This Newsletter was published on Saturday 21 March 2015

Marvell, Sir Peter Pett, Bishop Thomas Barlow, and the Projected “Works” of Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland

By Martin Dzelzainis

Download full text of article

In 1693, Sir Peter Pett (1630-99), the close friend of Marvell’s former patron, the earl of Anglesey, was involved in a number of publishing projects with the bookseller, John Dunton. One outcome of this collaboration was the Memoirs of the Right Honourable Arthur Earl of Anglesey, Late Lord Privy Seal. Intermixt with Moral, Political and Historical Observations, by way of Discourse in a Letter (London, 1693; Wing A3175; Arber 2:476). Another product of the joint venture—also published some time between June and November—was The Genuine Remains of That Learned Prelate Dr. Thomas Barlow, Late Lord Bishop of Lincoln (London, 1693; Wing B832; Arber 2:483). The latter volume, however, soon came under attack from Henry Brougham and William Offley, Barlow’s former chaplains and the literary executors of his manuscripts. In the dedicatory epistle to Reflections To a Late Book, Entituled The Genuine Remains of Dr. Tho. Barlow, Late Bishop of Lincoln, Falsly pretended to be Published from His Lordship’s Original Papers (London, 1694; Wing B4996; Arber 2: 519), Offley condemned “Sir P. P. and the late Vicar of Bugden”—that is, Buckden, where Barlow had died in October 1691—as “confederate Pedlars, that have endeavour’d to impose upon the World so much varnish’d Ware, for the sake of Twenty Guineas gave for the Copy.”[1] The true originals, he pointed out, were in the custody of Brougham at Queen’s College, Oxford.

Genuine Remains has not hitherto attracted the attention of students of Marvell even though Barlow, like Pett, was a member of the Anglesey circle, and despite the fact that Pett is known to have been an attentive reader of Marvell’s prose.[2]Further testimony to Pett’s high opinion of Marvell as a wit and man of literary judgment can be found in the Genuine Remains, where Pett was trailing yet another collaboration with Dunton: a projected folio volume of the works of Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland. In the epistle to the reader, Pett digressed in order to provide “a Passant review” of his correspondence with Barlow about Lord Falkland. Conscious of how highly he had praised Falkland to Barlow and how this might look, Pett professed that

I have no occasion to fear the attacques of any Critical Person, as if I had been a Super-laudator in the case of his Lordship, and on which account Mr. Marvel doth justly animadvert on Dr. Parker, as being extravagant and excessive in praising Arch-bishop Bramhall and for saying that he was fit to Command the Roman Empire, when in its greatest extent; and whereupon Mr. Marvel hath a judicious remark on the danger of giving immoderate Praise. (sig. A4r-v)[3]

The passage he clearly had in mind was from Marvell’s The Rehearsal Transpros’d (London, 1672):

Beside that it is the highest Indecorum for a Divine to write in such a stile as this [part Play-Book and part Romance] concerning a Reverend Bishop; these improbable Elogies too are of the greatest disservice to their own design, and do in effect diminish alwayes the Person whom they pretend to magnifie. Any worthy Man may pass through the World unquestion’d and safe with a moderate    Recommendation; but when he is thus set off, and bedawb’d with Rhetorick, and embroyder’d so thick that you cannot discern the Ground, it awakens naturally (and not altogether unjustly) Interest, Curiosity, and Envy. For all men pretend a share in Reputation, and love not to see it ingross’d and monopoliz’d, and are subject to enquire, (as of great Estates suddenly got) whether he came by all this honestly, or of what credit the Person is that tells the Story?[4]

Pett was thus no Bramhall. However, having shielded himself from criticism by brandishing this Marvellian caveat about the counter-productive nature of extravagant praise, Pett promptly insisted that, as it happened, Falkland did have “Talents adequate to the employment of Principal Secretary to the greatest Roman Emperor that ever gave Law to the World” (sig. A4v)!

Later in the Genuine Remains, Pett paraphrased a letter that he had written to Barlow outlining his plans for the Falkland folio and soliciting his personal recollections of Great Tew for the biography that was to preface the volume, the highlight of which was to be “a short Relation of some Memoirs, wherein the Lord Falklands great Wit, and Moral Perfections were Conspicuous.” Barlow was assured that he would be in distinguished company since Pett had already been supplied “with the materials … in Discourse, from the Lord Chief Justice Vaughan, Mr. Robert Boyle, and the Lady Ranalagh his Sister; and Mr. Abraham Cowley and Mr. Edmund Waller; who all had the Honour of his Friendship and frequent Conversation.” The way in which Falkland had combined learning and reason with “that Great, Beautiful, Charming thing, call’d Wit” meant that he would surely serve as a benchmark to other writers (324-5). It was at this point that Pett invoked that other touchstone of wit, Marvell, by way of validation.

Sir P. took further notice in his Letter with what great Honour to my Lord Falklands Memory, Mr. Marvel in p. 387. of the second part of his Rehersal Transprosed, refers to two of his Lordships Speeches, in the Long Parliament; the first whereof concerning Episcopacy (he saith) begins thus; He is a great stranger in Israel, who knoweth not, &c. and the other at the delivery of the Articles against my Lord Keeper. (335/sig. Y3r = 325)

The page reference indicates that Pett was appropriating material from the first rather than the second edition of The Rehearsall Transpros’d: The Second Part (1673; Wing M882).[5] Apparently, Pett thought that even the briefest of endorsements by Marvell was something worth having.

In the event, Barlow managed to come up with only a couple of anecdotes about Falkland, citing his “great Age” by way of excuse.[6] Moreover, the Falkland project itself never materialized, notwithstanding the fact that among a list of “Books now in the Press, and going to it; Printed for John Dunton at the Raven in the Poultry” appended to Genuine Remains is the following:

The Lord Faulkland’s Works, Secretary of State to King Charles the I. Collected all together into one Volume; To which will be prefix’d Memoirs of his Lordship’s Life and Death; never printed before. Written by a Person of Honour. (sig. [Tt4]r; bold substituted for black letter type)

All that survives of this publishing project therefore is Pett’s ad hoc prospectus, posthumously underwritten by Marvell.

University of Leicester


[1] Henry Brougham, Reflections To a Late Book, sig A2v. See Stephen Wright, “Brougham, Henry (bap. 1665, d. 1696),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The “late Vicar” in question was probably Samuel Whitworth, who was succeeded by Samuel Newberry in 1691:

[2] For the relationship between Pett and Anglesey, see Mark Goldie, “Sir Peter Pett, Sceptical Toryism and the Science of Toleration in the 1680s,” in Persecution and Toleration, ed. W. J. Sheils, Studies in Church History 21 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984), 247-73; on Pett and Marvell, see Nicholas von Maltzahn, An Andrew Marvell Chronology (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), 225, 238, 249, 250. See also Justin Champion, “An Historical Narration Concerning Heresie: Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Barlow and the Restoration debate over ‘heresy,’” in Heresy, Literature and Politics in Early Modern English Culture, ed. David Loewenstein and John Marshall (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 221-53.

[3] Not cited in von Maltzahn, An Andrew Marvell Chronology.

[4] Andrew Marvell, The Rehearsal Transpros’d, in The Prose Works of Andrew Marvell, ed. Annabel Patterson, Martin Dzelzainis, Nicholas von Maltzahn, and N. H. Keeble, 2 vols. (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003), 1:55.

[5] See Marvell, Prose Works, 1:423.

[6] Barlow actually specifies “Anno 85. currente” (332), but this must mean the year 1685 rather than his age: see John Spurr, “Barlow, Thomas (1608/9-1691), Bishop of Lincoln,” ODNB.