His Muse to greater Honour did aspire
She sings her Part in the celestiall Quire
Looks down with pity on the scribling crowd1
Whose witt is silent whilst their spite is proud.
Academician and critic, W. P. Ker (1855-1923) published extensively on English literature. He contributed the essay on Marvell’s prose to the multi-volume English Prose Selections edited by George Craik (see No. 58), appending the introductory section of Mr. Smirke (Grosart IV, 6-12) under the title (from Marvell) of ‘Jocular Divinity. ’
From English Prose Selections, III (1894), pp. 31-4.
The Rehearsal Transprosed and Mr. Smirke may still be read, but to come to them from The Garden and from Appleton House, is even a sorrier business than to pass from Milton’s early poems into the thick of the warfare with Salmasius. Marvell can rail as well as Milton, but he has not Milton’s dignity of anger at its highest. Both, in dealing with their adversaries, seem fully possessed by Dante’s opinion that it is courtesy to spurn them in the face; and both seem to be pleased, as Dante is not, with the poor sport. Milton often makes some amends for this by the magnificence of his invective, but Marvell does not attempt to follow him. And even considered as invective, scolding, railing, ‘flyting’ (or whatever may be the right term for this, one of the
1 Davies suggests ll. 19-22 perhaps recall ‘Musicks Empire, ’ ll. 13-16.