1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Marston

Robert Aris Willmott, in Lives of Sacred Poets (1834) 74.



Hall was followed by Marston, with his "rough-hew'd rhymes," his bitter personalities, his lifelike sketches, and the choice pictorial epithets that won the youthful ear of Milton. Both attacked the vices and follies of the times — Hall, with the scholastic severity of one acquainted with vice only by contemplating its effects in others; and Marston, with a vigour and warmth of colouring betokening a familiarity with the scenes he described. His invectives against crime are frequently only incentives to its commission, unintentionally, we are told, on the author's part, and yet not less dangerous on that account. Warton has excellently remarked, that when Vice is led forth to be sacrificed at the shrine of Virtue, the victim should not be too richly drest. Marston, unfortunately, often bound the garland upon her head. Compared with Bishop Hall, his rhythm is more copious and disengaged, and, although not so carefully modulated, flows with a more sustained energy and power.