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English Men of Letters
Edited by John Morley




New York
The MacMillan Company
London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd.
All rights reserved
Copyright, 1905,
By the MacMillan Company.

Set up and electrotyped. Published September, 1905.
Norwood Press
J.S. Cushing & Co. - Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


I desire to express my indebtedness to the following editions of
Marvell's Works: -

(1) _The Works of Andrew Marvell, Esq., Poetical, Controversial, and
Political_: containing many Original Letters, Poems, and Tracts
never before printed, with a New Life. By Captain Edward
Thompson. In three volumes. London, 1776.

(2) _The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Andrew Marvell, M.P._
Edited with Memorial-Introduction and Notes by the Rev. Alexander
B. Grosart. In four volumes. 1872.

(_In the Fuller Worthies Library._)

(3) _Poems and Satires of Andrew Marvell, sometime Member of
Parliament for Hull._ Edited by G.A. Aitken. Two volumes.
Lawrence and Bullen, 1892.

_Reprinted_ Routledge, 1905.

Mr. C.H. Firth's Life of Marvell in the thirty-sixth volume of _The
Dictionary of National Biography_ has, I am sure, preserved me from
some, and possibly from many, blunders.


June 3, 1905.





















The name of Andrew Marvell ever sounds sweet, and always has, to use
words of Charles Lamb's, a fine relish to the ear. As the author of
poetry of exquisite quality, where for the last time may be heard the
priceless note of the Elizabethan lyricist, whilst at the same moment
utterance is being given to thoughts and feelings which reach far
forward to Wordsworth and Shelley, Marvell can never be forgotten in his
native England.

Lines of Marvell's poetry have secured the final honours, and incurred
the peril, of becoming "familiar quotations" ready for use on a great
variety of occasion. We may, perhaps, have been bidden once or twice too
often to remember how the Royal actor

"Nothing common did, or mean,
Upon that memorable scene,"

or have been assured to our surprise by some self-satisfied worldling
how he always hears at his back,

"Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near."

A true poet can, however, never be defiled by the rough usage of the

As a politician Marvell lives in the old-fashioned vivacious
history-books (which if they die out, as they show some signs of doing,
will carry with them half the historic sense of the nation) as the hero
of an anecdote of an unsuccessful attempt made upon his political virtue
by a minister of the Crown, as a rare type of an inflexible patriot, and
as the last member of the House of Commons who was content to take wages
from, instead of contributing to the support of, his constituents. As
the intimate friend and colleague of Milton, Marvell shares some of the
indescribable majesty of that throne. A poet, a scholar, a traveller, a
diplomat, a famous wit, an active member of Parliament from the
Restoration to his death in 1678, the life of Andrew Marvell might _a
priori_ be supposed to be one easy to write, at all events after the
fashion in which men's lives get written. But it is nothing of the kind,
as many can testify. A more elusive, non-recorded character is hardly to
be found. We know all about him, but very little of him. His parentage,
his places of education, many of his friends and acquaintances, are all
known. He wrote nearly four hundred letters to his Hull constituents,
carefully preserved by the Corporation, in which he narrates with much
particularity the course of public business at Westminster.
Notwithstanding these materials, the man Andrew Marvell remains
undiscovered. He rarely comes to the surface. Though both an author and
a member of Parliament, not a trace of personal vanity is noticeable,
and vanity is a quality of great assistance to the biographer. That
Marvell was a strong, shrewd, capable man of affairs, with enormous
powers of self-repression, his Hull correspondence clearly proves, but
what more he was it is hard to say. He rarely spoke during his eighteen
years in the House of Commons. It is impossible to doubt that such a
man in such a place was, in Mr. Disraeli's phrase, a "personage." Yet
when we look for recognition of what we feel sure was the fact, we fail
to find it. Bishop Burnet, in his delightful history, supplies us with
sketches of the leading Parliamentarians of Marvell's day, yet to
Marvell himself he refers but once, and then not by name but as "the
liveliest droll of the age," words which mean much but tell little. In
Clarendon's _Autobiography_, another book which lets the reader into the
very clash and crowd of life, there is no mention of one of the author's
most bitter and cruel enemies. With Prince Rupert, Marvell was credited
by his contemporaries with a great intimacy; he was a friend of
Harrington's; it may be he was a member of the once famous "Rota" Club;
it is impossible to resist the conviction that wherever he went he made
a great impression, that he was a central figure in the lobbies of the
House of Commons and a man of much account; yet no record survives
either to convince posterity of his social charm or even to convey any
exact notion of his personal character.

A somewhat solitary man he would appear to have been, though fond of
occasional jollity. He lived alone in lodgings, and was much immersed in
business, about a good deal of which we know nothing except that it took
him abroad. His death was sudden, and when three years afterwards the
first edition of his poems made its appearance, it was prefaced by a
certificate signed "Mary Marvell," to the effect that everything in the
book was printed "according to the copies of my late dear husband."
Until after Marvell's death we never hear of Mrs. Marvell, and with this
signed certificate she disappears. In a series of Lives of Poets' Wives
it would be hard to make much of Mrs. Andrew Marvell. For different but
still cogent reasons it is hard to write a life of her famous husband.

Andrew Marvell was born at Winestead in Holdernesse, on Easter Eve, the
31st of March 1621, in the Rectory House, the elder Marvell, also
Andrew, being then the parson of the parish. No fitter birthplace for a
garden-poet can be imagined. Roses still riot in Winestead; the
fruit-tree roots are as mossy as in the seventeenth century. At the
right season you may still

"Through the hazels thick espy
The hatching throstle's shining eye."

Birds, fruits and flowers, woods, gardens, meads, and rivers still make
the poet's birthplace lovely.

"Loveliness, magic, and grace,
They are here - they are set in the world!
They abide! and the finest of souls
Has not been thrilled by them all,
Nor the dullest been dead to them quite.
The poet who sings them may die,
But they are immortal and live,
For they are the life of the world."

Holdernesse was not the original home of the Marvells, who would seem to
have been mostly Cambridgeshire folk, though the name crops up in other
counties. Whether Cambridge "men" of a studious turn still take long
walks I do not know, but "some vast amount of years ago" it was
considered a pleasant excursion, either on foot or on a hired steed,
from Cambridge to Meldreth, where the Elizabethan manor-house, long
known as "the Marvells'," agreeably embodied the tradition that here it
was that the poet's father was born in 1586. The Church Registers have
disappeared. Proof is impossible. That there were Marvells in the
neighbourhood is certain. The famous Cambridge antiquary, William Cole,
perhaps the greatest of all our collectors, has included among his
copies of early wills those of several Marvells and Mervells of Meldreth
and Shepreth, belonging to pre-Reformation times, as their pious gifts
to the "High Altar" and to "Our Lady's Light" pleasingly testify. But
our Andrew was a determined Protestant.

The poet's father is an interesting figure in our Church history.
Educated at Emmanuel College, from whence he proceeded a Master of Arts
in 1608, he took Orders; and after serving as curate at Flamborough, was
inducted to the living of Winestead in 1614, where he remained till
1624, in which year he went to Hull as master of the Grammar School and
lecturer, that is preacher, of Trinity Church. The elder Marvell
belonged, from the beginning to the end of his useful and even heroic
life, to the Reformed Church of England, or, as his son puts it, "a
conformist to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, though
I confess none of the most over-running and eager in them." The younger
Marvell, with one boyish interval, belonged all through his life to the
paternal school of religious thought.

Fuller's account of the elder Marvell is too good to be passed over: -

"He afterwards became Minister at Hull, where for his lifetime he was
well beloved. Most facetious in discourse, yet grave in his carriage,
a most excellent preacher who, like a good husband, never broached
what he had new brewed, but preached what he had pre-studied some
competent time before. Insomuch that he was wont to say that he would
cross the common proverb which called Saturday the working-day and
Monday the holyday of preachers. It happened that Anno Dom. 1640,
Jan. 23, crossing Humber in a Barrow boat, the same was sandwarpt,
and he was drowned therein (with Mrs. Skinner, daughter to Sir Edward
Coke, a very religious gentlewoman) by the carelessness, not to say
drunkenness of the boatmen, to the great grief of all good men. His
excellent comment upon St. Peter is daily desired and expected, if
the envy and covetousness of private persons _for their own use_
deprive not the public of the benefit thereof."[6:1]

This good man, to whom perhaps, remembering the date of his death, the
words may apply, _Tu vero felix non vitæ tantum claritate sed etiam
opportunitate mortis_, was married at Cherry Burton, on the 22nd of
October 1612, to Anne Pease, a member of a family destined to become
widely known throughout the north of England. Of this marriage there
were five children, all born at Winestead, viz. three daughters, Anne,
Mary, and Elizabeth, and two sons, Andrew and John, the latter of whom
died a year after his birth, and was buried at Winestead on the 20th
September 1624.

The three daughters married respectively James Blaydes of Sutton,
Yorkshire, on the 29th of December 1633; Edmund Popple, afterwards
Sheriff of Hull, on the 18th of August 1636; and Robert More. Anne's
eldest son, Joseph Blaydes, was Mayor of Hull in 1702, having married
the daughter of a preceding Mayor in 1698. The descendants of this
branch still flourish. The Popples also had children, one of whom,
William Popple, was a correspondent of his uncle the poet's, and a
merchant of repute, who became in 1696 Secretary to the Board of Trade,
and the friend of the most famous man who ever sat at the table of that
Board, John Locke. A son of this William Popple led a very comfortable
eighteenth-century life, which is in strong contrast with that of his
grand-uncle, for, having entered the Cofferers' Office about 1730, he
was made seven years later Solicitor and Clerk of the Reports to the
Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, and in 1745 became in
succession to a relative, one Alured Popple, Governor of the Bermudas, a
post he retained until his death, which occurred not

"Where the remote Bermudas ride
In the ocean's bosom unespied,"

but at his house in Hampstead. So well placed and idle a gentleman was
almost bound to be a bad poet and worse dramatist, and this William
Popple was both.

Marvell's third sister, Elizabeth, does not seem to have had issue, a
certain Thomas More, or Moore, a Fellow of Magdalen College, Cambridge,
whose name occurs in family records, being her stepson.

In the latter part of 1624 the elder Marvell resigned the living of
Winestead, and took up the duties of schoolmaster and lecturer, or
preacher, at Hull. Important duties they were, for the old Grammar
School of Hull dates back to 1486, and may boast of a long career of
usefulness, never having fallen into that condition of decay and
disrepute from which so many similar endowments have been of late years
rescued by the beneficent and, of course, abused action of the Charity
Commissioners. Andrew Marvell the elder succeeded to and was succeeded
by eminent headmasters. Trinity Church, where the poet's father preached
on Sundays to crowded and interested congregations, was then what it
still is, though restored by Scott, one of the great churches in the
north of England.

The Rev. Andrew Marvell made his mark upon Hull. Mr. Grosart, who lacked
nothing but the curb upon a too exuberant vocabulary, a little less
enthusiasm and a great deal more discretion, to be a model editor, tells
us in his invaluable edition of _The Complete Works in Verse and Prose
of Andrew Marvell, M.P._,[8:1] that he had read a number of the elder
Marvell's manuscripts, consisting of sermons and miscellaneous papers,
from which Mr. Grosart proceeds: -

"I gather three things.

"(1) That he was a man of a very brave, fearlessly outspoken
character. Some of his practical applications in his sermons before
the Magistrates are daring in their directness of reproof, and
melting in their wistfulness of entreaty.

"(2) That he was a well-read man. His Sermons are as full of
classical and patristic allusions and pat sayings from the most
occult literatures as even Bishop Andrewes.

"(3) That he was a man of tireless activity. Besides the two offices
named, he became head of one of the Great Hospitals of the Town
(Charter House), and in an address to the Governors placed before
them a prescient and statesmanlike plan for the better management of
its revenues, and for the foundation of a Free Public Library to be
accessible to all."

When at a later day, and in the midst of a fierce controversy, Andrew
Marvell wrote of the clergy as "the reserve of our Christianity," he
doubtless had such men as his father in his mind and memory.

It was at the old Grammar School of Hull, and with his father as his
_Orbilius_, that Marvell was initiated into the mysteries of the Latin
grammar, and was, as he tells us, put to his

"Montibus, inquit, erunt; et erant submontibus illis;
Risit Atlantiades; et me mihi, perfide, prodis?
Me mihi prodis? ait.

"For as I remember this scanning was a liberal art that we learn'd at
Grammar School, and to scan verses as he does the Author's prose
before we did or were obliged to understand them."[8:2]

Irrational methods have often amazingly good results, and the Hull
Grammar School provided its head-master's only son with the rudiments of
learning, thus enabling him to become in after years what John Milton
himself, the author of that terrible _Treatise on Education_ addressed
to Mr. Hartlibb, affirmed Andrew Marvell to be in a written testimonial,
"a scholar, and well-read in the Latin and Greek authors."

Attached to the Grammar School there was "a great garden," renowned for
its wall-fruit and flowers; so by leaving Winestead behind, our
"garden-poet," that was to be, was not deprived of inspiration.

Apart from these meagre facts, we know nothing of Marvell's boyhood at
Hull. His clerical foe, Dr. Parker, afterwards Bishop of Oxford, writes
contemptuously of "an hunger-starved whelp of a country vicar," and in
another passage, which undoubtedly refers to Marvell, he speaks of "an
unhappy education among Boatswains and Cabin-boys," whose unsavoury
phrases, he goes on to suggest, Marvell picked up in his childhood. But
truth need not be looked for in controversial pages. The best argument
for a married clergy is to be found, for Englishmen at all events, in
the sixty-seven volumes of the _Dictionary of National Biography_, where
are recorded the services rendered to religion, philosophy, poetry,
justice, and the empire by the "whelps" of many a country vicar.
Parsons' wives may sometimes be trying and hard to explain, but an
England without the sons of her clergy would be shorn of half her glory.

Marvell's boyhood seems to have been surrounded with the things that
most make for a child's happiness. A sensible, affectionate, humorous,
religious father, occupying a position of authority, and greatly
respected, a mother and three elder sisters to make much of his bright
wit and early adventures, a comfortable yet simple home, and an
atmosphere of piety, learning, and good fellowship. What more is wanted,
or can be desired? The "Boatswains" and "Cabin-boys" of Bishop Parker's
fancy were in the neighbourhood, no doubt, and as stray companions for a
half-holiday must have had their attractions; but it is unnecessary to
attribute Andrew Marvell's style in controversy to his early
acquaintance with a sea-faring population, for he is far more likely to
have picked it up from his great friend and colleague, the author of
_Paradise Lost_.

Marvell's school education over, he went up to Cambridge, not to his
father's old college, but to the more splendid foundation of Trinity.
About the date of his matriculation there is a doubt. In Wood's _Athenæ
Oxonienses_ there is a note to the effect that Marvell was admitted "in
matriculam Acad. Cant. Coll. Trin." on the 14th of December 1633, when
the boy was but twelve years old. Dr. Lort, a famous master of Trinity
in his day, writing in November 1765 to Captain Edward Thompson, of whom
more later on, told the captain that until 1635 there was no register of
admissions of ordinary students, or pensioners, as they are called, but
only a register of Fellows and Foundation Scholars, and in this
last-named register Marvell's name appears as a Scholar sworn and
admitted on the 13th of April 1638. As, however, Marvell took his B.A.
degree in 1639, he must have been in residence long before April 1638.
Probably Marvell went to Trinity about 1635, just before the register of
pensioners was begun, as a pensioner, becoming a Scholar in 1638, and
taking his degree in 1639.

Cambridge undergraduates do not usually keep diaries, nor after they
have become Masters of Art are they much in the habit of giving details
as to their academic career. Marvell is no exception to this provoking
rule. He nowhere tells us what his University taught him or how. The
logic of the schools he had no choice but to learn. Molineus, Peter
Ramus, Seton, Keckerman were text-books of reputation, from one or
another of which every Cambridge man had to master his _simpliciters_,
his _quids_, his _secundum quids_, his _quales_, and his _quantums_.
Aristotle's Physics, Ethics, and Politics were "tutor's books," and
those young men who loved to hear themselves talk were left free to
discuss, much to Hobbes's disgust, "the freedom of the will, incorporeal
substance, everlasting nows, ubiquities, hypostases, which the people
understand not nor will ever care for."

In the life of Matthew Robinson,[11:1] who went up to Cambridge a little
later than Marvell (June 1645), and was probably a harder reader, we are
told that "the strength of his studies lay in the metaphysics and in
those subtle authors for many years which rendered him an irrefragable
disputant _de quolibet ente_, and whilst he was but senior freshman he
was found in the bachelor schools, disputing ably with the best of the
senior sophisters." Robinson despised the old-fashioned Ethics and
Physics, but with the new Cartesian or Experimental Philosophy he was
_inter primos_. History, particularly the Roman, was in great favour at
both Universities at this time, and young men were taught, so old Hobbes
again grumbles, to despise monarchy "from Cicero, Seneca, Cato and other
politicians of Rome, and Aristotle of Athens, who seldom spake of kings
but as of wolves and other ravenous beasts."[12:1] The Muses were never
neglected at Cambridge, as the University exercises survive to prove,
whilst modern languages, Spanish and Italian for example, were greedily
acquired by such an eager spirit as Richard Crashaw, the poet, who came
into residence at Pembroke in 1631. There were problems to be "kept" in
the college chapel, lectures to be attended, both public and private,
declamations to be delivered, and even in the vacations the scholars
were not exempt from "exercises" either in hall or in their tutors'
rooms. Earnest students read their Greek Testaments, and even their
Hebrew Bibles, and filled their note-books, working more hours a day
than was good for their health, whilst the idle ones wasted their time
as best they could in an unhealthy, over-crowded town, in an age which
knew nothing of boating, billiards, or cricket. A tennis-court there was
in Marvell's time, for in Dr. Worthington's _Diary_, under date 3rd of
April 1637, it stands recorded that on that day and in that place that
learned man received "a dangerous blow on the Eye."[12:2]

The only incident we know of Marvell's undergraduate days is remarkable
enough, for, boy though he was, he seems, like the Gibbon of a later
day, to have suddenly become a Roman Catholic. This occurrence may serve
to remind us how, during Marvell's time at Trinity, the University of
Cambridge (ever the precursor in thought-movements) had a Catholic
revival of her own, akin to that one which two hundred years afterwards
happened at Oxford, and has left so much agreeable literature behind it.
Fuller in his history of the University of Cambridge tells us a little
about this highly interesting and important movement: -

"Now began the University (1633-4) to be much beautified in
buildings, every college either casting its skin with the snake, or
renewing its bill with the eagle, having their courts or at least
their fronts and Gatehouses repaired and adorned. But the greatest
alteration was in their Chapels, most of them being graced with the
accession of organs. And seeing musick is one of the liberal arts,
how could it be quarrelled at in an University if they sang with
understanding both of the matter and manner thereof. Yet some took
great distaste thereat as attendancie to superstition."[13:1]

The chapel at Peterhouse, we read elsewhere, which was built in 1632,
and consecrated by Bishop White of Ely, had a beautiful ceiling and a
noble east window. "A grave divine," Fuller tells us, "preaching before
the University at St. Mary's, had this smart passage in his Sermon - that
as at the Olympian Games he was counted the Conqueror who could drive
his chariot wheels nearest the mark yet so as not to hinder his running
or to stick thereon, so he who in his Sermons could preach _near Popery_
and yet _no Popery_, _there was your man_. And indeed it now began to be
the general complaint of most moderate men that many in the University,
both in the schools and pulpits, approached the opinions of the Church
of Rome nearer than ever before."

Archbishop Laud, unlike the bishops of Dr. Newman's day, favoured the

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