1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Andrew Marvell

Bryan Waller Procter, in Effigies Poeticae, or, the Portraits of the British Poets (1824) 50-51.



From an original Picture, presented by his Nephew to the British Museum.

MARVELL was one of the truest men that ever stood up for the great cause of liberty. We do not know that a finer or more inflexible spirit can be found either in our own or any foreign nation. He was a politician, a wit, and a poet. He stood guard over the people's rights, with a firm hand, unseduced, and unterrified. He lashed vice and folly with the whip of satire; and pleased himself, and did honour to his friends, by recording his attachments in much delightful verse. His verses, indeed, flourish equally in the green places of England and the dykes of Holland; among friends and enemies. He was the author of a certain phrase, (he is speaking of a lady having been tutored,

Under the destiny severe
Of Fairfax, and the starry Vere,)—

which we might almost suppose was the origin of that famous line of Lord Byron's, "The starry Galileo and his woes" — the same effort of the imagination being observable in both. Marvell's lines are sometimes cramped, and he is, like many others, too fond of conceits; but he has many graceful, many piquant, and some very touching things in his poetry. The reader will recognise, in his open look and waving hair, it is to he hoped, something as well of the patriot as the poet.