Page images


censure whatever can attach to him on that account. The rupture made by them between the Scotch and Charles I. was termed the Bellum Episcopale; and he thus expresses himself, on that subject:

"The friendly loadstone has not more combin'd,

Than bishops cramp'd the commerce of mankind :

Had it not been for such a byass strong, Two nations had not miss'd their mark so long:

One king, one faith, one language and one isle,

English and Scotch-'tis all but cross and pile."

The following is a brief account and analysis of the works of this celebrated man. His letters to his constituents, are two hundred and fifty-six in number. They commence, November, 17, 1660; and end, June 6, 1678. The following is the address prefixed to the first: "To the Right Worshipful William Ramsden, Mayor: and the Aldermen, his brethren, of Kingston-uponHull;" and it begins with," Gentlemen, my worthy friends." The various proceedings in parliament, form the subject of this author's correspondence; and as the whole appears to have been written during the evenings of the respective debates, while the subject continued to make a strong impression on Mr. Marvell's mind, they could not fail to prove interesting, more especially at a period, when the proceedings of the house were not given, either with the copiousness, or accuracy, that at present distinguish them.

The following extract, dated "London, May 25, 1663," will perhaps gratify the curiosity of some readers.

[ocr errors]

Yesterday, indeed, was very busy with us, upon the commitment of the bill for buying and selling of offices. The committee, after long debate, was ordered to continue the retrospect to all that had been sold,

since June 29, 1660. The house seems to have this business much at heart. We sate, which is unusual with us, till six at night; ordering also, at last, a clause to be entered a gainst buying and selling of honours. A committee is also inspecting all illegal patents, and grievances to the subject."

On November 23, 1667, he writes as follows:

"Three or foure dayes of this week have been taken up in examining, in our house, a matter of bribery to some of our members; when in the former session, after the prohibition of all French commodities, our house was prevailed upon, nevertheless, to petition the king to suffer a great quantity of French wines to be landed, upon pretence that the persons concerned had given orders for those wines before the prohibition.

"the greatest fault herein hath been fixt upon Mr. John Ashburnham, he who belonged to the old king. The house yesterday voted, that he, having received five bondred pounds of the French merchants, had committed an offence to the dishonour of this house, and contrary to his duty as a member thereof; and afterwards they voted, that he be excluded the house; and a writ be issued for electing a new member in his place."

The following passage of a letter, dated, April 9, 1670, is curious on more than one account.

"The lords have, as we hear, thrown out that part of our bill for shipping, wherein we provided against men of war trading in merchandize: truly, in an ili season, when so many merchants complain, and the Turks take prizes in our channel."

The controversial writings of our author are voluminous; and he is allowed by all his contemporaries to

have exhibited great talents and dexterity. Bishop Burnet, with a certain degree of quaintness, terms him, "the liveliest droll of the age, who wrote in a burlesque strain, but with so peculiar and entertaining a conduct, that from the king down to the tradesman, his books were read with great pleasure." Dean Swift, in the Tale of a Tub, pays a high compliment to him, in respect to his literary contest with Dr. Parker; for after mentioning the short-lived reputation of the common answerers of books, he adds, "There is indeed an exception when any great genius thinks it worth his while to expose a foolish piece; some still read Marvell's answer to Parker with pleaBure, though the book it answers be sunk long ago."


adds he, "he himself expressly declares that he is the son of a whore." You are very witty, indeed, Mr. Marvell," says the right reverend divine; " but let me intreat you in future time to show more reverence to the cloth."*

The next work which we shall mention was published just before the author's death; and if we are to give full credit to the hints of one of his biographers, may possibly have hastened that event. It is entitled, "An account of the growth of Popery, and Arbitrary Government in England: more particularly from the long prorogation of November, 1675, ending the 15th of February, 1676, until the last meeting of parliament, the 16th of July, 1677." Throughout the whole of this publication he commends the original constitution of the government, and considers popery as synonimous with arbitrary power. He accord

This story may be taken as a specimen of the coarse wit of that age, but which more correct manners of a polished period show in its proper deformity. In point of and on this account, we are intitled to good manners, at least this age is improvcredit.-(B. M. M.)

The work here alluded to is the Rehearsal Transposed;" and while the controversy was at its height, his antagonist, who was then in the family of the Bishop of London, meeting Mr. Marvell in the street, attempted to shove him from the wall; on which the latter placed his foot so as to lay the former sprawling in the dirt at the same time exclaimed, ing, "Lie there for a son of a whore!" The prelate just alluded to, took up this matter with a high hand; but an interview having taken place, and our author being reproached by his lordship for the opprobrious language with which he had greeted his chaplain, Mr. M. justified himself, by producing a passage of the Doctor's last book; in which he says, "He is a true son of his mother, the church of England." "But what of that?" replied the Bishop. "Read a little further on," rejoined the member for Hull, and you will find as follows:-The church of England has spurned two bastards; the Presbyterians, and the congregationals -ergo, my lord,"

It is requested, that no one will think that because we insert from the original account strong expressions, that therefore, we sanction illiberal aspersions against our catholic brethren. The age of Charles II. was a period in which the various sects indulged in a rancorous manner of expression against each other, and in many cases their dissentions arose more from political than theological causes, for in that day the discovery does not appear to have variety of opinions on the subject of rebeen generally made, on any side, that a ligion, does not necessarily weaken a state, or that professors of a different faith may not live together as fellow citizens in the greatest harmony, while all on the immutable principle of justice are entitled to equal rights. In the days of the latter Charles and James, the catholics and presbyterians were accidentally on op

ingly is at great pains to contrast the blessings of a protestant administration with the miseries of what he ternis a "papal" cabinet. The Dutch war is attributed entirely to the corruption of the court; and it is asserted, that the Catholics and French were the leaders of the English councils at that period.

Although this work appeared full ten years anterior to the revolution, and during the worst part of the reign of Charles II. yet it abounds with high and exalted notions relative to liberty. Mr. Marvell asserts, that the king and subject are bound together by reciprocal obligations; and that the former ceases to be a legitimate sovereign, the moment he ceases to be bound by them.

The king and his ministers were so much offended at this production, that an advertisement appeared soon after in the Gazette, to the following effect:

"Whereas there have been lately printed and published several seditious and scandalous libels against the proceedings of both houses of parliament, and other his majesty's courts of justice, to the dishonour of his majesty's government, and the hazard of the public peace: these are to give notice, that whoever shall discover unto one of the secretaries of state, the printer, publisher, author, or hander to the press, of any of the said libels, so that evidence may be made thereof to a jury, without mentioning the informer; especially one libel, entitled, "An account of the Growth of Popery, &c." and another, " A Seasonable Argument to all the Grand

posite political sides, the one espoused the side of power, and the other of liberty; but in the present day, all those grounds of distinction should be obliterated by a liberal removal of obstructions and a common participation of equal privileges.-B. M. M.)

Juries, &c." the discoverer shall be rewarded as follows: he shall have 50 for such discovery as afore said of the printer, or the publisher of it from the press; and for the hander of it to the press, 100/. &c.”

According to Captain Thompson, this last production nobly declares his daring fortitude and patriotic virtue; and though the court was so incensed against its author, yet it hath established his veracity and reputation. But, alas! he did not live to see the good effects of his publication, which in its manner was clear to his penetration, and which, Oldmixon says, "was as full of truth as the addresses published afterwards in his majesty's gazettes, were full of falsehoods.'

[ocr errors]

The other work mentioned at the same time in the gazette, and of which Mr. M. was also the author, is entitled, A Seasonable Argument to persuade all the Grand Juries in England to petition for a new parliament: or, a List of the principal Labourers in the great Design of Popery and Arbitrary power, who have betrayed their Country to the Conspitators, and bargained with them to maintain a standing Army, under the Command of the bigotted popish D; who, by the Assistance of the L. L.'s Scotch Army, the Forces in Ireland, and those in France, hopes to bring all back to


This "Seasonable Argument” merely consists of a list of the members who composed what was termed the pensioned parliament of Charles the II. The following is a short specimen :


"Sir Humphry Winch, bart. hath from the Court 500l. per an. sallary; and was of the Council of Trade for Plantations."

" BERKSHIRE. "Windsor.-Sir Thomas Higgon,

knt. hath a pension of 500l. per an. and bath had 40007 in giftes; married to the Earl of Bathe's sister." "Sir Francis Winnington, knt. solicitor-general to the king; which 'place is worth 15001. per an."

[ocr errors]

Reading.-Sir Thomas Doleman, bart. 2001. per annum pension; and was assisted by the court in the cheating will, whereby he got Quarles his estate, valued at 15007. now clerk of the council, which is worth 5004 per an. and is promised to be Secretary of State," &c. &c.

In 1676 appeared, "Mr. Smirke; or, the Divine in Mode: being certain Annotations upon the Animadversions on the Naked Truth: together with a short Historical Essay, concerning General councils, Creeds, and Impositions in matters of Religion. By Andreas Rivetus, junior, Anagr. Res Nuda Veritas." The "Mr. Smirke" here alluded to, appears to have been Dr. Francis Turner, master of St. John's college, Cambridge, who replied to a discourse, by Herbert Crofts, bishop of Hereford, called "The Naked Truth; or the True State of the Primitive Church by an Humble Moderator." The violence of the former having aroused the indignation of the member for Huil, he attacked him in this pamphlet, and that with such success, that Mr. M. received a letter from the prelate, stating, "that he had the zealous prayers and hearty service of the author of the Naked Tru h."

To this last publication, Mr. M. added the Historical Essay, touching general councils, creeds, and impositions in religion, for the express purpose of showing the absurdity of imposing new articles of faith.

The last prose work we shall here mention, was called, "A Seasonable Question, and an useful Auswer, between a parliament-man, in Cornwall, and a Bencher of the Temple ;


by A. M. 1676." The object of this is to enquire, whether the prorogation of parliament for fifteen months did not amount to a dissolution; it being concluded, that his Majesty had no power by the law to prorogue a parliament for more than a year. In the "Bencher's Answer," it is stated, that by the 4th of Edw. III. cap. 14, and 36th of Edw. III. cap. 10, it is enacted, that "a parliament shall be holden every year, as another time was ordained." This authority, we are told, was reinforced by that "notable act of the 16th of the late king (Charles I.) which provided effectually for the summoning and electing a parliament every three years, without the king's concurrent assent, if he neglected two years together to summon a parliament, according to those statutes of Edward III." &c. It is the opinion of this lawyer, that if the king could prorogue for fifteen months, "he may lawfully prorogue you for forty years if he please, and may refuse for ever to hold a parliament."

The poems of Mr. Marvell are numerous, and many of them often abound with wit, although there are some coarse and indelicate expressions, which designate the reign in which they were written, and fully justify the following couplet: "Uuhappy Dryden !-in all Charles' days, Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays." Of his satires, that written upon Sir Robert Viner's setting up an equestrian statue of the king, (Charles 1) in Wool-church-market, is one of the most severe, and begins thus:

"As citties that to the fierce conqueror yield,

Do at their own charges their cittadels


[blocks in formation]

The paraphrases of David's hymn on Gratitude, which Mr. Addison has printed in the four hundred and fiftythird number of the Spectator, confers great credit on Mr. Marvell's poetry.

"When all thy mercies, O! my God,

My rising soul surveys; Transported with the view, I'm lost, In wonder, love, and praise.

"O! how shall words with equal warmth,

The gratitude declare,

That glows within my ravish'd heart!
But thou can'st read it there.

"Thy providence my life sustain'd,
And all my wants redress'd;
When in the silent womb I lay,
And hung upon the breast." &c.
Perhaps, however, an ode, also in-
serted in the Spectator, in point of
dignity of thought, and harmony
of composition, ought to be consi-
dered as one of the first productions
of the author.

"The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky;
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.

The unwearied sun from day to day
Does his Creator's power display;
And publishes to ev'ry land,
The work of an Almighty hand.

"Soon as the ev'ning shades prevail,
The moon pursues the wond'rous tale;
And nightly to the list'ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth.

The celebrated elegiac ballad of "William and Margaret," claimed and printed by Mr. Mallet, in his Poems, is said by Captain Thompson, to have been written by our author, in 1670.

Having thus attempted to convey some idea of the works of Andrew Marvell, it only remains to be lamented, that the account of his lat ter years is involved in almest inextricable obscurity.

After publishing his last celebrated work, he appears to have withdrawn for a while. The last letter extant, is one

from him to his friend Mr. Popple, dated June 10, 1678, in which he observes: "There have been great rewards offered in private, and considerable in the Gazette, to any one that would inform of the authorThree or four printed books since have described, as near as it was proper to go, the man being a member of parliament, Mr. Marvell, to have been the author: but if he had, surely he should not have escaped being questioned in parliament, or some other place." On the 29th of July, however he appears to have been at Hull, and it is evident, from an entry in the books of the corporation, that he held several discourses about the town's affairs."

Captain Thompson, the last editor of his work, who supposes him to have been treacherously murdered, by means of a potion, expresses himself in the following manner:

"And yet, alas! the period of his days was suddenly made on the 16th of August, and by poison; for he was healthful and vigorous, to the moment he was seized with the premeditated ruin. Thus fell this great, good, and glorious man, in the fiftyeighth year of his age; after passing through a rugged lite of perpetual danger, a cruel sacrifice to the diabolical machinations of the most profligate and wicked men.


* Implicit credit ought not to be given to the accounts of poisoning, with which we frequently meet in history. In an age when ignorance of diseases prevailed, and suspicion was active, it was common to attribute sudden or uncommon deaths to poison. Many of these tales have been refuted on irrefragable evidence, and for the honour of human nature, it is hoped, other supposed instances of violent deaths might be refuted if we were in possession of all the documents necessary to eluci date such portions of history. It is more charitable, and we hope much nearer the truth to arraign former ages on account of their general credulity, than to brand

« PreviousContinue »