Poems, by Andrew Marvell

A Poem on The Statue at Stocks–Market.

As citties that to the fierce conqueror yield,

Do at their own charges their cittadals build;

So Sir Robert advanc’d the King’s statue, in token

Of bankers defeated and Lombard-street broken.

Some thought it a knightly and generous deed,

Obliging the citty with a King and a steed

When with honour he might from his word have gone back:

He that vows for a calme, is absolved by a wreck.

But now it appears, from the first to the last.

To be all a revenge, and a malice forecast;10

Upon the King’s birth-day to set up a thing.

That shows him a monkey more like than a King.

When each one that passes finds fault with the horse,

Yet all do affirme that the King is much worse;

And some by the likeness Sir Robert suspect.

That he did for the King his own statue erect.

Thus to see him disfigur’d — the herb-women chide,

Who up on their panniers more gracefully ride;

And so loose in his seat — that all persons agree,

Ev’n Sir Willuan Peake sits much firmer than he.20

But a market, as some say, doth fit the King well,

Who the Parliament too — and revenue doth sell;

And others, to make the similitude hold.

Say his Majesty too — is oft purchased and sold.

This statue is sorely more scandalous far

Than all the Dutch pictures which caused the Warr;

And what the exchequer for that took on trust

May we henceforth confiscate, for reasons more just.

But Sir Robert, to take all the scandal away.

Does the errour upon the artificer lay;30

And alledges the workmanship was not his own,

For he counterfeits only in gold — not in stone.

But, Sir Knight of the Vine, how came’t in your thought.

That when to the scaffold your liege you had brought,

With canvass and deales you e’er since do him cloud,

As if you had meant it his coffin and shrowdt

Hath Blood [stole] him away, as his crown he convey ’d?

Or is he to Clayton’s gone in masquerade

Or is he in caball in his cabinett sett

Or have you to the Compter remov’d him for debt?40

Methinks by the equipage of this vile scene.

That to change him into a Jack-pudding you mean;

Or why thus expose him to popular flouts.

As if we’d as good have a King made of Clouts

Or do you his faults out of modesty vaile

With three shattered planks, and the rag of a saile;

To express how his navy was shattered and torn.

The day that he was both restored and born?

Sure the King will ne’er think of repaying his bankers.

When loyalty now — all expires with his spankers;50

If the Indies and Smyrna do not him enrich,

He will hardly have left a poor ragg to his breech.

But Sir Robert affirmes that we do him much wrong,

’Tis the ’Graver at work, to reform him — so long:

But, alas! he will never arrive at his end,

For it is such a King as no chissel can mend.

But with all his errours — restore us our King,

If ever you hope in December — for Spring;

For though all the world cannot show such another,

Yet we’d better have him than his bigotted brother.60

‘Stocks-market.’ The Stocks-market took its name from a pair of stocks placed near the spot, as in Maitland (Hist. of London, vol. ii. p. 903): ‘Near the Conduit on Cornhill was a strong prison, made of timber, called a cage, with a pair of stockes set upon it, and this was for night-walkers.’ The occasion of the present poem was Sir Robert Vyner’s purchase of an equestrian statue of John Sobieski trampling down the Turk, and, after its undergoing some necessary alterations, erecting it in Stocks-market as Charles II. trampling on Oliver Cromwell. The Mansion Honse now stands on the site. This was in 1675. About 1737 the statue was presented to Robert Viner, a lineal representative of the bibulous knight, and the market transferred to the space gained by the covering-over the Fleet-ditch. This Fleet-market has, in its turn, given place to Farringdon-street (Pepys, iv. 22).

‘herb-women.’ Same as Herb-John=the stall- owners, who sold vegetables, fish, &c.

‘Sir William Peake.’ The celebrated printseller of Holborn-conduit near the statue, mentioned by Evelyn in Pepys (iv. 249).

‘Blood.’ Cf. lines on Colonel Blood’s attempt to steal the crown. I have intercalated ‘stole.’

‘Compter:’ prison for debtors.

Charles born 29th May 1630. Entered London 29th May 1660 (though he landed 25th May).


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