1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Capel Lofft

Anonymous, Obituary in Monthly Magazine 57 (July 1824) 564.



Near Turin, 72, Capell Lofft, esq. barrister at law, formerly a magistrate of Suffolk, and well known as a public writer on political, legal, poetical, and scientific, subjects. He was nephew of Mr. Capell, editor of Shakspeare; and, with his fortune, and under his auspices, came into life. In 1791 he appeared as one of the antagonists of Burke, in one of the best pamphlets connected with that famous controversy. In 1798 he came before the public as the friend and reviser of the Poems of Bloomfield, to whom he was introduced by the editor of this miscellany. In 1805 he brought out five volumes of Sonnets, either originals, or his own translations; and soon after, a collection of Adages and Mottoes from Shakspeare. From their commencement, he was also a constant correspondent of the Monthly Magazine and Monthly Mirror; and, in both, displayed an extent of knowledge, and degree of taste, seldom combined in the same person. As a magistrate, he distinguished himself as the partisan of a deluded servant, who, under the influence of a lover or husband, had connived at the robbery of her mistress; but his zeal so much offended the secretary of state, that he was struck out of the Commission of the Peace. In 1815 he appeared before the public as the legal advocate of Napoleon, and showed that his deportation to St. Helena was contrary to law as well as justice and policy, and thus drew on himself much temporary odium from the ailing factions. These circumstances, and the general enthusiasm which he displayed, in regard to objects oppressed by power and the forms of law, rendered his residence at Troston uncomfortable; and, having neglected his own affairs while attending to those of others, he found it desirable to retire to the continent, and passed the last eight years at Bruxelles, Nancy, and in Piedmont, in comparative security. He was a man of real benevolence in every sense in which the word can be used; but, in the display of it, paid too little respect to the prejudices of others; while in person, being a caricature of human nature, he often lost the influence which was due to the integrity and disinterested enthusiasm of his heart. Nevertheless his manners were so engaging, his habits so gentlemanly, and his conversation so intelligent, that he married, for his first wife, Miss Emlyn, of Windsor, distinguished for her beauty; and, for his second, Miss Finch, of Cambridge, esteemed for her intellectual accomplishments. In proof of his varied erudition, we need only refer to the pages of this Magazine; and, in proof of the admirable native qualities of his mind, to the sacrifices which he made, of interest and fortune, to what he deemed the honour of the laws, and the welfare of suffering humanity.