Marvell and Parliament

Paul Seaward

in The Oxford Handbook of Andrew Marvell

Published in print March 2019 | ISBN: 9780198736400
Published online March 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780191873645 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Marvell and Parliament

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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Andrew Marvell represented Hull in Parliament for more than eighteen years. The record of his actual activity in Parliament is slight, and his political importance can, as a result, seem slight, at least compared to his significance as a satirist. Yet as well as his well-documented behind-the-scenes activity on behalf of Hull, Marvell’s parliamentary record can be interpreted as that of a very important fixer and strategist on behalf of the ‘Presbyterians’ in the Commons, a group which he did much to define and possibly also to call into existence. Analysis of Marvell’s ‘Last Instructions to a Painter’ suggests that it may be not just a polemical and satirical description of a debate, but also intended as a means of rallying some of the disparate elements of an opposition to the court. It, and Marvell’s other political writings, emphasize how central Parliament was to his thought.

Keywords: committee of elections; constituency; corruption; excise; House of Commons; Parliament; political organization; Presbyterians; Trinity House

Article.  9293 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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