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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