A nonconformist minister, George Dawson (1821-76) lectured on literary subjects and helped to found the Shakespeare Memorial Library at Birmingham. The lecture on Marvell, stressing his personal integrity to the almost total exclusion of his poetry, was delivered in 1859 at Birmingham.
Extract from Biographical Lectures (1887), pp. 89, 95-7.
Amongst English worthies of a second rank, one of the most noble is Andrew Marvell. He was not one of the greatest men of his time, but was the honestest and best of the second class men. He lives by virtue of one anecdote and one characteristic: the anecdote I shall hereafter refer to,1 and the characteristic you will see running through the whole of his life. He was one of the most incorruptible Englishmen that ever lived; he lived in days the most corrupt and thoroughly despicable that England ever knew—in the reign of the weakest, and at the same time the vilest monarch that ever disgraced the English throne, Charles the Second. Charles was, as a king, as vile as he was as a man, and nothing but the subservience we shall have to look into by-and-bye, backed by the Church, and therefore followed by the State, could ever have induced a man to believe the king worthy of his support, or have led great men to grovel at his feet. All the great trees in England were cut down, except two or three, and amongst these, the tallest and most noble was Andrew Marvell.
The shoulder of mutton of Marvell ranks with the wine tub of Diogenes, the Roman general’s dish of turnips, the leather coat and continuations of George Fox, and the sawdust dumplings of
1 It is that of Lord Danby’s bribe elaborated.