The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets/Volume 1/Waller

 

EDMUND WALLER was born on the third of March, 1605, at Colshill, in Hertfordshire. His father was Robert Waller, Esquire, of Agmondesham in Buckinghamshire, whose family was originally a branch of the Kentish Wallers; and his mother was the daughter of John Hampden, of Hampden in the same county, and sister to Hampden, the zealot of rebellion.

His father died while he was yet an infant, but left him a yearly income of three thousand five hundred pounds; which, rating together the value of money and the customs of life, we may reckon more than equivalent to ten thousand at the present time.

He was educated, by the care of his mother at Eaton; and removed afterwards to King's College in Cambridge. He was sent to parliament in his eighteenth, if not WALLER. 317 in his sixteenth year, and frequented the court of James the First, where he heard a very remarkable conversation, which the writer of the Life prefixed to his Works, who seems to have been well informed of facts, though he may sometimes err in chronology, has delivered as indubitably certain : “He found Dr. Andrews, bishop of “Winchester, and Dr. Neale, bishop of “Durham, standing behind his Majesty's “chair; and there happened something “extraordinary,” continues this writer, “in the conversation those prelates had

    • with the king, on which Mr. Waller did

“ often reflect. His Majesty asked the “bishops, “My Lords, cannot I take my “subjects money, when I want i t , with “out a l l this formality o f parliament

" “The bishop o f Durham readily answered, “‘God forbid, Sir, but you should

you “ are the breath o f our nostrils.” Where “upon the King turned and said t o the “bishop o f Winchester, “Well, my Lord, “what say you ? ” “Sir," replied the bishop, “‘I have n o skill t o judge o f parliamen “ tary cases. The King answered, “No - - 4 & put 318 WALLER. “put-offs, my Lord; answerme presently.” “‘Then, Sir,” said he, “I think it is “lawful for you to take my brother Neale's “ money; for he offers i t . ” Mr. Waller “ said, the company was pleased with this “answer, and the wit o f i t seemed t o affect “ the King

for, a certain lord coming i n “soon after, his Majesty cried out, “Oh, “my lord, they say you lig with my Lady.” “‘No, Sir,’ says his Lordship i n confu “sion

“but I like her company, because “ she has s o much wit.” “Why then,” says the King, “ d o you not lig with my

Lord of Winchester there *** - Waller's political and poetical life began nearly together. I n his eighteenth year h e wrote the poem that appears i n h i s works, o n “the Prince's Escape a t St. Andero;” a piece which justifies the observation made b y one o f his editors, that h e attained, b y a felicity like instinct, a style which perhaps will never b e obsolete; and that, “ were “we t o judge only b y the wording, we “could not know what was wrote at twen “ty, and what a t forescore.” His versifica tion was, i n his first essay, such a s i t appears i n his last performance. B y the perusal o f - Fair WALLER. 3IQ Fairfax's translation of Tasso, to which, as * Dryden relates, he confessed himself indebted for the smoothness of his numbers, and by his own nicety of observation, he had already formed such a system of metri cal harmony as he never afterwards much needed, or much endeavoured, to improve. Denham correóted his numbers by experi ence, and gained ground gradually upon the ruggedness of his age ; but what was acquired by Denham was inherited by Waller. - The next poem, of which the subječt. seems to fix the time, is supposed by Mr. Fenton to be the Address to the Queen, which he confiders as congratulating her arrival, in Waller's twentieth year. He is apparently mistaken; for the mention of the nation's obligations to her frequent pregnancy, proves that it was written when she had brought many children. We have therefore no date of any other poetical pro dućtion before that which the murder of the Duke of Buckingham occasioned ; the steadiness with which the King received the news in the chapel, deserved indeed to be rescued from oblivion.

  • Preface to his Fables. Dr. J.

Neither 320 WALLER. Neither of these pieces that seem to carry their own dates could have been the sudden effusion of fancy. In the verses on the Prince's escape, the prediction of his mar riage with the princess of France must have been written after the event; in the other, the promises of the King's kindness to the descendants of Buckingham, which could not be properly praised t i l l i t had appeared b y i t s effects, shew that time was taken for revision and improvement. I t i s not known that they were published till they appeared long afterwards with other poems. Waller was not one of those idolaters of praise who cultivate their minds a t the ex pence o f their fortunes. Rich a s h e was b y inheritance, h e took care early t o grow richer, b y marrying Mrs. Banks, a great heiress i n the city, whom the interest o f the court was employed t o obtain for Mr. Crofts. Having brought him a son, who died young, and a daughter, who was afterwards married to Mr. Dormer of Ox fordshire, she died i n childbed, and left him a widower o f about five and twenty, gay and wealthy, t o please himself with another marriage. 7 •

- Being Being too young to resist beauty, and probably too vain to think himself resistable, he fixed his heart, perhaps half fondly and half ambitiously, upon the Lady Dorothea Sidney, eldest daughter of the Earl of Leicester, whom he courted by all the poetry in which Sacharissa is celebrated; the name is derived from the Latin appellation of sugar, and implies, if it means any thing, a spiritless mildness, and dull good-nature, such as excites rather tenderness and esteem, and such as, though always treated with kindness, is never honoured or admired.

Yet he describes Sacharissa as a sublime predominating beauty, of lofty charms, and imperious influence, on whom he looks with amazement rather than fondness, whose chains he wishes, though in vain, to break, and whose presence is wine that inflames to madness.

His acquaintance with this high-born dame gave wit no opportunity of boasting its influence; she was not to be subdued by the powers of verse, but rejected his addresses, it is said, with disdain, and drove him away to solace his disappointment with Amoret or Phillis. She married in 1639 the Earl of Sunderland, who died at Newberry in the king's cause; and, in her old age, meeting somewhere with Waller, asked him, when he would again write such verses upon her; "When you are as young, Madam," said he, "and as handsome, as you were then."

In this part of his life it was that he was known to Clarendon, among the rest of the men who were eminent in that age for genius and literature; but known so little to his advantage, that they who read his character will not much condemn Sacharissa, that she did not descend from her rank to his embraces, nor think every excellence comprised in wit.

The Lady was, indeed, inexorable; but his uncommon qualifications, though they had no power upon her, recommended him to the scholars and statesmen; and undoubtedly many beauties of that time, however they might receive his love, were proud of his praises. Who they were, whom he dignifies with poetical names, cannot now be known. Amoret, according to Mr. Fenton, was the Lady Sophia Murray. Perhaps by traditions preserved in families more may be discovered.

From the verses written at Penshurst, it has been collected that he diverted his disappointment by a voyage; and his biographers, from his poem on the Whales, think it not improbable that he visited the Bermudas; but it seems much more likely that he should amuse himself with forming an imaginary scene, than that so important an incident, as a visit to America, should have been left floating in conjectural probability.

From his twenty-eighth to his thirty-fifth year, he wrote his pieces on the Redućtion of Sallee; on the Reparation of St. Paul's; to the King on his Navy; the panegyrick on the Queen Mother; the two poems to the Earl of Northumberland; and perhaps others, of which the time cannot be discovered. When he had lost all hopes of Sacharissa, he looked round him for an easier conquest, and gained a Lady of the family of Bresse, or Breaux. The time of his marriage is not exactly known. It has not been discovered that his wife was won by his 324 WALLER. try ; nor is any thing told of her, but that she brought him many children. He doubtless praised some whom he would have been afraid to marry, and perhaps married one whom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many qualities contri bute to domestick happiness, upon which poetry has no colours to bestow ; and many airs and fallies may delight imagination, which he who flatters them never can ap prove. There are charms made only for distant admiration. No spectacle is nobler than a blaze. Of this wife, his biographers have re corded that she gave him five sons and eight daughters. During the long interval of parliament, he is represented as living among those with whom it was most honourable to con verse, and enjoying an exuberant fortune with that independence and liberty of speech and condućt which wealth ought always to produce. He was however con sidered as the kinsman of Hampden, and was therefore supposed by the cogrtiers not to favour them. When w WALLER. 32.5 When the parliament was called in 1640, it appeared that Waller's political charac ter had not been mistaken. The King's demand of a supply produced one of those noisy speeches which disaffection and dis content regularly dićtate; a speech filled with hyperbolical complaints of imaginary grievances. “They,” says he, “who “think themselves already undone, can “never apprehend themselves in danger; “ and they who have nothing left can “never give freely.” Political truth is equally in danger from the praises of cour tiers, and the exclamations of patriots. He then proceeds to rail at the clergy, being sure at that time of a favourable audi ence. His topick is such as will always serve i t s purpose; a n accusation o f ačting and preaching only for preferment; and h e exhorts the Commons carefully t o pro vide for their protećion agains Pulpit Law. I t always gratifies curiosity t o trace a sentiment. Waller has i n h i s speech quoted Hooker i n one passage; and i n another has copied him, without quoting. “Reli “gion,” says Waller, “ought t o b e the first “thing i n our purpose and desires; but Y 3 “ that 326 WALLER. “ that which is first in dignity is not always “to proceed in order of time; for well “being supposes a being; and the first “impediment which men naturally endea “vour to remove, is the want of those “things without which they cannot sub “fist. God first assigned unto Adam main “tenance of life, and gave him a title to “the rest of the creatures before he ap “ pointed a law to observe.” “God first assigned Adam,” says Hook e r , “maintenance o f life, and then ap “ pointed him a law t o observe.— True i t “is, that the kingdom o f God must b e the “first thing i n our purpose and desires; & 4 but inasmuch a s a righteous life pre “supposeth life, inasmuch a s t o live virtu “ously i t i s impossible, except w e live; “ therefore the first impediment which na “turally we endeavour t o remove i s pe “nury, and want o f things without which “we cannot live.” The speech i s vehement; but the great position, that grievances ought t o b e re dressed before supplies are granted, i s agreeable enough t o law and reason

nor was Waller, i f h i s biographer may b e cre dited, W.A.L.L.E.R. 327 dited, such an enemy to the King, as not to wish his distresses lightened ; for he re lates, “that the King sent particularly to “Waller, to second his demand of some “subsidies to pay off the army; and Sir “Henry Vane obječting against first voting “a supply, because the King would not “accept unless it came up to his propor “tion, Mr. Waller spoke earnestly to Sir “Thomas Jermyn, comptroller of the “ household, to save his master from the “effects of so bold a falsity; ‘for, he said, “I am but a country gentleman, and can “not pretend to know the King's mind:” “ but Sir Thomas durst not contradićt the “secretary; and h i s son, the Earl o f S t . “ Albans, afterwards told Mr. Waller, that “his father's cowardice ruined the King.” I n the Long Parliament, which, un happily for the nation, met Nov. 3 , 1640, Waller represented Agmondesham the third time; and was considered b y the discon tented party a s a man sufficiently trusty and acrimonious t o b e employed i n mana ging the prosecution o f Judge Crawley, for his opinion i n favour o f ship-money

and his speech shews that h e did not disappoint - Y 4 their 328 WALLER. their expectations. He was probably the more ardent, as his uncle Hampden had been particularly engaged in the dispute, and, by a sentence which seems generally to be though unconstitutional, particularly injured. t - He was not however a bigot to his party, nor adopted a l l their opinions. When the great question, whether Episcopacy ought t o b e abolished, was debated, h e spoke against the innovation s o cooly, s o reason ably, and s o firmly, that i t i s not without great injury t o h i s name that his speech, which was a s follows, has been hitherto omitted i n his works:

“ There i s no doubt but the sense of “what this nation had suffered from the “present Bishops hath produced these “complaints; and the apprehensions men “ have o f suffering the like, i n time t o “come, make s o many desire the taking “away o f Episcopacy: but I conceive i t “is possible that we may not, now, take “a right measure o f the minds o f the peo “ple b y their petitions; for, when they

This speech has been retrieved, from a paper printed a t that time, b y the writers o f the Parliamentary History. Dr. J . “ sub WALLER. 329 “subscribed them, the Bishops were arm “. ed with a dangerous commission of ma “king new canons, imposing new oaths, “ and the like ; but now we have disarmed “ them of that power. These petitioners “lately did look upon Episcopacy as a “beast armed, with horns and claws ; but “ now that we have cut and pared them “ (and may, if we see cause, yet reduce it “into narrow bounds), it may, perhaps, “be more agreeable. Howsoever, if they “be still in passion, it becomes us soberly “to consider the right use and antiquity “thereof; and not to comply farther with “a general desire, than may stand with a “general good. “We have already shewed, that episco “pacy and the evils thereof are mingled “ like water and oil , we have also, in “ part, severed them ; but I believe you “will find, that our laws and the present “government of the church are mingled “like wine and water ; so inseparable, “ that the abrogation of, at least, a hun “dred of our laws is desired in these peti “tions. I have often heard a noble answer “ of the Lords, commended in this house, - o - 46 to 3 3 0 w A L L E R . “to a proposition o f like nature, but o f “less consequence

they gave n o other “reason o f their refusal but this, Nolumus “muture Leges Angliae: i t was the bishops “who s o answered then; and i t would be “come the dignity and wisdom o f this “house t o answer the people, now, with

a Nolumus mutare. “I see some are moved with a number of “hands against the Bishops; which, I “confess, rather inclines me t o their de “fence; for I look upon Episcopacy a s a “counter-scarp, o r out-work; which, i f “it b e taken b y this assault o f the people, “ and, withal, this mystery once revealed, “That we must deny them nothing when they “a/; i t thus i n troops, w e may, i n the next “ place, have a s hard a task t o defend our “property, a s we have lately had t o re “cover i t from the Prerogative. I f , b y “multiplying hands and petitions, they “prevail for a n equality i n things eccle “siastical, the next demand perhaps may “be Lex Agraria, the like equality i n “things temporal. “The Roman story tells us, That when “the people began t o flock about the senate, & 4 and wALLER. 3 3 . © & & 4 & 4 & 4 & 4 & 4 & & & 4 & 4 6 & & 4 & 4 & 4 4 & • 6 & £ 6 & 4 & 4 £ 4 & 4 & 4 and were more curious t o dire&t and know what was done, than t o obey, that Common-wealth soon came to ruin: their Legem rogare grew quickly t o b e a Legem ferre

and after, when their legi ons had found that they could make a Dićtator, they never suffered the senate t o have a voice any more i n such elečtion. “If these great innovations proceed, I shall expect a flat and level i n learning too, a s well a s i n church-preferments

Honos alit Artes. And though i t b e true, that grave and pious men d o study for learning-sake, and embrace virtue for i t self; yet i t i s true, that youth, which i s the season when learning i s gotten, i s not without ambition

nor will ever take pains t o excel i n any thing, when there i s not some hope o f excelling others i n reward and dignity. - “There are two reasons chiefly alleged against our church-government. “First, Scripture, which, a s some men think, points out another form. . “Second, The abuses o f the present su periors. - - f - -

For 332 WALLER. “For Scripture, I will not dispute it in “this place; but I am confident that, “whenever an equal division of lands and “goods shall be desired, there will be as “many places in Scripture found out, “which seem to favour that, as there are “now alleged against the prelacy or pre “ ferment of the church. And, as for “abuses, when you are now in the Re “monstrance told what this and that poor “ man hath suffered by the bishops, you “may be presented with a thousand in “stances of poor men that have received “ hard measure from their landlords; and

  • of worldly goods abused, to the injury

“of others, and disadvantage of the owners. “And therefore, Mr. Speaker, my hum “ble motion i s , That we may settle men's “minds herein; and, b y a question, de “clare our resolution, t o reform, that i s , “not t o abolish, Episcopacy.” I t cannot but b e wished that he, who could speak i n this manner, had been able t o ačt with spirit and uniformity. When the Commons began t o set the royal authority a t open defiance, Waller i s faid t o have withdrawn from the house, and

2 - tC) WALLER. 333 to have returned with the king's permis sion; and, when the king s e t up his stan dard, h e sent him a thousand broad-pieces. He continued, however, t o s i t i n the re bellious conventicle; but “ spoke,” says Clarendon, “with great sharpness and “freedom, which, now there was n o “ danger o f being outvoted, was not re “strained

and therefore used a s a n argu “ment against those who were gone upon “pretence that they were not suffered t o “deliver their opinion freely i n the house, “ which could not b e believed, when all “men knew what liberty Mr. Waller took, “ and spoke every day with impunity “against the sense and proceedings o f the “ house.” . - Waller, a s h e continued t o fit, was one o f the commissioners nominated b y the parliament t o treat with the king a t Ox ford; and when they were presented, the King said t o him, “Though you are the “last, you are not the lowest nor the least “in my favour.” Whitlock, who, being another o f the commissioners, was witness o f this kindness, imputes i t t o the king's knowledge o f the plot, i n which Waller ap 334 WALL-ER. appeared afterwards to have been engaged against the parliament. Fenton, with equal probability, believes that this attempt to promote the royal cause arose from his sen sibility of the king's tenderness. Whitlock fays nothing of his behaviour at Oxford : he was sent with several others to add pomp to the commission, but was not one of those to whom the trust of treating was imparted. The engagement, known by the name of Waller's plot, was soon afterwards disco vered. Waller had a brother-in-law, Tom kyns, who was clerk of the Queen's coun cil, and at the same time had a very nu merous acquaintance, and great influence, in the city. Waller and he, conversing with great confidence, told both their own secrets and those of their friends; and, surveying the wide extent of their conver sation, imagined that they found in the majority of a l l ranks great disapprobation of the violence o f the Commons, and un willingness t o continue the war. They knew that many favoured the king, whose fear concealed their loyalty; and many desired peace, though they durst not op - pose WALLER. 335 pose the clamour for war; and they ima gined that if those who had these good in tentions could be informed of their own strength, and enabled by intelligence to aćt together, they might overpower the fury of sedition, by refusing to comply with the ordinance for the twentieth part, and the other taxes levied for the support of the rebel army, and by uniting great num bers in a petition for peace. They pro ceeded with great caution. Three only met in one place, and no man was allowed to impart the plot to more than two others; so that, if any should be suspected or seized, more than three could not be endangered. Lord Conway joined in the design, and, Clarendon imagines, incidentally mingled, as he was soldier, some martial hopes or projećts, which however were only men tioned, the main design being to bring the loyal inhabitants to the knowledge of each other ; for which purpose there was to be appointed one in every distrićt, to distin guish the friends of the king, the adhe rents to the parliament, and the neutrals. How far they proceeded does not appear ; the result of their enquiry, as Pym de clared, 336 WALLER. clared", was, that within the walls, for one that was for the Royalists, there were three against them ; but that without the walls, for one that was against them, there were five for them. Whether this was said from knowledge or guess, was perhaps ne ver enquired. It is the opinion of Clarendon, that in Waller's plan no violence or sanguinary resistance was comprised; that he intended only to abate the confidence of the rebels by publick declarations, and to weaken their powers by an opposition to new sup plies. This, in calmer times, and more than this, is done without fear; but such was the acrimony of the commons, that no method of obstructing them was safe. About this time another design was formed by Sir Nicholas Crispe, a man of loyalty that deserves perpetual remem brance: when he was a merchant in the city, he gave and procured the king, in his exigences, an hundred thousand pounds; and, when he was drivén from the Ex change, raised a regiment, and command ‘ed it. - - o

  1. Parliamentary History, Vol.

I I . D . J . - Sir WALLÉR. 337 Sir Nicholas flattered himself with ān opinion, that some provocation would so much exasperate, or some opportunity so much encourage, the King's friends in the city, that they would break out in open resistance, and then would want only a lawful standard, and an authorised com mander; and extorted from the King, whose judgement too frequently yielded to importunity, a commission of array, di rečted to such as he thought proper to no minate, which was sent to London by the Lady Aubigney. She knew not what s h e carried, but was t o deliver i t on the com munication of a certain token which Sir Nicholas imparted. - This commission could b e only intended t o l i e ready till the time should require i t . To have attempted t o raise any forces, would have been certain destruction; i t could b e o f use only when the forces should appear. This was, however, a n act pre paratory t o martial hostility. Crispe would undoubtedly have put a n end t o the session o f parliament, had h i s strength been equal t o his zeal; and out o f the design o f Crispe, which involved very little danger, and that VoI. I . Z of ! 3g8 WALLER.

of Waller, which was an ačt purely civil, they compounded a horrid and dreadful plot. - The discovery of Waller's design is va riously related. In “Clarendon's History” it is told, that a servant of Tomkyns, lurk ing behind the hangings when his master was in conference with Waller, heard enough to qualify him for an informer, and carried his intelligence to Pym. A manu script, quoted in the “Life of Waller,” relates, that “he was betrayed by his sister “Price, and her Presbyterian chaplain Mr. “Goode, who stole some of his papers; “ and if he had not strangely dreamed the “ night before, that his sister had betrayed “ him, and thereupon burnt the rest of “his papers by the fire that was in his “chimney, he had certainly lost his life “by it.” The question cannot be decided. It is not unreasonable to believe that the men in power, receiving intelligence from the sister, would employ the servant of Tomkyns to listen at the conference, that they might avoid an act so offensive as that of destroying the brother by the sister's testimony. The i W.A.L.L.E.R. 339. The plot was published in the most ter rifick manner. - On the 31st of May (1643), at a solemn fast, when they were listening to the ser mon, a messenger entered the church, and communicated his errand to Pym, who whispered it to others that were placed near him, and then went with them out of the church, leaving the rest in solicitude and amazement. They immediately sent guards to proper places, and that night apprehended Tomkyns and Waller; ha ving yet traced nothing but that letters had been intercepted, from which it appeared. that the parliament and the city were soon. to be delivered into the hands of the cavaliers. . . . . . . . . They perhaps yet knew little themselves, beyond some general and indistinét notices. “But Waller,” says Clarendon, “ was so “confounded with fear, that he confessed “whatever he had heard, said, thought, “ or seen ; all that he knew of himself, and “all that he suspected of others, without “concealing any person, of what degree “ or quality soever, or any discourse which ‘; he had ever upon any occasion enter Z2 “ tained 34o WALLER. “tained with them ; what such and such

    • ladies of great honour, to whom, upon

“the credit of his wit and great reputa “tion, he had been admitted, had spoke “to him in their chambers upon the pro “ ceedings in the Houses, and how they “had encouraged him to oppose them; “what correspondence and intercourse they “had with some Ministers of State at Ox “ford, and how they had conveyed a l l in “telligence thither.” He accused the Earl o f Portland and Lord Conway a s co-ope rating i n the transa&tion; and testified that the Earl of Northumberland had declared himself disposed i n favour o f any attempt that might check the violence o f the Par liament, and reconcile them t o the King. He undoubtedly confessed much, which they could never have discovered, and per haps somewhat which they would wish t o have been suppressed; for i t i s inconveni ent, i n the conflićt o f fačtions, t o have that disaffection known which cannot safely b e punished. Tomkyns was seized o n the same night with Waller, and appears likewise t o have partaken o f his cowardice; for h e gave I n Otloé WALLER. 34I notice of Crispe’s commission of array, of which Clarendon never knew how it was discovered. Tomkyns had been sent with the token appointed, to demand it from Lady Aubigney, and had buried it in h i s garden, where, b y his direétion, i t was dug up; and thus the rebels obtained, what Clarendon confesses them t o have had, the original copy. - - - I t can raise n o wonder that they formed one plot out o f these two designs, however remote from each other, when they saw the same agent employed i n both, and found the commission o f array i n the hands o f him who was employed i n colle&ting the opinions and affections o f the people, Of the plot, thus combined, they took care t o make the most. They sent. Pym among the citizens, t o tell them o f their imminent danger, and happy escape; and inform them, that the design was “to seize “the Lord Mayor and a l l the Committee “ o f Militia, and would not spare one o f “ them.” They drew up a vow and co venant, t o b e taken b y every member o f either house, b y which h e declared his de testation o f a l l conspiracies against the par Z 3 liament, 342 WALLER. liament, and his resolution to detect and oppose them. They then appointed a day of thanksgiving for this wonderful deli very ; which shut out, says Clarendon, a l l doubts whether there had been such a de liverance, and whether the plot was real or fićtitious. . . . . . On June 11, the Earl o f Portland and Lord Conway were committed, one t o the custody o f the mayor, and the other o f the sheriff; but their lands and goods were not seized. - - Waller was still t o immerse himself deeper i n ignominy. The Earl o f Portland and Lord Conway denied the charge; and there was n o evidence against them but the con fession o f Waller, o f which undoubtedly many would b e inclined t o question the veracity. With these doubts h e was s o much terrified, that he endeavoured t o persuade Portland t o a declaration like his own, b y a letter extant i n Fenton's edition. “But for me,” says he, “you had never “known any thing o f this business, which “ was prepared for another; and there “fore I cannot imagine why you should “hide i t s o far a s t o contraćt your own 5 - “ruin WALLER. 343 “ruin by concealing i t , and persisting un “reasonably t o hide that truth, which, “without you, already i s , and will every “ day b e made more manifest. Can you “imagine yourself bound i n honour t o “keep that secret, which i s already re “vealed b y another o r possible i t should “still be a secret, which i s known t o one “ o f the sex —If you perfist t o b e cruel “ t o yourself for their sakes who deserve i t “not, i t will nevertheless b e made appear, “ere long, I fear, t o your ruin. Surely, “if I had the happiness t o wait o n you, “I could move you t o compassionate both “yourself and me, who, desperate a s my “ case i s , am desirous t o die with the ho “nour o f being known t o have declared “ the truth. You have no reason to con “tend t o hide what i s already revealed— “inconsiderately t o throw away yourself, “for the interest o f others, t o whom you “ are less obliged than you are aware of.” This persuasion seems t o have had little effect. Portland sent (June 29) a letter t o the Lords, t o tell them, that he “is i n “custody, a s h e conceives, without any “charge; and that, b y what Mr. Waller' Z 4 “ hath 344 WALLER. “ hath threatened him with since he was “imprisoned, he doth apprehend a very

  • cruel, long, and ruinous restraint:—

“He therefore prays, that he may not find

“the effects of Mr. Waller's threats, by a “long and close imprisonment; but may “be speedily brought to a legal trial, and

“ then he is confident the vanity and false “ hood of those informations which have “been given against him will appear.” In consequence of this letter, the Lords ordered Portland and Waller to be con fronted; when the one repeated his charge, and the other his denial. The examina tion of the plot being continued (July 1 ) , Thinn, usher o f the house o f Lords, de posed that Mr. Waller having had a con ference with the Lord Portland i n a n up per room, Lord Portland said, when h e came down, “Do me the favour t o tell my “Lord Northumberland, that Mr. Waller “has extremely pressed me t o save my “ own life and his, b y throwing the blame & C . upon the Lord Conway and the Earl o f “ Northumberland.” - - - Waller, i n his letter t o Portland, tells him o f the reasons which h e could urge

+ - - with W.A.L.L. E. R. 345 with resistless efficacy in a personal confe rence; but he over-rated his own oratory; his vehemence, whether of persuasion or intreaty, was returned with contempt. . One of his arguments with Portland i s , that the plot i s already known t o a woman. This woman was doubtless Lady Aubigney, who, upon this occasion, was committed t o custody; but who, i n reality, when she delivered the commission, knew not what i t was. - - The parliament then proceeded against the conspirators, and committed their trial t o a council of war. Tomkyns and Cha loner were hanged near their own doors. Tomkyns, when h e came t o die, said i t was a foolish busines

and indeed there seems t o have been n o hope that i t should escape discovery

for though never more than three met a t a time, yet a design s o extensive must, b y necessity, b e commu nicated t o many, who could not b e ex pećted t o b e a l l faithful, and a l l prudent. Chaloner was attended a t his execution b y Hugh Peters. His crime was, that h e had commission t o raise money for the King

but i t appears not that the money was to - be 346 WALLER. be expended upon the advancement of ei ther Crispe or Waller's plot. The Earl of Northumberland, being too great for prosecution, was only once exa mined before the Lords. The Earl of Portland and Lord Conway persisting to deny the charge, and no testimony but Waller's yet appearing against them, were, after a long imprisonment, admitted to bail. Hassel, the King's messenger, who carried the letters to Oxford, died the night before his trial. Hampden escaped death, perhaps by the interest of his fa mily; but was kept in prison to the end of his life. They whose names were inserted in the commission of array were not capi tally punished, as it could not be proved that they had consented to their own no mination ; but they were confidered as ma lignants, and their estates were seized. “Waller, though confessedly,” says Clarendon, “the most guilty, with incre “dible diffimulation affected such a re “morse of conscience, that his trial was “put off, out of Christian compassion, till “he might recover his understanding.” What use he made of this interval, with what WALLER. 347 what liberality and success he distributed flattery and money, and how, when he was brought (July 4) before the House, he con fessed and lamented, and submitted and implored, may be read in the History of the Rebellion (B. vii.) . The speech, to which Clarendon ascribes the preservation of his dear-bought life, is inserted in his works. The great historian, however, seems to have been mistaken in relating that he prevailed in the principal part of his supplication, n o t t o b e tried b y a Council o f IWar; for, according t o Whitlock, h e was b y expulsion from the House abandoned t o the tribunal which he s o much dreaded, and, being tried and condemned, was re prieved b y Essex: but after a year's impri sonment, i n which time resentment grew less acrimonious, paying a fine o f ten thou sand pounds, h e was permitted t o recolled; himself i n another country. - Of his behaviour i n this part o f his life, i t i s not necessary t o direct the reader's opinion.

Let u s not,” says his last in genious biographer, “ condemn him with “untempered severity, because h e was not “a prodigy which the world hath seldom - “seen, 348 W.ALLER. “seen, because his charaćter included not “the poet, the orator, and the hero.” For the place of his exile he chose France, and stayed some time at Roan, where his daughter Margaret was born, who was afterwards his favourite, and his amanuensis. He then removed to Paris, where he lived with great splendor and hospitality; and from time to time amused himself with poetry, in which he some times speaks of the rebels, and their usur pation, in the natural language of an ho nest man. At last it became necessary, for his sup port, to sell his wife's jewels; and being re duced, as he said, at last to the rump-jewel, he solicited from Cromwell permission to return, and obtained it by the interest of colonel Scroop, to whom his sister was married. Upon the remains of a fortune, , which the danger of his life had very much diminished, he lived at Hall-barn, a house built by himself, very near to Beaconsfield, where his mother resided. His mother, though related to Cromwell and Hampden, was zealous for the royal cause, and, when Cromwell visited her, used to reproach him; WALLER. 349 him; he, in return, would throw a nap kin at her, and say he would not dispute with his aunt ; but finding in time that she aëted for the king, as well as talked, he made her a prisoner to her own daugh ter, in her own house. If he would do any thing, he could not do less. Cromwell, now protećtor, received Wal ler, as his kinsman, to a familiar conver sation. Waller, as he used to relate, found him sufficiently versed in ancient history; and when any of his enthusiastick friends came to advise or consult him, could some times overhear him discoursing in the cant of the times : but, when he returned, he would say, “Cousin Waller, I must talk “to these men in their own way:” and resumed the common style of conversation. He repaid the Protećtor for his favours (1654) by the famous panegyrick, which has been always confidered as the first of his poetical produćtions. His choice of encomiastic topicks is very judicious; for he considers Cromwell in his exaltation, without enquiring how he attained it; there is consequently no mention of the rebel or the regicide. All the former part of 35o WALLER. 27 of his hero's life is veiled with shades ; and nothing is brought to view but the chief, the governor, the defender of England's honour, and the enlarger of his dominion. The act of violence by which he obtained the supreme power is lightly treated, and decently justified. It was certainly to be desired that the detestable band should be dissolved, which had destroyed the church, murdered the King, and filled the nation with tumult and oppression; yet Crom well had not the right of dissolving them, for all that he had before done could be justified only by supposing them invested with lawful authority. But combinations of wickedness would overwhelm the world by the advantage which licentious princi ples afford, did not those, who have long practised perfidy, grow faithless to each other. - In the poem on the war with Spain are some passages at least equal to the best parts of the panegyrick; and, in the con clusion, the poet ventures yet a higher flight of flattery, by recommending royalty to Cromwell and the nation. Cromwell was very desirous, as appears from his con versation, WAI,L.E.R. 35i versation, related by Whitlock, of adding the title to the power of monarchy, and is supposed to have been with-held from it partly by fear of the army, and partly by fear of the laws, which, when he should govern by the name of King, would have restrained his authority. When therefore a depution was solemnly sent to invite him to the Crown, he, after a long conference, refused i t , but i s said t o have fainted i n his coach, when h e parted from them. The poem o n the death o f the Protećtor seems t o have been dićtated b y real venera tion for his memory. Dryden and Sprat wrote o n the same occasion; but they were young men, struggling into notice, and hoping for some favour from the ruling party. Waller had little t o expect; h e had received nothing but his pardon from Cromwell, and was not likely t o ask any thing from those who should succeed him. Soon afterwards the Restauration suppli e d him with another subject; and h e ex erted his imagination, his elegance and his melody, with equal alacrity, for Charles the Second. I t i s not possible t o read, without some contempt and indignation, poems

  • 352

wALLER. poems of the same nature, ascribing the highest degree of power and piety to Charles the First, then transferring the same power and piety to Oliver Cromwell, now inviting Oliver to take the Crown, and then con gratulating Charles the Second on his re covered right. Neither Cromwell nor Charles could value his testimony as the effect of convićtion, or receive his praises as effusions of reverence: they could con sider them but as the labour of invention, and the tribute of dependence. Poets, indeed, profess fiction; but the legitimate end of fićtion is the conveyance of truth; and he that has flattery ready for all whom the vicissitudes of the world happen to exalt, must be scorned as a prostituted mind, that may retain the glit ter of wit, but has lost the dignity of virtue. The Congratulation was confidered as inferior in poetical merit to the Panegy rick; and it is reported, that, when the king told Waller of the disparity, he an swered, “Poets, Sir, succeed better in “ fićtion than in truth.” The Congratulation is indeed not infe rior to the Panegyrick, cither by decay of genius, WALLER. 353 genius, or for want of diligence ; but be cause Cromwell had done much, and Charles had done little, Cromwell wanted nothing to raise him to heroic excellence but virtue; and virtue his poet thought himself at liberty to supply. Charles had yet only the merit of struggling without success, and suffering without despair. A life of escapes and indigence could supply poetry with no splendid images.

In the first parliament summoned by Charles the Second (March 8, 1661), Waller sat for Hastings in Sussex, and served for different places in a l l the par liaments o f that reign. I n a time when fancy and gaiety were the most powerful recommendations t o regard, i t i s not likely that Waller was forgotten. He passed his time i n the company that was highest, both i n rank and wit, from which even his obstinate sobriety did not exclude him. Though h e drank water, h e was enabled b y his fertility o f mind t o heighten the mirth o f Bacchanalian assemblies; and Mr. Sa ville said, that “no man i n England “should keep him company without drink “ing but Ned Waller.” - - Vol. I . A a The 3 5 4 w A L L E R . The praise given him b y St. Evremond i s a proof o f his reputation

for i t was only b y his reputation that h e could b e known, a s a writer, t o a man who, though h e lived a great part o f a long life upon a n English pension, never condescended t o un derstand the language o f the nation that maintained him. I n the parliament, “he was,” says Bur net, “the delight o f the house, and though “old said the liveliest things o f any among “ them.” This, however, i s said i n his account o f the year seventy-five, when Waller was only seventy. His name a s a speaker occurs often i n Grey's Colle&tions; but I have found no extracts that can be more quoted a s exhibiting fallies o f gaiety than cogency o f argument. He was o f such consideration, that his remarks were circulated and recorded. When the duke o f York’s influence was high, both i n Scotland and England, i t drew, says Burnet, a lively reflection from Waller the celebrated wit. “ He said, the “ house of commons had resolved that the “duke should not reign after the king's “ death; but the king, i n opposition t o “ them, s WALLER. 355 “ them, had resolved that he should reign “even in his life.” If there appear no extraordinary livelines; in this remark, yet i t s reception proves the speaker t o have been a celebrated wit, t o have had a name which men o f wit were proud o f men tioning. He did not suffer his reputation t o die gradually away, which may easily happen i n a long life, but renewed his claim t o poetical distinétion from time t o time, a s occasions were offered, either b y publick events o r private incidents

and, content ing himself with the influence o f his muse, o r loving quiet better than influence, h e never accepted any office o f magistracy. He was not, however, without some attention t o his fortune; for he asked from the King (in 1665) the provostship o f Ea ton College, and obtained it; but Claren don refused t o put the seal t o the grant, alledging that i t could b e held only b y a clergyman. I t i s known that Sir Henry Wotton qualified himself for i t b y Deacon's orders. To this opposition, the Biographia im putes the violence and acrimony with A a 2 . - which 356 WALLER. which Waller joined Buckingham's fa&tion in the prosecution of Clarendon. The mo tive was illiberal and dishonest, and shewed that more than sixty years had not been able to teach him morality. His accusa tion is such as conscience can hardly be supposed to dićtate without the help of malice. “We were to be governed by “janizaries instead of parliaments, and are “in danger from a worse plot than that “ of the fifth of November; then, if the “Lords and Commons had been destroy “ed, there had been a succession ; but “here both had been destroyed for ever.” This is the language of a man who is glad of an opportunity to rail, and ready to facrifice truth to interest at one time and to anger at another. - A year after the Chancellor's banishment, another vacancy gave him encouragement for another petition, which the King re ferred to the council, who, after hearing the question argued by lawyers for three days, determined that the office could be held only by a clergyman, according to the act of uniformity, since the provosts had always received institution, as for a o parsonage, WALLER. 357 parsonage, from the bishops of Lincoln. The King then said, he could not break the Law which he had made : and Dr. Zachary Cradock, famous for a single ser mon, at most for two sermons, was chosen by the Fellows. - That he asked any thing more is not known; it is certain that he obtained no thing, though he continued obsequious to the court through the rest of Charles's reign. - At the accession of King James (in 1685) he was chosen for parliament, being then fourscore, at Saltash in Cornwall ; and wrote a Presage of the Downfall of the Turkish Empire, which he presented to the King on his birth-day. It is remarked, by his commentator Fenton, that in reading Tasso he had early imbibed a veneration for the heroes of the Holy War, and a zea lous enmity to the Turks, which never left him. James, however, having soon after begun what he thought a Holy War at home, made haste to put a l l moiestation o f the Turks out o f his power. James treated him with kindness and fa miliarity, o f which instances are given by A a 3 . the 358 WALLER. the writer of his life. One day, taking him into the closet, the King asked him how he liked one of the pićtures: “My “eyes,” said Waller, “are dim, and I do “not know it.” The king said, it was the princess of Orange. “She is,” said Waller, “like the greatest woman in the “world.” The King asked who was that; and was answered, Queen Elizabeth. “I “wonder,” said the King, “you should “think so; but I must confess she had a “wise council.” “And, Sir,” said Wall er, “did you ever know a fool chuse a wise “one o ’ ” Such i s the story, which I once heard o f some other man. Pointed axioms, and acute replies, f l y loose about the world, and are assigned successively t o those whom i t may b e the fashion t o celebrate. When the King knew that h e was about t o marry his daughter t o Dr. Birch, a clergyman, h e ordered a French gentle man t o tell him, that “the King won “ dered he could think o f marrying his “ daughter t o a falling church.” “The “King,” says Waller, “does me great “honour, i n taking notice o f my domes “ tick affairs; but I have lived long enough 6 4 to - WALLER. 359 “to observe that this falling church has “got a trick of rising again.” - He took notice to his friends of the King's condućt ; and said, that, “he “would be left like a whale upon the “strand.” Whether he was privy to any of the transactions which ended in the Re volution, is not known. His heir joined the prince of Orange. Having now attained an age beyond which the laws of nature seldom suffer life to be extended, otherwise than by a future state, he seems to have turned his mind upon preparation for the decifive hour, and therefore consecrated his poetry to devo tion. It is pleasing to discover that his piety was without weakness; that his in tellectual powers continued vigorous; and that the lines which he composed when Ae, for age, could neither read nor write, are not inferior to the effusions of his youth. Towards the decline of life, he bought a small house, with a little land at Cols hill; and said, “he should be glad to “die like the stag, where he was roused.” This, however, did not happen. When he was at Beaconsfield, he found his legs grow tumid : he went to Windsor, where o Aa4 Sir 360 W.A.L.L.E.R. Sir Charles Scarborough then attended the King, and requested him, as both a friend and physician, to tell him, what that swell ing meant. “Sir,” answered Scarborough, “your blood will run no longer.” Waller repeated some lines of Virgil, and went home to die. As the disease increased upon him, he composed himself for his departure; and calling upon Dr. Birch to give him the holy sacrament, he desired his children to take it with him, and made an earnest declaration of his faith in Christianity. It now appeared, what part of his con versation with the great could be remem bered with delight. He related, that be ing present when the duke of Buckingham talked profanely before King Charles, he said to him, “My Lord, I am a great deal “ older than your grace, and have, I be “lieve, heard more arguments for Atheism “ than ever your grace did ; but I have “lived long enough to see there is nothing “in them ; and s o , I hope, your grace “ will.” - - He died Oétober 21, 1687, and was buried a t Beaconsfield, with a monument erected WALLER. 361 erected by his son's executors, for which Rymer wrote the inscription, and which I hope is now rescued from dilapidation. He left several children by his second wife; of whom, his daughter was married to Dr. Birch. Benjamin, the eldest son, was disinherited, and sent to New Jer fey, as wanting common understanding. Edmund; the second son, inherited the estate, and represented Agmondesham in parliament, but at last turned Quaker William, the third son, was a merchant in London. Stephen, the fourth, was an eminent Dočtor of Laws, and one of the Commissioners for the Union. There is said to have been a fifth, of whom no ac count has descended. . . The charaćter of Waller, both moral and intelle&tual, has been drawn by Claren don, to whom he was familiarly known, with nicety, which certainly none to whom he was not known can presume to emulate. It is therefore inserted here, with such re marks as others have supplied; after which, nothing remains but a critical examination of his poetry. “ Edmund 362 WALLER. “Edmund Waller,” says Clarendon, “was born to a very fair estate, by the “ parsimony, or frugality, of a wise father “ and mother: and he thought it so com “mendable an advantage, that he resolved “to improve it with his utmost care, upon “which in his nature he was too much in “tent; and, in order to that, he was “ so much reserved and retired, that he “ was scarcely ever heard of, till by his “address and dexterity he had gotten a “very rich wife in the city, against all “ the recommendation, and countenance “ and authority of the Court, which was “thoroughly engaged on the behalf of “Mr. Crofts, and which used to be success “ful, in that age, against any opposition. “He had the good fortune to have an alli “ance and friendship with Dr. Morley, “who had assisted and instructed him in “ the reading many good books, to which “his natural parts and promptitude in “clined him, especially the poets; and at “the age when other men used to give “over writing verses (for he was near “ thirty years when he first engaged him 2 << self WALLER. 363 “self in that exercise, at least that he was “known to do so), he surprised the town “with two or three pieces of that kind; “ as if a tenth Muse had been newly born “to cherish drooping poetry. The Dočtor “at that time brought him into that com “pany, which, was most celebrated for “good conversation: where he was re “ceived and esteemed with great applause “ and respect. He was a very pleasant “ discourser in earnest and in jest, and “ therefore very grateful to a l l kind o f “ company, where h e was not the less “esteemed for being very rich. “He had been even nursed i n parlia “ments, where h e sat when h e was very “young; and s o , when they were resumed “ again (after a long intermission), h e ap “peared i n those assemblies with great “advantage; having a graceful way o f “speaking, and b y thinking much o n “several arguments (which h i s temper “ and complexion, that had much o f me “lancholick, inclined him to), h e seemed “often t o speak upon the sudden, when “ the occasion had only administered the “opportunity o f saying what h e had tho “roughly 364 VVAI,LER. &G. &4 &4 &G &% 4.% &4 &4 && &4 44. &4 &C && &G &4 && &4 &4 &4 &4 &4 &4 &4 &4 {% &4 roughly considered, which gave a great lustre to a l l h e said

which yet was ra ther o f delight than weight. There needs n o more b e said t o extol the ex cellence and power o f his wit, and plea santness of his conversation, than that i t was o f magnitude chough t o cover a world o f very great faults; that i s , s o t o cover them, that they were not taken notice o f t o his reproach

viz. a narrow ness i n his nature t o the lowest degree; a n abjećtness and want o f courage t o support him i n any virtuous undertaking, a n insinuation and servile flattery t o the height, the vainest and most imperious nature could be contented with

that i t preserved and won his life from those who most resolved t o take i t , and i n an occasion i n which h e ought t o have been ambitious t o have lost it; and then pre served him again from the reproach and contempt that was due t o him for s o preserving i t , and for vindicating i t a t such a price that i t had power t o recon cile him t o those whom he had most offended and provoked

and continued t o his age with that rare felicity, that “ his

  • WALLER.

365 “his company was acceptable, where his “ spirit was odious; and he was at least “ pitied, where he was most detested.” Such is the account of Clarendon ; on which it may not be improper to make `-- some remarks.

“He was very little known till he had “ obtained a rich wife in the city.” He obtained a rich wife about the age of three-and-twenty; an age before which few men are conspicuous much to their advantage. He was now, however, in parliament and at court; and, if he spen part of his time in privacy, it is rea sonable to suppose, that he cndeavoured the improvement of his mind as well as of his fortune. That Clarendon might misjudge the motive of his retirement is the more pro bable, because he has evidently mistaken the commencement of his poetry, which he supposes him not to have attempted before thirty. As his first pieces were per haps not printed, the succession of his compositions was not known ; and Cla rendon, who cannot be inagined to have been very studious of poetry, did not rec - tify 6 366 WALLER. tify his first opinion by consulting Waller's book. Clarendon observes, that he was intro duced to the wits of the age by Dr. Morley; but the writer of his life relates that he was already among them, when, hearing a noise in the street, and enquiring the cause, they found a son of Ben Jonson under an arrest. This was Morley, whom Waller set free at the expence of one hundred pounds, took him into the country as direc tor of his studies, and then procured him admission into the company of the friends of literature. Of this fact, Clarendon had a nearer knowledge than the biographer, and is therefore more to be credited. The account of Waller's parliamentary eloquence is seconded by Burnet, who, though he calls him “the delight of the “house,” adds, that “he was only con “cerned to say that, which should make “ him be applauded, he never laid the busi “ness of the House to heart, being a vain “ and empty, though a witty, man.” Of his infinuation and flattery it is not unreasonable to believe that the truth is told. Ascham, in his elegant description of WALLER. 367 of those whom in modern language we term Wits, says, that they are open flatterers, and privy mockers. Waller shewed a little of both, when, upon fight of the Dutchess of Newcastle's verses on the death of a Stag, he declared that he would give a l l his own compositions t o have written them; and, being charged with the exorbitance o f his adulation, answered, that “nothing “ was too much t o b e given, that a lady “might b e saved from the disgrace o f such “a vile performance.” This however was no very mischievous o r very unusual deviation from truth: had his hypocrisy been confined t o such transa&tions, he might have been forgiven, though not praised; for who forbears t o flatter a n au thor o r a lady ? Of the laxity o f his political principles, and the weakness o f his resolution, h e ex perienced the natural effect, b y losing the esteem o f every party. From Cromwell h e had only his recall

and from Charles the Second, who delighted i n his company, h e obtained only the pardon o f his relation Hampden, and the safety o f Hampden's son. As 368 WALLER. As far as conjećture can be made from the whole of his writing, and his condućt, he was habitually and deliberately a friend to monarchy. His deviation towards de mocracy proceeded from his connection with Hampden, for whose sake he prose cuted Crawley, with great bitterness; and the inve&tive §. he pronounced on that occasion was so popular, that twenty thou sand copies are said by his biographer to have been sold in one day. It is confessed that his faults still left him many friends, at least many companions. His convivial power of pleasing is univer fally acknowledged; but those, who con versed with him intimately, found him not only passionate, especially in his old age, but resentful; so that the interposition of friends was sometimes necessary. His wit and his poetry naturally con neéted him with the polite writers of his time : he was joined with Lord Buckhurst in the translation of Corneille's Pompey; and is said to have added his help to that of Cowley in the original draught of the Rehearsal. The - - WALLER. 369 The care of his fortune, which Claren don imputes to him in a degree little less than criminal, was either not constant or not succcssful; for, having inherited a patrimony of three thousand five hundred pounds a year in the time of James the First, and augmented at least by one weal thy marriage, he left, about the time of the Revolution, an income of not more than twelve or thirteen hundred ; which, when the different value of money is reck oned, will be found perhaps not more than a fourth part of what he once possessed. Of this diminution, part was the conse quence of the gifts which he was forced to scatter, and the fine which he was con demned to pay at the detection of h i s plot; and i f his estate, a s i s related i n his Life, was sequestered, h e had probably contračted debts when h e lived i n exile; for we are told, that a t Paris he lived i n splendor, and was the only Englishman, except the Lord S t . Albans, that kept a table. His unlucky plot compelled him t o sell a thousand a year; o f the waste o f the rest there i s n o account, except that h e i s confessed b y h i s biographer t o have been Vol. I . B . b a bad 370 WALLER. a bad Ceconomist. He seems to have de viated from the common practice ; to have been a hoarder in his first years, and a squanderer in his last. Of his course of studies, or choice of books, nothing is known more than that he professed himself unable to read Chap man's translation of Homer without rap ture. His opinion concerning the duty of a poet is contained in his declaration, that “he would blot from his works any line “that did not contain some motive to “ Virtue.” THE charaćlers, by which Waller intended to distinguish his writing, are spriteliness and dignity; in his smaller pieces, he endeavours to be gay; in the larger, to be great. Of his airy and light produćtions, the chief source is gallantry, that attentive reverence of female excel lence which has descended to us from the Gothic ages. As his poems are commonly occasional, and his addresses personal, he was not so liberally supplied with grand as with soft images; for beauty is more easily found than magnanimity. -- e The 3 WALLER. 37I The delicacy, which he cultivated, re strains him to a certain nicety and caution, even when he writes upon the slightest matter. He has, therefore, in his whole volume, nothing burlesque, and seldom any thing ludicrous or familiar. He seems always to do his best ; though his subjects are often unworthy of his care. It is not easy to think without some contempt on an author, who is growing illustrious in his own opinion by verses, at one time, “To a Lady, who can do any thing, but “sleep, when she pleases;” at another, “To a lady, who can sleep when she “pleases;” now, “To a Lady, on her. “ passing through a crowd of people;” then, “On a braid of divers colours wo “ven by four Ladies;” “On a tree cut in paper;” or, “To a Lady, from whom “he received the copy of verses on the “ paper-tree, which, for many years, had “ been missing.” - Genius now and then produces a lucky trifle. We still read the Dove of Anacreon, and Sparrow of Catullus; and a writer na turally pleases himself with a performance, which owes nothing to the subject. But Bb2 COIIl 372 WALLER. compositions merely pretty have the fate of other pretty things, and are quitted in time for something useful; they are flowers fragrant and fair, but of short duration; or they are blossoms to be valued only as they foretell fruits. Among Waller's little poems are some, which their excellency ought to secure from oblivion; as, To Amoret, comparing the different modes of regard with which he looks on her and Sacharissa; and the verses On Love, that begin, Anger in bassy words or blows. In others he is not equally successful; sometimes his thoughts are deficient, and sometimes his expression. - The numbers are not always musical ; as, Fair Venus, in thy soft arms The god of rage confine; For thy whispers are the charms Which only can divert his fierce design. What though he frown, and to tumultdo incline; Thou the flame - Kindled in his breast canst tame With that snow which unmelted lies on thine. He WALI,E.R. 373 He seldom indeed fetches an amorous sentiment from the depths of science ; his thoughts are for the most part easily under stood, and his images such as the super ficies of nature readily supplies ; he has a just claim to popularity, because he writes to common degrees of knowledge; and is free at least from philosophical pedantry, unless perhaps the end of a song to t h e Sun may b e excepted, i n which h e i s too much a Copernican. To which may b e added the simile of the Palm i n the verses on her passing through a crowd; and a line i n a more serious poem o n the Restoration, about vipers and treacle, which can only b e un derstood b y those who happen t o know the composition o f the Theriaca. - His thoughts are sometimes hyperboli cal, and his images unnatural: - — The plants admire, No less than those o f old did Orpheus' lyre; I f she s i t down, with tops a l l tow’rds her bow’d; They round about her into arbours crowd: O r i f she walks, i n even ranks they stand, Like some well-marshal'd and obsequious band. -- , f B b 3 In 374 WALLER. In another place; While in the park I sing, the listening deer Attend my passion, and forget to fear; When to the beeches I report my flame, They bow their heads, as if they felt the same. To gods appealing, when l reach their bowers, With loud complaints they answer me in showers. To thee a wild and cruel soul is given, More deafthan trees,and prouder than the heaven! On the head of a stag. O fertile head which every year Could such a crop of wonder bear ! The teeming earth did never bling So soon, so hard, so huge a thing : Which might it never have been cast, Each year's growth added to the last, These lofty branches had supply'd The Earth's bold son's prodigious pride; Heaven with these engines had been scal’d When mountains heap'd on mountains fail'd. Sometimes having succeeded in the first part, he makes a feeble conclusion. In the song of “Sacharissa's and Amoret's “Friendship,” the two last stanzas ought to have been omitted. His images of gallantry are not always in the highest degree delicate. s - Then WALLER. 375 Then shall my love this doubt displace, And gain such trust that I may come And banquet sometimes on thy face, But make my constant meals at home. Some applications may be thought too remote and unconsequential: as in the verses on the Lady Dancing: The sun in figures such as these Joys with the moon to play; To the sweet strains they advance, Which do result from their own spheres; As this nymph’s dance Moves with the numbers which she hears. Sometimes a thought, which might per haps fill a distich, is expanded and atte muated till it grows weak and almost eva nescent. Chloris' fince first our calm of peace Was frighted hence, this good we find, Your favours with your fears increase, And growing mischiefs make you kind. So the fair tree, which still preserves Her fruit, and state, while no wind blows, In storms from that uprightness swerves; And the glad earth about her strows With treasure from her yielding boughs. Bb4 His 376 WALLER. His images are not always distinét ; as, in the following passage, he confounds Love as a person with love as a passion: Some other nymphs, with colours faint, And pencil slow, may Cupid paint, And a weak heart in time destroy; She has a stamp, and prints the Boy: Can, with a single look, inflame The coldest breast, the rudest tame. - - His fallies of casual flattery are some times elegant and happy, as that in return for t h e Silver Pen; and sometimes empty and trifling, a s that upon the Card torn b y the Queen. There are a few lines written -in the Dutches's Taso, which h e i s said b y -Fenton t o have kept a summer under cor reëtion. I t happened t o Waller, a s t o others, that his success was not always i n proportion t o his labour. - Of these petty compositions, neither the beauties nor the faults deserve much atten tion. The amorous verses have this to re commend them, that they are less hyper bolical than those o f some other poets. Wailer i s not always a t the last gasp

h e does not die o f a frown, nor live upon a smile. There i s , however, too much love, - and •

o VVALLER. 377 and too many trifles. Little things are made too important; and the Empire of Beauty is represented as exerting i t s influ ence further than can b e allowed b y the multiplicity o f human passions, and the variety o f human wants. Such books, therefore, may b e considered a s shewing the world under a false appearance, and, s o f a r a s they obtain credit from the young and unexperienced, a s misleading expecta tion, and misguiding pračtice. Of his nobler and more weighty perfor mances, the greater part i s panegyrical

for o f praise h e was very lavish, a s i s ob served b y his imitator, Lord Lansdowne: No satyr stalks within the hallow'd ground, } But queens and heroines, kings and gods abound; Glory and arms and love are a l l the sound. I n the first poem, o n the danger o f the Prince o n the coast o f Spain, there i s a puerile and ridiculous mention o f Arion a t the beginning; and the last paragraph, on the Cable, i s i n part ridiculously mean, and i n part ridiculously tumid. The poem, however, i s such a s may b e justly praised, without much allowance for the state o f our poetry and language a t that time. - The 378 wALLER. The two next poems are upon the King's behaviour at the death of Buckingham, and upon his Navy. He has, in the first, used the Pagan dei tics with great propriety; 'Twas want of such a precedent as this Made the old Heathen frame their gods amiss. In the poem on the Navy, those lines are very noble which suppose the King's power secure against a second Deluge; so noble, that it were almost criminal to remark the mistake of centre for surface, or to say that the empire of the sea would be worth little if it were not that the waters terminate in land. The poem upon Sallee has forcible sen timents; but the conclusion is feeble. That on the Repairs of St. Paul's has something vulgar and obvious ; such as the mention of Amphion; and something violent and harsh, as - So a l l our minds with his conspire t o grace The Gentiles' great apostle, and deface Those state-obscuring sheds, that like a chain Seem'd t o confine, and setter him again

. Which the glad saint shakes o f f a t h i s command, As once the viper from his sacred hand. - - - So WALLER. 379 So joys the aged oak, when we divide The creeping ivy from h i s injur'd fide. Of the two last couplets, the first i s ex travagant, and the second mean. His praise o f the Queen i s too much ex aggerated

and the thought, that she “saves lovers, b y cutting off hope, a s “gangrenes are cured b y lopping the . “limb,” presents nothing t o the mind but disgust and horror. - Of the Battle o f the Summer Islands, i t feems not easy t o say whether i t i s intended t o raise terror o r merriment. The begin ning i s too splendid for jest, and the con clusion too light f o r seriousness. The ver sification i s studied, the scenes are diligent l y displayed, and the images artfully am plified; but a s i t ends neither i n joy nor sorrow, i t will scarcely b e read a second time. -

- - The Panegyrick upon Cromwell has ob tained from the publick a very liberal divi dend o f praise, which however cannot b e said t o have been unjustly lavished; for such a series o f verses had rarely appeared before i n the English language. Of the lines some are grand, some are graceful, and 380 WALLER. and all are musical. There is now and then a feeble verse, or a trifling thought; but i t s great fault i s the choice o f i t s hero. The poem o f The War with Spain be gins with lines more vigorous and striking than Waller i s accustomed t o produce. The succeeding parts are variegated with better passages and worse. There i s some thing too far-fetched i n the comparison o f the Spaniards drawing the English on, b y saluting St. Lucar with cannon, t o lambs awakening the lion b y b/eating. The fate o f the Marquis and his Lady, who were burnt i n their ship, would have moved more, had the poet not made him die like the Phoenix, because h e had spices about him, nor expressed their affection and their end b y a conceit a t once false and vulgar; Alive, i n equal flames o f love they burn'd, And now together are t o ashes turn'd, The verses t o Charles, o n his Return, were doubtless intended t o counterbalance the panegyrick o n Cromwell. I f i t has been thought inferior t o that with which i t i s naturally compared, the cause o f i t s deficience has been already remarked. The WALLER. 381 The remaining pieces it is not necessary to examine singly. They must be supposed to have faults and beauties of the same kind with the rest. The Sacred Poems, however, deserve particular regard; they were the work of Waller’s declining life, of those hours in which he looked upon the fame and the folly of the time past with the sentiments which his great pre decessor Petrarch bequeathed to posterity, upon his review of that love and poetry which have given him immortality. That natural jealousy which makes every man unwilling to allow much excellence in another, always produces a disposition to believe that the mind grows old with the body; and that he, whom we are now forced to confess superior, is hastening daily to a level with ourselves. By delighting to think this of the living, we learn to think it of the dead; and Fenton, with a l l his kindness for Waller, has the luck t o mark the exact time when his genius passed the zenith, which h e places a t his fifty-fifth year. This i s t o allot the mind but a small portion. Intelle&tual decay i s doubtless not uncommon; but i t seems not t o be

universal. 382 WAI,L.E.R. universal. Newton was in his eighty-fifth year improving his chronology, a few days before his death ; and Waller appears not, in my opinion, to have lost at eighty-two any part of his poetical power, His Sacred Poems do not please like some of his other works; but before the fatal fifty-five, had he written on the same sub jećts, his success would hardly have been better. It has been the frequent lamentation of good men, that verse has been too little applied to the purposes of worship, and many attempts have been made to animate devotion by pious poetry; that they have very seldom attained their end is sufficiently known, and it may not be improper to en quire why they have miscarried. Let no pious ear be offended if I advance, in opposition to many authorities, that poetical devotion cannot often please. The doćtrines of religion may indeed be de fended in a dida&tick poem; and he, who has the happy power of arguing in verse, will not lose it because his subjećt is sacred. A poet may describe the beauty and the grandeur of Nature, the flowers of the Spring, WALLER. 383 Spring, and the harvests of Autumn, the vicissitudes of the Tide, and the revolu tions of the Sky, and praise the Maker for his works, in lines which no, reader shall lay aside. The subječt of the disputation is not piety, but the motives to piety; that of the description is not God, but the works of God. Contemplative piety, or the intercourse between God and the human soul, cannot be poetical. Man admitted to implore the mercy of his Creator, and plead the merits of his Redeemer, is already in a higher state than poetry can confer. - The essence of poetry is invention; such inventionas, by producing something unex pećted, surprises and delights. The to picks of devotion are few, and being few are universally known : but, few as there are, they can be made no more; they can receive no grace from novelty of sentiment, and very little from novelty of expression. Poetry pleases by exhibiting an idea more grateful to the mind than things themselves afford. This effect proceeds from the dis play of those parts of nature which attract, and the concealment of those which repel, the &) 384 WALLER. the imagination ; but religion must be shewn as it is ; suppression and addition equally corrupt i t

and such a s i t i s , i t i s known already. From poetry the reader justly expects, and from good poetry always obtains, the enlargement o f h i s comprehension and ele vation o f his fancy; but this i s rarely t o b e hoped b y Christians from metrical devotion. Whatever i s great, desireable, o r tremen dous, i s comprised i n the name o f the Su preme Being. Omnipotence cannot b e exalted

Infinity cannot b e amplified

Perfeótion cannot b e improved. The employments o f pious meditation are Faith, Thanksgiving, Repentance, and Supplication. Faith, invariably uniform, cannot b e invested b y fancy with decora tions. Thanksgiving, the most joyful o f a l l holy effusions, yet addressed t o a Being without passions, i s confined t o a few modes, and i s t o b e felt rather than expressed. - Repentance, trembling i n the presence of the Judge, i s not a t leisure for cadences and epithets. Supplication o f man t o man may diffuse itself through many topicks o f persuasion

but supplication t o God can only cry for mercy. 7 - Lé WALLER. 385 Of sentiments purely religious, it will be found that the most simple expression is the most sublime. Poetry loses i t s lustre and i t s power, because i t i s applied t o the decoration o f something more excellent than itself. All that pious verse can d o i s t o help the memory, and delight the ear, and for these purposes i t may b e very use ful; but i t supplies nothing t o the mind. The ideas o f Christian Theology are too simple for eloquence, too sacred for fićtion, and too majestick for ornament; t o recom mend them b y tropes and figures, i s t o magnify b y a concave mirror the sidereal hemisphere. As much o f Waller's reputation was owing t o the softness and smoothness o f his Numbers; i t i s proper t o consider those minute particulars t o which a versifier must attend. - He certainly very much excelled i n smoothness most o f the writers who were living when his poetry commenced. The Poets o f Elizabeth had attained a n art o f modulation, which was afterwards' neg lećted o r forgotten. Fairfax was acknow ledged b y him a s his model; and h e might Vol. I . C c - have 386 WALLER. have studied with advantage the poem of -

Davies", which, though merely philoso 

phical, yet seldom leaves the ear ungratified. But he was rather smooth than strong ; of the full resounding line, which Pope at tributes to Dryden, he has given very few examples. The critical decision has given the praise of strength to Denham, and of sweetness to Waller. - His excellence of versification has some 'abatements. He uses the expletive do very frequently ; and though he lived to see it almost universally ejećted, was not more careful to avoid it in his last compositions than in his first. Praise had given him confidence; and finding the world satisfied, he satisfied himself. - His rhymes are sometimes weak words : so is found to make the rhyme twice in ten lines, and occurs often as a rhyme through his book. His double rhymes, in heroick verse, have been censured by Mrs. Philips, who

  • Sir John Davies, entituled,

“Nosce teipsum. This “Oracle expounded in two Elegies; I. Of Humane Know “ledge; I I . Of the Soule o f Man and the Immortalitie there “ o f , 1599.” R . - - WaS WA.LLER. 387 o was his rival in the translation of Cor neille's Pompey; and more faults might be found, were not the enquiry below at tention. - He sometimes uses the obsolete termina tion of verbs, as waxeth, affe&ieth ; and sometimes retains the final syllable of the preterite, as amazed, supposed, of which I know not whether it is not to the detri ment of our language that we have totally reječted them. Of triplets he is sparing; but he did not wholly forbear them : of an Alexan drine he has given no example. The general charaćter of his poetry is elegance and gaiety. He is never pathe tick, and very rarely sublime. He seems neither to have had a mind much elevated by nature, nor amplified by learning. His thoughts are such as a liberal conversation and large acquaintance with life would easily supply. They had however then, perhaps, that grace of novelty which they are now often supposed to want by those who, having already found them in later books, do not know or enquire who pro duced them first. This treatment is unjust. - Cc2 I.et 388 WALLER. Let not the original author lose by his imi tatorS. Praise, however, should be due before it is given. The author of Waller's Life ascribes to him the first practice of what , Erythraeus and some late critics call Allite ration, of using in the same verse many words beginning with the same letter. But this knack, whatever be its value, was so frequent among early writers, that Gas coigne, a writer of the sixteenth century, warns the young poet against affecting it ; Shakspeare, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, is supposed to ridicule it ; and in another play the sonnet of Holofernes fully displays i t . He borrows too many o f his sentiments and illustrations from the old Mythology, for which i t i s vain t o plead the example o f ancient poets: the deitics, which they introduced s o frequently, were confidered a s realities, s o far a s t o b e received b y the imagination, whatever sober reason might even then determine. But o f these images time has tarnished the splendor. A fićtion, not only detected but despised, can never afford a solid basis t o any position, though some | WALLER. 389 formetimes it may furnish a transient allu fion, or slight illustration. No modern monarch can be much exalted by hearing that, as Hercules had had his club, he has his navy. But of the praise of Waller, though much may be taken away, much will re main ; for it cannot be denied that he added something to our elegance of dićtion, and something to our propriety of thought; and to him may be applied what Tasso said, with equal spirit and justice, of him felf and Guarini, when, having perused the Pasłor Fido, he cried out, “ If he had “not read Aminta, he had not excelled it.” AS Waller professed himself to have learned the art of versification from Fair fax, it has been thought proper to subjoin a specimen of his work, which, after Mr. Hoole's translation, will perhaps not be soon reprinted. By knowing the state in which Waller found our poetry, the reader may judge how much he improved i t . C c 3 1 . Erminia's 390 WALLER.

I• Erminia's steed (this while) his mistresse bore Through forrests thicke among the shadie treene, Her feeble hand the bridle raines forlore, Halfe in a swoune she was for feare I weene; But her flit courser spared mere the more, To beare her through the desart woods unseene Of her strong foes, that chas'd her through the plaine, And still pursu'd, but still pursu'd in vaine. 2. Like as the wearie bounds at last retire, Windlesse, displeased, from the fruitlesse chace, When the slie beast Tapisht in bush and brire, No a r t nor paines can rowse out o f h i s place: The Christian knights s o full o f shame and i r e Returned backe, with faint and wearie pace Yet still the fearfull Dame fled, swift a s winde, Nor euer staid, nor ever lookt behinde. 3• . Through thicke and thinne, a l l night, a l l day, she Withouten comfort, companie, o r guide, [driued, Her plaints and teares with euery thought reuiued, She heard and saw her greefes, but nought beside. But when the sunne his burning chariot diued I n Thetis wauve, and wearie teame vntide, On Iordans sandie banks her course she staid, A t last, there downe she light, and downe she laid. - 4 . Her WALLER. 391 Os: pro -liv) s:

  1. to

4- - Her teares, her drinke; her food, her sorrowings, This was her diet that vnhappie night: . But sleepe (that sweet repose and quiet brings) To ease the greeses of discontented wight, Spread foorth his tender, soft, and nimble wings, In his dull arms foulding the virgin bright; And loue, his mother, and the graces kept Strong watch and ward, while this faire Ladie slept. 5. The birds awakte her with their morning song, Their warbling musicke pearst her tender eare, The murmuring brookes and whistling windes among

Theratlingboughes, andleaues, their parts did beare; His eies vnclos'd beheld the groues along [weare; Of swaines and shepherd grooms, that dwellings And that sweet noise, birds,winds, and waters sent, Prouokte again t h e virgin t o lament. 6 . Her plaints were interrupted with a sound, That seem'd from thickest bushes t o proceed, Some iolly shepherd sung a lustie round, And t o his voice had tun’d his oaten reed; Thither she went, a n old man there s h e found, (At whose right hand his little flock did feed) Sat making baskets, his three sonnes among, That learn'd their father's art, and learn’d his song. C c 4 7 . Beholding 392 wALLER. 7. Beholding one in shining armes appeare The seelie man and his were sore dismaid; But sweet Erminia comforted their feare, Her ventall vp, her visage open laid, You happie folke, of heau'a beloued deare, Work on (quoth she) upon your harmlesse traid, These dreadfull armes I beare no warfare bring To your sweet toile, nor those sweet tunes you fing. 8. . But father, since this land, these townes and towres, Destroied are with sword, with fire and spoile, How may it be unhurt, that you and yours In safetie thus, applie your harmlesse toile 2 My sonne (quoth he) this pore estate of ours Is euer safe from storm of warlike broile; This wildernesse doth vs in safetie keepe, [sleepe. No thundring drum, no trumpet breakes our . 9. Haply iust heau'ns defence and shield of right, Doth loue the innocence of simple swains, The thunderbolts on highest mountains light, And seld or neuer strike the lower plaines: So kings haue cause to feare Bellonaes might, Not they whose sweat and toile their dinner gaines, Nor ever greedie soldier was entised

By pouertie, neglected and despised. 10. O WALLER. 393 IOe O pouertie, chefe of the heau'nly brood, Dearer to me than wealth or kingly crowne! No wish for honour, thirst of others good, Can moue my hart, contented with mine owne: We quench our thirst with water of this flood, Nor fear we poison should therein be throwne: These little flocks of sheepe and tender goates Giue milke for food, and wool to make us coates. II. We little wish, we need but little wealth, From cold and hunger vs to cloath and feed; These a r e my sonnes, their care preserues from stealth Their father's flocks, nor servants moe I need: Amid these groues I walke oft for my health, And t o the fishes, birds, and beastes giue heed, How they are fed, i n forrest, spring and lake, And their contentment for ensample take. I 2. Time was (for each one hath his doting time, These filuer locks were golden tresses than) That countrie life I hated a s a crime, And from the forrests sweet contentment ran, To Memphis' stately pallace would I clime, And there became the mightie Caliphes man, And though I but a fimple gardner weare, Yet could I marke abuses, see and heare. 13. Entised • 394 WALLER. - I3. Entised on with hope of future gaine, I suffred long what did my soule displease; But when my youth was spent, my hope was vaine, I felt my native strength at last decrease; Igan my losse of lustie yeeres complaine, And wisht I had enjoy'd the countries peace; I bod the court farewell, and with content My later age here have I quiet spent. ~ I4. While thus he spake, Erminia husht and still His wise discourses heard, with great attention, His speeches graue those idle fancies kill, Which in her troubled soule bred such dissention; After much thought reformed was her will, Within those woods to dwell was her intention, Till fortune should occasion new afford, To turne her home to her desired Lord. I5. She said therefore, O shepherd fortunate That troubles some didst whilom feele and proue, Yet liuest now in this contented state, - Let my mishap thy thoughts to pitie moue, To entertaine me as a willing mate In shepherd's life, which I admire and loue; Within these pleasant groues perchance my hart, Of her discomforts, may vnload some part.

16. If

16.

If gold or wealth of most esteemed deare,

If iewels rich, thou diddest hold in prise,
Such store thereof, such plentie haue I seen,
As to a greedie minde might well suffice:
With that downe trickled many a filuer teare,
Two christall streames fell from her watrie eies;
Part of her sad misfortunes than she told,
And wept, and with her wept that shepherd old.

17.

With speeches kinde, he gan the virgin deare

Towards his cottage gently home to guide;
His aged wife there made her homely cheare,
Yet welcomde her, and plast her by her side.
The Princesse dond a poore pastoraes geare,
A kerchiefe course upon her head she tide;
But yet her gestures and her lookes (I gesse)
Were such, as ill beseem'd a shepherdesse.

18.

Not those rude garments could obscure, and hide

The heau'nly beautie of her angels face,
Nor was her princely ofspring damnifide,
Or ought disparag'de, by those labours bace;
Her little flocks to pasture would she guide,
And milke her goates, and in their folds them place,
Both cheese and butter could she make, and frame
Her selfe to please the shepherd and his dame,