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ROCHESTER on the Parker controversy, c. 1674 5

ROCHESTER on the Parker controversy, c. 1674 5

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Though Marvel has enough expos’d his Folly.

He Drank to carry off some old Remains,

His Lazy dull Distemper1 left in ’s Brains;

Let him Drink on, but ’tis not a whole Flood

Can give sufficient sweetness to his Blood,

To make his Nature or his Manners good.


Robert McWard comments on

Parker and Marvell


Robert McWard (?1633–87), a covenanting Scottish minister,

was banished in 1661 and took up residence in Holland where

he wrote prefaces to the works of his fellow exile, John Brown

of Wamphrey.

Extract from ‘To the Christian Reader’ in John Brown’s Christ the

Way, and the Truth, and the Life (1677), from the 1740 reprint, p.


But I would recommend to you, who can neither purchase nor peruse

what is more voluminous (how worthy soever) the serious perusal,

as of the whole of that savoury and grace-breathing piece, The

Fulfilling of the Scriptures;2 so there in that short but sweet digression,

against black-mouthed Parker, wherein the gracious author takes

out his own soul, and sets before thine eye the image of God,

impressed thereon: for while he deals with that Desperado by clear

and convincing reason, flowing natively from the pure fountain of

divine revelation, he hath the advantage of most men, and writers


Lazy dull Distemper: a phrase used by Parker in his Reproof to explain his delay

in answering the RT I.


By the Scots dissenter Robert Fleming (1630–94).



too, in silencing that blasphemer of the good ways of God, with

arguments taken from what he hath found acted upon his own soul….

Nor can I here omit to observe, how when the devil raised up Parker,

that monster, to bark and blaspheme, the Lord raised up a Merveil

to fight him at his own weapon, who did so cudgel and quell that

boasting bravo, as I know not if he be dead of his wound, but, for

any thing I know, he hath laid his speech.


Thomas Long comments on the



Prebendary of Exeter Cathedral and a staunch churchman and

royalist, Thomas Long (1621–1707) published his Mr. Hales’s

Treatise of Schism Examin’d and Censur’d in 1678. Though

he once refers to Marvell by name, elsewhere it is as the author

of the RT or the Transproser.

Extract from the Preface, B7v–B8v, p. 13.

The Author of the Rehearsal Transpros’d, speaks marvellously of

Him: I shall conclude (says he) with a Villainous Pamphlet,1 of which

a great Wit was the Author….

[Quotes Marvell, freely rendered, I, p. 79.]

(And then he fills up near Eight Pages of his Book, out of Mr. Hales

his Eight Leaves.)

And necessary it is that such noxious and unsavory weeds should be

rooted out, and not suffered to defile the grave of so Candid a person,


In the RT I, Marvell refers ironically to the ‘villainous pamphlet’ of the ‘evermemorable’ John Hales as he was known to his contemporaries, and cites extensively

from his treatise.



or made use of as a shelter for unclean creatures to hide themselves and

croak under them, as the Transproser doth, who having raked a heap of

them together, from p. 175 to p. 183 [I, pp. 79–82] fancieth himself as

secure on that dunghill, as if he were in some enchanted Castle.


Bishop Burnet on the Parker


1678, before 1715

Chaplain to Charles II, a post from which he was dismissed,

and later Bishop of Salisbury, Gilbert Burnet (1643–1715) is

best remembered as a historian of the Reformation and of his

own times. Obviously an admirer of Marvell’s facility in

demolishing Parker, he provides three evaluations of the

controversy. The first, often cited, makes use of Marvell’s

terminology and was an answer to Parker’s Reasons for

Abrogating the Test (1678). The second, also often cited,

appears in his History of My Own Time, published

posthumously in 1724–34. The third derives from his

manuscript papers.

(a) Extract from An Enquiry into the Reasons for Abrogating the

TEST, imposed on all Members of Parliament, published in his

Collection of Eighteen Papers. Relating to the Affairs of Church and

State, 1689, pp. 201–3.

…so now the Price of the Presidentship [of Magdalen College,

Oxford] is to be pay’d…. and He [Parker] to preserve the Character

of Drawcansir [I, p. 21; from The Rehearsal, IV. i], which is as due

to Him as that of Bays, falls upon the Articles of the Church, and

upon both Houses of Parliament. It is Reproach enough to the House

of Lords, that He is of it; but it is somewhat new, and a Character



becoming Sa. Oxon. [Bishop of Oxford] to arraign that House with

all the Insolence to which he can raise his wanton Pen…. And the

Late King being so true a Judg of Wit, could not but be much taken

with the best Satyr of our Time; and saw that Bays’s Wit, when

measured with another’s, was of a piece with his Virtues, and therefore

judged in favour of the Rehearsal Transpros’d: this went deep, and

though it gave occasion to the single piece of Modesty, with which

he can be charged, of withdrawing from the Town, and not

importuning the Press more for some years, since even a Face of

Brass must grow red, when it is so burnt as his was then; yet his

Malice against the Elder Brother was never extinguished but with

his Life: But now a strange Conjuncture has brought him again on

the Stage, and Bays will be Bays still.

(b) Extract from the History of My Own Time, ed. Osmund Airy

(1897), I, pp. 467–8.

But the most virulent of all that writ against the sects was Parker,

afterwards made bishop of Oxford by king James, who was full of

satirical vivacity, and was considerably learned; but was a man of no

judgment, and of as little virtue, and as to religion he seemed rather

to have become quite impious. After he had for some years entertained

the nation with several virulent books, writ with much life, he was

attacked by the liveliest droll of the age, who writ in a burlesque

strain, but with so peculiar and so entertaining a conduct, that from

the king down to the tradesman his book was read with great pleasure.

That not only humbled Parker, but the whole party: for the author

of the Rehearsal Transprosed had all the men of wit (or, as the French

phrase it, all the laughers) on his side. .

(c) Extract from Harl. MSS. 6584, A Supplement to Burnet’s History

of My Own Time, ed. H.C.Foxcroft (Oxford, 1902), pp. 215–16.

The other vacancy in Oxford was filled by Dr. Parker, who was at

first an independent; but on the king’s restoration he found his account

in changing and striking up to the violentest form of the church of

England. He is a man that has no regard either to religion or virtue,

but will accommodate himself to everything that may gratify either

his covetousness or his ambition. He has writ many books; there is a

liveliness in his style that is more entertaining than either grave or



correct. He has raised the king’s authority in ecclesiastical matters

and depressed it by turns, as he was pleased or displeased with the

court; for though once he carried the king’s power to that height of

impiety as to say in so many plain words that the form of naming the

king in our prayers as under God and Christ our supreme governor

in all causes was a cursed and a profane expression (since he said

that though the king was indeed under God, yet he was not under

Christ, but above him), yet, not being preferred as he expected, he

has writ many books to raise the power of the church to an

independence on the civil authority. His extravagant way of writing

gave occasion to the wittiest books that have appeared in this age,

for Mr. Marvell undertook him and treated him in ridicule in the

severest but pleasantest manner possible, and by this one character

one may judge how pleasant these books were; for the last king, that

was not a great reader of books, read them over and over again.


Anthony à Wood on the

Parker controversy


The antiquarian Anthony a Wood (1632–95) takes occasion to

notice Marvell only in conjunction with his articles on Parker

and John Denham.

Extract from Athenae Oxonienses, ed P.Bliss (1813–20), IV,

cols 230–2.



Whereupon our author Parker being esteemed by the nonconformists

a forward, proud, ambitious and scornful person, was taken to task,

purposely to clip his wings or take him shorter, by their buffooning

champion Andrew Marvell sometime one of John Milton’s


All, or most of which answers (which were to the first part of

The Rehearsal Transpos’d) were wrote in a buffooning,

burlesquing and ridiculing way and stile; in which fashion of

writing, Marvell himself had led the way…. Before I go any farther,

the reader is to note that this pen-combat exercised between our

author and Marvell was briskly managed with as much smart,

cutting and satyrical wit on both sides, as any other perhaps of

late hath been, they endeavouring by all the methods imaginable,

and the utmost forces they could by any means rally up, to blacken

each others cause, and to set each other out in the most ugly dress:

(their pieces in the mean while, wherein was represented a perfect

trial of each others skill and parts in a jerking, flirting way of

writing, entertaining the reader with a great variety of sport and

mirth, in seeing two such right cocks of the game so keenly

engaging with sharp and dangerous weapons). And it was generally

thought, nay even by many of those who were otherwise favourers

of Parker’s cause, that he (Parker) thro’ a too loose and unwary

handling of the debate (tho’ in a brave, flourishing and lofty stile)

laid himself too open to the severe strokes of his snearing

adversary, and that the odds and victory lay on Marvell’s side:

Howsoever it was, it wrought this good effect upon our author,

that for ever after it took down somewhat of his high spirit,

insomuch that tho’ Marvell in a second part replied upon our

author’s reproof, yet he judged it more prudent rather to lay down

the cudgels, than to enter the lists again with an untowardly

combatant so hugely well vers’d and experienc’d in the then, but

newly, refin’d art (tho’ much in mode and fashion almost ever

since) of sportive and jeering buffoonry. And moreover it put him

upon a more serious, sober and moderate way of writing in other

good treatises, which he since did set forth, and which have proved

very useful and beneficial to the public. The reader may be pleased

now to know by the way, for here I think it very proper to be

brought in and no where else, that the said Andrew Marvell was

son of Andrew Marvell the facetious, yet Calvinistical, minister

of Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire, that being very well educated



in grammar learning was sent to Cambridge, particularly, as I

conceive, to Trin. coll. where obtaining the mastership of the Latin

tongue became assistant to Joh. Milton when he was Latin

secretary to Oliver, and very intimate and conversant with that

person. A little before his majesty’s restoration the burghers of

his native place of Kingston before mention’d did choose him their

representative to sit in that parliament that began at Westminster

the 25th of April 1660, and again after his majesty’s restoration

for that which began at the same place, 8 May 1661, and they

loved him so well that they gave him an honourable pension to

maintain him. From which time to his death, he was esteemed

(tho’ in his conversation very modest and of few words) a very

celebrated wit among the fanatics, and the only one truly so, for

many years after…. This Andrew Marvell, who is supposed to

have written other things, as I have told you in Joh. Denham, vol.

iii, col. 827. died on the 18th of August 1678, and was buried

under the pews in the south side of the church of S.Giles in the

Fields, near London. Afterwards his widow published of his

composition Miscellaneous Poems. Lond. 1681. fol. which were

then taken into the hands of many persons of his persuasion, and

by them cried up as excellent.


Dean Swift’s allusion to the



Swift’s A Tale of a Tub appeared in 1704, and in 1710 he added

‘An Apology’ to the fifth edition of the work which includes

the often cited reference to Marvell.

Extract from ‘An Apology,’ A6v–7.



This Apology being chiefly intended for the Satisfaction of future

Readers, it may be thought unnecessary to take any notice of such

Treatises as have been writ against this ensuing Discourse, which are

already sunk into waste Paper and Oblivion; after the usual Fate of

common Answerers to Books, which are allowed to have any Merit:

They are indeed like Annuals that grow about a young Tree, and

seem to vye with it for a Summer, but fall and die with the Leaves in

Autumn, and are never heard of any more. When Dr. Eachard writ

his Book about the Contempt of the Clergy,1 numbers of those

Answerers immediately started up, whose Memory if he had not

kept alive by his Replies, it would now be utterly unknown that he

were ever answered at all. There is indeed an Exception, when any

great Genius thinks it worth his while to expose a foolish Piece; so

we still read Marvel’s Answer to Parker with Pleasure, tho’ the Book

it answers be sunk long ago; so the Earl of Orrery’s Remarks2 will be

read with Delight, when the Dissertation he exposes will neither be

sought nor found; but these are no Enterprises for common Hands,

nor to be hoped for above once or twice in an Age. Men would be

more cautious of losing their Time in such an Undertaking, if they

did but consider, that to answer a Book effectually, requires more

Pains and Skill, more Wit, Learning, and Judgment than were

employ’d in the Writing it.


This polemical work, published in 1670 by John Eachard, later master of St

Catherine’s Hall, Cambridge, elicited a number of replies.


Charles Boyle, fourth Earl of Orrery, published as an undergraduate the letters of

Phalaris which were declared spurious by the learned Richard Bentley. A witty response

to Bentley was published in 1698 under Boyle’s name, but it appears to have been

largely the work of Francis Atterbury.



Isaac Disraeli on the

Parker controversy


Styled by Byron ‘that most entertaining and researching writer,’

Disraeli the elder (1766–1848) wrote a number of anecdotal

works on literary matters. His essay on Marvell and Parker

first appeared in 1814 in Quarrels of Authors and was then

reprinted in 1859 under the title The Calamities and Quarrels

of Authors. Although he was not, in fact, an altogether exact

researcher and quite cavalier in his handling of quotations,

frequently telescoping or juxtaposing disparate passages, his

work was much pillaged by later writers.

Reprinted from The Works, ed. by his son (1880–1), IV, pp.

391–402, with one selection from the notes. There are minor

textual variants from the first edition.

One of the legitimate ends of satire, and one of the proud triumphs

of genius, is to unmask the false zealot; to beat back the haughty

spirit that is treading down all; and if it cannot teach modesty, and

raise a blush, at least to inflict terror and silence. It is then that the

satirist does honour to the office of the executioner.

As one whose whip of steel can with a lash

Imprint the characters of shame so deep,

Even in the brazen forehead of proud Sin,

That not eternity shall wear it out.

[Randolph’s Muses’ Looking-glass, I. iv.]

The quarrel between PARKER and MARVELL is a striking example

of the efficient powers of genius, in first humbling, and then

annihilating, an unprincipled bravo, who had placed himself at the

head of a faction.

Marvell, the under-secretary and the bosom-friend of Milton,



whose fancy he has often caught in his verse, was one of the greatest

wits of the luxuriant age of Charles II.; he was a master in all the arts

of ridicule; and his inexhaustible spirit only required some permanent

subject to have rivalled the causticity of Swift, whose style, in neatness

and vivacity, seems to have been modelled on his. But Marvell placed

the oblation of genius on a temporary altar, and the sacrifice sunk

with it; he wrote to the times, and with the times his writings have

passed away; yet something there is incorruptible in wit, and wherever

its salt has fallen, that part is still preserved.

Such are the vigour and fertility of Marvell’s writings, that our

old Chronicler of Literary History, Anthony Wood, considers him

as the founder of ‘the then newly-refined art (though much in mode

and fashion almost ever since) of sportive and jeering buffoonery;’*

and the crabbed humorist describes ‘this pen-combat as briskly

managed on both sides; a jerking flirting way of writing entertaining

the reader, by seeing two such right cocks of the game so keenly

engaging with sharp and dangerous weapons.’—Burnett calls

Marvell ‘the liveliest droll of the age, who writ in a burlesque strain,

but with so peculiar and entertaining a conduct, that from the king

to the tradesman, his books were read with great pleasure.’ Charles

II. was a more polished judge than these uncouth critics; and, to

the credit of his impartiality,—for that witty monarch and his

dissolute court were never spared by Marvell, who remained

inflexible to his seduction—he deemed Marvell the best prose satirist

of the age. But Marvell had other qualities than the freest humour

and the finest wit in this ‘newly-refined art,’ which seems to have

escaped these grave critics—a vehemence of solemn reproof, and

an eloquence of invective, that awes one with the spirit of the

modern Junius, and may give some notion of that more ancient

satirist, whose writings are said to have so completely answered

their design, that, after perusal, their victim hanged himself on the

first tree; and in the present case, though the delinquent did not lay

violent hands on himself, he did what, for an author, may be

considered as desperate a course, ‘withdraw from the town, and

cease writing for some years.’

* This is a curious remark of Wood’s: How came raillery and satire to be considered

as ‘a newly-refined art?’ Has it not, at all periods, been prevalent among every literary

people? The remark is, however, more founded on truth than it appears, and arose

from Wood’s own feelings.



The celebrated work here to be noticed is Marvell’s ‘Rehearsal

Transprosed;’ a title facetiously adopted from Bayes in ‘The

Rehearsal Transposed’ of the Duke of Buckingham. It was written

against the works and the person of Dr. Samuel Parker, afterwards

Bishop of Oxford, whom he designates under the character of

Bayes, to denote the incoherence and ridiculousness of his

character. Marvell had a peculiar knack of calling names,—it

consisted in appropriating a ludicrous character in some popular

comedy, and dubbing his adversaries with it. In the same spirit he

ridiculed Dr. Turner, of Cambridge, a brother-genius to Parker,

by nicknaming him ‘Mr. Smirk, the Divine in Mode,’ the name of

the Chaplain in Etherege’s ‘Man of Mode,’ and thus, by a stroke

of the pen, conveyed an idea of ‘a neat, starched, formal, and

forward divine’ [from A.Wood]. This application of a fictitious

character to a real one, this christening a man with ridicule, though

of no difficult invention, is not a little hazardous to inferior writers;

for it requires not less wit than Marvell’s to bring out of the real

character the ludicrous features which mark the factitious


Parker himself must have his portrait, and if the likeness be justly

hit off, some may be reminded of a resemblance. Mason [see No. 36]

applies the epithet of ‘Mitred Dullness’ to him: but although he was

at length reduced to railing and to menaces, and finally mortified

into silence, this epithet does not suit so hardy and so active an


The secret history of Parker may be collected in Marvell [II, p.

181], and his more public one in our honest chronicler, Anthony

Wood. Parker was originally educated in strict sectarian principles;

a starch Puritan, ‘fasting and praying with the Presbyterian

students weekly, and who, for their refection feeding only on thin

broth made of oatmeal and water, were commonly called

Gruellers.’ Among these, says Marvell, ‘it was observed that he

was wont to put more graves [cracklings] than all the rest into his

porridge, and was deemed one of the preciousest young men in

the University.’ It seems that these mortified saints, both the

brotherhood and the sisterhood, held their chief meetings at the

house of ‘Bess Hampton, an old and crooked maid that drove the

trade of laundry, who, being from her youth very much given to

the godly party, as they call themselves, had frequent meetings,

especially for those that were her customers.’ Such is the dry


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