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It is the opinion of Clarendon, that in Waller's plan no violence or sanguinary resistance was comprised; that he intended only to abate the confidence of the rebels by public declarations, and to weaken their power by an opposition to new supplies. This, in calmer times, and more than this, is done without fear; but such was the acrimony of the Commons, that no method of obstructing them was safe.
About this time another design was formed by Sir Nicholas Crispe, a man of loyalty that deserves perpetual remembrance: when he was a merchant in the city, he gave and procured the King, in his exigencies, a hundred thousand pounds; and, when he was driven from the Exchange, raised a regiment, and commanded
Sir Nicholas flattered himself with an opinion, that some provocation would so much exasperate, or some opportunity so much encourage, the King's friends in the city, that they would break out in open resistance, and would then want only a lawful standard, and an authorised commander; and extorted from the King, whose judgment too frequently yielded to importunity, a commission of array, directed to such as he thought proper to nominate, which was sent to London by the Lady Aubigney. She knew not what she carried, but was to deliver it on the communication of a certain token which Sir Nicholas imparted.
This commission could be only intended to Ilie ready till the time should require it. To have attempted to raise any forces, would have been certain destruction; it could be of use only when the forces should appear. This was, however, an act preparatory to martial hostility. Crispe would undoubtedly have put an end to the session of parliament, had his strength been equal to his zeal: and out of the design of Crispe, which involved very little danger, and that of Waller, which was an act purely civil, they compounded a horrid and dreadful plot.
fensive as that of destroying the brother by the sister's testimony.
The plot was published in the most terrific manner.
On the 31st of May (1643,) at a solemn fast, when they were listening to the sermon, a messenger entered the church, and communicated his errand to Pym, who whispered it to others that were placed near him, and then went with them out of the church, leaving the rest in solicitude and amazement. They immediately sent guards to proper places, and that night apprehended Tomkyns and Waller; having yet traced nothing but that letters had been intercepted, from which it appears that the parlia ment and the city were soon to be delivered into the hands of the cavaliers.
They perhaps yet knew little themselves, beyond some general and indistinct notices. "But Waller," says Clarendon, "was so confounded with fear, that he confessed whatever he had heard, said, thought, or seen; all that he knew of himself, and all that he suspected of others, without concealing any person of what degree or quality soever, or any discourse which he had ever upon any occasion entertained with them; what such and such ladies of great honour, to whom, upon the credit of his wit and great reputation, he had been admitted, had spoke to him in their chambers upon the proceedings in the Houses, and how they had encouraged him to oppose them; what correspondence and intercourse they had with some ministers of state at Oxford, and how they had conveyed all intelligence thither." He accused the Earl of Portland and Lord Conway as cooperating in the transaction; and testified that the Earl of Northumberland had declared himself disposed in favour of any attempt that might check the violence of the parliament, and reconcile them to the King.
He undoubtedly confessed much which they could never have discovered, and perhaps somewhat which they would wished to have been suppressed; for it is inconvenient, in the conflict of factions, to have that disaffection known which cannot safely be punished.
The discovery of Waller's design is variously related. In "Clarendon's History" it is told, that a servant of Tomkyns, lurking behind the hangings, when his master was in conference with Waller, heard enough to qualify him for an informer, and carried his intelligence to Pym. A manuscript, quoted in the "Life of Waller," relates, that "he was betrayed by his sister Price, and her presbyterian chaplain, Mr. Goode, who stole some of his papers; and, if he had not strangely dreamed the night before that his sister had betrayed him, and thereupon burnt the rest of his papers by the fire that was in his chimney, he had certainly lost his life by it." The question cannot be decided. It is not 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
Tomkyns was seized on the same night with Waller, and appears likewise to have partaken of his cowardice; for he gave notice of Crispe's commission of array, of which Clarendon never knew how it was discovered. Tomkyns had been sent with the token appointed, to demand it from Lady Aubigney, and had buried it in his garden, where, by his direction, it was dug up; and thus the rebels obtained, what Claren don confesses them to have had, the original copy.
array in the hands of him who was employed in collecting the opinions and affections of the people.
Of the plot, thus combined, they took care to make the most. They sent Pym among the citizens, to tell them of their imminent danger, and happy escape: and inform them, that the design was, "to seize the Lord Mayor and all the Committee of Militia, and would not spare one of them." They drew up a vow and covenant, to be taken by every member of either House, by which he declared his detestation of all conspiracies against the parliament, and his resolution to detect and oppose them. They then appointed a day of thanksgiving for this wonderful delivery; which shut out, says Clarendon, all doubts whether there had been such a deliverance, and whether the plot was real or fictitious.
On June 11, the Earl of Portland and Lord Conway were committed, one to the custody of the Mayor, and the other of the Sheriff; but their lands and goods were not seized.
Waller was still to immerse himself deeper in ignominy. The Earl of Portland and Lord Conway denied the charge; and there was no evidence against them but the confession of Waller, of which undoubtedly many would be inclined to question the veracity. With these doubts he was so much terrified, that he endeavoured to persuade Portland to a declaration like his own, by a letter extant in Fenton's edition. "But for me," says he, " you had never known any thing of this business, which was prepared for another; and therefore I cannot imagine why you should hide it so far as to contract your own ruin by concealing it, and persisting unreasonably to hide that truth, which without you already is, and will every day, be made more manifest. Can you imagine yourself bound in honour to keep that secret, which is already revealed by another? or possible it should still be a secret, which is known to one of the other sex?-If you persist to be cruel to yourself for their sakes who deserve it not, it will nevertheless be made appear, ere long, I fear to your ruin. Surely, if I had the happiness to wait on you, I could move you to compassionate both yourself and me, who, desperate as my case is, am desirous to die with the honour of being known to have declared the truth. You have no reason to contend to hide what is already revealed-inconsiderately to throw away yourself, for the interest of others, to whom you are less obliged than you are aware of."
This persuasion seems to have had little effect. Portland sent (June 29) a letter to the Lords, to tell them that he "is in custody, as he conceives, without any charge; and that, by what Mr. Waller had threatened him with since he was imprisoned, he doth apprehend a very cruel, long, and ruinous restraint:He therefor prays, that he may not find the effects of Ma、
Waller's threats, a long and close imprisonment; but may be speedily brought to a legal trial, and then he is confident the vanity and falsehood of those informations which have been given against him will appear."
In consequence of this letter, the Lords ordered Portland and Waller to be confronted; when the one repeated his charge, and the other his denial. The examination of the plot being continued (July 1,) Thinn, usher of the House of Lords, deposed, that Mr. Waller having had a conference with the Lord Portland in an upper room, Lord Portland said, when he came down, " Do me the favour to tell my Lord Northumberland, that Mr. Waller has ex. tremely pressed me to save my own life and his, by throwing the blame upon the Lord Conway and the Earl of Northumberland."
Waller, in his letter to Portland, tells him of the reasons which he could urge with resistless efficacy in a personal conference; but he overrated his own oratory; his vehemence, whether of persuasion or intreaty, was returned with contempt.
One of his arguments with Portland is, that This the plot is already known to a woman. woman was doubtless Lady Aubigney, who, upon this occasion, was committed to custody; but who, in reality, when she delivered the commission, knew not what it was.
The parliament then proceeded against the conspirators, and committed their trial to a council of war. Tomkyns and Chaloner were hanged near their own doors. Tomkyns, when he came to die, said it was a foolish business; and indeed there seems to have been no hope that it should escape discovery; for though never more than three met at a time, yet a design so extensive must, by necessity, be communicated to many, who could not be expected to be all faithful and all prudent. Chaloner was attended at his execution by Hugh Peters. was, that he had commission to raise money for the King; but it appears not that the money was to be expended upon the advancement of either Crispe's or Waller's plot.
The Earl of Northumberland, being too great for prosecution, was only once examined before the Lords. The Earl of Portland and Lord Conway, persisting to deny the charge, and no testimony but Waller's yet appearing against them, were, after a long imprisonment, admitted to bail. Hasel, the King's messenger, who carried the letters to Oxford, died the night before his trial. Hampden escaped death, perhaps by the interest of his family; but was kept in prison to the end of his life. They whose names were inserted in the commission of array were not capitally punished, as it could not be proved that they had consented to their own nomination; but they were considered as malignants, and their estates were seized
Cromwell, now Protector, received Waller, as his kinsman, to familiar conversation. Waller, as he used to relate, found him sufficiently versed in ancient history; and when any of his enthusiastic friends came to advise or consult him, could sometimes overhear him 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.
"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 his trial was put off, out of Christian compassion, till he might recover his understanding." What use he made of this interval, with what liberality and success he distributed flattery and money, and how, when he was brought (July 4) before the house, he confessed and lamented, and submitted and implored, may be read in the "History of the Rebellion." (B. vii.) The speech, to which Clarendon ascribes the preservation of his dear-bought life, is inserted in his works. The great historian, however, seems to have been mistaken in relating that he prevailed in the principal part of his supplication, not to be tried by a council of war; for, according to Whitlock, he was, by expulsion from the House, abandoned to the tribunal which he so much dreaded, and, being tried and condemned, was reprieved by Essex; but after a year's imprisonment, in which time resentment grew less acrimonious, paying a fine of ten thousand pounds, he was permitted to recollect himself in another country.
Of his behaviour in this part of his life, it is not necessary to direct the reader's opinion. "Let us not," says his last ingenious biographer, "condemn him with untempered severity, because he was not a prodigy which the world hath seldom seen, because his character included not the poet, the orator, and the hero." For the place of his exile he chose France, and stayed some time at Roan, where his daughter Margaret was born, who was afterwards his favourite, and his amanuensis. He then removed to Paris, where he lived with great splendour and hospitality; and from time to time amused himself with poetry, in which he sometimes speaks of the rebels, and their usurpation, in the natural language of an honest man.
At last it became necessary, for his support, to sell his wife's jewels; and, being reduced, as he said, at last to the rump-jewel, he solicited from Cromwell permission to return, and obtained it by the interest of Colonel Scroop, to whom his sister was married. Upon the remains of a fortune which the danger of his life had very much 1 diminished, he lived at Halbarn, a house built by himself very near to Beaconsfield, where his ; mother resided. His mother, though related to Cromwell and Hampden, was zealous for the royal cause, and, when Cromwell visited her, used to reproach him; he, in return, 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, he made her
• Life of Waller, prefixed to an edition of his 1 Works, published, in 1773, by Percival Stockdale.
He repaid the Protector for his favours (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 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 dominion. The act of violence by which he obtained the supreme power is lightly treated, and decently justified. It was certainly to be desired that the detestable band should be dissolved, which had destroyed the church, murdered the King, and filled the nation with tumult and oppression: yet Cromwell had not the right of dissolving them; for all that he had before done could be justified only by supposing them invested with lawful authority. But combinations of wickedness would overwhelm the world by the advantage which licentious principles afford, did not those who have long practised perfidy grow faithless to each other.
In the poem on the war with Spain are some passages at least equal to the best parts of the "Panegyric ;" and, in the conclusion, the poet ventures yet a higher flight 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 to 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 his authority. When therefore a deputation was solemnly sent to invite him to the crown, he, after a long conference, refused it; but is said to have fainted in his coach, when he parted from them.
The poem on the death of the Protector seems to have been dictated by real veneration for his memory. Dryden and Sprat wrote on the same occasion; but they were young men, struggling into notice, and hoping for some favour from the Waller had little to expect; he ruling party. had received nothing but his pardon from Crom
well, 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 the Second. It is not possible to read, without some contempt and indignation, poems of the same author, ascribing the highest degree of power and piety to Charles the First, then transferring the same power and piety to Oliver Cromwell; now inviting Oliver to take the crown, and then congratulating Charles the Second 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.
Poets, indeed, profess fiction; but the legitimate end of fiction is the conveyance of truth; and he that has flattery ready for all whom the vicissitudes of the world happen to exalt, must be scorned as a prostituted mind, that may retain the glitter of wit, but has lost the dignity of
The Congratulation was considered as inferior in poetical merit to the " Panegyric:" 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 "Panegyric," either by decay of genius, or for want of diligence; but because Cromwell had done much, and Charles had done little. Cromwell wanted nothing 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 parliament," he was," says Burnet, "the delight of the House, and though old said the liveliest things of any among them." This, however, is said in his account of the year seventy five, when Waller was only seventy. His name as a speaker occurs often in Grey's Collections; but I have found no extracts that can be more quoted as exhibiting sallies of gayety than cogency of argument.
He was of such consideration, that his remarks were circulated, and recorded. When the Duke of York's influence was high, both in Scotland and England, it drew, says Burnet, a lively reflection from Waller, the celebrated wit. He said, "the House of Commons had resolved that the Duke should not reign after the King's death; but the King, in opposition to them, had resolved that he should reign even in his life." If there appear no extraordinary liveliness in this remark, yet its reception proves the speaker to have been a celebrated wit, to have had a name which men of wit were proud of mentioning.
He did not suffer his reputation to die gradually away, which may easily happen in a long life; but renewed his claim to poetical distinction from time to time, 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 "Biographia" imputes the violence and acrimony with which Waller joined Buckingham's faction in the prosecution of Clarendon. The motive was illiberal and dishonest, and showed that more than sixty years had not been able to teach him morality. His accusation is such as conscience can hardly be supposed to dictate without the help of malice.
In the first parliament 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 gayety were the most power-"We were to be governed by Janizaries instead ful 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 company without drinking but Ned Waller."
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 encouragement for another petition, 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, accord
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 conde-ing to the act of Uniformity, since the provost scended to understand the language of the nation that maintained him.
had always received institution as for a parsonage from the bishops of Lincoln. The King ther
said, he could not break the law which he had made and Dr. Zachary Cradok, famous for a single sermon, at most for two sermons, was chosen by the fellows.
That he asked any thing more is not known; it is certain that he obtained nothing, though he continued obsequious to the court through the rest of Charles's reign.
At the accession of King James (in 1685) he was chosen for parliament, being then fourscore, at Saltash, in Cornwall; and wrote a " Presage of the Downfall of the Turkish Empire," which he presented to the King on his birth-day. It is remarked, by his commentator Fenton, that in reading Tasso he had early imbibed a veneration for the heroes of the holy war, and a zealous enmity to the Turks, which never left him. James, however, having soon after begun what he thought a holy war at home, made haste to put all molestation of the Turks out of his power.
the lines which he composed, when "he, for age, could neither read nor write," are not inferior to the effusions of his youth.
Towards the decline of life, he bought a small house with a little land, at Coleshill; 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 grow timid: he went to Windsor, where Sir Charles Scarborough then attended the King, and requested him, as both a friend and a physician, to tell him, what that swelling meant. "Sir," answered Scarborough, "your blood will run no longer." Waller repeated some lines of Virgil, and went home to die.
As the disease increased 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,
James treated him with kindness and familiarity, of which instances are given by the writer of his life. One day taking him into the closet, the King asked him how he liked 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. "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 must confess she had a wise council." "And, Sir," said Waller, "did you ever know a fool choose a wise one?" Such is the story, which I once heard of some other man. Pointed axioms, and acute replies, fly loose about the world, and are assigned successively to those whom it may be the fashion to celebrate.
When the king knew that he was about to marry his daughter to Dr. Birch, a clergyman, he 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 which 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
He died October 21, 1687, and was buried at Beaconsfield, with a monument erected by his son's executors, for which Rymer wrote the inscription, and which I hope is now rescued from dilapidation.
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, was an eminent doctor of laws, and one of the commissioners for the Union. There is said to have been a fifth, of whom no account has descended.
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 not known can presume to emulate. It is therefore inserted here, with such remarks as others have supplied; after which, nothing remains but a critical examination of his poetry.