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TE DECET HYMNUS.
Then again the heavens distil
Art. IV. The Life of Andrew Marvell, the celebrated Patriot : with
Extracts and Selections from his Prose and Poetical Works. By John Dove. 12mo. pp. 116. Price 2s. 6d. London, 1832. NDREW MARVELL is a name that has come down to us
associated with traditional veneration, as that of an incorruptible patriot, an accomplished scholar, a wit, polemic, and poet, the friend of Milton, himself eulogized by Sheffield (Duke of Buckingham), by Churchill, and by Mason, most fortunate and honoured in his life, and bewailed, at his death, as a public loss : and yet, of this extraordinary person, no satisfactory biographical memorial exists; and his name survives in history, rather than in our literature. His works consist, for the most part, of fugitive pieces and tracts of temporary interest, never collected during his life-time, and now almost unknown. In fact, his name has preserved his writings, rather than his writings his name. He wrote for his age, rather than for posterity ; but the high example he has bequeathed, is a more valuable legacy than half the works of Johnson's Poets. In a venal age, he was proof against corruption; though poor, he maintained his independence, and, what was more, while so many were changing sides around him, his consistency; and his wit and humour, which might have rendered him the favourite of the court, were zealously dedicated to the cause of patriotism and civil freedom. Bp. Burnet, who knew, or affects to have known, every body, and whose amusing history is a gallery of living characters, speaks of Marvell slightingly, yet bears testimony to the cleverness and effectiveness of his writings. Speaking of Bp. Parker, whom he characterizes as full of satirical vivacity, and considerably
i wit (or, as theeply been so it, who devote this work, the book
learned, but a man of no judgement and of as little virtue, and, as to religion, rather impious', he adds: “ After he (Parker) • had for some years entertained the nation with several virulent "books, writ with much life, he was attacked by the liveliest
droll of the age, who writ in a burlesque strain, but with so peculiar and so entertaining a conduct, that, from the king
down to the tradesman, his books were read with pleasure. " That not only humbled Parker, but the whole party; for the • Author of " The Rehearsal Transprosed” had all the men of
wit (or, as the French phrase it, all the laughers) on his side.' Rarely has a Reply been so successful in annihilating the work that provoked it. Dean Swift, who devoted similar powers of caustic wit to a worse purpose, remarks of this work: 'We still
read Marvell's answer to Parker with pleasure, though the book ‘it answers be sunk long ago. But it is read no longer. Wit loses its flavour when it is not drunk new. Some curiosity, however, may be felt, to know, from a few specimens, what was the style of : refined buffoonery' which so delighted the age, and by which Marvell drove out of the field the bitter and unprincipled renegade, who, writhing under the lash he had provoked, appealed to the Government to 'crush with the secular arm, the
pestilent wit, the servant of Cromwell and the friend of Milton.' The few specimens in this little volume will therefore prove acceptable ; and will probably excite in most readers a desire to see more. Marvell's entire works, however, are not worth republishing—any more than Swift's, who has been more fortunate, or less so, in having all his rubbish collected in evidence of the criminal abuse he made of his talents ;-or than Defoe's, a man of greater genius, perhaps, than either, though with less of the old Roman in his character than Marvell, and to whom has at length been rendered the tardy justice of a biographical monument. The Author of Robinson Crusoe could never indeed have been forgotten; yet, but for that exquisite romance, the name of one of the most voluminous and powerful writers of his age would by this time have survived only in the Dunciad. A well edited selection of Marvell's writings, with a memoir by a competent biographer, might even now be worth publishing. In the mean time, Mr. Dove's modest performance may serve the purpose of making the reader better acquainted with the life and character of this not too celebrated Patriot.
Andrew Marvell was born at Kingston upon Hull, Nov. 15, 1620. His father was Master of the Grammar School and Lecturer of Trinity Church in that town. Fuller speaks of him as an excellent preacher, who 'never broached what he had new-brewed, • but preached what he had studied some competent time before.' Echard styles him, the facetious Calvinistical minister of Hull.' He was drowned in crossing the Humber in rough weather. At
the age of fifteen, Marvell was sent to Trinity College, Cambridge ; but he appears to have left the university shortly after the death of his father, or in 1641, without taking any degree ; and to have joined Milton in Italy, or to have met him there. He spent four years abroad, in Holland, France, Italy, and Spain, to very good purpose and the gaining of those four lan• guages.' He subsequently resided for some time with General Fairfax's family, being “intrusted to give some instructions in the * languages to the lady his daughter. In 1653, he was selected by Cromwell to be tutor to his nephew, Mr. Dutton; and in 1657, he was appointed Assistant Latin Secretary to the Protector, under Milton. The affectionate veneration which he cherished for his illustrious and honoured friend', is a pleasing trait in Marvell's character. After the Restoration, when reproached by Parker with being the friend of Milton', he thus replies to the charge.
««J. M. was, and is, a man of great learning, and sharpness of wit, as any man. It was his misfortune, living in a tumultuous time, to be tossed on the wrong side, and he writ, flagrante bello, certain dangerous treatises. But some of his books, upon which you take him at advantage, were of no other nature than one writ by your own father; only with this difference, that your father's, which I have by me, was written with the same design, but with much less wit or judgement. On his Majesty's return, J. M. did partake, even as you yourself did, for all your huffing, of his royal clemency, and has ever since expatriated himself in a retired silence. Whether it were my foresight, or my good fortune, I never contracted any friendship or confidence with you ; but then, it was, you frequented J. M. incessantly, and haunted his house day by day. What discourses you there used, he is too generous to remember.” pp. 48, 9. · Marvell was among the few friends who frequently visited the great Poet when secreted through fear of his enemies; and the present Writer conjectures, not improbably, that the humour of Marvell might contrive the mock funeral of Milton, which is reported to have duped his persecutors into a belief of his death. Marvell's spirited lines on Paradise Lost, now prefixed to all editions, are an interesting memorial of a friendship honourable to both.
In 1660, Marvell was returned by his native town to the new Parliament, or Convention, which ushered in the Restoration; and to this circumstance he probably owed the immunity, and even favour, which he enjoyed under the restored Government, notwithstanding his having held office under the Protector. He was again returned, in December of the same year, as a member of the king's first parliament, and a third time to the parliament of 1661. Prudence might induce him afterwards to absent himself from the House and the country, during the disgraceful scenes that ensued; for, from the middle of 1661 to April 1663, he appears to have resided on the Continent. His absence at length led the High-Steward of Hull, Lord Bellasis, to give directions to the corporation to elect a new member, in case of their burgess not appearing in his seat in parliament. At the call of his constituents, Marvell returned, and resumed his seat; but three months after, he accepted the offer of Lord Carlisle, who had been appointed ambassador extraordinary to Muscovy, Sweden, and Denmark, to attend his lordship as secretary. This voyage, he tells his constituents, he undertook with the order 6 and good-liking of His Majesty, and by leave given from the
House, and entered in the journal.' The embassy occupied nearly two years; after which we find Marvell attending the parliament in Oxford, in 1665. From that time to 1678, he appears to have devoted himself with the most exemplary assiduity to his parliamentary duties as member of the House of Commons, keeping up a constant correspondence by letter with his constituents at Hull. The following notice appears in one of his letters, dated March 3, 1667.
«« Sir Harbottle Grimston, Master of the Rolls, moved for a bill to be brought in, to indemnify all Countyes, Cityes, and Burrows, for the Wages due to their Members for the time past; which was introduced by him upon very good reason, both because of the poverty of many people not being able to supply so long an arreare, especially new taxes now coming upon them; and also, because Sir John Shaw, the Recorder of Colchester, had sued the town for his Wages; several other Members also having, it seems, threatened their Burrows to do the same, unless they should chuse them upon another election to Parliament. This day had been appointed for grievances: but, it being grown near two o'clock, and the day being, indeed, extraordinary cold, to which the breaking of one of the House windows contributed, it was put off till next Tuesday.” pp. 31, 32.
The 'wages' were, for a burgess, two shillings a day, and for a knight of the shire, four shillings. And in ancient times, there were instances in which boroughs petitioned to be excused from sending members to parliament, as being unable to bear such an extraordinary expense! Marvell is supposed to have been the last representative that received wages from his constituents, the very last, probably, that contrived to make them pay for his dinners. The story of his refusing 10001. from Lord Treasurer Danby, at a time that he was at his last guinea, is told with variations ; but there is no reason to doubt its substantial authenticity. Although he is not known to have spoken in parliament, he obtained a considerable influence by his weight of character, talent, and indefatigable attention to parliamentary business. After he had become obnoxious to the Court party, Prince Rupert, it is said, would frequently visit him privately in his