« PreviousContinue »
dent, in a bookseller's-shop, prevailed upon him to return to his studies.
Whether he now repaired to Hull, to take possession of the property left him by his father, is not known; but it is certain, that soon after, he and four other students having absented themselves from their exercises, it was resolved on the 24th of September, 1641, "to refuse them the benefits of the college." The following is the entry : "It is a greed by the master and seniors, that Mr. Carter, Dominus Wakefield, Dominus Marvell, Dominus Waterhouse, and Dominus Mage, in regard that some of these are reported to be married, and the others look not after their dayes nor acts, shall receive no more benefit from the college, and shall be out of their places, unless they shew just cause to the college, for the contrary, in three months.'
Whether Mr. Marvell obeyed this summons, does not now appear; but certain it is, that the charge does great credit to the vigilance of those who presided over this institution, and we have only to lament, that in all probability the same degree of strictness is not practised at the present day. Certain it is, that he was afterwards reproached by one of his antagonists, for having been expelled; but it is at the same time clear, not only fron the register, but the evidence of the late Dr. Michael Lort, who searched the books, that no graver cause was adduced against him than negligence.
Having left Cambridge, about the year 1642, when he was twenty-two years of age, Andrew Marvell soon after commenced his travels through Holland, France, and Italy. In the last of these countries, he is supposed to have seen, and to have cultivated the friendship of the illustrious Milton, during their residence
BELFAST MAG. NO. XXXII.
at Rome. Of his adventures nothing has been transmitted; unless his attack on Lancelot Joseph de Maniban, an Abbot, of a whimsical character, then residing at Paris; to whom he addressed a satirical epistle, with the following superscription:
Illustrisimo Viro Domino Lanceloto Josepho de Maniban, Grammatomanti." Having pretended to discover the characters of persons whom he had never seen, and even to prognosticate their good or ill fortune, from a mere view of their hand writing; these ridiculous pretensions very justly laid him open to the chastisement of a pen well versed in the Latin language, and to the ridicule of a man who had long detested imposture of every kind.
From this time until 1653, during the long interval of twelve years, a hiatus unhappily takes place in this memoir. Cromwell, who was now protector, first employed the subject of it, as private tutor to Mr. Dutton, his nephew; and he afterwards became one of the secretaries to that celebrated statesman and general.
"I never had any, not the remot est relation to public matters," says he, in the second part of the Rehearsal transposed, nor corrsepondence with the persons then predominant, till the year 1657, when indeed, I entered into an employment, for which I was not altogether improper, and which I considered to be the most innocent and inoffensive towards his Majesty's affairs, of any in that usurped government, to which all men were then exposed."
As the protector died at Whitehall, September 3d, 1658, about a year after his preferment, Mr. Marvell could not have obtained much wealth from an employment as a Latiu secretary, which, like, all others at that period, was probably far from being profitable. Indeed,
the honour of having Milton for his coadjutor, was perhaps the most agreeable circumstance annexed to the employment.
In the course of the same year, however, he was elected one of the burgesses, then returned to serve in parliament, for the borough of Kingston-upon-Hull. From that moment he considered it as a bounden duty, to transmit an account of all the proceedings in the house of Commons to his constituents; but the collection hitherto published, does not commence earlier than November 17th, 1660.
"From this period," says Captain Edward Thompson, the compiler of the grand 4to edition, published in 1776, "Mr. Marvell comes forward in his patriot and parliamentary character, and with more dignity, honour, sense, genius, fortitude, virtue, and religion, than ever mixed up in one man, ancient or modern. There is not an action of his life that deserves the blot of censure; the part he took, was most hononrable to himself, and useful to his country; and though virtue was ever put to the blush by flattery, yet he maintained his sincerity unseduced, when truth, and chastity, were crimes in the lewd circle of Charles' syren court; where in poverty he held up the greatness of his soul, in spite of the cold disadvantages of a narrow fortune, and the artful lures and temptations of the most agreeabe devils, possessed of more than the golden apples. Nor were spirits inactive to reduce such virtues, which might have been made so useful to the prostituted purposes of that prostituted court.
Tempt not, he said, and stood; "But Satan, smitten with amazement fell!"
In the first parliament, which met before the restoration, (April 25, 1660) Mr. Marvell was a constant at
tendant. In the course of his correspondence, he exhibits a determined enmity to the keeping up of a standing army, which he wishes to be speedily exchanged for a militia.
"I doubt not, ere we rise," says he, in a letter to his constituents, "to see the whole army disbanded; and according to the act, hope to see your town once more ungarrisoned; in which I should be glad, and happy to be instrumental to the uttermost; for I cannot but remember, though then a child, those blessed days, when the youth of your town were trained for your militia; and did, methought, become their armis much better than any soldiers that I
have seen there since."
Soon after this he evinced his jealousy of "that many-headed monster, the Excise;" and we find him nearly at the same time, thanking his constituents for a present of a cask of ale, the quantity of which," he observed, was so great, that it might make sober men forgetful."
In 1662, Mr. Marvell appears to have repaired to Holland, on which occasion, Lord Bellasis, who was high steward of Hull, and deputy governor, under the Duke of Mon mouth, employed Sir Robert Hildyard to notify this circumstance to his constituents, with a view of inducing them to proceed to a new election. On this a letter was despatched to their member, ordering him peremtorily to return, which requisition he accordingly complied with a short time after.
A few months posterior to this, with the consent of his constituents, he accompanied his friend, Lord Carlisle, who had been appointed ambassador extraordinary to Muscovy, Sweden, and Denmark, in the capacity of secretary, and remained abroad near two years. On his res turn, we finding him attending the
parliament at Oxford; and waiting on the Duke of Monmouth, with a congratulatory letter, and a present of gold, from the corporation. On this occasion, the latter, after paying many compliments to Mr. M. endeavoured to prevail on him, to accept of the "six broad pieces," which he, however, refused, with his usual disinterestedness.
After the prorogation of parliament, in November, 1675, the subject of this memoir, demands instructions on the part of his constituents. "I desire," says he, "that you will consider, whether there be any thing that particularly relates to the state of your town; and I shall strive to promote it, to the best of my duty; and in the more general concerns of the nation, shall maintain the same incorrupt mind, and clear conscience, far from faction, or any selfends, which by the grace of God, I have hitherto preserved." He was so attentive to his political communications, that each letter contained a minute narrative of parliamentary business. Such was his diligence too, that he says, " he sits down to write at six in the evening, though he had not eat since the day before at noon; and that it had become habitual to him, to write to them every post, during the sitting of par
"It was not his duty there," says his biographer," which wholly engrossed his mind for the numberless pieces of prose and verse, which he threw out, were of excellent use, and had great effect upon the people's minds; and must have taken adeal of time in the composition.I cannot find, by any writings, that he ever spoke in the house; the journals thereof, make no mention of any speech of his; but by his own account, he always made notes of what passed; and by his indefatigable conduct otherwise, he ob
tained a great ascendency over the minds of the members. Though the power of the court had not influence over his virtue, yet the good sense of Prince Rupert was conspicuous, in making him his friend; for when Mr. Marvell's name became the hatred of that party, which he ever attacked with unremitting keen satire, and it became dangerous for him to appear abroad, Prince Rupert would be led by his good understanding, privately to the apartments of Mr. Marvell: so, whenever his Royal Highness voted on the side of Mr. Marvell, which he often did, it was the observation of the adverse folks, "that he had been with his tutor."
"The severe tracts, which he was continually publishing against the state, and popery, and the inflamwith Parker, and others, often made matory literary fight which he had his life in danger; but no bribes, no offers of fortune, or situation, though so very contrary to his pri
vate interest, could make him swerve from the virtuous path he had first tinued to walk invariably to the last. set out upon, and in which he conA man of such excellent parts, and facetious converse, could not be unknown to Charles II. who loved the
company of wits so much, that he would suffer the severest jokes, rather than not enjoy them. Mr. Marvell had been honoured with an evening's entertainment by his majesty, who was so charmed with the ease of his nranners, the soundness of his judgement, and the nimbleness of his wit, that the following morning, to shew him his regard, he sent the Lord Treasurer, Danby, to wait upon him, with a particular message from himself.
"His lordship, with some difficulty, found his elevated retreat, which was in a second floor, in a
court in the strand. Lord Danby from the darkness of the staircase, and the narrowness thereof, abruptly burst open the door, and suddenly entered the room, wherein he found Mr. Marvell writing. Astonished at the sight of so noble and so unexpected a visitor, he asked his lordship with a smile, if he had not mistook his way. "No," replied my lord, with a bow, not since I have found Mr. Marvell; continuing, that he came with a message from the king; who wished to do him some signal service, to testify his high opinion of his merits. He replied, with his nsual pleasantry, that kings had it not in their power to serve him; he had no void left aching in his breast but become more serious, he assured his lordship, that he was highly sensible of this mark, of his majesty's affection; but he knew too well the nature of courts, to accept of favours, which were expected to bind a man in the chains of their interest, which his spirit of freedom and independence would not suffer him to embrace. To take a place at the hands of his majesty, would be proving him guilty of the first sin; ingratitude if he voted against him; and if he went in the smooth stream of his interest, it might be doing injustice to his country, and his conscience: he therefore begged that his majesty would allow him to enjoy a state of liberty, and to esteem him more his faithful and dutiful subject, and more in the true interest of his welfare, by the refusal of his munificence, than if he had embraced his 10yal bounty.' These royal offers proving vain, Lord Dan-, by began to assure him, that the king had ordered him a thousand guineas, which he hoped he would be pleased to receive, till he would bring his mind to accept something better, and more durable. At this Mr. Marvell renewed his usual
smile, and said, Surely, my good lord, you do not mean to treat me ludicrously, by these munificent offers, which seem to interpret a poverty on my part. Pray, my lord treasurer, do these apartments wear in the least the air of need? And as for my living, that is plentiful and good, which you shall have from the mouth of the servant :
• Pray what had I to dinner yesterday? "A shoulder of mutton, sir." And
what do you allow me to-day?'"the remainder hashed."
And to-morrow, my lord Danby, I shall have the sweet blade-boue broiled; and when your lordshop makes honourable mention of my cook and my diet, I am sure his majesty will be too tender in future to at tempt to bribe a man with gol en apples, who lives so well on the viands of his native country!'
The lord treasurer, unable to withstand this, withdrew with smiles ; and Mr. Marvell, sent to his bookseller for the loan of one guinea No Roman virtue ever surpassed this temperance; nor can gold bribe any man that is not bribed with luxury; and with Doctor Samuel Johnson,* allow me to repeat these good words, which the temptation of a pension would not suffer him to adopt: "No man, whose appetites are his masters, can perform the duties of his nature with strictuess and regularity; he that would be superior to internal influence, must first become superior to his own passions."
That such a man should have enemies is not to be wondered at by those who know the world; and that they should be bitter, cruel, and inveterate, will not surprise any one, who is acquainted with the history of that profligate and flagitious reign, during which he flon
rished. Mr. Marvell was fond of residing at Highgate, and this circumstance appears to have put his life in jeopardy more than once; b for he was frequently threatened with murder, and even way-laid. Sir John Coventry's nose had been slit, for his daring to express his mind with freedom; and a still worse fate appears to have been reserved for the subject of this memoir, who, fired at the indignity committed against a member of parliament, had formerly lampooned the court on that very occasion, in some severe satirical verses, of which the following is the first stanza : "I sing a rueful ditty,
Of a wound that long will smart-a ; And given (more is the pity)
In the realms of Migna Charta; Youth, youth, thou hadst been better slain by thy foes,
Than live to be hang'd for a nothing-a
Mr. Marvell, however, was not a man of that stamp, to be terrified by threats, or even by violence. He was accustomed to remark, that he was more afraid of killing, than of being killed; and that he was not so much in love with life, as to be unprepared for death. In a letter to a hend, in which he mentions" the insuperable hatred of his foes, and their designs of murdering him, he makes use of the following strong expressions, which are here quoted in the original, being a language in which he excelled, and in which he delighted to correspond.
"Præterea magis occidere metuo quam occidi: non quod vitam tanti estimem, sed ne imparatus moriar.” As he was distinguished for his corn of corruption, on one hand, so, on the other, he could never be voked to revenge by any personal resentment. His integrity, even amidst distress, has been sufficiently evinced by an anecdote, that would
do honour to any age, or country;
while it is evident from the whole. tenour of his correspondence, that his dispute with his colleague, Colonel Anthony Gilby, never once betrayed him into any passionate invective or peevish expression. Hewas, at the same time, a sworn foe to flattery, and very cautious, as well as very circumspect, in regard to his friendships. His enmities were all generous, for they were of a public nature. He most cordally hated and detested those who basely crouched at the feet of power, or were the zealots of arbitrary government. Yet even here, the native magnanimity of his disposition was evident; for although be severely lashed the vices, both public and private, of the lascivious sovereign, who theu bore sway; yet could generously praise any of his actions which were commendable.
His frienship for, and intimacy with, Milton, would alone have served to endear him to a nation, which still looks up, with mingled sentiments of love and admiration, to that great ornament of English literature. Nor was he un mindful of his posthumous reputation; indeed, he assisted in rescuing the poem of "Paradise Lost," the copy-right of which had been purchased for fitteen pounds, from unmerited obscurity; for it was he and Dr. Barrow, by their two compl nentary poems, in English and Latin, who first unveiled its beauties to the undiscerning eyes of a heedless public, immersed, after the example of the court, in every species of folly and debauchery.
The member for Hull appears to have been particularly severe on several of the dignitaries of the Anglican church at that day, partienJarly Laud, Juxon, and Wren; and when it is considered, the part actel by some of these, and the mischiefs occasioned by their councils, no