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" answered, “ No put-offs, my Lord; answer “ me presently." • Then, Sir,' said he, “I “ think it is lawful for you to take my brother “ Neale's money; for he offers it.' Mr. Wal“ ler said, the company was pleased with this " answer, and the wit of it fcerned to affet the “ King; for, a certain lord coming in soon " after, his Majesty cried out, “ Oh, my lord,
they say you lig with my Lady.” “No, Sir.'
says his Lordship in confusion ; but I like “ her company, because she has so much wit.' " " Why then,” says the King, “ do you not
lig with my Lord of Winchester there?”
Waller's political and poctical life began nearly together. In his eighteenth year he wrote the poem that appears in his works, on “ the Prince's Escape at St. Andero:" a piece which justifies the observation made by one of his editors, that he attained, by a felicity like instinct, a style which perhaps will never be obsolete ; and that, “ were we to judge only ' by the wording, we could not know what
was wrote at twenty, and what at fourscore." His versification was, in his first clay, such as it appears in his last performance. By the perufal of Fairfax's translation of Talo, 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 inuch needed, or much endcavoured, to improve. Denliam 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 feems 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
He is apparently mistaken; for the mention of the nation's obligations to her frequent pregnancy, proves that it was written when the had brought many children. We have therefore no date of any other poctical production before that which the inurder 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 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 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 be properly praised till it had appeared by its effects, thew that time was taken for revision and improvement. It is not known that they were published till they appeared long afterwards with other poems.
Waller was not one of those idolaters of praise wlio cultivate their minds at the expence of their fortunes, Rich as he was by inheritance, he took care carly to grow richer, by marrying Mrs. Banks, a great heiress in the city, whoin 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 childbed, and left him a widower' of about five and twenty, gay and wealthy, to please hinfelf with another marriage.
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, eldeit daughter of the Earl of Leicester, whom he courted by all the poetry in which Sacharilla is celebrated; the name is derived from the Latin appellation of sugar, and implies, if it means any thing, a spiritlefs 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 Sachariffa as a sublime predomisrating beauty, of lofty charms, and imperious intuence, on whom he looks with amazement rather than fondness, whose chains he wishes, though in vain, to break, and whose preferice is wine that infames to mariness.
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 faid, with disdain, and drove him away to folace his disappointment with Amoret or Phillis. She married in 1639 the Earl of Sunderland,
who died at Newberry in the king's caufe ; and, in her old age, meeting fomewhere 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 lie was known to Clarendon, among the rest of the men who were eminent in that age for genius and literature; but known fo little to his advantage, that they who read his character will not much condemn Sacharifa, that she did not defcend 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 statesmcn; 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 poctical names, cannot now be known. Amoret, according to Mr. Fenton, was the Lady Sophia Murray. Perhaps by traditions preferved in families more may be discovered.