This anonymous comment, stressing Marvell’s nature poetry, forecasts a developing appreciation.
Extract from the Academy, 51 (1 May 1897), p. 478.
ANDREW MARVELL was a gentleman who wrote with ease; and though the body of his poetical work is of the most slender, his place among the amateur poets, or poets whose primary idea in singing is to please themselves or their friends, is with the highest. He is remarkable chiefly for distinction of intellect; remarkable incidentally in being almost the last poet, until Crabbe and Cowper came, to look at nature for himself. After Marvell the artificial period set in like a frost, and held the fields and lawns with an iron grasp. Marvell’s little handful of out-of-door poems—‘Upon Appleton House, ’ ‘The Garden, ’ ‘Upon the Hill and Grove at Billborow, ’ ‘The Bermudas’—are as felicitous and debonair as anything in the language. In the presence of yew hedges and boxwood walks, the spreading hands of cedars and the fragrance of roses, the plashings of the fountain and the silent reminder of the sundial, he was sensitive and impressionable to his fingertips: in a garden after his own heart he could annihilate ‘all that’s made to a green thought in a green shade. ’ Later in life he fell a victim to the snare of politics, but once he could ask:
Unhappy! shall we never more
That sweet militia restore,
When gardens only had their tow’rs,
And all the garrisons were flow’rs,
When roses only arms might bear,
And men did rosie garlands wear?
Tulips, in several colours barr’d….1
1 This approving citation of the garden compared with a fortress is to be contrasted with the disapproval of A. C. Benson and E. K. Chambers (Nos 79, 81).