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Art. III.-The Life of Andrew Marvell, the celebrated Patriot;
with Extracts and Selections from his Prose and Poetical Works. By John Dove. 12mo. London: 1832.
ANDREW MARVELL was a native of Kingston-upon-Hull
, where he was born Nov. 15, 1620. His father, of the same name, was master of the grammar school, and lecturer of Trinity Church in that town. He is described by Fuller and Echard as • facetious,' so that his son's wit, it would appear, was hereditary. He is also said to have displayed considerable eloquence in the pulpit; and even to have excelled in that kind of oratory which would seem at first sight least allied to a mirthful temperament—we mean the pathetic. The conjunction, however, of wit and sensibility, has been found in a far greater number of instances than would at first sight be imagined, as we might easily prove by examples, if this were the place for it: nor would it be difficult to give the rationale of the fact. Both, at all events, are amongst the most general, though far from universal accompaniments of genius. The diligence of Mr Marvell's pulpit preparations has been celebrated by Fuller in his • Worthies,' with characteristic quaintness. He was a most excellent
preacher'says he, who never broached what he had new brew• ed, but preached what he had pre-studied some competent time • before, insomuch that he was wont to say, that he would cross • the common proverb, which called Saturday the working day 6 and Monday the holiday of preachers. The lessons of the pulpit he enforced by the persuasive eloquence of a devoted life. During the pestilential epidemic of 1637, we are told that he distinguished himself by an intrepid discharge of his pastoral functions.
Having given early indications of superior talents, young Andrew was sent, when not quite fifteen years of age, to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was partly or wholly maintained by an exhibition from his native town. (He had not been long there, when, like Chilling worth, he was ensnared by the proselyting arts of the Jesuits, who, with subtilty equal to their zeal, commissioned their emissaries specially to aim at the conversion of such of the university youths as gave indications of signal ability. (It appears that he was inveigled from college to London. Having been tracked thither by his father, he was discovered after some months in a bookseller's shop, and restored to the university. During the two succeeding years he pursued his studies with diligence. About this period he lost his father under circumstances peculiarly affecting.
The death of this good man forms one of those little domestic tragediestnot infrequent in real life—to which imagination itself can scarcely add one touching incident, and which are as affecting as any that fiction can furnish. (It appears that on the other side the Humber lived a lady (an intimate friend of Marvell's father) who had an only and lovely daughters endeared to all who knew her, and so much the idol of her mother'that she could scarcely bear her to be out of her sight. On one occasion, however, she yielded to the importunity of Mr Marvell; and suffered her daughter to cross the water to Hull/to be present at the baptism of one of his children. The day after the ceremony, the young lady was to return. The weather was tempestuous, and on reaching the river's side, accompanied by Mr Marvell,-the boatmen endeavoured to dissuade her from crossing. But, afraid of alarming her mother by prolonging her absence, she persisted.), (Mr Marvelt added his importunities to the arguments of the boatmen, but in vain. Finding her inflexible, he told her that as she had incurred this peril to oblige him, he felt himself • bound in
honour and conscience' not to desert her; and, having prevailed on some boatmen to hazard the passage, they embarked together. As they were putting off, he flung his gold-headed cane on shore, and told the spectators that, in case he should never return, it was to be given his son, with the injunction to remember his father. The boat was upset, and both were lost.
As soon as the mother had a little recovered the shock, she sent for the young orphan, intimated her intention to provide for his education, and at her death left him all she possessed.
One of his biographers informs us that young Marvell took his degree of B. A. in the year 1638, and was admitted to a scholarship.* If so, he did not retain it very long. Though in no further danger from the Jesuits, he seems to have been beset by more formidable enemies in his own bosom. Either from too early becoming his own master, or from being betrayed into follies to which his lively temperament and social qualities readily exposed him, he became negligent of his studies; and having absented himself from certain . exercises,' and otherwise been guilty of sundry unacademic irregularities, he, with four others, was adjudged by the masters and seniors unworthy of receiving any * further benefit from the college,' unless they showed just cause to the contrary within three months. The required vindication does not appear to have been found, or at all events was never offered. The record of this transaction bears date September 24, 1641.
Cooke, in the life prefixed to Marvell's poems. 1726.
Soon after this, probably at the commencement of 1642, Marvell seems to have set out on his travels, in the course of which he visited a great part of Europe. At Rome he stayed a considerable time, where Milton was then residing, and where, in all probability, their lifelong friendship commenced. With an intrepidity, characteristic of both, it is said they openly argued against the superstitions of Rome within the precincts of the Vatican. It was here, also, that Marvell made the first essay of his satirical powers in a lampoon on Richard Flecknoe. It is now remembered only as having suggested the terrible satire of Dryden on the laureate Shadwell. At Paris he made another attempt at satire in Latin, of about the same order of merit. The subject of it was an Abbé named Lancelot Joseph de Maniban, who professed to interpret the characters and prognosticate the fortunes of strangers by an inspection of their handwriting.
After this we have no trace whatever of Marvell for some years; and his biographers have, as usual, endeavoured to supply the deficiency by conjecture-some of them so idly, that they have made him secretary to an embassy which had then no existence.
Mr Dove* says, that this lack of information respecting Marvell extends over eleven years—not quite, however, even on his own showing ; for the very next record he supplies, tells us at least how the first four years of this period were spent, and a considerable though indeterminate portion at the close of it. The
* We gladly admit that Mr Dove's little volume is a tolerably full and accurate compilation of what is known to us of Andrew Marvell's history, and contains some pleasant extracts from his writings. But we must express our regret that he has been, in a trifling degree, misled, by adhering too literally to the etymology of the word compilation.' It is true that compilation 'comes from compilatio, and equally true that compilatio means “pillage;' but it does not follow that .compilation' is to be literally pillage.' A considerable number of his sentences, sometimes whole paragraphs, are transferred from Mr D'Israeli's Miscellanies, and from two articles on Andrew Marvell which appeared in the Retrospective Review some twenty years ago, without alteration and without any sort of acknowledgment. Had they been printed between inverted commas, and the sources specified, we should have called it • compilation,' but nopillage'-as it is, we must call it pillage, and not compilation. Mr Dove may, it is true, have been the author of the articles in question. If so, there was no conceivable reason why he should not have owned them, and we can only regret that he has omitted to do it. If not, we cannot justify the use he has made of them.
record referred to is a recommendatory letter of Milton to Bradshaw, dated Feb. 21, 1652. It appears that Marvell was then an unsuccessful candidate for the office of assistant Latin Secretary. In this letter, after describing Marvell as a man of “singular desert, both from report' and personal converse,' he proceeds to say, He hath spent four years abroad, in Holland, • France, Italy, and Spain, to very good purpose, as I believe, and
the gaining of those four languages; besides, he is a scholar, and • well read in the Latin and Greek authors, and no doubt of an 'approved conversation ; for he comes now lately out of the house of 'the Lord Fairfax, where he was entrusted to give some instructions ' in the languages to the lady, his daughter. Milton concludes the letter with a sentence which fully discloses the very high estimation he had formed of Marvell's abilities-- This, my lord, • I write sincerely, without any other end than to perform my
duty to the public in helping them to an humble servant; lay‘ing aside those jealousies and that emulation which mine own condition might suggest to me by bringing in such a coadjutor.'
In the following year, 1653, Marvell was appointed tutor to Cromwell's nephew, Mr Dutton. Shortly after receiving his charge, he addressed a letter to the Protector, from which we extract one or two sentences characteristic of his caution, good sense, and conscientiousness. I have taken care,' says he, to ' examine him [his pupil] several times in the presence of Mr Oxenbridge, as those who weigh and tell over money before 6
some witness ere they take charge of it; for I thought there "might be possibly some lightness in the coin, or error in the tell‘ing, which hereaiter I should be bound to make good.'
• He is of a gentle and waxen disposition ; and God be praised, I cannot say he hath brought with him any evil impression, and I shall hope to set nothing into his spirit but what may be of a good sculpture. He hath in him two things that make youth most easy to be managed-modesty, which is the bridle to vice—and emulation, which is the spur to virtue
Above all, I shall labour to make him sensible of his duty 'to God; for then we begin to serve faithfully when we consider • He is our master.'
On the publication of Milton's second. Defence,' Marvell was commissioned to present it to the Protector. After doing so, he addressed a letter of compliment to Milton, the terms of which evince the strong admiration with which his illustrious friend had inspired him. His eulogy of the · Defence' is as emphatic as that of the Paradise Lost, in the well known recommendatory lines prefixed to most editions of that poem.
In 1657, Marvell entered upon his duties as assistant Latin
Secretary with Milton. Cromwell died in the following year; and from this period till the Parliament of 1660, we have no further account of him. We have seen it stated that he became member for Hull in 1658. But this is not true, and would be at variance with the statement in his epitaph, where it is said that he had occupied that post nearly twenty years. Had he been first elected in 1658, he would have been member somewhat more than that period.
During his long parliamentary career, Marvell maintained a close correspondence with his constituents-regularly sending to them, almost every post night during the sittings of Parliament, an account of its proceedings. These letters were first made public by Captain Thompson, and occupy about four hundred pages of the first volume of his edition of Marvell's works. They are written with great plainness, and with a business-like brevity, which must have satisfied, we should think, even the most laconic of his merchant constituents. They are chiefly valuable now, as affording proofs of the ability and fidelity with which their author discharged his public duties ; and as throwing light on some curious points of parliamentary usage and history. Some few sentences, interesting on these accounts, may be worthextracting. Of his diligence, the copiousness and punctuality of the correspondence itself are themselves the best proofs; but many of the letters incidentally disclose others not less significant. The following evidence of it, few members now-a-days would be disposed to give, and no constituency, we should imagine, would be unreasonable enough to expect :- Sir, I must beg your excuse for paper, pens, writing, and every thing ; for really I have by ill chance neither eat nor drank from yesterday at noon till six o'clock tonight, that the House rose. And again— Really the business of the House hath been of late so earnest daily, and so long, that I have not had the time and scarce vigour left me, by night, "to write to you; and to-day, because I would not omit any • longer, I lose my dinner to make sure of this letter.' † On another ocasion he says—'Tis nine at night, and we are but just
now risen ; and I write these few words in the Post-house, for sureness that my letter be not too late.'! In one letter we find him saying — I am something bound up, that I cannot * write about your public affairs ; but I assure you they breuk • my sleep.' $
of his minute attention to all their local interests, and his watchful care over them, these letters afford ample proof';
• Marvell's Letters, p. 302. # Ibid. p. 106.
+ Ibid. p. 83. §
Ibid. p. 33.