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Waller was still to immerse himself deeper in ignominy. The Earl of Portland and Lord Conway denied the charge; and there was no evidence against them but the confession of Waller, of which undoubtedly many would be inclined to question the veracity. With these doubts he was so much terrified, that he endeavoured to persuade Portland to a declaration like his own, by a letter extant in Fenton's edition. “ But for me,” says he, “ you had never known any thing of this business, which was prepared for another; and therefore I cannot imagine why you should hide it so far as to contract your own ruin by concealing it, and persisting unreasonably to hide that truth, which without you already is, and will every day be made more, manifest. Can you imagine yourself bound in honour to keep that secret, which is already revealed by another? or possible it should still be a secret, which is known to one of the other sex?-If you persist to be cruel to yourself for their sakes who deserve it not, it will nevertheless be made appear, ere long, I fear, to your ruin. Surely, if I had the happiness to wait on you, I could move you to compassionate both yourself and me, who, desperate as my case is, am desirous to die with the honour of being known to have declared the truth. You have no reason to contend to hide what is already revealed-inconsiderately to throw away yourself, for the interest of others, to whom you are less obliged than you are aware of.”
This persuasion seems to have had little effect. Portland sent (June 29) a letter to the Lords, to tell them, that he“ is in custody, as he conceives,
without any charge ; and that, by what Mr. Waller hath threatened him with since he was imprisoned, he doth apprehend a very cruel, long, and ruinous restraint:—He therefore prays, that he may not find the effects of Mr. Waller's threats, by a long and close imprisonment; but may be speedily brought to a legal trial, and then he is confident the vanity and falsehood of those informations which have been given against him will appear.”
In consequence of this letter, the Lords ordered Portland and Waller to be confronted; when the one repeated his charge, and the other his denial. The examination of the plot being continued (July 1), Thinn, usher of the house of Lords, deposed, that Mr. Waller having had a conference with the Lord Portland in an upper room, Lord Portland said, when he came down, “ Do me the favour to tell my Lord Northumberland, that Mr. Waller has extremely pressed me to save my own life and his, by throwing the blame upon the Lord Conway and the Earl of Northumberland,”.
Waller, in his letter to Portland, tells him of the reasons which he could urge with resistless efficacy in a personal conference; but he over-rated his own oratory; his vehemence, whether of persuasion or entreaty, was returned with contempt.
One of his arguments with Portland is, that the plot is already known to a woman. This woman was doubtless Lady Aubigney, who, upon this occasion, was committed to custody; but who, in reality, when she delivered the commission, knew not what it was.
The Parliament then proceeded against the conspirators, and committed their trial to a council of war. Tomkyns and Chaloner were hanged near their own doors. Tomkyns, when he came to die, said it was a foolish business; and indeed there seems to have been no hope that it should escape discovery; for, though never more than three met at a time, yet a design so extensive must, by necessity, be communicated to many, who could not be expected to be all faithful, and all prudent. Chaloner was attended at his execution by Hugh Peters. His crime was, that he had commission to raise money for the King; but it appears not that the money was to be expended upon the advancement of either Crispe or Waller’s plot.
The Earl of Northumberland, being too great for prosecution, was only once examined before the Lords. The Earl of Portland and Lord Conway, persisting to deny the charge, and no testimony but Waller’s yet appearing against them, were, after a long imprisonment, admitted to bail. Hassel, the King's messenger, who carried the letters to Oxford, died the night before his trial. Hampden escaped death, perhaps by the interest of his family; but was kept in prison to the end of his life. They whose names were inserted in the commission of array were not capitally punished, as it could not be proved that they had consented to their own nomination; but they were considered as malignants, and their estates were seized. : “ Waller, though confessedly,” says Clarendon, “ the most guilty, with incredible dissimulation, affected such a remorse of conscience, that his trial
was put off, out of Christian compassion, till he might recover his understanding.” What use he made of this interval, with what liberality and success he distributed flattery and money, and how, when he was brought (July 4.) before the House, he confessed and lamented, and submitted and implored, may be read in the History of the Rebellion (B. vii.) The speech, to which Clarendon ascribes the preservation of his dear-bought life, is inserted in his works. The great historian, however, seems to have been mistaken in relating that he prevailed in the principal part of his supplication, not to be tried by a Council of War; for, according to Whitlock, he was by expulsion from the House abandoned to the tribunal which he so much dreaded, and, being tried and condemned, was reprieved by Essex ; but after a year's imprisonment, in which time resentment grew less acrimonious, paying a fine of ten thousand pounds, he was permitted to recollect himself in another country.
Of his behaviour in this part of his life, it is not necessary to direct the reader's opinion. “Let us “ not,” says his last ingenious biographer *, “ condemn him with untempered severity, because he was not a prodigy which the world hath seldom seen, because his character included not the poet, the orator, and the hero.”
For the place of his exile he chose France, and stayed some time at Roan, where his daughter Margaret was born, who was afterwards his favourite, and
* Life of Waller prefixed to an Edition of his Works, published in 1773, by Percival Stockdale. C.
his amanuensis. He then removed to Paris, where he lived with great splendor and hospitality; and from time to time amused himself with poetry, in which he sometimes speaks of the rebels, and their usurpation, in the natural language of an honest man.
At last it became necessary, for his support, to sell his wife's jewels; and being reduced, as he said, at last to the rump-jewel, he solicited from Cromwell permission to return, and obtained it by the interest of colonel Scroop, to whom his sister was married. Upon the remains of a fortune which the danger of his life had very much diminished, he lived at Hallbarn, a house built by himself very near to Beaconsfield, where his mother resided. His mother, though related to Cromwell and Hampden, was zealous for the royal cause, and, when Cromwell visited her, used to reproach him; he, in return, would throw a napkin at her, and say he would not dispute with his aunt; but finding in time that she acted for the King, as well as talked, he made her a prisoner to her own daughter, in her own house. If he would do any thing, he could not do less.
Cromwell, now Protector, received Waller, as his kinsman, to familiar conversation. Waller, as he used to relate, found him sufficiently versed in ancient history; and when any of his enthusiastick friends came to advise or consult him, could sometimes overhear him discoursing in the cant of the times : but, when he returned, he would say, “ Cousin Waller, I must talk to these men in their own way:" and resumed the common style of conversation.
He repaid the Protector for his favours (1654) byv