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related to Cromwell * and Hampden, was zealous for the royal cause, and when Cromwell visited her used to reproach him; he, in reiurn, would throw a napkin at her, and say he would not dispute with his aunt; but finding in time that she acted for the king as well as talked, be made her a prisoner to her own daughter, in her own house. This daughter was Mrs. Price, who is said to have betrayed ber brother.
Cromwell, now protector, received Waller, as bis kinsman, to familiar conversation. Waller, as he used to relate, found him sufficiently versed in ancient history; and wben any of his enthusiastic friends came to advise or consult him, could sometimes overbear bim discoursing in the cant of the times; but, when he returned, he would say, “ Cousin Waller, I must talk to these men in their own way,” and resumed the common style of conversation. He repaid the Protector for his favours, in 1654, by the famous panegyric, which has been always considered as the first of his poetical productions. His choice of encomiastic topics is very judicious; for he considers Cromwell in his exaltation, without inquiring how he attained it; there is consequently, say's Johnson, no mention of the rebel or the regicide. All the former part of his hero's life is veiled with shades; and nothing is brought to view but the chief, the governor, the defender of England's honour, and the enlarger of her domivion. The act of violence by which be obtained the supreme power is lightly treated, and decently justified. In the poem on the war with Spain are some passages at least equal to ihe best parts of the panegyrick; and, in the conclusion, the poet venture's yet a bigher fight of flattery, by recommending royalty to Cromwell and the nation. Cromwell was very desirous, as appears from his conversation, related by Whitlock, of adding the title to the power of monarchy, and is supposed 10 have been withheld from it partly by fear of the army, and partly by fear of the laws, which, when he should govern by the name of king, would have restrained bis authority. The poem on the death of the Protector seems to have been
* This seems a mistake. What has given rise to the notion that Waller was a relation of Cromwell, was their always calling cousin, a usual custom at that time, where any family connexions were, though the parties were not actually allied, -Noble's Memoirs
of Cromael. Yet Mr. Noble states that ihe patriot Hampden was firsé cuide sin both to Cromwell and to Waller, and Cromwell iberefore used to caid Waller's mother aunt, and Waller cousin,
dictated by real veneration for his memory, for he had little to expect; he had received nothing but his pardon from Cromwell, and was not likely to ask any thing from those who should succeed him.
Soon afterwards the restoration supplied him with another subject; and he exerted his imagination, his elegance, and his melody, with equal alacrity, for Charles II. It is not possible, says Johnson, to read without some contempt and indignation, poems of the same author ascribing the highest degree of power and piety to Charles I. then transferring the same power and piety to Oliver Cromwell; now inviting Oliver to take the crown, and then congratulating Charles II. on his recovered right. Neither Cromwell nor Charles could value his testimony as the effect of conviction, or receive his praises as effusions of reverence; they could consider them but as the labour of invention, and the tribute of dependence. The “Congratulation," however, was considered as inferior in. poetical meric to the Panegy.. rick; and it is reported, that, when the king told Waller of the disparity, he answered, “ Poets, sir, succeed better in fiction than in truth.” The Congratulation is, indeed, not inferior to the Panegyrick, either by decay of genius, or for want of diligence; but because Cromwell had done much, and Charles had done little. Cromwell wanted no-, thing to raise him to heroic excellence but virtue; and virtue his poet thought himself at liberty to supply. Charles had yet only the merit of struggling without success, and suffering without despair. A life of escapes and indigence could supply poetry with no splendid images.
In the first parliainent summoned by Charles the Second (March 8, 1661), Waller sat for Hastings in Sussex, and served for different places in all the parliaments in that reign. In a time when fancy and gaiety were the most powerful recommendations to regard, it is not likely that, Waller was forgotten. He passed his time in the company that was highest, both in rank and wit, from which even his obstinate sobriety did not exclude him. Though he drank water *, he was enabled by his fertility of mind to heighten the mirth of Bacchanalian assemblies; and Mr. Saville said, that “no man in England should keep him
* Aubrey says, “He has but a ten- at the water-stayres, he fell downe, and der weake body, but was always very had a cruel fall. 'Twas pity to use temperate.
made him dam- such a sweet swan so inhumanly." nable drunke at Somerset House, where, Vol. XXXI,
company without drinking but Ned Waller.” The praise given him by St. Evremond is a proof of his reputation ; for it was only by his reputation that he could be known, as a writer, to a man who, though he lived a great part of a long life upon an English pension, never condescended to understand the language of the nation that maintained him. In parliament, Burnet says, Waller “ was the delight of the house, and though old, said the liveliest things of any among them."
His name as a speaker often occurs in Grey's “ Debates,” but Dr. Johnson, who examined them, says he found no extracts that could be more quoted as exhibiting sallies of gaiety than cogency of argument. He was, however, of such consideration, that bis remarks were circulated and recorded ; nor did he suffer bis reputation to die gradually away, which might easily happen in a long life; but renewed his claim to poetical distinction, as occasions were offered, either by public events, or private incidents; and contenting himself with the influence of his muse, or loving quiet better than influence, he never accepted any office of magistracy. He was not, however, without some attention to his fortune; for he asked from the king (in 1665) the provostship of Eton college, and obtained it; but Clarendon refused to put the seal to the grant, alleging that it could be held only by a clergyman. It is known that sir Henry Wotton qualified himself for it by deacon's orders.
To this opposition, the author of his life in the “ Biographia Britannica" imputes the violence and acrimony with which Waller joined Buckingham's faction in the prosecution of Clarendon. If this be true, the motive was illiberal and dishonest, and shewed that more than sixty years had not been able to teach him morality. His accusation of Clarendon is such as conscience can hardly be supposed to dictate without the help of malice. were to be governed by janizaries instead of parliaments, and are in danger from a worse plot than that of the fifth of November; then, if the lords and commons had been destroyed, there had been a succession ; but here both had been destroyed for ever.” This is the language of a man who is glad of an opportunity to rail, and ready to sacrifice truth to interest at one time, and to anger at another.
A year after the chancellor's banishment, another vacancy gave him enconragement for another petition for the provostship of Eton, which the king referred to the council,
who, after hearing the question argued by lawyers for three days, determined that the office could be held only by a clergyman, according to the act of uniformity, since the provosts had always received institution as for a parsonage from the bishops of Lincoln, The king then said, he could not break the law which he had made; and another (Dr. Cradock) was chosen. It is not known whether he asked any thing more, but he continued obsequious to the court through the rest of Charles's reign.
At the accession of king James, in 1685, he was, in his eightieth year, chosen member for Saltash, in Cornwall, and wrote a “Presage of the downfall of the Turkish Empire,” which he presented to the king on his birth-day. James treated him with kindness and familiarity, of which instances are given by Fenton. One day, taking him into his closet, the king asked him how he liked one of the pictures : “My eyes,” said Waller, "are dim, and I do not know it." The king said it was the princess of Orange. • She is,” said Waller, “like the greatest woman in the world.” The king asked who that was, and was answered,
-queen Elizabeth. “ I wonder,” said the king, “you should think so; but, I must confess, she had a wise couneil.” “ And, sir,” said Waller,“ did you ever know a fool chuse a wise one ?” When the king knew that he was about to marry his daughter to Dr. Birch, a clergyman, be ordered a French gentleman to tell him that “the king wondered he could think of marrying his daughter to a falling church." “ The king,” said Waller, “does me great honour, 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." He took notice to his friends of the king's conduct; and said that “he would be left like a whale upon the strand.” Whether he was privy to any of the transactions wbich ended in the revolution, is not known. His heir joined the prince of Orange.
Having now attained an age beyond which the laws of nature seldom suffer life to be extended, otherwise than by a future state, he seems to have turned his mind upon preparation for the decisive hour, and therefore consecrated his poetry to devotion. It is pleasing to discover that his piety was without weakness; that his intellectual powers continued vigorous; and that the lines which he composed when he, for age, could neither read nor write, are not inferior to the effusions of his yoath. Towards the decline of life, he bought a small house, with a little land, at Colesbill; and said, “ he should be glad to die, like the stag, where he was roused.” This, however, did not happen. When he was at Beaconsfield he found his legs swelled, and went to Windsor, where sir Charles Scar. borough then attended the king, requesting him, as both a. friend and a physician, to tell him what that swelling meant. “Sir," answered Scarborough, “ your blood will rin no longer.” Waller repeated some lines of Virgil, and went home to die.
As the disease iocreased upon him, he composed himself for his departure; and calling upon Dr. Birch to give him the holy sacrament, he desired his children to take it with him, and made an earnest declaration of his faith in Christianity. It now appeared what part of his conversation with the great could be remembered with delight. He related, that being present when the duke of Buckingham talked profanely before king Charles, he said to him, “ My Lord, I am a great deal older than your Grace, and have, I believe, heard more arguments for Atheism than ever your Grace did; but I have lived long enough to see there is nothing in them; and so I hope your Grace will."
He died October 21, 1687, and was buried at Beaconsfield, with a monument erected by his son's executors, for which Rymer wrote the inscriptions on four sides. He left several children by his second wife; of whom, his daughter was married to Dr. Birch. Benjamin, the eldest son, was disinherited, and sent to New Jersey as wanting common understanding. Edmund, the second son, inherited the estate, and represented Agmondesham in parliament, but at last turned Quaker. William, the third son, was a merchant in London. Stephen, the fourth, educated at New college, Oxford, was an able civilian, and died Feb. 22, 1707, while the articles for the union of the British kingdoms, which he bad contributed to frame and improve, were under parliamentary consideration. There is said to have been a fifth, but we have no account of him. Waller's descendants still reside at Beaconsfield, in the greatest affluence.
The character of Waller, both moral and intellectual, has been drawn by Clarendon, to whom he was familiarly known, with nicety, which certainly none to whom he was pot known can presume to emulate. " Edmund Waller,'? says that excellent historian, “ was born to a very fair