1852 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Alfred Davenport

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine (May 1852) 525.



Jan. 25. At Camberwell, in his 72nd year, Mr. Richard Alfred Davenport, a laborious literary workman.

He was the author of a History of Greece, in three volumes, in continuation of that by Mitford, 1835; a Dictionary of Biography of the most eminent Characters of all Ages, 1831, 12mo.; and of several volumes of the Family Library; of which we can name the Life of Ali Pasha, that of Peter the Great, and Lives of Eminent Men.

He wrote considerable portions of the history, biography, geography, and criticisms in Rivington's Annual Register, for the years 1792 to 1797; the biographical notices and critical prefaces to Whittingham's 100-volumes edition of the British Poets; and edited more than a hundred volumes of miscellaneous works, among which was the Poetical Register, in nine volumes, containing contributions from some eminent writers of verse, and numerous pieces, original and translated, from his own pen.

In 1850 his friend Mr. Britton thus wrote of Mr. Davenport: — "This laborious, critical, and acute writer is scarcely known to the public, nor even to the literati of the present time. A devoted student and lover of books, he has lived in the midst of those fascinating companions, and has neglected to cultivate an intimacy with the world, which owes him much."

This description was confirmed by the extraordinary termination of Mr. Davenport's life. He resided in a small freehold house (Brunswick Cottage, Park-street, Camberwell,) perfectly alone; and was found in a dying state by a policeman who had heard his moans from the street. Upon the coroner's jury going to view the body, they found his place crowded with books, papers, pictures, coins, and curiosities, but all covered with dust, for no one remembered that the house had been cleansed during the eleven years he had occupied it. The windows were broken, and the furniture in decay. About the rooms were several bottles that had contained laudanum, and the verdict given was, "That the deceased died from inadvertently taking an overdose of opium."

His extensive library has been sold during the month of April by Messrs. Puttick and Simpson.