The Shepheards Oracles

A long poem by Francis Quarles published after his death in 1645. Quarles was a moderate royalist sympathiser and the poem bears this out. There is some lampooning of Archbishop Laud, but also a defence of church government by the bishops and a denunciation of non-conformist clergy. This is the frontispiece and the picture also represents Quarles’ political views. The King defends the tree of religion whilst a cleric waters the roots. On the other side and in the branches however the tree is subject to a variety of attacks. A catholic priest debarks the tree, a tub thumping preacher fires a musket at it, whilst holding a canterbury cap and the liturgy on a pike’s end. Several workmen are chopping at root and branch.




This guy in the branches is definitely dressed as a worker. Short tabbed doublet, breeches and shoes with large openings in the sides. It’s thought that the large side opening made them more width adjustable and may have been made in bulk for the armies.

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This chap is a mechanic preacher in a tub. He’s a tradesman, not a trained cleric as he’s wearing an apron over his doublet. Spot the ties keeping his breeches tight to his legs. He’s also a brave man firing a gun over his head. I trust his pan cover fits snugly.

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And another group of workmen. Chap at the front looks to have had his shoes resoled. Make do and mend.


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One Comment to “The Shepheards Oracles”

  1. I love this William Marshall frontispiece. It was his first explicitly Royalist engraving (he also did Quarles’s Emblemes and Hieroglyphicks), and from here onwards you can spot the trend of his work up to the celebrated frontispiece to Eikon Basilike,The King’s Book (and it is interesting to think that this fp for The Shepheards Oracles might be as much Marshall’s political statement as it was Quarles’) . I think he often gets a bad rap (historians of engraving seem to scorn him), but I like his work – and so, apparently, did Quarles and his publisher.
    Thanks for the detail of the characters, it’s interesting to see they’re figured as workers and tradesmen.

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