Richard Lovelace

Richard Lovelace (1617-1657)

AG: Now we’ll find out about him..let’s see, Lovelace’s history. He was a friend of… Dick Lovelace was a friend of Jack Suckling, as you remember. Lets see now.. what is this?,.. born in Woolwich, 1618, died in Gunpowder Alley, near Shoe Lane, London, April 1658.. he was an improvisateur. “a more slovenly poet than Lovelace it would be difficult to find” (according to this editor from the nineteenth-century).

Well, here is the situation – (he has several poems about prison, which we’ll get to)

“Imprisonment from which he was suffering was brought on him in the unselfish performance of duty. He had been chosen by the whole body of the county of Kent to deliver the Kentish petition to the House of Commons; the result was, doubtless, what he expected, the petition being burned by the Common Hangman, and he himself, on the 30th of April, 1642, thrown into the Gatehouse Prison. The romantic career of Lovelace must be taken into consideration when we blame the defects of his poems. He was born to wealth and station, for he was generously educated, and he became a favorite with the royal family while he was but a youth. During the brief period of his prosperity he lived the life of a spoiled child. He was the handsomest man of his generation, he was addressed under the name Adonis, and he spent his time in reading Greek poetry, in playing and singing, and in feats of arms. His manners were, we are told, “incomparably graceful”. Yet, born into that iron age, his career closed in the most tragic way. It being reported that he was killed, his betrothed [his girlfriend] married another man; and after wasting all his substance in the recklessness of despair, this darling of the Graces died in extreme want, and in a cellar in Gunpowder Alley, near Shoe Lane, London in 1658”

There’s another little piece of information on him, to give a bit of his character:

“A disagreeable person, in some respects, he may have been but he won the hearts of many, and was long remembered with.. was it Suckling? – oh, I’m sorry, this is about Suckling but it’s another of those stories. The two were friends, and they must have been fantastic together in London, with all that money

But Suckling was… it’s another long story about Suckling that’s in here. “In the first Scottish..” – (this is Suckling now not Lovelace, I meant to look it up before – first Scottish War of 1639, he made an extravagant attempt to aid the King by leading into the field a hundred beautiful tailored horsemen who were unceremoniously put to rout thereby earning their leader much ridicule. But this folly he redeemed in a more serious effort on behalf of the King in the Army Plots of 1641, on the failure of which he fled to France and died a suicide the following year.” (that was Suckling not Lovelace)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-and-three-quarter minutes in  and concluding approximately  forty-four and a half  minutes in]

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