« PreviousContinue »
This pleasing poet was born in 1905, at Colshill, in Hertfordshire, and he inherited from his father, who left him an infant, an estate worth three thousand five hundred pounds a year.
He received his education at Eton, and King's College, Cambridge, and obtained a seat in parliament in his eighteenth year, at which early period he wrote a poem on
it the Prince's escape at St. Andero."*
He was a
* The following anecdote is related of Waller. member of the famous poetical club to which Falkland, Wenman, Chillingworth, Godolphin, and other eminent wits of that age belonged. One evening, when this club were assembled, a great noise was beard in the street, which not a little alarmed them, and upon enquiring the cause they were told that a son of Ben Jonson's was arrested. This club was too generous to suffer a child of one who was a genuine son of Apollo, to be carried to gaol, perhaps for a trifle, they accordingly sent for him, but instead of Ben Jonson's son, Mr. George Morley, afterwards Bishop of Winchester, was introduced to them. Mr. Waller took a liking to this gentleman at first sight, paid the debt for him, which amounted to oue hundred pounds, and took him down with him to Beaconsfield. Here he continued for eight or ten years, and Waller used to say, that by lending a hundred pounds he had paved the way for himself to borrow from his friend what was of infie nițely more value, namely, a taste for the antient poets, and what he had retained of their manner.
Rich as he was by inheritance, says Dr. Johnson, he took care early to grow richer by marrying a great heiress in the city, who died in childbed, and left him a widower of about five and twenty, gay and wealthy, to please himself with another marriage.
He fixed his affections upon the Lady Dorothea Sidney, daughter of the Earl of Leicester, whom he celebrated in his various poems, under the appellation of Sacharissa, but she repelled his addresses with disdain, and married the Earl of Sunderland. In her old age, happening to meet her former admirer, she said to him, “Mr. Waller, when will you write again such fine verses upon me?"-" When you are as young and handsome as you was then, madam,” replied Waller.
On losing Sacharissa, he married a lady of the name of Busse, who brought him five sons and eight daughters.
In the long parliament, Waller distinguished himself by his noisy speeches against the court and the clergy, but, to his honour, be it remembered, he spoke with energy against the abolition of episcopacy. In bis speech he made the following sagacious remark:
“I see some are moved with a number of hands against the bishops ; which, I confess, rather inclines me to their defence; for I rather look upon episcopacy as a counterscarp, or outwork; which, if it be taken by this assault of the