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JAMES YONGE, from his Journal, c. 1681 2
THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
His Skill in Laws was less for private Gain
Employ’d, than publick Freedom to Maintain;
While Mercenaries with the Current steer’d,
His Country’s constant Patron he appear’d.
With Roman Virtue at the needful Hour,
Oppos’d encroaching Tides of Lawless Pow’r.
His brandish’d Pen, in Liberty’s Support,
Cou’d Lightning on th’ astonish’d Foe retort.
Scarcely in Marvel’s keen Remarks we find
Such Energy of Wit and Reason join’d.
Great Milton’s Shade with pleasure oft look’d down,
A Genius to applaud so like his Own.
31. Preface to Poems on Affairs of State
Clearly designed as a puff in part since many of its attributions
are false, the 1697 edition of Poems on Affairs of State lists on
its title page ten of ‘the greatest Wits of the Age,’ including
‘Andrew Marvell, Esq;’ ‘Mr. Milton,’ and ‘Mr. Dryden.’ Its
unsigned Preface is of interest in defending both harsh
versification and the license of poets writing for political ends.
From the Preface, Poems on Affairs of State (1697), A3–A5v.
The common Aim of Prefaces to prepossess the Reader in favour of
the Book, is here wholly useless; for what is now publish’d is none of
the trifling Performances of the Age, that are yet to make their fortune,
but a Collection of those Valuable Pieces, which several great Men
have produc’d, no less inspir’d by the injur’d Genius of their Country,
than by the Muses. They are of Establish’d Fame, and already receiv’d,
and allow’d the best Patriots, as well as Poets. I am sensible, that
should we consult our superficial Hypocriticks, they would often be
apt to arraign the Numbers; for there are a sort of Men, who having
little other merit, than a happy chime, would fain fix the Excellence
of Poetry in the smoothness of the Versification, allowing but little
to the more Essential Qualities of a Poet, great Images, good Sense,
&c. Nay they have so blind a Passion for what they Excell in, that
they will exclude all variety of Numbers from English Poetry, when
they allow none but Iambics, which must by an identity of sound
bring a very unpleasing satiety upon the Reader. I must own that I
am of opinion that a great many rough Cadencies that are to be
found in these Poems, and in the admirable Paradise Lost, are so far
from Faults that they are Beauties, and contribute by their variety to
the prolonging the pleasure of the Readers. But I have unawares faln
into this Digression, which requires more time and room than I have
here to allow to set it, in that just Light it requires. I shall return to
the following Poems, writ by Mr. Milton, Mr. Marvell, &c. which
will shew us, that there is no where a greater Spirit of Liberty to be
found, than in those who are Poets; Homer, Aristophanes, and most
of the inspired Tribe have shew’d it; and Catullus in the midst of
Caesar’s Triumphs attacked the Vices of that great Man, and expos’d
’em to lessen that Popularity and Power he was gaining among the
Roman People, which he saw would be turn’d to the destruction of
the Liberty of Rome.
Quis hoc potest videre, quis potest pati, &c.
Pulchre convenit improbis cinædis
Mamurræ, Pathicoque, Cæsarique.
Nil nimium studeo Cæsar tibi velle placere, &c.1
But it would be endless to quote all the Liberties the Poets have of old
taken with Ill men, whose Power had aw’d others to a servile Flattery;
the succeeding Tyrants have not been able to suppress the numerous
Instances we have yet of it. We have therefore reason to hope that no
Englishman that is a true lover of his Countries Good, and Glory, can
be displeased at the publishing a Collection, the Design of each of
Catullus, 29. 1: Who can look on this, who can suffer this…; 57. 1–2: Well met
are the impudent wantons, the effete Mamurra and Caesar…; 93.1: I have no great
urge, Caesar, to please you….
THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
which was to remove those pernicious Principles which lead us directly
to Slavery; to promote a Publick and Generous Spirit, which was then
almost a shame to the Prossessor, if not a certain Ruine. I believe were
a man of equal Ability, and unbyass’d Temper to make a just
Comparison, some of the following Authors might claim perhaps an
equal share with many of the most celebrated of the Romans or Greeks.
I know in a a Nation so factious as this, where the preposterous
Principles of Slavery are run into a point of Conscience and Honour,
and yet hold abundance in unseasonable and monstrous Divisions, it
would be a task that must disoblige too many to undertake. But when
all Europe is engag’d to destroy that Tyrannick Power, the
mismanagement of those Times, and the selfish evil Designs of a corrupt
Court had given Rise to, it cannot be thought unseasonable to publish
so just an Account of the true sourse of all our present Mischiefs;
which will be evidently found in the following Poems, for from them
we may collect a just and secret History of the former Times.
And looking backward with a wise Affright,
See Seams of Wounds dishonest to the Sight.
[Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, ll. 71–2]
Oh that we cou’d yet learn, under this Auspicious Government
founded on Liberty, the generous Principles of the Publik Good! Sure
this Consort of Divine Amphions will charm the distracted pieces of
the publik Building into one Noble and Regular Pile to be the wonder,
as well as safeguard of Europe.1 This being the Aim of this present
Publication, it must be extreamly approv’d by all true Patriots, all
lovers of the general Good of Mankind, and in that most certainly of
their own particular.
Omnes profecto liberi libentius
Sumus, quam servimus.
Take off the gawdy veil of Slavery, and she will appear so frightfull
and deform’d that all would abhor her: For all Mankind naturally
prefer Liberty to Slavery.
’Tis true some few of these Poems were Printed before in loose
Papers, but so mangled that the Persons that wrote them would hardly
have known, much less have owned them, which put a Person on
Perhaps echoing Marvell’s use of the image in the ‘First Anniversary’, ll. 49–56.
examining them by the Originals or best Copies, and they are here
published without any Castration, with many curious Miscellaneous
Poems of the same great Men, which never before see the Light.
32. Defoe on satirical poetry
1703, 1711, 1713
Best known now for his novel Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe
(?1660–1731) was in his own day well known as a journalist,
pamphleteer, and satiric poet. The burden of his remarks in the
following passages is the decline of satire since the seventeenth
(a) Extract from More Reformation. A Satyr upon Himself, 16 July
1703, the precise date deriving from the Luttrell copy in the British
Library. It was published again in 1705 in A Second Volume of the
Writings of the Author of the True-Born Englishman. ll. 532–53.
Now, Satyr, all thy Grievances rehearse,
And so retrieve the Honour of thy Verse.
No more shalt thou old Marvell’s Ghost1 lament,
A reference to Marvell; but the phrase had apparently become generic, since
there are at least two poems with the title ‘Marvell’s Ghost,’ one written by his friend
John Ayloff after 1678; the other, an anonymous piece, dated 1688/9, was published
in 1707; both were reprinted in Poems on Affairs of State, Yale University Press,
(1963; 1971) I, pp. 285–6; V, pp. 277–80.
Around 1712, Thomas Newcomb wrote a mock-heroic poem ‘Biblioteca’ in which
the following lines appear with comments by the editor:
Nay, to augment my last despair,
Place Ayloffe’s* self and Marvell† there
(A fam’d dull pair, that purely wrote
To raise our spleen, and die forgot).
Captain Ayloffe, author of ‘Marvell’s Ghost.’
The satire on Marvell is wonderfully misplaced.
(A Select Collection of Poems, ed. John Nichols, 1780–2, III, p. 50; IV, p. 355.)
THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
Who always rally’d Kings and Government:
Thy Lines their awful Distance always knew,
And thought that Debt to Dignities was Due.
Crowns should be counted with the things Divine,
On which Burlesque is rudeness and profane;
The Royal Banter1 cannot stand the Test,
But where we find the Wit, we lose the Jest.
Poets sometimes with Royal Praise appear,
And sometimes too much Flattery prepare,
Which wiser Princes hardly will Dispence,
Tho’ ’tis a Crime of no great Consequence.
But Satyr has no business with the Crown,
No Wit can with good Manners there be shown.
He that the Royal Errors will Expose,
His Courage more than his Discretion shows.
Besides his Duty shou’d his Pen restrain,
And blame the Crime, but not describe the Man:
His proper Parallel of Vice may bring,
Expose the Error, not Expose the King.
(b) Extract from A Review of the State of the British Nation (later
called Review), a periodical written almost solely by Defoe and
published in nine volumes, VIII (29 March 1711), pp. 6–7.
Yet Party Rage will break through, Lampoons, Pasquinades, and
Inveterate Satyrs will swarm more than before, and be dilligently
handed about by Parties all over the Kingdom, whose Darts will be
keener, and Poison stronger than any Thing Printed; and perhaps the
more so, as they shall be receiv’d with more Gust by the People on
either Side—And I appeal to any Man that remembers the Days of
King Charles II. when the License Tyranny Reign’d over the Press,
whether that Age did not abound in Lampoons and Satyrs, that
Wounded; and at last went far in Ruining the Parties they were pointed
at, more than has ever been practis’d since the Liberty of the Press—
And he that does not know it, must be very Ignorant of those Times,
and has heard very little of Andrew Marvel, Sir John Denham,
Royal Banter refers to Defoe’s raillery directed at Charles II in his True-Born
Englishman (1701), ll. 289ff.
Rochester, Buckhurst, and several others, whose Wit made the Court
odious to the People, beyond what had been possible if the Press had
(c) Extract from the Review, I. New Part [ix], 28 March 1713, pp.
The Fury of the Times being exerted most at this time by the Pen and
Ink, it is not to be wonder’d at, that part of that Salt and Fire which
People spit at one another, comes up to what we call Lampoon,
Pasquinade, Ballad and Satyr: In all Reigns, and, for ought I know,
in all Ages it has more or less been so.
But I cannot but make one Observation as I go, viz. That the
Lampoons of this Age differ very much from those that we have seen
in former Times; and tho’, at the same time, we pretend much to have
a degree of Polite Wit beyond those Days; yet nothing of that keenness
of Satyr, the happy turns and brightness of Fancy appears in the
Lampoons of this Age, that were seen in Andr. Marvel, Sir John
Denham, Rochester, Buckingham, Buckhurst, Sidley, and others, the
Wits of that Day; nay, give Sing-Song D’Urfey his due, even his Ballads
out did us exceedingly: What wretched Stuff have we seen in our publick
Prints on both sides, one as well as t’other, which pass for Satyr!…
I remember in the Days of King Charles the IId. some of the
bitterest Invectives against him, when put into Lampoons, were
cover’d with such a bewitching Fancy, and such a flood of Wit, that
the King himself would laugh at them, and be pleased with them:
And who can help, tho’ never so severely lash’d, being pleas’d with
the Wit of the incomparable Hudibrass?
The Dialogue between the two Horses1 so pleas’d the King, that
tho’ it was the bitterest Satyr, upon him and his Father, that ever was
made, the King would often repeat them with a great deal of Pleasure,
and particularly these that follow:
[Quotes ll. 167–74.]
…it is my Opinion, that the Satyrs of this part of our Age are so
mean, in comparison of the last that I believe the next will never
The ‘Dialogue between the Two Horses,’ ascribed to Marvell only in the Poems
of Affairs of State, 1689 and after, may be dated 1675–6 from its allusion to the
closing of the coffeehouses (closed 29 December 1675; re-opened 10 January 1676).
Its attribution is questionable.
THE CRITICAL HERITAGE
think them worth Collecting, as the last were, into six Volumes of
State Poems—And above all, I must needs say, I think I have not
seen one yet that is worth an Authors marching from Newgate to
Aldgate for; if any Author thinks otherwise, he is very welcome to
make the Experiment.
If the great Men, whether in or out, must be Banter’d and Satyriz’d,
I would fain perswade our Poets to go about it like Poets; that is, like
Men of Sense and Men of Wit; and let it be done sharp and clever,
suitable to the Quality of the Persons, and the Dignity of Satyr.
33. Thomas Cooke on the life and
Thomas ‘Hesiod’ Cooke (1703–56) was the first to publish an
edition of the poetry of Marvell subsequent to the 1681 Folio,
with an anecdotal biographical account that was to be
constantly pilfered by subsequent editors. His intent was
political, his interest in the poetry scant: ‘My Design in this is
to draw a Pattern for all free-born English-men, in the Life of a
worthy Patriot, whose every Action has truely merited to him,
with Aristides, the Sirname of the Just.’
Extracts from his two-volume edition, 1726 (reprinted in 1772),
I, pp. 14–15, 18–19, 20–1; II, Dedication to the Earl of
Pembroke and Montgomery.
…he was often conversant, and to a great Degree of Intimacy, with
the late Duke of Devonshire, and Mr. Milton; but more particularly
with the latter. Their Friendship begun very early, which Nothing
could end but Death. When Paradise lost was first published, to the
Shame of those Times be it told, it was valued, but by few, no more
than a lifeless Piece, till Mr. Marvell and Dr. Barrow publickly
espoused it, each in a judicious Poem….
NOW, Sir [William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire], we must
view him in a different, but not less advantageous Light: I mean in
his Writings. In all which the same Love, and Hatred, of Right, and
Wrong, are as apparent, and the same publick Spirit exerted, as in
his other Proceedings. No private Favours could ever bribe him to
Flattery, nor personal Resentments provoke him to Revenge. He
regarded all Men as the Instruments of good or bad Actions. I shall
give one great Instance of this from the first Part of the Rehearsal
transprosed. Tho he was as free, at other Times, in censuring the
Vices of his Sovereign, as of his fellow Subjects, yet he knew to praise
him, when the Author of a laudable Action.
[Quotes RT I, pp. 43–4.]
BUT first we must consider him as a Poet, which, Sir, I believe you
will imagine, gives him no small Claim to my Favour, independent
of his other Virtues. There are few of his Poems which have not
Something pleasing in them, and some he must be allowed to have
excelled in. Most of them seem to be the Effect of a lively Genius,
and manly Sense, but at the same Time seem to want that Correctness
he was capable of making. If we have any which may be properly
said to come finished from his Hands, they are these, On Milton’s
Paradise lost, On Blood’s stealing the Crown, and A Dialogue
between two Horses.
He has several Poems in Latin, some of which he translated into
English, and one in Greek. They have each their proper Merit. He
discovers a great Facility of writing in the Latin Tongue.
We have some few small Pieces of his, in Prose, which must not
escape our Observations…. By his familiar Letters we may easyly
judge, what Parts of his greater Works are laboured, and what not.
If, in some Parts of his Satires, he seems too severe; that is owed to a
Detestation of the Vices with which those Persons, the Subjects of
his Satire, were branded, and which he then thought they deserved,
and to no Partiality of thinking. The Crimes, therefore, not the
Persons, he hated.
34. James Parsons on ‘Eyes and Tears’
In 1747 Dr. James Parsons (1705–70) delivered a series of
lectures, entitled Human Physiognomy, to the Royal Society.
Notably in one, he quoted seven of the fourteen stanzas of the
lyric ‘Eyes and Tears’ with specific attribution to Marvell,
reflecting an early if post-seventeenth-century interest in a poem
that was to stir comment up to the end of the nineteenth century.
The following year Parsons’s remarks on Marvell, together with
the seven stanzas, were given wider circulation in the
Gentleman’s Magazine, 18 (1748), p. 555.
Extract from Human Physiognomy (1747), p. 79.
But, besides these [Juvenal, Vergil], I find an English Poet singing
their other Uses in the most pathetic and engaging Manner; whose
charming Song it would be unpardonable to conceal, since no
Language can boast of one more expressive upon the Subject, and
wherein he has shewn, that Tears are a Blessing peculiar only to
[Omits stt. 3, 4, 7, 10, 11, 13 and the Latin version of st. 8.]
35. Voltaire on In eandem [Effigiem]
Reginae Sueciae transmissam
Voltaire’s comments on a variety of topics appeared in articles
contributed to the Encyclopédie and in his Dictionnaire
philosophique (1764) and Questions sur l’Encyclopédie (1770–
2). After his death these articles were combined into one
alphabetical order and given the omnibus title Dictionnaire
philosophique (see the edition of R.Naves and J.Benda, Paris,
1935). M. Beuchot gives the provenance of Voltaire’s remarks
on Cromwell as deriving from the 1748 Dresden edition, vol. IV.
Extract from Oeuvres de Voltaire, ed. M.Beuchot (Paris, 1829),
XXVIII, pp. 265–6.
When [Cromwell] had insulted all monarchs in causing the head of
his legitimate king to be cut off and when he himself began to rule,
he sent his portrait to a crowned head: Christina, Queen of Sweden.
Marvell, a famous English poet, who wrote excellent Latin poetry,
prepared six verses to accompany the portrait where he makes
Cromwell himself speak. In the last two lines Cromwell makes amends
as follows [quotes the Latin]:
But this image submits his brow to you most reverently
Nor are these looks always harsh to kings.
The bold sense of these verses may perhaps be rendered thus [in
With sword in hand I have defended the laws;
I have avenged the cause of a bold people.
Look without trembling on this faithful image:
My brow is not always the terror of kings.
This queen was the first to acknowledge him Protector of three realms.
36. William Mason, from the ode
By his own boast, a compère, as well as the literary executor,
of Thomas Gray, William Mason (1724–97) is largely
remembered as his first (and worst) editor—The Life and Letters
of Gray (1774).
His Odes were published in 1756 in Cambridge and Dublin. The
second, which includes three strophes on Marvell, was addressed
to Robert D’Arcy, fourth Earl of Holdernesse (see st. 6).
Extract from the Cambridge edition (1756).
As now o’er this lone beach I stray;
Thy fav’rite Swain* oft stole along,
And artless wove his Doric lay,
Far from the busy throng.
Thou heard’st him, Goddess, strike the tender string,
And badst his soul with bolder passions move:
Strait these responsive shores forgot to ring,
With Beauty’s praise, or plaint of slighted Love;
To loftier flights his daring Genius rose,
And led the war, ‘gainst thine, and Freedom’s foes.
Pointed with Satire’s keenest steel,
The shafts of Wit he darts around;
Ev’n mitred Dulness† learns to feel,
Andrew Marvell, born at Kingston upon Hull in the year 1620.
Parker, Bishop of Oxford.