« PreviousContinue »
Hold up your heads, and thank the gentleman
* He means they are to scrape, and make a bow.
† “ Thanks, thanks."--They say it in Latin, according to school custom, and to show their progress.
M A R V EL.
BORN, 1020—DIED, 1678.
ANDREW MARVEL, a thoughtful and graceful poet, a masterly prose-writer and controversialist, a wit of the first water, and, above all, an incorruptible patriot, is thought to have had no mean hand in putting an end to the dynasty of the Stuarts. His wit helped to render them ridiculous, and his integrity added weight to the sting. The enmity, indeed, of such a man was in itself a reproach to them; for Marvel, though bred on the Puritan side, was no Puritan himself, nor a foe to any kind of reasonable and respectable government. He had served Cromwell with his friend Milton, as Latin Secretary, but would have aided Charles the Second as willingly, in his place in Parliament, had the king been an honest man instead of a pensioner of France. The story of his refusing a carte blanche from the king's treasurer, and then sending out to borrow a guinea, would be too well known to need allusion to it in a book like the present, if it did not contain a specimen of a sort of practical wit.
Marvel being pressed by the royal emissary to state what would satisfy his expectations, and finding that there was no other mode of persuading him that he had none, called in his servant to testify to his dining three days in succession upon one piece of mutton.
Even the wise and refined Marvel, however, was not free from the coarseness of his age ; and hence I find the same provoking difficulty as in the case of his predecessors, with regard to extracts from the poetical portion of his satire. With the prose I should not have been at a loss. But the moment these wits of old time began rhyming, they seem to have thought themselves bound to give the same after-dinner license to their fancy, as when they were called upon for a song. To read the noble ode on Cromwell, in which such a generous compliment is paid to Charles the First, -the devout and beautiful one entitled Bermuda, and the sweet overflowing fancies put into the mouth of the Nymph lamenting the loss of her Faun,—and then to follow up their perusal with some, nay most of the lampoons that were so formidable to Charles and his brother, you would hardly think it possible for the same man to have written both, if examples were not too numerous to the contrary. Fortunately for the reputation of Marvel's wi with those who chose to become acquainted with it, he wrote a great deal better in prose than in verse, and the prose does not take the license of the verse. Hence, as Swift for another reason observes, we can still read with pleasure his answer to his now forgotten antagonist Parker. Of his witty poems, I can only give a single one entire, which is the following. The reader knows the impudent Colonel Blood, who, in the disguise of a clergyman, attempted to steal the crown, in payment (as he said) of dues withheld from him in Ireland. Marvel had not forgotten the days of Laud, and he saw people still on the bench of bishops who were for renewing the old persecutions. Hence the bitterness of ihe implication made against prelates.
ON BLOOD STEALING THE CROWN.
• The girdle of a cassock; generally spelt surcingle.
DESCRIPTION OF HOLLAND.'
Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,
A free ocean; for which the Dutch jurists were then contending with the English.
t I cannot discover the meaning of this word, and unfortunately am at a distance from linguists better informed.
| Fresh cod
For as with pigmys, who best kills the crane,
| Description of Holland.—The jest of this effusion lies in the in tentional and excessive exaggeration. To enjoy it thoroughly, i is necessary perhaps that the reader should be capable, in some degree, of the like sort of jesting, or at least have animal spirits enough to run willing riot with the extravagance. Mr. Hazlitt, for defect of these, could see no kind of joke in it, notwithstand. ing his admiration of Marvel. He once began an argument with Charles Lamb and myself, to prove to us that we ought not to laugh at such things. Somebody meanwhile was reading the verses ; and the only answer which they left us the power to make to our critical friend was by laughing immeasurably. But I have mentioned this in the Introductory Essay.
FLECNOE, AN ENGLISH PRIEST AT ROME.'
Obliged by frequent visits of this man,