‘Two Songs at the Marriage of the Lord Fauconberg and the Lady Mary Cromwell’ earns the title of one of seventeenth-century poet Andrew Marvell’s most ignored and under-studied works. Perhaps deterred by the obvious patronage aspects of the two poems, the questionable mixture of myth and pastoral, the epithalamium expectations without the epithalamium structure, and the probable musical setting of the work, readers have tended to ignore the companion pieces as flattering attempts to gain patronage during an unstable time in British history.1 However, a close study of the poems—the imagery, allegory, genres, and contexts portrayed therein—evidences that any interpreted flattery is only skin-deep, assumed by the ‘present occasions’ of the wedding and the expectations of the portrayed genres of epithalamium, masque, and pastoral dialogue. Rather than just one of the hyperbolic panegyrics from the 1630s to 1660s intended to gain patronage,2 ‘Two Songs’ should be placed with the more obviously political poems ‘An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’ and ‘The First Anniversary of the Government under His Highness the Lord Protector’ as another example of Marvell’s skillful blurring of the boundary between praise and criticism, royalist and anti-royalist, fiction and reality at this rather precarious time in British history, often leaving the reader in the realm of uncertainty. However, unlike its two more prominent ‘cousin’ poems that celebrate general events, ‘Two Songs’ uses the specific occasion and context of the Cromwell-Fauconberg wedding to demonstrate Marvell’s familiarity with the particulars of the wedding negotiations and Cromwell’s challenges, presenting this seeming celebration of the Cromwell family as a pastoral masque in dialogue, joining the two poems as a satiric epithalamium that can then ‘sound to present occasions’ while subtly portraying conflicts in genres, family, social status, and politics, delighting his audience of ‘understanders’ with ‘more remov’d mysteries’.3 These understanders would note that, unlike ‘Horatian Ode’ and ‘First Anniversary’, ‘Two Songs’ offers more censure than praise.4
The phrases, of course, come from Ben Jonson’s Preface to Hymenaei, his 1606 masque celebrating the marriage Robert Devereux, Third Earl of Essex, and Lady Frances Howard, also a delicate occasion necessitating tact; and from Jonson’s ‘To the Reader’ preface to The Alchemist, defending his works as intended for the ‘fit audience though few’, whom he named ‘understanders’, not appealing to the taste of plebeians, whom he dubbed ‘pretenders’.5 Jonson claimed that, though the elaborate costumes, scenery, and special effects of Inigo Jones’s Stuart Court masques might appropriately commemorate the ephemeral occasion and dazzle the audience with the ‘body’ of the production, Jonson’s erudite and allegorical text of the performance, particularly his abundant explanatory notes in the printed version, provide the essential and lasting ‘soul’ of the event, only appreciated by those worthy of his efforts. Jonson’s concept of the court masque, an occasional performance marking a real event, but utilizing symbol and allegory to elevate the event beyond the topical, allowed the poet to include meanings perhaps too dangerous to express outright. The form proved very successful in the early Stuart period and secured Jonson’s position in James’s court, at least for a while.6
As I have argued elsewhere, Jonson used the ‘mixed media’ aspect of the masque to create ‘a visual, philosophical, and literal reflection/correction/prediction’ of King James’s court, a type of ‘mirror for magistrates’ that he then could angle to include himself in the reflection. For example, in The Masque of Queenes, his elaborate portrayal of twelve royal ladies in a pyramid arrangement seated in the House of Fame not only provides a visual display of royal hierarchy but also critical commentary. Under the pinnacle of Queen Anne as Bel-Anna, Queen of the Ocean, sits Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, as Penthesilia, Queen of the Amazons, decked in martial armor, acknowledging her somewhat masculine power as the Queen’s favorite and a major patroness, but also indicating Jonson’s understanding of the Queen’s personal and independent choice of her ladies-in-waiting.7 ‘Two Songs’ certainly fits within these masque expectations since they were probably sung at the court wedding celebrations with musical settings by William Lawes, who was known for his composition of court masques and his sensitivity to poetry.8 In addition, the works focus on Cromwell who himself probably portrayed the character Jove in the first ‘Song’ and Menalcas in the second, just as Jonson made King James, seated in the prime spot in the audience, the focal point and purpose of his court masques. Thus, the pieces would not only appeal to Cromwell’s own love of music but also place him in the monarchial position of the traditional Stuart and Caroline masques at a time when Cromwell’s possible kingly aspirations were questioned. Though Mary Cromwell and her new husband did not actually appear in the performance, they allegorically appear as Cynthia and Endymion in the first ‘Song’ and are referred to as Marina and Damon in the second.
Like ‘Two Songs’, ‘An Horatian Ode’ and ‘The First Anniversary’ sound to present occasions but with more ambiguity than specificity. Critical interpretations of the poems split between pro-royalist or pro-parliamentary positions,9 mirroring a man and a government that were themselves ambiguous. In presenting Cromwell as a warrior capable of settling the nation’s divisions yet admitting his use of violence in ‘Horatian Ode’, Marvell images the present occasions of Cromwell’s return from the Irish campaign, pitting the regret for Charles’s execution against the necessity of revolution. Likewise, ‘The First Anniversary’ presents conflicting images traditionally associated with kingship and with biblical types and metaphors more fitting to a ‘Puritan warrior saint’. As Patterson comments, ‘…these two frames of reference conflict with each other, producing diametrically opposed readings of the poem….’10 Here Marvell also speaks to the present occasions of the first anniversary of the Instrument of Government and the first Protectorate Parliament while imaging Cromwell’s own ambivalences and contradictions.
I. ‘Present Occasions’
However, unlike the public occasions of ‘An Horatian Ode’ and ‘The First Anniversary’, Marvell was invited to compose his ‘Two Songs’ as entertainment for a specific and more personal present occasion: the wedding of Mary Cromwell (1637–1712), the Lord Protector’s third daughter, and Thomas Belasyse, second Viscount Fauconberg (1627–1700), just a week after the wedding of Mary’s younger sister Frances and Robert Rich. The weddings themselves sparked controversy at this particular time in the Protectorate, interpreted as Cromwell’s attempt to solicit support for his regime, or the nobles’ attempt to ingratiate themselves with Cromwell who, although refusing the crown, always retained the possibility of acceptance, especially with the revised constitution of 1657 which stopped the Protectorship from being elective and permitted Cromwell to name his own successor.11 Taking place at Hampton Court on Thursday 19 November 1657, Mary’s private and simple ceremony stood in stark contrast to sister Frances’s elaborate affair the week before. Mary, in fact, writes of ‘this bisnes of my sister Franses and Mr. Rich’ to her brother Henry: ‘I can truly say it, for thes thre months I think our famyly, and myself in particular, hav ben the gratest confusion and troble as ever poor famly can be in’.12
Thus, the task of celebrating a less-than-desirable or desired match would prove daunting to any Protectorate poet who, like Edmund Waller, George Wither, Marchamont Nedham, and John Lineal, changed his allegiances during the revolutionary years of the seventeenth century. Woodford acknowledges ‘the fluidity of the political situation that caused many writers to switch sides and have little consistency in their writing’.13 Survival as a poet and later public servant through the reign of Charles I, Cromwell, and Charles II demonstrates an ability to adapt yet not surrender to ‘present occasions’—to the military, political, religious, and financial uncertainties of the time. With ‘Two Songs’, Marvell proves that ability, particularly in the interweaving of literary forms that structure the poems, all of which allow and even encourage hidden agendas.
First, the present occasions facing Marvell: younger daughter Frances’s wedding was a love match—Cromwell disapproved of her long-term romance with Robert Rich, grandson of Robert Rich, second Earl of Warwick and a ‘staunch friend’ of Cromwell.14 According to Mary Cromwell in a letter to brother Henry on 23 June 1656, the problem was that Lord Warwick did not offer as much as was expected, though she really suspected Cromwell had taken ‘a dislike to the young person’ because of reports he was ‘a visious man, given to play, and suchlike things, which ofis was done by som that had a mind to brak of the match’. But, she admits, the couple ‘wer so much ingagd in afection before this, that shee could not think of breaking of it of’ and asked Mary and her friends to speak up for him.15 Adding to the tension were other contenders for Frances’s hand: Cromwell’s nephew William Dutton, chaplain Jerry White, the Duke of Buckingham, and even Charles II.16 Though Frances’s wedding itself was a simple civil ceremony, it was followed the next day by an extravagant wedding feast at Whitehall that featured ‘48 violins and 50 trumpets and much mirth with frolics, besides mixt dancing (a thing heretofore accounted profane) ‘til 5 of the clock’ the next morning.17
It is relevant to describe Frances and her wedding celebrations if only in contrast to sister Mary’s. Mary was respected and admired. Both Mark Noble (1787) and later Bishop Burnet (1643–1715) concur that it was said after Richard’s resignation as Lord Protector, ‘… those who wore the breeches deserved petticoats better, but if those in petticoats (meaning her ladyship) had been in breeches, they would have held faster’. According to Guizot, ‘Mary was witty, sensible, active, and high-spirited, fond of excitement and power, ardently devoted to the interests of her family, and a zealous supporter of the views of her father, to whom, it is said, her features bore some resemblance’.18 Like her sister, Mary enjoyed the attentions of other suitors: both the Duke of Buckingham (attempting to redeem his estates) and the son of the Prince of Condé were considered potential mates. But her marriage to Fauconberg had nothing to do with love. Cromwell himself arranged the match with the Viscount, a controversial choice since Fauconberg’s family was noted for its continuing devotion to the Royalist cause, with his brother and father serving Charles I and his uncles involved in the ill-fated 1655 uprising. According to the Venetian ambassador’s report, ‘the union has caused universal amazement’:
Not only himself but all his House have always favoured the King and shown it throughout; indeed, I have been told on good authority that, besides corresponding with His Majesty, it is not two months since he sent a considerable sum of money across the sea, to express his duty and out of compassion for the misfortunes of his prince, a practice followed by several who still keep alive and whole their feeling for his party.19
Mary and Fauconberg seem to have been blindsided by the proposed arrangement. Mark Noble conjectures that ‘his highness rather made this alliance with his lordship for his own convenience, rather than from studying the entire felicity of his daughter’.20 Cromwell had Sir William Lockhart, Ambassador to Paris, carefully evaluate the background and religious views of the recently widowed Fauconberg since he had connections both with Royalists and with Catholics, with an uncle one of the founders of the Sealed Knot, the secret Royalist association which plotted for the return of the monarchy. Yet Fauconberg received a glowing report: ‘a person of very good abilityes, and seems very sober’.21 It was Fauconberg himself who demonstrated perhaps more caution about the match, necessitating the French Ambassador blatantly to urge the Viscount to court Mary: ‘I told him the advantage his pretensions might receive from his own addresses to the person principally concerned, and assured him of a good reception from the nearest relations’. Fauconberg still expressed that he ‘expected a clearer invitation’, with the Ambassador replying he had been too obvious already ‘and left the rest to his own merit and application’.22 Though he did eventually make his intentions known, the Fauconberg-Cromwell wedding was a rather hushed and rushed affair. The Venetian ambassador reported it was conducted ‘with much privacy and honor’, contrasting with the ‘ringing of bells’ and ‘firing greate guns at the Tower’ that accompanied Frances’s wedding. Mary complained that the courtship was so hurried that she did not have time to tell her own brother she was getting married until after the wedding. No one even knew the wedding date until Mercurius Politicus announced they were married.23
Fauconberg did win Cromwell’s permission to have, in addition to the mandated civil ceremony, an Anglican service, with Dr. John Hewitt using the Book of Common Prayer, and also convinced his father-in-law to direct the money that would have been used on a more lavish celebration instead to add to Mary’s dowry, equaling £15,000.24 Another awkward aspect of the marriage was the probable absence of Fauconberg’s three most distinguished kinsmen: Sir Henry Slingsby, who was under arrest in Hull for plotting against the government; John, Lord Belasyse, the aforementioned founder of the Sealed Knot and a Catholic; and Thomas, Lord Fairfax, whose marriage of his own daughter and Marvell’s former pupil Mary to the Duke of Buckingham two months earlier had estranged him from Cromwell.25 Yet another tension was Fauconberg’s possible infertility: he was a widower with no children, and would have no children with Mary. Mark Noble relates an anecdote from a source he identifies as ‘Huges’s Letters’ that Cromwell’s chaplain Dr. Jeremiah White, ‘a top wit of his court’, according to Guizot, and a former suitor to Frances Cromwell, told the Lord Protector, ‘Why, I think he will never make your highness a grandfather … I speak in confidence to your highness; there are certain defects in Lord Fauconberg, that will always prevent him making you a grandfather, let him do what he can’.26 Cromwell, comments Noble, did not share this information with his daughter: ‘he left the lord and lady to settle the account of defects as they might’. Later, reports Noble, Cromwell repeated the remark to Fauconberg as a joke, but the Viscount became enraged, lured the unsuspecting White in his room, and beat him with his cane. White suggested to Fauconberg, ‘only prove, by getting [i.e. begetting] a child that I told the Protector a lye, you may then inflict the punishment with justice, and I will bear it with patience’.27
Both Frances’s and Mary’s marriages were politically and dynastically important; however, the elaborateness of Frances’s wedding and the seeming inappropriateness of the choice of Mary’s groom only exacerbated the friction building at this time between Cromwell and Parliament over the Lord Protector’s perceived monarchical leanings. This concern did not just appear in 1657–58, however, but existed from the time of the regicide, especially when Cromwell moved into royal palaces and established a protectoral court. On 19 December 1654, Parliament approved the repurchase of former royal residences St. James House, the palace of Whitehall, Somerset House, Greenwich House, the Manor at York, Winsor Castle, and Hampton Court Palace, though he resided at Whitehall.28 In the April before the weddings, after months of speculation, Cromwell did reject the offered title of king, but on 26 June 1657, he was reinstalled as Lord Protector under a new constitution, the Humble Petition and Advice, and with his installation employing many elements of a monarchial coronation, many feared he was a king in all but name.
These were the ‘present occasions’ facing Andrew Marvell: to celebrate a rather forced wedding with a possibly impotent groom of questionable political allegiance to a Lord Protector accused of claiming kingship. How could the poet reconcile these disparate circumstances? In his inimitable skill, Marvell blends the forms of epithalamium and court masque, enabling him to acknowledge the occasion, praise the couple and the Lord Protector, and protect himself by offering satiric comments on the affair under the safe guise of allegory. By framing both songs in traditional pastoral dialogue mode and in actual dialogue with each other, he inserts a daring appeal to both the Elizabethan and Caroline court and ultimately questions both Fauconberg’s and Cromwell’s intentions in making the match.
The novelty of ‘Two Songs’ begins immediately in its very structure: two poems with one title. Are they to be considered one poem or two? The choice of pronouns referring to the ‘Songs’ is problematic: should we say ‘it’ has been labeled as an epithalamium, or that ‘they’ have been so labeled? In his survey of Renaissance epithalamia, Thomas Greene lists Marvell’s ‘Two Songs’ along with works by Sidney, Spenser, Donne, Jonson, Herrick, Crashaw, and Dryden.29 But if Marvell’s work is an epithalamium, why does he not adhere to the normal epithalamium conventions as conceived by Sappho’s fragments, Theocritus’s Idyll 18, Catullus’s epithalamium (no. 61), described in great detail by Puttenham, and utilized by Spenser?30 Marvell would have been familiar with Spenser’s Epithalamium, and the literary type was even a rhetorical exercise at the universities, so he certainly knew how to structure one, but ‘Two Songs’ differs in almost every sense. Traditionally, the epithalamium should refer to the specific day of the wedding, fictive or real, and describe each part of that day: the awakening of the bride, her dressing, the procession to the ceremony, the following wedding banquet, the bedding of the couple, and the morning song for their re-awakening.31 Instead, Marvell does not celebrate an idealized, committed relationship but, in the first ‘Song’, turns to Greek mythology to portray mortal Endymion’s fervent attempts to persuade the goddess Cynthia that their relationship would be appropriate, ending rather inconclusively as to whether the relationship was actually consummated; and in the second ‘Song’ recounts a conversation among pastoral rustics celebrating another marriage already performed, this of fellow shepherds Damon and Marina. We know nothing of the wedding day or of the rituals that may have been performed other than the shepherds’ desire to bring garlands to the bride (ll. 5–6). Thus the two songs, while enacting dialogues, are themselves in dialogue with each other. As with Marvell’s many other dialogue poems, though the pieces offer no definite resolution so make no commitment, the choice of words leads the reader to his own conclusion.
Another noticeable difference in this work as epithalamium is the role of the poet himself. In the epithalamia of Catullus, the fictive poet-speaker fulfills a stylized role of a type of ‘master of ceremonies’ and chorus leader, as Arthur Wheeler describes: ‘It is the poet who invokes Hymen, urges the girls to sing, addresses the bride, apostrophizes the wedding couch, directs the boys to light their torches and sing, addresses the favorite slave, the groom—all the persons in fact’.32 Unlike Ben Jonson’s foregrounding himself in commentary in his printed court masques, Marvell totally absents himself from the poem: in the first ‘Song’ a Chorus introduces the characters Endymion and Cynthia, and addresses the reader, not the characters: ‘Hark how he sings, with sad delight/Thorough the clear and silent night’ (ll. 5–6). This pointing to the action at hand is similar to other sprecher figures in Marvell’s poems who speak to the reader, introducing and sometimes concluding the rest of the poem: ‘Burmudas’ (ll. 1–4, 37–40), ‘Daphnis and Chloe’ (ll. 1–44, 97–108), ‘The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers’ (ll. 1–2), ‘Damon the Mower’ (ll. 1–8), ‘Upon the Hill and Grove at Bilbrough, To the Lord Fairfax’ (ll. 1–2, 17–18), and ‘Upon Appleton House’ (ll. 1–2). In the second ‘Song’, characters speak to each other without the poet or the bride and groom even present, and form their own concluding ‘chorus’ wishing the couple joy. Though Marvell does appear in the poems in his demonstration of skill matching allegory to real people and events as will be discussed, the audience/reader may well have questioned whether Marvell intended the piece to be an epithalamium.
III. Pastoral Dialogue
But perhaps the most daring aspects of ‘Two Songs’, at least for ‘understanders’, are its dialogue format and pastoral setting, both of which define the work as a pastoral eclogue, a type of poetry intended to provide ‘a mode for the juxtaposition of contending values and perspectives’. Rather than simply an escape, pastoral involves ‘a critical exploration and counterbalancing of attitudes, perspectives, and experiences’.33 Part of the appeal of such an in-between realm is in an ‘implied dialogic relation between the work itself and the society that produced it’, giving it an affinity with allegory. This is exactly Puttenham’s point when he defines the ability of Pastoral, ‘under the vaile of homely persons and in rude speeches to insinuate and glaunce at greater matters.’34 As pastoral dialogue, ‘Two Songs’ can present traditional rustic characters and mythological figures in a fiction of the poem while indicating the ironical reversal of those representations of reality.
Marvell’s structuring of ‘Two Songs’ as pastoral eclogues explains the mixture of myth and rustic characters, since Virgil’s eclogues integrate Greek and Roman real characters and mythical beings, while in his first Idyll, Theocritus includes mortal figures like Daphnis along with Pan, Priapus, Hermes, and Aphrodite.35 Here, in Marvell’s first ‘Song’, we have the wooing of moon goddess Cynthia by mortal Endymion. At surface level, Endymion, described by Friedman as ‘a comic version of the Resolved Soul’,36 simply uses the same type of argumentative challenges to his reluctant love as we see in ‘Clorinda and Damon’, ‘Ametas and Thestylis Making Hay-Ropes’, and ‘A Dialogue between Thyrsis and Dorinda’. Cynthia attempts refusal after refusal of Endymion’s advances, only to be countered by the persistent shepherd’s rebuttals: to her ‘you are only a mortal, so watch your sheep’, the response, ‘my sheep are my sacrifice to you, and my divine love for you immortalizes me’; to her ‘I’m too busy controlling the tides’, his ‘then restrain my tears which are weeping seas’; to her ‘I must light the night sky with my light’, his ‘shine your light in the despairing shades of my breast’; to the Chorus’s encouragement not to give up, his ‘I am climbing to the top of Mt. Latmus but still can’t reach you with my arms’; to her ‘use your own reason to reach me’, his ‘you can better descend to me’; to her ‘I have to stay with my stars’, his ‘the stars are fixed in the sky, but you can meet me here’; to her ‘that cave of yours is dark’, his ‘so no one can see us, and you can dispel the darkness with your light’.
However, what may not be evident to those ‘pretenders’ is that the pastoral mode itself is a rather daring form to utilize for an encomium for the Lord Protector and his family since it was especially identified with the Tudor-Stuart monarchy. As James Turner, Nigel Smith, Anthony Low, and Alastair Fowler explain, pastoral mode was especially indicative of the Elizabethan era, while the Interregnum replaced traditional pastoral with the more georgic pastoral, implying work rather than contemplative shepherds piping songs forever new—Herrick’s ‘The Hock-Cart’ and Marvell’s ‘Mower’ poems instead of Spenser’s shepherds.37 Classical eclogues appealed much more to pro-Royalists, the Caroline court, and even the Elizabethan Age, heyday of Spenser and Sidney and, of course, the Divine Right of Kings. Though, as a mode, pastoral provides for the ‘juxtaposition of contending values and perspectives’, the first song can be considered rather daring, since Marvell portrays (as Mary) the goddess of the moon Cynthia, long associated with Queen Elizabeth I. The monarch’s image as the virgin Cynthia ‘became indelibly imprinted during the last half of her reign’ and illustrates a larger movement: ‘the emergence of the queenly moon-cult typifies the increasing Petrarchism and Platonism of royal circles, where courtiers paid homage to Elizabeth as ever-youthful yet unapproachable object of desire’.38 Marvell’s audience, both understanders and pretenders, would recognize the reference to Elizabeth since she had been portrayed as the virgin goddess both as a character (as in Spenser’s Shepherd’s Calendar and Faerie Queene) and as the focus of an entire poem (as in Sir Edward Dyer’s pastoral Cynthia); thus, Marvell’s use of that mythological figure in the first song can certainly be seen as a nod to the ‘golden’ age of Elizabeth and criticism of the present age.39
Yet though both pastoral and the court masque were ‘characteristically an instrument of the royalists, especially in dramatic and quasi-dramatic writings’, Cromwell apparently attempted to appropriate pastoral to his own image: his funeral medal issued 3 September 1658 shows Cromwell’s image on one side; a shepherd, his sheep, and an olive tree on the other; with the legend ‘Non deficient olive’ (‘Let them not lack the olive’, from Aeneid 6.143–44). Richard Flecknoe dedicated his pastoral romance Love’s Dominion to Cromwell’s daughter Lady Elizabeth Claypole, asserting in his preface ‘the right of the “Anti-Pastoral party” to have pastorals of their own’.40 By presenting this encomium to the Cromwell family in pastoral format, then, Marvell draws attention to and even questions the Lord Protector’s increasingly monarchical tastes.
The eclogue style also allows Marvell to present his views in dialogue, a familiar format for the poet, having penned at least four himself, and a form that allowed him seemingly to remain non-committal, though not necessarily. In this case, while the first song refers to classical myth in a musical dialogue role-reversal between Cynthia the moon goddess and Endymion her lover, the second features Phillis, a country lass, conversing with fellow rustics Tomalin and Hobbinol about the wedding of Marina and Damon. As I have argued elsewhere, a dialogue is a dynamic, interactive experience which actually takes place in-between. As an exchange, it is not a static entity but must continually ‘become’, enact itself, in order to exist and can only be fully experienced in the middle of two participants.41 How appropriate, then, to use dialogue format to celebrate the incongruous match of the daughter of a regicide and a nephew of a confirmed Catholic Royalist. Though a dialogue generally lacks a ‘conclusion’, non-commitment can be a type of commitment, a kind of ‘Negative Capability’ that may avoid criticism yet does not allow praise. Having the characters in the ‘Songs’ do all the talking allows Marvell to leave it up to the reader/audience to determine judgment. However, understanders would interpret hints of parody in the figures portrayed.
IV. ‘[M]ore remov’d mysteries’
The allegorical and contradictory aspects of both the masque and pastoral enabled Marvell to hint at ‘greater matters’ and ‘more remov’d mysteries’ in his subtle, even satiric portrayal of the complications in the Cromwell-Fauconberg match. In its emphasis on mortal love vs. divine love and differences in social class, Marvell’s first ‘Song’ comments slyly on Mary’s entire marriage negotiation process, with Endymion representing Fauconberg, Cynthia Mary Cromwell, and Jove the Lord Protector. First, Marvell reverses the mythical roles of Endymion and Cynthia from the original telling in Theocritus, in which the moon goddess Selene is herself the aggressor, coming down from heaven to the glade on Latmus to embrace and kiss Endymion, making him immortal but forever asleep. In Marvell’s ‘Song’, Endymion is the persistent wooer and Cynthia the coy mistress, we assume succumbing to his advances according to the Chorus’s final rejoicing.42 The emphasis on mortal/immortal matches here self-reflexively comments on the role of pastoral and of the masque which both seek to portray yet reconcile class difference, the ideal and the real. Montrose believes the surface simplicity of pastoral makes it ‘the appropriate medium in which living princes may be obliquely criticized or instructed’, particularly through questioning the classification of baseness and gentility.43
The question arises, however, in these present occasions: which character is base and which is gentle? Cromwell’s family is the royal family of Britain at that time, but Fauconberg hailed from a long line of Royalist aristocracy. Pastoral performs the function in Renaissance culture to reconcile the conflict of social fixity vs. evidence of social flux, especially portrayed by leisure vs. labor, pastoral vs. georgic at the time, particularly during the rule of a Lord Protector who trained as a brewer and is described by Marvell in ‘An Horatian Ode’, also a poem ‘regarded as confusing for its political ambivalence’,44 not as a peaceful shepherd but one who leaves his ‘private gardens’ (l. 29) to become ‘restless Cromwell’ who ‘could not cease’ (l. 9). By re-imaging the leisured gentleman Fauconberg as the mortal, lovesick wooer of a goddess, the first ‘Song’ emphasizes ‘a contradiction between the secular claims of aristocratic prerogative and the religious claims of common origins, shared fallenness, and spiritual equity among men, gentle and base alike’.45
The portrayal of Endymion aggressively begging Cynthia not to ‘scorn Endymion’s plaints’ (l. 8) since his love ‘burns with an immortal flame’ (l. 16), only intensified by the ‘uncessant deluges’ of tears in his eyes (l. 22) and ‘deep despair’ in his breast (l. 28), overtly comments on present occasions as well as removed mysteries. This image of the groom who required strong negotiations even to consider proposing to Mary may well have elicited a sly smile on the face of Ambassador to France William Lockhart, who struggled to negotiate the match. However, Endymion’s difficult ascent of Mount Latmus even more blatantly suggests Fauconberg’s own social climbing, since his marriage grants him access to power, not only validating a shift back to an aristocratic court, but also highlighting the unstable status of Cromwell’s social position, since the Fauconbergs had for generations existed in a social sphere far above the Cromwells. Endymion’s request/demand that Cynthia come halfway and descend to meet him not only acknowledges Mary’s superiority but his presumption in making that demand, while in ‘lowering’ herself to marry a mere sublunary viscount, Mary/Cynthia also places Fauconberg in a subordinate position. The final lines of the first ‘Song’ serve as a clear reference to social mobility and class instability, since Jove/Cromwell ‘never did love to pair/His progeny above the air’ (ll. 55–56); in allowing the marriage, Cromwell ‘makes mortals matches fit for deities’ (l. 58).
Allegorically, Cynthia’s insistence that Endymion use his reason to reach her atop Mt. Latmus indicates the Platonic concept that Cynthia/Mary lives in ‘the realm of pure reason and expects Endymion to exercise his reason to reach her’, reiterated in Cynthia’s remark on the dark cave, a reference to Plato’s allegory of the cave in Republic VII.46 A last knock at Fauconberg is the dark cave meeting place where ‘none can spy’ (l. 49), an obvious reference to the groom’s request for a private and modest wedding and Mary’s being ‘in the dark’ about much of the marriage negotiations. In meeting Endymion in the cave, Cynthia/Mary appears to acquiesce to her father Jove’s wishes, a reflection of the dutiful Mary Cromwell agreeing to the arranged marriage, unlike her rebellious sister Frances who, referenced as younger sister Venus in the first ‘Song’, enjoys ‘sporting’ in the shade with her new husband Anchises/Robert Rich (ll. 30–32).
The second ‘Song’ not only continues in the pastoral vein of equalizing all as shepherds but also fulfills the purpose of the concluding court masque revels, which comingled actors and audience in a dance, joining the idealized world of the masque with the actual court. Instead of the mythic argumentative wooing of the first ‘Song’, the second skips the typical escorting of the bride to her marriage chamber of the epithalamium and begins with the marriage a fait accompli, with rustics Hobbinol, Phillis, and Tomalin celebrating the match and preparing gifts for the couple. The couple themselves are now not divine but realistically portrayed, with Fauconberg identified as ‘the northern shepherd’s son’, indicating his Yorkshire roots, and Cromwell as Menalcas, a shepherd, not deity, in Virgil’s Eclogues who grows up in the sequence from young shepherd to community leader and often represents Virgil himself.47 Thus even the Lord Protector is joined in humble origins with his fellow shepherds. Present occasions are not ignored, however: Phillis is caught unprepared for gifts, referencing the spontaneous, simple, and improvised aspects of the Fauconberg-Cromwell wedding when Mary did not even have time to inform her brother; and when Phillis wishes to bring a garland of flowers for the couple, she is reminded by Tomalin that it is winter (Mary’s November wedding) and no flowers are available. Though Cromwell is not celebrated as a god, he is praised for having ‘bays enough for all’ (l. 14), a reference to the many honors the Lord Protector has garnered, illustrated in medals portraying him wearing a wreath of bays (ironically imitating similar engravings of Charles I and Henrietta Maria). Thus, rather than opposing idyllic pastoral to the realities of Cromwell’s court, Marvell incorporates pastoral into the court.48
Yet the conclusion of the poem focuses not on Menalcas but the newlyweds, here Damon and Marina. Tomalin praises Marina’s ‘catching’ eyes (l. 18) and ‘curled’ hair (l. 22), while Damon is rather bathetically judged ‘fit’ to handle more than his flock (l. 25). The fact that the shepherdesses were waiting to choose their own mates until Damon made his choice, compounded with the question ‘Who dares be coy?’ (l. 45), again hints at the hesitant wooer Fauconburg. As in allegorical masques like Townshend’s Tempe Restored, heroic virtue and beauty are rewarded with each other—‘virtue shall be beauty’s hire,/And those be equal that have equal fire’ (ll. 43–44).49 And whereas in Spenser’s pastorals, unrequited love often encodes political dissatisfaction, here the concluding chorus of shepherds looks forward to the influence of Mary and Fauconberg, ‘Looking from high’ (l. 38), ‘Whose hopes united banish our despair’ (l. 48). However, with Menalcas remaining absent at the end of the second song, the final lines lack an obvious sense of his endorsement of the match, lack a concluding masque ‘revels’ joining deity and mortals in a final unifying dance, but instead focus on the rustics’ rejoicing in the pair, ‘Whose hopes united banish [their] despair’ (l. 30). Ed Holberton thinks that the final stanza can be seen in some ways as ‘a capitulation for both the Cromwells and the Bellasyses, who fought one another for a decade in the name of the loftiest ideals’.50 However, unlike Marvell’s other dialogues, in which no clear ‘winner’ emerges (in ‘A Dialogue between the Soul and the Body’, the Body has the last word, but not necessarily the prize), in these ‘Songs’, Damon/Fauconberg and Marina/Mary do not even have the last word, do not have any words in this second song but are carried away by the shepherds’ revelry, as Mary was carried away by her father’s marriage negotiations, perhaps making ‘destiny [her] choice’ (‘Upon Appleton House’, l. 744). Marvell’s omission of a final image of the newly-married couple avoids both censure and praise, yet, in a genre like the epithalamium, lack of praise is censure.
V. Epilogue: Later ‘Occasions’
The final anticipation of a future without Menalcas proved prophetic. Frail in health at the time of the weddings, by 3 August 1658, John Thurloe felt the need to express to Henry Cromwell his concern of the effects of Cromwell’s illness:
… the cavaliers doe begin to listen after it, and hope their day is comeinge, or indeed come, if his highnes dye. And truly, my lord, wee have cause to feare, that it may goe very ill with us, if the Lord should take away his highnes in this conjuncture; not that I thinke Charles Stewart’s interest is soe great, or his partie soe powerfull in themselves; but I fear our owne divisions, which may be great enough, if his highnesse should not settle and six his successor before he dyes, which truely I beleeve he hath not yet done.51
According to Venetian ambassador Giovanni Sagredo, after Cromwell dissolved Parliament, he isolated himself, ‘even taking his meals alone’. To help his insomnia, Cromwell’s doctors gave him opium, which weakened him even more. Exacerbating his illness, Cromwell suffered much anguish from the death of loved ones: daughter Frances’s husband Robert Rich and Cromwell’s niece Lavinia Whetstone on 16 February 1658; Rich’s father on 19 April 1658 and grandfather on 18 May 1658 (the latter was a thirty-year friend of Cromwell’s); favorite daughter Elizabeth Claypole and her son Oliver (Oliver in June 1658 and Elizabeth on 6 August 1568).52 Anglican priest Dr. Hewitt, who performed Mary’s marriage ceremony and probably Frances’s, was sentenced to be ‘hung, drawn, and quartered’, along with Sir Henry Slingsby, Fauconberg’s uncle, according to Steven Charlton’s letter to R. Leveson, but he was actually beheaded on 8 June 1658 for the conspiracy against Cromwell in the summer of 1658 in spite of pleas by Mary and sister Elizabeth for clemency.53 At 4:00 p.m. on Friday 3 September 1658, Cromwell died from a condition described as ‘tertian ague’, or perhaps from treatments to cure it.54
Mary Cromwell and Lord Fauconberg certainly moved easily from one regime to the next, with Fauconberg becoming Ambassador Extraordinary to Venice in 1669, Privy Councilor to Charles II in 1679, and receiving an earldom from the Prince of Orange for his aid at the Revolution in 1689. He died in 1700 with many honors. Wife Mary remained popular, like her husband, moving with the times, becoming a great lady both of the Court and of her husband’s northern estates. She remained widowed, childless and outlived her husband a little over twelve years. She was described by a visitor to Sutton Court, the seat of her late husband, as ‘a great and curious piece of antiquity … still fresh and gay though a great age’.55
Marvell also succeeded in the Restoration government, perhaps evidencing that his questionable praise/subtle criticism in all three Cromwell poems worked. When the Parliament of 1660 suggested exhuming Cromwell’s body with three others, Marvell, now an MP for Hull, reported the fact back to his constituents unemotionally, without hint of personal allegiance: the victims ‘shall be drawn, with wt expedition possible, upon an hurdle to Tyburn, there be hangd up for a while & then buryed under the gallows’. He then conscientiously goes on to report the date set for the coronation of Charles II in a manner worthy of a faithful representative of Hull.56 His objectivity here particularly contrasts to ‘A Poem upon the Death of the Late Highness the Lord Protector’ written just a year before, which indicated that Marvell was one of the few people allowed to see Cromwell’s corpse and, thus, on intimate terms with the family. Marvell either canceled or had canceled his ‘A Poem upon the Death of the Late Highness the Lord Protector’ from the 1659 elegiac volume, and though it appeared in the 1681 edition Miscellaneous Poems with both the ‘Horatian Ode’ and ‘The First Anniversary’, all three were removed from almost all editions of his works. No print or manuscript copies of ‘Two Songs’ exist, though the poem was published in the 1681 edition.57
These ‘later occasions’ only further illustrate Marvell’s skillful ability demonstrated in ‘Two Songs at the Marriage of the Lord Fauconberg and the Lady Mary Cromwell’ to adhere to an encomiastic model that acknowledges the shortfalls of its subject. ‘An Horatian Ode’, acknowledged for its ‘genre revision’,58 uses the encomiastic expectations of the Horatian ode to structure a very questionable picture of an ambitious, Caesar-like Cromwell. ‘The First Anniversary’, celebrating the first year of the Protectorate that ‘was notable for a number of crises’,59 also presents conflicting praise and blame, evoking a sense of ‘gravitas’ appropriate for the Protectorate yet ‘struggl[ing] with the burden of putting into pattern what is singular, of suggesting the coherence of time imagined as prophetic and redemptive’.60 ‘Two Songs’ not only equals these acknowledged masterpieces but surpasses them in its success. Through crafting his epithalamic praise of this Royalist Viscount and this Protector’s daughter in a masque of pastoral dialogue, Marvell succeeds in creating an exchange that embodies conflicting classes and ideologies of the time yet sounds to the present occasions of a very personal family event, indicating, to ‘understanders’, a more critical view of the wedding and Cromwell’s own proclivities than the other poems. With this accomplishment setting him apart from other Protectorate and then Restoration writers, ‘Two Songs’ deserves a much more prominent place among Marvell’s important political poems.