« AnteriorContinuar »
Marvell, in favour of Parker; but our author had so greatly the advantage, both of the Doctor and his associates, that Parker did not think proper to engage further in the controversy. Anthony Wood, no friend to Marvell's principles, observes, “ that it was generally thought, by many of those who were otherwise favourers of Parker's cause, that the victory lay on Marvell's side.” And he adds, that “it wrought this good effect on Parker, that, for ever after, it took down his high spirit.” Bishop Burnet remarks, that Marvell “ writ in a burlesque strain, but with so peculiar and so entertaining a conduct, that from the king down to the tradesman, his books were read with great pleasure, and not only humbled Parker, but the whole party; for the author of the "Rehearsal Transposed,' had all the men of wit on his side.” The same prelate, elsewhere, speaks of King Charles the Second,'as being much pleased with the wit of Marvell's book, which he styles the best satire of the time ; and further observes, that “ the Rehearsal Transposed,' gave occasion to the single piece of modesty, with which Dr. Parker could be charged, of withdrawing from the town, and not importuning the press for some years, since even a face of brass must grow red, when it is so burnt as his was then.” And Dean Swift, after mentioning the usual fate of common answers of books, and how short-lived their labours are, adds, that “there is, indeed, an exception, when any great genius thinks it worth his while to expose a foolish piece: so we still read Marvell's answer to Parker with pleasure, though the book it answers be sunk long ago.”
The following spirited irony, on the “doleful evils” of the press, is extracted from the “ Řehearsal Transposed,” vol. i. p. 14. Its vigour of reasoning would not have disgraced the argument of Milton's Areopagitica.
“For the press hath owed him a shame a long time, and is but now beginning to pay off the debt. The press, (that villanous engine) invented about the same time with the Reformation, that hath done more mischief to the discipline of our church, than all the doctrine can make amends for. 'Twas a happy time when all learning was in manuscripts, and some little officer, like our author, did keep the keys of the library; when the clergy needed no more knowledge than to read the Liturgy; and the laity no more clerkship than to save them from hanging. But now, since printing came into the world, such is the mischief, that a man cannot write a book, but presently he is answered! Could the press but once be conjured to obey only an Imprimatur, our author might not disdain, perhaps, to be one of its most zealous patrons. There have been ways found out to banish ministers, to fine not only the people, but even the grounds and fields where they assembled in conventicles. But no art yet could prevent these seditious meetings of letters. Two or three brawny
fellows in a corner, with mere ink and elbow-grease, do more harm than an hundred systematical divines, with their sweaty preaching: And which is a strange thing, the very sponges, which one would think should rather deface and blot out the whole book, and were anciently used for that purpose, are now become the instruments to make things legible. Their ugly printing-letters, that look but like so many rotten teeth! How oft have they been pulled out by B. and L. (Le Strange) the public tooth-drawers? And yet these rascally operators of the press have got a trick to fasten them again in a few minutes, that they grow as firm a set, and as biting and talkative as ever. O Printing ! how hast thou disturbed the peace of mankind! That lead, when moulded into bullets, is not so mortal, as when founded into letters. There was a mistake, sure, in the story of Cadmus ; and the serpent's teeth, which he sowed, were nothing else but the letters which he invented. The first essay that was made towards this art, was in single characters upon iron, wherewith of old they stigmatized slaves and remarkable offenders; and it was of good use sometimes to brand a schismatick. But a bulky Dutchman diverted it quite from its first institution, and contriving those innumerable syntagmes of alphabets, hath preserved the world ever since with the gross bodies of their German divinity. One would have thought, in reason, that a Dutchman at least might have contented himself only with the wine-press."
The following is a parody on the speeches of Charles II.
“My Lords and Gentlemen,
“ I told you, at our last meeting, the winter was the fittest time for business, and truly I thought so, till my lord treasurer assured me the spring was the best season for salads and subsidies. I hope, therefore, that April will not prove so unnatural a month, as not to afford some kind showers on my parched exchequer, which gapes for want of them. Some of you, perhaps, will think it dangerous to make me too rich; but I do not fear it; for I promise you faithfully, whatever you give me I will always want; and although in other things my word may be thought a slender authority, yet in that, you may rely on me, I will never break it.”
“My Lords and Gentlemen,
“I can bear my straits with patience; but my lord treasurer does protest to me, that the revenue, as it now stands, will not serve him and me too. One of us must pinch for it, if you do not help me. I must speak freely to you; I am under bad circumstances, for besides my harlots in service, my reformado concubines lie heavy upon me. I have a passable good estate, I confess; but, God's-fish, I have a great charge upon it. Here is my lord treasurer can tell, that all the money designed for next summer's guards must, of necessity, be applied to the next year's cradles and swaddling clothes. What shall we do for ships then? I hint this only to you, it being your business, not mine. I know, by experience, I can live without ships. I lived ten years abroad without, and never had my health better in my life ; but how you will be without, I leave to yourselves to judge, and therefore hint this only by the bye: I do not insist upon it. There is another thing I must press more earnestly, and that is this: it seems, a good part of my revenue will expire in two or three years, except you will be pleased to continue it. I have to say for it; pray, why did you give me so much as you have done, unless you resolve to give on as fast as I call for it? The nation hates you already for giving so much, and I will hate you too, if you do not give me more. So that, if you stick not to me, you must not have a friend in England. On the other hand, if you will give me the revenue I desire, I shall be able to do those things for your religion and liberty, that I have had long in my thoughts, but cannot effect them without a little more money to carry me through. Therefore look toʻt, and take notice, that if you do not make me rich enough to updo you, it shall lie at your doors. For my part, I wash my hands on it. But that I may gain your good opinion, the best way is to acquaint you what I have done to deserve it, out of my royal care for your religion and your property. For the first, my proclamation is a true picture of my mind. He that cannot, as in a glass, see my zeal for the Church of England, does not deserve any farther satisfaction, for I declare him wilful, abominable, and not good. Some may, perhaps, be startled and cry, how comes this sudden change? To which I answer, I am a changeling, and that is sufficient, I think. But to convince men farther, that I mean what I say, there are these arguments.
“ First, I tell you so, and you know I never break my word.
“ Secondly, my lord treasurer says so, and he never told a lie in bis life.
“ Thirdly, my lord Lauderdale will undertake it for me, and I should be loth, by any act of mine, he should forfeit the credit he has with you.
“ If you desire more instances of my zeal, I have them for you. For example, I have converted my natural sons from popery, and I may say without vanity, it was my own work, so much the more peculiarly mine than the begetting them. Twould do one's heart good to hear how prettily George can read already in the psalter. They are all fine children, God bless 'em, and so like me in their understandings ! But, as I was saying, I have, to please you, given a pension to your favourite, my lord Lauderdale; not so much that I thought he wanted it, as that you would take it kindly. I have made Carwel duchess of Portsmouth, and married her sister to the earl of Pembroke. I have, at my brother's request, sent my lord Inchiquin into Barbary, to settle the Protestant religion among the Moors, and an English interest at Tangier. I have made Crew bishop of Durham, and at the first word of my lady Portsmouth, Prideaux bishop of Chichester. I know not, for my part, what factious men would have; but this I am sure of, my predecessors never did any thing like this, to gain the good will of their subjects. So much for your religion, and now for your property. My behaviour to the bankers is a public instance; and the proceedings between Mrs. Hyde and Mrs. Sutton, for private ones, are such convincing evidences, that it will be needless to say any more to it.
“I must now acquaint you, that, by my lord treasurer's advice, I have made a considerable retrenchment upon my expenses in candles and charcoal, and do not intend to stop, but will, with your help, look into the late embezzlements of my dripping-pans and kitchen-stuff; of which, by the way, upon my conscience, neither my lord treasurer, nor my lord Lauderdale, are guilty. I tell you my opinion; but if you should find them dabbling in that business, I tell you plainly, I leave them to you; for, I would have the world to know, I am not a man to be cheated.”
“ My Lords and Gentlemen,
“I desire you to believe me as you have found me; and I do solemnly promise you, that whatsoever you give me shall be specially managed with the same conduct, trust, sincerity, and prudence, that I have ever practised, since my happy restoration.”
The friendship between Milton and Marvell is one of the most interesting subjects in the biography of two of the most noble characters this country has produced.
The encomiastic verses, by Marvell, extracted in our last number, which were prefixed to the second edition of “Paradise Lost,” are extremely interesting, and prove not only the admiration of Marvell for the “mighty Poet,” but that, long before the Earl of Dorset and Dryden, Marvell discovered and appreciated the incomparable Epic. Barrow, the physician, also shares in the glory of contributing, according to the custom of the times, “an introductory Ode, to the author," in the same edition.From the year 1657, when Marvell was associated with Milton, in the office of Latin Secretary, the intimate friendship of these two great men commenced, which terminated only with their lives. Edward Philips, Milton's nephew, in the life of his uncle, prefixed to Milton's “ Letters of State," 1694, writes that Marvell,with other friends, visited the Bard when secreted from the threats of the restored Governments, in the private retirement, “ where he lived till the act of oblivion proved as favourable to him as could be hoped or expected, through the intercession of some that stood his friends, both in Council and Parliament, particularly Mr. Andrew Marvell, a member for Hull, acted vigorously in his behalf, and made a considerable party for him." p. xxxviii. It is not improbable, that the humour of Marvell also contrived the premature and mock funeral of Milton, which is reported, for a time, to have duped his enemies into the belief of his real death: and to this manly friendship is the world probably indebted for the great poems which were long subsequently completed and published. We have also omitted to mention, that Milton's “Second Defence" of the people, with a compliment from its author, was presented
VOL. XI. PART 1.
to Cromwell, by Andrew Marvell, who afterwards wrote to Milton, on the subject of its reception : (See Birch's Life, and Symmons, second edition, p. 455). In this letter, Marvell says to the author of that extraordinary tract—"when I consider how equally it turns, and rises with so many figures, it seems to me a Trajan's column, in whose winding ascent we see embossed the several monuments of your learned victories.". It concludes with the following interesting passage:
“I have an affectionate curiosity to know what becomes of Colonel Overton's business, and am exceeding glad to think that Mr. Skinner has got near you; the happiness which I at the same time congratulate to him, and envy, there being none who doth, if I may so say, more jealously honoured you than, honoured sir, your most affectionate, humble servant, Andrew Marvell.”—Eton, June 2, 1654.
“For my most honoured friend, John Milton, Esq., Secretary for the Foreign Affairs, at his house, in Petty France, Westminster."
Marvell's watchful and tender friendship for our great bard is also affectingly displayed in the “Rehearsal Transposed,” Part xi. p. 377, where Marvell tells his antagonist, Parker, “ that he had not seen John Milton of two years before he composed his first volume of the work just mentioned.” “ But,” says he, “ after I undertook writing, I did more carefully avoid either visiting or sending to him, lest it should any away involve him in my consequences. Had he took you in hand, you would have had cause to repent the occasion, and not escaped so easily as you did under my “ Transposed.”
Afterwards, he thus characterises Milton :
“ John Milton was, and is, a man of as great learning, and sharpness of wit, as any man. It was his misfortune, living in a tumultuous time, to be tossed on the wrong side; and he wrote, flagrante bello, certain dangerous treatises. At his Majesty's happy return, John Milton did partake, even as you did yourself, for all your buffing, of his regal clemency, and has ever since expiated himself in a retired silence. It was after that, I well remember it, that being one day at his house, I there first met you, and accidentally. Then it was, when you, as I told you, wandered up and down Moorfields, astrologising upon the duration of his Majesty's government, that you frequented John Milton's incessantly, and haunted his house day by day. What discourse you there used, he is too generous to remember. But he, never having in the least provoked you, for you to insult thus over his old age, to traduce him by your scaramuccios, and in your own person, as a school-master, who was born and hath lived much more ingenuously and liberally than yourself; to have done all this, and lay, at last, my simple book to his charge, without ever taking care to inform yourself better, which you had so easy opportunity to do; it is inhumanly and inhospitably done, and will, I hope, be a warning