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to abstain from wearing one shred of foreign manufacture, and to discountenance the use of it in his subjects—bringing in bills that all Nonconformists shall pay double taxes, and that all persons shall be buried in woollens for the next six or seven years'-and other things of a similar nature, we cannot forbear lifting up our hands in astonishment at the vaunted wisdom of our ancestors.
Some strange scenes appear now and then to have occurred in the Commons, and worthy rather of an Arkansas House of Assembly than of a British Parliament. The following is an example; though, as usual in such squabbles, the “ Pickwickian construction of all offensive words seems to have prevailed at last. One day, upon a dispute of telling right upon division,
both parties grew so hot that all order was lost; men came
running up confusedly to the table, grievously affronted one .by another; every man's hand on his hilt, quieted though • at last, by the prudence of the Speaker ; every man in his place • being obliged to stand up and engage his honour, not to resent any thing of that day's proceeding.'
The disputes with the Lords were frequent, and difficult of adjustment. The following is a droll complication of their relations, and almost as hopeless as the dead-lock' in the Critic. • I have no more time than to tell you, that the Lords having • judged and fined the East India Company, as we think illegally, upon the petition of one Skyner, a merchant, and they peti
tioning us for redress, we have imprisoned him that petitioned * them, and they have imprisoned several of those that petitioned
It is a business of very high and dangerous consequence.'t
One or two other brief extracts from these letters seem not unworthy of insertion. The following is a curious example of the odd accidents on which the most important events depend. Sir G. Carteret had been charged with embezzlement of public money. • The House dividing upon the question, the ayes • went out, and wondered why they were kept out so extraor
dinary a time; the ayes proved 138, and the noes 129; and • the reason of the long stay then appeared :— The tellers for the 6 ayes chanced to be very ill reckoners, so that they were forced " to tell several times over in the House ; and when at last the • tellers for the ayes would have agreed the noes to be 142, the . noes would needs say that they were 143; whereupon those for 6 the ayes
would tell once more, and then found the noes to be • indeed but 129, and the ayes then coming in proved to be
* Marvell's Letters, p. 426.
Ť Ibid. p. 106.
! 138, whereas if the noes had been content with the first error • of the tellers, Sir George had been quit upon that observation.'*
The following sounds odd— Yesterday, upon complaint of some violent arrests made in several churches, even during sermon time, nay, of one taken out betwixt the bread and the cup
in receiving the sacrament, the House ordered that a bill • be brought in for better observing the Lord's Day.' +
• To William Ramsden, Esq. I think I have not told you that, on our bill of subsidy, the Lord Lucas made a fervent . bold speech against our prodigality in giving, and the weak
looseness of the government, the King being present; and the • Lord Clare another to persuade the King that he ought not to ' be present. But all this had little encouragement, not being 6 seconded. Copies going about every where, one of them was brought into the Lords' house, and Lord Lucas was asked o whether it was his. He said, part was and part was not. Thereupon they took advantage, and said it was a libel even against Lucas himself. On this they voted it a libel, and to • be burned by the hangman, which was done; but the sport
was, the hangman burned the Lords' order with it. I take • the last quarrel betwixt us and the Lords to be as the ashes of that speech.' I
Not seldom, to the very moderate wages' of a legislator, was added some homely expression of good-will on the part of the constituents. That of the Hull people generally appeared in the shape of a stout cask of ale, for which Marvell repeatedly returns thanks. In one letter he says— We must first give you * thanks for the kind present you have pleased to send us, which • will give occasion to us to remember you often; but the quantity is so great that it might make sober men forgetful.'S
Marvell's correspondence extends through nearly twenty years. From June 1661, there is, however, a considerable break, owing to his absence for an unknown period—probably about two years—in Holland. He showed little disposition to return till Lord Bellasis, then high steward of Hull, proposed to that worthy corporation to choose a substitute for their absent member. They replied that he was not far off, and would be ready at their summons. He was then at Frankfort, and at the solicitation of his constituents immediately returned, April 1663.
But he had not been more than three months at home, when he intimates to his correspondents his intention to accept
* Marvell's Letters, p. 125, 126.
† Ibid. p. 189.
an invitation to accompany Lord Carlisle, who had been appointed ambassador-extraordinary to Russia, Sweden, and Denmark He formally solicits the assent of his constituents to this step, urges the precedents for it, and assures them that during his watchful colleague's attendance, his own services may be easily dispensed with. His constituents consented; he sailed in July, and appears to have been absent rather more than a year. We find him in his place in the Parliament that assembled at Oxford, 1665.
In 1671, for some unknown reason, there is another hiatus in his correspondence. It extends over three years. From 1674, the letters are regularly continued till his death. There is no proof that he ever spoke in Parliament; but it appears that he made copious notes of all the debates.
The strong views which Marvell took on public affairs—the severe, satirical things which he had said and written from time to time—and the conviction of his enemies, that it was impossible to silence him by the usual methods of a place or a bribe, must have rendered a wary and circumspect conduct very necessary. In fact, we are informed that on more than one occasion he was menaced with assassination. But, though hated by the Court party generally, he was as generally feared, and in some few instances respected. Prince Rupert continued to honour him with his friendship long after the rest of his party had honoured him by their hatred, and occasionally visited the patriot at his lodyings. When he voted on the side of Marvell, which was not infrequently the case, it used to be said that he had « been with his tutor.'
Inaccessible as Marvell was to flattery and offers of preferment, it certainly was not for want of temptations. The account of his memorable interview with the Lord Treasurer Danby has been often repeated, and yet it would be unpardonable to omit it here. Marvell, it appears, once spent an evening at Court, and fairly charmed the merry monarch by his accomplishments and wit. At this we need not wonder : Charles loved wit above all things-except sensual pleasure. To his admiration of it, especially the humorous species, he was continually sacrificing his royai dignity. On the morning after the above-mentioned interview, he sent Lord Danby to wait on the patriot with a special message of regard. His lordship had some difficulty in ferreting out Marvell's residence; but at last found him on a second floor, in a dark court leading out of the Strand. It is said, that groping up the narrow staircase, he stumbled against the door of Marvell's humble apartment, which, flying open, discovered him writing. A little surprised, he asked his lordship
with a smile if he had not mistaken his way. The latter replied, in courtly phrase— No; not since I have found Mr
Marvell.' He proceeded to inform him that he came with a message from the King, who was impressed with a deep sense of his merits, and was anxious to serve him. Marvell replied with somewhat of the spirit of the founder of the Cynics, but with a very different manner, that his Majesty had it not in his • power to serve him.'* Becoming more serious, however, he told his lordship that he well knew that he who accepts court favour is expected to vote in its interest. On his lordship’s saying, “that • his Majesty only desired to know whether there was any place ' at Court he would accept;' the patriot replied, that he could accept nothing with honour, for either he must treat the King with ingratitude by refusing compliance with Court measures, or be a traitor to his country by yielding to them. The only favour, therefore, he begged of his Majesty, was to esteem him as a loyal subject, and truer to his interests in refusing his offers than he could be by accepting them. His lordship having exhausted this species of logic, tried the argumentum ad crumenam, and told him that his Majesty requested his acceptance of L.1000. But this, too, was rejected with firmness ; though,' says his biographer, soon after the departure of his • lordship, Marvell was compelled to borrow a guinea from a friend.'
In 1672 commenced Marvell's memorable controversy with Samuel Parker, afterwards Bishop of Oxford, of which we shall give a somewhat copious account. To this it is entitled from the important influence which it had on Marvell's reputation and fortunes; and as having led to the composition of that work, on which his literary fame, so far as he has any, principally depends--we mean the Rehearsal Transprosed.
Parker was one of the worst specimens of the highest of the high churchmen of the reign of Charles II. It is difficult in such times as these to conceive of such a character as, by uni
* Another and less authentic version of this anecdote has been given, much more circumstantial indeed, but on that very account, in our judgment, more apocryphal. But if the main additions to the story be fictions, they are amongst those fictions which have gained extensive circulation only because they are felt to be not intrinsically improbable. We have been at some pains to investigate the origin of this version ; but can trace it no further than to a pamphlet printed in Ireland about the middle of the last century. Of this we have not been able to get a perusal. Suffice it to say, that the version it contains of the above interview, and which has been extensively circulated, is not borne out by the early biographies; for example, that of Cooke, 1726. VOL, LXXIX, NO, CLIX,
versal testimony, Parker is proved to have been. Even Addison's Tory Fox-hunter—who thought there had been 'no good 6 weather since the Revolution, and who proceeded to descant on the “fine days they used to have in King Charles II.'s reign;' whose dog was chiefly endeared to him because he had once like to have worried a Dissenting teacher ;' and who had no other notion of religion but that it consisted in hating Presby
terians'-does not truly represent him. Such men could not well flourish in any other age than that of Charles II. Only in such a period of unblushing profligacy-of public corruption, happily unexampled in the history of England—could we expect to find a Bishop Parker, and his patron and parallel, Archbishop Sheldon. The high churchmen of that day managed to combine the most hideous bigotry, with an utter absence of seriousness--a zeal worthy of a Pharisee' with a character which would have disgraced a publican. Apparently as attached to the veriest minutive of their high church orthodoxy as any of the sincere bigots of the present Oxford school—they gave reason to their very friends to doubt whether they did not secretly despise even the cardinal doctrines of Christianity. * Scarcely Christians in creed, and any thing rather than Christians in practice, they yet insisted on the most scrupulous compliance with the most trivial points of ceremonial; and persisted in persecuting thousands of devout and honest men, because they hesitated to obey. Things which they admitted to be indifferent, and which, without violation of conscience, they might have forborne to enforce, they remorselessly urged on those who solemnly declared that without such a violation they could not comply. More tolerant of acknowledged vice than of supposed error, drunkenness and debauchery were venial, compared with doubts about the propriety of making the sign of the cross in baptism, or using the ring in marriage, and it would have been better for a man to break half the commands in the decalogue, than admit a doubt of the most frivolous of the church's rites. Equally truculent and servile,
* Of Sheldon Bishop Burnet says, that he seems not to have had any clear sense of religion, if any at all.' Of Parker he speaks yet more strongly. But perhaps the most striking testimony is that of a Jesuit, Father Edward Petre, cited by Mr Dove. He says, “the Bishop of Oxford has not yet declared himself openly: the great obstacle is his wife, whom he cannot rid himself of: though I do not see how he can be further useful to us in the religion he is in, because he is suspected, and of no esteem among the heretics of the English Church. . . . If he had believed my counsel, which was to temporize for some longer time, he would have done better.' Surely this Jesuit and his pupil were well matched for honesty.