1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Andrew Marvell

William Tooke, Note to The Author; Poetical Works of Charles Churchill (1804) 1:318-19n.



Is this the land, where, in those worst of times,
The hardy poet rais'd his honest rhimes
To dread rebuke, and bade Controlment speak
In guilty blushes on the villain's cheek;
Bade Pow'r turn pale, kept mighty rogues in awe,
And made them fear the Muse, who fear'd not law?

We feel great pleasure in recording the unsullied name of Andrew Marvell as the character here delineated. His spirited efforts to stem the torrent of corruption, and his noble rejection, in the midst of poverty, of the brilliant offers of the Court, must rank him high in the esteem of every lover of his country. Examples of patriotism so disinterested occur too seldom for us not to wish to dwell upon the merits of Andrew Marvell. His style, whether in prose or verse, was fraught with wit and argument. Of his controversy with Archbishop Parker, Dean Swift said, that the "Rehearsal transprosed" was the only instance of an answer which could be read with pleasure, when the publication which occasioned it was forgotten. His poems have no high polish, but the circumstance of their being exclusively of a political and personal nature will alone sufficiently account for their being now neglected. He represented his native town of Kingston-upon-Hull, in the several parliaments from the restoration till his death in 1678, and was supported during all that time by his constituents. As a senator he steadily pursued the interests of his country, and his high reputation for integrity gave him a weight in the house which no other member possessed. Charles II. was highly pleased with his conversation, and fruitlessly endeavoured to attach him to the court; — the offers made to him by Lord Treasurer Danby for that purpose, when he was in an abject state of poverty, are too well known to be here repeated. In 1688 a subscription was raised at Kingston for the purpose of erecting a monument with a suitable inscription to his memory, but the rector of that place insisted upon refusing admission into his church of any memorial of so obstinate a whig.

Mason, in one of his odes, pays the following appropriate and tribute to the distinguished honesty of Andrew Marvell:

Pointed with Satire's keenest steel,
The shafts of wit he darts around;
Ev'n mitred dulness learns to feel,
And shrinks beneath the wound,
In awful poverty his honest muse
Walks forth vindictive through a venal land,
In vain corruption sheds her golden dews,
In vain oppression lifts her iron hand;
He scorns them both, and arm'd with truth alone,
Bids lust and folly tremble on the throne.