accession of wealth gave him an opportunity of travelling, and he journeyed through Holland, France, and Italy. While at Rome he wrote the first of those satirical poems which obtained him so much celebrity. It was a satire on an English priest there, a wretched poetaster named Flecknoe. From an early period of life Marvel appears to have despised conceit, or impertinence, and he found another chance to exhibit his powers of satire in the person of an ecclesiastic of Paris, one Joseph de Maniban, an abbot who pretended to understand the characters of those he had never seen, and to prognosticate their good or bad fortune, from an inspection of their handwriting. Marvel addressed a poem to him, which, if it did not effectually silence his pretensions, at all events exposed them fully to the thinking portions of the community.
Beneath Italian skies his immortal friendship with Milton seems to have commenced; it was of rapid growth, but was soon firmly established. They were, in many ways, kindred spirits, and their hopes for the after destinies of England were alike. In 1653 Marvel returned to England, and during the eventful years that followed, we can find no record of his strong and earnest thoughts, as they worked upwards into the arena of public life. One glorious fact we know, and all who honor virtue must feel its force,—that in an age when wealth was never wanting to the unscrupulous, Marvel, a member of the popular and successful party, continued Poor. Many of those years he is certain to have passed—
"Under the destiny severe
Of Fairfax, and the starry Vere—"
in the humble capacity of tutor of languages to their daughters. It was most likely, during this period, that he inhabited the cottage at Highgate, opposite to the house in which lived part of the family of Cromwell, a house upon which we shall remark presently. In 1657 he was introduced by Milton to Bradshaw. The precise words of the introduction ran thus: 'I present to you Mr. Marvel, laying aside those jealousies and that emulation which mine own condition might suggest to me, by bringing in such a coadjutor.' His connection with the State took place in 1657, when he became assistant secretary with Milton in the service of the Protector. 'I never had,' says Marvel, 'any, not the remotest relation to public matters, nor correspondence with the persons then predominant, until the year 1657.'
After he had been some time fellow-secretary with Milton, even the thick-sighted burgesses of Hull perceived the merits of their townsman, and sent him as their representative into the House of Commons. We can imagine the delight he felt at escaping from the crowded and stormy Commons to breathe the invigorating air of his favorite hill, to enjoy the society of his former pupils, now his friends; and to gather, in
the flowers that had solaced his leisure hours when he was comparatively unknown. But Cromwell died, Charles returned, and Marvel's energies sprung into arms at acts which, in accordance with his principles, he considered base, and derogatory to his country. His whole efforts were directed to the preservation of civil and religious liberty.
It was but a short time previous to the Restoration that Marvel had been chosen by his native town to sit as its representative in Parliament. The Session began at Westminster in April, 1660, and he acquitted himself so honorably, that he was again chosen for the one which began in May, 1661. Whether under Cromwell or Charles, he acted with such thorough honesty of purpose, and gave such satisfaction to his constituents, that they allowed him a handsome pension all the time he continued to represent them, which was till the day of his death. This was probably the last borough in England that paid a representative.[A] He seldom spoke in Parliament, but had much influence with the members of both Houses; the spirited Earl of Devonshire called him friend, and Prince Rupert particularly paid the greatest regard to his councils; and whenever he voted according to the sentiments of Marvel, which he often did, it used to be said, by the opposite party, that 'he had been with his tutor.' Such certainly was the intimacy between the Prince and Marvel, that when he was obliged to abscond, to avoid falling a sacrifice to the indignation of those enemies among the governing party whom his satirical pen had irritated, the Prince frequently went to see him, disguised as a private person.
The noted Doctor Samuel Parker published Bishop Bramhall's work, setting forth the rights of kings over the consciences of their subjects, and then came forth Marvel's witty and sarcastic poem, 'The Rehearsal Transposed.'[B] And yet how brightly did the generosity of his noble nature shine forth at this very time, when he forsook his own wit in that very poem, to praise the wit of Butler, his rival and political enemy. Fortune seems about this period to have dealt hardly with him. Even while his political satires rang through the very halls of the pampered and impure Charles, when they were roared forth in every tavern, shouted in the public streets, and attracted the most envied attention throughout England, their author was obliged to exchange the free air, apt type of the freedom which he loved, for a lodging in a court off the Strand, where, enduring unutterable temptations, flattered and threatened, he more than realized the stories of Roman virtue.
The poet Mason has made Marvel the hero of his 'Ode to Independence,' and thus alludes to his incorruptible integrity:—