Edmund Waller's Panegyric to Cromwell
Edmund Waller (1606- 1687) Poet and Plotter
Recently finished reading 'The Last Roundhead' , a superb novel by Jemahl Evans and was reminded that poet Edmund Waller was a leading figure in a doomed Royalist rebellion that hardly got off the ground in London in 1643. The capital was firmly in the hands of the Parliamentarian forces. Waller was MP for Agmondesham, Buckinghamshire, and related to both Oliver Cromwell and John Hampden, but had sent money to King Charles in Oxford in 1642.
Waller and leading co-conspirator Nathaniel Tomkins were arrested on 31st May 1643. They were betrayed, most likely due to being naive and indiscreet, and totally underestimating the rudimentary intelligence service that Parliament was starting to assemble.
In the aforementioned novel, Waller is portrayed as breaking down completely, offering bribes and betraying as many of his cronies A typical view . As one biographer declared " Poets are in general poor politicians and miserable plotters." Nathaniel Tomkins and another leading conspirator, Thomas Chaloner were executed. Waller lost his seat in Parliament, spent nearly a year and a half in the Tower, and went into exile in November 1644, after having to part with even more money, not returning until 1651.
In 1654 Edmund Waller wrote his a panegyric to Oliver Cromwell, considered to be one of his better poems. He evokes Cromwell as being another Ceasar, who had crushed the Scots and the Irish, made the Commonwealth into an internationally recognised power. Most people would agree that as poetry goes, it is inferior to the Horatian Ode that Andrew Marvell composed upon Cromwell's return from Ireland in 1650.
After the Restoration Waller became an MP for Hastings in 1661, and wrote poems in honour of Charles I and the Duke of York ( later James II).
Portrait of Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker
(1607-1658), from National Portrait Gallery
Courtesy of Wikicommons
|From ‘A Panegyric to My Lord Protector’|
|By Edmund Waller (1606–1687)|