Poems, by Andrew Marvell

Britannia and Raleigh.


Ah! Raleigh, when thou didst thy breath resign

To trembling James, would I had quitted mine!

Cubs didst thou call them! Hadst thou seen this brood

Of earls, and dukes, and princes of the blood,

No more of Scotish race thou wouldst complain, 5

These would be blessings in this spurious reign.

Awake, arise from thy long blest repose,

Once more with me partake of mortal woes!


What mighty pow’r has forc’d me from my rest?

Oh! mighty Queen, why so untimely drest? 10


Favour’d by night, conceal’d in this disguise,

Whilst the lewd Court in drunken slmnbez lies,

I stole away, and never will return,

Till England knows who did her city burn;

Till Cavaliers shall favourites be deem’d 15

And loyal Sufferers by the Court esteem’d;

Till Leigh and Galloway shall bribes reject;

Thus O[sbor]ne’s golden cheat I shall detect:

Till atheist Lauderdale shall leave this Land,

And Commons’ votes shall cut-nose guards disband: 20

Till Kate a happy mother shall become,

Till Charles loves parliaments, and James hates Rome.


What fatal crimes make you for ever fly

Your once lov’d Court, and martyr’s progeny?


A colony of French possess the Court; 25

Pimps, priests, buffoons, in privy-chamber sport.

Such slimy monsters ne’er approacht a throne,

Since Pharaoh’s days, nor so defil’d a crown.

In sacred ear tyrannick arts they croak,

Pervert his mind, and good intentions choake, 30

Tell him of golden Lidies, fairy lands,

Leviathan, and absolute commands.

Thus fairy-like, the king they steal away,

And in his room a changling Lewis lay.

How oft have I him to himself restored, 35

In ’s left the scale, in ’s right hand plac’d the sword?

Taught him their use, what dangers would ensue

To them who strive to separate these two?

The bloody Scotish Chronicle read o’re,

Shewed him how many kings, in purple gore, 40

Were hurl’d to hell, by cruel tyrant lore?

The other day fam’d Spencer I did bring,

In lofty notes Tudor’s blest race to sing;

How Spain’s proud powers her virgin arms control’d,

Aud gold’n days in peaceful order roul’d; 45

How like ripe fruit she dropt from off her throne,

Full of grey hairs, good deeds, and great renown.

As the Jessean hero did appease

Saul’s stormy rage, and stopt his black disease.

So the learn’d bard, with artful song, supprest 50

The swelling passion of his canker’d breast,

And in his heart kind influences shed

Of country love, by Truth and Justice bred.

Then to perform the cure so full begun.

To him I shew’d this glorious setting sun; 55

How, by her people’s looks pursu’d from far,

She mounted on a bright celestial car.

Outshining Yirgo, or the Julian star.

Whilst in Truth’s mirror this good scene he spy’d.

Entered a dame, bedeck’d with spotted pride, 60

Fair flower-de-luce within an azure field.

Her left hand bears the anolent Gallick shield,

By her usurp’d; her right a bloody sword,

Inscribed Leviathan, our soyeraign Lord;

Her tow’ry front a fiery meteor bears, 65

An exhalation bred of blood and tears;

Around her Jove’s lewd ravnous curs complain,

Pale Death, Lust, Tortures, fill her pompous train;

She from the easy king Truth’s mirrour took,

And on the ground in spitefril fall it broke; 70

Then frowning thus, with proud disdain she spoke:

“Are thred-bare virtues ornaments for kings?

Such poor pedantick toys teach underlings.

Do monarchs rise by virtue, or by sword?

Who e’er grew great by keeping of his word? 75

Virtue’s a faint green-sickness to brave souls.

Dastards their hearts, their active heat controuls.

The rival gods, monarchs of th’ other world,

This mortal poyson among princes hurl’d,

Fearing the mighty projects of the great 80

Should drive them from their proud celestial seat,

If not o’eraw’d by this new holy cheat.

Those pious frauds, too slight t’ensnare the brave,

Are proper arts the long-ear’d rout t’inslave.

Bribe hungry priests to deify your might, 85

To teach, your will’s your only rule to rights

And sound damnation to all dare deny’t.

Thus heaven’s designs ’gainst heaven you shall turn.

And make them fear those powers they once did scorn.

When all the gobling interest of mankind, 90

By hirelings sold to you, shall be resign’d,

And by impostures, God and man betray’d,

The Church and State you safely may invade;

So boundless Lewis in full glory shines,

Whilst your starved power in legal fetters pines. 95

Shake off those baby-bands from your strong arms,

Henceforth be deaf to that old witch’s charms;

Taste the delicious sweets of sovereign power,

’Tis royal game whole kingdoms to deflower.

Three spotless virgins to your bed I’ll bring, 100

A sacrifice to you, their God and king.

As these grow stale, we’ll harass human kind,

Hack Nature, till new pleasures you shall find,

Strong as your reign, and beauteous as your mind.”

When she had spoke, a confus’d murmur rose, 105

Of French, Scotch, Irish, all my mortal foes;

Some English too, shame! disguis’d I spy’d.

Led all by the wise son-in-law of Hide.

With fury drunk, like bachanals, they roar,

Down with that common _Magna Charta_ whore! 110

With joynt consent on helpless me they flew,

And from my Charles to a base goal me drew;

My reverend age expos’d to scorn and shame.

To prigs, bawds, whores, was made the publick game.

Frequent addresses to my Charles I send, 115

And my sad State did to his care commend;

But his fedr soul, transform’d by that French dame,

Had lost all sense of honour, justice, fame.

Like a tame Spinster in’s Seraigl he sits,

Besieg’d by whores, buffoons, and bastards chits; 120

Lulled in security, rowling in Inst,

Resigns his crown to angel Carwell’s trust;

Her creature O[sbor]ne the revenue steals;

False F[inc]h, knave Ang[le]sey misguide the seals.

Mac-James the Irish bigots does adore, 125

His French and Teague command on sea and shore.

The Scotch-scalado of our Court two isles,

False Lauderdale, with ordure, all defiles.

Thus the State’s nightmarr’d by this hellish rout.

And no one left these furies to cast out. 130

Ah! Vindex, come, and purge the poyson’d State;

Descend, descend, e’re the cure’s desperate.


Once more, great queen, thy darling strive to save.

Snatch him again from scandal and the grave;

Present to’s thoughts his long-scorn’d parliament, 135

The basis of his throne and government.

In his deaf ears sound his dead father’s name:

Perhaps that spell may ’s erring soul reclaim:

Who knows what good effects from thence may spring!

’Tis godlike good to save a failing king. 140


Rawleigh, no more! for long in vain I’ve try’d

The Stewart from the tyrant to divide;

As easily learn’d virtuosos may

With the dog’s blood his gentle kind convey

Into the wolf, and make him guardian turn 145

To th’ bleating flock, by him so lately torn:

If this imperial juice once taint his blood,

’Tis by no potent antidote withstood.

Tyrants, like lep’rous kings, for public weal

Should be immur’d, lest the contagion steal 150

Over the whole. Th’ elect of the Jessean line

To this firm law their sceptre did resign;

And shall this base tyrannick brood invade

Eternal laws, by God for mankind made?

To the serene Venetian State I’ll go, 155

From her sage mouth fam’d principles to know;

With her the prudence of the ancients read,

To teach my people in their steps to tread;

By their great pattern such a State I’ll frame,

Shall eternise a glorious lasting name. 160

Till then, my Raleigh, teach our noble youth

To love sobriety, and holy truth;

Watch and preside over their tender age.

Lest Court-corruption should their souls engage;

Teach them how arts, and arms, in thy young days, 165

Employed our youth, — not taverns, stews, and plays;

Tell them the generous scorn their race does owe

To flattery, pimping, and a gawdy show;

Teach them to scorn the Carwells, Portsmouths, Nells,

The Clevelands, O[sbor]ns, Berties, Lauderdales: 170

Poppaea, Tigelline, and Arteria’s name,

All yield to these in lewdness, lust, and fame.

Make ’em admire the Talbots, Sydneys, Veres,

Drake, Cavendish, Blake; men void of slavish fears.

True sons of glory, pillars of the State, 175

On whose fam’d deeds all tongues and writers wait.

When with fierce ardour their bright souls do born.

Back to my dearest country I’ll return.

Tarquin’s just judge, and Caesar’s equal peers,

With them I’ll bring to dry my people’s tears; 180

Publicola with healing hands shall pour

Balm in their wounds, and shall their life restore;

Greek arts, and Roman arms, in her conjoyn’d,

Shall England raise, relieve opprest mankind.

As Jove’s great son th’ infested globe did free 185

From noxious monsters, hell-born tyranny,

So shall my England, in a holy war.

In triumph lead chain’d tyrants from afar;

Her true Crusado shall at last pull down

The Turkish crescent, and the Persian sun. 190

Freed by thy labours, fortunate, blest Isle,

The earth shall rest, the heav’n shall on thee smile;

And this kind secret for reward shall give,

No poysonous tyrants on thy earth shall live.

Line 2, 'James = James I. of England, one of whose most dastardly and damnable crimes was his sacrifice of the illustrious Raleigh.

Line 8, 'Cubs,' It was Lord Cobham and George Brooke who were accnsed of having said 'that there never would be a good world in England till the king and his cubs were taken away;' Raleigh being one of the 'main' plotters.

Line 17, 'Leigh and Galloway.' 1726 edition annotates: 'Leigh and Galloway were suspected to be bribed by Lord Danby, to side with the Court.'

Line 18, 'O—— ne's' = Sir Thomas Osborne, afterwards Earl of Danby. He was son and heir of Sir Edward Osborne, Bart.; created Baron Osborne and Viscount Latimer, 15th Aug. 1678; Earl of Danby, 27th June 1674; Marquess of Gaermarthen, 9th April 1689; and Duke of Leeds, 4th May 1694. Died 26th July 1712.

Line 19, 'Lauderdale.' John Maitland, second Earl of Lauderdale in the peerage of Scotland, created Duke of Lauderdale in 1672, and Earl of Guildford in the English peerage, 25th June 1674. As Lauderdale, his name supplied the letter 'L' to the Cabal administration. Born 1616: died Aug. 24th, 1682. It needed courage to speak of him as Marvell did while he was living and in power. Even Pepys does admire at 'the good fortune of such a fool' (iii. 828-9).

Line 20, 'cut-nose guards.' Sir John Coventry in his place in Parliament alluded to the king's amours; on which the king, through the Duke of Monmouth, sent some of his 'guards' to waylay and mark him. They did so, disarmed him, and slit his nose. The Commons then passed the 'Coventry Act,' which made cutting and maiming a capital offence, but took no farther notice of the infamous matter. Previous to this, but in the same year, Charles, contrary to English custom and in imitation of the French Court, went to open Parliament escorted by these same guards. In the after-poem Nell is said to command Charles, and Charles


And for one night prostitutes to her

His Monmouth, his life-guard, O'Brian and Sands.'

See the whole poem onward.

Line 21, 'Kate' = Charles II.'s Queen.

Line 22, 'James' = Duke of York, afterwards James II.

Line 28, 'Since Pharaoh's days.' Cf. Exodus viii.

Line 82, 'Leviathan,' Another hit at Hobbes' 'Leviathan.' See also l.64.

Line 34, 'Lewis' = the French king, Louis XIV. He died Sept. 1, 1715. By 'changeling' Marvell intends to point to the replacing of a constitutional king by a despot like Lewis. As 'changeling' means a weak, puny creature, the word contains a sarcasm to the effect that the careless Charles, 'the king led by the nose' ('A Historical Poem,' 1. 62), could never become an imperions self-willed despot, but would be (to alter the phrase) a despot's zany.

Line 42, 'The other day fam'd Spencer.' This seems to refer to some contemporazy poem written either in the guise of Spenser or of Spenser's ghost — a common form of satire at the period.

Line 60, 'a dame.' Charles's sister, Henrietta Duchess of Orleans, attended, among others, by Mdlle. Querouaille (afterwards Duchess of Portsmouth), met Charles at Dover, and the secret and more public treaties with France were concluded on 22d May 1670. This, and the circumstance mentioned in the note on line 20, seems to give the date of 1670, or but little later, to this poem. This is confirmed by the mention of O——n; for Sir Thomas Osborne was created Viscount Latimer in 1678, and Earl of Danby in 1674, and in other poems he is called Danby. But besides the actual 'dame,' perhaps we shall not err in regarding the text as a personification of France in the guise of despotism, or Despotism attired as France, and usurping over the old constitutional powers of that country. Cf. 'that French dame,' a littie farther on. This does not hinder a side-allusion to the king's sister, whose ermine was by all accounts spotted enough, and who, besides her secret embassy, brought not 'three spotiess virgins,' but (as above) Mdlle. de Querouaille, &c.

Line 82. 1710 (and usually) reads, ' If not o'eraw'd: This new-found holy cheat:' also badly (1. 89), 'feel' for 'fear.'

Line 100, 'Three spotless virgins.' Query, Virtue, Religion (Protestant), Liberty?

Line 108, 'son-in-law of Hide.' 1726 annotates: 'Earl of Clarendon.' A strange blunder, to confound the Duke of York with his father-in-law. The reference ought to have been placed at Hyde.

Line 119, 'Spinster.' In Elizabethan English 'spinster' did not necessarily imply that the woman was unmarried. Hercules and Omphale will at once occur to every one as the original of such sayings; but this in the text is probably derived directly or indirectly from, and is best explained by a passage in, the Arcadia (Richardson, s.v.): 'And this effeminate love of a woman doth so womanize a man, that if he yield to it, it will not only make him an Amazon, bat a launder, a distaff, a spinner, or whatsoever vile occupation their idle heads can imagine, and their weak hands perform' (book i.). Marvell repeats 'spinstrian' later.

Line 122, 'angel Carwell.' The use of the word 'angel,' though I acknowledge it is used punningly, seems to imply that it was used derivatively from its sense of 'messenger,' as substitute or _locum tenens_ or man of business. As such it seems to show that the ancient angel whom Kate the curst was compelled to misaddress was a commercial traveller or bagman, and that this is the true explanation of the very common 'Angel' Inn. 'Carwell' was the popular mode of anglicising the name of the notorious Louise de Querouaille, one of Charles II.'s mistresses, whom he created Duchess of Portsmouth, as already noted. Marvell is mildness itself compared with contemporary lampoons, e,g,

'Then, faugh! Carwell, faugh! for a stinking French bitch!

Jane Shore was more wholesom when dead in a ditch!'

'Downfall of the French Bitch,' St. Poems, iii. 211.

Line 124, 'Finch. . . . Anglesey.' Finch — Sir Heneage Finch, created Earl of Nottingham 12th May 1681. He was Lord Chancellor. Died 1682. (See Lord Campbell's 'Lives,' s. n.) Anglesey — Arthur Annesley, second Viscount Valentia, created Earl of Anglesey 20th April 1661. He died 6th April 1686.

Line 125, 'Mac-James.' A jest-name for James Duke of York — Mac being one of the sobriquets for an Irishman, as in 'A Historical Poem' (1. 151), and their alliance gave point and sarcasm to the nickname. In 'Forewarned, Fore-armed,' he is called 'Mac' simply; and Ninnies being a squib-name for the Stuarts in the ballad upon the Execrable Murther of . . . Arthur Earl of Essex, it is said of him, 'Royal Mac-Ninny will confirm the same' (State Poems, i. 178, 1710).

Line 126, 'and Teague.' As Pat is now, so Teague was then the national sobriquet and sometimes personification of the Irish. The word is of frequent occurrence in the State Poems, and both James Duke of York and the Irish being bigoted Roman Catholics, the Irish were affected by James and James by the Irish. Marvell alludes repeatedly to this, as in his 'Last Instructions to a Painter.' In 'Popish Politicks unmaskt' (Collection of State Poems, 1689), the Duke is made to say, 'I have my Teagues and Jones at my back.' Cf. also State Poems, as before, i. 95, 208; iii. 117, 297. The last ('A new Protestant Litany') prays,

'From all the base counsels of Bougres and Teague

Libera nos, Domine.'

See introductory note prefixed to the Satires.

Line 127, 'scalado.' This word is used by Taylor the Water–Poet in the sense of escalade; but Marvell uses it, after his manner, in a double sense, as implying one who has worked his way up, and who is also suffering from scalls or skin-disease. The Scotch scabies began to be referred to earlier than this, and reappeared in Churchill.

Line 155, 'Venetian.' It is remarkable that Venice, governed as it was by the most despotic oligarchy ever known, should be repeatedly cited by Marvell as an example of a free state.

Lines 165-171. Uzziah, 2 Chronicles xxvi. 21. Line 167, the edition of 1710 misprints 'Rase' for 'Race.'

Line 169, 'Carwells, Portsmouths, Nells.' On the two former (really one), see relative note before. Nells = Nell Gwynne, who has found a modem biographer in Peter Cunningham.

Line 170, 'Clevelands, Osborns, Berties, Lauderdales.' The first is the notorious Duchess of Cleveland, another of Charles II.'s mistresses. There is a spice of wickedness in placing the 'Berties' and 'Lauderdales' and 'Osborns' beside Cleveland and the Carwells, Nells, &c. Bertie represents the house of Willoughby, and Marvell doubtiess introduced this and other names contemptuously. The 'Berties' have found full memorial in 'Memoir of Peregrine Bertie (of Lincolnshire), by a descendant (1838: privately printed).

Lines 173-4. Talbots = Talbot, as before: Sydneys — Sir Philip and Algernon: Veres=the two illustrious brothers, on whom see relative notes to the poem on Nunappleton: Drake, Cavendish=the great seamen: Blake, as before.

Line 180, 'With me.' It is printed usually 'With them;' but 'With whom'? for none are mentioned. Unless a line or couplet has slipped out, this must be 'with me,' as I have ventured to print. Perhaps the 'me' was misread 'em,' and then altered to 'them.'


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:58