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Tom Otway came next, Tom Shadwell's dear zany,
come stronger, and his language more energetic. The striking passages are in every mouth; and the public seems to judge rightly of the faults and excellences of this play, that it is the work of a man not attentive to decency, nor zealous for virtue; but of one who conceived forcibly,
Sand drew originally, by consulting nature in his own breast.
But Apollo had seen his face on the stage, And prudently did not think fit to engage The scum of a play-house, for the prop of an age. "Don Carlos," from which he is represented as having received so much benefit, was played in 1675. It appears, by the lampoon, to have had great success, and is said to have been played thirty nights together. This, however, it is reasonable to doubt;* as so long a continuance of one play upon the stage is a very wide deviation from the practice of that time; when the ardour for theatrical entertainments was not yet diffused through the whole people, and the audience, consisting of nearly the same persons, could be drawn together only by variety.
The “ Orphan” was exhibited in 1680. This is one of the few plays that keep possession of the stage, and has pleased for almost a century, through all the vicissitudes of dramatic fashion. Of this play nothing new can easily be said. It is a domestic tragedy drawn from middle life. Its whole power is upon the affections; for it is not written with much comprehension of thought, or elegance of expression. But if the heart is interested, many other beauties may be wanting, yet not be missed.
The same year produced "The History and Fall of Caius Marius;" much of which is borrowed from the "Romeo and Juliet" of Shak
In 1683+ was published the first, and next year the second, parts of "The Soldier's Fortune," two comedies now forgotten; and in 1685 his last and greatest dramatic work, "Venice Preserved," a tragedy which still continues to be one of the favourites of the public, notwithstanding the want of morality in the riginal design, and the despicable scenes of vile omedy || with which he has diversified his tragic action. By comparing this with his " Orphan," it will appear that his images were by time be
Together with those plays he wrote the poems which are in the present collection, and translated from the French the "History of the Triumvirate."
All this was performed before he was thirtyfour years old; for he died April 14, 1685, in a manner which I am unwilling to mention. Having been compelled by his necessities to contract debts, and hunted, as is supposed, by the terriers of the law, he retired to a public house on Tower-hill, where he is said to have died of want; or, as it is related by one of his biographers, by swallowing, after a long fast, a piece of bread which charity had supplied. He went out, as is reported, almost naked, in the rage of hunger, and, finding a gentleman in a neighbouring coffee-house, asked him for a shilling. The gentleman gave him a guinea; and Otway the first mouthful. All this, I hope, is not true; going away bought a roll, and was choked with and there is this ground of better hope, that Pope, who lived near enough to be well informed, relates in Spence's "Memorials," that he died of a fever caught by violent pursuit of a
thief that had robbed one of his friends. But
that indigence, and its concomitants, sorrow and despondency, pressed hard upon him, has never been denied, whatever immediate cause might bring him to the grave.
Of the poems which the present collection admits, the longest is the "Poet's Complaint of his Muse," part of which I do not understand; and in that which is less obscure I find little to commend. The language is often gross, and the numbers are harsh. Otway had not much cultivated versification, nor much replenished his mind with general knowledge. His principal power was in moving the passions, to which Dryden* in his latter years left an illustrious testimony. He appears by some of his verses to have been a zealous loyalist, and had what was in those times the common reward of loyalty; he lived and died neglected.
In his preface to Fresnoy's "Art of Painting." -Dr. J
EDMUND WALLER was born on the third of ly together. In his eighteenth year he wrote March, 1605, at Colshill, in Hertfordshire. His the poem that appears first in his works, on the father was Robert Waller, Esq. of Agmondes-"Prince's Escape at St. Andero:" a piece ham, in Buckinghamshire, whose family was originally a branch of the Kentish Wallers; and his mother was the daughter of John Hampden, of Hampden in the same county, and sister to Hampden, the zealot of rebellion.
His father died while he was yet an infant, but left him a yearly income of three thousand five hundred pounds; which, rating together the value of money and the customs of life, we may reckon more than equivalent to ten thousand at the present time.
voured 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.
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 four-score." His versification was, in his first essay, such as it appears in his 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 He was educated by the care of his mother, his own nicety of observation, he had already at Eton; and removed afterwards to King's Col-formed such a system of metrical harmony as he lege, in Cambridge. He was sent to parliament | never afterwards much needed, or much endeain his eighteenth, if not in his sixteenth, year, and frequented the court of James the First, where he heard a very remarkable conversation, which the writer of the Life prefixed to his Works, who seems to have been well informed of facts, though he may sometimes err in chronology, has delivered as indubitably certain :"He found Dr. Andrews, bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Neale, bishop of Durham, standing behind his Majesty's chair; and there happened something extraordinary," continues this writer," in the conversation those prelates had with the King, on which Mr. Waller did often reflect. His Majesty asked the bishops, 'My Lords, cannot I take my subjects' money when I want it, without all this formality of parliament?' The Bishop of Durham readily answered, God forbid, Sir, but you should: Neither of these pieces that seem to carry their you are the breath of our nostrils.' Whereupon own dates could have been the sudden effusion the King turned, and said to the Bishop of Win- of fancy. In the verses on the Prince's escape, chester, Well, my Lord, what say you?' Sir,' the prediction of his marriage with the Princess replied the Bishop, I have no skill to judge of of France must have been written after the parliamentary cases.' The King answered, event; in the other, the promises of the King's 'No put-offs, my Lord; answer me presently.' kindness to the descendants of Buckingham, Then, Sir,' said be, I think it is lawful for which could not be properly praised till it had you to take my brother Neale's money; for he appeared by its effects, show that time was taoffers it.' Mr. Waller said, the company was ken for revision and improvement. It is not pleased with this answer, and the wit of it seemknown that they were published till they aped to affect the King; for, a certain lord coming peared long afterwards with other poems. 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 poetical life began near
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 in
Preface to his "Fables."-Dr. J.
terest of the court was employed to obtain for Mr. Croft. 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 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 goodnature, 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."
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 his 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 undoubtedly 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 he known. Amoret, according to Mr. Fenton, was the Lady Sophia Murray. Perhaps by traditions preserved in families more may be discovered.
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 Queenmother; 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 marriage is not exactly known. Ít 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 one whom he would have been ashamed to praise. Many qualities contribute to domestic 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 his 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 exclamation 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 care
From the verses written at Penshurst, it has fully to provide for their protection against pulbeen collected that he diverted his disappoint-pit law.
ment by a voyage; and his biographers, from It always gratifies curiosity to trace a senti his poem on the Whales, think it not improba- ment. Waller has in his speech quoted Hooker ble that he visited the Bermudas; but it seems in one passage; and in another has copied him
*There is no doubt but the sense of what this nation had suffered from the present bishops hath produced these complaints; and the ap
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-prehensions men have of suffering the like in 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 assigned 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.
time to come, make so many desire the taking
The speech is vehement; but the great position, that grievances ought to be redressed be- "We have already showed, that Episcopacy fore supplies are granted, is agreeable enough to and the evils thereof are mingled like water and law and reason: nor was Waller, if his biogra- oil; we have also, in part, severed them; but I pher may be credited, such an enemy to the believe you will find, that our laws and the King, as not to wish his distresses lightened; present government of the church are mingled for he relates, "that the King sent particularly like wine and water; so inseparable, that the abto Waller, to second his demand of some sub-rogation of, at least, a hundred of our laws is desidies 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 shipmoney; 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 aboJished, 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.
sired in these petitions. I have often heard a noble answer of the Lords commended in this House, to a proposition of like nature, but of less consequence; they gave no other reason of their refusal but this, Nolumus mutare Leges Angliæ : 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 hands against the bishops; which, I confess, rather inclines me to their defence; for I look upon Episcopacy as a counterscarp, or outwork; 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 may, in the next place, have as hard a task to defend our property, as we have lately had 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 Agraria, 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 commonwealth soon came to ruin: their Legem rogare grew quickly to be a
This speech has been retrieved, from a paper printed at that time, by the writers of the Parlia mentary History.-Dr. J.
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.'
least in my 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 par liament. 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.
"If these great innovations proceed, I shall expect a flat 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. The engagement, known by the name of Wal"There are two reasons chiefly alleged against ler's plot, was soon afterwards discovered. Walour church-government. ler had a brother-in-law, Tomkyns, who was
"First, Scripture, which, as some men think, clerk of the Queen's council, and at the same 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 herein; and, by a question, declare our resolution, to reform, that is, not to abolish Episcopacy.'
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 conventicle; 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
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 mentioned, the main design being to bring the loyal inhabitants to the knowledge of each other; for which purpose there was to be appointed one in 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 inquiry, 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 them, there were five for them. Whether this was said from knowledge or guess, was perhaps never inquired.
*Parliamentary History, Vol. xi.-Dr. J.