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fallen upon me; if I chastened my soul with fasting, it styled me with the name of hypocrite; if I reproved the vanity of the times, it derided me with the name of puritan." His Prayers and meditations form a lasting monument of his fervid piety. The following beautiful supplications cannot fail of being acceptable to all who can sympathize with the expression of unfeigned devotion:—
"Lord, if thy mercy exceeded not my misery, I could look for no compassion; and if thy grace transcended not my sin, I could expect for nothing but confusion. Oh, thou that madest me of nothing, renew me, that have made myself far less than nothing; revive those sparkles in my soul which lust hath quenched; cleanse thine image in me which my sin hath blurred; enlighten my understanding with thy truth; rectify my judgment with thy word; direct my will with thy spirit; strengthen my memory to retain good things; order my affections, that I may love thee above all things; increase my faith; encourage my hope; quicken my charity; sweeten my thoughts with thy grace; season my words with thy spirit; sanctify my actions with thy wisdom; subdue the insolence of my rebellious flesh; restrain the fury of my unbridled passions; reform the frailty of my corrupted nature; incline my heart to desire what is good, and bless my endeavours that I may do what I desire. Give me a true knowledge of myself, and make me sensible of mine own infirmities; let not the sense of those mercies which I enjoy, blot out of my remembrance those miseries which I deserve, that I may be truly thankful for the one, and humbly penitent for the other. In all my afflictions keep me from despair; in all my deliverances preserve me from ingratitude; that being truly quickened with the sense of thy goodness, and truly humbled by the sight of mine own weakness, I may be here exalted by the virtue of thy grace, and hereafter advanced to the kingdom of thy glory."
"O God, without the sunshine of whose gracious eye, the creature sits in darkness and in the shadow of death; whose presence is the very life and true delight of those that love thee; cast down thine eyes of pity upon a lost sheep of Israel, which has wandered from thy fold into the desert of his own lusts. What dangers can I choose but meet, that have run myself out of thy protection? What sanctuary can secure me, that have left the covert of thy wings? What comfort can I expect, O God, that have forsaken thee, the God of comfort and consolation? Return thee, O great Shepherd of my soul, and with thy crook reduce* me to thy fold; thou art my way, conduct me; thou art my light, direct me; thou art my life, quicken me. Disperse these clouds that stand betwixt thy angry face and my benighted soul; remove that cursed bar which my rebellion hath set betwixt thy deafened ear and my confused prayers, and let thy comfortable beams reflect upon me. Leave me not, O God, unto myself; O Lord, forsake me not too long, for in me dwells nothing but despair, and the terrors of Hell have taken hold of me. Remove this heart of stone, and give me, O good God, a heart of flesh, that it may be capable of thy mercies, and sensible of thy judgments; plant in my heart a fear of thy name, and deliver my soul from carnal security; order my affections according to thy will, that I may love what thou lovest, and hate what thou hatest; kindle my zeal with a coal from thine altar, and increase my faith by the assurance of thy love. O holy fire, that always burnest and never goest out, kindle me. O sacred light, that always shinest and art never dark, illuminate me. O sweet Jesus, let my soul always desire thee, and seek thee, and find thee, and sweetly rest in thee; be thou in all my thoughts, in all my words, in all my actions, that both my thoughts, my words, and my actions, being sanctified by thee here, I may be glorified by thee hereafter."
* Lead back.
The portrait of Quarles is copied from an engraving by Marshall*, and does not realize the flattering account left by the poet's friends, of his personal appearance. Marriot says, that "his person and mind were both lovely." Marshall also "wrought" his head, we learn from Aubrey, curiously in plaster, "and valued it for his sake." "Tis pity it should be lost," adds the antiquary; "Mr. Quarles was a very good man."
In addition to the poems previously mentioned, he wrote Sion's Sonnets, an Elegy on his friend, Dr. Wilson t, &c. &c. And after his death were published Solomon's Recantation, a paraphrase on Ecclesiastes, the Virgin Widow, a comedy, and the Shepherd's Oracles, which bear internal proof of having been composed about the year 1632. The Virgin Widow was acted at Chelsea by a "company of young gentlemen," but has little humour to recommend it. Langbaine calls it an innocent production. In Fuller's Abel Redivivus are several poems, the "most part of which," we are told by the quaint Editor, "were done by Master Quarles, father and son, sufficiently known for their abilities therein." The biographer of The Worthies entertained a very friendly feeling towards the poet, with whom he was probably acquainted, and he affirmed, that if Quarles had been contemporary with Plato, he would not only have allowed him to live, but advanced him to an office, in his Commonwealth.
Fuller's book is not of common. recurrence, but the lines on the martyr Ridley deserve preservation:— On Ridley. Read in the progress of this blessed story Rome's cursed cruelty and Ridley's glory: Rome's sirens' song; but Ridley's careless ear Was deaf: they charmed, but Ridley would not hear.
* Bromley's Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits, p. 102.
t There was something awful in the event that suggested this Elegy Quarles sat by the side of Dr. Wilson only two hours before his death, at the table of Sir Julius Caesar, Master of the Rolls.
Rome sung preferment, but brave Ridley's tongue
In these few verses the poet has presented a rapid and effective picture of Ridley's life; his frequent temptations, his sublime courage, and his holy resignation, are all recollected. No man "star'd in Death's face" (an image of wonderful power) with a more dauntless eye, than he who suffered and died with Latimer.
It would seem, from an Epigram addressed to F. •Quarles, by Thomas Bancroft*, that he was at one time engaged on a poem descriptive of the life of our Saviour. If completed, it was never published.
The poetical character of Quarles has been unfolded in -these quotations. We may say of him, in the emphatic words of Dr. Hammond, that he was of an athletic habit of mind, braced into more than common vigour by healthful and ennobling studies, and a pure and virtuous life. There was nothing effeminate in his manners or disposition; he was often ungraceful, but never weak. No man had a correcter notion of the beauty of style, or presented a more striking exception to his own rule:—"Clothe not thy language," he said, "either with obscurity or affectation; in the one thou discoverest too much darkness, in the other, too much lightness. He that speaks from the •understanding to the understanding is the best interpreter." It would have been good for his fame if he had practised what he taught. His eccentricity was the ruin of his genius: he offered up the most beautiful offspring of his * Two Bookes of Epigrammes and Epitaphs, 8cc, 1639.
imagination, without remorse, to this misshapen idol. The specimens given in the preceding pages will, perhaps, diminish the prejudice so long entertained against their author. They show that he could write with dignity, simplicity, and pathos; and that if his poetry flowed in a muddy stream, particles of precious gold may be gathered from its channel.
His pencil rather "dashed" than "drew," and he wanted the taste and patience to finish his pictures. He was sublime and vulgar at the impulse of the moment. Sometimes, however, images of great delicacy fell unconsciously from his pen. Evangelus' description of the appearance of the Angel in the Shepherd's Oracles, may be quoted as an example:—
His skin did show,
As a writer of prose, he deserves very high applause. His style is remarkably flowing, and animated by a Christian benignity of spirit. Without the copious richness of Taylor, or the mystical eloquence of Brown, or the poignant terseness of South, he possesses sufficient force and sweetness to entitle him to be named with the masters of •our language. Quarles was not only a fruitful author; he was also a learned and laborious student, and while Secretary to Archbishop Usher, contributed materially to promote the progress of his theological researches. This interesting fact, has, I believe, never been noticed; but Usher alludes to his services in a letter to G. Vossius, and speaks of him as a poet held in considerable esteem, among his own countrymen, for his sacred compositions*.
* The letter is printed in the appendix to Parr's life of the Archbishop, p. 484. The passage referring to Quarles is as follows:—" Ut autem ,intelligas quibus in Locis Cottonianum Libri primi ettertii Chronicon a vulgato differat; Florentinum Wigorniensem nunc ad te milto, quern