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

Shepheards Oracles: Eclogue VIII. Anarchus. Canonicus.

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

Francis Quarles


The eighth eclogue contains particularly nasty exchange of insults between a Puritanical tailor and a member of the established church. After disputing the Book of Common Prayer, the liturgy, and the status of reason ("Art me no Arts"), Francis Quarles takes up the unsavory life of Anarchus, who fled to Amsterdam when the tailor's servant (herself given to sermonizing) began to grow long around the waist.

Edmund Gosse: "Although the general impression of Quarles is that he was a Puritan, a Nonconformist, and a Radical, the exact opposites were the case. He was a gentleman of good family, a strong Church-and-State man throughout life, a loyal and even impassioned supporter of the king. Such were his private convictions; but the tendency of his multitudinous verses is wholly in the other direction, and if he had been born a little later, it is not easy to believe that he could have failed to be a roundhead" The Jacobean Poets (1894) 189.



ANARCHUS.
Graze on my sheep; and let your soules defye
The food of common shepheards; Come not nigh
The Babylonish Pastures of this Nation;
They are all heathenish; all abomination:
Their Pastors are prophane, and they have trod
The steps of Belial, not the ways of God.
You are a chosen, a peculiar crew,
That blessed handfull, that selected few
That shall have entrance; set apart and gifted
For holy exercises, cleans'd and sifted,
Like Flowre from Bran, and separated from the Coats
Of the unsanctified, like sheep from goats.
But who comes here? My Lambs, why graze ye thus?
Why stand yee frighted? 'Tis Canonicus.

CANONICUS.
God-morrow, Swain; God keep thee from the sorrow
Of a sad day; What speechlesse? Swain, God-morrow:
What, Shepheard, not a word to entertain
The wishes of a friend? God morrow, Swain:
Not yet? What mean these silent Common places
Of strange aspects? what mean these antick faces?
I fear, his costive words, too great for vent,
Stick in his throat; how like a Jack-a-lent
He stands, for boyes to spend their shrovetide throws,
Or like a Puppit, made to frighten Crows!

ANARCHUS.
Thou art a limb of Satan; and thy throat
A sink of poyson; thy Canonicall coat
Is nothing but a Liv'ry of the Beast;
Thy language is prophane, and I detest
Thy sinfull greetings, and that heath'nish fashion
Of this your Antichristian salutation;
In brief, God keep me from the greater sorrow
Of thee; and from the curse of thy God-morrow.

CANONICUS.
How now, Anarchus? Has thy hungry zeale
Devoured all thy manners at a meale?
No Scraps remain? Or has th' unfruitfull year
Made charity so scarce, and love so dear,
That none's allow'd, upon the sleight occasion
Of enterview, or civill salutation?
Is thy store hoarded up? or is it spent?
Wilt thou vent none? or hast thou none to vent?
The curse of my God-morrow? Tis most true,
Gods blessing proves a curse to such as you.

ANARCHUS.
To such as we? Goe, save your breath, to blow
Your vain Cathedrall Bagpipes; and bestow
Your triviall pray'rs on those that cannot pray
Without their spectacles; that cannot say
Their unregarded prayers, unlesse they hold
The Let'ny, or the charms of Sorrocold
Before their purblind eyes; that disinherit
Their soules of freedome, and renounce the Spirit;
Perchance, your idle prayers may finde an eare
With them; Go spend your vain God-morrows there.

CANONICUS.
Art thou thy self, Anarchus? Is thy heart
Acquainted with that tongue, that does impart
This brain-sick language? Could thy passion lend
No sleighter subject, for thy breath to spend
Her Aspine venome at, but that, alone,
That shuts and opens the Eternall Throne
Of the Eternall God? Is prayer become
So poor a guest, to be deny'd a roome
In thy opinion? To be scorn'd, contemn'd,
Like school-boyes Theams, whose errors have condemn'd
The guilty Truant to the Masters Rod?
Can that displease thee, that delights thy God?

ANARCHUS.
Thou childe of wrath, and fierbrand of Hell,
Flows wholesome water from a tainted Well?
Or can those prayers be pleasing, that proceed
From unregen'rate breasts? Can a foul weed
Delight the smell? or ugly shapes, the view?
I say, your prayers are all prophane, like you;
They'r like that heath'nish Ruffe of thine, that perks
Upon thy stiffe-neckt coller, pranckt with Ferks
Of studied wit, startcht with strong lines, and put
In a set Form, of th' Antichristian Cut.

CANONICUS.
Consult with Reason, Shepheard, and advise;
Call home thy Senses; and cast back thine eyes
On former dayes; No doubt, but there were they
That liv'd as sanctimonious, that could pray,
Lift up as holy hands, and did inherit
As great a share, and freedome of the Spirit,
As you; and these could count it no disgrace
To their profession, in a publique place,
To use set Forms; did not their wisdomes doe
What you contemn, nay more prescribe it too,
(Yet neither quench'd, nor wrong'd the sacred motion
Of the prompt Spirit) as helps to dull devotion?
Nay, more, Has not th' unanimous consent
Of all reformed Churches (to prevent
Confused babling, and to disenorm
Prepost'rous Service) bred us to a Form
Of Common Prayer; Prayers so divinely penn'd,
That humane Eloquence does even contend
With heavenly Majesty, whilst both conspire
To kindle zeal, and to inflame desire?

ANARCHUS.
The Book of Common Prayer? what tell'st thou me
Of that? My soul defies both that and thee:
Thou art Baals Priest; and that vain Book's no more
Then a meer Relique of the Romane Whore:
Me thinks a Christian tongue should be asham'd
To name such trash; I spit to hear it nam'd:
Tell me of Common Prayers? The midnight yelp
Of Bal my Bandog is as great a help
To raise devotion in a Christians breast,
As that; the very language of the Beast;
That old worn Masse-book of the new Edition;
That Romish rabble, full of Superstition;
That paper Idol; that inchaunting Spell;
That printed Image, sent from Rome, from Hell;
That broad-fac'd Owle, upon a carved Perch;
That Bel and Dragon of the English Church.

CANONICUS.
Be not too lavish, Shepheard; half this stuffe
Will make a Coat, to prove thee fool enough:
Hold, hold: thy brain-sick language does bewray
The self-same spirit, whether rayle or pray:
For fooles that rave, and rage, not knowing, why,
A scourge is far more fit, then a reply
But say, Anarchus, (If it be not treason
Against discretion, to demand a reason
From frantick tongues) resolve me, Shepheard, why
This book is grown so odious in thine eye?

ANARCHUS.
Because it is an Idoll, whereunto
You bend your idle knees, as Papists doe
To their lewd Images.

CANONICUS.
I; but we pray
Not to, but by it;

ANARCHUS.
Just so, Papists say:
Say, in what place th' Apostles ever did
Command Set Forme?

CANONICUS.
Where was Set Forme forbid?
What Text commanded you to exercise
Your Function over Tables? Or baptise
In Basons? What Apostle taught your tongue
To gibe at Bishops? Or to vex and wrong
Your Mother Church? Who taught yee to oppose
Your Rulers? Or to whimper in the nose?
But since you call for Precedents, (although
'Tis more then our safe practice need to show)
Read, to what Blessing that blest Saint commends
The holy Church, saluted at the ends
Of all his sweet Epistles; Or if these
Suffice not, may your greater wisdomes please
To step into the Law, and read th' expresse
Commanded Form, wherein the Priest must blesse
The parting people; Can thy brazen brow
Deny all this? What refuge have yee now?
Y' are gone by Law and Gospel; They both us'd
Set Forme; What Scripture now must be abus'd?

ANARCHUS.
Well, if the Lord be pleased to allow
Set Formes to Prophets, are they set to you?
Or have yee so much boldnesse to compare
A Prelats pratling, to a Prophets Pray'r?

CANONICUS.
O, that some equall hearer now were by
To laugh his treble share, as well as I!
Examples are demanded; which, being given,
We must not follow: Giddy brains! bereaven
Of common sense! Where heaven does make no mention,
You style it with the term of mans invention:
Where heaven commandeth, and is pleas'd to hallow
With blest Examples, there we must not follow.

ANARCHUS.
So heaven (by blest Examples) did enjoin,
Your bended knees to worship Bread, and Wine?

CANONICUS.
When your crosse-garted knees fall down before
Your Parlour-Table, what doe you adore?

ANARCHUS.
So heaven commands, by conjuring words to bring
Vow'd hands together, with a hallow'd Ring?

CANONICUS.
'Tis true; your fiery zeals cannot abide
Long circumstance; your doctrine's, Up and Ride.

ANARCHUS.
So heaven commanded, that religious praise
Be given to Saints, and worship to their dayes?

CANONICUS.
Whom you contemn, because they did not preach
Those Doctrines, that your Western Parlours teach.

ANARCHUS.
So heaven commanded Bishops, and the rest
Of that lewd Rank, ranck members of the Beast?

CANONICUS.
I, heaven commanded such, and gave them power
To scourge, and check such ill-pac'd Beasts as you are:

ANARCHUS.
So heaven commanded, that the high Commission
Should plague poor Christians, like the Inquisition?

CANONICUS.
Your plagues are what your own behaviours urge;
None, but the guilty, raile against the Scourge.

ANARCHUS.
So heaven commands your prayers, that buried dust
Of Whores and Theeves should triumph with the Just?

CANONICUS.
Man may not censure by externall view;
Forbear; we, sometimes, pray for some of you.

ANARCHUS.
So heaven commands your Paintings, Pipes, and Copes,
Us'd in your Churches, and ordain'd by Popes?

CANONICUS.
Where Popish hands have rais'd in every Town
A Parish Church, shall we pull Churches down?
But come, Anarchus, let us leave to play
At childish Pushpin; Come, let not the day
Be lost in Trifles, to a fruitlesse end;
Let's fall to hotter service, and contend
By more substantiall argument, whose weight
May vindicate the truth from light conceit;
Let's try a Syllogisme; (Art infuses
Spirit into the children of the Muses)
Whereby, stout error shall be forc'd to yield,
And Truth shall sit sole Mistresse of the Field.

ANARCHUS.
Art me no Arts; That which the Sp'rit infuses
Shall edge my tongue: What tell'st thou me of Muses,
Those Pagan Gods; the Authours of your Schismes?
Pish! tell not me of Arts, and Silisismes;
I care not for your Quirks, and new devices
Of studied wit: We use to play our prizes,
With common weapons; and, with downright knocks,
We beat down sin, and error, like an Oxe;
And cut the throat of heath'nish Pop'ry too,
Like Calves, prepar'd for slaughter; so we doe:
We rash in sunder Heresie, like an Ell
Of Sarc'net, then convey it down to Hell:
We take just measure of a Christians heart,
By th' yard of Judgement; then, by dextrous Art,
We cut out doctrines, and from notch, to notch
We fit our holy Stuffe, (we doe not botch
Like you; but make it jump, that it be neither
Too wide nor straight) then stitch it up together,
And make a Robe of Sanctity, to fit
The childe of Grace; we medle not with wit:
These be the meanes that overthrow our Schismes,
And build Religion, without Sigilismes.

CANONICUS.
A rare device! But tell me, wert thou made
A Butcher, or a Tayler by thy trade?
I look'd for Schollership; but it appears,
Hoods make no Monks; nor Beards, Philosophers.

ANARCHUS.
Surely, I was, at first, by Occupation,
A Merchant Tayler, till that leuder fashion
Of Spanish Cassocks grew into request;
When having left that Calling, I profest
T Chaunler, where I was enforc'd to vent
That hellish smoake, whose most unsavory scent
Perfum'd my garments so, that I began
To be conceiv'd an Unregenerate man:
Which cal'd me from that course or life, to trade
In tape and inckle; ere I year'd and day'd
This new imployment, O a strange mischance
Ore threw my dealings, which did disadvance
My meane estate; and whereupon, I fled
To Amsterdam, where being trencher-fed
By holy Brethren, liv'd in great respect,
Sr Rev'rence, footing stockings for th' Elect:
Surely the savour of the Brethrens feet,
Perfum'd with commings in, is very sweet:
There, twise six monthes I had not led my life,
But I became an Husband to an Wife,
The widow of an Elder; in whose stead,
I was, (though I could neither write, nor read)
Accounted worthy (though I say't) and able
To preach the Gospel at our holy Table.

CANONICUS.
But say, what strange mischance was that, did move thee
To flee thy native soile? What mischief drove thee?
What dire dysaster urg'd thy skilfull hand
To find imployment in a forain Land?

ANARCHUS.
Surely, I was, when that mischance befell,
But poore in purse, and was constrain'd to sell
Cadice and Inckle; now because my trade
Requir'd an help, I entertain'd a Maide;
An able Christian; (though I say't) Begot
Of holy Parents; (though the nuptiall knot
Of ceremonious Mariage never tyed
Their joyned hands) She was a Sanctified
And undefiled Vessell; She would pray,
When others slept; and work when others play:
She was of exc'lent knowledg; and, indeed,
She could expound, and preach too, for a need:
She was my servant, and set up my trade
With her owne hands; her skilfull fingers made
The Tape and Inckle, where withall she stor'd
My thriving shop; whereby, I did afford
My Brethren better pennyworths; nay, more,
She had a gift, (was all the City ore
Well known) in making Puddings, whose meer view
Would make a Proselyte, and convert a Jew;
Whose new Religion would proclaim our Hogs
As clean and holy as their Synagogues;
These would she beare from house to house, and sell
To holy Brethren, who would please her well;
For under that pretence, she oft repeated
Some close preacht Sermon; oftentimes entreated
Of holy Discipline; sometimes gave warning
Of some rare Lecture held next Thursday morning:
I know not how, (fraile flesh and blood ye know
Can doe no more then flesh and blood can doe)
But to be short, she would so often fig
From place to place, that she was grown too big
To be conceal'd from wicked neighb'ring eyes;
T' avoid the scandall, I thought good t' arise,
And flee to Amsterdam, till I could gather,
By information, the reputed Father.

CANONICUS.
A wholsome Hist'ry! able to transforme
Abus'd Religions sunshine to a storme
Of direfull Thunderbolts, to overthrow
All Christian Rulers, that dare longer ow
Confusion to the Varlets, and not grind them
To dust, and send them to the place design'd them:
Had'st thou that impudence, that brazen face,
In the fag end of thy unsav'ry, base,
Triobular trades (foule beast;) nay, piping hot
From thy close Strumpet, thus to soile, and blot
The beauty of Religion, and to wrong
The Gospels name with thy illiterate tongue?

ANARCHUS.
Were not th' Apostles Fishers, and not fly
Their trades, and preach'd the word as well as I?

CANONICUS.
Avoid, presumptuous Varlet; urge no more
My tyred patience; Goe, seeke out thy Whore,
Thy fit Compere, and exercise thy trade
Upon her ruin'd stockings, much decaid
With long pursuit, and trudging all about
To find the Father of her Bastard out;
Whil'st I remove my Zenith, and go hence,
To waile this fruitlesse howers misexpence,
And pray to heaven, that heaven would please to keep
Such Goats still separated from my sheep.

[pp. 87-100]