to be witty was to be forced, strained, and conceited. From him wit first came sparkling forth untouched with baser matter. It was like his personal character. Its main feature was an open clearness. Mean detraction or sordid jealousy never for an instant stained it. He turned aside in the midst of an exalted panegyric to Oliver Cromwell, to say the finest things that have ever been said of Charles I. —he left for a while his own wit in the Rehearsal Transposed [sic], to praise the wit of [Samuel] Butler, his rival and political enemy [RT I, p. 22]. As a poet Andrew Marvell was true, and this is the grand point in poetry. He was not of the highest order, not perhaps in even a high order, but what he did was genuine. It is sweetness speaking out in sweetness. In the language there is nothing more exquisitely tender than the ‘Nymph complaining for the loss of her Fawn. ’ Such poems as this and ‘the Bermudas’ may live, and deserve to live, as long as the longest and the mightiest. Of as real a quality are the majority of the poems of Marvell. In a playful and fantastic expression of tender and voluptuous beauty, they are well nigh unrivalled. His fancy indeed some times overmasters him, but it is always a sweet and pleasant mastery. His strong love of the actual at times bursts forth, but his poetry still survives it, and will not be fairly clogged and over-laden with the body corporate.
Poet, short-story writer, critic, and editor, Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) first reviewed S. C. Hall’s Book of Gems (see No. 53) for the Southern Literary Messenger, August 1836; the review was then slightly modified for the Broadway Journal, 17 May, 1845.