The Penny Cyclopaedia, issued in twenty-seven volumes in 1833-43 with three supplements, was published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, founded in 1825-6. As the title of the Society indicates, its intention was to provide useful historical information to a wide range of readers. Its superintendent of publications was Charles Knight (1791-1873).
Extract from the Penny Cyclopaedia (1839).
Marvell’s powers as a poet were not sufficient to ensure him lasting fame. Few or none of his poetical compositions, any more than his prose, obtained a lasting popularity. Many of his verses, particularly the satirical, are defaced by the coarseness of his time, from which his contemporary Milton is so remarkably free. Others display a degree of feeling and a perception of the beauties of nature, expressed with a harmony of versification and felicity of language which not unfrequently recall the ‘L’Allegro’ and ‘Il Penseroso’ of Milton. But Marvell’s verse did not possess sufficient vitality to secure its continued existence….
Upon the whole Andrew Marvell’s claim to be honourably remembered is founded rather on his moral than his intellectual qualities. His intellectual merits are those of a wit and satirist [see No. 51 c]; and though in these departments considerably above mediocrity, and even famous in his day, he could scarcely have hoped for a different fate from that of other wits and satirists who are now forgotten. But the degree in which Andrew Marvell possessed that very rare quality, political integrity, gives him a claim to the remembrance and even the reverence of after-ages, still greater than is due to him as the friend and associate of Milton.