Andrew Marvell, the Critical Heritage

By Elizabeth Story Donno | Go to book overview

The ‘Hewel’ being evidently the Woodpecker, who, by tapping the Trees &c. does the work of one who measures and gauges Timber; here, rightly or wrongly, called ‘Holtseltster’ ‘Holt’ one knows: but what is ‘seltster’? I do not find either this word or ‘Hewel’ in Bailey or Halliwell.1 But ‘Hewel’ may be a form of ‘Yaffil, ’ which I read in some Paper that Tennyson had used for the Woodpecker in his Last Tournament.2

This reminded me that Tennyson once said to me, some thirty years ago, or more, in talking of Marvell’s ‘Coy Mistress, ’ where it breaks in—

But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.

That strikes me as sublime, I can hardly tell why. ’ Of course, this partly depends on its place in the Poem.


75.

W. D. Christie’s reviews of Grosart’s edition

1873

The biographer W. D. Christie (1816-74) published not one but two unsigned reviews of the first volume (verse) of A. B. Grosart’s edition, which stirred its editor to a rebuttal (and identification of the reviewer) in his second volume (1875, pp. xvi-xxvii).

(a) Extract from the Spectator, 46 (15 February 1873), p. 210.

Drollery was Marvell’s chief reputation while he lived; his prose was greatly thought of, and his poetry little. Dryden, before he

1 For holtfelster, woodcutters; this is the sole example cited in the OED. Nathan (or Nathaniel) Bailey compiled a popular English dictionary (1721); James Orchard Halliwell (later Halliwell-Phillipps) a Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words (1847).

2 Line 695, where there is an allusion to the ‘garnet-headed yaffingale. ’

-236-

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