This article reads Marvell’s ‘Advice to a Painter’ satires in the context of a maritime community under great pressure during the Second Anglo-Dutch war. Marvell parodies courtly representations of naval triumph to expose tensions within the maritime community, which involved the court, navy veterans and maritime institutions which Marvell represented as an MP for the port of Hull. I argue that these poems are shaped significantly not only by the challenges of representing Hull in this context, but also by the parliamentary scripts—here a Commons enquiry into the ‘miscarriages’ of the war—through which maritime communities might gain a hearing in Parliament. The Last Instructions presses questions for the enquiry to answer, and elicits from its readers forensic attention to navy corruption. In this way, Marvell questions and problematizes the relationship between England’s navigation and the national interest, at a time of rapid commercial and imperial expansion.