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Catholic revival, and when Mr. Bernard, the lecturer of St. Sepulchre's,
London, preached a "No Popery" sermon at St. Mary's, Cambridge, he was
dragged into the High Commission Court, and, as the hateful practice
then was, a practice dear to the soul of Laud, was bidden to subscribe a
formal recantation. This Mr. Bernard refused to do, though professing
his sincere sorrow and penitence for any oversights and hasty
expressions in his sermon. Thereupon he was sent back to prison, where
he died. "If," adds Fuller, "he was miserably abused in prison by the
keepers (as some have reported) to the shortening of his life, He that
maketh inquisition for blood either hath or will be a revenger

By the side of this grim story the much-written-about incidents of the
Oxford Movement seem trivial enough.

Not a few Cambridge scholars of this period, Richard Crashaw among the
number, found permanent refuge in Rome.

The story of Marvell's conversion is emphatic but vague in its details.
The "Jesuits," who were well represented in Cambridge at the time, are
said to have persuaded him to leave Cambridge secretly, and to take
refuge in one of their houses in London. Thither the elder Marvell
followed in pursuit, and after search came across his son in a
bookseller's shop, where he succeeded both in convincing the boy of his
errors and in persuading him to return to Trinity. An odd story, and
not, as it stands, very credible; but Mr. Grosart discovered among the
Marvell papers at Hull a fragment of a letter without signature,
address, or date, which throws some sort of light on the incident. This
letter was evidently, as Mr. Grosart surmises, sent to the elder Marvell
by some similarly afflicted parent. In its fragmentary state the letter
reads as follows: -

"Worthy S^r, - M^r Breerecliffe being w^th me to-day, I related vnto
him a fearfull passage lately at Cambridg touching a sonne of mine,
Bachelor of Arts in Katherine Hall, w^ch was this. He was lately
inuited to a supper in towne by a gentlewoman, where was one M^r
Nichols a felow of Peterhouse, and another or two masters of arts, I
know not directly whether felowes or not: my sonne hauing noe
p'ferment, but liuing meerely of my penny, they pressed him much to
come to liue at their house, and for chamber and extraordinary bookes
they promised farre: and then earnestly moued him to goe to Somerset
house, where they could doe much for p'ferring him to some eminent
place, and in conclusion to popish arguments to seduce him soe rotten
and vnsauory as being ouerheard it was brought in question before the
heads of the Uniuersity: _Dr. Cosens_, being _Vice Chancelor_ noe
punishment is inioined him: but on Ash-wednesday next a recantation
in regent house of some popish tenets Nicols let fall: I p'ceive by
M^r Breercliffe some such prank vsed towards y^r sonne: I desire to
know what y^u did therin: thinking I cannot doe god better seruice
then bring it vppon the stage either in Parliament if it hold: or
informing some Lords of the Counsail to whom I stand much oblieged if
a bill in Starchamber be meete To terrify others by making these some
publique spectacle: for if such fearfull practises may goe vnpunished
I take care whether I may send a child ... the lord."[15:1]

The reference to Dr. Cosens, or Cosin, being Vice-Chancellor gives a
clue to the date, for Cosin was chosen Vice-Chancellor on the 4th of
November 1639.[15:2]

Though we can know nothing of the elder Marvell's methods of
re-conversion, they were more successful than the elder Gibbon's, who,
as we know, packed the future historian off to Lausanne and a Swiss
pastor's house. What Gibbon became on leaving off his Romanism we can
guess for ourselves, whereas Marvell, once out of the hands of these
very shadowy "Jesuits," remained the staunchest of Christian Protestants
to the end of his days.

This strange incident, and two college exercises or poems, one in
Greek, the other in Latin, both having reference to an addition to the
Royal Family, and appearing in the _Musa Cantabrigiensis_ for 1637, are
all the materials that exist for weaving the story of Marvell, the
Cambridge undergraduate. The Latin verses, which are Horatian in style,
contain one pretty stanza, composed apparently before the sex of the
new-born infant was known at Cambridge.

"Sive felici Carolum figurâ
Parvulus princeps imitetur almae
Sive Mariae decoret puellam
Dulcis imago."

After taking his Bachelor's degree in 1639, Marvell, being still a
Scholar of the college, must have gone away, for the Conclusion Book of
Trinity, under date September 24, 1641, records as follows: -

"It is agreed by y^e Master and 8 seniors y^t M^r Carter and D^r
Wakefields, D^r Marvell, D^r Waterhouse, and D^r Maye in regard y^t
some of them are reported to be married and y^t others look not after
y^eir days nor Acts shall receave no more benefitt of y^e Coll and
shall be out of y^ier places unless y^ei shew just cause to y^e Coll
for y^e contrary in 3 months."

Dr. Lort, in his amiable letter of 1765, already mentioned, points out
that this entry contains no reflection on Marvell's morals, but shows
that he was given "notice to quit" for non-residence, "then much more
strictly enjoined than it is now." The days referred to in the entry
were, so the master obligingly explains, "the certain number allowed by
statute to absentees," whilst the "acts mean the Exercises also enjoyned
by the statutes." Dr. Lort adds, "It does not appear, by any subsequent
entry, whether Marvell did or did not comply with this order." We may
now safely assume he did not. Marvell's Cambridge days were over.

The vacations, no inconsiderable part of the year, were probably spent
by Marvell under his father's roof at Hull, where his two elder sisters
were married and settled. It is not to be wondered at that Andrew
Marvell should, for so many years, have represented Hull in the House of
Commons, for both he and his family were well known in the town. The
elder Marvell added to his reputation as a teacher and preacher the
character of a devoted servant of his flock in the hour of danger. The
plague twice visited Hull during the time of the elder Marvell, first in
1635 and again in 1638. In those days men might well pray to be
delivered from "plague, pestilence, and famine." Hull suffered terribly
on both occasions. We have seen, in comparatively recent times, the
effect of the cholera upon large towns, and the plague was worse than
the cholera many times over. The Hull preacher, despite the stigma of
_facetiousness_, which still clings to him, stuck to his post, visiting
the sick, burying the dead, and even, which seems a little superfluous,
preaching and afterwards printing "by request" their funeral sermons. A
brave man, indeed, and one reserved for a tragic end.

In April 1638 the poet's mother died. In the following November the
elder Marvell married a widow lady, but his own end was close upon him.
The earliest consecutive account of this strange event is in Gent's
_History of Hull_ (1735): - "This year, 1640, the Rev. Mr. Andrew
Marvell, Lecturer of Hull, sailing over the Humber in company with
Madame Skinner of Thornton College and a young beautiful couple who were
going to be wedded; a speedy Fate prevented the designed happy union
thro' a violent storm which overset the boat and put a period to all
their lives, nor were there any remains of them or the vessel ever after
found, tho' earnestly sought for on distant shores."

Thus died by drowning a brave man, a good Christian, and an excellent
clergyman of the Reformed Church of England. The plain narrative just
quoted has been embroidered by many long-subsequent writers in the
interests of those who love presentiments and ghostly intimations of
impending events, and in one of these versions it is recorded, that
though the morning was clear, the breeze fair, and the company gay, yet
when stepping into the boat "the reverend man exclaimed, 'Ho for
Heaven,' and threw his staff ashore and left it to Providence to fulfil
its awful warning."

So melancholy an occurrence naturally excited great attention, and long
lingered in local memories. Everybody in Hull knew who was their
member's father.

There is an obstinate tradition quite unverifiable that Mrs. Skinner,
the mother of the beautiful young lady who was drowned with the elder
Marvell, adopted the young Marvell as a son, sending to Cambridge for
him after his father's death, and providing him with the means of
travel, and that afterwards she bequeathed him her estate. Whether there
is any truth in this story cannot now be ascertained. The Skinners were
a well-known Hull family, one of them, a brother of that Cyriac Skinner
who was urged by Milton in immortal verse to enjoy himself whilst the
mood was on him, having been Mayor of Hull. The lady, doubtless, had
money, and Andrew Marvell was in need of money, and appears to have been
supplied with it. It is quite possible the tradition is true.


[6:1] Fuller's _Worthies_ (1662), p. 159.

[8:1] "The Fuller Worthies Library," 4 vols., 1872. Hereafter referred
to as _Grosart_.

[8:2] _Mr. Smirke or the Divine in Mode._ - Grosart, iv. 15.

[11:1] _Autobiography of Matthew Robinson_. Edited by J.E.B. Mayor,
Cambridge, 1856.

[12:1] _Behemoth_, Hobbes' Works (Molesworth), vol. vi., see pp. 168,
218, 233-6.

[12:2] Worthington's _Diary_, vol. i. p. 5 (Chetham Society).

[13:1] Fuller, _History of Cambridge University_ (1655), p. 167.

[14:1] Fuller, p. 166.

[15:1] Grosart, I., xxviii.

[15:2] See Worthington's _Diary_, vol. i. p. 7.



The seventeenth century was the century of travel for educated
Englishmen - of long, leisurely travel. Milton's famous Italian tour
lasted fifteen months. John Evelyn's _Wander-Jahre_ occupied four years.
Andrew Marvell lived abroad in France, Spain, Holland, and Italy from
1642 to 1646, and we have Milton's word for it that when the traveller
returned he was well acquainted with the French, Dutch, Spanish, and
Italian languages. Andrew Marvell was a highly cultivated man, living in
a highly cultivated age, in daily converse with scholars, poets,
philosophers, and men of very considerable scientific attainments. In
reading Clarendon and Burnet, and whilst turning over Aubrey's
delightful gossip, it is impossible not to be struck with the width and
variety of the learning as well as with the wit of the period.
Intellectually it was a great age.

No record remains of Marvell's travels during these years. Up and down
his writings the careful reader will come across pleasant references to
foreign manners and customs, betokening the keen humorous observer, and
the possession of that wide-eyed faculty that takes a pleasure, half
contemplative, half the result of animal spirits, in watching the way of
the world wherever you may chance to be. Of another and an earlier
traveller, Sir Henry Wotton, we read in "Walton's _Life_."

"And whereas he was noted in his youth to have a sharp wit and apt to
jest, _that_ by time, travel, and conversation was so polished and
made useful, that his company seemed to be one of the delights of

In all Marvell's work, as poet, as Parliamentarian, as controversialist,
we shall see the travelled man. Certainly no one ever more fully grasped
the sense of the famous sentence given by Wotton to Milton, when the
latter was starting on his travels: "_I pensieri stretti ed il viso

Marvell was in Rome about 1645. I can give no other date during the
whole four years. This, our only date, rests upon an assumption. In
Marvell's earliest satirical poem he gives an account of a visit he paid
in Rome to the unlucky poetaster Flecknoe, who was not in Rome until
1645. If, therefore, the poem records an actual visit, it follows that
the author of the poem was in Rome at the same time. It is not very
near, but it is as near as we can get.

Richard Flecknoe was an Irish priest of blameless life, with a passion
for scribbling and for printing. His exquisite reason for both these
superfluous acts is worth quoting: -

"I write chiefly to avoid idleness, and print to avoid the imputation
(of idleness), and as others do it to live after they are dead, I do
it only not to be thought dead whilst I am alive."[20:1]

Such frankness should have disarmed ridicule, but somehow or another
this amiable man came to be regarded as the type of a dull author, and
his name passed into a proverb for stupidity, so much so that when
Dryden in 1682 was casting about how best to give pain to Shadwell, he
devised the plan of his famous satire, "MacFlecknoe," where in biting
verse he describes Flecknoe (who was happily dead) as an aged Prince -

"Who like Augustus young
Was called to empire and had governed long;
In prose and verse was owned, without dispute,
Through all the realms of nonsense absolute."

Dryden goes on to picture the aged Flecknoe,

"pondering which of all his sons was fit
To reign and wage immortal war with Wit,"

and fixing on Shadwell.

"Shadwell alone my perfect image bears,
Mature in dulness from his tender years;
Shadwell alone, of all my sons, is he
Who stands confirmed in full stupidity:
The rest to some faint meaning make pretence,
But Shadwell never deviates into sense."

Thus has it come about that Flecknoe, the Irish priest, whom Marvell
visited in his Roman garret in 1645, bears a name ever memorable in

Marvell's own poem, though eclipsed by the splendour of Glorious John's
resounding lines, has an interest of its own as being, in its roughly
humorous way, a forerunner of the "Dunciad" and "Grub Street"
literature, by which in sundry moods 'tis "pleasure to be bound." It
describes seeking out the poetaster in his lodging "three staircases
high," at the sign of the Pelican, in a room so small that it seemed "a
coffin set in the stair's head." No sooner was the rhymer unearthed than
straightway he began to recite his poetry in dismal tones, much to his
visitor's dismay: -

"But I who now imagin'd myself brought
To my last trial, in a serious thought
Calm'd the disorders of my youthful breast
And to my martyrdom preparèd rest.
Only this frail ambition did remain,
The last distemper of the sober brain,
That there had been some present to assure
The future ages how I did endure."

To stop the cataract of "hideous verse," Marvell invited the scarecrow
to dinner, and waits while he dresses. As they turn to leave, for the
room is so small that the man who comes in last must be the first to go
out, they meet a friend of the poet on the stairs, who makes a third at
dinner. After dinner Flecknoe produces ten quires of paper, from which
the friend proceeds to read, but so infamously as to excite their
author's rage: -

"But all his praises could not now appease
The provok't Author, whom it did displease
To hear his verses by so just a curse
That were ill made, condemned to be read worse:
And how (impossible!) he made yet more
Absurdities in them than were before:
For his untun'd voice did fall or raise
As a deaf man upon the Viol plays,
Making the half-points and the periods run
Confus'der than the atoms in the sun:
Thereat the poet swell'd with anger full,"

and after violent exclamations retires in dudgeon back to his room. The
faithful friend is in despair. What is he to do to make peace? "Who
would commend his mistress now?" Marvell

"counselled him to go in time
Ere the fierce poet's anger turned to rhyme."

The advice was taken, and Marvell, finding himself at last free from
boredom, went off to St. Peter's to return thanks.

This poem is but an unsatisfactory _souvenir de voyage_, but it is all
there is.

What Marvell was doing during the stirring years 1646-1650 is not
known. Even in the most troubled times men go about their business, and
our poet was always a man of affairs. As for his opinions during these
years, we can only guess at them from those to which he afterwards gave
expression. Marvell was neither a Republican nor a Puritan. Like his
father before him, he was a Protestant and a member of the Reformed
Church of England. He stood for both King and Parliament. Archbishop
Laud he distrusted, and it may well be detested, but good churchmen have
often distrusted and even detested their archbishops. Mr. Gladstone had
no great regard for Archbishop Tait. Before the Act of Uniformity and
the repressive legislation that followed upon its heels had driven
English dissent into its final moulds, it was not doctrine but
ceremonies that disturbed men's minds; and Marvell belonged to that
school of English churchmen, by no means the least distinguished school,
which was not disposed to quarrel with their fellow-Christians over
white surplices, the ring in matrimony, or the attitude during Holy
Communion. He shared the belief of a contemporary that no system is bad
enough to destroy a good man, or good enough to save a bad one.

The Civil War was to Marvell what it was to most wise men not devoured
by faction - a deplorable event. Twenty years after he wrote in the
_Rehearsal Transprosed_: -

"Whether it be a war of religion or of liberty it is not worth the
labour to inquire. Whichsoever was at the top, the other was at the
bottom; but upon considering all, I think the cause was too good to
have been fought for. Men ought to have trusted God - they ought to
have trusted the King with that whole matter. The arms of the Church
are prayers and tears, the arms of the subject are patience and
petitions. The King himself being of so accurate and piercing a
judgment would soon have felt it where it stuck. For men may spare
their pains when Nature is at work, and the world will not go the
faster for our driving. Even as his present Majesty's happy
Restoration did itself, so all things else happen in their best and
proper time, without any heed of our officiousness."[24:1]

In the face of this passage and many another of the like spirit, it is
puzzling to find such a man, for example, as Thomas Baker, the ejected
non-juring Fellow and historian of St. John's College, Cambridge
(1656-1740), writing of Marvell as "that bitter republican"; and Dryden,
who probably knew Marvell, comparing his controversial pamphlets with
those of Martin Marprelate, or at all events speaking of Martin
Marprelate as "the Marvell of those times."[24:2] A somewhat
anti-prelatical note runs through Marvell's writings, but it is a
familiar enough note in the works of the English laity, and by no means
dissevers its possessor from the Anglican Church. But there are some
heated expressions in the satires which probably gave rise to the belief
that Marvell was a Republican.[24:3]

During the Commonwealth Marvell was content to be a civil servant. He
entertained for the Lord-Protector the same kind of admiration that such
a loyalist as Chateaubriand could not help feeling for Napoleon. Even
Clarendon's pedantic soul occasionally vibrates as he writes of Oliver,
and compares his reputation in foreign courts with that of his own
royal master. When the Restoration came Marvell rejoiced. Two
old-established things had been destroyed by Cromwell - Kings and
Parliaments, and Marvell was glad to see them both back again in

Some verses of Marvell's attributable to this period (1646-1650) show
him keeping what may be called Royalist company. With a dozen other
friends of Richard Lovelace, the Cavalier poet and the author of two of
the most famous stanzas in English verse, Marvell contributed some
commendatory lines addressed to his "noble friend, Mr. Richard Lovelace,
upon his Poems," which appeared with the poems themselves in that year
of fate, 1649. "After the murder of the King," says Anthony Wood,
"Lovelace was set at liberty, and having by that time consumed all his
estate, grew very melancholy, became very poor in body and purse, was
the object of charity, went in ragged clothes (whereas when he was in
glory he wore cloth of gold and silver), and mostly lodged in obscure
and dirty places, more befitting the worst of beggars and poorest of

Then it was that _Lucasta_ made its first appearance. When the fortunes
of the gallant poet were at their lowest and never to revive, Marvell
seizes the occasion to deplore the degeneracy of the times, a familiar
theme with poets: -

"Our civil wars have lost the civic crown,
He highest builds who with most art destroys,
And against others' fame his own employs."

He then glances scornfully at the new Presbyterian censorship of the
press: -

"The barbèd censurers begin to look
Like the grim consistory on thy book,
And on each line cast a reforming eye,"

and suggests that _Lucasta_ is in danger because in 1642 its author had
been imprisoned by order of the House of Commons for presenting a
petition from Kent which prayed for the restoration of the Book of
Common Prayer. This danger is, however, overcome by the ladies, who rise
in arms to defend their favourite poet.

"But when the beauteous Ladies came to know
That their dear Lovelace was endangered so,
Lovelace that thaw'd the most congealèd breast,
He who lov'd best and them defended best,
They all in mutiny, though yet undrest,

One of them challenged Marvell as to whether he had not been of the
poet's traducers, but he answered No!

"O No, mistake not, I reply'd, for I
In your defence or in his cause would die.
But he, secure of glory and of time,
Above their envy or my aid doth climb.
Him, bravest men and fairest nymphs approve,
His book in them finds Judgment, with you, Love."

Lovelace did not live to see the Restoration, but died in a mean lodging
near Shoe Lane in April 1658, and was buried in St. Bridget's Church.
Let us indulge the hope that the friends who occupied so many of the
introductory pages of Lovelace's _Lucasta_ occasionally enlivened the
solitude and relieved the distress of the poet whose praises they had
once sung with so much vigour. As Marvell was undoubtedly a friendly
man, and one who loved to be alone with his friends, and had never any
house of his own to keep up, living for the most part in hired lodgings,
it would be unkind to doubt that he at least did not forget Lovelace in
his poverty and depression of spirit.

In 1649 thirty-three poets combined to weep over the early grave of the
Lord Henry Hastings, the eldest son of the sixth Earl of Huntingdon, who
died of the smallpox in the twentieth year of his age. Not even this
plentiful discharge of poets' tears should rob the young nobleman of his
claim to be regarded as a fine example of the great learning,
accomplishments, and high spirits of the age. We can still produce the
thirty-three poets, but what young nobleman is there who can boast such
erudition as had rewarded the scorned delights and the laborious days of
this Lord Hastings? We have at least the satisfaction of knowing that
did such a one exist he probably would not die of the smallpox. Among
the poets who wept on this occasion were Herrick, Sir John Denham,
Andrew Marvell, and John Dryden, then a Westminster schoolboy, whose
description of the smallpox is as bad as the disease.

Marvell's verses begin very prettily and soon introduce a characteristic
touch: -

"Go, stand betwixt the Morning and the Flowers,
And ere they fall arrest the early showers,
Hastings is dead; and we disconsolate
With early tears must mourn his early fate."

In 1650 Marvell, then in his twenty-ninth year, went to live with Lord
Fairfax at Nunappleton House in Yorkshire, as tutor to the only child
and daughter of the house, Mary Fairfax, aged twelve years (born 30th
July 1638). This proved to be a great event in Marvell's life as a poet,
and it happened at an epoch in the distinguished career of the famous
Parliamentarian general

"Whose name in arms through Europe rings."

Lord Fairfax, though he had countenanced, if not approved, the trial
and deposition of the king, had resolutely held himself aloof from the
proceedings which, beginning on Saturday the 20th of January 1649,
terminated so dismally on Tuesday the 30th. The strange part played by

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