sold nearly 10,000 copies. That which is so difficult to do in a volume of this kind my friend has done; he has saved the wheat and rejected the chaff. He has also unearthed some real treasures which have remained buried and unknown to nearly all the world. Above all, note the [Horatian] Ode by Andrew Marvell on page 50. All the world has ignored it in spite of the fact that it is beautiful and vigorous. More—and, in my opinion, it is the great merit of this little volume—there exists a continuity, a logicality—I do not know how to say it—a teneur fondamentale as you would say, which allows one to read it from one end to the other with no jarring of feeling by too violent transitions, too abrupt changes of subject. In brief, my dear Sir, I believe you will take pleasure in reading this little work. For myself, I read it with more than pleasure, with astonishment. How has it happened that our nation, in general so little happy in the other arts, has known how to produce in poetry things so admirable? Because, in short, though little inclined, I hope, to boasting out of national vanity, I found myself saying in closing the book, ‘After all, when it comes to poetry, only Greece equals us. ’
Herman Merivale (1839-1906) was a poet, novelist, and successful playwright. In an unsigned review of William Walker Wilkins’ Political Ballads of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (1860) which included several post-Restoration satires attributed to Marvell, he introduced comments on the political poetry.
Extract from the Edinburgh Review, 113 (January 1861), pp. 97-9.