Edmund Waller



Margaret C. Deas [Mrs Cohen], A Study of the Life and Poetry of Edmund Waller (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cambridge, 1931 [Cambridge University Library, Ph.D. Dissertation 411]).

Life (1711)

[Anon.], ‘An Account of the Life and Writings of Edmond Waller, Esq;’, in Edmund Waller, Poems &c. written upon several Occasions, and to several Persons, ‘Eighth’ Edition (London: for Jacob Tonson, 1711), pp. i-lxix.

Poems 1645 (1971)

Edmund Waller, Poems 1645 Together with Poems from Bodleian MS Don D 55 (Menston: Scolar Press, 1971)


G. Steinman Steinman, Some Particulars contributed towards a Memoir of Mrs. Myddelton, The Great Beauty of the Time of Charles II (privately edited, [Oxford], 1864)


The Poems of Edmund Waller, ed. G. Thorn-Drury [first pub. London, 1893], 2 vols (London, [1904])

Wikelund (1970)

Philip R. Wikelund, ‘Edmund Waller's Fitt of Versifying: Deductions from a Holograph Fragment, Folger MS. X. d. 309’, Philological Quarterly, 49 (1970), 68-91

Workes (1645)

The Workes of Edmond Waller (London, 1645)


Edmund Waller — who was commonly regarded as the greatest poet of his age (‘the English Vergil of our times’, Samuel Carrington called him in 1659; ‘Inter Poetas sui temporis facile Princeps’, Rymer called him in the epitaph on his tomb) — has left relatively few literary manuscripts in his own hand, although a number of his original letters as well as some signed documents and inscribed books from his library survive. Papers, however, belonging to his immediate family — or which can now be identified as having once so belonged — increase significantly the modest sum of authoritative witnesses to his poetical writings. In addition, several substantial manuscript collections of his poems, as well as numerous other individual copies, bear witness to the lively contemporary circulation of his work in manuscript.

Autograph Manuscripts

By far the most important of Waller's autograph manuscripts to survive is his heavily revised draft of two sections of an intermediate version of Of a War with Spain, and a Fight at Sea (*WaE 144), a draft which has rightly been described as one of the best in the field of seventeenth-century poetry. This manuscript has been extensively analysed in Wikelund (1970). An extreme example of Waller's most characteristic handwriting — ‘a lamentably <bad> hand, as bad <as> the scratching of a hen’, Aubrey described it (Clark (1898), II, 277) — this working draft provides the most vivid witness to Waller's laborious method of composition: to what Wikelund has variously described (pp. 74, 82) as ‘a process of painstaking trial and error’, as ‘a back-and-fill movement within the poet's mind’ and as a ‘method…of mosaic’. Relatively fair copies in Waller's hand of two shorter poems by him survive — On the Marriage of Sir John Denham (*WaE 758) and a French version of his poem On Mrs. Arden (*WaE 759), the latter appearing in one of his letters. A complete surviving copy of one of his best-known and most influential poems, Instructions to a Painter, was evidently made by a member of his household and bears autograph revisions and two inserted lines by the poet himself (*WaE 104). From his later years there survive no fewer than seven working drafts, or partial drafts, of his pious effusion Of Divine Poesy (WaE 161-7), some of which contain his autograph revisions, insertions and deletions. A few other sources contain autograph scraps of verse by Waller, some of which were incorporated (sometimes more than once) in his known works (see *WaE 750, *WaE 758, *WaE 759, *WaE 765, *WaE 779, and *WaE 783).

There also survives an earlier philosophical notebook in Waller's hand (WaE 789), the most substantial extant autograph manuscript by him. What might possibly be this manuscript (if not a quite separate item) is what is described as a quarto manuscript Logicæ Rudimenta, dated 1666, allegedly in Waller's hand, offered in Willis and Sotheran's sale catalogue for 1859, item 5245.

Waller Family Manuscripts

These various recorded autograph manuscripts are now widely scattered among repositories in Britain and the U.S.A. Special interest must, however, attach to a collection of papers still owned by Waller's direct descendants (present representative: Mr. Richard Waller). Besides the poet's partly autograph manuscripts of Instructions to a Painter and Of Divine Poesy noted above, and which are still retained by the family, the Waller family papers include various manuscript poems and compilations almost certainly, for the most part, in the hands of members of the poet's immediate household or circle. Although several hands are present in these manuscripts, there is one recurring hand that predominates — an unprofessional, sometimes ungainly, but always very legible hand, which adopts curious spellings on occasions and varies widely from a relatively careful, clear, rounded script to a hurried, cursory scrawl, reminiscent of the hand of Waller himself. Circumstantial evidence, as well as the nature of the script and some of the contents of the manuscripts concerned, make it clear that this hand belonged to one of Waller's daughters — although, at present, it may be wise to leave open at least the possibility that it belonged to more than one of his daughters since two or more of them might, just conceivably, have adopted a common style of script under the influence of the same household tutor. This hand was principally responsible for a quarto miscellany (described below as the ‘Younger Waller MS’), as well as certain groups of unbound sheets of poems among the family papers. In addition, these manuscripts now make it possible to identify a further important family collection, almost entirely in the same hand, now at Harvard (fMS Eng 602).

One candidate for identification of this hand is the poet's favourite daughter, Margaret. She is reported to have been born at Rouen during the poet's exile abroad (i.e. between the end of 1644 and January 1652, most probably in 1649) and she died in 1690 (her will is dated 2 May 1690, with a codicil dated 3 August 1690, and she was buried at Beaconsfield on 12 August 1690). According to Waller's early biographer, he was ‘particularly fond of this Daughter, and she us'd to serve him as his Amanuensis’ (Life (1711), p. xxxii). What would seem to be the only independent example of Margaret's handwriting is the signature on her will (National Archives, Kew, PROB 10/1211, proved 23 August 1690; probate copy PROB 11/400/130). This signature might conform to the script in the poetical manuscripts, but the similarities are not conclusive. The principal evidence against this identification, however — unless we are correct in conjecturing that more than one daughter adopted the common style — lies in the contents of one of the Waller family manuscripts in this hand, a small miscellany of verse on two unsewn bifolia, which must date after 1690: it contains, for instance, two poems by Samuel Garth — ‘Doctor Gath on ye King of Spain’ (‘Pallas destructive to the Trojen Line’) and ‘Prologue, spoken at ye musick subscrib'd to by The Quality of England By Dr Gath’ (‘Where Harmony & Conqu'ring Beauty reign’) — whereas Garth did not receive his qualification as a Doctor until 1691. In view of this, the other best candidate for identification is Waller's fifth daughter, Elizabeth (or Eliza), who was sole executrix of Margaret's will. Elizabeth too remained unmarried. She later moved to Bures St Mary in Suffolk and lived on until 1730. Her will, dated 28 April 1727, is in the National Archives, Kew (PROB 10/1743, proved 11 June 1730; registered copy PROB 11/638/179). Her neat, perhaps slightly hesitant signature ‘Eliz: Waller’, written some forty years after the poetical manuscripts, is, like that of Margaret, inconclusive evidence either for or against the identification of the handwriting.

Apart from Waller's daughter-in-law, Abigail (née Tilney, who at the alleged age of 24 married Edmund Waller the Younger in 1686, to whom Aphra Behn sent her elegy on Waller in 1687 (*BeA 10), and who, in the manner of the day, would then also have referred to the poet as her ‘father’) — and also excluding Mary, who married Dr Peter Birch and died before the end of 1688 — the other possible, but less likely, candidates for identification would be Anna Marah (b.1634), who married William Dormer, of Rousham, Oxfordshire, in 1653 and was still living in 1711; Celia, who married James Harvey of Suffolk and was still living in 1690 (but is not mentioned in her brother Edmund's Will in 1699); Anne, who married George Tipping of Oxfordshire and was still living in 1711; Cicilia (or Cicely), who married Nathaniel Tomkins and was still living in 1711; and Octavia, who apparently remained unmarried and was also still living in 1711. Waller's other daughter, Dorothy, a ‘dwarf’, who was still living in 1699, was sent off to the North of England away from the family.

Whichever of the daughters it be, the scribe in question was evidently close to her father, acted as his amanuensis in his later years and, just before and after his death, made her own copies, sometimes of poems perhaps found among his papers, including on occasions whole series of different drafts of recognised poems by him, reproducing revisions and all. The exact nature of her compilations and transcripts merits detailed investigation by any future editor of Waller. Besides all else, it is not impossible that some of the multiple drafts resulted from the poet's dictation or even from some measure of collaboration between him and his daughter or daughters.

Another of the poet's children who may possibly be represented in the Waller family papers is his second son, Edmund Waller, MP (1652-99), who attended Christ Church, Oxford, became a barrister in the Middle Temple in 1675, and also became a Quaker. Edmund Waller the Younger himself had ‘a Taste in Poetry’ and wrote verse, usually ‘upon Religious Subjects’ (Life (1711), p. xlv). What may be examples of his scribbled signature occur in the ‘Younger Waller MS’ already mentioned, but it is difficult to identify further samples among these papers. An independent and clearly authentic example of the younger Edmund's handwriting survives in the form of a letter to William Penn, dated from Beaconsfield, ‘3.M.31.98’ [i.e. 31 May 1698] and now with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Penn-Forbes Collection, Vol. II, p. 101). However, this late example is written in a cursive hand considerably different in style from anything in the family papers. The younger Edmund Waller's signature also occurs on some legal documents in the Buckinghamshire Record Office and on each of the five large sheets that comprise his will, now in the National Archives, Kew (PROB 10/1332, dated 30 August 1699, proved 18 July 1700; probate copy PROB 11/456/108). Differences notwithstanding, it is the younger Edmund Waller who was almost certainly responsible for a student notebook of some 73 quarto leaves, inscribed ‘Edmond Waller his booke’, now in Edinburgh University Library (MS Dc. 6. 85). A series of philosophical exercises chiefly in Latin, beginning with ‘Institutiones logicae’, and also including lectures on the law, feudalism and Parliament, this notebook first appeared for sale at Puttick & Simpson's, 18 February 1852, lot 924 (sold to Hamilton), wrongly described as an autograph manuscript of Waller the poet, as, indeed, it still is in the Library catalogue. It may be noted that a reference to ‘Tutor meus Mr. Squibb’, with the date ‘14. Nov. 1666’, occurs on fol. 37r, and the date ‘April 21. 67’ on fol. 43v. The fifteen-year-old Edmund Waller the Younger matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, on 17 December 1666.

Besides the partly autograph manuscripts and ‘Younger Waller MS’ already mentioned, the main relevant items among the Waller family papers may briefly be listed, for convenient reference, as follows:

(i) Sheaf of unbound manuscripts including the partly autograph poems by Waller (*WaE 104, WaE 162-7) and also a copy of On the Fear of God. In Two Cantos in the hand of Thomas Ellwood (WaE 348). Thomas Ellwood (1639-1713), the Quaker, friend of John Milton, was also friend and counsellor of Waller in his later years. According to Waller's Life (1711), p. lv, Ellwood's ‘Love of Letters and Humanity made his Conversation much desir'd by Mr. Waller’ and ‘Mr. Elwood read that Poem Of the Fear of God to him, the last time he saw him at his House at Beconsfield; but Sickness and Death follow'd so close, that Mr. Waller had nor Time to revise and polish it, as otherwise he might perhaps have done in some Place’.

(ii) Folio booklet of verse, sixteen leaves, unbound, predominantly in the hand of one of Waller's daughters. Contents include poems by Marvell, Lord Cutts, Dryden, Rochester, Mrs Higgons, and others. On f. [5r] appears a poem ‘To my Courteous Freind Edmond Waller’ (beginning ‘The Thracian Harper, whose melodious Lyre’), with the inscription ‘this was writen by Elhud a Quager’ [i.e. Thomas Ellwood].

(iii) Some sixteen unbound, or possibly disbound, folio leaves of verse, all in the hand of one of Waller's daughters. Contents include poems by Cowley, Thomas Flatman, Rochester, Dryden, at least four by Waller himself (‘The last Verses my Dear ffather made’, ‘The ffoollowing line my ffather write in a letter to my Lady Ranalagh…’, etc.), and one addressed to Waller by Mrs Wharton. On f. [6r] appear two poems headed, respectively, ‘Sr Charles Barkeleye to my ffather’ (beginning ‘How painefull are the wayes that leade to ffame’) and ‘Sr Charles Barkeleye on my ffathers Arms’ (beginning ‘Three Gollden leaves adorne the sable feeld’).

(iv) Sheaf of unbound letters (some of a later date) and a few copies of verse. The latter include a contemporary copy on a separate folio leaf of the poem to Waller by Ellwood (as in i above), dated October 1687, and, on two other quarto pages, an elegy ‘On the death of Mr Waller’ (beginning ‘Ah had thy body lasted as thy name’).

(v) Folio booklet of verse, ten leaves, chiefly (but not entirely) in the hand of one of Waller's daughters. Contents include poems by Lord Roscommon, Charles Montagu, Earl of Halifax (‘Writ on a leaf in Waller's Poems at Althrop by my Ld H’), and Ambrose Philips.

(vi) Folio booklet of verse, four leaves, in the hand of one of Waller's daughters. Contents include poems by Mrs Wharton, ‘Dr [Samuel] Ga[r]th’ and ‘Mr Adeston’.

(vii) Quarto copy in the hand of Thomas Ellwood of the collection of elegies on Waller (by Sir John Cotton, Sir Thomas Higgons, Thomas Rymer, George Granville, Bevill Higgons, and Aphra Behn) which was published in London in 1688 as Poems to the Memory of that Incomparable Poet Edmond Waller Esquire; probably transcribed from the printed edition and bound in red morocco.

Considered as incorporating not only the ‘Younger Waller MS’ but also the now separate ‘Harvard MS’, the Waller family manuscripts as a whole illuminate Waller studies considerably. First of all, they preserve family texts of a number of Waller's working drafts or alternative versions of his published later poems — among them, Of Her Majesty, on New Year's Day, 1683 (WaE 177-184), Of Tea, commended by Her Majesty (WaE 254-256), On the Duke of Monmouth's Expedition into Scotland in the Summer Solstice, 1679 (WaE 345-346), Pride (WaE 407-408), and The Triple Combat (WaE 665-666). These texts increase greatly the evidence of Waller's working methods found by Professor Wikelund in the Folger autograph manuscript of Of a War with Spain, and a Fight at Sea (*WaE 144). Indeed, in the ample witness they bear to the roughness and occasional expansiveness of his (hitherto unpublished) earlier drafts, and to the process by which they were reduced and polished to their ‘final’ published versions, they lend ironic support to Waller's own confession in Upon the Earl of Roscommon's Translation of Horace (Thorn-Drury, II, 86-8, lines 41-2):

Poets lose half the praise they should have got,

Could it be known what they discreetly blot.

The family manuscripts further expand our knowledge of Waller's milieu because they contain, often jumbled up with Waller's own compositions, a considerable number of poems by members of his immediate circle, people who interracted with him often on a literary level. At least some of these writers are subjects of known poems by Waller; others themselves wrote poems on, or to, Waller; and yet others may well have been ‘introduced’ to Waller by intermediaries.

Finally, the family manuscripts present the tantalising possibility of preserving drafts of other verses hitherto unrecognised as his. While Waller's known (that is, published) poems can, with some perseverence, generally be recognised (even in hugely variant earlier drafts), it is no easy matter to identify unpublished compositions by him — especially since, in her compilations, his daughter seems to have made no systematic attempt to distinguish her father's works from the mass of other literary compositions evidently at hand. Those verses in these manuscripts that remain stubbornly anonymous are certainly worth investigation — especially if, as is so often the case, they are written in rhymed couplets and very much in Waller's style (and even if they be in coarser style, granted the evidence of his unpublished drafts). A few such examples are actually docketed in the manuscripts in a near-contemporary hand as being ‘by Mr Waller’ and are accordingly given separate entries below (WaE 751, WaE 752, WaE 762-4, WaE 786). Among the numerous unidentified verse-fragments which his daughter felt compelled to copy on more than one occasion are, for instance, verses beginning ‘a noble minde’ (fourteen lines); ‘Among ye rest, the thought of Jealousie’ (twelve lines); ‘Answer'd Caretta, little do you know’ (nine lines); ‘Great Young man the time is neare’ (twelve lines); ‘Joy may be seen, and grief it self unfold’ (couplet); and ‘O my Mirtillo! can this forc'd disguise’ (30 lines).


A number of Waller's original letters survive, as well as a few in early manuscript copies, in various locations, some of them briefly recorded in Thorn-Drury and Wikelund (1970). Those currently known are recorded in entries below (WaE 799-834). One other not known to survive in manuscript is to Lady Lucy Sidney, [July 1639], which was edited in the ‘eighth’ edition of Waller's Poems (London, 1711), pp. xi-xiii, and reprinted in Thorn Drury, I, xxviii-xxx. These items are in addition to the formal dedicatory epistles that appeared in Waller's published Poems.

A possibly unrecorded ‘autograph letter’ by Waller, of unspecified date, accompanied an exemplum of his Poems (1705) offered at Sotheby's, 30 March 1882 (Frederic Ouvry sale), lot 1454, to Wilson. There was also an unspecified letter by Waller (among others by Buckhurst, Congreve, Milton et al.) in an album sold at Sotheby's on 17 February 1890 (Alexander Foote sale), lot 285, to Stileles.

What purported to be a significant correspondence in which Waller was engaged was later published, apparently by John Langhorne, as Letters supposed to have passed between M. De St. Evremond and Mr. Waller, 2 vols (London, 1769). Of the 42 letters printed here, 23 purport to be written by Waller. Certainly the celebrated French writer and soldier Charles Marguetel de Saint-Denis (1616-1703), Seigneur de Saint Evremond, who spent nearly forty years of his life in exile in England, was a friend of Waller. Among other things, Waller refers to him on occasions in his genuine letters. St Evremond refers to Waller likewise, with the greatest respect, in his own letters (see The Letters of Saint Evremond, ed. John Hayward (London, 1930), p. 127 et passim); and St Evremond is reported to have left Waller his papers to keep for him at one time (Life (1711), p. xxxvi). However, from the nature of the contents, as well as from factual errors incorporated, there is no doubt that Langhorne's publication is spurious, being a literary fiction somewhat like those of Tom Browne at an earlier date, if not the English equivalent of a host of unreliable French editions of St Evremond's supposed works that appeared in the 18th century.

The texts of a few letters sent to Waller by correspondents are preserved. Four of John Evelyn's letters to Waller, from Paris and Sayes Court between 20 December 1649 and 12 November 1653 are copied (as Liber III. Epist. vi, xxix, liv, and lxvii) in one of Evelyn's letterbooks owned by Baron Camoys of Stonor Park (a microfilm is in the Bodleian, MS Film 743), and it is possible that others addressed to Waller are among the letterbooks in the Evelyn Papers now in the British Library (including Add. MS 78298, ff. 39v, 46v, 55r, 59v). An official copy (in Entry Book 10) of the letter written to Waller on 22 March 1662/3 by Henry Bennet, Lord Arlington, commanding him and Thomas Killigrew to read the new comedy [by John Wilson], The Cheats, to see if it contained ‘things of a Scandalous & offensive nature’, is in the National Archives, Kew (SP 44/10, pp. 54-5). For a letter by Hobbes to Waller, formerly among the family papers, see *HbT 122. Still among the family papers are an autograph letter to the poet from his mother, Anne, dated 23 June [c. 1640?], which is cited in Thorn-Drury, I, lix-lx, and a letter to the poet signed by Lord Sunderland, 6 April 1685. One further letter among the family papers may conceivably have been acquired at a later date. It is addressed to ‘my very lovinge freind Edward [sic] Waller’ and purports to be written and signed (‘Oliver P’) by Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector, on 13 June 1655, in response to Waller's panegyric on him (see WaE 375-399). This letter was first published in N&Q, 2nd Ser. 105 (2 January 1858), p. 2, and was reprinted in The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell, ed. Wilbur Cortez Abbott, III (Cambridge, 1945), 748-9. It is not, however in Cromwell's hand, or signed by him; neither is it in any way characteristic of him, and so remains something of a mystery.

Documents Signed by Waller

In addition to his letters, various miscellaneous business, estate and official documents, many signed by Waller, can be recorded (WaE 835-857). Also, not given separate entries, is a series of twelve reports signed by Waller and other Commissioners for Foreign Plantations, between 17 November 1670 and 27 October 1674. Chiefly originals signed, one or two in scribal copies, these are in the National Archives, Kew (CO1/25/97; CO1/26/30.I; CO1/26/55-56; CO1/28/50; CO1/29/1; CO1/29/18; CO1/30/41; CO1/30/81; CO1/30/92; CO1/31/26; CO1/31/67; also Colonial Entry Book, Vol. 93, p. 70). They are recorded in Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, [Volume 7], America and West Indies, 1669-1674, ed. W. Noel Sainsbury (London, 1889), Nos 339, 439, 512, 822, 880, 903, 923, 1105, 1165, 1185, 1251, and 1367.

The toll of documents by or relating to Waller could perhaps be extended considerably by inclusion of the large number of legal documents among the Waller papers preserved by H. J. F. Lawson (1931-2005), sixth Baron Burnham, at Waller's former seat, Hall Barn, near Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire. Two typescript calendars of these in the Buckinghamshire Record Office list over two dozen indentures to which Waller was a party, over a period of more than fifty years. It has not been ascertained at present how many of these deeds and counterparts actually bear Waller's signature. (See particularly, in the shorter summary prepared in 1973, Nos 106 [1627], 107 [1675] and 109 [1676]; and in the longer calendar prepared in 1990, Nos 106-7, 110-11, 116, 121, 123-4, 126-7, 132, 167-9, 173-4, 176-81, 184, and 197-9, dating from 1626 to 1678). There is also reported to be a group of deeds relating to Waller, Beaconsfield and Coleshill in the Wakefield Collection in the Library of Congress.

An allegedly autograph manuscript by Waller on a single folio page, headed ‘Objections to be answered by the Authour’ and referring to Burnett's Theory of the Earth, was sold at Puttick & Simpson's, 2 March 1870, lot 408, to Boone (Waller's own exemplum of Burnett's book being lot 196 in the Waller sale at Hall Barn on 17 September 1832). The same lot at Puttick & Simpson's included ‘a signature [by Waller] cut from a flyleaf’, while lot 409 following, also sold to Boone, comprised ‘Waller Family, several Autographs, fly-leaves of Books, etc. including E. Waller, the Poet’. A detached signature of Waller is preserved in the Pierpont Morgan Library (R-V, inserted in Boswell's Life of Johnson, II, 176); this is possibly the signature ‘Edm Waller’ on a slip of paper sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 1 November 1950 (Barrett sale), lot 1115. A document in the British Library (Egerton MS 2190, f. 1), signed on 27 August 1641 by one ‘Ed Waller’ and Thomas Hanson — a certificate of the Subsidiary Commissioners relating to the assessment of Robert White, of Chippenham in Barnham, Buckinghamshire — appears, however, to relate to one of the poet's namesakes.

More than one Last Will and Testament by Waller survives. One dated 12 September 1681 (with a codicil dated 9 January 1681[/2]), remains among the Waller family papers (*WaE 858) and also survives in a copy made in 1871 (WaE 860). Among other things, this will refers to two indentures for land transactions between Waller and William, Earl of Devonshire, and Sir Charles Harbord made on 4-5 April 1660. Among Waller's children mentioned here are Maria (Mary), Edmund and Richard. Yet another will, signed on 19 June 1686 and preserved in various copies (WaE 859-863), bears a codicil dated 2 July 1687 appointing as his executor his son Dr Stephen Waller, Fellow of New College, Oxford. It also confirms former deeds bequeathing £1,000 each to Stephen, to Waller's daughters Margaret, Mary, Elizabeth, Anne, Cicily (or Cicilia) and Octavia, and to his son William (d.1708). It bequeathed his house in St James's Street in trust to Stephen; it divided among them all his remaining goods and chattels and his lease at Coltshill, Hertfordshire; and it bestowed life annuities of £60 and £40 respectively on his mentally infirm son Benjamin and his ‘dwarfish’ daughter Dorothy, committing Benjamin to the care of his daughter Margaret and expressing the desire that she would ‘take care of him and that hee will be advised by her’.

Manuscript Copies of Waller's Poems

Collections of Waller's poems evidently had a considerable degree of circulation in scribal copies from a relatively early date. According to the printers' prefaces to the allegedly authorised editions of his Poems in 1645 and 1664, Waller's verses were ‘written only to please himself, and such particular persons to whom they were directed’ (Thorn-Drury, I, xiii). They ‘pass'd up and downe through many hands amongst persons of the best quallity, in loose imperfect Manuscripts’, until a pirated edition — ‘an adulterate Copy, surreptitiously and illegally imprinted to the derogation of the Author and the abuse of the Buyer’ — appeared early in 1645 while the poet was in France, ‘which occasion'd his permitting a genuine one’ (ibid. I, xi, and Life (1711), p. xxxii). Several manuscript collections of Waller's verse dating for the most part almost certainly from before 1645 survive. Moreover, it is clear that a number of other, generally later, poems were passed about in manuscript both within and outside Waller's large and distinguished social circle before being gathered up into the various printed editions. The editor (almost certainly Francis Atterbury) of The Second Part of Mr. Waller's Poems (London, 1690) defends his publication of hitherto unpublished poems on the grounds that they were ‘got abroad, and in a great many hands’, where ‘They might have stayed, indeed, till by frequent transcriptions they had been corrupted extremely, and jumbled together with things of another kind’ had Atterbury not ‘put them out whilst they continue genuine and unmixed’ (Thorn-Drury, I, xxvi-xxvii).

Formal Scribal Collections of the 1640s

The major or substantial known manuscript collections of poems by Waller, the majority dating probably from the 1640s, as well as some interesting examples of later printed editions with supplementary manuscript poems, are given descriptive entries below. For convenient reference they are briefly listed here, together with the delta numbers (for at least nineteen of them) originally supplied in IELM:

Bodleian, MS Don. d. 55. ‘Colte MS’: WaE Δ 1. Includes 75 poems by Waller.

Bodleian, MS Rawl. poet. 174. ‘Rawlinson MS’: WaE Δ 2. Includes 50 poems by Waller.

King's College, Cambridge, Keynes MS 90. ‘Keynes MS’: WaE Δ 3. Includes 60 poems by Waller.

Owned by Richard Waller. ‘Hazlitt MS’: WaE Δ 4. Includes 51 poems by Waller.

Yale, Gen MSS Misc Group 2759, Item V-1. ‘Breadalbane MS’: WaE Δ 5. Includes 65 poems by Waller.

Belton House, Grantham. ‘Belton MS’: [WaE Δ A]. Includes 73 poems by Waller.

Landesbibliothek Kassel, 2o Ms. poet. et roman. 4. Kassel MS: [WaE Δ B]. Includes 65 poems by Waller.

Other Manuscripts containing Ten or More Poems by Waller

These may be listed as follows:

Harvard, fMS Eng 602. ‘Harvard MS’: WaE Δ 6. Includes at least 20 poems by Waller

Owned by Richard Waller. ‘Younger Waller MS’: WaE Δ 7. Includes at least 17 poems by Waller.

Bibliothèque Municipale, Douai, MS 788. ‘Douai MS’: WaE Δ 8. Includes 19 poems by Waller.

Bodleian, MS Eng. poet. c. 50. ‘Daniell MS’: WaE Δ 9. Includes 11 poems by Waller.

Bodleian, MS Rawl. poet. 173. ‘Dunton MS’: WaE Δ 10. Includes 15 poems by Waller.

British Library, Add. MS 53723. ‘Henry Lawes MS’: WaE Δ 11. Includes 15 poems by Waller.

Edinburgh University Library, MS Dc. 3. 76. ‘Wright MS’: WaE Δ 12. Includes at least 16 poems by Waller.

University of Illinois, 821.08/C 737/17—. ‘Save MS’: WaE Δ 13. Includes 13 poems by Waller.

Leeds University, Brotherton Collection. MS Lt 36. ‘Brotherton MS’: WaE Δ 14. Includes 39 poems by Waller.

Printed Books containing Manuscript Poems by Waller

Westminster Abbey, CB 67. Atterbury-Westminster MS: WaE Δ 15A. Includes MS alterations to c.53 printed poems.

British Library, C.28.c.12 (1). ‘Atterbury-Neve Volume’: WaE Δ 15. Includes MS alterations to c.53 printed poems.

Leeds University, Brotherton Collection, MS Lt 94. ‘Trevor Volume’: WaE Δ 16. Includes 10 MS poems by Waller.

Yale, Osborn pb 110, Vol. 1. Moyle Volume: WaE Δ 17. Includes 9 MS poems by Waller.

Untraced. ‘Cunningham Volume’: WaE Δ 18. Includes five MS poems by Waller and additional lines for a sixth.

Untraced. ‘Mostyn Volume’: WaE Δ 19. Includes two MS poems and three speeches by Waller.

John Emmerson, Melbourne, Australia, [Waller 1686]. WaE Δ 20. Includes two MS poems by Waller.

For yet other printed volumes of Waller's Poems with manuscript additions, see comment on the canon below.

Waller's Library

Other mementos of Waller's literary career are found in the form of surviving books from his library. His library was clearly extensive, and evidence about it supports the assumptions implicit in his verse that he was extremely well-read, not only in the Classics and the Bible, but also in much other English and European literature, including works in French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Waller's library remained with his family at Hall Barn, near Beaconsfield, until the major house sale, conducted on the premises by Messrs Squibb and Everett, on 17-21 September 1832. Among the household goods then dispersed (which included Lely's portrait of Sacharissa and Vandyke's portrait of Lord Falkland) was ‘the valuable library of books originally formed by the poet Waller, consisting of nearly eight thousand volumes’. It is evident from the dates of publication that some of the books included in this sale must have been acquired by later members of the family — including perhaps, most notably, his erudite son Stephen (d.1706); nevertheless, the majority of the books were probably the poet's. An annotated exemplum of the rare sale catalogue is owned by Mr Richard Waller, while another is preserved at Yale (X348.S774.832/9/17). The latter has been reproduced in facsimile in Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons, Vol. I, ed. A. N. L. Munby (London, 1971). Munby records further that a ‘Catalogue of the Library of Edmund Waller, the Poet, in the Autograph of his Son, 2 vols. folio’ was offered for sale as item 177 in Thomas Thorpe's Catalogue of upwards of 1400 Manuscripts (1836), this manuscript catalogue having been ‘purchased by the late Mr Heber [i.e. Richard Heber (1773-1833)] from the sale at Beaconsfield [possibly the “Two vols of Manuscripts” in lot 562], when the estates were sold to the Rt. Hon. Sir Gore Ouseley’. The manuscript catalogue subsequently became MS 8770 in the collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bt (1792-1872), but is now untraced. One further relevant sale occurred at Sotheby's on 12 December 1900, when ‘a portion of the library of Major-General W.N. Waller, of Farmington Lodge, Gloucester, collected by Edmund Waller the poet and his descendants’ was sold. Of the 280 lots then offered, as Munby notes, only about forty date from the poet's lifetime, and some of them duplicate (possibly unsold) entries in the catalogue of 1832.

Needless to say, the vast majority of these books have long been dispersed. How many of the poet's books contained clear evidence of his ownership it is impossible to say, but a relatively meagre list of books apparently bearing his signature or other traces of provenance have been recorded in modern times and are given entries below (WaE 864-908).

The authenticity of the alleged ‘signatures’ in various of these books must remain unverified. It is as yet unclear, for instance, at what period of his life Waller signed himself in full and with the spelling ‘Edmond Waller’. This form of his signature appears to be unknown elsewhere, although ‘Edmond Waller’ was certainly the rendition of his name on, for instance, the title-page of his 1645 Workes. However, his son Edmund also adopted the form ‘Edmond’ on occasions. Examples of Waller ‘signatures’ that are unlikely to be by either the poet or his son are in an exemplum of Sir Anthony Weldon, The Court and Character of King James (London, 1650), inscribed ‘September the twenty eight at too of the clocke in the morning 1650 I reede this booke Ed. Waller’ (this was offered in Robert Clarke's Oxford sale catalogue No. 15, February 1989, item 101, and appeared in Vanbrugh Rare Books sale catalogue No. 10, Spring 1991, item 119) and in a calligraphic and illuminated manuscript armorial of 1606 entitled A Catalogue of the fiue Conquerors of this Island and theire Armes, with the name ‘Edmd. Waller’ inscribed on the flyleaf, sold at Evans (i.e. Sotheby's) on 19 June 1833, lot 169.

In the case of yet further books allegedly signed ‘Edm. Waller’ or ‘from the Waller library’, a direct connection with the poet is precluded by their later dating (although they may well derive from his descendants): see, for instance, lot 1889 in the Rev. Dr Hawtrey sale at Sotheby's on 12 December 1853 (6th day), and lots 63, 181, 252, and 260 in the Waller sale of 1900, as well as lots 181, 192 and 210 in that sale, which were variously owned by John, Jenny and Stephen Waller. The detached title-page only of an exemplum of Cicero, Orationes (Leiden, 1550), inscribed ‘E. Waller 1718-02-6’ was sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, on 1 November 1950 (Oliver R. Barrett sale), lot 1115.

Presumably Waller gave presentation exempla of ‘authorised’ editions of his works to members of his social circle on occasions, but at present the only notable exemplum known is that of the ‘Third’ edition of his Poems (London, 1668) presented to Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, who, according to Aubrey, became one of his chief patrons (see WaE 610, WaE 688, and Clark, II, 276).

The Canon

As is evident from some of the comments made above, there is no reason to believe that the various editions of his poems published in, or shortly after, his lifetime represent the whole of Waller's poetical output, although possibly they do, for the most part, represent that body of work which he personally approved for publication. The existence of unreleased verse is implied by the publishers themselves: for instance, by the editor of the ‘Fifth’ edition in 1686, who, without troubling the aged poet for permission, claims that he has adventured ‘to Collect all that [he] can find’ — suggesting there may well be others he cannot find — while the poet's early biographer speaks of ‘several Poems besides’ which Waller ‘either lost…or never gave them the last Hand’ (Life (1711), p. xxxviii). These apparently included, according to Dorothy Osborne in 1653, a ‘Romance’ about the Civil War, which, she says, ‘if hee do's not mingle with a great deal of pleasing fiction cannot bee very diverting sure, the Subject is soe sad’ (The Letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple, ed. G. C. Moore Smith (Oxford, 1928), p. 91) — a proposed or unfinished work which recalls Cowley's unfinished epic poem on the subject.

Thorn-Drury's version of the canon can generally be accepted for those poems published in Waller's lifetime, as well as for those published posthumously as Waller's up until the ‘Eighth’ edition of 1711. These poems are recorded below as the main section of entries, WaE 1-749. This leaves, however (WaE 750-86), a fairly significant body of poems that have been attributed to Waller in a variety of other sources: some published (after 1711); some edited by Thorn-Drury (such as two poems from the Waller family papers: WaE 760-1, WaE 786), but some still unpublished. The evidence of authorship for these poems — each of which must be judged on its own merits — ranges from certainty (such as poems in Waller's own hand: *WaE 750, *WaE 758, *WaE 759, *WaE 765, *WaE 779, *WaE 783) to what may be no more than speculation. For instance, a curious poem which was attributed to Waller in 1869 and accepted without question by Thorn-Drury, evidently because it is about Sacharissa, is On her Coming to London. The sole recorded text of this poem, a manuscript among the Conway Paper in the National Archives, Kew (WaE 753), is anonymous, is not in Waller's hand and contains striking alterations (notably line 23, changed from ‘The graces there shutt[-u]p out-shine’ to ‘The beuties there lock[ed-u]p out-shine’) which could quite conceivably be authorial revisions. Deas (p. 315) has also commented that the style of this poem is very uncharacteristic of Waller, who ‘nowhere else uses such an elaborate and long stanza’. She makes the same comment on the poem Upon a Lady's Fishing with an Angle, which, in its only known source (WaE 778), is apparently ascribed to Waller by his Royal Society associate Sir George Ent. By the same token, two poems printed in Thorn-Drury are included apparently on the basis of the opinions of earlier editors: namely, Philip Neve in 1789 (for When he was at Sea: WaE 780-781) and Alexander Chalmers in 1810 (for To the Prince of Orange, 1677: WaE 772-777). Neve's text of the former was based on unknown manuscripts, but his familiarity with genuine Waller sources is attested by, for instance, WaE Δ 15, while his attribution receives apparently independent support from WaE 782. Whatever Alexander Chalmers's source for WaE 771-776 — which seems to appear anonymously elsewhere — he too evidently had some access to authentic Waller sources, for he was also the first to publish On Mrs. Higgons, which is certainly by Waller (see WaE 754-756). Moreover, the draft letter by one of Waller's daughters to Lady Ranelagh in the Harvard MS (WaE Δ 6, f. [16v]), noted above, refers to Waller's having once celebrated ‘hir Sisters [i.e. Anne's marriage] with ye P[rince of]: O[range]’.

In addition, as noted earlier, some autograph draft fragments of verse by Waller can be recorded (see *WaE 765, *WaE 779, *WaE 783). Waller — whom Aubrey heard claim ‘that he cannot versify when he will; but when the fitt comes upon him, he does it easily’ (Clark, II, 275) — was, as Wikelund has shown (1970), an inveterate reviser of his own work, as well as a frequent ‘self-quoter’, and these surviving scraps of verse complement *WaE 144 as vivid witnesses to Waller's characteristic habits of composition

Some further additions to Thorn-Drury's version of the canon can be made with reasonable confidence. For instance, he was unaware of the ascription to Waller of eighteen lines of verse beginning ‘Learned Westlingius, had we but the Art’ which occur in Edmund Warcupp, Italy, in its original Glory, Ruine and Revivall (London, 1660), pp. 35-6. Since Westlingius was the anatomy reader at the University of Padua in 1646 when Waller visited that city, there seems to be no reason to doubt this attribution, as is made clear in E.S. De Beer, ‘An Uncollected Poem by Waller’, Review of English Studies, 8 (1932), 203-5. Moreover, Waller owned a copy of Warcupp's book (see *WaE 908). No manuscript text of this poem is known, however.

There is also very good reason to attribute to Waller The Lady Katherine Howards Voyage and Enterteynement, aboard the Triumph by the Earle of Northumberland he being then Lord High Admirall found in two manuscripts (WaE 111.5-111.8): see Timothy Raylor's article in English Manuscript Studies, 13 (2007), 211-31, supported in the same issue (pp. 232-49) by the computation analysis made by John Burrows.

Less certain, and despite Thorn-Drury's specific rejection (I, p. vii), is the ascription to Waller of To the Honourable Ed. Howard Esq. upon his Incomparable, Incomprehensible Poem of the British Princes (WaE 769-771), which is one of a series of satires on Edward Howard circulated in manuscript as a group, including lampoons by Lord Buckhurst (Dorset), Thomas Spratt, Martin Clifford, Thomas Shadwell, Lord Vaughan, Edmund Ashton, and the Duke of Buckingham. While There may well be no other example of verse satire among Waller's published work (as Aubrey noted, ‘All his writings are free from offence’), Waller is also reported by Aubrey as saying in one context that ‘satyricall writing was downehill, most easie and naturall’ (Clark, II, 279). He was also said elsewhere to have ‘had a Hand in the Rehearsal [the satirical comedy against Dryden], with Mr. Clifforde, Mr. Cowley, and some other Wits’ (Life (1711), p. xlvii). While Waller's authorship of the poem is unlikely, therefore, it cannot be rejected out of hand.

Yet other uncertain, or in some cases evidently spurious, attributions to Waller have been made and have not been given separate entries below. An exemplum of Waller's Poems (London, 1645) signed on the flyleaf apparently by the poet Sir Fleetwood Sheppard (1634-98), and now at Harvard (*EC65 W1563 645wb), has 26 lines of verse beginning ‘ffye vpon hearts yt burne wth mutuall fire’ written on a second flyleaf, but the poem is not specifically ascribed to Waller. Neither are two sets of verse written in two other printed exempla of Waller's poems, although, in the circumstances, the possibility of Waller's authorship cannot altogether be excluded. Eight lines beginning ‘Lady those lipps invites me, & those eyes’ are written on the verso of the title-page in an exemplum of Waller's Poems (London, 1645), inscribed on the flyleaf ‘Mr Henry Lawes / Mr Henry Waller Edward Samuell Hodges’, now in the library of Robert S. Pirie. Four stanzas headed ‘To Cloe’ and beginning ‘Would you be, Cloe, ever fair’ are written on both sides of the flyleaf of an exemplum of Waller's Poems, ‘Sixth’ edition (London, 1693), bound with one of The Second Part of Mr. Waller's Poems (London, 1690), now in private ownership. Two untitled and anonymous poems on a folio leaf at Yale (Osborn Poetry Box IV/102) — ‘Methinkes the God dwells on Cassandras hands’ and ‘Cloris were th' offended Gods’ — are annotated at the foot in a modern hand, in what is evidently only a conjectural attribution, ‘Q[uer]y Waller’. The Anniuersary on the Government of the Ld Protecter (‘Like ye vaine curlings of the watry maze’), which is ascribed to Waller in Bodleian (MS Eng. poet. e. 4, pp. 78-88), British Library (Burney MS 390, ff. 19v-22), and, elsewhere, probably through confusion with Waller's Panegyric of 1655 (WaE 375-399), is certainly by Andrew Marvell: see Deas, pp. 317-18, and Andrew Marvell, MaA 27-30. A poem which, by implication, was attributed to Waller by H.J.C. Grierson (in ‘Poems by Waller’, TLS (29 December 1927), p. 989), because it appears (though in a different hand from the main scribe) on pp. 104-6 of the Breadalbane MS (WaE Δ 5), is Vpon the Dissolving of the Parliament [on 5 May 1640]. This poem (which begins ‘Two Parliaments dissolv'd, then let my hearte’) is never actually ascribed to Waller and appears anonymously in various other manuscript copies: for example, in Bodleian (MSS Eng. poet. c. 25, f. 38r; Eng. poet. e. 97, p. 191; Malone 21, f. 93; Rawl. poet. 26, f. 90; Tanner 306, Vol. II, f. 290) and British Library (Egerton MS 2725, ff. 129-30, and Harley MS 367, f. 160). A copy in the Bodleian (MS Rawl. D. 361, f. 68) is dated ‘1626’ and ascribed to Bishop [Matthew] Wren, while another there (MS Rawl. poet. 117, f. 150r rev.) is subscribed ‘Fesant’. It is presumably this poem, in the Breadalbane MS, which is mentioned in Deas (pp. 318-19) as occurring in a ‘MS book sold by John Grant of Edinburgh in 1929…dated 1657’ and written in a style ‘very unlike his’.

Poems about Waller

The satirical answer by Sir William Godolphin (1634?-96), written while a student at Christ Church, to Waller's eulogistic ode on Cromwell — an answer beginning ‘'Tis well hee's gone, oh had he never been’ — accompanies several copies of Waller's poem (see WaE 700-733). It is found in other sources besides, including the Bodleian (MS Locke e. 17, p. 75), British Library (Harley MS 3991, f. 125), Clark Library, Los Angeles (*fPR3752 U61); and library of the Marquess of Bath, Longleat (MS 259, ff. 42r-3r). The poem was printed in J. Cleaveland Revived, 2nd edition (London, 1660), pp. 119-20. What appears to be a different poem, headed nevertheless ‘An Answer to it made by Sir William Godolphin’ but beginning ‘Then take him Diuill, hell his soul doth claime’, appears in the Moyle volume (WaE Δ 17). A comparably scornful poem ‘To Mr: Waller upon his Panegirique to the Lord Protector’ (beginning ‘Whilst with a smooth but yet a servile Tongue’) was written by Lucy Hutchinson (see HuL 4). Another poem ‘To Mr Waller on his Panegyrick upon The Lord Protector’ (beginning ‘While you so persecute the Labring braine’) is in the British Library (Harley MS 7316, f. 1r-v), while two versions of a poem ‘Upon Waller's Panegyrick to ye Protector 1656’ (beginning ‘Waller in printe againe? what haue ye Currs’) is written by an anonymous contemporary in what is evidently a quarto collection of his own poems now in the National Library of Wales (NLW MS 10621B, [unspecified pages]). ‘A Translation of Mr Wallers verses on ye death of Oliver, and ye Great Winds’ (beginning ‘Redde animam, quam nunc Furiae, nunc Tartara posiunt’) is endorsed as being by Sir Edward Dering [that is, the second Baronet (1625-84)] in British Library, Add. MS 4457, f. 202r-v.

A Latin version by W. George Balby, Fellow of King's College, Cambridge, of Waller's On a Girdle is in one of William Cole's collections in the British Library (Add. MS 5832, f. 119v). A poem by ‘Mrs. [Elizabeth] Taylor to Mr. Waller’ (beginning ‘Indeed Anacron I was told’) is among the Petty Papers in the British Library (Add. MS 72899, f. 153r), and another copy appears in the Harvard MS (WaE Δ 6, f. [47r-v]). A poem by Charles Montagu (1661-1715), Earl of Halifax, ‘Upon Mr Wallers Verses on the Lady Sunderland’ (beginning ‘Vandyke had Colours Force and Art’) is copied in various sources, including British Library (Add. MS 40060, ff. 31v-2r; Add. MS 78522, f. 37r and second copy on ff. 39r-40v); the Lincolnshire Archives Office (Holywell 83/6); and a manuscript among the Waller family papers (see No. v in the list above), where it is headed ‘Writ on a leaf in Waller's Poems at Althrop by my Ld H’.

Another poem ‘To Mr: Waller upon y: Copy of Verses made by himselfe on the last copy in his Book’ (cf. WaE 278-289), beginning ‘When Shame for all my foolish youth had writt’, is written in a quarto booklet in a bundle of verse among the Trumbull Papers (formerly Trumbull Add. 17 in the Berkshire Record Office) now in the British Library (Add. MS 72478, f. 96r), and other copies are in Edinburgh University Library (MS Dc.3.76, f. 8v), and at Yale (Osborn MS fb 70, p. 165). A poem ‘To a Lady who wth verses to herself sent him her answer to Mrs Waller’ (beginning ‘When that soft hand, whence Waller has his dues’), is on the first leaf of a bifolium in British Library Add. MS 78233, f. 116r-v.

An exemplum of The Second Part of Mr. Waller's Poems (London, 1690), bound with his Poems, ‘Fifth’ edition (London, 1686), in the Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand (REng. Waller. Poems. 1686) is reported to have ‘a manuscript poem presumably in praise of Waller (the subject is not named) on the blank following H7’ (recorded in Kathleen Coleridge, Descriptive Catalogue of the Milton Collection in the Alexander Turnbull Library (Oxford, 1980), p. 482).

Examples of poems about Waller among the Waller family papers (some of them mentioned in the list above) include a copy of the book of elegies on Waller (by Aphra Behn, et al.) published in 1688 transcribed by his friend, the Quaker, Thomas Ellwood, as well as a scribal copy of Ellwood's own eulogistic poem on Waller. The latter appears with other comparable verse commemorations of Waller in Ellwood's own autograph quarto volume of his poems, ‘Rhapsodia’, in the Library of the Society of Friends, London (MS Vol. S.80): namely, ‘On my courteous Friend Edmond Waller the Poet’ (beginning ‘Among the Greeks old Homer had the Praise’) on p. 84; ‘To my courteous Freind Edmond Waller the Poet’ (beginning ‘The Thracian harper, whose melodious Lyre’) on p. 85; ‘On the Death of my couteous Friend Edmond Waller the Poet’ (beginning ‘Ask ye me why the Muses hang the head?’) on pp. 86-7; and ‘To Tho: Smith of Beconsfield, at returning Waller's & Rochester's Poems, borrowed of him’ (beginning ‘'ffill'd with sense; my valued ffriend’) on pp. 88-8. (The Quaker Thomas Smith, of Beaconsfield, was a friend of Edmund Waller the Younger: his name appears frequently in Waller family legal documents of the 1680s in the Buckinghamshire Record Office, and Smith was also a beneficiary of the younger Edmund Waller's Will in 1699-1700). For some discussion of this volume, see Elizabeth T. McLaughlin, ‘Milton and Thomas Ellwood’, Milton Newsletter, 1 (1967), 17-28.

Other poems addressed to Waller in manuscript sources (besides a number in printed sources and Aphra Behn's poem sent to Waller's daughter-in-law: *BeA 10) include at least one, with other poems by her, among the Waller family papers by his friend Anne Wharton (née Lee, 1659-85): see WhA 54. This lady's verse could be praised by at least one contemporary as superior to Katherine Philips's (see Robert Wolseley's complimentary poem ‘To Mrs Wharton’, beginning ‘While soaring high above Orinda's flights’, at the University of Nottingham (Portland MS Pw V 516)). Waller had occasion, in his later years, to compliment her literary skills in his own poems (see WaE 156-157) and he took an enthusiastic interest in her work. According to Gilbert Burnet in 1681, he looked on the verses she wrote him ‘as the greatest honour of his life, and has gone about all his friends as in triumph shewing them’: see Letters between the Rev. James Granger, M.A., and Many of the Most Eminent Literary Men of his Time, ed. J.P. Malcolm (London, 1805), p. 243).


As a Member of Parliament, Waller delivered numerous speeches during his career, one of which, on 4 July 1643, after the failure of his ‘Plot’, effectively saved his life (‘he does as much owe the keeping his head to that oration’, said Clarendon, ‘as Catiline did the loss of his to those of Tully’ [History of the Rebellion (Oxford, 1826), IV, 79]). For a vivid, unpublished account of this submission, which (perhaps chiefly because of Waller's ‘sad and dejected Condition’, prompted by his extreme fear of death) allegedly reduced some M.P.s to tears, see Sir Simonds D'Ewes's diary in the British Library (Harley MS 165, ff. 144r-5r). This, and two earlier speeches, on 22 April 1640 and 6 July 1641, were published separately at the time and appear in various later editions of his Poems and Works. That of 1641 is reported (no doubt exaggeratedly) to have sold twenty thousand printed copies in one day (Life (1711), p. xvi). Reports or partial transcripts of Waller's many parliamentary speeches over a period of nearly forty years (from 1640 to 1678) appear in Journals of the House of Commons and in Anchitell Grey, Debates of the House of Commons, From the Year 1667 to the Year 1694, 10 vols (London, 1763). For a summarised list of Waller's speeches derived from these sources, as well as of his involvement in various committees, see Deas, pp. 138-63. In addition to the printed texts and the numerous surviving manuscript Journals of the House of Commons, individual manuscript copies or reports of speeches attributed to Waller are found in various sources. A few principal ones are given entries below (WaE 787-798).

References to Waller

Waller was often the subject of contemporary comment in letters, journals and elsewhere. Sir Simonds D'Ewes's diary in the British Library (Harley MS 165) includes (ff. 144r-5r) his censorious anecdotes about Waller's habitual and lustful ‘vse of strange women’. At the other end of the spectrum Waller's decline and death in 1687 are described, for instance, by John Cooke in a letter to Sir George Etherege on 14 October 1687: ‘…the Musaeus of our age Mr Waller is at this time agonizing…’ (Bischöflisches Zentralarchiv Regensburg, BZA/Sch. F XVII, Fasz. 6/18). Similar comment is made in correspondence among the Petty Papers in the British Library: see particularly Lady Petty's letters of 15 and 27 October 1687 sending ‘ye Last Verses of poore Mr Waller…made abot 2 Months before he died’ (no longer present) and describing his ‘C[h]ristian’ end: ‘…& tho impatience was formerly his greatest fault…he neuer spoke An impatient word, but w[he]n ye fitt was ouer, did to ye Last recite most pertinently seuerall Places of scripture, in wch he was most Learned…he neither died Hectoring supide Nor fearfull…’ (Add. MS 72861, No. 36, and 72856, No. 103). Waller is mentioned on various occasions in documents among the Public Records, and for references to him in the Minutes of the Royal Society (to which he was elected on 16 January 1660/1), see Claude Lloyd, ‘Edmund Waller as a Member of the Royal Society’, PMLA, 43 (1928), 162-5. For many other notable references, not always flattering, in contemporary records, see Warren L. Chernaik, The Poetry of Limitation: A Study of Edmund Waller (New Haven & London, 1968), and, in particular, Deas.


The substantial quantity of legal documents of the Waller family preserved by Lord Burnham at Hall Barn, Buckinghamshire, has been mentioned above. Besides the poet himself, his mother, Anne, and many other members of his family are represented in these records, which throw considerable light on the family's history. Anne Waller, as well as several of the poet's sons (Stephen, William and Edmund), are also represented, sometimes by their signatures, in other county records in the Buckinghamshire Record Office (see, for instance, B.A.S. 299/40; 303/40, 305/40; 306/40; 308/40; 310/40, 478/29; 927/38; D/DR 12/33-34; D/RA/1/4; and D/RA/2/213-217). These records also include the occasional item signed by the poet's namesake, Edmund Waller of Gregories (for instance, D/CE/M.232, of 22 November 1628, and B.A.S. 480/29, relating to Pauls Cray in Kent, 14 October 1632, the latter helping, incidentally, to show that a document relating to this property, 6 August 1683, offered in Myers's sale catalogue No. 348 (1947), item 414, as signed by the poet, was evidently by Edmund Waller of Gregories' grandson). A six-page legal draft of a petition made in the mid-1680s by ‘Your oratour Edmund Waller of Hall Barne in ye County of Buckes Esqr’, now in the Huntington (HM 44149), also evidently relates to Edmund Waller the Younger rather than the poet. This petition concerns an agreement made c.1679 between the late John Ayloffe of the Inner Temple, John Freke of the Middle Temple and Edmund Waller for the purchase of a farm in Hampshire from the late Earl of Shaftesbury. Two of Lord Burnham's deeds at Hall Barn (Nos 223-4) are possibly related transactions between Edmund Waller of the Middle Temple and William Freke of the same concerning property at Highwood, Hampshire, dated 20 February 1683/4 and 7 June 1684.

Some other papers relating to the Waller family are recorded in Deas. They include an account in the British Library (Add. MS 4162) of ‘original papers’ in the possession of Edmund Waller of Beaconsfield in 1755. Being drafts of letters between Meadowe and Thurloe in the years 1657-8, they ‘are probably relics of Waller's membership’ of the Council of the Commissioners of Trade (Deas, p. 94). The widow of Waller's son Stephen (d.1706) is also reported to have possessed the manuscript of the ‘Advice to his Son’ which the poet's father Robert wrote (Life (1711), p. ii), but neither that, nor the manuscript life of Waller by Dr Birch which was cited by Oldmixon and by the writer of the 1711 Life, is known to have survived.

Various relics of Lady Dorothy Spencer, Waller's ‘Sacharissa’, survive, including letters by her in the Folger (Add. 763-5) and among the Sidney archives at Penshurst Place (see also Arthur Collins, Letters & Memorials of State, 2 vols (1746)). A fine letter by her father, the second Earl of Leicester, discussing with approval on 28 July 1639 her marriage with Henry, Lord Spencer (the occasion for Waller's well-known embittered letter to her sister mentioned above) was sold at Sotheby's, 19 July 1990, in lot 235, and re-offered separately in Michael Silverman's sale catalogue No. 3 (November 1990), item 43. It is now in the Osborn Collection at Yale. An anonymous poem headed ‘Parthenissas to Sacharissa’ (beginning ‘Tho I ne'er writt in Rhyme before’) is copied on a quarto leaf among papers of the Earls of Lothian, of Newbattle, in the National Archives of Scotland (GD40/15/39/7).

Apart from those volumes containing additional manuscript poems, no account is given here of printed exempla of Waller's poems containing readers' annotations, although many of these do survive and attest to Waller's popularity and to contemporary interest in his texts. Two exempla of the 1645 Poems in the Chapin Library at Williams College, for instance, bear verbal corrections and notes identifying allusions, as well as a later, 18th-century, note identifying Addison's plagiarism of one line in his Cato.

The autograph manuscript of John Aubrey's life of Waller among his ‘Brief Lives’, dated 24 February 1679/80, is in the Bodleian (MS Aubrey 6, ff. 111r-13r) and is edited in Clark (1898), II, 273-80. An exemplum of the ‘Sixth’ edition of Waller's Poems (London, 1694) with manuscript annotations by Robert Keck made in 1702 in preparation for a new edition, is preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Dyce 19. B. 32). Notes on Waller by William Oldys (1696-1761) are written in his exemplum of Gerard Langbaine, An Account of the English Dramatick Poets (Oxford, 1691), now in the British Library (C.28.g.1, p. 507). The autograph manuscript of two sentences of Dr Samuel Johnson's Life of Waller in his Lives of the English Poets was sold at Sotheby's, 7 December 2006, lot 55 (illustrated in the catalogue), to [Christopher] Edwards. Notes on Waller by the Rev. Joseph Hunter (1783-1861) in his Chorus Vatum Anglicanorum (Volume VI) are also in the British Library (Add. MS 24492, ff. 145v-8v). The autograph eight-page manuscript of a sketch of Waller's life by Thomas Campbell (1777-1844) is in the Huntington (HM 33777). The autograph four-page manuscript of part of a life of Waller by Thomas Hood (1799-1845) is preserved at Yale (Gen MSS 53 Box 1).

Elijah Fenton's annotated exemplum of his edition of Waller (1728) is at Yale (Osborn pb 90). A collection of the papers of George Thorn-Drury, KC (1860-1931) relating to his edition of Waller's poems is now in Edinburgh University Library (MS Dk. 2. 19), and his interleaved exemplum of Waller's Poetical Works, ed. R. Bell (London, 1854), is in the Bodleian (Thorn-Drury d. 38). Other notes by Thorn-Drury on Waller are in the Bodleian (MS Eng. misc. d. 347, f. 3) and at Worcester College, Oxford (MSS 260-1). The manuscript and other papers relating to an edition of Waller's poems undertaken by Professor Roswell Gray Ham (1891-1983), including photocopies of annotated printed exempla of the poems, are now in a collection of his papers for 1913-41 in the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley (71/210 z, carton 2). A collection of papers towards an edition of Waller by Professor Philip R. Wikelund (d.1989) is retained by his widow in Bloomington, Indiana, and is currently in the custody of Professor Michael P. Parker, of Annapolis, Maryland. Both he and Timothy Raylor also have custody of the extensive papers of the late John Safford towards his unfinished biography of Waller, a remarkable work which they aim to complete.

Peter Beal