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“ rather of delight than weight. There “ needs no more be said to extol the “ excellence and power of his wit, and 66 pleasantness of his conversation, than “ that it was of magnitude enough to « cover a world of very great faults ; “ that is, so to cover them, that they “ were not taken notice of to his re“ proach ; viz, a narrowness in his na“ ture to the lowest degree; an abject“ ness and want of courage to support “ him in any virtuous undertaking; an 66 insinuation and servile flattery to the “ height, the vainest and most impe“rious nature could be contented with; " that it preserved and won his life from “ those, who were most resolved to take “it; and in an occafion in which he
« ought to have been ambitious to have s lost it; and then preserved h.252, :56. from the reproach and contempt, the 1.66 was due to him, for so preserving it, .66 and for vindicating it at such a price; .66 that it had power to reconcile him to .“ those, whom he had most offended .« and provoked; and continued to his
« age with that rare felicity, that his -".company was acceptable, where his * spirit was, odious; and he was at least
“ pitied, where he was most detested.” + Such is the account of Clarendon;
on which it may not be improper to i make some remarks. . “He was very little known till he .“ had obtained a rich wife in the ,“ city.”
Heobtained the rich wife about the age of three-and-twenty; an age before which few men are conspicuous much to their advantage. He was known, however, in parliament and at court; and, if he spent part of his time in privacy, it is not unreasonable to suppose that he sintended the improvement of his mind as * well as of his fortune.
That Clarendon might misjudge the motive of his retirement is the more probáble, because he has evidently mif taken the commencement of his poetry, which he supposes him not to have attempted before thirty. As his first pieces were perhaps not printed, the fucceffion of his compositions was not known'; and Clarendon, who cannot be imagined
to have been very ftudious of poetry, did not rectify his first opinion by confulting Waller's book.
Clarendon observes, that he was introduced to the wits of the age by Dr. Morley; but the writer of his Life relates that he was already among them, when, hearing a noise in the street, and enquiring the cause, they found a fon of Ben Jonson under an arrest. This was Morley, whom Waller set free at the expence of one hundred pounds, took him into the country as director of his studies, and then procured him admiffion into the company of the friends of literature. Of this fact, Clarendon had a nearer knowledge than the bio
grapher, grapher, and is therefore more to be credited.
The account of Waller's parliamentary eloquence is seconded by Burnet, who, though he calls him “ the delight “ of the house,” adds, that “ he was “ only concerned to say that, which “ should make him be applauded, he “ never laid the business of the house to “ heart, being a vain and empty though “ a witty man.”
Of his insinuation and flattery it is not unreasonable to believe that the truth is told. Afcham, in his elegant description of those whom in modern language we term Wits, says, that they are open flatterers, and privy mockers. Waller