網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Connected with the principal leaders in the politics of the times; in possession of a large fortune; and endowed with splendid talents, he cannot be supposed to have been an indifferent looker-on. No, he was a considerable actor upon the political stage, and played several parts. At first he opposed the court, and in the impeachment of judge Crawley, he spoke with such eloquence and animation, that, 20,000 copies of the speech is said to have been sold in one day. : It 1642 Waller was one of the commissioners who proposed conditions of peace from the parliament to the king In 1643' we find him engaged with his brother-in-law Tomkyns and others, in a plot to reduce the city of London and the tower, to the service of the king. His plot was however discovered just as it was ripe for execution. Some members of parliament and others were concerned, who were tried and condemned; yet Tomkyns and Chaloner only were hanged. Waller purchased his life at the expense of one year's imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 pounds. Afterthis disgrace, he retired to France, and lived chiefly at Rouen. He obtained from Cromwell, permission to return to his native country, where he was received into favour and confidence. Waller did not forget this kindness, foron Cromwell's death, which happen

ed soon after, he celebrated his memory in a strain of the most finished panegyric. So pliant a courtier was our poet, that he offered up a large portion of adulatory incense to monarchy restored.

The king per ceived and bantered Waller on the congratulatory -versesaddressed to him being much inferior to those on the death of Oliver. Waller, however, extricated himself very adroitly, by remarking, that'poets always succeed better in fiction than in truth.Waller, dur ing all the reign of Charles 2, served in parliament with

66

considerable celebrity. He took a decided part against Hyde earl of Clarendon, who fled from party rage to Rouen, in France, where he died. In 1683 Wailer was again chosen, tho’in bis 80th year, a representative in the first parliament of James 2. Towards the decline of life he had bought a small house with some land, at Coleshill, and said, “ he would die like'' the stag, where he was roused.” This, however, did not happen. When he was at Beconsfield, he found his legs grow tumid. He went to Windsor, where Sir Charles Scarborough then attended the king, and requested him, both as a friend and physician, to tell bim “ what that swelling meant.” Why, sir,” answered the physician your blood will run no longer!" The poet returned to Beaconsfield, where, on the Ist of Oct. 1687, he yielded up his breath, at the age of 82, and was buriell at the same place, where a monument is erected over his remains.

The ingenious doctor Robert Anderson, has observed, that the poetry of Waller, when we consider the time in which his first pieces (no ways inferior to his later ones) were written, displays a great elegance of taste, and a judgment almost congenially matured. One can scarcely believe, that but 20 years intervened between the last publication of Spencer, and the first of Waller; yet the former (who indeed affected the obsolete) cannot be read without a glossary; whereas the diction and turn of style (save a few scattered expletives) of the latter, are so entirely modern, that they seem no otherwise different, than by conveying that superior weight and energy of sentiment, which so strongly mark the character of the older poetry, and which yet promises it a longer existence than it's florid but feeble offspring can hope for.

ON THE LADY

WHO CAN SLEEP WHEN SHE PLEASES. N.

wonder sleep from careful lovers flies, to bathe himself in Sacharissa's eyes. As fair Astræa once from earth to heav'n, by strife and loud impiety was driv'n, so with our plaints offended, and our tears, wise Somnus to that paradise repairs; waits on her will, and wretches does forsake, to court the nymph for whom those wretches wake. More proud than Phæbus of his throne of gold, is the soft God those softer limbs to hold; nor would exchange with Jore, to hide the skies in dark’ning clouds, the pow'r to close her eyes ; eyes which so far all other ligbts controul, they warm our mortal parts, but these our soul!

Let her free spirit, whose unconquer'd breast hold such deep quiet and untroubled rest, know that tho’ Venus and her son should spare her rebel heart, and never teach her care, yet Hymen may in force his vigils keep, and for another's joy suspend her sleep.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE STORY OF PHBUS AND DAPHNE

APPLIED.

Thyrsis, a youth of the inspired train,
fair Sacharissa lor'd, but lov'd in vain :
like Phæbus sung the no less am'rous boy;
like Daphne she, as lovely, and as coy!
with numbers he the flying nymph pursues,
with numbers such as Phæbus' self might use !

[ocr errors]

such is the chase when Love and Fancy leads
o'er craggy mountains, and thro' flow'ry meads;
invok'd to testify the lover's care,
or form some image of his cruel fair.
Urg'd with his fury, like a wounded deer,
o'er these he fled ; and now approaching near,
had reach'd the nymph with his harmonious lay,
wbom all his charms could not incline to stay.
Yet what he sung in his immortal strain,
tho’unsuccessful, was not sung in vain :
all but the nymph that should redress his wrong,
attend bis passion, and approve his song.
Like Phæbus thus, acquiring unsought praise,
he catch'd at love, and fill'd his arms with bays.

ON MY LADY ISABELLA

PLAYING ON THE LUTE.

Such moving sounds from such a careless touch! so unconcern'd herself, and we so much! wbat art is this, that with so little pains transports us thus, and o’er our spirits reigns ? the trembling strings about her fingers crowd, and tell their joy for ev'ry kiss aloyd. Small force there needs to make them treinble so: touch'd by that hand, who would not tremble too? here Love takes stand, and while she charms the ear, empties his quiver on the list’ning deer. Music so softens and disarms the mind, that not an arrow does resistance tind. Thus the fair tyrant celebrates the prize, and acts herself the triumph of her eyes : so Nero once, with harp in hand, survey'd bis flaming Rome, and as it burn'd he play'd. No. 77.

5

ON A GIRDLE.

That which her slender waist confin'd
shall now my joyful temples bind :
no monarch but would give his crown,
his arms might do what this has done.

It was my heav’n’s extremest spbere,
the pale which held that lovely dear;
my joy, my grief, my hope, my love,
did all within this circle move!
a narrow compass ! and yet there
dwelt all that's good, and all that's fair,
Give me but what this ribband bound,
take all the rest the sun goes round.

AN APOLOGY FOR HAVING LOVED BEFORE.

They that never had the use
of the grape's surprising juice,
to the first delicious cup
all their reason render up;
neither do nor care to know
whether it be best or no.
So they that are to love inclin'd,
sway'd by chance, not choice, or art,
to the first that's fair or kind,
make a present of their heart:
it is not she that first we love,
but whom dying we approve.
To man, that was in th' ev’ning made,
stars gave the first delight,
admiring, in the gloomy shade

« 上一頁繼續 »