Andrew Marvell, the Critical Heritage

By Elizabeth Story Donno | Go to book overview

35.

Voltaire on In eandem [Effigiem] Reginae Sueciae transmissam

1748

Voltaire’s comments on a variety of topics appeared in articles contributed to the Encyclopédie and in his Dictionnaire philosophique (1764) and Questions sur l’Encyclopédie (1770-2). After his death these articles were combined into one alphabetical order and given the omnibus title Dictionnaire philosophique (see the edition of R. Naves and J. Benda, Paris, 1935). M. Beuchot gives the provenance of Voltaire’s remarks on Cromwell as deriving from the 1748 Dresden edition, vol. IV.

Extract from Oeuvres de Voltaire, ed. M. Beuchot (Paris, 1829), XXVIII, pp. 265-6.

When [Cromwell] had insulted all monarchs in causing the head of his legitimate king to be cut off and when he himself began to rule, he sent his portrait to a crowned head: Christina, Queen of Sweden. Marvell, a famous English poet, who wrote excellent Latin poetry, prepared six verses to accompany the portrait where he makes Cromwell himself speak. In the last two lines Cromwell makes amends as follows [quotes the Latin]:

But this image submits his brow to you most reverently
Nor are these looks always harsh to kings.

The bold sense of these verses may perhaps be rendered thus [in French]:

With sword in hand I have defended the laws;
I have avenged the cause of a bold people.
Look without trembling on this faithful image:
My brow is not always the terror of kings.

This queen was the first to acknowledge him Protector of three realms.

-112-

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