Edmund Waller.

The poems of Edmund Waller; online

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Graces, whairin all the privat desires of our
soueraine beeing accompleished, hee is wholie
at Leasoure to confer faelicitie on others, for
continence (soe greate a miracle in the vigour
of youth and royalitie) Wee nomber amongst
the Meanest of his Vertues, whose bed soe
highly adornd with bloode and beauty presentes
him with all that Antiquitie and youth cane


give ; Nor is our neighboure Kingdome Less
requited for the light it first shewed you in that
his Ma ties enjoying the fairest pairt, is so weell
content with a titill to the rest of France. But
we looke not on your Ma tiee as the cause only
But as the pledg of our securitie, For as
Heaven threatens a Deluge of all calamities
uppone a land condemned to be the seat of
warr ; soe may our Natione well expect the
contrary blessings being chosen for the seat of
love. A love soe famous fruitfull and religiously
observed betwixt your most excelent Ma lies that
like the sacrad oil (whairwith the Roiall poet
soe pevfum'd his song of fraternall Amity)
diffus'd from the head doune to the skirts, the
meanest of your people, it affects us all with the
joy of so noble a president. Nore doeth
Heaven seme less to acknowleadge this Pietie
still binding your Kingdomes together with soe
many hopfull knots that wee ar now confident
no other streame of bloode shall ever devyd the
poure of this hapie Hand ; for which Graces
your Ma tie is not named amongst us without
prayers, that when you shall have exceeded the
comoune fate of Humane conditioune no less in
tyme thane in glorie you may recaue that
welcome amongst the glad Angels To wich


the resemblance you have both of thare bright-
ness and inocence Gives you alreadie so fair a

Your Ma 1 ' 05 &c.

Thus I intended long since to have presented
to hir Ma"' those things which I had writtin of
the King But besids that I held thame not
worthie of hir the Tymes alsoe hath made this
epistle unseasonable.



Your commands for the gathering of
these sticks into a faggot had sooner been
obeyed, but, that intending to present you with
my whole vintage, I stayed till the latest grapes
were ripe ; for here your ladyship hath not only
all I have done, but all I ever mean to do of this
kind. Not but that I may defend the attempt
I have made upon poetry, by the examples (not
to trouble you with history) of many wise and
worthy persons of our own times ; as Sir Philip

i. Ed. 1645, To my Lady.


Sidney, Sir Fra : Bacon, Cardinal Perron (the
ablest of his countrymen), and the former Pope,
who, they say, instead of the Triple Crown,
wore sometimes the poet's ivy, as an ornament,
perhaps, of less weight and trouble. But,
madam, these nightingales sung only in the
spring ; it was the diversion of their youth ; as
ladies learn to sing and play whilst * they are
children, what they forget when they are women.
The resemblance holds further ; for, as you quit
the lute the sooner because the posture is
suspected to draw the body awry, so this is net
always practised without some violence 2 to the
mind ; wresting it from present occasions, and
accustoming us to a style somewhat removed
from common use. But, that you may not think
his case deplorable who has made verses, we are
told that Tully (the greatest wit among the
Romans) was once sick of this disease ; and yet
recovered so well, that of almost as bad a poet
as your servant, he became the most perfect
orator in the world. So that, not so much to
have made verses, as not to give over in time,
leaves a man without excuse ; the former
presenting us at least with an opportunity of
doing wisely, that is, to conceal those we have

i. Ed. 1645, wken. z. Ed. 1645, villany.


made ; which I shall yet do, if my humble
request may be of as much force with your
ladyship, as your commands have been with me.
Madam, I only whisper these in your ear ; if
you publish them, they become ' your own ; and
therefore, as you apprehend the reproach of a
wit and a poet, cast them into the fire ; or, if
they come where green boughs are in the
chimney, with the help of your fair friends (for
thus bound, it will be too stubborn 2 a task for
your hands alone), tear them in pieces, wherein
you shall 3 honour me with the fate of Orpheus ;
for so his poems, whereof we only hear the
fame* (not his limbs, as the story would have
it), I suppose were scattered by the Thracian
dames. Here, madam, I might take an oppor-
tunity to celebrate your virtues, and to instruct
the unhappy men that knew you not, who you
are, s how much you excel the most excellent of
your own, and how much you amaze the least
inclined to wonder of our sex. But as they will
be apt to take your ladyship's for a Roman

i. Ed. 1645, are. a. Ed. 1645, hard. 3 Ed. 1645, will.

4. Ed. 1645, henre the forme ; Park (ed. 1806,), substituted
tear, and Bell (ed. 1854,) bear for heart, without rendering
the sentence intelligible.

5. Ed. 1645, Instruct you how unhappie you are, in that
you kmnv not who you art.


name, so would they believe that I endeavoured
the character of a perfect nymph, worshipped an
image of my own making, and dedicated this to
the lady of the brain, not of the heart, of

Your Ladyship's most humble servant,

E. W.


Reader. This parcell of exquisit poems, have
pass'd up and downe through many hands
amongst persons of the best quallity, in loose
imperfect Manuscripts, and there is lately
obtruded to the world an adulterate Copy,
surruptitiously and illegally imprinted to the
derogation of the Author and the abuse of the
Buyer. But in this booke they apeare in their
pure originalls and true genuine colours. In so
much that they feare not (as young Eaglets use
to be tryed whither they are spurious, or of right
extraction) to look upon the Sunne in the
Meridian, in regard Apollo himselfe, the grand
Patron of Poets seemd not only to cast many
favourable aspects, but by his more then
ordinary influence to cooperate in their produc-
tion ; as will appeare to the intelligent and
cleare-sighted Reader, by that constant veine of
gold (the minerall which that planet ownes more
then any other) which runnes through every one
of them. Thus they go abroad unsophisticated
and like the present condition of the Author


himselfe they are expos'd to the wide world, to
travell, and try their fortunes ! And I beleeve
there is no gentle soule that pretends anything
to knowledge and the choycest sort of invention
but will give them entertainment and wellcome.


WHEN the author of these verses (written only
to please himself, and such particular persons
to whom they were directed) returned from
abroad some years since, he was troubled to find
his name in print ; but somewhat satisfied to see
his lines so ill rendered that he might justly
disown them, and say to a mistaking printer as
one did to an ill reciter,

. . . . Male dam rccitas, incipit esse tuum.-

Having been ever since pressed to correct the
many and gross faults (such as use to be in
impressions wholly neglected by the authors),
his answer was, that he made these when ill
verses had more favour, and escaped better,
than good ones do in this age ; the severity
whereof he thought not unhappily diverted by
those faults in the impression which hitherto
have hung upon his book, as the Turks hang old
rags, or such like ugly things, upon their fairest
horses, and other goodly creatures, to secure

i. From the edition of 1664, the first printed after the
a. Mania), lib. i. ep. 39.



them against fascination. And for those of a
more confined understanding, who pretend not
to censure, as they admire most what they least
comprehend, so his verses (maimed to that
degree that himself scarce knew what to make
of many of them) might, that way at least, have
a title to some admiration ; which is no small
matter, if what an old author observes be true,
that the aim of orators is victory, of historians
truth, and of poets admiration. He had reason,
therefore, to indulge those faults in his book,
whereby it might be reconciled to some, and
commended to others.

The printer also, he thought, would fare the
worse if those faults were amended ; for we see
maimed statues sell better than whole ones ;
and clipped and washed money go about, when
the entire and weighty lies hoarded up.

These are the reasons which, for above twelve
years past, he has opposed to our request ; to
which it was replied, that as it would be too late
to recall that which had so long been made
public, so might it find excuse from his youth,
the season it was produced in ; and for what
had been done since, and now added, if it
commend not his poetry, it might his philosophy,
which teaches him so cheerfully to bear so great


a calamity as the loss of the best part of his
fortune, torn from him in prison (in which, and
in banishment, the best portion of his life hath
also been spent), that he can still sing under the
burthen, not unlike that Roman,

.... Quern demisere Pbilippi
Decisis humilem pennis, inopemque paterni
Et laris et fund!. 1 ....

Whose spreading wings, the civil war had clipped,
And him of his old patrimony stripped.

Who yet not long after could say,

Musis araicus, tristitiam et metus
Tradam protervis in mare Creticum
Portare ventis. - . . . .

They that acquainted with the muses be,
Send care and sorrow by the winds to sea.

Not so much moved with these reasons of
ours (or pleased with our rhymes), as wearied
with our importunity, he has at last given us
leave to assure the reader, that the Poems which
have been so long and so ill set forth under his
name, are here to be found as he first writ them;
as also to add some others which have since
been composed by him : and though his advice
to the contrary might have discouraged us, yet

i. Varied from Horace, Epistles II. a. 49-51.
2. Horace, Odes I. 26. 1-3.

C 2


observing how often they have been reprinted,
what price they have borne, and how earnestly
they have been always inquired after, but
especially of late (making good that of Horace,

. . . . Meliora dies, ut vina, poemata reddit. 1

"some verses being, like some wines, recom-
mended to our taste by time and age ") we have
adventured upon this new and well-corrected
edition, which, for our own sakes as well as
thine, we hope will succeed better than he

Vivitur ingenio, cztera mortis erunt.

i. Epistles II i. 34.


NOT having the same Argument as at first to
persuade the Author that I might print his
Verses more Correctly, which he found so ill
done at his Return ; I have now adventured,
without giving him farther Trouble by impor-
tuning him for a new Permission, to Collect all
that I can find, either left out of the former
Edition or such as have been since made by
him ; to which I am the more encouraged,
because the first (tho' most of them were
compos'd Fifty or Sixty years since) seem still
New, which would be more strange in so
changing a Language, had it not been by him
improv'd, which may make one think it true
that I have heard from some learned Criticks,
that Virgil when he said Nova carmina pango
. . . meant not Verses that were never seen
before (for in that sence all at first are New) but
such as he thought might be ever New. May
these still appear to be so for the diversion of
the Readers, and interest of


i. From the 1686 edition.


THE reader needs be told no more in com-
mendation of these Poems, than that they are
Mr. Waller's ; a name that carries everything
in it that is either great or graceful in poetry.
He was, indeed, the parent of English verse,
and the first that showed us our tongue had
beauty and numbers in it. Our language owes
more to him than the French does to Cardinal
Richelieu, and the whole Academy. A poet
cannot think of him without being in the same
rapture Lucretius is in when Epicurus comes
in his way.

Tu pater, es rerum inventor ; tu patria nobis
Suppeditas praecepta ; tuisque ex, Inclute ' chartis,
Floriferis ut apes in saltibus omnia libant,
Omnia nos itidem depascimur aurea dicta,
Aurea ! perpetua semper dignissima vita ! *

The tongue came into his hands like a rough
diamond: he polished it first, and to that

i. Lib. iii. ver. g.


degree, that all artists since him have admired
the workmanship, without pretending to mend
it. Suckling and Carew, I must confess, wrote
some few things smoothly enough ; but as all
they did in this kind was not very considerable,
so it was a little later than the earliest pieces of
Mr. Waller. He undoubtedly stands first in the
list of refiners, and, for aught I know, last too ;
for I question whether in Charles II.'s reign
English did not come to its full perfection ; and
whether it has not had its Augustan age as well
as the Latin. It seems to be already mixed
with foreign languages as far as its purity will
bear ; and, as chemists say of their men-
struums, to be quite sated with the infusion.
But posterity will best judge of this. In the
meantime, it is a surprising reflection, that
between what Spenser wrote last, and Waller
first, there should not be much above twenty
years' distance ; and yet the one's language, like
the money of that time, is as current now as
ever; whilst the other's words are like old coins,
one must go to an antiquary to understand
their true meaning and value. Such advances
may a great genius make, when it undertakes
anything in earnest !

Some painters will hit the chief lines and


masterstrokes of a face so truly, that through
all the differences of age the picture shall still
bear a resemblance. This art was Mr. Waller's :
he sought out, in this flowing tongue of ours,
what parts would last, and be of standing use
and ornament ; and this he did so successfully,
that his language is now as fresh as it was at
first setting out. Were we to judge barely by
the wording, we could not know what was
wrote at twenty, and what at fourscore. He
complains, indeed, of a tide of words that
comes in upon the English poet, and overflows
whatever he builds ; but this was less his case
than any man's that ever wrote ; and the
mischief of it is, this very complaint will last
long enough to confute itself; for though
English be mouldering stone, as he tells us
there, yet he has certainly picked the best out
of a bad quarry.

We are no less beholden to him for the new
turn of verse which he brought in, and the
improvement he made in our numbers. Before
his time men rhymed indeed, and that was all :
as for the harmony of measure, and that dance
of words which good ears are so much pleased
with, they knew nothing of it. Their poetry
then was made up almost entirely of mono-


syllables ; which, when they come together in
any cluster, are certainly the most harsh,
untuneable things in the world. If any man
doubts of this, let him read ten lines in Donne,
and he will be quickly convinced. Besides,
their verses ran all into one another, and hung
together, throughout a whole copy, like the
hooked atoms that compose a body in Des
Cartes. There was no distinction of parts, no
regular stops, nothing for the ear to rest upon ;
but as soon as the copy began, down it went
like a larum, incessantly ; and the reader was
sure to be out of breath before he got to the
end of it : so that really verse, in those days,
was but downright prose tagged with rhymes.
Mr. Waller removed all these faults, brought in
more polysyllables, and smoother measures,
bound up his thoughts better, and in a cadence
more agreeable to the nature of the verse he
wrote in ; so that wherever the natural stops of
that were, he contrived the little breakings of his
sense so as to fall in with them ; and, for that
reason, since the stress of our verse lies
commonly upon the last syllable, you will
hardly ever find him using a word of no force
there. I would say, if I were not afraid the
reader would think me too nice, that he com-


monly closes with verbs, in which we know the
life of language consists.

Among other improvements we may reckon
that of his rhymes, which are always good, and
very often the better for being new. He had a
fine ear, and knew how quickly that sense was
cloyed by the same round of chiming words
still returning upon it. It is a decided case by
the great master of writing, 1 Qua sunt ampla,
et pulchra, diu placere possunt ; qua lepida et
condnna (amongst which rhyme must, whether
it will or no, take its place), citb satietate
afficiunt aurium sensum fastidiosissitnum.
This he understood very well ; and therefore, to
take off the danger of a surfeit that way, strove
to please by variety and new sounds. Had he
carried this observation, among others, as far
as it would go, it must, methinks, have shown
him the incurable fault of this jingling kind of
poetry, and have led his later judgment to
blank verse ; but he continued an obstinate
lover of rhyme to the very last ; it was a
mistress that never appeared unhandsome in
his eyes, and was courted by him long after
Sacharissa was forsaken. He had raised it,
and brought it to that perfection we now enjoy

i. Cicero, Ad Herennium, lib. iv. 23, 32.


it in ; and the poet's temper (which has always
a little vanity in it) would not suffer him ever to
slight a thing he had taken so much pains
to adorn. My Lord Roscommon was more
impartial ; no man ever rhymed truer and
evener than he ; yet he is so just as to confess
that it is but a trifle, and to wish the tyrant
dethroned, and blank verse set up in its room.
There is a third person, 1 the living glory of our
English poetry, who has disclaimed the use of
it upon the stage, though no man ever employed
it there so happily as he. It was the strength
of his genius that first brought it into credit in
plays, and it is the force of his example that
has thrown it out again. In other kinds of
writing it continues still, and will do so till
some excellent spirit arises that has leisure
enough, and resolution, to break the charm, and
free us from the troublesome bondage of rhym-
ing, as Mr. Milton very well calls it, and has
proved it as well by what he has wrote in
another way. But this is a thought for times
at some distance ; the present age is a little too
warlike ; it may perhaps furnish out matter for
a good poem in the next, but it will hardly
encourage one now. Without prophesying, a

i. Mr. Dryden.


man may easily know what sort of laurels are
like to be in request.

Whilst I am talking of verse, I find myself, I
do not know how, betrayed into a great deal
of prose. I intended no more than to put the
reader in mind what respect was due to any-
thing that fell from the pen of Mr. Waller. I
have heard his last-printed copies, which are
added in the several editions of his poems,
very slightly spoken of, but certainly they do
not deserve it. They do indeed discover them-
selves to be his last, and that is the worst we
can say of them. He is there

Jam senior ; sed cruda Deo viridisque senectus. *

The same censure, perhaps, will be passed on
the pieces of this Second Part. I shall not so
far engage for them, as to pretend they are all
equal to whatever he wrote in the vigour of his
youth ; yet they are so much of a piece with the
rest, that any man will at first sight know them
to be Mr. Waller's. Some of them were wrote
very early, but not put into former collections,
for reasons obvious enough, but which are now
ceased. The play was altered to please the
court ; it is not to be doubted who sat for the

i. Virg. ^En. vi. 304.


Two Brothers' characters. It was agreeable to
the sweetness of Mr. Waller's temper to soften
the rigour of the tragedy, as he expresses it ;
but whether it be so agreeable to the nature of
tragedy itself to make everything come off
easily, I leave to the critics. In the prologue
and epilogue there are a few verses that he has
made use of upon another occasion ; but the
reader may be pleased to allow that in him that
has been allowed so long in Homer and
Lucretius. Exact writers dress up their thoughts
so very well always, that when they have need
of the same sense, they cannot put it into other
words but it must be to its prejudice. Care has
been taken in this book to get together every-
thing of Mr. Waller's that is not put into the
former collection ; so that between both the
reader may make the set complete.

It will, perhaps, be contended, after all, that
some of these ought not to have been published ;
and Mr. Cowley's ' decision will be urged, that
a neat tomb of marble is a better monument
than a great pile of rubbish, &c. It might be
answered to this, that the pictures and poems of
great masters have been always valued, though
the last hand were not put to them : and I

i. In the preface to his works.


believe none of those gentlemen that will make
the objection would refuse a sketch of Raphael's,
or one of Titian's draughts of the first sitting.
I might tell them, too, what care has been taken
by the learned to preserve the fragments of the
ancient Greek and Latin poets ; there has been
thought to be a divinity in what they said ; and
therefore the least pieces of it have been kept up
and reverenced like religious relics ; and I am
sure, take away the mille annt, * and impartial
reasoning will tell us there is as much due to the
memory of Mr. Waller, as to the most celebrated
names of antiquity.

But, to waive the dispute now of what ought
to have been done, I can assure the reader what
would have been, had this edition been delayed.
The following poems were got abroad, and in a
great many hands ; it were vain to expect that,
among so many admirers of Mr. Waller, they
should not meet with one fond enough to publish

i. Alluding to that verse in Juvenal

. . . . Et uni cedit Homero

Propter mille annos. . . . Sat. 7, 38-39.

And yields to Homer on no other score,
Than that he lived a thousand years before.



them. They might have stayed, indeed, till by
frequent transcriptions they had been corrupted
extremely, and jumbled together with things of
another kind ; but then they would have found
their way into the world ; so it was thought a
greater piece of kindness to the author to put
them out whilst they continue genuine and
unmixed and such as he himself, were he alive,
might own.



Now had his Highness bid farewell to Spain,
And reached the sphere of his own power, the main ;
With British bounty in his ship he feasts
The Hesperian princes, his amazed guests
To find that watery wilderness exceed 5

The entertainment of their great Madrid.
Healths to both kings, attended with the roar
Of cannons, echoed from the affrighted shore,
With loud resemblance of his thunder, prove
Bacchus the seed of cloud-compelling Jove ; 10

While to his harp divine Arion sings
The loves and conquests of our Albion kings.
Of the Fourth Edward was his noble song,
Fierce, goodly, valiant, beautiful, and young ;

i. 1645, St. Andere. 1664, Saint Andtret.



He rent the crown from vanquished Henry's bead, 15
Raised the White Rose, and trampled on the Red ;
Till love, triumphing o'er the victor's pride,
Brought Mars and Warwick to the conquered side ;
Neglected Warwick (whose bold hand, like Fate,
Gives and resumes the sceptre of our state) 20

Woos for his master ; and with double shame,
Himself deluded, mocks the princely dame,
The Lady Bona, whom just anger burns,
And foreign war with civil rage returns.
Ah ! spare your swords, where beauty is to blame ; 25
Love gave the affront, and must repair the same ;
WTien France shall boast of her, whose conquering


Have made the best of English hearts their prize ;
Have power to alter the decrees of Fate,
And change again the counsels of our state. 30

What the prophetic Muse intends, alone

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