Page images


Inevitable cause,
At once both to destroy, and be destroy'd;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull'd.

Man. O lastly over-strong against thyself!
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.


Mess. Occasions drew me early to this city; And, as the gates I enter'd with sun-rise, The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd Through each high street little I had despatch'd, When all abroad was rumour'd that this day Samson should be brought forth, to show the people Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games; I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded Not to be absent at that spectacle. The building was a spacious theatre Half-round, on two main pillars vaulted high, With seats where all the lords, and each degree Of sort, might sit in order to behold! The other side was open, where the throng On banks and scaffolds under skymight stand; L'among these aloof obscurely stood. The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice [wine, Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately Was Samson as a public servant brought, In their state livery clad; before him pipes, And timbrels, on each side went armed guards, Both horse and foot, before him and behind Archers, and slingers, cataphracts and spears. At sight of him the people with a shout

Rifted the air, clamouring their God with praise,
Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He patient, but undaunted, where they led him,
Came to the place; and what was set before him,
Which without help of eye might be assay'd,
To beave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd
All with incredible, stupendous force;
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length for intermission's sake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard)
As over-tir'd to let him lean a while
With both his arms on those two massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He, unsuspicious, led him; which when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin'd,
And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd:
At last with head erect thus cried aloud,
"Hitherto, lords, what your commands impos'd
I have perform'd, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld:
Now of my own accord such other trial

I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater,
As with amaze shall strike all who behold."
This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd,
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tagg'd, he shook, till down they came and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this but each Philistian city round,

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

2. Semichor. But he, though blind of sight,
Despis'd and thought extinguish'd quite,
With inward eyes illuminated,
His fiery virtue rous'd

From under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an evening dragon came,
Assailant on the perched roosts
And nests in order rang'd

Of tame villatic fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So virtue, given for lost,
Depress'd, and overthrown, as seem'd,
Like that self-begotten bird
In the Arabian woods embost,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teem'd,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd;

And, though her body die, her fame survives

A secular bird ages of lives.

Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation now Nor much more cause; Samson hath quit himself Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish'd

A life heroic, on his enemies

Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds, to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And, which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear'd,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail

Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame; nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies

Soak'd in his enemies' blood; and from the stream
With lavers pure, and cleansing herbs, wash off
The clotted gore. I, with what speed the while,
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay,)
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy, and funeral train,
Home to his father's house: there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel ever green, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts inroll'd
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high:
The virgins also shall, on feastful days,
Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.

Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt
What the unsearchable dispose
Of highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.

Oft he seems to hide his face,

But unexpectedly returns,

And to his faithful champion hath in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns,

And all that band them to resist

His uncontrollable intent;

His servants he, with new acquist

Of true experience, from this great event
With peace and consolation hath dismist,
And calm of mind, all passion spent.


It was the winter wild,

While the Heaven-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature in awe to him,

Had doff'd her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize :

It was no season then for her

To wanton with the Sun, her lusty paramour.

Only with speeches fair

She wooes the gentle air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw ;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; And, waving wide her myrtle wand,

She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.

No war, or battle's sound,
Was heard the world around:

[blocks in formation]

But he, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;

She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding At last surrounds their sight
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,

A globe of circular light,


That with long beams the shamefac'd night The helmed Cherubim,

To think her part was done,

And that her reign had here its last fulfilling ;

She knew such harmony alone

Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union

And sworded Seraphim,

Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd,
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]


EDMUND WALLER, born at Coleshill, Hertfordshire,


in March, 1605, was the son of Robert Waller, Esq. a gentleman of an ancient family and good fortune, who married a sister of the celebrated John Hampden. The death of his father during his infancy left him heir to an estate of 35001. a year, at that period an ample fortune. He was educated first at Eton, whence he was removed to King's College in Cambridge. His election to parliament was as early as between his sixteenth or seventeenth year; and it was not much later that he made his appearance as a poet and it is remarkable that a copy of verses which he addressed to Prince Charles, in his eighteenth year, exhibits a style and character of versification as perfectly formed as those of his maturest productions. He again served in parliament before he was of age; and he continued his services to a later period. Not insensible of the value of wealth, he augmented his paternal fortune by marriage with a rich city heiress. In the long intermissions of parliament which occurred after 1628, he retired to his mansion of Beaconsfield, where he continued his classical studies, under the direction of his kinsman Morley, afterwards bishop of Winchester; and he obtained admission to a society of able men and polite scholars, of whom Lord Falkland was the connecting medium.

Waller became a widower at the age of twentyfive; he did not, however, spend much time in mourning, but declared himself the suitor of Lady Dorothea Sydney, eldest daughter of the Earl of Leicester, whom he has immortalized under the poetical name of Saccharissa. She is described by him as a majestic and scornful beauty; and he seems to delight more in her contrast, the gentler Amoret, who is supposed to have been a Lady Sophia Murray. Neither of these ladies, however, was won by his poetic strains; and, like another man, he consoled himself in a second marriage.

When the king's necessitics compelled him, in 1640, once more to apply to the representatives of the people, Waller, who was returned for Agmondesham, decidedly took part with the members who thought that the redress of grievances should precede a vote for supplies; and he made an energetic speech on the occasion. He continued during three years to vote in general with the Opposition in the Long Parliament, but did not enter into all their measures. In particular, he employed much cool argument against the proposal for the abolition of Episcopacy; and he spoke with freedom and severity against some other plans of the House. In fact, he was at length become a zealous loyalist in his' inclinations; and his conduct under the difficulties into which this attachment involved him became a source of his indelible disgrace. A short narrative will suffice for the elucidation of this


Waller had a brother-in-law, named Tomkyns, who was clerk of the queen's council, and possessed great influence in the city among the warm loyalists. On consulting together, they thought it would be possible to raise a powerful party, which might oblige the parliament to adopt pacific measures, by resisting the payment of the taxes levied for the support of the war. About this time Sir Nicholas Crispe formed a design of more dangerous import, which was that of exciting the king's friends in the city to an open resistance of the authority of parliament; and for that purpose he obtained a commission of array from his majesty. This plan appears to have been originally unconnected with the other; yet the commission was made known to Waller and Tomkyns, and the whole was compounded into a horrid and dreadful plot. Waller and Tomkyns were apprehended, when the pusillanimity of the former disclosed the whole secret. "He was so confounded with fear," (says Lord Clarendon,) "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 entertained with them.” The conclusion of this business was, that Tomkyns, and Chaloner, another conspirator, were hanged, and that Waller was expelled the House, tried, and condemned; but after a year's imprisonment, and a fine of ten thousand pounds, was suffered to go into exile. He chose Rouen for his first place of foreign exile, where he lived with his wife till his removal to Paris. In that capital he maintained the appearance of a man of fortune, and entertained hospitably, supporting this style of living chiefly by the sale of his wife's jewels. At length, after the lapse of ten years, being reduced to what he called his rump jewel, he thought it time to apply for permission to return to his own country. He obtained this licence, and was also restored to his estate, though now diminished to half its former rental. Here he fixed his abode, at a house built by himself, at Beaconsfield; and he renewed his courtly strains by adulation to Cromwell, now Protector, to whom his mother was related. To this usurper the noblest tribute of his muse was paid.


When Charles II. was restored to the crown, and past character was lightly regarded, the stains of that of Waller were forgotten, and his wit and poetry procured him notice at court, and admission to the highest circles. He had also sufficient interest to obtain a seat in the House of Commons, in all the parliaments of that reign. The king's gracious manners emboldened him to ask for the vacant place of provost of Eton college, which was granted him; but Lord Clarendon, then Lord

Chancellor, refused to set the seal to the grant, alledging that by the statutes laymen were excluded from that provostship. This was thought the reason why Waller joined the Duke of Buckingham, in his hostility against Clarendon.

On the accession of James II., Waller, then in his 80th year, was chosen representative for Saltash. Having now considerably passed the usual limit of human life, he turned his thoughts to devotion, and composed some divine poems, the usual task in


FAIR! that you may truly know,
What you unto Thyrsis owe;
I will tell you how I do
Sacharissa love, and you.
Joy salutes me, when I set
My blest eyes on Amoret:
But with wonder I am strook,
While I on the other look.
If sweet Amoret complains,
I have sense of all her pains:
But for Sacharissa I
Do not only grieve, but die
All that of myself is mine,
Lovely Amoret! is thine,
Secharissa's captive fain
Would untie his iron chain;
And, those scorching beams to shun
To thy gentle shadow run.

If the soul had free election
To dispose of her affection;
I would not thus long have borne
Haughty Sacharissa's scorn:
But 'tis sure some power above,
Which controls our wills in love!

If not a love, a strong desire
To create and spread that fire
In my breast, solicits me,
Beauteous Amoret! for thee.

'Tis amazement more than love,
Which her radiant eyes do move :
If less splendour wait on thine,
Yet they so benignly shine,
I would turn my dazzled sight
To behold their milder light.
But as hard 'tis to destroy
That high flame, as to enjoy:
Which how easly I may do,
Heaven (as eas'ly scal'd) does know!
Amoret! as sweet and good
As the most delicious food,
Which, but tasted, does impart
Life and gladness to the heart.
Sacharissa's beauty's wine,
Which to madness doth incline:
Such a liquor, as no brain
That is mortal can sustain.
Scarce can I to Heaven excuse
The devotion, which I use


which men of gaiety terminate their career. died at Beaconsfield in October, 1687, the 83d year of his age. He left several children by his second wife, of whom, the inheritor of his estate, Edmund, after representing Agmondesham in parliament, became a convert to quakerism.

Waller was one of the earliest poets who obtained reputation by the sweetness and sonorousness of his strains; and there are perhaps few masters at the present day who surpass him in this particular.

Unto that adored dame:
For 'tis not unlike the same,
Which I thither ought to send.
So that if it could take end,
'Twould to Heaven itself be due,
To succeed her, and not you :
Who already have of me
All that's not idolatry:
Which, though not so fierce a flame,
Is longer like to be the same.

Then smile on me, and I will prove Wonder is shorter-liv'd than love.


AMORET, the Milky Way,

Fram'd of many nameless stars! The smooth stream, where none can say, He this drop to that prefers! Amoret, my lovely foe!

Tell me where thy strength does lie? Where the power that charms us so? In thy soul, or in thy eye?

By that snowy neck alone,

Or thy grace in motion seen, No such wonders could be done;

Yet thy waist is straight, and clean, As Cupid's shaft, or Hermes' rod: And powerful too, as either god.


ANGER, in hasty words, or blows,
Itself discharges on our foes;
And sorrow too finds some relief
In tears, which wait upon our grief:
So every passion but fond love,
Unto its own redress does move:
But that alone the wretch inclines
To what prevents his own designs;
Makes him lament, and sigh, and weep,
Disorder'd, tremble, fawn, and creep;
Postures which render him despis'd,
Where he endeavours to be priz'd:

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »