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creditable to human nature; the miserable Waller, crawling and fawning for his life, is a loathsome Subject of contemplation, and we cannot wonder at the indignation of May, the tragic poet, who was secretary to the House of Commons at that time, and who has no contempt bitter enough for the way in which Waller, in his decent black, whined before his colleagues, “bewailing his offence, and thanking God that so mischievous and bloody a conspiracy was discovered before it could take effect.” The House, however, proved implacable. Waller was expelled from Parliament and handed over to the army to be court-martialed. He was condemned to death, but after long pleading and parleying, Essex consented to pardon him, with a fine of £10,000. He was ordered to leave the country instantly; he did not wait to be twice asked to go, but fled to France, and settled with his family at Rouen, early in 1644. With this we may take leave of him for the present; his exile was the close of the first act in the development of classical poetry in England.
THE earliest critics of our classical poetry never wavered in their allegiance to Waller and to Denham as the Castor and Pollux, the divine twin brethren, who first refined the art of verse and taught us Englishmen the graces. In dedi
cating his tragedy of The Rival Ladies to Lord
Orrery, himself a rhyming tragedian, Dryden says: “The excellence and dignity of rime were never fully known till Mr Waller taught it; but this sweetness of his lyric poesy was afterwards followed in the epic by Sir John Denham, in his Cooper's Hill, a poem which, your lordship knows, for the majesty of the style, is, and ever will be, the exact standard of good writing.” With the sweetness of Waller we are already acquainted. We must now introduce ourselves to this majesty of Denham, who demands our consideration all the more because it happened that a book of his was the first poetry published by the English classicists'. Waller's Poems were widely circulated from hand
* Appendix I.