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

Shepheards Oracles: Eclogue VII. Schismaticus. Adelphus.

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

Francis Quarles


Schismaticus, apparently a honey-tongued Puritan lecturer, boasts of the luxury he enjoyed in prison, and of his adventures in New England — as the previous eclogue was concerned with excesses in the liturgy, this considers excesses the preacher's rhetorical arts.

The tantalizing allegory appears to be personal. Young Adelphus, educated at Cambridge, may refer to Quarles's piscatory friend Phineas Fletcher, who would have faced temptations much like those described here. The details do not match, however, since Adelphus says "Seaven yeares compleat, I served a jolly dame | Yclept Cantabria," p. 74, while Fletcher was a Fellow at Cambridge from 1603-16 before serving as chaplain to Sir Henry Willoughby (1616-21). Yet Fletcher was certainly bitter, as appears from his own eclogues, and there is no mistaking Quarles's friendly allusion to The Purple Island (published 1633) as "The Isle of Man" p. 77. We do not know when or how Quarles or Fletcher met, or for that matter when this poem was written.

Thomas Babington Macaulay: "Those who roused the people to resistance, — who directed their measures through a long series of eventful years, — who formed, out of the most unpromising materials, the finest army that Europe had ever seen, — who trampled down King, Church, and Aristocracy, — who, in the short intervals of domestic sedition and rebellion, made the name of England terrible to every nation on the face of the earth, were no vulgar fanatics. Most of their absurdities were mere external badges, like the signs of free-masonry, or the dresses of friars. We regret that these badges were not more attractive. We regret that a body, to whose courage and talents mankind has owed inestimable obligations, had not the lofty elegance which distinguished some of the adherents of Charles I., or the easy good-breeding for which the court of Charles II. was celebrated. But, if we must make our choice, we shall, like Bassanio in the play, turn from the specious caskets, which contain only the Death's head and the Fool's head, and fix our choice on the plain leaden chest which conceals the treasure" "Milton" Edinburgh Review 42 (August 1825) 337-38.



SCHISMATICUS.
How fare thy Flocks, Adelphus? Doe they stand
All sound? And doe they prosper in thy hand?

ADELPHUS.
I hope they doe; their Pasture's green and fresh;
They'r of good bone, and meetly struck in flesh:
They bring faire Lambs, and fleeces white as snow,
Their Lambs are faire ones, and their fleeces too.

SCHISMATICUS.
What makes thee then so sad? Thy flocks so faire
And fleeces too, what makes thy fleece so bare?
Thy cheekes so hollow, and thy sides so thin,
As if thy girdle had been taken in
By famine, for the want of Belly stuffe
To fill them up?

ADELPHUS.
The Shepheard's fat enough
That owes the flock; I doe but dresse his vine,
And tread the Presse; 'tis he that drinks the wine.

SCHISMATICUS.
Art thou his Lad? Or do'st thou serve for Fee?
Wert ever bound to th' trade? Or art thou free?

ADELPHUS.
Seaven yeares compleat, I serv'd a jolly dame
Yclept Cantabria, whose illustrious name
Has fill'd the world, whose memorable Glory
Is made the subject of all Shepheards story:
For frolick Roundelayes, and past'rall Songs,
And all those quaint devises that belongs
To Shepheards mirth, she bore the bell away;
Had Thracian Orpheus liv'd to seen her day,
How had the glory of his Art been dim!
Sure, he had follow'd her, as beasts did him:
Seaven yeares I serv'd this jolly Dame, and she
At seaven yeares end was pleas'd to set me free:
Ere since I fisht in troubled streams, to get
Some poor imployment, as she thought me fit
(After my seaven yeares bonds) to entertain;
Out fisht my patience, and yet fisht again:
My float lay still, whil'st other anglers took:
Indeed, I fisht not with a golden hook,
As others did; whereby I was compel'd
To flag my sailes, which late ambition swel'd
Above the power of my purse, and serve,
Like a poore hireling: better stoop then sterve.

SCHISMATICUS.
'Tis true, Adelphus; times are grown so bad,
Without that hook, there's nothing to be had;
But say, young Swaine, what stipend does reward
Thy yearely paines? I know thy paines are hard.

ADELPHUS.
There's nothing cheaper now, then poor mens sweat;
Indeed my paines are not esteem'd too great
For twice ten yearly Royalls to requite,
And yet I ward all day, and watch all night.

SCHISMATICUS.
Gold, dearely purchas'd! Does thy paines obtain
No by-commendaes, no collaterall gain,
To raise and heighten up the slender wall
Of thy low fortunes?

ADELPHUS.
Shepheard, none at all;
And that which grieves me most, my straggling sheep
Are apt to roame abroad; they will not keep
Their owne appointed limits; But they stray,
Rambling some one; and some, another way:
They love to change, and wander, God knowes whither,
Like other flocks, they seldome feed together;
Whereby, to my great grief, they neither show their
Good will to me, nor loves to one another.

SCHISMATICUS.
Thou art but greene, Adelphus, and as yet
A very Novice in the trade of wit:
Time was, Adelphus, that my wants would whine
And whimper in poore rags as well as thine;
As small a girdle circled, and embrac'd
The empty casket of my hidebound wast;
My visage was as thin, my hollow cheeks
As faithfull Almanacks of Emberweeks;
But wise Experience, the beloved child
Of Time and Observation, soone exil'd
My green wit folly, and endu'd my heart
With the true knowledge of the Shepheards art;
She taught me new devises, to enrich
My flocks and me; (waies far above the pitch
Of plaine, and triviall wits, and far exceeding
The downright discipline of common feeding)
I tell thee, Swaine; before I learn'd this way,
My rambling flocks would never fadge to stay
Within my pastures; every thorne would beare
A costly witnesse that they had been there;
I sought about, but often sought in vaine;
Some would be lost, and ne'er come home againe:
Others, unsought for, would perchance return
With bags new strain'd, and fleeces newly shorn;
Some hang'd on crooked bryers, where, unfed,
Some were discover'd dying, others dead:
Thus being a foole, like thee, I lost my sheep;
They could not keep me, that I could not keep:
But when as wise Experience had school'd me,
And purg'd that common error that befool'd me,
My flocks could love their feed, and leave to roame;
In stead of straying, there would thousands come
From other folds, that daily su'd to be
Accounted mine; and own'd no Swaine, but me:
That in short time, my fold was grown so full
That lamb was held no dainty; and my wooll
Waxt so abundant, that one moity fill'd
A spacious room, which tother halfe did build.

ADELPHUS.
I envy not not thy wel-deserved store,
Ingenious Shepheard; I admire more
The secret of thy art, which if it be
To be repos'd, repose the trust in me:
My better'd fortunes, shall have cause to pay
Their vowes, and blesse thy soule another day.

SCHISMATICUS.
Come then, sit down, Adelphus, and attend;
Thou hast desir'd, thou hast obtain'd a friend,
Who, in a word, shall give thee briefe direction,
Wherein, thy practice must produce perfection:
There is a glorious Island, cal'd by name,
The Isle of Man, a place of noted fame
For Merchants trading, rich and fairely stor'd
With all that forain Kingdomes can afford;
Upon that Island is a City cal'd
By th' name of Kephalon, round, richly wal'd
With polisht Ivory, wherein does stand
The beauty and the strength of all the land;
At th' upper end of Microcosmos streit,
Neare to the Palace, where the Muses meet
In counsell, (as the heathnish Poets fain)
There dwels, (wel known to many a Shepheard swain)
A man, by trade a Gardner, hight by name
Phantasmus; one, whose curious hand can frame
Rare knots, and quaint devises; that can make
Confounding Labyrinths; will undertake
To carve the lively shapes of fowle or beast
In running streames; nay, what exceeds the rest,
Will make ye gardens full of dainty flowers,
Of strawberry banks, and sun-resisting bowers,
Like cobwebs flying in the flitting aire;
There is no seed of any thing that's rare,
Forein or native, which by sea or land,
Is not conveigh'd to his enquiring hand:
Among the rest, (to draw a step more neare
To what suspends thy long expecting eare)
This Gardner has a seed, which schollers call
Idea; sweet in tast, and very small;
It is a seed well known, and much despis'd
By vulgar judgments, but as highly priz'd
By men of art; a seed of wondrous might,
And soverain vertue, being us'd aright;
But most of all to Shepheards, that have care.
T' encrease their flocks, and keep their pastures faire.

ADELPHUS.
Neglect of what is good, is goods abuse:
But tell me how it makes for Shepheards use?

SCHISMATICUS.
This seed being scatter'd on the barest grounds,
Shoots up a sudden leafe, which leafe abounds
With pretious moisture; 'Tis, at first, but slender,
Like spiney grasse of nature soft and tender,
And apt to chill with every blast of aire,
Unlesse the skilfull Swaine take speciall care
To keep it close, and cover'd from the blast
Of Easterne winds; and then it thrives so fast,
And spreads abroad so rank, that frost nor fire
Can make it fade; and trod, it mounts the higher;
'Tis call'd Opinion; 'Tis a curious feed
That sheep doe most delight in, and indeed,
Is so delicious pleasing to the tast,
That they account it but a second fast
To feed, or graze on any food but that;
It makes them in a fortnights space as fat,
As full of thriving moisture, and appeare
As faire, as those that pasture all the yeare:
It is so fragrant, that the sent provokes
The lingring appetite of neighb'ring flocks
To prove unknown delight; nor hedge, nor ditch,
Can be a fence sufficient to the Itch
Of their invited stomacks; they will come
From other folds, and make thy fold their home.

ADELPHUS.
But wher's the profit, Shepheard, where's the gains?
He feedes but ill, that finds no price, but pains.

SCHISMATICUS.
He's but a silly Cook that wists not how
To lick his fingers; she deserves no Cow
That kens not how to milke; nor he, a fold,
That cannot sheare; he that complaines of cold,
And has a lib'rall woodstack in his yard,
May freeze, unpitied; and lament, unheard.

ADELPHUS.
True, gentle Shepheard; but ill gotten wealth
Ill thrives; better be cold then warm by stealth.

SCHISMATICUS.
Thou art a novice, Swaine, thou need'st not take
Ungiven; nor yet, with humble suits awake
Their charity; when they have found the smack
Of thy delicious pasture, thou shalt lack
No good, that they can give; on every bryer
They'l hang their fleeces for thee; they'l conspire
To yeane their jolly lambs within thy cot,
To make them thine; In briefe, what wil they not?

ADELPHUS.
But tell me, Shepheard, will this dainty feed
Make them but seeming fat, or fat indeed?

SCHISMATICUS.
What's that to us, if they appear but so?
Their Lambs are fair; their Fleeces white as snow;
They thrive; are fruitfull, and encrease our store;
What need a curious Shepheard question more?
What, if their skins be puft? no eye can see't;
What, if their flesh be ranck? Their Lambs are sweet:
If plump and fruitfull, whether bloat, or fat,
We take no care; let Butchers look to that:
They bear nor fleece, nor lamkin being flead;
Swain, 'tis the quick we live by, not the dead.

ADELPHUS.
But I have heard some learned Shepheards say,
There is a statute, that forbids this way
Of feeding sheep: there dwels, not far from hence,
A Shepheard, lately question'd for th' offence.

SCHISMATICUS.
Let tim'rous fooles fear statutes; Swain, I know
The worst that Statutes have the pow'r to doe;
They speak big words, will threaten to deprive,
Imprison, fine, and then perchance connive:
Twice have I star'd the stern-brow'd high Comission
In th' open face, in levell opposition;
The first time they depriv'd me of my Crook;
Dispoil'd me of my fruitfull flocks; they took
My thriving pastures from me; even proceeding
To the height of law, to bind my hands from feeding;
But 'twas no high Commission cords could tie
My hands so fast, in publique, but that I
Could slip the knot in private; I did keep
No flocks abroad; but, then, I hous'd my sheep;
I fed in Corners; slipt my wethers Bell
From off his lofty crest, that none could tell
Our secret meetings; There, my flocks would come,
Sometimes, perchance, and toll an Ewe from home,
T' enrich my Fold; and now my gaines were more,
Being thus depriv'd; then ere they were before:
But soon my private practice was discry'd
By a false-hearted brother, who envy'd
My prosp'rous state; and, under-hand did call
My yeelding cause to try a second fall
With th' high Commission, whose tempestuous blast
Confin'd me, fin'd me, and severely past,
Next market day, betwixt mine eares and me,
A firm divorce perpetually to be.

ADELPHUS.
Gain dearly bought! In my opinion, Swain,
The profit counterpoyses not the pain:
I hold more sweetnesse in a poor estate,
Then treasure, purchas'd at so deare a rate:
The day was fair, till the foul evening soil'd it;
The Play was good, untill the last Act spoil'd it:
'Tis a false Trade, that flatters at the first
With peace, and wealth, and makes last days the worst.

SCHISMATICUS.
Be not deceiv'd, Adelphus; bolts and chains
Make Shepheards pris'ners, but enlarge their gains:
Where wealth comes trowling, pains are princely sports;
Bands are but golde bracelets; Jails, but Courts;
I tell thee, Swain, (I speak it to the praise
Of Charity) I never breath'd such dayes,
As when the voice of law enjoyn'd my feet
To tread the curious Lab'rinth of the Fleet;
Full diet came, unsought; my bounteous dish
Deny'd no delicates, that flesh or fish
Could yeeld; the sporting Lamb, the frisking Kid,
The tripping Fawn, the sucking Lev'ret did
Present themselves before my smiling eyes,
A morning, or an evening sacrifice:
The Sea-born Sturgeon, and the broad-side Bream,
The wary Trout, that thrives against the stream;
The well-grown Carp, full laden with her spawn;
The scarlet Lobster, and the pricknos'd Prawn;
Oyle-steep'd Anchovis, landed from his brine,
Came freely swimming in red seas of wine;
The brawny Capon, and the full egg'd Hen,
The stream-fed Swan, the Malard of the Fen,
The coasting Plover, and the mounting Lark,
Furnisht my Table like an other Ark:
Come, come, Adelphus, prisons are no more
Then scare-bugs to fright children from the dore
Of their preferment; Linits in the Cage
Sit warm, and full, when Flyers feel the rage
Of Frost, and Famine; They can sit, and sing
Whilst others droop, and hang the feeble wing:
Besides, the name of Prison breeds remorse
In such as meerly know it by discourse;
It moves compassion from the tender City,
When we deserve their envy, more then pity.

ADELPHUS.
I, but me thinks, such bulk-improving ease,
Join'd with such pamp'ring delicates as these,
Should boulster up thy brawny cheeks, and place
Such lusty characters upon the face
Of prosp'rous welfare, that an easie eye
Could find no object for her charity.

SCHISMATICUS.
Who cannot force complaint without a grief,
May grieve in earn'st, and pine without relief:
When gentle Novices bring their bounties in,
We suck our cheeks, to make our cheeks look thin;
Put on our fustian night-caps, and compose
Strange rufull faces; whimper in the nose;
Turn up the eye, and justifie our Cause
Against the strictnesse of severer lawes;
O, how these tender-hearted fools partake
In our distresse! how sadly they will shake
Their sorrow-palsi'd heads, and sigh and whine,
To see poor hunger-bitten Christians pine
In the sad Jayle! whereas we spend the day
As frolick, feast, and sleep as soft as they.

ADELPHUS.
If Prisons be so gainfull, what offence
Took thy discretion to remove thee thence?

SCHISMATICUS.
Fair hopes of fairer fortunes; which, in short,
My tongue shall take the freedome to report;
There was a hopefull voyage (late intended
For new Plantation) to a place commended
By common voice, and blaz'd above all other
For fat, and fruitfull soile (the joyfull mother
Of fair and peacefull plenty) call'd by name
Nov' Anglia; If the partiall blast of fame
Be not too vainly lavish, and out-blowes
The truth too much, it is a Land that flowes
With milke and hony, and (conceiv'd of some)
By good manuring, may, in time, become
A second Land of Canaan; to which end
There is a holy people, that intend
To sell intire estates, and to remove
Their faithfull housholds thither, to improve
Their better'd fortunes, being resolv'd to keep
(As our forefathers did in Canaan) sheep;
This hopefull voyage was the cord, that drew me
From Prison; but this voyage overthrew me:
I thought that my delicious kind of feed
Had bin a dainty there; I thought, my seed
Had bin unknown in that unplanted clime;
I hop'd, that in the small extent of time,
(Being out of reach of Law, and uncontroll'd
By high Commissions) my frequented Fold
Might soon ingrost the flocks of every soile,
And made me supream Lord of all the Isle;
But when I came to practice, every Swain
Was master of my Art, and every Plain
Brought forth my secret; now, the common Pasture
Of all the Land; and every Hind's a Master.

ADELPHUS.
Thanks, gentle Shepheard, for thy fair discourse;
The fiery Chariot now declines her course,
And hot-mouth'd Phlegon bowes his Crest, to coole
His flaming nosthrils in the Western Poole:
My closed lips must plead a debt, and pray
Your courteous patience till another day;
I fear, my flocks will think their Swain too bold
To keep them longer from their quiet Fold.

[pp. 73-86]