Henry Charles Beeching, ed. (1859–1919). Lyra Sacra: A Book of Religious Verse. 1903.

By Francis Quarles (1592–1644)

The Foil

’TIS but a foil at best, and that’s the most
            Your skill can boast:
My slipp’ry footing fail’d me; and you tript,
            Just as I slipt:
My wanton weakness did herself betray        5
            With too much play:
I was too bold: he never yet stood sure,
            That stands secure:
Who ever trusted to his native strength,
            But fell at length?        10
The title’s craz’d, the tenure is not good,
That claims by th’ evidence of flesh and blood.
Boast not thy skill; the righteous man falls oft,
            Yet falls but soft:
There may be dirt to mire him, but no stones        15
            To crush his bones:
What if he staggers? Nay, put case he be
            Foil’d on his knee?
That very knee will bend to heav’n, and woo
            For mercy too.        20
The true-bred gamester ups afresh, and then
            Falls to’t again;
Whereas the leaden-hearted coward lies,
And yields his conquered life, or craven’d dies.