Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

find others far superior to them, if we could drinks healths in scalding brimstone, afford space for long citations.

scranches the glasses for his dessert, and Ironically bewailing the calamitous effects draws his breath through glowing tobaccoof printing, our author exclaims—'O Print- pipes, he could not show more flame than he ing! how hast thou disturbed the peace of always does upon that subject.' Parker, in mankind ? Lead, when moulded into bul- a passage of unequalled absurdity, having relets, is not so mortal as when founded into presented Geneva as on the south side of the letters. There was a mistake, sure, in the lake Leman, Marvell ingeniously represents story of Cadmus; and the serpent's teeth the blunder as the subject of discussion in a which he sowed, were nothing else but the private company, where various droll soluletters which he invented.' Parker having tions are proposed, and where he, with exdeclared, in relation to some object of his quisite irony, pretends to take Parker's part. scurrility, that he had written, 'not to impair I,' says Marvell, that was still on the his esteem, but 'to correct his scribbling doubtful and excusing part, said, that to give humor;' Marvell says—Our author is as the right situation of a town, it was necescourteous as lightning; and can melt the sary first to know in what position the gensword without ever hurting the scabbard.' tleman's head then was when he made his After alleging that his opponent often has a observation, and that might cause a great byplay of malignity even when bestowing diversity—as much as this came to.' Havcommendations, he remarks—' The author's ing charged his adversary with needlessly end was only railing. He could never have obtruding upon the world some petty matters induced himself to praise one man but in which concerned only himself, from an exorder to rail on another. He never oils his aggerated idea of his own importance, Marhone but that he may whet his razor, and vell drolly says—When a man is once posthat not to shave, but to cut men's throats.' \sessed with this fanatic kind of spirit, he On Parker's absurd and bombastic exagger-imagines if a shoulder do but itch that the ation of the merits and achievements of world has galled it with leaning on it so long, Bishop Bramhall, Marvell wittily says—' Any and therefore he wisely shrugs to remove the worthy man may pass through the world un- globe to the other. If he chance but to questioned and safe, with a moderate recom- sneeze, he salutes himself, and courteously mendation ; but when he is thus set off and prays that the foundations of the earth be not bedaubed with rhetoric, and embroidered so shaken. And even so the author of the thick that you cannot discern the ground, it Ecclesiastical Polity, ever since he crept up awakens naturally (and not altogether un- to be but the weathercock of a steeple, tremjustly) interest, curiosity, and envy. For all bles and creaks at every puff of wind that men pretend a share in reputation, and love blows him about, as if the Church of Engnot to see it engrossed and monopolized ; land were falling, and the state tottered.' and are subject to inquire (as of great estates After ludicrously describing the effect of the suddenly got) whether he came by all this first part of the Rehearsal' in exacerbating honestly, or of what credit the person is that all his opponent's evil passions, he remarks tells the story? And the same hath hap- - He seems not so fit at present for the pened as to this bishop. · Men seeing archdeacon's seat, as to take his place below him furbished up in so martial accoutre- in the church amongst the energumeni.' ments, like another Odo, Bishop of Baieux, Parker had charged him with a sort of plaand having never before heard of his prowess, giarism for having quoted so many passages begin to reflect what giants he defeated, and out of his book. On this Marvell observes what damsels he rescued. . After all - It has, I believe, indeed angered him, as our author's bombast, when we have searched it has been no small trouble to me; but how all over, we find ourselves bilked in our ex- can I help it? I wish he would be pleased pectation; and he hath created the Bishop, to teach me an art (for, if any man in the like a St. Christopher in the Popish churches, world, he hath it) to answer a book without as big as ten porters, and yet only employed turning over the leaves, or without citing to sweat under the burden of an infant.' Of passages. In the mean time, if to transcribe the paroxysms of rage with which Parker so much out of him must render a man, as he refers to one of his adversaries, whom he dis- therefore styles me, a “scandalous plagiary,”: tinguishes by his initials, Marvell says— As I must plead guilty; but by the same law, oft as he does but name those two first let- whoever shall either be witness or prosecutor ters, he is, like the island of Fayal, on fire in in behalf of the King, for treasonable words, threescore and ten places ;' and affirins, that may be indicted for a highwayman.' Parker if he were of that fellow's diet here about having viewed some extravaganza of Martown, that epicurizes on burning coals, vell's riotous wit as if worthy of serious com

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ment, the latter says—'Whereas I only threw | cessarily be a trifling one. For similar reasons, it out like an empty cask to amuse him, they look with sage suspicion on every signal knowing that I had a whale to deal with, display, either of fancy or passion; think a and lest he should overset me;-he runs splendid illustration nothing but the ambusaway with it as a very serious business, and cade of a fallacy, and strong emotion as tantaso moyles himself with tumbling and tossing mount to a confession of unsound judgment. it, that he is in danger of melting his sperm- As Archbishop Whately has well remarked, aceti. A cork, I see, will serve without a such men having been warned that ‘ridicule hook; and, instead of a harping-iron, this is not the test of truth,' and that'wisdom and grave and ponderous creature may, like eels, wit are not the same thing, distrust every thing be taken and pulled up only with bobbing' that can possibly be regarded as witty; not After exposing in a strain of uncommon elo- having judgment to perceive the combination, quence the wickedness and folly of sus- when it occurs, of wit and sound reasoning. pending the peace of the nation on so frivo- The ivy wreath completely conceals from lous a matter as ceremonial,' he says-'For their view the point of the thyrsus.' a prince to adventure all upon such a cause, The fact is, that all Marvell's endowments is like Duke Charles of Burgundy, who were on a large scale, though his wit greatly fought three battles for an imposition upon predominated. His judgment was remarkasheep-skins,' and 'for a clergyman to offer bly clear and sound, his logic by no means at persecution upon this ceremonial account, contemptible, his sagacity in practical matters is (as is related of one of the Popes) to jus- great, his talents for business apparently of tify his indignation for his peacock, by the the first order, and his industry indefatigable. example of God's anger for eating the for- His imagination, though principally employed bidden fruit.' He justifies his severity to- in ministering to his wit, would, if sufficiently wards Parker in a very ludicrous way—No cultivated, have made him a poet consideraman needs letters of marque against one that bly above mediocrity; though chiefly alive to is an open pirate of other men's credit. I the ludicrous, he was by no means insensible remember within our own time one Simons, to the beautiful. We cannot, indeed, bestow who robbed always on the bricolle—that is all the praise on his poems which some of his to say, never interrupted the passengers, but critics have assigned them. They are very still set upon the thieves themselves, after, plentifully disfigured by the conceits and like Sir John Falstaff, they were gorged with quaintnesses of the age, and as frequently a booty; and by this way-so ingenious that want grace of expression and harmony of numit was scarce criminal — he lived secure and bers. Of the compositions which Captain anmolested all his days, with the reputation Thompson's indiscriminate admiration would of a judge rather than of a highwayman.' | fain have affiliated to his muse, the two best The sentences we have cited are all taken are proved-one not to be his, and the other from the 'Rehearsal.' We had marked many of doubtful origin. The former, beginningmore from his ‘Divine in Mode,' and other

· When Israel, freed from Pharaoh's hand,' writings, but have no space for them.

But he who supposes Marvell to have been is a well known composition of Dr. Watts ; nothing but a wit, simply on account of the the other, the ballad of 'William and Margapredominance of that quality, will do him in- ret,' is of dubious authorship. Though probjustice. It is the common lot of such men, ably of earlier date than the age of Mallet, in whom some one faculty is found on a great its reputed author—the reasons which Capscale, to fail of part of the admiration due to tain Thompson gives for assigning it to Mar. other endowments; possessed in more moder- vell, are altogether unsatisfactory. Still, ate degree, indeed, but still in a degree far there are unquestionably many of his genufrom ordinary. We are subject to the same ine poems which indicate a rich, though illillusion in gazing on mountain scenery. Fix- cultivated fancy; and in some few stanzas ing our eye on some solitary peak, which there is no little grace of expression. The towers far above the rest, the groups of sur little piece on the Pilgrim Fathers, entitled rounding hills look positively diminutive, the Emigrants,' the Fanciful 'Dialogue bethough they may, in fact, be all of great mag-tween Body and Soul,' the ‘Dialogue between nitude.

the Resolved Soul and Created Pleasure,' and This illusion is further fostered by another the ‘Coronet,' all contain lines of much elecircumstance, in the case of great wits. As gance and sweetness. It is in his satirical the object of wit is to amuse, the owl-like poems that, as might be expected from the gravity of thousands of common readers character of his mind, his fancy appears most would decide that wit and wisdom must dwell vigorous ; though these are largely disfigured apart, and that the humorous writer must ne-| by the characteristic defects of the age, and

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

many, it must be confessed, are entirely with-This works bear ample evidence of his wide and out merit. With two or three lines from his miscellaneous reading. He appears to have ludicrous satire on Holland, we cannot re- been well versed in most branches of literafrain from amusing the reader. Some of the ture, though he makes no pedantic display of strokes of humor are irresistibly ridiculous : erudition, and in this respect is favorably

distinguished from many of his contemporaHolland, that scarce deserves the name of land,

ries; yet he cites his authors with the familAs but the off-scouring of the British sand; And so much earth as was contributed

iarity of a thorough scholar. In the departBy English pilots when they heav'd the lead; ment of history he appears to have been parOr what by th' ocean's slow alluvion fell, ticularly well read; and derives his witty Of shipwreck'd cockle and the muscle-shell; illustrations from such remote and obscure This indigested vomit of the sea Fell to the Dutch by just propriety.

sources, that Parker did not hesitate to avow Glad then, as miners who have found the ore,

his belief that he had sometimes drawn on his They, with mad labor fish'd the land to shore; invention for them. In his Reply, Marvell And dived as desperately for each piece justifies himself in all the alleged instances, Of earth, as if it had been of ambergris ;

and takes occasion to show that his oppoCollecting anxiously small loads of clay, Less than what building swallows bear away;

nent's learning is as hollow as all his other For as with pigmies, who best kills the crane,

pretensions. Among the hungry he that treasures grain,

The style of Marvell is very unequal. Among the blind the one-eyed blinkard reigns, Though often rude and unpolished, it abounds So rules among the drowned he that drains. Not who first see the rising sun commands :

in negligent felicities, presents us with freBut who could first discern the rising lands. quent specimens of vigorous idiomatic EngWho best could know to pump an earth so leak, lish, and now and then attains no mean degree Him they their lord, and country's father, speak.'|of elegance. It bears the stamp of the rev

olution which was then passing on the lanHis Latin poems are among his best. The guage; it is a medium between the involved composition often shows no contemptible skill and periodic structure so common during the in that language; and here and there the dic- former half of the century, and which is ill tion and versification are such as would not adapted to a language possessing so few inhave absolutely disgraced his great coadjutor, Aections as ours, and that simplicity and harMilton. In all the higher poetic qualities, mony which were not fully attained till the there can of course be no comparison between age of Addison. There is a very large inthem.

fusion of short sentences, and the structure With such a mind as we have ascribed to in general is as unlike that of his great colhim-and we think his works fully justify league's prose as can be imagined. Many of what we have said—with such aptitudes for Marvell's pages flow with so much ease and business, soundness of judgment, powers of grace, as to be not unworthy of a later period. reasoning, and readiness of sarcasm, one To that great revolution in style to which we might have anticipated that he would have have just alluded, he must in no slight degree taken some rank as an orator. Nature, it is have contributed; for little as his works are certain, had bestowed upon him some of the known or read now, the most noted of them most important intellectual endowments of were once universally popular, and perused one. It is true, indeed, that with his princi- with pleasure, as Burnet testifies, by every ples and opinions he would have found him- body,' from the king to the tradesman. self strangely embarrassed in addressing any Numerous examples show, that it is almost parliament in the days of Charles II., and stood impossible for even the rarest talents to confer but a moderate chance of obtaining a candid permanent popularity on books which turn on

But we have no proof that he ever topics of temporary interest, however absorbmade the trial. His parliamentary career in ing at the time. If Pascal's transcendant this respect resembled that of a much greater genius has been unable to rescue even the man-Addison, who, with wit even superior Lettres Provinciales from partial oblivion, it to his

own, and with much more elegance, if is not to be expected that Marvell should have not more strength of mind, failed signally as done more for the Rehearsal Transprosed. a speaker.

Swift, it is true, about half a century later, Marvell's learning must have been very has been pleased, while expressing this opinextensive. His education was superior: and ion, to make an exception in favor of Marvell. a3 we have seen from the testimony of Milton, " There is indeed,' says he, an exception, his industry had made him master, during his when any great genius thinks it worth his long sojourn on the continent, of several con- while to expose a foolish piece; so we still

It is certain, also, that read Marvell's answer to Parker with pleasbe continued to be a student all his days : ure, though the book it answers be sunk

[ocr errors]


tinental languages.

[merged small][ocr errors]

long ago. But this statement is scarcely ap- of that ; it may be for the sake of those plicable now. It is true that the ‘Rehearsal' is whom he maligns and injures. When the occasionally read by the curious; but it is by exorcist takes Satan in hand, it is not be the resolutely curious alone.

cause he is an Origenist, and believes in the Yet assuredly he has not lived in vain who conversion of the devil,' but in pity to the has successfully endeavored to abate the nui- supposed victims of his malignity. It is sances of his own time, or to put down some much the same when a man like Marvell insolent abettor of vice and corruption. Nor undertakes to satirize a man like Parker. is it possible in a world like this, in which Even such a man may be abashed and conthere is such continuity of causes and effects founded, though he cannot be reclaimed; and —where one generation transmits its good if so, the satirist gains his object and socieand its evil to the next, and the consequences ty gets the benefit. Experience fully shows of each revolution in principles, opinions, or us that there are many men who will be retastes, are propagated along the whole line strained by ridicule long after they are lost to of humanity—to estimate either the degree or virtue, and that they are accessible to shame perpetuity of the benefits conferred by the when they are utterly inaccessible to argucomplete success of works even of transient ment. interest. By modifying the age in which he This was just the good that Marvell effectlives, a man may indirectly modify the char-ed. He made Parker, it is true, more furiacter of many generations to come. His ous; but he diverted, if he could not turn works may be forgotten while their effects the tide of popular feeling, and thus preventsurvive.

ed mischief. Parker, and others like him, Marvell's history affords a signal instance of were doing all they could to inflame angry the benefits which may be derived from well-passions, to revive the most extravagant predirected satire. There are cases in which it tensions of tyranny, and to preach up another may be a valuable auxiliary to decency, vir- crusade against the Nonconformists. Martue, and religion, where argument and per- vell's books were a conductor to the dangersuasion both fail. Many, indeed, doubt both ous fuid ; if there was any explosion at all, the legitimacy of the weapon itself, and the it was an explosion of merriment. He had success with which it can be employed. But all the laughers on his side,' says Burnet. In facts are against them. To hope that it can Charles II.'s reign, there were few who beever supply the place of religion as a radical longed to any other class; and then, as now, cure for vice or immortality, would be chi- men found it impossible to laugh and be merical; but there are many pernicious cus-angry at the same time. It is our firm betoms, violations of propriety, ridiculous, yet lief, that Marvell did more to humble Parker, tolerated, follies, which religion can scarcely and neutralize the influence of his party, by touch without endangering her dignity. To the · Rehearsal Transprosed,' than he could assail them is one of the most legitimate have done by writing half a dozen folios of offices of satire ; nor have we the slightest polemical divinity; just as Pascal did more doubt that the Spectator' did more to abate to unmask the Jesuits and damage their cause many of the prevailing follies and pernicious by his Provincial Letters,' than had been customs of the age, than a thousand homilies. effected by all the efforts of all their other opThis, however, may be admitted, and yet it ponents put together. may be said that it does not reach the case of But admirable as were Marvell's intellectuMarvell and Parker. Society, it may be ar- al endowments, it is bis moral worth, after gued, will bear the exposure of its own evils all

, which constitutes his principal claim on with great equanimity, and perhaps profit by the admiration of posterity, and which sheds it-no individual being pointed at, and each a redeeming lustre on one of the darkest being left to digest his own lesson, under pages of the English annals. Inflexible inthe pleasant conviction that it was designed tegrity was the basis of it-integrity by which principally for his neighbors. As corpora- he has not unworthily earned the gl rious tions will perpetrate actions of which each in- name of the British Aristides.'

With taldividual member would be ashamed; so cor-ents and acquirements which might have jus. porations will listen to charges which every tified him in aspiring to almost any office, if individual member would regard as insults. he could have disburdened himself of his conBut no man, it is said, is likely to be reclaim- science; with wit which, in that frivolous ed from error or vice by being made the ob- age, was a surer passport to fame than any ject of merciless ridicule. All this we believe amount either of intellect or virtue, and most true. But then it is not to be forgotten, which, as we have seen, mollified even the that it may not be the satirist's object to re- monarch himself in spite of his prejudices; claim the individual-he may have little hope Marvell preferred poverty and independence to

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

riches and servility. He had learned the les- • Climb at Court for me that willson, practised by few in that age, of being

Tottering favor's pinnacle ;

All I seek is to lie still. content with little-so that he preserved his

Settled in some secret nest, conscience. He could be poor, but he could In calm leisure let me rest, not be mean; conld starve, but could not And far off the public stage, cringe. By economizing in the articles of Pass away my silent age,

Thus, when without noise, unknown, pride and ambition, he could afford to keep

I have lived out all my span, what their votaries were compelled to re- I shall die without a groan, trench, the necessaries, or rather the luxu- An old honest countryman.' ries, of integrity and a good conscience. Neither menaces, nor caresses, nor bribes, nor

He seems to have been as amiable in his poverty, nor distress, could induce him to private as he was estimable in his public charabandon his integrity; or even to take an of- acter. So far as any documents throw light fice in which it might be tempted or endan- upon the subject, the same integrity appears gered. He only who has arrived at this pitch to have belonged to both. He is described as of magnanimity, has an adequate security for of a very reserved and quiet temper; but, like his public virtue. He who cannot subsist Addison, (whom in this respect as in some upon a little ; who has not learned to be con- few others he resembled,) exceedingly facetent with such things as he has, and even to tious and lively amongst his intimate friends. be content with almost nothing; who has not His disinterested championship of others, is learned to familiarize his thoughts to poverty, no less a proof of his sympathy with the opmuch more readily than he can familiarize pressed than of his abhorrence of oppression; them to dishonor, is not yet free from peril. and many pleasing traits of amiability occur Andrew Marvell, as his whole course proves, in his private correspondence, as well as in had done this. But we shall not do full jus- his writings. On the whole, we think that tice to his public integrity, if we do not bear Marvell's epitaph, strong as the terms of panein mind the corruption of the age in which gyric are, records little more than the truth ; he lived; the manifoid apostasies amidst and that it was not in the vain spirit of boastwhich he retained his conscience; and the ing, but in the honest consciousness of vireffect which such wide-spread profligacy must tue and integrity, that he himself concludes a have had in making thousands almost skepti- letter to one of his correspondents in the cal as to whether there were such a thing as words public virtue at all. Such a relaxation in the

• Disce, puer, virtutem ex me, verumque laborem ; code of speculative morals, is one of the worst

Fortunam ex aliis.' results of general profligacy in practice. But Andrew Marvell was not to be deluded; and amidst corruption perfectly unparalleled, he still continued untainted. We are accustomed to hear of his virtue as a truly Roman vir- THE FOUR AGES OF THOUGHT. tue, and so it was; but it was something more. Only the best pages of Roman histo

From the Literary Gazette. ry can supply a parallel : there was no Cin

What is Thought? cinnatus in those ages of her shame which In childhood-an imperfect gleam, alone can be compared with those of Charles A summer bower, a moonlight dream, II. It were easier to find a Cincinnatus dur- Glimpses of some far-shining stream, ing the era of the English Commonwealth,

A rosy wreath, the blessed beam

'That dwells in mothers' eyes. than an Andrew Marvell in the age of Commodus.

In youth--an urn brimm'd with delight, The integrity and patriotism which distin- Sweet thronging fantasies of ht, guished him in his relations to the Court, also

Meek eyes with love's own radiance bright,

Soft music on a summer night, marked all his public conduct. He was evi

Hope budding into joy. dently most scrupulously honest and faithful in the discharge of his duty to his constitu- In manhood--a benighted shore ents; and, as we have seen, almost punctili

With wrecks of bliss all scatter'd o'er,

Dark swelling doubts, fears scorn’d before, ous in guarding against any thing which could

A spirit wither'd at the core-tarnish his fair fame, or defile his conscience.

A sea of storm and strife. On reviewing the whole of his public conduct, well say that he attained his wish,

In age--a calm undazzled eye,

Living in worlds of memory; expressed in the lines which he has written

Low-breathed thanks for love on high, in imitation of a chorus in the Thyestes of A patient lorging for the sigh Seneca :

That wafts it into rest. M. A.L.

we may

« AnteriorContinuar »