak'd, as I was e'en about
To dreame the rest: And now my dreame is out.

NULLIFIDIUS.
Faith, so's my Nectar, Swaine; my Nectar's ended;
Look, here's the Shrine, but the sweet Saint's ascended:
See'st thou this empty bottle? Hence did flow
Those rare, those precious streames of late; but now
Dri'd up; I sipt, and call'd, and sipt agin;
I told thee that a Wolf was broken in,
Among thy flocks, and yet no art could rate
Thee from thy slumbers, till it grew too late;
At last I rouz'd thee with a potent Charme;
Advanc'd my voice as stoutly as my arme,
I rais'd both arme and voice to th' height, and so
Thy slumber's ended, and my Nectar too.

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
The Cramp, the Murre, for ever blesse such armes
And tongues, that can attempt no earlier charmes.

NULLIFIDIUS.
Sure Pan's no friend of thine, that gives no theames
But Blood and Water to thy empty dreames:
Had'st thou but dream'd of Wine—. But Shepheard Swaine,
I have a project to re-entertaine
Thy next attempt; lye down and dreame againe;
Meane while, these hands shall be imploi'd to fill
My bottle at the foot of yonder hill;
I'le brim my bottle with those crystall streames;
(Second thoughts thrive, and why not second dreames?)
Perchance (deare Swain) those second dreams of thine,
May Transubstantiate Water into Wine.

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
I prithee doe, and swill it for thy paines:
'Twill wring thy bowels, ere it wrong thy braines.

NULLIFIDIUS.
You Roman Shepheards have prodigious dreames:
Can change your Bread to Flesh; your Wine to streames
Of purest Blood: You can convert a dish
Of Steakes to Roots; Surloines to Joules of Fish;
Your full cram'd Capons, on your Friday table
(As Shepheards saine, and Shepheards will not fable)
Forget their fleshly natures; their smooth skins
Turn to rough scales, their wings and legs to fins:
Plump Partridge turns to Pike; your smaller dishes
Of Quailes and costly Knots, to lesser fishes:
But tell me, Swaine, what meane your learned Schools
To tell such tales?

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
To make you Shepheards fools.

NULLIFIDIUS.
That's not the mark ye levell at, you glance
Your shafts but there, ye hit but there by chance;
Come tell me, Swaine, this shady place is free
From ill-digesting eares; here's none but we:
I have an Ewe, now grazing on my plain,
Whose bounteous Bags, thrice every day I strain,
Well struck in flesh, and of a noble race;
She has more white about her then her face:
Black is her fleece, but silk is not so soft,
Shee's th' onely glory of my fruitfull croft:
Repose this secret in my brest, and thou
Shalt be the owner of this dainty Ewe.

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
I know the Ewe; how fortune made her thine,
I know not; but, I'm sure, that Ewe was mine:
But come, my Swaine, I know thy peacefull brest
Is slow to strife; thou car'st not to contest
Of Shepheards Lawes; I know thou art none of those
That will maintain an argument with blowes:
I know, th' indifferent Faith does not rely
On stiffe opinion; That mans No, or I
Are both alike to thee; thou car'st not whether
It raine or shine; thy tongue keeps temperate wether:
And to say troth, but that that pretty thing,
Call'd Profit, lends a little fleeter wing
To our desires, no doubt but we should joine
In that good, honest, harmlesse way of thine:
I tell thee, Swaine, these darker clouds of ours
Are full of stormes, but send down golden showers:
Thou know'st, the vulgar sort are apt to admire
Things strange; what's most unlikely, they desire
Most to beleeve, and onely that applaud:
Now what we whisper they divulge abroad:
(For they are Fooles and Women most) whereby,
If ought be found i' th' Suburbs of a lye,
'Tis shuffled off from us, from whence it came,
And lai'd upon the common breath of Fame:
But seldom't comes to that; such fooles as they
(Bound to beleeve, not question what we say)
Ne'er sift our Tales too near, but make them good
(In spight of Reason) with their dearest blood:
All such, for feare lest wisdome should, by chance,
Get th' upperhand, we traine in Ignorance:
There's none must read a book, but onely he
That's able to corrupt as well as we:
But Shepheard, know, that these we keep so short,
Are but the women and the simpler sort;
These are our new-milch-cowes, that doe maintain
Our house, these bring but slow, yet constant gain:
Now, there's a wiser sort; but they attend
In higher regions; some their worths commend
(And some their fortunes) to superiour powers;
Some stand on their own legs, and some on ours:
These are our greater Pillars; men of action,
And stout maintainers of our prosperous faction:
These are our Plush Atturnies; these befriend
Our desperate suites; these day and night attend
Our thriving Causes, whil'st we sleep secure;
Nay, when our selfe made wounds, implore a cure,
These are our Surgeons too; these stand our baile,
If need require, and drag us from the Jayle.

NULLIFIDIUS.
But dearest Swaine, me thinks such high degrees
Of brave Atturnies should expect high fees:
Gamesters say, Nothing draw, if nothing stake,
And men of Plush are friends but where they take:
Sure, such Atturnies labour not for pleasure;
Tell me what pen'worths does their friendship measure?

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
Some, as I told thee, are of higher blood;
Some creatures of our owne, whom we thought good
To recommend; To those we crouch the knee,
And make a Catholique face; these ask no fee.

NULLIFIDIUS.
But tell me, Swaine, how come you to engage
Such great ones to your faction?

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
In this age,
The price of Pleasure's rais'd to a high pitch;
'Tis a faire traffique, now a daies, and rich
To those that sell; no gold is held too deare
To purchase but a Licence for a yeare,
To sin securely, or to swim in pleasure
But twice six monthes; the very height of treasure
Will stoop to this; our everlasting trade
Will ne'er be dead, till Sin and Pleasure fade.

NULLIFIDIUS.
But tell me Swaine, does any such foole dwell
Within our pale, that thinks you Swaines can sell
Such priviledg? Can any mortall heart
Be so befool'd?

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
Why, Shepheard, there's the art,
The depth of all our trade; whereon depends
The whole designe; whereby we work our ends:
When silly birds have toucht the twigs, who is't
That cannot hand and take them as they list?
Wherein t' acquaint thee fully, thou shalt know
Not onely what is done, but how we do;
I'le lay some grounds, and when those grounds be lai'd
Practice will make thee master in our trade:
Two sort of Birds doe use to make resort.
Into our cage. A wise, a simpler sort;
To those we teach Obedience; to these
Dark Ignorance, and Charity, when we please:
The simpler sort, are hatch'd, and bred our owne,
We clime their nests, and take them in their doune:
We feed them, and we bring them up by hand,
And make them infant Slaves to our Command;
We discipline them, teach them how to prate,
Like Parakitoes, words they know not what;
We keep them close, we never let them know,
The aiery freedome they were borne unto;
We teach them to forget their wilder note
They have b' instinct, and tune our songs by rote:
We onely keep them dark, and then, with ease
We make them sing what notes soe're we please:
They feed on Rape-seed, or the crums that fall
From off our trenchers at a Festivall:
But there's a wiser sort and such are they
That spread their stronger wings, and use to prey
For their own selves; that can behold the Sun,
Like Joves own bird, and when the day is done,
Can roost themselves; these kind of birds are wary
Where they frequent, their hagard eyes are chary
Near whom th' approach: for these the Shepherd plants
His close-laid Gins; their common food are Wants,
And sucking Lev'rets; often time they stoop
At their own shades, fly thousands in a troop:
We bait our Gins with fleshly Recreations,
Larded with Pardons, drest with Dispensations:
Oft times we take; but taken, there's the skill,
How to reclaim their wildnesse to our will:
At first, they'l strive and struggle out of breath;
If we use force, they'l beat themselves to death:
They will not brook the dark, whose Eagle eyes
Have view'd the Sun; Here, Swain, we must be wise;
They must have freedome, Shepheard, yet not so
But that their freedome may appeare to grow
From our permission then they must be fed
With dainties, whereunto they ne'er were bred;
And 'tis the nature of these birds to feed
So long, till their dull wings can find no speed,
Nor they, their wings; Howe'r, put case, they try
Their wings are clipt, unknown; they cannot fly;
Thus kept with feeding, and with gentle handing,
And made familiar with our wanton dandling,
They'l make themselves our Slaves, and in strong bands
Will yeild themselves close prisoners to our hands;
They'l fall before thee, and like water spilt,
Maist draw them with a finger where thou wilt:
Now we begin to work, our smoother brow
Growes more severe; our wanton favours, now,
Wax more reserv'd; they that before we dandled
Like looser Minions, they must now be handled
Like servill stuffe; they now must know their distance;
Where we command, there must be no resistance:
They must not question now; and what we say,
They must beleeve; what we enjoyne, obey:
These are the Hawks we fly with; and our Game
Is Gold and Glory, and an honour'd name:
These are the generous Spaniels that retrive
Imperiall Crownes, and swallow Kings alive:
The simpler sort maintain us plump and fat,
But these advance the Glory of our State:
The Eyas Faulcon's not so fierce in Game,
As th' high pitch'd Hagard, whom our hands reclaime:
These are brave dayes; and these brave dayes we live:
This is the trade that Roman Shepheards drive.

NULLIFIDIUS.
But tell me, Swaine, what busie eyes attend
Thy flocks the while? What courses doe they bend?

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
Graze where they please; if they will feed, they may;
Our Musick twangs upon a higher kay:
They doe but meerely serve to draw mens eyes
From spying where our greater profit lyes;
They are like Switches in a beggers hand,
To counterfeit a Calling; No, we stand
On higher termes; The habit of a Swaine
Seemes holy; gives advantage to obtaine
Those glorious ends, that we pursue so fast;
They must been chary, Swaine, that be not chast;
This russet thred-bare weed, that now I weare,
Can startle Monarchs, bow a Princes eare:
These very Hems be kist, and skirts ador'd:
And every Button shall command a Lord.

NULLIFIDIUS.
Farewell my Flocks; Goe seek another Swain:
Farewell my Office, and my glorious gain
Of twenty Marks per annum; I'le goe wash
More thriving cattel; leave to haberdash
In such small pedling wares; come jolly Swain,
I'le trade with thee, and try another strain:
We'l fish for Kingdomes, and Imperiall powers;
Come gentle Swaine, the Gold of Ophir's ours.

PSEUDO-CATHOLICUS.
No more, good Shepheard; It growes dark and late:
At th' Popes-head-taverne, there's a posterne gate
Will give us way; where flowing cups of wine
Shall re-confirme thy Brotherhood, and mine.

[pp. 36-47]