« PreviousContinue »
The brighter Sun of Righteousness did choose,
ANDREW MARVELL, the son of the Rev. And drew Marvell, minister and schoolmaster of Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire, † was born in the year 1620; and discovering a genius for letters, was sent at the early age of thirteen, with an exhibition belonging to his native place, to Trinity College, Cambridge. He had not been long however at the University, before (like Chillingworth) he was enticed from his studies by the Jesuits, and carried to London. Fortunately his father received timely intelligence of this seduction, and persuaded him to return to college, where he applied to his studies with great assiduity, and took the degree of B. A. in 1639. About this time he lost his father by an accident, of which the particulars are thus re
* AUTHORITIES. Cooke's Life of Marvell (prefixed to his Works, 1712), Macaulay's History of England, and Biographia Britannica. + “ He died,” says
6 before the war broke out, hava ing lived with some reputation both for piety and learning; and he was moreover a conformist to the established rites of the Church of England, though (I confess) none of the most overrunning, or eager in them." (Rehearsal Transprosed,' II.)
From the records of Trinity College, it appears that he was, with some others, excluded from it's benefits (probably, a scholarship) for non-attendance, in 1641.
lated: On the opposite shore of the Humber, lived a lady of exemplary virtue and good sense, between whom and Mr. Marvell a close friendship subsisted. This lady had an only daughter, of whom she was so tenderly fond, that she could scarcely suffer her to be out of her sight. Upon the earnest request of Mr. Marvell, however, she was permitted to pay
him a visit at Hull, as godmother to one of his children. The next day, the wind was so high and the passage so dangerous, that the watermen earnestly dissuaded her from returning. But knowing that her mother would be miserable till she saw her again, she thought it better to hazard her life than prolong the anxiety of an affectionate parent: upon which Mr. Marvell, having with difficulty prevailed upon some watermen to attempt the passage, determined to accompany her. Just as they put off, he flung his gold-headed cane to some friends on shore, desiring them to give it to his son if he should be lost, and bid him remember his father. His fears were too prophetic: the boat overset, and they both perished. The mother of the young lady was, for some time, inconsolable. When her grief however subsided, she reflected on young Marvell's loss, and determined to supply to him the want of a father : she undertook the charge of his subsequent education and made him her heir.*
With the assistance of this inheritance, he was enabled to travel through most of the civilised countries of Europe. From his satirical poem, entitled, * Flecknoe, an English Priest at Rome, it appears that he had visited that city, where indeed he is be
* Some other circumstances of a superstitious nature are usually introduced into this narrative; but they are not of a description to demand preservation,
lieved to have composed it. In France, likewise, he found a subject for his poetical talent in Lancelot Joseph de Maniban, a French Abbé, who pretended to determine the characters of persons whom he had never seen, and to prognosticate their future good or ill fortune from their hand-writing: these absurdities he ridiculed in a Latin poem addressed to him, and written upon the spot.* At Constantinople, also, he appears to have passed some time in the capacity of Secretary to the English Embassy. In 1653, he was employed by Oliver Cromwell, as preceptor to young gentleman of the name of Dutton; and, in 1657, he was associated with Milton as assistant Latin Secretary to the Protector.“ I never had any, not the remotest relation to public matters (he himself says) nor correspondence with the persons then predominant, until the year 1657; when indeed I entered into an employment, for which I was not alto- · gether improper, and which I considered to be the most innocent and inoffensive toward his Majesty's affairs, of any in that usurped and irregular government, to which all men were then exposed—and this I accordingly discharged, without disobliging any one person : there having been opportunity and endeavours, since his Majesty's happy return, to have discovered, had it been otherwise."
His lines, † with those of Dr. Samuel Barrow upon
* See the Extracts at the end of the Life. This composition Philips notices in his . Freethinker,' No. 253; in which he gives a short account of the Abbé. From the subject of his preceding poem, Mr. Richard Flecknoe, a wretched poetaster, Dryden gave the
of. • Mac-Flecknoe' to his satire against Shadwell. + See the Extracts. They were prefixed to the second edition of that immortal poem, and (to adopt Dr. Symmons' expres
the · Paradise Lost, of his illustrious collegue, first drew the attention of the public to a poem, which has since been deservedly placed on a level with the noblest productions of antiquity. A short time before the Restoration, he was chosen to represent his native town in parliament, and continued to discharge that honourable function till his death. At the beginning of the new reign, he probably thought the parliamentary business of inferior importance; as he was absent in Holland and Germany between the years 1660 and 1663 (upon what account, however, is uncertain) and not long after his return, accompanied Lord Carlisle on his embassy to the northern courts, as his Secretary. 'It was not till the parliament of October 1665, that his attendance in the House of Commons seeins to have been uninterrupted. In this office, it was his custom to send the proceedings of that assembly on matters of consequence to his principal constituents, always subjoining his opinion on the subject: and such was their sense of his merits, that they allowed him an honourable pension in return for his services, and invariably treated him with the greatest respect.* sions) are “ as reputable to his judgement and poetic talent, as they are to his friendship."
* It is to be regretted, that these bonds of integrity and gratitude have generally ceased to exercise this, creditable influence in English boroughs, under the fatal talisman of a third man ! Marvell was the last, who received a pension from his constituents; and he well deserved it by his diligence, his firmness, and his incorruptibility. “Of all men, indeed, in his station (observes Aikin) he deserves best to be selected as an example of the genuine independence produced by a philosophical limitation of wants and desires. He was not to be purchased, because he wanted nothing that money could buy; and held cheap all titular Honours, in comparison with the approbation of his conscience,