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state as being without a fleet, and as being led by men whom neither wit nor courage did exalt; he is to lay bare the dissoluteness of the court, and the dishonesty of state officials who follow their leader, for he commands that pays; he is to show how, while 'the Dutch their equipage renew,' the English navy yards lie idle,


orders run,

To lay the ships up, cease the keels begun;

meantime, store and wages find their way to the pockets of men who are the obsequious lackeys of the court-'the ships are unrigged, the forts unmanned, the money spent.' These keen home-thrusts were keenly felt by some of those whom they most concerned. Pepys, himself a government official, felt compelled to own their truth. In his Diary, under date 16 September, he writes-'Here I met with a fourth Advice to a Painter upon the coming in of the Dutch and the End of the War, that made my heart ake to read, it being too sharp and so true.' There were other satires of the same trenchant sort, and it has been said that Marvell's merciless dissection of the blunders and intrigues of the time led to the fall of lord Clarendon, with all the consequences which that memorable event entailed.

Marvell's prose works consist of a long series of News-letters, which he wrote daily to his constituents on the doings in parliament, and also of certain controversial works to which he felt impelled by his love of fair play. The letters were discovered in the archives of the town of Hull by Edward Thompson and published by him in 1776. They are continuous from 1660 to 1678, with the exception of a break of two years when he was abroad in 1661, and another hiatus in 1671, and they throw valuable historical light upon the proceedings in parliament at a time when parliamentary reports had not yet begun. His chief prose work, of another character, was his Rehearsal Transprosed. The title of the book was suggested by a passage in the duke of Buckingham's farce called The Rehearsal, which was the talk of the town. It occurs in one of the scenes where Bayes (meaning Dryden) speaks of what he calls his rule of transversion, by which he says he takes a book, and, if it be prose, he puts it into verse, and, if verse, he turns it into prose. To which Jonson replies that a process of putting verse into prose should be called transprosing. Marvell caught up this word, using it as part of the title of his book, in which he held up to ridicule the writings of Samuel Parker, one of the worst specimens of the ecclesiastics of Charles II's

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reign. Bishop Burnet tells us that Parker, in reply to several virulent books,

was attacked by the liveliest droll of the age, who wrote in a burlesque strain read with pleasure from the king down to the tradesman. He not only humbled Parker but the whole party. The author of the Rehearsal Transprosed had all the men of wit, (or, as the French phrase it,) all the laughers, on his side.

Yet, with all the grace and humour that light up his pages, there was in Andrew Marvell a deep vein of serious earnestness; and in his writings we find, not only wit and banter, but, also, passages of powerful advocacy of great truths and of defence of public rights wantonly violated. In other words, there was the puritan strain in him, a spirit which resented and resisted unrighteousness and wrong.

When we consider the number of editions of Marvell's Poems issued between 1681 and 1776, it cannot be said that his works lacked appreciation when they first appeared, and yet, in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, they seem to have passed out of sight, to be rediscovered in the century following. In a sonnet of 1802, Wordsworth spoke of Marvell as one of the great men there have been among us

hands that penned

And tongues that uttered wisdom-better none;

ranked him with those 'who called Milton friend, who 'knew how genuine glory was put on,' and who taught us

what strength was, that would not bend

But in magnanimous meekness.

Six years later, Charles Lamb, with his usual fine taste, appreciated what he called the 'witty delicacy' of Marvell's poems, and others who have come after have endorsed this judgment, so that it may be said that, after two centuries and a half, this seventeenth century writer has come to his own, and 'is winning as high a place as poet as he occupied as a patriot.'





IN the period of English history covered by this volume, the system of government under which the nation still had its being was, in a great measure, determined, while the religious movement which dominated the great conflict of the age deeply influenced, for centuries to come, the principles followed by Englishmen in their social relations and in the conduct of their lives. In such times, when the minds of men are constantly strung up to action, and when history, as the phrase runs, is being made every day, there cannot but be a great storage, accompanied by an inevitable waste, of historical materials. Now, materials of history, as such, cannot claim to form part of historical literature, although some of them-many speeches and letters, for instance-may often possess artistic qualities entitling them to be included in it. Again, much that is ostensibly meant to find a place among historical works is often designed by the writer with a political intent; while, in some exceptional instances, political writings, by virtue of their dignity and fulness, come to rank as historical classics. In an age when the two branches of composition were not only inextricably interwoven, but, more or less consciously, confounded, with each other; in which biographies and personal memoirs were frequently written for public or party ends; while private letters were habitually written for wide circles of readers; while speeches were, at times, drawn up as summaries of long and complicated public transactions-an exact classification of historical and political writings under accepted heads becomes extremely difficult. Yet, obvious distinctions being kept generally in view, it may prove possible both to illustrate the remarkable accumulation in this period of materials for historical and political research and

study, and to show to what degree the national literature was directly enriched by contemporary efforts in the corresponding fields of literary production. It is not, however, purposed in any part of this or the following chapter to attempt more than a selection, for mention or for comment, of writings marked out as possessed of typical or individual interest.

The first great collection of English state papers is that of John Rushworth, who was appointed clerk-assistant to the House of Commons in April 1640, and secretary to the council of war in 1645. Whatever may have been their political bias, his labours, if only because of their priority to all others in the same field in England, would deserve the lasting gratitude of all students of English history. But his Collections of Private Passages of State, Weighty Matters in Law, and Remarkable Proceedings in Five Parliaments, of which the first volume, extending from 1618 to 1629, was published in the year before the restoration, were no mere tentative beginning. The author's design was both comprehensive and deeply thought out. Being desirous of furnishing a faithful account of the contention between the advocates of prerogative and those of liberty which 'gave the Alarm to a Civil War,' and for which he was in possession of an unusual abundance of materials1, he resolved to devote his attention mainly, though not exclusively, to the domestic struggle, and, since, with regard to this, he found forgery and fiction rampant in the unbridled pamphlet literature of the age, to make the documents on which his narrative was based the substantial part of his work. Thus, in this and the following seven volumes of this edition (of which the last, not published till 1680, ends with the trial of Strafford), he set the first example of pragmatic history to be found in our literature, and reviewed, under the searchlight of first-hand evidence, a period whose records ran the risk of being permanently distorted by a partisanship that cleft the very depths of the national life2.

The most important body of authentic materials for the history of both the domestic and the foreign policy of Oliver Cromwell, is the Collection of the State Papers of secretary John Thurloe

1 See post, chap. xv, as to Rushworth's newspaper called The London Post.

2 How erroneous it would be to suppose Rushworth's Collections to be a dry series of business documents, is shown, e.g., by the extremely interesting narrative by archbishop Abbot of his own sequestration (1627) reported in vol. 1 of the Stuart Tracts (1903) from The English Garner, which includes not only a clear, and, in the circumstances, fair, account of the system of Laud, but, also, a curious sketch of the rise of Buckingham.

(1616-68), which extends from the year 1649 to the restoration, with the addition of some papers belonging to the last eleven years of Charles I. Against Thurloe, an 'antidote,' if it is to be so called, was posthumously supplied in the important collection known as the Clarendon State Papers preserved in the Bodleian and calendared in three volumes. The first of these volumes, which reaches to the year 1649, deals, to a great extent, with documents collected for the use of Clarendon when he was writing the earlier books of his History of the Rebellion, together with his own letters and the correspondence of his secretary Edgeman. The second volume is concerned with copies of Charles II's disguised correspondence with members of the royal family and royalists in England, and a series of newsletters addressed to Edgeman by Richard Watson, an ejected fellow of Caius college, and a similar series sent from London to Sir Edward Nicholas at the Hague. The third contains a list of the state papers of the years 1655 to 1657-records of plots and negotiations for the restoration of the king, of which only a small proportion had been previously printed.

If it is not always easy to discriminate between the public and private letters of sovereigns, or of their ministers and agents at home and abroad, and other important functionaries of state, this difficulty often becomes an impossibility in the period now under review. So long as the personal authority of the sovereign was the very essence of the existing system of government, the sense of that authority dominated all his communications, whether with members of the royal family or with others; while a more or less direct personal relation to the sovereign seemed to pervade despatches, reports and letters of all kinds on business of state. This feature finds abundant illustrations in the letters, noted below, of ambassadors of the type of Sir Henry Wotton; and, no doubt, some of the mental characteristics of James I led his diplomatists to adapt their communications to the idiosyncrasy of the recipient. The king's curiosity was endless, and his sagacity fell little short of his curiosity; he loved a good story and was quick in understanding the point of a joke1. But it should also be remembered that the early Stewart age had inherited from the Elizabethan a prose diction intent upon the display of two qualities not always mutually reconcileable-amplitude and point; so that few men and women, least of all those whose epistles were likely to pass through a succession of hands, sat down to write a letter 1 See bibliography as to The Prince's Cabala.

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