Lovelace, Richard (DNB00)
LOVELACE, RICHARD (1618–1658), cavalier and poet, was of an old Kentish family, which had held the manor of Bethersden since 1367, and was closely allied to the Lovelaces of Kingsdown and Canterbury, and more remotely to the Lovelace family of Hurley in Berkshire. Sir William Lovelace, who was admitted at Gray's Inn in 1548, and called to the bar in 1551, was M.P. for Canterbury in 1562 and again in 1572 (Official Returns), and played a somewhat prominent part in his last parliament (D'Ewes, Journals of Parliament under Elizabeth, pp. 178 sq.) He was raised to the rank of sergeant-at-law in Easter term 1561, took a large share in Kentish affairs, and was buried in the nave of Canterbury Cathedral on 1 April 1577 (Archæolog. Cantiana. x. 197–200). His son, the poet's grandfather, Sir William Lovelace (1561–1629), knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1599, was a correspondent of Sir Dudley Carleton (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1611–18), and was buried at Bethersden, 12 Oct. 1629. The poet's father, also Sir William, ‘of Woolwich’ (1584–1628), served bravely in the Low Countries under Sir Horace Vere (Collins, Letters and Memorials, ii. 322), was knighted by James I, and was killed at the siege of ‘Grolle’ in Holland, leaving a widow and a large family (Eg. MS. 2553). Of Richard's younger brothers, the eldest, Francis, the ‘Colonel Francis’ of Lucasta, served the royalist cause in Wales, and was governor of Carmarthen from June 1644 until the town was taken by Langharne in October 1645 (Phillips, Civil War in Wales, i. 233, 337, ii. 190, 274; Lovelace, Poems). Another Francis Lovelace (1594–1664), with whom the poet's brother has been confused, was son of Launcelot Lovelace, of the Canterbury branch of the family. He was admitted to Gray's Inn on 7 Aug. 1609 (Foster, Reg. p. 121), took an active part against the parliament in Kent (Cal. of Comm. for Compounding, p. 892), was recorder of Canterbury in the year of the Restoration, and in his official capacity delivered an address to the king and another to the queen (Henrietta Maria), on their passage through the place in October 1660. He died on 1 March 1664, being then steward of the chancery court of the Cinque Ports (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1664, p. 502; Brit. Mus. Cat.) Another of the poet's brothers, William, served under the poet in the civil war, and was killed at Carmarthen in 1645 (Works, ed. Hazlitt, pp. 125 and xviii a.) Thomas was in 1628 admitted into Sutton's Hospital on the ground that his father had served the king ‘about thirty years in the warres and left his lady rich only in great store of children’ (Letter from Charles I to governors of Sutton's Hospital, dated 1629, Eg. MS. 2553, fol. 51 b; cf. Gent. Mag. 1884, pt. ii. p. 262), and the youngest, Dudley-Posthumus, was the editor of Richard's posthumous poems. A Thomas and a Dudley Lovelace were serving under Francis Lovelace [q. v.], governor of New York, in 1673 (Cal. State Papers, Col. Ser. 1669–74, p. 1122). The poet also had three sisters, of whom the youngest, Joane, married Robert Cesar, and had three daughters, on whom their uncle wrote ‘Paris's Second Judgment.’
The poet, who was the eldest of his family, was born at his father's house in Woolwich in 1618. He was educated at the Charterhouse and at Gloucester Hall, Oxford, where he matriculated 27 June 1634, ‘being then accounted the most amiable and beautiful person that ever eye beheld’ (Wood), a person also ‘of innate modesty, virtue, and courtly deportment which made him then, but especially after, when he retired to the great city, much admired and adored by the female sex.’ In 1636 when the king and queen were for some days at Oxford, he was ‘at the request of a great lady belonging to the queen, made to the Archbishop of Canterbury, then chancellor of the university, created, among other persons of quality, master of arts, though but of two years' standing; at which time his conversation being made public, and consequently his ingenuity and generous soul discovered, he became as much admired by the male as before by the female sex.’ He was incorporated at Cambridge in the following year. Lovelace had already written ‘The Scholar, a Comedy,’ which was acted with applause during his residence at Gloucester Hall (1636), and afterwards repeated at the Whitefriars, Salisbury Court; he had also commenced writing occasional poetry, contributing verses to the ‘Musarum Oxoniensium Charisteria’ (1638), and commendatory verses to Anthony H[odges]'s English version of ‘The Loves of Clitophon and Leucippe’ (1638).
Leaving Oxford, Lovelace ‘repaired in great splendour to the court,’ but soon sought active employment in the field. He was appointed ensign in the regiment of his patron George, lord Goring (Peacock, Army Lists, p. 76), in the first Scottish expedition of 1639; in the second expedition ‘he was commissionated a captain in the same regiment, and in that time wrote a tragedy called ‘The Soldier,’ but never acted because the stage was soon after suppressed’ (Wood). Neither of his plays appears to be extant. After the pacification of Berwick, being then over twenty-one years of age, Lovelace returned to Kent and took possession of his family property at Bethersden, Chart, Halden, Shadoxhurst, and Canterbury, worth at least 500l. per annum. He was put on the commission of the peace for the county, and in April 1642 was chosen at the Maidstone assizes to deliver to the parliament the famous Kentish petition in the king's behalf framed by Sir Edward Dering [q. v.] and other royalists. On 29 April a great meeting was held on Blackheath to back the petition, which Lovelace had the temerity to present to the Houses on the following day, though he was aware of its resemblance to a previous petition from Kent presented in March on behalf of the bishops and liturgy, and ordered by parliament to be burnt by the common hangman on 7 April. When questioned before the House, he was unable to expressly deny a knowledge of the fate of the earlier document. He was accordingly, on 30 April 1642, committed to the Gatehouse at Westminster (D'Ewes, Journals in Harl. MS. 163, f. 489; Verney Papers (Camd. Soc.), 1845, p. 175; Parliaments and Councils of England, 1839, p. 384). There ‘he wrote that celebrated song called “Stone Walls do not a Prison make.”’ On 17 June 1642, his companion in misfortune, Sir William Boteler, having already petitioned and been set at liberty, he prayed for discharge upon bail ‘in order that he might serve against the rebels in Ireland’ (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. App. p. 29; his petition, curiously worded, is quoted in full, Notes and Queries, 5th ser. vi. 122). His request was promptly complied with, and he was bailed on the security of William Clarke of Rotham (Wrotham) and Thomas Flood of Ottom (Otham), the principal in the sum of 10,000l. the sureties in 5,000l. apiece, his bail being accepted 21 June 1642 (Commons' Journals, ii. 629, 635).
Lovelace was thus enlarged after about seven weeks' imprisonment on condition of not stirring out of the lines of communication without a pass from the speaker. He, nevertheless, furnished his brothers, Francis and William, with men and money for the king's cause, and his youngest brother Dudley with means to study tactics and fortifications in Holland. In the meantime he lived expensively in London, and seems to have been on terms of intimacy with many of the wits of the day. Among his associates were Lawes and Gamble the musicians, before whose volumes of ‘Ayres’ he wrote verses; Gideon Ashwell, Glapthorne, who dedicated his ‘Whitehall, a Poem with Elegies,’ to his ‘noble friend and gossip Captaine Lovelace;’ Lenton and his friend Cockain, Rawlins, Hall, the Cottons, Sir Peter Lely, on whose portrait of Charles I he wrote some of his best lines; Tatham, the city poet, who wrote ‘an invitation to his lov'd Adonis (Lovelace) being then in Holland’ (Ostella, 1650, 4to); Andrew Marvell and most probably Suckling, who is supposed to have apostrophised him in his famous ‘I tell thee, Dick, where I have been’ (Hazlitt, xxxii. n.)
On 4 Aug. 1645 he seems to have purchased some property at Smarden in Kent (Archæol. Cantiana, x. 211), and shortly afterwards he again appears to have taken up arms on behalf of the king. In the autumn of this year Thomas Willys, a clerk of the crown in chancery, was taken prisoner by a Captain Lovelace, presumably the poet (Hist. MSS. Comm. 6th Rep. App. p. 107). Lovelace subsequently joined Charles in Oxford, and after the surrender of that city in 1646 left England (probably in the train of Prince Rupert who sailed in July), raised a regiment for the service of the French king, then at war with Spain, became its colonel, and received a wound at Dunkirk when that town was captured by Condé in October 1646. Returning to England in 1648, he and his brother Dudley, who had served as a captain under him, were committed to Petre House in Aldersgate (cf. Dugdale, Troubles, 1681, p. 568), having very possibly aggravated their political offence by taking some share in the riots and ‘distempers’ of Kent in the June of this year. Lovelace beguiled his second confinement by ‘framing for the press’ his ‘Lucasta; Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c. To which is added Aramantha, a Pastoral, by Richard Lovelace, Esq., London … to be sold by Thos. Evvster at the Gun in Ivie Lane, 1649.’ The volume is dedicated to Lady Anne Lovelace, the wife of his distant kinsman, the second Lord Lovelace of Hurley, and has commendatory verses by, among others, Francis Lovelace, Andrew Marvell, and Francis Lenton. Prefixed is a portrait of a lady engraved by Faithorne, after Sir Peter Lely. The name ‘Lucasta’ is supposed to be a contraction of ‘Lux Casta,’ and was possibly an imaginary personage, after whom, in accordance with the familiar practice of the time, he called his poems. Robert Heath [q. v.] named a volume of his miscellaneous poems ‘Clara Stella’ in the following year. Wood, however, identifies ‘Lucasta’ with a certain Lucy Sacheverell, who ‘upon a stray report that Lovelace was dead of his wound received at Dunkirk, soon after married.’ Hunter surmises, not improbably, that she was a daughter of Ferdinando (aged 20 in 1619), a natural son of Henry Sacheverell of Warwickshire, by Lucy, daughter of Sir Henry Hastings of Newark (cf. Harl. MS. 1167, fol. 160).
Among the varied contents of ‘Lucasta’ are ‘To Lucasta, going to the Warres,’ set by John Laniere, ‘To Aramantha, that she would dishevell her haire,’ set by Henry Lawes, ‘The Scrutinie,’ set by Thomas Charles, and reprinted in Cotgrave's ‘Wit's Interpreter,’ 1662, ‘The Grasshopper,’ and ‘To Althea, from Prison,’ set by John Wilson. The last-mentioned was considered by contemporaries a masterpiece. In a seventeenth-century manuscript anthology, which belonged to Dr. Bliss, it is followed by an unsigned ‘Answer’ (Add. MS. 22603, f. 16); it was closely imitated and expanded in an ‘excellent old song’ entitled ‘Loyalty Confined,’ originally printed in ‘Lloyd's Memoires’ (1668, p. 96), and traditionally ascribed to Sir Roger L'Estrange, though attributed in the ‘British Museum Catalogue’ to Lovelace himself (the internal evidence favours L'Estrange's authorship; see also Percy, Reliques, 1845, p. 172, and Miss Mitford Recollections); and it clearly inspired the fine lines written by Pellison-Fontanier in the Bastile in 1662. ‘To Althea’ began a new lease of life when reprinted in his ‘Reliques’ by Percy, who made several conjectural emendations, which have since been universally condemned. From Percy's time the lyrics of ‘Lucasta’ have been twice edited, familiarised in numerous authologies, frequently set to music, and occasionally borrowed from, notably by Campbell, who owed the fine phrase ‘sentinel stars set their watch in the sky’ to Lovelace, and by Byron, whose ‘music breathing from the face’ is clearly under obligation to Lovelace's ‘Song of Orpheus.’
Lovelace was released by warrant issued from the council of state on 10 Dec. 1649 (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649, p. 529). In the same year the manor of Lovelace-Bethersden passed by purchase to Richard Hulse (Hasted). He had now ‘consumed his whole patrimony in useless attempts to serve his sovereign.’ Whereupon ‘he grew,’ says Wood, ‘very melancholy (which brought him at length into a consumption), became very poor in body and purse, was the object of charity, went in ragged cloaths (whereas when he was in his glory he wore cloth of gold and silver) and mostly lodged in obscure and dirty places, more befitting the worst of beggars and poorest of servants.’ Alms were conveyed to him from Charles Cotton and others, but he sank and died in 1658 in a mean lodging in Gunpowder Alley, between Shoe Lane and Fetter Lane, close to the spot where a little more than a hundred years later Chatterton was given a pauper's funeral. He was buried at the west end of St. Bride's, one of the churches burnt in the fire of 1666.
Mr. Hazlitt has questioned the truth of Wood's picture of Lovelace's penury on the erroneous assumptions that ‘Lovelace's daughter Margaret’ conveyed an estate at Kingsdown to her husband, Mr. Henry Coke, and that Gunpowder Alley was not a mean locality. The Margaret Lovelace in question was not the poet's daughter, but a cousin of his father (having been married in 1630, when the poet was twelve years old), while Gunpowder Alley was a known haunt of indigent refugees, lurking papists and delinquents. The conjecture that after the loss of Lucasta, Lovelace consoled himself by marrying Althea, is equally gratuitous.
In 1659 his brother, Dudley Posthumus, published ‘Posthume Poems of Richard Lovelace, esq.,’ dedicated to John, afterwards third lord Lovelace [q. v.], with a portrait of the author designed by his brother Francis, and two other plates; perfect copies are very rare. The poems do not enhance the poet's reputation, containing, with some good lines, a large proportion of the alloy which was not entirely absent from ‘Lucasta.’ Appended are elegies by Charles Cotton, James Howell, and others.
As a poet Lovelace is known almost exclusively by his best lyrics. Popularly his name is more familiar than those of his contemporaries, Carew, Suckling, Randolph, and Waller, who are at most points his superiors. This is due partially, no doubt, to the fact that his poems not being very accessible except in anthologies, few have courted disappointment by perusing his minor pieces. But if the latter have to many seemed inspired by ‘Dulness in a Domino,’ to a very select few the most unaccountable of Lovelace's conceits do not appear frigid; a writer in the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’ (1883), while admitting the intricacy and tortuosity of his thought as well as his syntax, asserts that in intellectual force as well as elaborate workmanship, Lovelace more nearly approaches Donne than any other disciple. ‘The wine of his poetry is a dry wine, but it is wine and not an artificial imitation.’ Whether Lovelace is a mere reckless improvisatore, or the most fastidious of the concettists, may be open to argument, but it is tolerably certain that to the majority of readers his minor lyrics will remain as poetry unintelligible. If none of his song-writing contemporaries, with the possible exception of Wither, could have surpassed the exquisite ‘Tell me not (sweet) I am unkind,’ few could have written short pieces so inelegant or so vapid as some of the ‘Posthume Poems.’ On a surer foundation than the permanence of his poetry rests the chivalrous repute in which his life has been held. The Adonis of the court, ‘the handsomest man of his time,’ he rejected a courtier's career for the profession of arms, and his heroism, rather than his rhyme, challenged the oft-quoted comparison with Sir Philip Sidney.
Lovelace's connection with St. Bride's suggested to Richardson the name of the hero of ‘Clarissa’ (cf. Leigh Hunt, The Town), and thus, by an ironical destiny, ‘Lovelace’ passed through the agency of Clarissa into common use in the eighteenth century as a synonym for a libertine. Though now supplanted in England by the older Lothario, it still survives in France.
There is a portrait of Lovelace in the Dulwich gallery (a bust, in armour, with red scarf and long dark hair), which goes to justify Aubrey's description of him as ‘a handsome man but prowd’ (Lives, ii. 433). This portrait, which was engraved (by Clamp) for Harding's ‘Biographical Mirror,’ was exhibited at South Kensington in 1866. In the print room at the British Museum there are two engraved portraits of Lovelace, which possess special interest; one by Richard Gaywood, in the character of Orpheus, playing on the lyre and surrounded by the beasts of the forest, the other an extremely fine and rare print by William Hollar. There are also at Dulwich portraits of the poet's father Sir William, of Sir William of Bethersden, and of Serjeant Lovelace; one of Althea (which is evidently, as the rest are probably, by a Dutch artist), and a nameless portrait which may be Lucasta, and which certainly resembles the engraved portrait of her.