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last performance. By the perusal of 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 metrical harmony as he never afterwards much needed, or much endeavoured, to improve. Denham corrected his numbers by experience, 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 subject seems to fix the time, is supposed by Mr. Fenton to be the Address to the Queen, which he considers 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 production 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.
Neither of these pieces, that seem to carry their own dates, could have been the sudden effusion of fancy. In the verses on the Priuce's Escape, the prediction of his marriage 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 he properly praised till it had appeared by its effects, show, that time was taken for revision and improvement. It is not known that they were published till they appeared long afterward with other poems.
Waller was not one of those idolaters of praise, who cultivate their minds at the expense of their fortunes. Rich as he was by inheritance, he took care early to grow richer, by marrying Mrs. Banks, a great heiress in the city, whom the interest of the court was employed to obtain for Mr. Crofts. Having brought him a son, who died young, and a daughter, who was afterwards married to Mr. Dormer of Oxfordshire, she died in child-bed, and left him a widower of about five-and-twenty, gay and wealthy, to please himself with another marriage.
Being too young to resist beauty, and probably too vain to think himself resistible, 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 than 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.”
i Preface to his Fables. Dr. J.
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 bis 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 undubtedly 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 reduction of Sallee; on the Reparation of St. Paul's; to the King on his Navy; the panegyric 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 marTiage is not exactly known. It has not been discovered that this wife was won by his poetry; 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 che whom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many qualities contribute to doEestic happiness, upon which poetry has no colours to bestow; and many airs and sallies may delight imagination, which he who flatters them never can approve. There are charms made only for distant admiration. No spectacle is nobler than a blaze.
Of this wife his biographers have recorded, 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 converse, and enjoying an exuberant fortune with that independence and liberty of speech and conduct which wealth ought always to produce. He was however considered as the kinsman of Hampden, and was therefore supposed by the courtiers not to favour them.
When the parliament was called in 1640, it appeared that Waller's political character had not been mistaken. The king's demand of a supply produced one of those noisy speeches which disaffection and discontent regularly dictate; 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 courtiers, and the exclamations of patriots. He then proceeds to rail at the clergy, being sure at that time of a favourable audience. His topic is such as will always serve its purpose; an accusation of acting and preaching only for preferment: and he exhorts the commons carefully to proride for their protection against Pulpit Law.
It always gratifies curiosity to trace a sentiment. Waller has in his speech quoted Hooker in one passage ; and in another has copied him, without quoting. “Religion," says Waller, “
ought to be the first thing in our purpose and desires ; but that which is first in dignity is not always to precede in order of time; for well-being supposes a being; and the first impediment which men naturally endeavour to remove is the want of those things without which they cannot subsist. God first assiyned unto Adam maintenance of life, and gave him a title to the rest of the creatures before he appointed a law to observe.”
“ God first assigned Adam,” says Hooker, “maintenance of life, and then appointed him a law to observe.- True it is, that the kingdom of God must be the first thing in our purpose and desires; but inasmuch as a righteous life presupposeth life, inasmuch as to live virtuously it is impossible, except we live; therefore the first impediment which naturally we endeavour to remove is penury, and want of things without which we cannot live" Book I. Sect. 9.
The speech is vehement; but the great position, that grievances ought to be redressed before supplies are granted, is agreeable enough to law and reason : nor was Waller, if his biographer may be credited, such an enemy to the king, as not to wish his distresses lightened; for he relates, “ that the king sent particularly to Waller, to second his demand of some subsidies to pay off the army; and sir Henry Vane objecting against first voting a supply, because the king would not accept unless it came up to his proportion, 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 cannot pretend to know the king's mind :' but sir Thomas durst not contradict the secretary; and his son, the earl of St. Alban's, afterwards told Mr. Waller, that his father's cowardice ruined the king."
In the Long Parliament, which, unhappily for the nation, met Nov. 3, 1640, Waller represented Agmondesham the third time ; and was considered by the discontented party as a man sufficiently trusty and acrimonious to be employed in managing the prosecution of judge Crawley, for his opinion in favour of ship-money; and his speech shows, that he did not disappoint 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 thought unconstitutional, particularly injured.
He was not however a bigot to his party, nor adopted all their opinions. When the great question, whether episcopacy ought to be abolished, was debated, he spoke against the innovation so coolly, so reasonably, and so firmly, that it is not without great injury to his name that his speech, which was as follows, has been hitherto omitted in his works.
16 There is no doubt but the sense of what this nation bad suffered from the present bishops hath produced these complaints; and the apprehensions men have of suffering the like in time to come make so many desire the taking away of episcopacy: but I conceive it is possible, that we may not now take a right measure of the minds of the people by their petitions; for, when they subscribed them, the bishops were armed with a dangerous commission of making new canons, imposing new oaths, and the like ; but now we have disarmed them of that power. These petitioners lately did look upon
This specch has been retrieved, from a paper printed at that time, by the writers of the Parliamentary History.' Dr. J.
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 narrower 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 further with a general desire, than may stand with a general good.
“We have already showed, that episcopacy 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 hundred of our laws is desired in these petitions. I have often heard a noble answer of the lords commended in this house, lo a proposition of like nature, but of less consequence; they gave no other reason of their refusal but this, Nolumus leges Anglia mutare : it was the bishops who so answered then; and it would become the dignity and wisdom of this house to answer the people now, with a nolumus mutare.
“ I see some are moved with a number of bands against the bishops ; which, I confess, rather inclines me to their defence; for I look upon episcopacy as a counterscarp, or odtwork; which if it be taken by this assault of the people, and withal this mystery once revealed, That we must deny them nothing when they ask it thus in troops, we nay, in the next place, have as bard a task to defend our property, as we have lately kad to recover it from the prerogative. If, by multiplying hands and petitions, they prevail for an equality in things ecclesiastical, the next demand perhaps may be lex egraria, the like equality in things temporal.
" The Roman story tells us, “That when the people began to flock about the senate, and were more curious to direct and know what was done than to obey, that cominonwealth soon came to ruin : their legem rogare grew quickly to be a legem ferre : and after
, when their legions had found that they could make a dictator, they never suffered the senate to have a voice any more in such election.'
“If these great innovations proceed, I shall expect a fat and level in learning too, as well as in church-preferments: Honos alit artes. And though it be true, that grave and pious men do study for learning-sake, and embrace virtue for itself; yet it is true, that youth, which is the season when learning is gotten, is not without ambition; nor will ever take pains to excel in any thing, when there is not some hope of excelling others in reward and dignity. "There are two reasons chiefly alleged against our church-government.
First, Scripture, which, as some inen think, points out another form. “ Second, The abuses of the present superiors. “ 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 preferment of the church. And as for abuses, where you are now in the remonstrance told what this and that poor man hath suffered by the bishops, you may be presented with a thousand instances 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 humble motion is, That we may settle men's minds berein; and, by a question, declare our resolution, to reform, that is, not to
It cannot but be wished, that he, who could speak in this manner, had been able to act with spirit and uniformity.
When the commons began to set the royal authority at open defiance, Waller is said to have withdrawn from the house, and to have returned with the king's permission; and, when the king set up his standard, he sent him a thousand broad-pieces. He continued, however, to sit in the rebellious conventicļe ; “but spoke," says Clarendon, " with great sharpness and freedom, which, now there was no danger of being outvoted, was not restrained, and therefore used as an argument against those who were gone upon pretence, that they were not suffered to deliver their opinion freely in the house, which could not be believed, when all men knew what liberty Mr. Waller took, and spoke every day with impunity against the sense and proceedings of the house."
Waller, as he continued to sit, was one of the commissioners nominated by the parliament to treat with the king at Oxford; and when they were presented, the king said to him, “ Though you are the last, you are not the lowest nor the least in favour.” Whitlock, who, being another of the commissioners, was witness of this kindness, imputes it to the king's knowledge of the plot, in which Waller 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 sensibility of the king's tenderness. Whitlock says 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 discovered. Waller had a brother-in-law, Tomkyns, who was clerk of the queen's council, and at the same time had a very numerous 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 conversation, imagined, that they found in the majority of all ranks great disapprobation of the violence of the commons, and unwillingness to continue the war. They knew, that many favoured the king, whose fear concealed their loyalty; and many desired peace, though they durst not oppose the clamour for war; and they imagined, that, if those who had these good intentions could be informed of their own strength, and enabled by intelligence to act 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 numbers in a petition for peace. They proceeded 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 a soldier, some martial hopes or projects, which however were only inentioned, the main design being to bring the loyal inhabitants to the knowledge of each other ; for which purpose there was to be appointed one iu every district, to distinguish the friends of the king, the adherents to the parliament, and the neutrals. How far they proceeded does not appear; the result of their enquiry, as Pym declared ?, 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 then, there were tive for them. Whether this was said from knowledge or guess was perhaps never inquired.
3 Parliamentary History, vol. xi. Dr. J.