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It is the opinion of Clarendon, that in Wal- fensive as that of destroying the brother by the ler's plan no violence or sanguinary resistance sister's testimony. was comprised; that he intended only to abate The plot was published in the most terrific the confidence of the rebels by public declara- manner. tions, and to weaken their power by an oppo- On the 31st of May (1643,) at a solemn fast, sition to new supplies. This, in calmer times, when they were listening to the sermon, a mesand more than this, is done without fear; but senger entered the church, and communicated such was the acrimony of the Commons, that his errand to Pym, who whispered it to others no method of obstructing them was safe. that were placed near him, and then went with
About this time another design was formed them out of the church, leaving the rest in soliby Sir Nicholas Crispe, a man of loyalty that citude and amazement. They immediately deserves perpetual remembrance: when he was sent guards to proper places, and that night apa merchant in the city, he gave and procured prehended Tomkyns and Waller ; having yet the King, in his exigencies, a hundred thousand traced nothing but that letters had been interpounds; and, when he was driven from the cepted, from which it appears that the parliaExchange, raised a regiment, and commanded ment and the city were soon to be delivered init.
to the hands of the cavaliers. Sir Nicholas flattered himself with an opin- They perhaps yet knew little themselves, bcion, that some provocation would so much yond some general and indistinct notices. exasperate, or some opportunity so much en- “ But Waller,” says Clarendon, “was so concourage, the King's friends in the city, that founded with fear, that he confessed whatever they would break out in open resistance, and he had heard, said, thought, or seen; all that he would then want only a lawful standard, and knew of himself, and all that he suspected of an authorised commander; and extorted from others, without concealing any person of what the King, whose judgment too frequently degree or quality soever, or any discourse which yielded to importunity, a commission of array, he had ever upon any occasion entertained with directed to such as he thought proper to nomi- them; what such and such ladies of great honnate, which was sent to London by the Lady our, to whom, upon the credit of his wit and Aubigney. She knew not what she carried, great reputation, he had been admitted, had but was to deliver it on the communication of a spoke to him in their chambers upon the procertain token which Sir Nicholas imparted. ceedings in the Houses, and how they had en
This commission could be only intended to couraged him to oppose them; what corresponlie ready till the time should require it. Todence and intercourse they had with some minishave attempted to raise any forces, would have ters of state at Oxford, and how they had conbeen certain destruction; it could be of use veyed all intelligence thither.” He accused only when the forces should appear. This was, the Earl of Portland and Lord Conway as cohowever, an act preparatory to martial hostility. operating in the transaction; and testified that Crispe would undoubtedly have put an end to the Earl of Northumberland had declared bimthe session of parliament, had his strength been self disposed in favour of any attempt that equal to his zeal: and out of the design of might check the violence of the parliament, and Crispe, which involved very little danger, and reconcile them to the King. that of Waller, which was an act purely civil, He undoubtedly confessed much which they they compounded a horrid and dreadful plot. could never have discovered, and perhaps some
The discovery of Waller's design is variously what which they would wished to have been related. In “ Clarendon's History" it is told, suppressed ; for it is inconvenient, in the conthat a servant of Tomkyns, lurking behind the flict of factions, to have that disaffection known hangings, when his master was in conference which cannot safely be punished. with Waller, heard enough to qualify him for Tomkyns was seized on the same night with an informer, and carried his intelligence to Waller, and appears likewise to have partaken Pym. A manuscript, quoted in the “ Life of of his cowardice; for he gave notice of Crispe's Waller," relates, that “ he was betrayed by his commission of array, of which Clarendon never sister Price, and her presbyterian chaplain, knew how it was discovered. Tomkyns had Mr. Goode, who stole some of his papers; and, been sent with the token appointed, to demand if he had not strangely dreamed the night before it from Lady Aubigney, and had buried it in that his sister had betrayed him, and thereupon his garden, where, by his direction, it was dug burnt the rest of his papers by the fire that was up; and thus the rebels obtained, wbat Claren in his chimney, he had certainly lost his life by don confesses them to have had, the original it.” The question cannot be decided. It is not copy. unreasonable to believe that the men in power, It can raise no wonder that they formed one receiving intelligence from the sister, would em- plot out of these two designs, however remote ploy the servant of Tomkyns to listen at the from each other, when they saw the same agent conference, that they might avoid an act so of employed in both, and found the commission of
urray in the hands of him who was employed Waller's threats, a long and close imprison. in collecting the opinions and affections of the ment; but may be speedily brought to a legal people.
trial, and then he is confident the vanity and Of the plot, thus combined, they took care to falsehood of those informations which have been make the most. They sent Pym among the citi- given against him will appear.' zens, to tell them of their imminent danger, and In consequence of this letter, the Lords orhappy escape: and inform them, that the design dered Portland and Waller to be confronted; was, “ to seize the Lord Mayor and all the Com- when the one repeated his charge, and the other mittee of Militia, and would not spare one of his denial. The examination of the plot being them.” They drew up a vow and covenant, continued (July 1,) Thinn, usher of the House to be taken by every member of either House, of Lords, deposed, that Mr. Waller having had by which he declared his detestation of all con- a conference with the Lord Portland in an upspiracies against the parliament, and his resolu- per room, Lord Portland said, when he came tion to detect and oppose them. They then ap- down, “ Do me the favour to tell my Lord pointed a day of thanksgiving for this wonder- Northumberland, that Mr. Waller has ex. ful delivery; which shut out, says Clarendon, all tremely pressed me to save my own life and his, doubts whether there had been such a deliver- by throwing the blame upon the Lord Conway ance, and whether the plot was real or fictitious. and the Earl of Northumberland.”
On June 11, the Earl of Portland and Lord Waller, in his letter to Portland, tells him of Conway were committed, one to the custody of the reasons which he could urge with resistless the Mayor, and the other of the Sheriff; but efficacy in a personal conference; but he overtheir lands and goods were not seized.
rated his own oratory; his vehemence, whether Waller was still to immerse himself deeper in of persuasion or intreaty, was returned with ignominy. The Earl of Portland and Lord contempt. Conway denied the charge; and there was no One of his arguments with Portland is, that evidence against them but the confession of the plot is already known to a woman. This Waller, of which undoubtedly many would be woman was doubtless Lady Aubigney, who, inclined to question the veracity. With these upon this occasion, was committed to custody; doubts he was so much terrified, that he endea- but who, in reality, when she delivered the comvoured to persuade Portland to a declaration mission, knew not what it was. like his own, by a letter extant in Fenton's edi- The parliament then proceeded against the tion. “ But for me,” says he, "you had never conspirators, and committed their trial to a known any thing of this business, which was council of war. Tomkyns and Chaloner were prepared for another; and therefore I cannot hanged near their own doors. Tomkyns, when imagine why you should bide it so far as to con- he came to die, said it was a foolish business ; and tract your own ruin by concealing it, and per- indeed there seems to have been no hope that it sisting unreasonably to hide that truth, which should escape discovery; for though never more without you already is, and will every day, be than three met at a time, yet a design so extenmade more manifest. Can you imagine your sive must, by necessity, be communicated to self bound in honour to keep that secret, which many, who could not be expected to be all faithis already revealed by another? or possible it ful and all prudent. Chaloner was attended at should still be a secret, which is known to one his execution by Hugh Peters. His crime of the other sex ?-If you persist to be cruel to was, that he had commission to raise money for yourself for their sakes who deserve it not, it the King; but it appears not that the money will nevertheless be made appear, ere long, I was to be expended upon the advancement of fear to your ruin. Surely, if I had the happi- either Crispe’s or Waller's plot. ness to wait on you, could move you to com
The Earl of Northumberland, being too great passionate both yourself and me, who, desperate for prosecution, was only once examined before as my case is, am desirous to die with the ho- the Lords. The Earl of Portland and Lord nour of being known to have declared the truth. Conway, persisting to deny the charge, and no You have no reason to contend to hide what is testimony but Waller's yet appearing against already revealed-inconsiderately to throw away them, were, after a long imprisonment, admityourself, for the interest of others, to whom ted to bail. Hasel, the King's messenger, you are less obliged thün you are aware of.” carried the letters to Oxford, died the night be
This persuasion seems to have had little effect. fore his trial. Hampden escaped death, perhaps Portland sent (June 29) a letter to the Lords, by the interest of his family; but was kept in to tell them that he " is in custody, as he con- prison to the end of his life. They whose ceives, without any charge; and that, by what names were inserted in the commission of array Mr. Waller had threatened him with since he were not capitally punished, as it could not be was imprisoned, he doth apprehend a very cruel, proved that they had consented to their own long, and ruinous restraint:--He there for ? nomination; but they were considered as maprays, that he may not find the effects of Ma lignants, and their estates were seized
“ Waller, though confessedly,” says Claren- a prisoner to her own daughter, in her own don, “ the most guilty, with incredible dissimu- house. If he would do any thing, he could not lation affected such a remorse of conscience, that do less. bis trial was put off, out of Christian compas- Cromwell, now Protector, received Waller, as sion, till he might recover his understanding.” his kinsman, to familiar conversation. Waller, What use he made of this interval, with what as he used to relate, found him sufficiently versed liberality and success he distributed flattery and in ancient history; and when any of his enthumoney, and how, when he was brought (July 4) siastic friends came to advise or consult him,
before the house, he confessed and lamented, could sometimes overhear him discoursing in the BE
and submitted and implored, may be read in cant of the times : but, when he returned, he
tion, not to be tried by a council of war; for, ductions. His choice of encomiastic topics is Cier
according to Whitlock, he was, by expulsion very judicious; for he considers Cromwell in
from the House, abandoned to the tribunal his exaltation, without inquiring how he atells
which he so much dreaded, and, being tried and tained it; there is consequently no mention of a rete
condemned, was reprieved by Essex; but after a the rebel or the regicide. All the former part of he
year's imprisonment, in which time resentment his hero's life is veiled with shades; and nothing
grew less acrimonious, paying a fine of ten thou- is brought to view but the chief, the governor, thed i
sand pounds, he was permitted to recollect him the defender of England's honour, and the enself in another country.
larger of her dominion. The act of violence by and is a
Of his behaviour in this part of his life, it is which he obtained the supreme power is lightly not necessary to direct the reader's opinion. treated, and decently justified. It was certainly “ Let us not,” says his last ingenious biograph- to be desired that the detestable band should be
er,* “ condemn him with untempered seve dissolved, which had destroyed the church, mured the rest rity, because he was not a prodigy which the dered the King, and filled the nation with tu
world hath seldom seen, because his character mult and oppression: yet Cromwell had not the against included not the poet, the orator, and the hero." right of dissolving them; for all that he had be
For the place of his exile he chose France, and fore done could be justified only by supposing alone #stayed some time at Roan, where his daughter them invested with lawful authority. But kyns " Margaret was born, who was afterwards his fa- combinations of wickedness would overwhelm sines; i vourite, and his amanuensis. He then removed the world by the advantage which licentious ope thi to Paris, where he lived with great splendour principles afford, did not those who have long nerer i and hospitality; and from time to time amused practised perfidy grow faithless to each other. nSo eite himself with poetry, in which he sometimes In the poem on the war with Spain are some unicated speaks of the rebels, and their usurpation, in the passages at least equal to the best parts of the De all fun natural language of an honest man.
“ Panegyric;” and, in the conclusion, the poet At last it became necessary, for his support, ventures yet a higher flight of flattery, by row His crt to sell his wife's jewels ; and, being reduced, as commending royalty to Cromwell and the namonesi he said, at last to the rump-jewel, he solicited from tion. Cromwell was very desirous, as appears
the mi Cromwell permission to return, and obtained it from his conversation, related by Whitlock, of acement by the interest of Colonel Scroop, to whom his adding the title to the power of monarchy, and
sister was married. Upon the remains of a for- is supposed to have been withheld from it partly g toon tune which the danger of his life had very much by fear of the army, and partly by fear of the med bria diminished, he lived at Halbarn, a house built laws, which, when he should govern by the and I by himself very near to Beaconsfield, where bis name of king, would have restrained his autho
When therefore a deputation was sose, andı mother resided. His mother, though related to rity.
Cromwell and Hampden, was zealous for the lemnly sent to invite him to the crown, he, after enger, w to reproach him; he, in return, would throw a have fainted in his coach, when he parted from nt, ados royal cause, and, when Cromwell visited her, used a long conference, refused it; but is said to 2 nights napkin at her, and say he would not dispute them.
with his aunt; but finding in time that she ac- The poem on the death of the Protector seems ted for the King, as well as talked, he made her to have been dictated by real veneration for his
memory. Dryden and Sprat wrote on the same
occasion ; but they were young men, struggling * Life of Waller, prefixed to an edition of his into notice, and hoping for some favour from the Cheir ow Works, published, in 1773, by Perciyal Stockdale. ruling party. Waller had little to expect; he
had received nothing but his pardon from Crom
h, perhar as kept 1
n of arri ld not
d as mes
well, and was not likely to ask any thing from In parliament, “ he was,” says Burnet, “ the those who should succeed him.
delight of the House, and though old said the Soon afterwards, the Restoration supplied him liveliest things of any among them.” This, howwith another subject; and he exerted his imagi- ever, is said in his account of the year seventy nation, his elegance, and his melody, with equal five, when Waller was only seventy. His name alacrity for Charles the Second. It is not pos- as a speaker occurs often in Grey's Collections; sible to read, without some contempt and indig- , but I have found no extracts that can be more nation, poems of the same author, ascribing the quoted as exhibiting sallies of gayety than cogenhighest degree of power and friety to Charles the cy of argument. First, then transferring the same power and piety He was of such consideration, that his reto Oliver Cromwell ; now inviting Oliver to marks were circulated, and recorded. When take the crown, and then congratulating Charles the Duke of York's influence was high, both in the Second on his recovered right. Neither Scotland and England, it drew, says Burnet, a Cromwell nor Charles could value his testi- lively reflection from Waller, the celebrated wit. mony as the effect of conviction, or receive his He said, “ the House of Commons had resolved praises as effusions of reverence; they could con- that the Duke should not reign after the King's sider them but as the labour of invention, and death ; but the King, in opposition to them, had the tribute of dependence.
resolved that he should reign even in his life.”. Poets, indeed, profess fiction ; but the legiti- If there appear no extraordinary liveliness in this mate end of fiction is the conveyance of truth ; remark, yet its reception proves the speaker to and he that has flattery ready for all whom the have been a celebrated wit, to have had a name vicissitudes of the world happen to exalt, must which men of wit were proud of mentioning. be scorned as a prostituted mind, that may re- He did not suffer his reputation to die gradutain the glitter of wit, but has lost the dignity of ally away, which may easily happen in a long virtue.
life ; but renewed his claim to poetical distincThe Congratulation was considered as inferi- tion from time to time, as occasions were offeror in poetical merit to the “ Panegyric:” and it ed, either by public events or private incidents; is reported, that, when the King told Waller of and contenting himself with the influence of his the disparity, he answered, “ Poets, Sir, suc- muse, or loving quiet better than influence, he ceed better in fiction than in truth.”
never accepted any office of magistracy. The Congratulation is indeed not inferior to He was not, however, without some attenthe “ Panegyric,” either by decay of genius, or tion to his fortune ; for he asked from the King for want of diligence; but because Cromwell (in 1665) the provostship of Eton College, and had done much, and Charles had done little. obtained it; but Clarendon refused to put the seal Cromwell wanted nothing to raise him to heroic to the grant, alleging that it could be held only excellence but virtue ; and virtue his Poet by a clergyman. It is known that Sir Henry thought himself at liberty to supply. Charles Wotton qualified himself for it by deacon's orders had yet only the merit of struggling without suc- To this opposition, the “ Biographia” imputes cess, and suffering without despair. A life of the violence and acrimony with which Waller escapes and indigence could supply poetry with joined Buckingham's faction in the prosecution no splendid images.
of Clarendon. The motive was illiberal and disIn the first parliament summoned by Charles honest, and showed that more than sixty years the Second (March 8, 1661) Waller sat for had not been able to teach him morality. His Hastings, in Sussex, and served for different accusation is such as conscience can hardly be places in all the parliaments in that reign. In a supposed to dictate without the help of malice. time when fancy and gayety were the most power- “ We were to be governed by Janizaries instead ful recommendations to regard, it is not likely of parliaments, and are in danger from a worse that Waller was forgotten. He passed his time plot than that of the fifth of November; then, if in the company that was highest, both in rank the Lords and Commons had been destroyed and wit, from which even his obstinate so- there had been a succession ; but here both had briety did not exclude him. Though he drank been destroyed, for ever.” This is the language of water, he was enabled by his fertility of mind a man who is glad of an opportunity to rail, and to heighten the mirth of Bacchanalian assem- ready to sacrifice truth to interest at one time, blies; and Mr. Saville said, that “no man in and to anger at another. England should keep him company without A year after the Chancellor's banishment, drinking but Ned Waller.”
another vacancy gave him encouragement for The praise given him by St. Evremond is a another petition, which the King referred to the proof of his reputation ; for it was only by his council, who, after hearing the question argued
; reputation that he could be known, as a writer, by lawyers for three days, determined that the to a man who, though he lived a great part of a office could be held only by a clergyman, accordlong life upon an English pension, never conde- ing to the act of Uniformity, since the provost scended to understand the language of the nation had always received institution as for a parson. that maintained him.
age from the bishops of Lincoln. The King then
said, he could not break the law which he had the lines which he composed, when "he, for made : and Dr. Zachary Cradok, famous for a age, could neither read nor write," are not inferior single sermon, at most for two sermons, was to the effusions of his youth. chosen by the fellows.
Towards the decline of life, he bought a small That he asked any thing more is not known; house with a little land, at Coleshill; and said, it is certain that he obtained nothing, though he “ he should be glad to die, like the stag, where continued obsequious to the court through the he was roused.” This, however, did not haprest of Charles's reign.
pen. When he was at Beaconsfield, he found At the accession of King James (in 1685) he his legs grow timid: he went to Windsor, where was chosen for parliament, being then fourscore, Sir Charles Scarborough then attended the King, at Saltash, in Cornwall ; and wrote a “ Presage and requested him, as both a friend and a phyof the Downfall of the Turkish Empire,” sician, to tell him, what that swelling meant. which he presented to the King on his birth-day. “ Sir," answered Scarborough, “ your blood It is remarked, by his commentator Fenton, will run no longer.” Waller repeated some that in reading Tasso he had early imbibed a lines of Virgil, and went home to die. veneration for the heroes of the holy war, and a As the disease increased upon him, he comzealous enmity to the Turks, which never left posed himself for his departure; and, calling him. James, however, having soon after begun upon Dr. Birch to give him the holy sacrament, what he thought a holy war at home, made he desired his children to take it with him, and haste to put all molestation of the Turks out of made an earnest declaration of his faith in Chris
tianity. It now appeared what part of his James treated him with kindness and famil- conversation with the great could be rememiarity, of which instances are given by the bered with delight. He related, that being writer of his life. One day taking him into present when the Duke of Buckingham talked the closet, the King asked him how he liked profanely before King Charles, he said to him, one of the pictures : “ My eyes,” said Waller, “ My Lord, I am a great deal older than your “ are dim, and I do not know it.” The King Grace, and have, I believe, heard more argusaid it was the Princess of Orange.
66 She is,'
ments for atheism than ever your Grace did; said Waller, “ like the greatest woman in the but I have lived long enough to see there is world.” The King asked who was that; and nothing in them; and so I hope your Grace was answered, Queen Elizabeth. “ I wonder," will." said the King, “ you should think so; but I He died October 21, 1687, and was buried at must confess she had a wise council.” “ And, Beaconsfield, with a monument erected by his Sir,” said Waller, “ did you ever know a fool son's executors, for which Rymer wrote the choose a wise one ?" Such is the story, which inscription, and which I hope is now rescued I once heard of some other man. Pointed from dilapidation. axioms, and acute replies, fly loose about the He left several children by his second wife : world, and are assigned successively to those of whom, his daughter was married to Dr. whom it may be the fashion to celebrate. Birch. Benjamin, the eldest son, was disin
When the king knew that he was about to herited, and sent to New Jersey as wanting marry his daughter to Dr. Birch, a clergyman, common understanding. Edmund, the second he ordered a French gentleman to tell him, that son, inherited the estate, and represented Ag“ the King wondered he could think of marry-mondesham in parliament, but at last turned ing his daughter to a falling church.” “ The quaker. William, the third son, was a merKing,” said Waller, “ does me great honour, in chant in London. Stephen, the fourth, was taking notice of my domestic affairs; but I have an eminent doctor of laws, and one of the comlived long enough to observe, that this falling missioners for the Union. There is said to have church has got a trick of rising again.
been a fifth, of whom no account has descended. He took notice to his friends of the King's The character of Waller, both moral and inconduct; and said, that “ he would be left like tellectual, has been drawn by Clarendon, to a whale upon the strand.” Whether he was whom he was familiarly known, with nicety, privy to any of the transactions which ended in which certainly none to whom he was not known the Revolution, is not known. His heir joined can presume to emulate. It is therefore inserted the Prince of Orange.
here, with such remarks as others have supHaving now attained an age beyond which plied; after which, nothing remains but a the laws of nature seldom suffer life to be ex- critical examination of his poetry. tended, otherwise than by a future state, he “ Edmund Waller,” says Clarendon, “ was seems to have turned his mind upon preparation born to a very fair estate, by the parsimony or for the decisive hour, and therefore consecrated frugality of a wise father and mother : and he his poetry to devotion. It is pleasing to discover thought it so commendable an advantage, that that his piety was without weakness; that his he resolved to improve it with his utmost care, intellectual powers continued vigorous : and that' upon which in his nature he was too much