A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Marvell, Andrew

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Marvell, Andrew (1621-1678). -- Poet and satirist, s. of the Rector of Winestead, Yorkshire, where he was b., ed. Camb., and thereafter travelled in various Continental countries. He sat in Parliament for Hull, proving himself an assiduous and incorruptible member, with strong republican leanings. In spite of this he was a favourite of Charles II., who took pleasure in his society, and offered him a place at Court, and a present of £1000, which were both declined. In his own day he was best known as a powerful and fearless political writer, and for some time from 1657 was assistant to Milton as Latin Sec. After the Restoration he wrote against the Government, his chief work in this kind being on the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England (1677). He was also the author of an Historical Essay regarding General Councils. His controversial style was lively and vigorous, but sometimes coarse and vituperative. His fame now rests on his poems which, though few, have many of the highest poetical qualities. Among the best known are The Emigrants in the Bermudas, The Nymph complaining for the Death of her Fawn, and Thoughts in a Garden. Of the last Palgrave says that "it may be regarded as a test of any reader's insight into the most poetical aspects of poetry," and his Horatian Ode on Cromwell's Return from Ireland. The town of Hull voted him a monument, which was, however, forbidden by the Court. His appearance is thus described, "He was of middling stature, pretty strong-set, roundish-faced, cherry-cheeked, hazel-eyed, brown-haired."

Life and Works by Cooke, 1726, reprinted 1772; Thomson, 1726; Dove, 1832; and specially Grosart (4 vols., 1872-74).