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

Shepheards Oracles: Eclogue IX. Iudex. Romastix. Flambello.

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

Francis Quarles


Iudex acts as judge in a controversy over the Sacraments maintained between the Protestant Romastix and the Catholic Flambello. The palm is naturally bestowed on Romastix, though the mock-heroic tenor of the eclogue encourages the reader to bestow little credit on the vitriolic words of either the churlish Chillingworth or the bumpkin Bellarmine.

Henry Headley: "Had Pope been a reader of Quarles, which possibly, by the bye, he might have been, notwithstanding he has given him a niche in the Dunciad, he would have taught him the art of reasoning in verse much better than Blackmore, whom Dr. Johnson has recommended for that purpose; there is an energy and compression in some of Quarles' lines, not to be found in any of his contemporaries; but, as to versification — What could Dr. Johnson mean by supposing him to stand in need of any instruction on that head? — There is a moral and philosophical cast in some passages of Quarles not unlike Pope, in his Essay on Man" "Remarks on Pope's Imitations of our Early Poets" Gentleman's Magazine 56 (1786) 312.



IUDEX.
This is the place, the hower; this the tree,
Beneath whose hospitable shades, must be
This challeng'd combat; But the champions stay
Exceeds their limits; 'Tis an equall lay
That neither come: they were so hot last night,
'Tis like their quarrell ended with the light:
But who comes yonder? Look, me thinks't should be,
By's gate, Romastix; No, 'tis not; 'tis he:
Me thinks his posture prophecies of Palmes
Before th' encounter; see, how sweat imbalmes
His varnisht Temples! How each envious pace
Vies to be first, and eches for the place!
He's neer at hand; Champion let faire applause
Crown your intended combat, let your Cause
Thrive as it merits; let this morning jarre
Bring forth an Evening peace, the Child of warre;
Let Truth prevaile, at last, and let heaven send,
First, a faire Enemy; next, a faithfull Friend.

ROMASTIX.
Thanks, gentle Iudex; for the last, I durst
Assure my selfe in thee: but where's the first?
Where's our brave Enemy? whose very breath,
Last night, could puffe an Heretick to death,
Then by the vertue of St. Francis name,
Could snatch a well broyl'd soule from the sad flame
Of Purgatory, from the sulph'rous flashes
Of hells hot Suburbs, and inspire his ashes
With a new Catholike soule; whose knee shall gain
Salvation from a Puppit, for the pain
Of twenty Paters nosters, and thrice seaven
Repeated Ave's to the Queen of heaven:
But look; Am I deceiv'd? Or doe I see
Our Boanarges comming?

IUDEX.
Sure 'tis hee.

ROMASTIX.
'Tis he, Heaven grant that his discourse may trace
A measure, but as sober as his pace:
Lord, how his tongue last evening shot at rover!
Sometimes, how wide it shot! How, sometimes, over!
How like a new broke Colt, he pranc'd about!
Sometimes stept orderly; sometimes flew out:
His hot-mouth'd argument, would for a space
Srike a good stroke; then straight forsake his pace:
How his discretion sunk, while his tongue floted!
His wit falsegallop'd, while his judgment trotted.
But here he comes.

IUDEX.
The blessings of the day
Greets thee.

FLAMBELLO.
And let the glory of the fray
Crown my triumphant Browes with conquest.

ROMASTIX.
Stay,
Take my God-morrow, first, and then inherit
The Crown that shall be purchas'd by thy merit,
And justnesse of thy well defended cause.

FLAMBELLO.
The like to thee.

IUDEX.
But let the chief applause
Be given to Truth; which must and will prevaile,
How ever you defend, or he assaile:
She does not like a thredbare Client, sue
For help, nor does her cause subsist by you:
But like a Queen, sits in her Palace royall,
To judge betwixt the Rebel and the Loyall:
Then quit your selves, and let the day proclame,
Who's the true Subject: Truth is still the same:
Romastix this your first arrivall here,
Gives you precedence: you shall truely sweare,
No private grudge; nor no malicious end
Of base revenge did move you to contend
In these fair lists, no itch of vaine applause,
But a true thirst, t' advance the publike cause.

ROMASTIX.
I doe.

IUDEX.
And you Flambello too, shall sweare,
You try this combat, with a conscience cleare
From by-respects of preadvised hate,
Or spleen, of later, or of elder date;
And that you aime not at a private foe,
But at the glory of the Truth.

FLAMBELLO.
I doe.

IUDEX.
Then Champions, too't; you cannot be too stern,
In Truths behalfe; 'tis best to be altern;
For mutuall language works a faire conclusion:
Truth is the Queene of order; not confusion.

ROMASTIX.
I here appeach Flambello, as a High-
-Traitor to'the sacred Crown, and dignity
Of Soveraign Truth, a Rebel to her Lawes,
A private Judas to the publike Cause.

FLAMBELLO.
Blisters oth' tongue that speaks it! He that durst
Proclaim, and not maintain it, be accurst.

ROMASTIX.
They'r Traitours, rob their Soveraign of their due;
You doe the same; and therefore such are you.

FLAMBELLO.
You argue with lesse Charity, then Art;
Your halting Minor's false as your own heart.

ROMASTIX.
He that invests another in the Throne
Of Truth; or owns a Prince, but Truth alone,
Robs his own Soveraign; But such are you,
You therefore rob your Soveraign of her due:

FLAMBELLO.
You plead for Truth; and yet you speak beside
The Text of Truth: your Minor is denyed.

ROMASTIX.
They that prefer their own brain-bred Traditions
Before her perfect Laws; make, here, additions;
And, there, Abstractions from her sacred hests,
Depose the old, and a new Prince invests;
But you prefer Traditions; therefore you
Depose the old Prince, and invest a new.

FLAMBELLO.
The selfe-same Spirit that inspir'd the words
Of holy Prophets, in old time affords
Undoubted Truth to the most just Traditions
Of holy Councels, whose divine Commissions
Make it a perfect Truth, which they averre.
Confirmed by a Head that cannot erre.

ROMASTIX.
Admit all this! Can very Truth take place
Of very Truth? Has Truth a double face?
How can the wav'ring will of man be guided
Betwixt two Sp'rits; at least, one Sp'rit divided?
But say; upon what shoulders grows that Head
That cannot erre: that cannot be misled?
What is he? Where is his abode? That I
May bow my knees, and worship ere I dye.

FLAMBELLO.
It is our holy Father; He, that keeps
The keys of heaven, and of th' Infernall deeps;
He that has power, with those sacred keyes,
To open heaven, and lock it when he please;
To open Hels broad portals, and let out
His dire Anathemaes to scourge the stout
Rebellious heart; and Legions, to devour
All such as will not prostrate to his Powre,
And high Omnipotency, but rebell
Against the Chamberlain of Heaven:

ROMASTIX.
And Hell:
But tell me to what sort of souls does he
Expand the Gates of heaven?

FLAMBELLO.
To such as be
Obedient to his laws; whose purged hearts
Have felt the flames of Purgatory, and smarts
Of holy Penance, that observe and do
All things his Holinesse enjoyns them to:
The Gates of Heaven stand ope for such as these.

ROMASTIX.
If he be paid for turning of the keyes:
What sort of sins unlock the gates of Hell?

FLAMBELLO.
The disobedient hearts, that puffe and swell
Against his Government; To such as dare
Question the Councels of our holy Chaire:
To Hereticks; and such as plot revenge;
These are the Card'nall sins, that greaze the henge.

ROMASTIX.
But what betides to riotous Gluttons, then,
Hell-tutor'd Sorcerers, and incestuous men?
Unnat'rall Sodomites, and the brasse-brow'd Lyer?
Those that give false Commissions, nay, and hyer
Perverted subjects to dissolve their bands
Of abjur'd Loyalty, and lay violent hands
On their own Princes? Are th' Infernall keys
Lesse nimble to unlock Hels gate for these?

FLAMBELLO.
These break the dores, and rend the Portals ope,
Unlesse the grace of our Lord God the Pope
Give former Dispensation; or at least
An after Pardon.

ROMASTIX.
I conceiv'd, the best
Your Al-sufficient Popes could doe, had bin,
God-like to pardon a forsaken sin,
But to afford a Dispensation too
For after crimes, is more then heaven will doe:
No wonder, then, the Councels of your Chaire
Claim the right hand, and your Traditions dare
Take place of Scripture, when that God of yours,
That cannot erre, is stronger arm'd, then ours.

FLAMBELLO.
It stands not with obedience to aspire
Unto such holy heights, as to enquire
Into the sacred secrets of the Chaire;
All Champions must lay down their weapons, there:
Doubts cool devotion; And the good digestion
Of Catholiques faith is hinder'd, where we question.

ROMASTIX.
Such dainty stomachs, as are daily fill'd
With costly delicates, are eas'ly chill'd;
When faith can feed upon no lower things
Then Crowns dissolv'd, and drink the blood of Kings,
Experience tels, that oftentimes digestion
Finds strange obstructions, where Indictments question:
But since your guilt (beneath the fair pretence
Of filiall silence) leaves yee no defence
From your reposed weapons; breathe a space
And take up new ones, which may plead your case
(With the quick spirit of a keener edge)
Against the foule reproach of Sacriledge:
That Bread of life; which, with a lib'rall hand,
Heaven made a common gift, you countermand;
And what his bounty carv'd to every one,
You falsly challenge to your selves alone;
He gives his children loaves; where you afford
But crums, being fed, like dogs, beneath your board;
That holy draught, that Sacramentall Cup,
Which heaven divides among them, you drink up:
You are Impostors, and delude poor soules,
And what your pamper'd Prelates swill in Bowles,
Like fooles, you send them to exhaust from dead
And pallid veines of your Incarnate Bread.

FLAMBELLO.
First, for the Bread, which your false tongues aver
We ravish from the childrens lips, you erre:
Your censures misinterpret our intent;
We doe but dresse the Grist, that heaven hath sent;
And, by our mixture, raise a sweeter Paste,
To adde a pleasure to the childrens taste:
Next; for that sacred Blood, you grosly term,
By th' name of Wine; which, rudely you affirm,
Our pamper'd Prelates swill in lusty Bowles,
And after, send our poor deluded soules
To suck; to suck in vain from out the dead
And pallid veins of our Incarnate Bread;
You show your wisdomes: It is living Flesh,
Wherein are living Streams, that doe refresh
The drooping soul; A perfect Sacrifice
Of perfect Flesh and Blood, in Breads disguise.

ROMASTIX.
Your double answer wants a single force:
And is the Grist of heaven become so course
To need your sifting? Can your mixtures adde
A sweetnesse to it, which it never had?
Your Chaire (whose brow hath brasse enough, to call
Saint Pauls Epistles, Heresies, and Saint Paul
A hare-brain'd Schismatick, and once projected,
To have his Errors purg'd, and Text corrected)
May eas'ly tax, and censure all the rest,
Being all indited by the selfe-same brest:
But is that Body living, that ye tear
With your ranck teeth? How worse doe you appear
Then Canibals, to be an Undertaker
In that foul act, to eat, to grinde your Maker!
Your double answer does abridge the story
Of the true Passion of the Lord of glory;
Your first condemns him; and, (the sentence past)
You boldly crucifie him, in your last:
But is it reall Flesh, ye thus devour;
Timber'd with bones; and like this flesh of our?
Say; doe you eat, and grind it, Flesh and Bone?
Or like an unchew'd Pill, but swallow't down?
If onely swallow; Champion, you compleat not
Your work: You take the Body, but you eat not:
If eat; you falsifie what heaven hath spoken;
Can you eat bones, and yet a bone not broken?
But tell me, tell me, what was he that first
Did make so bold, to make himself accurst,
To rob the Decalogue, and to withdraw
The second Statute from the Morall law?
Why was that Statute thought a worse offence
Then all the rest? Could not your Chair dispence
With that as safely as with all the rest?
What has that Statute done? wherein transgrest,
That you have made the Tables too too hot
To hold it? Champion, speak, why speakst thou not?

FLAMBELLO.
Superiour powers, that have large Commission
To judge, conceive it but a repetition
Of the first Statute, and thought fit to take
It thence for brevity, for corruption sake.

ROMASTIX.
Corruption sake? Did never word disclose
From Roman lips more true: what tongue ere chose
A term more proper, that more full exprest
Th' Idea of a well-composed brest?
I wish no greater Conquest, or Concession
Of a fair truth, then from a foes Confession.

FLAMBELLO.
You boast too soon: Take heed your vain conceit
Befools you not with a false Antidate:
Ill-grounded triumphs are but breaths expense;
Fools catch at words; but wise men at the sense.

ROMASTIX.
Content thee, Champion; every gamester knows,
That Falsifies are Play, as well as blows:
But tell me now; If each Abstraction draws
A curse upon th' Abstractor from those laws,
How can your Councels scape this judgement then,
That have exil'd the Second from the Ten?

FLAMBELLO.
Their number's nere the lesse; for where we smother
One Statute, we dichotomize another.

ROMASTIX.
Then, Champion; there's a double curse, you know:
One, for abstracting; one, for adding to:
But to proceed; what law of God denies
The bands of mariage? What exceptionties
That undefil'd, that honourable life
From Priestly Orders? Aaron had his wife;
And he, from whom yee claim (but claim amiss)
The free succession of your keys, had his.
Heavens Statute qualifies all sorts of men;
How came yee to repeal that Statute then?

FLAMBELLO.
Mariage is but an Antidote for lust,
It is ordain'd for such as dare not trust
The frailty of their bodies, or want art
To quench the roving tempters fiery dart:
But such, whose vessels Prayer, and Fasting keeps
Unsoild and pure, where idle blood nere creeps
Into their wanton veines; that can restrain
Base lust; to such, this Antidote is vain:
Such be our sacred Priests, whose horned knees
Are seldome streight, but pay their howrely fees
To the worn ground, whose Emb'ring lips send up
Perpetuall vows; whose wine-abjuring Cup
Yeelds no delight; whose stomachs are content
To celebrate an everlasting Lent.

ROMASTIX.
Say, Champion then, for what respects? for whom,
Are Brothels licenc'd by the lawes of Rome?
Laymen may wed; there, licence is unjust,
Where Law allowes a remedy for lust:
But if your Priesthood be so undefil'd
How came that pamper'd Pope, (the onely child
Of his long since deceased Syre) to own
So many jolly Nephewes, whose unknown
And doubtfull Parentage, truth fear'd to blaze,
Untill the next succeeding Prelates daies?
How is't such vaulted Entries have been found,
Affording secret passage, under ground,
(With pathes deluding Argus thousand eyes)
Betwixt your Abbies, and your Nunneries?
How come the depths of your deep throated Wells,
(Where utter shades, and empty horror dwells)
To yeeld such Reliques; and in stead of stones,
To be impav'd with new-borne Infants bones?

FLAMBELLO.
Plagues, Horror, Madnesse, and th' Infernall troops
Of hells Anathema's; the schreeching whoops
Of damned soules; this present worlds disdain,
And that worse world to come's eternall pain;
Our holy Urbans execrable curse,
Or (if unthought on) any plague be worse,
Confound these base, these upstart Luth'ran tongues,
That spit such poyson, and project these wrongs
Against our Church.

ROMASTIX.
A Curse sufficient! hold,
And lend my tongue your patience, to unfold
Your Catholike Church; and when my words shal end,
Speake you your pleasure, while mine eares attend:
Your Church is like a Market; where, for Gold,
Both Sinnes and Pardons, may be bought and sold:
It is a Jugglers shop, whose Master showes
Fine tricks at Fast and Loose; with Oathes and vowes:
It is a Mill; wherein, the Laity grind
For the fat Clergy, being still kept blind:
It is a Schoole, whose Schollers, ill directed,
Are once a yeare, by their own hands corrected:
It is a Magazine, wherein are lai'd
More choice of Scriptures, then their Maker made:
It is a Church, depraves the Text; and then,
Pins the Authority on the sleeves of men:
It is a slaughter-house, where Butchers bring
All sorts of men; and now and then, a King:
It is a sort of people, doe unthrone
The living God, and deifie a stone:
It is a Woman, that in youth, has bin
A Whore; and now in age, a Baud to sin:
It damnes poore Infants, to eternall fire,
For want of what they liv'd not to desire:
It dare assure us sound before the cure,
And bids despaire, where we should most assure:
It leads poore Women captive, does contrary
The lawfull use of Meats; forbids to marry.

IUDEX.
Hold, Champions, hold; 'Tis needlesse to renue
Your fight; The day grows hot, as well as you:
It is against the course of Martiall Lawes
To deal a blow in a decided Cause:
Sheath up your sanguine blades; These wars have cost
Much bloud and sweat: The field is won and lost;
And we adjudge the Palms triumphant Bow
Of Conquest to renown'd Romastix brow;
And, with our shrill-mouth'd Trumpet we proclame
Eternall honour to his honour'd name,
Who shall be styl'd, to his perpetuall prayse,
Truths faithfull Champion till the last of dayes:
Queen Truth shall prosper, when her Pleader fails:
Great is the Truth; and that great Truth prevails.

[pp. 101-16]