Andrew Marvell, the Critical Heritage

By Elizabeth Story Donno | Go to book overview

57.

Henry Rogers’s observations on Marvell

1844

Twelve years after the appearance of John Dove’s Life of Andrew Marvell, the first biography of the poet separately published, Henry Rogers printed an unsigned review essay in the Edinburgh Review (1844). Such tardiness is perhaps to be explained by a developing interest in Marvell, the result of his first important work on John Howe (see No. 25). His comments on Dove’s reliance on the two anonymous articles in the Retrospective Review (see No. 47)* points up the reliance of critics on earlier accounts. Curiously, he does not seem to know of the tangled connection of the Dove-Coleridge biographies.

Rogers’s own account was to be utilized, in turn, in the first American edition of Marvell’s poetry (Boston, 1854), on this occasion, it happens, with due acknowledgment. Terming it ‘on the whole, the best in print, ’ James Russell Lowell, the editor of the volume on Marvell in the British Poets Series, none the less thought it proper to omit some passages and to make some additions (see No. 64).

* We gladly admit that Mr. Dove’s little volume is a tolerably full and accurate compilation of what is known to us of Andrew Marvell’s history, and contains some pleasant extracts from his writings. But we must express our regret that he has been, in a trifling degree, misled, by adhering too literally to the etymology of the word ‘compilation. ’ It is true that ‘compilation’ comes from compilatio, and equally true that compilatio means ‘pillage;’ but it does not follow that ‘compilation’ is to be literally ‘pillage. ’ A considerable number of his sentences, sometimes whole paragraphs, are transferred from Mr D’Israeli’s Miscellanies, and from two articles on Andrew Marvell which appeared in the Retrospective Review some twenty years ago, without alteration and without any sort of acknowledgement. Had they been printed between inverted commas, and the sources specified, we should have call it ‘compilation, ’ but no ‘pillage’—as it is, we must call it pillage, and not compilation. Mr Dove may, it is true, have been the author of the articles in question. If so, there was no conceivable reason why he should not have owned them, and we can only regret that he has omitted to do it. If not, we cannot justify the use he has made of them (p. 70, n. ). [In his Preface to The Life of…Howe, Rogers had acknowledged Dove’s ‘friendly communications on some minute points in the memoir. ’]

-169-

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