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and warmly espoused by the court. It is not difficult to conceive that he must have proved a dangerous fue in such an encounter-his agretalle manner, his literary reputation, and his position in the world affording him a combination of advantages which few persons then possessed. This lady, the daughter of Edward Banks, Esq., a rich merchant in the City, did not live long to enjoy her good fortune, for having given birth to a son and daughter, she died in child-bed, leaving her husband a widower at the age of five-and-twenty, with all the world before him to choose. Whether he had married from a sincere affection, or merely for the purpose of acquiring the property which bis wife's portion produced, cannot now be ascertained. He does not, however, appear to have solicited that natural retirement, or to have courted that laudable seclusion from the world, which he might have been expected to observe upon the occurrence of such a melancholy event. Nor has he left any tributary verse to the memory of this lady, although at the death of Lady Rich and the Countess of Northumberland, he attempted to iuscribe their virtues upon what he was pleased to term an eternal monument of praise.
Upon the accession of Charles the First, Waller appeared at court, and in the first parliament of this monarch, which assembled in 1625, he represented Chipping Wycombe. The unhappy fate of Buckingham prompted him to eulogise Charles in a poem, where particular emphasis is laid upon the fortitude which the King displayed on hearing the news of his favourite minister's death, and an elegant complimentary effusion, celebrating the virtues and beauty of the Queen, was also made public about this period. There is no evidence to show that these poems caused him to be much esteemed at court, or that any marks of royal favour were conferred in return for these efforts of his muse. It does not appear that he took any active part in the political disputes, which even at this early period of the reign had begun to assume an alarming aspect, although he continued to sit in Parliament until that assembly was dissolved by Charles in 1629, on account of the “seditious carriage of some vipers, members of the Lower House.”
During the interval of eleven years in which the King dispensed wholly with Parliaments, and attempted to govern by prerogative alone, Waller retired to his country seat at Beaconsfield, where he continued principally to reside. Owing to his local influence as a large landed proprietor, and his reputation as a scholar, he now enjoyed the privilege of entering the best society of the time, and having formed an intimacy with Lord Falkland and several accomplished literati, became regarded as one of the most fashionable and gallant wits of the day. Shortly after this compulsory retirement from political life had commenced, he appears to have shown a desire to re-enter the matrimonial state, and it would seem that upon
this occasion he made rank rather than fortune his principal aim. Indeed, from his affluent possessions, the dowry must have been a very secondary consideration, in comparison with the titled honours to which he now aspired. Being, like most poets, excessively vain, if a more severe epithet be not merited, he ambitiously demanded the hand of Lady Dorothea Sydney, the eldest daughter of the Earl of Leicester, but this lady either entertaining the hope of forming an alliance more suitable to her rank, or from a real antipathy to the manners of her suitor, rejected his solicitations with a haughty disdain, and refused to listen to those pathetic appeals which his tender passion was constantly pouring forth to conquer her dislike and acquire her esteem. Under the euphonious appellation of Sacharissa, he addressed to this inexorable beauty such a variety of poems, that one would have supposed them sufficient to subdue the proudest heart; but all in vain, for at length in some verses written in the Earl's park, at Penshurst, we find the poet confessing that Apollo had commanded him to shun the presence of such a cruel and unrelenting nymph. In these lines he upbraids her with a thousand reproaches, and yields himself up to a perfect climax of despair
“While in this park I sing, the listening deer
More deaf than trees, and prouder than the heaven!"
the circumstantial manner in which the incidents of the tale are related, his biographers conjecture, he must have been an eye witness to something of the kind. Whether this adventure to the Southern Ocean was a fiction or a reality, we know not, but it is certain that the poet's despondency soon vanished, for we find him before long appealing to Lady Sophia Murray, as Amoret, in verses which display an equal amount of fondness and flattery as those which he had addressed to Sacharissa.
In one passage he contrasts the qualities of these ladies with such felicity that the lines have since been frequently quoted
“ Amoret! as sweet and good
That is mortal can sustain.” In the year 1639, Lady Dorothy married Henry Lord Spenser, who was soon afterwards created Earl of Sunderland by Charles I., for the active part he took in supporting the Royalist cause. This nobleman, however, unfortunately perishing at the disastrous battle of Newbury, their hymeneal life proved of short duration. He is described by a contemporary as “A lord of great fortune and early judgment! who having no command in the army, attended upon the king's person under the obligation of honour, and putting himself that day (Sept. 20th, 1643) as a volunteer in the king's troop, before they came to
charge, was carried away by a cannon shot.” Lady Sunderland survived her husband about forty years, and it is recorded of her, that meeting Waller accidentally in society, when she was far advanced in years, she asked him when he would again write such verses upon her, a question to which the poet rather sarcastically replied “When you are as young my Lady and as handsome as you were then.” Though his suit was rejected by Lady Dorothy, Waller continued to be on terms of intimacy with the Earl of Leicester, to whom, as well as his younger daughter, Lady Lucy, two of his poems are addressed. In a letter which he wrote to this young lady, after the marriage of Lady Dorothy, he says with his characteristic good humour, “ May my Lady Dorothy (if we may yet call her so) suffer as much and have the like passion for this whom she has preferred to the rest of mankind, as others have had for her."
Perceiving that all hopes of subduing the haughty Sacharissa, or of winning the more retiring Amoret were vain, Waller bestowed his attentions upon a lady of the family of Bresse; and since we do not find that she was the subject of any poetical entreaties or amatory lectures it may very reasonably be inferred that the conquest of her affections was not difficult. As Dr. Johnson observes, “He doubtless praised some whom he would be afraid to marry, and perhaps married one whom he would have been ashamed to praise.” The most substantial fact recorded of this lady, is that she brought her husband five sons and cight (laughters, and if we may form an opinion from