Andrew Marvell, the Critical Heritage

By Elizabeth Story Donno | Go to book overview

We cannot better conclude, than with the following beautiful extract from a letter to a friend in affliction, which is novel on a trite subject, —that of consolation:—

[Quotes freely from Letters, p. 311. ]


53.

Samuel Carter Hall on the poetry

1836

Journalist and editor, Samuel Carter Hall (1800-89) collected and published ‘the most perfect specimens of the Poets’ up to Prior in his first Book of Gems. Interestingly, he included one example from Spenser, three from Milton, four from Marvell, and ten from Donne. In the biographical portion, he adds to the romantic legends: Marvell ‘was flattered and threatened, watched by spies, waylaid by ruffians, tempted by women and by gold. In vain!’

For Edgar Allan Poe’s review of the volume in 1836, see No. 54.

Extract from the Book of Gems (1836), p. 264.

His genius was as varied as it was remarkable. In this volume he occupies a loved and respected place as an exquisite and tender poet—elsewhere he may stand in the first and very highest rank, facile princeps,1 as an incorruptible patriot, the best of controversialists, and the leading prose wit of England. His are the ‘first sprightly runnings’ [Dryden, Aureng-zebe IV.i] of that glorious stream of wit, which will bear upon it down to the latest posterity the names of Swift, Steele, and Addison. Before the time of Marvell,

1 From Edmund Waller’s epitaph: inter poetas sui temporis facile princeps: among poets easily the foremost of his time (The Poems, ed. G. Thorn Drury [1904], I, p. lxix).

-160-

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