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The Latter Days Of Lovelace








Sir Richard Lovelace, who in 1649 published the elegant collection
of amorous and other poems entitled Lucasta, was an amiable and
accomplished gentleman: by the men of his time (the time of the civil
wars) respected for his moral worth and literary ability; by the fair
sex, almost idolized for the elegance of his person and the sweetness
of his manners. An ardent loyalist, the people of Kent appointed him to
present to the House of Commons their petition for the restoration of
Charles and the settlement of the government. The petition gave offence,
and the bearer was committed to the Gate House, at Westminster, where he
wrote his graceful little song, "Loyalty Confined," opening thus:

"When love, with unconfined wings,
Hovers within my gates,
And my divine Althea brings
To whisper at my grates;
When I lie tangled in her hair,
And fettered in her eye;
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty."

But "dinnerless the polished Lovelace died." He obtained his liberation,
after a few months' confinement. By that time, however, he had consumed
all his estates, partly by furnishing the king with men and money, and
partly by giving assistance to men of talent of whatever kind, whom he
found in difficulties. Very soon, he became himself involved in the
greatest distress, and fell into a deep melancholy, which brought on
a consumption, and made him as poor in person as in purse, till he
even became the object of common charity. The man who in his days of
gallantry wore cloth of gold, was now naked, or only half covered with
filthy rags; he who had thrown splendour on palaces, now shrank into
obscure and dirty alleys; he who had associated with princes, banqueted
on dainties, been the patron of the indigent, the admiration of the wise
and brave, the darling of the chaste and fair--was now fain to herd with
beggars, gladly to partake of their coarse offals, and thankfully to
receive their twice-given alms--

"To hovel him with swine and rogues forlorn,
In short and musty straw."

Worn out with misery, he at length expired, in 1658, in a mean and
wretched lodging in Gunpowder Alley, near Shoe Lane, and was buried at
the west end of St. Bride's church, Fleet Street. Such is the account of
Lovelace's closing days given by Wood in his Athenae, and confirmed by
Aubrey in his Lives of Eminent Men; but a recent editor and biographer
(the son of Hazlitt) pronounces, though he does not prove, the account
much exaggerated.

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