Lot 554
  • 554

Marvell, Andrew

15,000 - 20,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Marvell, Andrew
  • Autograph letter signed at the head ("Andr: Marvell"), to Sir Henry Thompson
  • paper
Writing in a satirical tone of court gossip as well as Parliamentary and political news, including the admission of Giles Strangways to the Privy Council, the rumor that Lord Arundell of Trerice would be similarly honored, and that "Shaftesbury, Candish, & Dik Nuport are forbidden the Court," one page, 4to, [London], 26 June 1675, integral address leaf with postal markings and red wax seal impression, docketed; seal tear repaired, faint remains where removed from mount. Red morocco folding-box and morocco- backed slipcase.


Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray, 1856-1927, of Dunecht House, Aberdeenshire (Sotheby's, 12 July 2011, lot 24). acquisition: Purchased at the foregoing sale through Bernard Quaritch 

Catalogue Note

"...But Scaramuccio acts in the Hall at Whitehall and every man pays his mony. The Blades in the Privy gardens on Wensday night broke all the cureous Diall to pieces & cut the Sentinell that always attended it..."

Letters by Marvell are exceptionally rare at auction: only three letters, including this, have been sold at auction in the past fifty years.

Henry Thompson of Escrick was a York merchant well known to Marvell through his Popple family relations. The political outlook shared by the two men is evident in the sceptical tone to Marvell's comments on those seeking political office and the unmistakable note of satire when he recounts the frivolities of the royal court. This letter shares two topical references with Marvell's late satire, 'The Statue at Charing Cross," suggesting both were written at a similar date. The presence of a clown at Whitehall was a gift to the satirist, so it is perhaps unsurprising that the news that Scaramuccia (usually anglicised as Scaramouche), the black-masked clown from the commedia dell'arte, was attracting crowds nightly at the palace was also referred to in Marvell's poem. Both texts also mention the destruction of the sundial in Whitehall Palace Privy Garden (an extraordinary pyramidal structure designed by the natural philosopher Francis Line), which was vandalised by the Earl of Rochester in a fit of late-night drunken exuberance.