Before he was eighteen, Waller had made and could chant their virtues in the most his début in poetry and parliament both. At mellifluous strains; but do not demand from eighty-two he still courted the Muses, and the complaisant poet the practical earnestness still wrote himself M. P. In the interval, of his kinsmen, any more than you would chances and changes there were too decisive from grim Oliver the saraband lines on not to put the veriest trimmer on his mettle; Chloris and Hylas, or the gallant addresses convulsions of a sufficiently sub-surface kind; to Amoret and Saccharissa. And after all, revolutions not at all of the rose-water hue and if Waller was not a strong-minded man, let strength. But, with one unfortunate excep- us not regard him as altogether an unprincition, Edmund Waller kept his political barque, pled one, or as one devoid of heart and conas he did his versification, in smooth water, tent to have it so. Convictions he had, but and was as little obliged ab extrà as he was they were mild, and shrunk from the rude disposed ab intrà, to rough it. He was on handling of robust objectors. Principles he good terms with himself, and sought to main had, but of no aggressive or stubborn sort. tain the same happy understanding with all He could speak out on occasion, but then sorts and degrees of men, in an age certainly he hated a noise, and as a man of taste was diversified by men of all sorts and every de- shocked at, and speedily checked himself, gree. He was a man of the world, and like when his voice was heightening its key and Macklin's the Man of the World, he kept swelling its tone. So that when he played bowing. Was the British Solomon on the the lion, he only so far aggravated his voice throne? Waller bowed-made a leg as he as to roar you as gently as any sucking dove spouted his verses or his speeches-was-he would roar you and 'twere any nightindazzled by the blaze of that peerless royalty, gale. In the agitating session of 1640, when and blessed himself above the Queen of the Commons refused supplies until their Sheba. Was it Charles the Martyr who catalogue of grievances had been dealt with, wore the crown? Waller bowed, and hymn- Waller's "intimate connection with Hamped his praises in lofty strokes of hyperbole den," in the words of Mr. Bell,* " encouraged and liberal compliments from the Pantheon. the expectation that he would take the popuDid Cromwell sway his country's destinies? lar side," and inveigh with a will against Waller bowed as low as ever-was it not ship-money, monopolies, innovations in relighis own "cousin" and his country's Protec- ion, breaches of privilege, and "star-chamtor?-and sang and lauded his name in better ber business." And be it fairly recorded voice and more swelling numbers than he had that Waller did, on this occasion, speak up done the two Stuarts that had been, or would for his order, and defend the postponement do the two that were to come. When these of supplies to discussion of grievances. At latter came, he still bowed; his spinal column the same time he sought to abate the strife was as flexible under old Rowley as under of tongues, and to infuse or restore an eleold Noll, his courtiership was equally grace- ment of respect towards the king, by the ful whether practiced among the regicides of respectful moderation with which he referred his middle age, or the high church-and-king to Charles himself-dexterously shifting the men of his octogenarian days. He would not, blame of arbitrary practices from most excelwe may be sure, have been a non-juror, had lent majesty to most reverend episcopacy, he lived a year or two longer, but would from the crowned head of the prince to the have made his best bow to great Nassau, lawny shoulders of the bishops. Dr. Johnand would have paid him some more graceful son calls this oration of Waller's flattery than did Dryden in designing the those noisy speeches which disaffection nose of the pious Eneas. and discontent regularly dictate; a speech filled with hyperbolica! complaints of imaginary grievances..... His topic is such as will always serve its purpose: an accusation [against the clergy] of acting and preaching only for preferment; and he ex


one of

If time and tide could not wait for Waller, Waller at the least could wait upon them. The time was out of joint; the tide was high and boisterous, the spring-tide of a sea of troubles. But if the time was out of joint, our gentle Edmund was not born to set it right; nor was it for him to take arms against that sea of troubles, and by opposing end them. He was not of the same mould

with his cousin Hampden, and his cousin Cromwell. He could admire them very much when their star was in the ascendant,

* Poetical Works of Edmund Waller. Edited by Robert Bell. London: John W. Parker and Son. 1854. Forming a volume of the "Annotated Edition of the English Poets," and very able are the annotations, and very praiseworthy the editing of this monthly series, as the reader, let us hope, is by purchase and perusal monthly convinced.

horts the Commons carefully to provide for their 'protection against pulpit law.'"* Yet there is nothing, Mr. Bell contends, in the speech more palpable than its freedom from exaggeration, and its loyal desire to reconcile the king and the parliament, just as there is nothing in history more certain than that the grievances complained of were real. Johnson elsewhere allows that Waller was above compliance in all things with the popular side, and that in the debate as to the abolition of episcopacy, he, so lately the assailant of the church party, spoke with exemplary coolness, reason, and firmness, against the abolitionists. Clarendon testifies to the great "sharpness and freedom" with which Waller opposed the majority, in subsequent proceedings, and says that "all men knew what liberty Mr. Waller took, and spoke every day with impunity against the sense and proceedings of the House." But he seems to have been believed all the while, by the House itself, to be acting a part-at least to be, in effect, radically at one with the Parliamentarians-as was signified by his being appointed one of the commissioners to treat for peace with the king, after the battle of Edgehill. At the royal interview, a civil remark from Charles "so deeply affected the poet, that, according to Whitelock, he then and there formed the resolve to engage in what is celebrated as "Waller's Plot;" while Fenton's story is, that he had already so committed himself, and that the king's words were meant to intimate bis acquaintance with, and gratitude for, the design.


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As Lord William Russell's "plot" became involved in its results with one of a very different kind, so Waller's "plot," the object of which was to reinstate Charles by moral, not physical force, became entangled with one by Crispe, whose purpose was to use physical force as soon and as liberally as ever he could command it. Parallel straight lines in geometry never meet. But parallel crooked plots in politics very commonly meet, and that to their mutual discomfiture. The public are not scrupulous to discriminate in such cases between the physical force party and the moral force. It is easier to identify than to dissect; and thus the mild congress of confederates is confounded with the perilous nest of conspirators. Waller was not a conspirator; he was only a quiet confederate. Happily, in the sequel, he was treated accord

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|ingly; others of the confederacy were executed in front of their own houses, but Waller, first by getting his trial put off, then by appealing from the military tribunal to the House of Commons, and lastly by the artful style of his defence, or rather submission, (not forgetting a "matter" of thirty thousand pounds in bribes,) managed to save his head, and was let off with a fine of ten thousand pounds and banishment for life. This affair, however, it is, on account of which those who scorn Edmund Waller claim their right to scorn him. He and his brother-in-law, Tomkyns, his right-handed man in the plot, when the plot was discovered, with abject haste protested their forwardness to confess not only whatever they knew, but whatever they suspected in the case of others. In the hope of thereby securing their own immunity, they sowed broadcast on this side and that, charges of conspiracy and imputations of bad faith. Waller was ready to play the informer ad libitum. He named the Earl of Portland, and that peer was put in custody of the mayor. He named Lord Conway, and his lordship was handed over to the sheriff. Against neither was there any evidence but Waller's, and after durance vile and long, they were both admitted to bail. He named the Earl of Northumberland, but him the parliament was afraid to meddle with. Then he offered to give to parliament a full and particular account of the private conversation of titled ladies, to whose confidence he had won his way by the prestige of poetry and wit; to tell how they corresponded with malignants, through what channels, to what extent, with what ulterior designs. "In plain terms," says his latest biographer, "he offered to turn informer against all those who had imposed implicit trust in his integrity, expecting thereby his own safety, which is said to have been promised him by Pym." And this treachery, Mr. Bell justly adds, was all the more despicable, because it was gratuitous and unnecessary; for the parliament knew little or nothing definite of the plot, except the information acquired from these voluntary confessions. As for his own narrow escape, royalists and republicans agree to record it with contempt. "Waller, though confessedly," says Clarendon, "the most guilty, with incredible dissimulation acted such a remorse of conscience, that his trial was put off, out of Christian compassion, till he might recover his understanding." "Waller, for being more knave than the rest," says Lucy Hutchinson, "and impeaching his accomplices, was permitted to buy his life for

ten thousand pounds." Broken and battered | disgrace of such a vile performance." There in mind, body, and estate, Waller betook him- needed not, however, any such illustration self to foreign parts; residing for some time of the poet's insincerity in glosing eulogies. at Rouen, and thence removing to Paris, We feel as we read that he could not feel as where he seems to have speedily recruited he wrote. One touch of nature, one outbreak his strength and spirits, and kept up a table of the heart, one sigh from the depths,-how the profusion of which involved him in some many dozen pages of his you may turn over, pecuniary straits. He now obtained leave how many score of versicles of his you may from Cromwell to return to England, and examine, before you meet with that! spent his remaining years* in poesy and par- Despite his shallow-heartedness, however, asitism, peace and plenty. His courtiership, despite his proved readiness to turn informer chameleon-like, took its hue and cry from against coroneted Chloris and Galatea, after whatever power it fastened on for the time be- their ladyships had admitted him into their ing; in its essence there was an absolute same- boudoirs, as freely as they admitted their own ness, in its accidents a signal variety; with espoused, duly coroneted, and dearly beloved constancy the most admirable it glorified Oli- Sylvanders and Damons,-Waller was yet, ver, and Charles, and James; with inconstancy and continued to the end of the chapter, a the most exquisite it transferred its passion general favorite, uncommonly well "received" from the one to other. A courtier was Ed-in society. There were attractive social qualmund Waller to the backbone; the facileities about the man. He loved to have around princeps of his day in polite adulation and his table gatherings of the gay world, and elegant complimentary verses,-bubble-like, cheerily discussed his glass of water, while sparkling and very hollow, Kings, dukes, the rest of the company were pretty far duchesses, countesses, all were treated with advanced in what the late Dr. Maginn used similar grace and thin superficial polish. to call "civilation."* Pottle-deep roisRightly says old Samuel Johnson, that nei- terers delighted in the radiant fancies and ther Cromwell nor Charles could value Wal- conversational spirits of the urbane waterler's panegyric as the effect of conviction, or drinker, whose sallies came forth as fast, and receive his praises as effusions of reverence: told as well, as if they had been inspired by "he that has flattery ready for all whom the the best of frolic wine. If not a boon comvicissitudes of the world happen to exalt, must panion himself, he was the best of company be scorned as a prostituted mind, that may for boon companions. Mr. Savill, a wellretain the glitter of wit, but has lost the dig-soaked wine bibber of the day, with a pronity of virtue." Clarendon imputes to our found distaste for water drinkers in general, supple minstrel a habit of "insinuation and had a mighty kindness for Ned Waller in parservile flattery to the height the vainest and ticular; no man in England, he swore, should most imperious nature could be contented keep him company without drinking but Ned with." The extent of that flattery, and its Waller. There he sat, the ambrosial-wigged utter hollowness, were memorably shown old gentleman-keeping the table, not in a when Waller declared, after inspecting the roar, but in the sprightliest humor-his "full Duchess of Newcastle's verses on the Death eye," as gossip Aubry says, "popping out of a Stag, that he would have given all his and working" restlessly, as a pleasurable flush own compositions to have written them; then, tinted his "fair thin skin," and animated in reply to a remonstrance on the exaggera- anew that pensive "oval face, somewhat of tion of this compliment, assuring the remon- an olivaster," while pleasant complacency strant, that "nothing was too much to be smoothed for a space the teeming wrinkles given that a lady might be saved from the of his high forehead. Clarendon, who had no kindness for him, and there was no love lost between them,-declares that the excellence and power of his wit, and pleasantness of his conversation, quite availed to cover a world of very great faults-that these winning qualities preserved his life (at the time of the Tomkyns and Crispe plots) from those who were most resolved to take it, and then preserved him again from the reproach and

* It was believed that at the very close of his career, when already his eightieth year was come and gone, Waller had the independence and the spirit to make a determined stand in parliament against James's absolutism. That belief has been dispelled, unwillingly, by Mr. Macaulay. The speech on the occasion referred to, which had been ascribed to Waller, turns out to have been really made by a Mr. Windham. "It was with some concern," says the historian, "that I found myself forced to give up the belief that the last words uttered in public by Waller were so honorable to him."-Macaulay: Hist. of Eng., ii. 24, note, 9th edition.

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* Civilation-by syncope, i. e., says De Quincey, by hiccough, for "civilization."

contempt due to him for the means and manner of his escape-and that they "continued to his age, with that rare felicity, that his company was acceptable where his spirit was odious; and he was at least pitied where he was most detested." Some of his mots and repartees are to this day as well known, as in his they were highly relished. For example, the answer to Charles II., when his Majesty twitted Waller with the inferiority of his "Congratulation" to his "Panegyric" on Cromwell: "Poets, sir, succeed better in fiction than in truth." Or his reply when told that James II. "wondered he could think of marrying his daughter to a falling Church" the lady being betrothed to Dr. Birch, a clergyman of the establishment: "The king does me great honor in taking notice of my domestic affairs; but I have lived long enough to observe that this falling church has got a trick of rising again." The fatal policy of James was commented on by Waller with the remark, that "he would be left like a whale upon the strand." In a conversation with Jantes himself, when Waller incidentally named Queen Elizabeth as "the greatest woman in the world," "I wonder," said the king, "you should think so; but I must confess she had a wise council." "And, sir," said Waller, "did you ever know a fool choose a wise one?" His pointed sayings in parlia. ment were eagerly caught at within doors, and sure of an extraordinary run without. Honorable members, when they saw the venerable Father of the House on his legs, counted as expectantly on something piquant as, in the present day, their successors do, when the Speaker has called on Mr. Henry Drummond or (not to be one-sided) Mr. Bernal Osborne. Bishop Burnet assures us Waller was the " delight of the house, and, though old, said the liveliest things of any among them." Touching Duke James's influence in his brother's lifetime, "Waller, the celebrated wit," observed, that the House of Commons had resolved the duke should not reign after the king's death; but the king, in opposition to them, had resolved he should reign even in his life. An earlier parliamentary mot of his, respecting a motion that recruits in the parliament troops should, as a sine quâ non, be "faithfull and skilfull riders,' is quoted by Mr. Cunningham from L'Estrange: "It is most necessary," said the poet, when pressed to speak to the motion, "that riders be faithfull least they runne away with their horses, and skilfull least their horses runne away with them." Burnet was probably right, however, when he alleged

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that Waller, in his performances on the Westminster stage, was only concerned to say that which should make him be applauded; and that "he never laid the business of the house to heart, being a vain and empty, though a witty man." Vanity and emptiness underlie the wit of his verses, as well as of his life and conversation.

For Johnson has done him no wrong in say ing that Waller, as a poet, is never pathetic and very rarely sublime; that the general character of his poetry is elegance and gaiety; and that he seems neither to have had a mind much elevated by nature nor amplified by learning. His behavior in the Saccharissa affaire de cœur testifies to the qualities of his caur-to its want of depth, warmth, and healthy action. The reproaches he heaps on her, in the lines "At Penshurst." when about to become the bride of another, must have strengthened Saccharissa's aversion from the idea of mating with a man of his disposition.* Mr. Bell remarks that he resigned himself to his fate, on this occasion, much in the manner of a man of easy gallantry in one of Etherege's comedies-writing a letter stuffed with coarse raillery to Saccharissa's sister, which "strikingly illustrates the elasticity of spirit with which the vicissitudes of love were endured in those days." Adulation conveyed in fluent metre and easy rhymes, this Waller could do con amore, and to the satisfaction of princes, peers, potentates and patrons in general. He weighs the first Charles's good deeds against King David's-Charles being then but a giddy juvenal, just returned from his Spanish adventures,-and of course King David kicks the beam. He compares with Solomon's the "ships and buildings" perfected by Charles, and almost pities the Queen of Sheba. He is thankful that Henrietta Maria, the Queen of Britain, and the Queen of Love, moves in a sphere high enough to save the world from conflagration by the glance of her peerless eye. He is most thankful that Heaven sent, in the person of Cromwell, the "only cure" for England's disasters, "so much power and piety in one"-Cromwell, whose "private life did a just pattern give, how fathers, husbands, pious sons should live," whose

flaming courage," and whose "matchless worth" dazzled all eyes, and upon whose

* But she could hardly have been prepared at any time for the bitterness and cold malice of the reply ascribed to him, on her asking him, in her old age, when he would again write such verses her as those of long ago.


See the Letter in Bell's "Waller," p. 80.

bosom England "toil-oppressed" now world's motion wait upon his will;" the Job, gratefully reposed "her weary head." He "patience-crowned," whose "trouble ends" is thankful to turn from the "matchless in multiplied joy. James, again, is a "bolder worth" of Cromwell to the incomparable hero" than "great Achilles," another Mars virtues of the second Charles: true, that "sent down by Jove to scourge perfidious when Cromwell died,* the poet had sung men." Waller is, indeed, ever profuse of how mythological illustrations: there was a craze for them among the poets and poetasters of the time; Milton indulged it, as where he is reminded by Eden of the vale of Enna, and by Satan's struggle through opposing ranks, of Argo between the Cyanean rocks, or OdysWaller is a very prodigal of his classical seus between Scylla and Charybdis. But stores. He thinks he can never give us too nymphs and goddesses can never be de trop. much of his gods and demigods, that his And so we have perpetual entrées and rentrées of cloud-compelling Jove, and rosy Bacchus, and divine Arion, and bright Aurora, and ruffled Thetis, and fair Leucothoë, and Phobus with the silver bow and the golden tresses, Venus emerging from the sea, and Hebe from the celestial wine-stores, and Vulcan from his smoky cave. When Charles II. plants young trees "in even ranks" in St. James's Park, he is certified that "the voice of Orpheus, or Amphion's hand, in better order could not make them stand." Lady Sophia Murray-presuming her ladyship to be Waller's Amoret,-is complimented on having, among other good points, a "waist as straight and clean as Cupid's shaft, or Hermes' rod, and powerful too, as either god." The first Charles's escape from shipwreck (1623) is recorded in verse replete with allusions to "Neptune's smooth face,” "Bacchus, the seed of cloud-compelling Jove," "Titan's car," Phaeton, great Maro," "angry Juno," " bold Eneas," angry Thetis,' Thetis," "Cupid's string of many shafts," Jason, Theseus, old Musæus, Priam, and Hero and Leander.


Nature herself took notice of his death,
And sighing, swelled the sea with such a breath,
That, to remotest shores her billows rolled,
The approaching fate of their great rulers told :

but what of that? what so easy as to "suffer a sea-change"? the sea was in agony at Oliver's decease, but Charles comes back, king, and to enjoy his own again, and then, sings Waller,

the revolted sea Trembles to think she did your foes obey. To Cromwell, Waller had said,

Still as you rise, the State, exalted too,
Finds no distemper while 'tis changed by you-

and he had assured him of the reverent fear of surrounding and envious realms, and would bring bays and olives

To crown your head; while you in triumph ride
O'er vanquished nations, and the sea beside;
While all your neighbor-princes unto you,
Like Joseph's sheaves, pay reverence, and bow.

But when another king arose who knew not "Joseph," Waller was of opinion that "Joseph" had brought the country to degradation, to become a very scorn of men, and a byword among the nations:

Great Britain, like blind Polypheme, of late,
In a wild rage, became the scorn and hate
Of her proud neighbors, who began to think
She, with the weight of her own force, would sink.
But you are come, and all their hopes are vain;
The giant isle has got her eye again.

Charles is the Alexander who has cut distracted England's Gordian knot; the Archimedes whose " power and skill make the

* That Waller should be at the trouble to sing any good of Cromwell, after Cromwell was dead, has been charitably urged as a proof of his superiority to the mere flatterer's arts, But the Cromwell influence was not dead, and one of Cromwell's name and blood, if not of Cromwell's spirit and after his own heart, was his successor in the Protectorate. Waller himself, indeed, refutes the charitable construction, when he says that his panegyric on Oliver was all fiction.


The "conceits" of Waller are not uncommonly more free than welcome. His thoughts, says Johnson, are sometimes Lady Dancing suggests to the poet that hyperbolical, and his images unnatural. A "the sun in figures such as these, joys with the moon to play." "Upon his Majesty Repairing of St. Paul's" we are told that

He, like Amphion, makes those quarries leap
Into fair figures from a confused heap;
For in his art of regiment is found
A power like that of harmony in sound.

The Countess of Carlisle in Mourning" is "A Venus rising from a sea of jet." The

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