His Skill in Laws was less for private Gain
Employ’d, than publick Freedom to Maintain; 70
While Mercenaries with the Current steer’d,
His Country’s constant Patron he appear’d.
With Roman Virtue at the needful Hour,
Oppos’d encroaching Tides of Lawless Pow’r.
His brandish’d Pen, in Liberty’s Support,
Cou’d Lightning on th’ astonish’d Foe retort.
Scarcely in Marvel’s keen Remarks we find
Such Energy of Wit and Reason join’d.
Great Milton’s Shade with pleasure oft look’d down,
A Genius to applaud so like his Own. 80
Clearly designed as a puff in part since many of its attributions are false, the 1697 edition of Poems on Affairs of State lists on its title page ten of ‘the greatest Wits of the Age, ’ including ‘Andrew Marvell, Esq;’ ‘Mr. Milton, ’ and ‘Mr. Dryden. ’ Its unsigned Preface is of interest in defending both harsh versification and the license of poets writing for political ends.
From the Preface, Poems on Affairs of State (1697), A3-A5v.
The common Aim of Prefaces to prepossess the Reader in favour of the Book, is here wholly useless; for what is now publish’d is none of the trifling Performances of the Age, that are yet to make their fortune, but a Collection of those Valuable Pieces, which several great Men have produc’d, no less inspir’d by the injur’d Genius of their Country, than by the Muses. They are of Establish’d Fame, and already receiv’d, and allow’d the best Patriots, as well as Poets. I am sensible, that should we consult our super-