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This celebrated poet was born in 1592, at Stewards, near Romford, in Essex, and after receiving a degree at Cambridge, in 1608, he went to Lincoln's Inn, where he “studied the laws of England, not so much,” says his widow,“ out of desire to benefit himself thereby, as his friends and neighbors, and to compose suits and differences between them.” He was introduced at court, and obtained the place of Cupbearer to the Queen of Bohemia, after quitting whose service he went to Ireland, as Secretary to Archbishop Usher. On the breaking out of the rebellion he was obliged to fly to England for safety. He had already been pensioned by Charles, and made Chronologer to the city of London, but in the general ruin of the royal cause his property was confiscated, and his books and manuscripts, which he valued more, were plundered. His misfortunes are supposed to have hastened his death, which occurred in 1644.
Mr. Montgomery says, “ There is not in English Literature a name more wronged than that of Quarles,—wronged, too, by those who ought best to have discerned, and most generously acknowledged his merits, in contradistinction to his defects.” Quarles certainly was a writer of great learning, lively fancy, and profound piety. His writings are deformed by quaint conceits, but his beauties abundantly atone for his defects. His chief works are “ Argalus and Parthenia,” “ The Quintessence of Meditation,” “ Sion's Elegies,” “ Emblems,” “ Hieroglyphics,"
," “ The Enchiridon," " Divine Fancies,” and “ The Shepherd's Oracles."
PRAYER FOR DIVINE INSPIRATION.
Thou Alpha and Omega, before whom
She is empty: hark! she sounds: there's nothing there;
But noise to fill thy ear ;
A blast of murmuring wind ;
But merely tunned with air.
The soul that vainly founds
She is empty: hark ! she sounds: there's nothing in't ;
The spark-engendering flint
Dissolve and quench the thirst,
With smooth-faced alms of rest.
From shades of black-mouthed Night, As in this empty world to find a full delight.
She is empty : hark ! she sounds : 'tis void and vast;
What if some flattering blast
And whisper in thine ear?
And vanisheth like mist.
mind Would be so base to bind Her heaven-bred soul, a slave to serve a blast of wind ?
She is empty : hark ! she sounds : 'tis but a ball
For fools to play withal ;
That's lined with silken trouble.
* A dry crust.
It is a world whose work and recreation
Is vanity and vexation;
A quest-house of complaint.
She is empty: hark! she sounds : 'tis vain and void.
What's here to be enjoyed,
Drawn now and crossed to-morrow ?
Revived with living death ?
Than what dull flesh propounds :
Can nothing settle my uncertain breast,
And fix my rambling love? Can my
affections find out nothing best,
But still and still remove ?
Receive my restless dove ?
full desire, With joys that never change; with joys that ne'er expire ?
I wanted wealth, and at my dear request,
Earth lent a quick supply;
And who more brisk than I ?
My fame flew eagle-high ;
Wealth vanished like a shade ;
My trust is in the Cross; there lies my rest,
My fast, my sole delight.
Blow till they burst with spite :
And join their twisted might;
And troops of fiends surround me : All this
well confront; all this shall ne'er confound me.
"FALSE WORLD, THOU LIEST."
False world, thou liest: thou canst not lend
The least delight:
They are so slight:
To please at night.
Thy babbling tongue tells golden tales
Of endless treasure ;
Of lasting pleasure.
And swear'st to ease her.
What well-advised ear regards
What earth can say ?
Are painted clay;
Thou canst not play.
Thy game at weakest, still thou viest
Thy tinsel bosom seems a mint
Of new-coined treasure, A paradise that has no stint,
No change, no measure ; A painted cask, but nothing in't,
Nor wealth, nor pleasure. Vain earth! that falsely thus compliest With man; vain man! that thou reliest On earth; vain man, thou dot'st; vain earth, thou liest.
What mean dull souls, in this high measure,
Is dross and trash ?
Is but a flash ?
DELIGHT IN GOD ONLY.
I LOVE (and have some cause to love) the earth,
She is my Maker's creature, therefore good : She is my mother, for she gave me birth ;
She is my tender nurse, she gives me food : But what's a creature, Lord, compared with Thee ? Or what's my mother or my nurse to me ?
I love the air ; her dainty fruits refresh
My drooping soul, and to new sweets invite me ; Her shrill-mouthed choirs sustain me with their flesh,
And with their polyphonian notes delight me ;