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But when old he planted bays.

_Tomalin._ Here she comes; but with a look
Far more catching than my hook;
'Twas those eyes, I now dare swear,
Led our lambs we knew not where.

_Hobbinol._ Not our lambs' own fleeces are
Curled so lovely as her hair,
Nor our sheep new-washed can be
Half so white or sweet as she.

_Phillis._ He so looks as fit to keep
Somewhat else than silly sheep.

_Hobbinol._ Come, let's in some carol new
Pay to love and them their due.

_All._ Joy to that happy pair
Whose hopes united banish our despair.
What shepherd could for love pretend,
Whilst all the nymphs on Damon's choice attend?
What shepherdess could hope to wed
Before Marina's turn were sped?
Now lesser beauties may take place
And meaner virtues come in play;
While they
Looking from high
Shall grace
Our flocks and us with a propitious eye."

All this merriment came to an end on the 3rd of September 1658, when
Oliver Cromwell died on the anniversary of Dunbar fight and of the field
of Worcester. And yet the end, though it was to be sudden, did not at
once seem likely to be so. There was time for the poets to tune their
lyres. Waller, Dryden, Sprat, and Marvell had no doubt that "Tumbledown
Dick" was to sit on the throne of his father and "still keep the sword
erect," and were ready with their verses.

Westminster Abbey has never witnessed a statelier, costlier funeral than
that of "the late man who made himself to be called Protector," to quote
words from one of the most impressive passages in English prose, the
opening sentences of Cowley's _Discourse by way of Vision concerning the
Government of Oliver Cromwell_. The representatives of kings,
potentates, and powers crowded the aisles, and all was done that pomp
and ceremony could do. Marvell, arrayed in the six yards of mourning the
Council had voted him on the 7th of September, was, we may be sure, in
the Abbey, and it may well be that his blind colleague, to whom the same
liberal allowance had been made, leant on his arm during the service.
Milton's muse remained silent. The vote of the House of Commons ordering
the undoing of this great ceremony was little more than two years ahead.
_O caeca mens hominum!_

Among the poems first printed by Captain Thompson from the old
manuscript book was one which was written therein in Marvell's own hand
entitled "A poem upon the Death of his late Highness the Protector." Its
composition was evidently not long delayed: -

"We find already what those omens mean,
Earth ne'er more glad nor Heaven more serene.
Cease now our griefs, calm peace succeeds a war,
Rainbows to storms, Richard to Oliver."

The lines best worth remembering in the poem are the following: -

"I saw him dead: a leaden slumber lies,
And mortal sleep over those wakeful eyes;
Those gentle rays under the lids were fled,
Which through his looks that piercing sweetness shed;
That port, which so majestic was and strong,
Loose, and deprived of vigour, stretched along;
All withered, all discoloured, pale and wan,
How much another thing, no more that man!
O, human glory vain! O, Death! O, wings!
O, worthless world! O, transitory things!
Yet dwelt that greatness in his shape decayed,
That still though dead, greater than Death he laid,
And in his altered face you something feign
That threatens Death, he yet will live again."


[49:1] In 1659 Clarendon, then Sir Edward Hyde, and in Brussels, writing
to Sir Richard Fanshaw, says, "You are the secretary of the Latin tongue
and I will mend the warrant you sent, and have it despatched as soon as
I hear again from you, but I must tell you the place in itself, if it be
not dignified by the person who hath some other qualification, is not to
be valued. There is no signet belongs to it, which can be only kept by a
Secretary of State, from whom the Latin Secretary always receives orders
and prepares no despatches without his direction, and hath only a fee of
a hundred pound a year. And therefore, except it hath been in the hands
of a person who hath had some other employment, it hath fallen to the
fortune of inconsiderable men as Weckerlin was the last" (_Hist. MSS.
Com._, _Heathcote Papers_, 1899, p. 9).

[51:1] _The Rehearsal Transprosed_. - Grosart, iii. 126.

[55:1] Even Mr. Firth can tell me nothing about this Ward of Cromwell's.

[56:1] For reprints of these tracts, see _Social England Illustrated_,
Constable and Co., 1903.

[57:1] "England's Way to Win Wealth." See _Social England Illustrated_,
p. 253.

[57:2] _Ibid._ p. 265.

[58:1] Dr. Dee's "Petty Navy Royal." _Social England Illustrated_, p.

[58:2] "England's Way to Win Wealth." _Social England Illustrated_, p.

[59:1] Ranke's _History of England during the Seventeenth Century_, vol.
iii. p. 68.

[61:1] See Leigh Hunt's _Wit and Humour_ (1846), pp. 38, 237.

[62:1] Butler's lines, _A Description of Holland_, are very like
Marvell's: -

"A Country that draws fifty foot of water
In which men live as in a hold of nature.
They dwell in ships, like swarms of rats, and prey
Upon the goods all nations' fleets convey;
That feed like cannibals on other fishes,
And serve their cousin-germans up in dishes:
A land that rides at anchor and is moor'd,
In which they do not live but go aboard."

Marvell and Butler were rival wits, but Holland was a common butt; so
powerful a motive is trade jealousy.

[67:1] "To one unacquainted with Horace, this Ode, not perhaps so
perfect as his are in form, and with occasional obscurities of
expression, which Horace would not have left, will give a truer notion
of the kind of greatness which he achieved than could, so far as I know,
be obtained from any other poem in our language." - _Dean Trench_.

[70:1] "In the last war, when France was disgraced and overpowered in
every quarter of the globe, when Spain coming to her assistance only
shared her calamities, and the name of an Englishman was reverenced
through Europe, no poet was heard amidst the general acclamation; the
fame of our counsellors and heroes was entrusted to the gazetteer." - Dr.
Johnson's _Life of Prior_.



Cromwell's death was an epoch in Marvell's history. Up to that date he
had, since he left the University, led the life of a scholar, with a
turn for business, and was known to many as an agreeable companion and a
lively wit. He was keenly interested in public affairs, and personally
acquainted with some men in great place, and for a year before
Cromwell's death he had been in a branch of the Civil Service; but of
the wear and tear, the strife and contention, of what are called
"practical politics" he knew nothing from personal experience.

Within a year of the Protector's death all this was changed and, for the
rest of his days, with but the shortest of occasional intervals, Andrew
Marvell led the life of an active, eager member of Parliament, knowing
all that was going on in the Chamber and hearing of everything that was
alleged to be going on in the Court; busily occupied with the affairs of
his constituents in Hull, and daily watching, with an increasingly heavy
heart and a bitter humour, the corruption of the times, the declension
of our sea-power, the growing shame of England, and what he believed to
be a dangerous conspiracy afoot for the undoing of the Reformation and
the destruction of the Constitution in both Church and State.

"Garden-poetry" could not be reared on such a soil as this. The age of
Cromwell and Blake was over. The remainder of Marvell's life (save so
far as personal friendship sweetened it) was spent in politics, public
business, in concocting roughly rhymed and bitter satirical poems, and
in the composition of prose pamphlets.

Through it all Marvell remained very much the man of letters, though one
with a great natural aptitude for business. His was always the critical
attitude. He was the friend of Milton and Harrington, of the political
philosophers who invented paper constitutions in the "Rota" Club, and of
the new race of men whose thoughts turned to Natural Science, and who
founded the Royal Society. Office he never thought of. He could have had
it had he chosen, for he was a man of mark, even of distinction, from
the first. Clarendon has told us how members of the House of Commons
"got on" in the Long Parliament of Charles the Second. It was full of
the king's friends, who ran out of the House to tell their shrewd master
the gossip of the lobbies, "commended this man and discommended another
who deserved better, and would many times, when His Majesty spoke well
of any man, ask His Majesty if he would give them leave to let that
person know how gracious His Majesty was to him, or bring him to kiss
his hand. To which he commonly consenting, every one of his servants
delivered some message from him to a Parliament man, and invited him to
Court, as if the King would be willing to see him. And by this means the
rooms at Court were always full of the members of the House of Commons.
This man brought to kiss his hand, and the King induced to confer with
that man and to thank him for his affection, which could never conclude
without some general expression of grace or promise, which the poor
gentleman always interpreted to his own advantage, and expected some
fruit from it that it could never yield."

The suspicious Clarendon, already shaking to his fall, goes on to add,
"all which, being contrary to all former order, did the King no good,
and rendered those unable to do him service who were inclined to

It is a lifelike picture Clarendon draws of the crowded rooms, and of
the witty king moving about fooling vanity, ambition, and corruption to
the top of their bent. That the king chose his own ministers is plain

Marvell was at the beginning well disposed towards Charles. They had
some points in common; and among them a quick sense of humour and a turn
for business. But the member for Hull must soon have recognised that
there was no place for an honest quick-witted man in any Stuart

Marvell and his great chief remained in their offices until the close of
the year 1659, when the impending Restoration enforced their retirement.
Milton used his leisure to pour forth excited tracts to prove how easy
it would still be to establish a Free Commonwealth. Once again, and for
the last time, he prompted the age to quit its clogs

"by the known rules of ancient liberty."

These pamphlets of Milton's prove how little that solitary thinker ever
knew of the real mind and temper of the English people.

The Lord Richard Cromwell was exactly the sort of eldest son a great
soldier like Oliver, who had put his foot on fortune's neck, was likely
to have. Richard (1626-1712) was not, indeed, born in the purple, but
his early manhood was nurtured in it. Religion, as represented by long
sermons, tiresome treatises, and prayerful exercises, bored him to
death. Of enthusiasm he had not a trace, nor was he bred to arms. He
delighted in hunting, in the open air, and the company of sportsmen.
Whatever came his way easily, and as a matter of right, he was well
content to take. He bore himself well on State occasions, and could make
a better speech than ever his father was able to do. But he was not a
"restless" Cromwell, and had no faith in his destiny. I do not know
whether he had ever read _Don Quixote_, in Shelton's translation, a very
popular book of the time; probably not, for, though Chancellor of the
University of Oxford, Richard was not a reading man, but if he had, he
must have sympathised with Sancho Panza's attitude of mind towards the
famous island.

"If your highness has no mind that the government you promised should
be given me, God made me of less, and perhaps it may be easier for
Sancho, the Squire, to get to Heaven than for Sancho, the Governor.
_In the dark all cats are gray._"

The new Protector took up the reins of power with proper forms and
ceremonies, and at once proceeded to summon a Parliament, an Imperial
Cromwellian Parliament, containing representatives both from Scotland
and Ireland. In this Parliament Andrew Marvell sat for the first time as
one of the two members for Kingston-upon-Hull. His election took place
on the 10th of January 1659, being the first county day after the
sheriff had received the writ. Five candidates were nominated: Thomas
Strickland, Andrew Marvell, John Ramsden, Henry Smyth, and Sir Henry
Vane, and a vote being taken in the presence of the mayor, aldermen, and
many of the burgesses, John Ramsden and Andrew Marvell were declared
duly elected.

Nobody to-day, glancing his eye over a list of the knights and
burgesses who made up Richard Cromwell's first and last Parliament,
would ever guess that it represented an order of things of the most
recent date which was just about to disappear. On paper it has a solid
look. The fine old crusted Parliamentary names with which the clerks
were to remain so long familiar as the members trooped out to divide
were more than well represented.[79:1] The Drakes of Amersham were
there; Boscawens, Bullers, and Trelawneys flocked from Cornwall; Sir
Wilfred Lawson sat for Cumberland, and his son for Cockermouth; a
Knightly represented Northamptonshire, whilst Lucys from Charlecote
looked after Warwick, both town and county. Arthur Onslow came from
Surrey, a Townshend from Norfolk, and, of course, a Bankes from Corfe
Castle;[79:2] Oxford University, contented, as she occasionally is, to
be represented by a great man, had chosen Sir Matthew Hale, whilst the
no less useful and laborious Thurloe sat for the sister University.
Anthony Ashley Cooper was there, but in opposition, snuffing the morrow.
Mildmays, Lawleys, Binghams, Herberts, Pelhams, all travelled up to
London with the Lord-Protector's writs in their pockets. A less
revolutionary assembly never met, though there was a regicide or two
among them. But when the members found themselves alone together there
was some loose talk.

On the 27th of January 1659 Marvell attended for the first time in his
place, when the new Protector opened Parliament, and made a speech in
the House of Lords, which was pronounced at the time to be "a very
handsome oration."

The first business of the Commons was to elect a Speaker, nor was their
choice a very lucky one, for it first fell on Chaloner Chute, who
speedily breaking down in health, the Recorder of London was appointed
his substitute, but the Recorder being on his deathbed at the time, and
Chute dying very shortly afterwards, Thomas Bampfield was elected
Speaker, and continued so to be until the Parliament was dissolved by
proclamation on the 22nd of April. This proclamation was Richard
Cromwell's last act of State.

Marvell's first Parliament was both short and inglorious. One only of
its resolutions is worth quoting: -

"That a very considerable navy be forthwith provided, and put to sea
for the safety of the Commonwealth and the preservation of the trade
and commerce thereof."

It was, however, the army and not the navy that had to be reckoned
with - an army unpaid, angry, suspicious, and happily divided. I must not
trace the history of faction. There is no less exalted page in English
history since the days of Stephen. Monk is its fitting hero, and Charles
the Second its expensive saviour of society. The story how the
Restoration was engineered by General Monk, who, if vulgar, was adroit,
both on land and sea, is best told from Monk's point of view in the
concluding chapter of _Baker's Chronicle_ (Sir Roger de Coverley's
favourite Sunday reading), whilst that old-fashioned remnant, who still
love to read history for fun, may not object to be told that they will
find printed in the Report of the Leyborne-Popham Papers (_Historical
Manuscripts Commission_, 1899, p. 204) a _Narrative of the Restoration_,
by Mr. John Collins, the Chief Butler of the Inner Temple, proving in
great and highly diverting detail how this remarkable event was really
the work not so much of Monk as of the Chief Butler.

Richard Cromwell having slipped the collar, the officers assumed
command, as they were only too ready to do, and recalled the old,
dishonoured, but pertinacious Rump Parliament, which, though mustering
at first but forty-two members, at once began to talk and keep journals
as if nothing had happened since the day ten years before, when it was
sent about its business. Old Speaker Lenthall was routed out of
obscurity, and much against his will, and despite his protests, clapped
once more into the chair. Dr. John Owen, an old parliamentary preaching
hand, was once again requisitioned to preach before the House, which he
did at enormous length one fine Sunday in May.

The Rump did not prove a popular favourite. It was worse than Old Noll
himself, who could at least thrash both Dutchman and Spaniard, and be
even more feared abroad than he was hated at home. The City of London,
then almost an Estate of the Realm, declared for a Free Parliament, and
it soon became apparent to every one that the whole country was eager to
return as soon as possible to the old mould. Nothing now stood between
Charles and his own but half a dozen fierce old soldiers and their
dubious, discontented, unpaid men.

It was once commonly supposed (it is so no longer), that the Restoration
party was exclusively composed of dispossessed Cavaliers, bishops in
hiding, ejected parsons, high-flying _jure divino_ Episcopalians,
talkative toss-pots, and the great pleasure-loving crowd, cruelly
repressed under the rule of the saints. Had it been left to these
ragged regiments, the issue would have been doubtful, and the result
very different. The Presbyterian ministers who occupied the rectories
and vicarages of the Church of England and their well-to-do flocks in
both town and country were, with but few exceptions, all for King
Charles and a restored monarchy. In this the ministers may have shown a
sound political instinct, for none of them had any more mind than the
Anglican bishops to tolerate Papists, Socinians, Quakers, and Fifth
Monarchy men, but in their management of the business of the Restoration
these divines exposed themselves to the same condemnation that Clarendon
in an often-quoted passage passed upon his own clerical allies. When
read by the light of the Act of "Uniformity," the "Corporation," the
"Five Mile," and the "Conventicle" Acts, the conduct of the
Presbyterians seems recklessness itself, whilst the ignorance their
ministers displayed of the temper of the people they had lived amongst
all their lives, and whom they adjured to cry _God save the King_, but
not to drink his Majesty's health (because health-drinking was forbidden
in the Old Testament), would be startling were it not so eminently

The Rump, amidst the ridicule and contempt of the populace, was again
expelled by military force on the 13th of October 1659. The officers
were divided in opinion, some supporting, others, headed by Lambert,
opposing the Parliament; but _vis major_, or superior cunning, was on
the side of Lambert, who placed his soldiers in the streets leading to
Westminster Hall, and when the Speaker came in his coach, his horses
were turned, and he was conducted very civilly home. The regiments that
should have resisted, "observing that they were exposed to derision,"
peaceably returned to their quarters.

Monk, in the meanwhile, was advancing with his army from Edinburgh, and
affected not to approve of the force put upon Parliament. The feeling
for a Free Parliament increased in strength and violence every day. The
Rump was for a third time restored in December by the section of the
London army that supported its claim. Lenthall was once more in the
chair, and the journals were resumed without the least notice of past
occurrences. Monk, having reached London amidst great excitement, went
down to the House and delivered an ambiguous speech. Up to the last Monk
seems to have remained uncertain what to do. The temper of the City,
which was fiercely anti-Rump, may have decided him. At all events he
invited the secluded, that is the expelled, members of the old Long
Parliament to take their seats along with the others, and in a formal
declaration addressed to Parliament, dated the 21st of February 1660, he
counselled it among other things to dissolve legally "in order to make
way for a succession of Parliaments." In a word, Monk declared for a
Free Parliament. Great indeed were the national rejoicings.

On the 16th of March 1660 a Bill was read a third time dissolving the
Parliament begun and holden at Westminster, 3rd November 1640, and for
the calling and holding of a Parliament at Westminster on the 25th of
April 1660. This time an end was really made of the Rump, though for
many a long day there were parliamentary pedants to be found in the land
ready to maintain that the Long Parliament had never been legally
dissolved and still _de jure_ existed; so long, I presume, as any
single member of it remained alive.

Marvell was not a "Rumper," but on the 2nd of April 1660 he was again
elected for Hull to sit in what is usually called the Convention
Parliament. John Ramsden was returned at the head of the poll with 227
votes, Marvell receiving 141. There were four defeated candidates.

With this Convention Parliament begins Marvell's remarkable
correspondence, on fine folio sheets of paper, with the corporation of
Hull, whose faithful servant he remained until death parted them in

This correspondence, which if we include in it, as we well may, the
letters to the Worshipful Society of Masters and Pilots of the Trinity
House in Hull, numbers upwards of 350 letters, and with but one
considerable gap (from July 1663 to October 1665) covers the whole
period of Marvell's membership, is, I believe, unique in our public
records. The letters are preserved at Hull, where I hope care is taken
to preserve them from the autograph hunter and the autograph thief.
Captain Thompson printed a great part of this correspondence in 1776,
and Mr. Grosart gave the world the whole of it in the second volume of
his edition of Marvell's complete works.

An admission may as well be made at once. This correspondence is not so
interesting as it might have been expected to prove. Marvell did not
write letters for his biographer, nor to instruct posterity, nor to
serve any party purpose, nor even to exhibit honest emotion, but simply
to tell his employers, whose wages he took, what was happening at
Westminster. He kept his reflections either to himself or for his
political broadsheets, and indeed they were seldom of the kind it would
have been safe to entrust to the post.

Good Mr. Grosart fusses and frets terribly over Marvell's astonishing
capacity for chronicling in sombre silence every kind of legislative
abomination. It is at times a little hard to understand it, for Hull was
what may be called a Puritan place. No doubt caution dictated some of
the reticence - but the reserve of Marvell's character is one of the few
traits of his personality that has survived. He was a satirist, not an

I will give the first letter _in extenso_ to serve as a specimen, and a
very favourable one, of the whole correspondence: -

"_Nov. 17, 1660._

"GENTLEMEN, MY WORTHY FRIENDS, - Although during the necessary absence
of my partner, Mr. Ramsden, I write with but halfe a penn, and can
scarce perswade myselfe to send you so imperfect an account of your
own and the publick affairs, as I needs must for want of his
assistance; yet I had rather expose mine own defects to your good
interpretation, then excuse thereby a totall neglect of my duty, and
that trust which is divided upon me. At my late absence out of Town I
had taken such order that if you had commanded me any thing, I might
soon haue received it, and so returned on purpose to this place to
haue obeyed you. But hearing nothing of that nature howeuer, I was
present the first day of the Parliament's sitting, and tooke care to
write to Mr. Maior what work we had cut out. Since when, we have had

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Online LibraryAugustine BirrellAndrew Marvell → online text (page 6 of 19)