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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 royalist, 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.
W A L L E R.
EDMUND WALLER was born on the third of March, 1605, at Colshill in Hertfordshire. His father was Robert Waller, Esquire, of Agmondesham 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. He was educated, by the care of his mother, at Eaton; and removed afterwards to King's College in Cambridge. He was sent to parliament in 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
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 be“hind his Majesty's chair; and there happened some“ thing extraordinary,” continues this writer, “ in “ the conversation those prelates had with the King, “ on which Mr. Waller did often reflect. His Ma“jesty 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: you are the breath of our nostrils.' “Whereupon the King turned and said to the bi“shop of Winchester, “Well, my Lord, what say “ you?” “Sir, replied the bishop, ‘ I have no skill “to judge of parliamentary cases.’ The King an“swered, “No put-offs, my Lord; answer me pre“sently.” “Then, Sir, said he, ‘I think it is law“ful for you to take my brother Neale's money; for “he offers it.' Mr. Waller said, the company was “ pleased with this answer, and the wit of it seemed “to affect 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 com“pany, 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 nearly together. In his eighteenth year he wrote the poem that appears first in his works, on the Prince's Escape - & & at
“ 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 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 his own nicety of observation, he had already formed such a system of metrical harmony as he never afterwards much needed, or much endeavoured, 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. Neither of these pieces that seem to carry their own dates could have been the sudden effusion of
* Preface to his Fables, Dr. J. fancy.
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, shew 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 who cultivate their minds at the expence 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 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 ef 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 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 Sacharissa as a sublime predominating beauty, of lofty charms, and imperious influence