Poems, by Andrew Marvell

An Historical Poem.

Of a tall stature, and of sable line,

Much like the son of Kish, that lofty Jew,

Twelve years complete he suffered in exile,

And kept his father’s asses all the while;

At length, by wonderful impulse of Fate, 5

The people call him home to help the State,

And, what is more, they send him money too,

And clothe him all, from head to foot, anew.

Not did he such small favours then disdain,

Who in his thirtieth year began his reign: 10

In a slasht doublet then he came ashore,

And dubb’d poor Palmer’s wife his royal whore.

Bishops, and deans, peers, pimps, and knights, he made;

Things highly fitting for a monarch’s trade!

With women, wine, and viands of delight, 15

His jolly vassals feast him day and night.

But the best times have ever some allay.

His younger brother dy’d by treachery.

Bold James survives, no dangers make him flinch.

He marries seignior Falmouth’s pregnant wench. 20

The pious mother-queen, hearing her son

Was thus enamoured with a butter’d bun,

And that the Fleet was gone, in pomp and state,

To fetch, for Charles, the flowery Lisbon Kate,

She chants Te Deum, and so comes away, 25

To wish her hopeful issue timely joy.

Her most uxorious mate she rul’d of old.

Why not with easy youngsters make as bold!

From the French Court she haughty topics brings,

Deludes their pliant nature with vain things; 30

Her mischief-breeding breast did so prevail,

The new-got Flemish town was set to sale;

For these, and Germain’s sins, she founds a church,

So slips away, and leaves us in the lurch.

Now the Court-sins did every place defile, 35

And plagues and War fell heavy on the isle;

Pride nourisht folly, folly a delight.

With the Batavain Commonwealth to fight,

But the Dutch fleet fled suddenly with fear.

Death and the Duke so dreadful did appear. 40

The dreadful victor took his soft repose.

Scorning pursuit of such mechanick foes.

But now York’s genitals grew over hot.

With Denham’s and Carneigie’s infected plot,

Which, with religion so inflam’d his ire, 45

He left the city when ’twas got on fire.

So Philip’s son, inflamed with a miss,

Burnt down the palace of Persepolis.

Foil’d thus by Venus, he Bellona woos,

And with the Dutch a Second War renews; 50

But here his French-bred prowess prov’d in vain,

De Huyter claps him in Solebay again.

This Isle was well reformed, and gain’d renown,

Whilst the brave Tudors wore th’ imperial crown:

But since the royal race of Stuarts came, 55

It has recoil’d to Popery and shame;

Misguided monarchs, rarely wise or just.

Tainted with pride, and with impetuous lust.

Should we the Blackheath project here relate,

Or count the various blemishes of State, 60

My Muse would on the reader’s patience grate.

The poor Priapus king, led by the nose,

Looks as a thing set up to scare the crows;

Yet, in the mimicks of the spinstrian sport,

Outdoes Tiberius, and his goatish Court. 65

In Love’s delights none did them e’er excel,

Not Tereus with his sister Philomel;

As they at Athens, we at Dover meet.

And gentlier far the Orleans dutchess treat.

What sad event attended on the same, 70

We’ll leave to the report of common fame.

The Senate, which should headstrong princes stay.

Lets loose the reins, and gives the realm away;

With lavish hands they constant tributes give,

And annual stipends for their guilt receive; 75

Corrupt with gold, they wives and daughters bring

To the black idol for an offering.

All but religious cheats might justly swear,

He true vicegerent to old Molock were.

Priests were the first deluders of mankind, 80

Who with vain Faith made all their Reason blind;

Not Lucifer himself more proud than they,

And yet persuade the world they must obey;

’Gainst avarice and luxury complain,

And practise all the vices they arraign. 85

Riches and honour they from laymen reap

And with dull crambo feed the silly sheep.

As Killigrew buffoons his master, they

Droll on their God, but a much duller way.

With hocus-pocus, and their heavenly slight, 90

They gain on tender consciences at night.

Whoever has an over-zealous wife,

Becomes the priest’s Amphitrio during life.

Who would such men heaven’s messengers believe,

Who from the sacred pulpit dare deceive? 95

Baal’s wretched curates legerdermain’d it so.

And never durst their tricks above-board show.

When our first parents Paradise did grace,

The serpent was the prelate of the place;

Fond Eve did, for this subtile tempter’s sake, 100

From the forbidden tree the pippin take;

His God and Lord this preacher did betray.

To have the weaker vessel made his prey.

Since death and sin did human nature blot,

The chiefest blessings Adam’s chaplain got. 105

Thrice wretched they, who Nature’s laws detest,

To trace the ways fantastick of a priest,

Till native Reason’s basely forc’d to yield,

And hosts of upstart errors gain the field.

My Muse presumed a little to digress, 110

And touch their holy function with my verse.

Now to the state again she tends direct.

And does on giant Lauderdale reflect.

This haughty monster, with his ugly claws,

First tempered poison to destroy our laws; 115

Declares the Council’s Edicts are beyond

The most authentick statutes of the Land;

Sets up in Scotland à la mode de France;

Taxes, Excise, and Armies does advance.

This Saracen his Country’s freedom broke, 120

To bring upon their necks the heavier yoke;

This is the savage pimp, without dispute.

First brought his mother for a prostitute;

Of all the miscreants e’er went to hell.

This villain rampant bears away the bell. 125

Now must my Muse deplore the Nation’s fate,

like a true lover for her dying mate.

The royal evil so malignant grows.

Nothing the dire contagion can oppose.

In our Weal-publick scarce one thing succeeds, 130

For one man’s weakness a whole Nation bleeds,

Ill-luck starts up, and thrives like evil weeds.

Let Cromwell’s ghost smile with contempt, to see

Old England struggling under slavery.

His meagre highness, now he’s got astride, 135

Does on Britannia, as on Churchil, ride.

White-liver’d D[anby] calls for his swift jackal

To hunt down’s prey, and hopes to master alL

Clifford and Hide before had lost the day;

One hanged himself, and t’other ran away. 140

Twas want of wit and courage made them fail,

But O[sbor]ne, and the Duke, must needs prevail.

The Duke now vaunts with Popish mirmidons;

Our fleets, our ports, our cities and our towns,

Are man’d by him or by his Holiness; 145

Bold Irish ruffians to his Court address.

This is the colony to plant his knaves.

From hence he picks and culls his murdering braves.

Here for an ensign, or lieutenant’s place,

They’ll kill a judg or justice of the peace. 150

At his command Mac will do any thing:

He’ll burn a city, or destroy a king.

From Tiber came th’ advice-boat monthly home,

And brought new lessons to the Duke from Rome.

Here with curs’d precepts, and with Councils dire, 155

The godly cheat-king (would be) did inspire;

Heaven had him chieftain of Great Britain made,

Tells him the Holy Church demands his aid;

Bad him be bold, all dangers to defy,

His brother, sneaking heretick, should die; 160

A priest should do it, from whose sacred stroke

All England strait should fall beneath his yoke;

God did renounce him, and his cause disown,

And in his stead had plac’d him on his throne.

From Saul the Land of promise thus was rent, 165

And Jesse’s son placed in the government.

The Holy Scripture vindicates his cause.

And monarchs are above all human laws.

Thus said the Scarlet Whore to her gallant,

Who straight designed his brother to supplant: 170

Fiends of ambition here his soul possest.

And thirst of empire calentur’d his breast.

Hence ruin and destruction had ensu’d.

And all the people been in blood imbrued,

Had not Almighty Providence drawn near, 175

And stopt his malice in its full career.

Be wise, ye sons of men, tempt God no more

To give you kings in’s wrath to vex you sore:

If a king’s brother can such mischiefs bring.

Then how much greater mischiefs such a king! 180

Line 12, ‘Palmer.’ Mrs. Palmer, Duchess of Cleveland, whom the king took from her husband.

Line 18, ‘younger brother.’ The Duke of Gloucester, third brother to the king. He was much more loved than the Duke of York.

Line 20, ‘Falmouth’s . . . ’ = Nan Hyde, as before. Falmouth = Sir Charles Berkeley, afterwards Falmouth. See Jesse’s England under the Stuarts (iii. 471 et seq.): at page 477 this terrible line is quoted. There are numerous parallels to Marvell’s worst in contemporary lampoons; e.g. in ’Sir Edmondbury Godfrey’s Ghost’ (State Poems (1710), vol. i. p. 95) we read,

’[He] took defil’d H. and Este to his bed.’

Line 24, ‘Kate’ = Queen Katherine, who is severely handled by Marvell and contemporaries. Here is her portrait from ‘Sir Edmondbury Godfrey’s Ghost’ (as before), in association with a mistress:

’Your [Charles II.] nauseous palate the worst food doth crave;

No wholesome viands can an entrance have:

Each night you lodg in that French syren’s arms,

She straight betrays you with her wanton charms;

Works on your heart, soften’d with love and wine,

And then betrays you to some Philistine.

Imperial lust does o’er your scepter sway,

And tho’ a sovereign, makes you to obey.

She that from Lisbon came with such renown.

And to inrich you with the Africk town;

In nature mild, and gentle as a dove.

Yet for religion can a serpent prove:

Priest-rid with zeal, she plots, and did design

To cut your thread of life as well as mine.

Yet thoughts so stupid have your soul possest,’ &c.

Line 82, ‘Flemish town’=Dunkirk.

Line 83, ‘Germain’s’ = Jermyn, as before.

Line 44, ‘Denham’s and Carneigie’s infected plot.’ Denham, as before frequently. Carnegie — probably Robert third Earl of Southesk (in Scotland), who married Lady Anne Hamil- ton (who figures in De Grammont). He died 19 Feb. 1688. Or perhaps his son, Hon. William Carnegie, who was killed in a duel in Paris in 1681. The latter’s father, James, second earl, visited Charles II. in Holland in 1650 (see Jesse’s England under the Stuarts, as before, iii. 296).

Line 46, ‘got.’ Usually misprinted ‘set.’ See former notes on the charge against Duke of York.

Line 49, ‘Foil’d," not ‘Toil’d.’

Line 52, ‘Solebay.’ See Pepys, s.n.

Line 56. 1710 corrects the usual misprint of ‘was’ for ‘has.’

Line 59, ‘Blackheath project.’ See Evelyn, s.n.

Line 66-71, ‘In Love’s delights.’ 1726 annotates here: ’The king’s sister, the Duchess of Orleans, was a woman of great intrigne. In the year 1671 she and her brother met at Dover. When she returned into France, the Duke of Orleans, who had received very strange accounts of her behaviour in England, ordered a great dose of sublimate to be given her in a glass of succory-water, of which she died in great torment.’

Line 87, ‘crambo’ = a game or pastime, in which one gave a word, to which another must find a rhyme. Pepys mentions a preacher ‘in blank verse.’

Line 88, ‘Killigrew.’ Thomas Killigrew, the king’s jester, and a dramatic writer. Died March 19, 1682. Pepys has many notices of him: see s.n. It may be due to his pleasant memory to state that Killigrew was a gentleman page to Charles I. and one of the grooms of the bedchamber to Charles II. It was from the great familiarity allowed by the latter he obtained his sobriquet of the ‘King’s Jester.’

Line 90, ‘hocus-pocus’ = corruption of the Vulgate, ‘Hoc est corpus,’ ‘This is My Body.’

Line 93, ‘Amphitrio.’ In Moliere’s ‘Two Amphitryos’ one of the characters says, ‘Le veritable Amphitryon c’est l’Amphitryon où l’on disse;’ and the saying so took, that Amphitryo became the current term for ‘host.’

Line 118, ‘Lauderdale,’ as repeatedly before, with relative notes.

Line 125, ‘bears away the bell.’ So in Ascham’s ’Scholemaster’ (1570), ‘Who hath no witte, nor none will heare, amongest all fooles the bell may beare;’ on which Mayor, Howell’s ‘Letters’ (1754), 110, ‘So the Ale bore away the bell among the Doctors.’ Ibid 261: ‘For wonders, Holland’s Peter bears the bell.’ See other references in loco. A bell was a common prize at races.

Line 136, ‘Churchil’ = John Churchill, afterwards the ‘great’ Duke of Marlborough. Contemporary lampoons go to show that as a young man Love or lust, not War, was his occupation. As with others, circumstances strung him into energy.

Line 137, ‘D——.’ It is P in text of 1703; but D usually, as in 1710 — ^the latter, no doubt, meaning Danby, as so often, and therefore filled-in by us. The conjunction with Hyde and Clifford, as in ‘Oceana;’ the fact that Hyde was, like Danby, prime minister, a ruler; and that Clifford, the L. H. Treasurer before him, was one of the leaders of the ministry (and if O—— ne and not C——n [Coleman] be the true reading of line 142, the return in this line to the present man, after Hyde and Clifford have been spoken of), — all show that Danby was meant.

Line 139, ‘Clifford’ = Sir Thomas Clifford, afterwards Banm Clifford, as before. See Pepys, s. n. frequently. ‘Hide’ = Cla- rendon, as before.

Line 172, ‘calentur’d’=fevered.

line 176, ‘stopt.’ The reprint of 1870 misprints oddly ’spotted.’

Line 178, ‘kings in’s wrath.’ Cf. 1 Samuel viii. The State Poems, in ‘An Allusion,’ amplifies this with pungent invective against James II.:

’When Israel first provok’d the living Lord,

He scourg’d their sin with famine, plague, and sword.

Still they rebell’d; their God in’s wrath did fling

No thunderbolt among them, but a king.

A James-like king was Heaven’s severest rod,

The utmost vengeance of an angry God.

God in his wrath sent Saul to punish Jewry,

And James to England in a greater fury:

For Saul in sin was no more like our James

Than little Jordan can compare to Thames.’ Vol. iii. p. 129.


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