Andrew Marvell, the Critical Heritage

By Elizabeth Story Donno | Go to book overview

88.

W. J. Courthope on ‘The First Anniversary’

1903

In his well-known six-volume History of English Poetry (1895-1910), W. J. Courthope (1842-1917) presents a very general account of the poetry except for his remarks on ‘The First Anniversary. ’

Extract from ‘Cavalier and Roundhead’ in the History of English Poetry (1903), III, pp. 312-16.

Marvell continued to be the spokesman of Justice against Fate, and he devoted the finest passage of [the ‘Horatian Ode’] to the praise of the leader of the lost cause, in the celebrated lines describing the demeanour of Charles on the scaffold. In the noble conclusion of the Ode, recalling Horace’s Qualem ministrum [Odes 4.4], we see that Marvell’s admiration for Cromwell is grounded on the greatness of the latter as the representative of England: [quotes ll. 97-120]. This genuine admiration for Cromwell as a man runs through the panegyric on The First Anniversary of the Government under his Highness the Lord Protector; and that Marvell’s opinions were not inspired by any sympathy with the Parliamentary cause as such is clearly shown in the Cleveland-like lines in which he lashes the Fifth-Monarchy men of the ‘Rump’:—

Accursed locusts, whom your king does spit
Out of the centre of the unbottomed pit;
Wanderers, adulterers, liars, Münster’s rest,
Sorcerers, atheists, Jesuits possest!
You, who the Scriptures and the laws deface
With the same liberty as points and lace;
O race most hypocritically strict!
Bent to reduce us to the ancient Pict,
Well may you act the Adam and the Eve,
Aye, and the serpent too, that did deceive. [ll. 311-20]

-299-

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