1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Capel Lofft

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 94 (August 1824) 184.



May 26. At Montcallier, near Turin, Capel Lofft, Esq. an admired Poet, and the friend of Bloomfield; a Barrister-at-Law, a warm politician in the whig school, a distinguished writer in the Law department, as well as in defence of liberty; an earnest black-letter enthusiast in Literature, and in private life an amiable man.

He was born at Bury St. Edmund's in 1751. He received his Christian name from his uncle Capel, the commentator on Shakspeare, and had his education at Eton, whence he went to Peterhouse, Cambridge; after which he studied the Law; and in due course became a barrister. His first production, the Praise of Poetry, a poem, 1775, 12mo. attracted but little attention. In 1778 he published Observations upon Mrs. Macauley's History of England, written in a spirit of zeal for the honour of that lady. His Translation of the first and second Georgics of Virgil, published in 8vo. 1784, was executed upon the model of Dr. Trapp, and was a most daring attempt upon Virgil, in which Mr. Lofft succeeded.

In 1797, upon the appearance of the Comet, Mr. Lofft played off the artillery of his philosophy upon the public with considerable glitter in the daily prints. He resided at Troston Hall, Suffolk, and was an active Magistrate for that county.

Among the earliest recollections of him, is his appearance at the County Meetings held at Stowmarket, during the last 25 years of the late King's reign. His figure was small, upright, and boyish; his, dress — without fit, fashion, or neatness; his speaking small-voiced, long-sentenced, and involved; his manner — persevering, but without command. On these occasions Mr. Lofft invariably opposed the Tory measures which those meetings were intended to sanction; and he was assailed, as invariably, by the rude hootings and hissings of the gentry and the rabble. Undismayed however by rebuff, he would fearlessly continue to advocate the cause of freedom. Mr. Lofft's conversational powers were of a high order; his richly-stored mind would throw out its treasures when surrounded by his friends, and few, if any, ever left him without improvement, or shared his converse without pleasure.

Besides his publications enumerated above, he published the following:

View of the several Schemes respecting America, 1775, 8vo. — Dialogue on the Principles of the Constitution, 1776, 8vo. — Reports of Cases in the Court of King's Bench, from Easter Term, 12 Geo. Ill. to Mich. Term, 14 Geo. III. inclusive, 1776, fol. — Observations on Wesley's Second Calm Address, and incidentally on other writings upon the American Question, 1777, 8vo. — Principia cum juris universalis tum praecipue Anglicani, 1779, 2 vols. 12mo. — Elements of Universal Law, being a translation of the first volume of the Principia, 1779, 12mo. — An Argument on the nature of Party and Faction, 1780, 8vo. — Eudosia, or a poem. on the Universe, 1781, 8vo. — Observations on a Dialogue on the actual State of Parliament, 1783, 8vo. — Inquiry into the legality and expediency of increasing the Royal Navy by Subscriptions for Building County Ships, 1783, 8vo. — Essay on the Law of Libels, 1785, 8vo. — Three Letters on the Question of the Regency, 1789, 8vo. — Observations on the first part of Dr. Knowles's Testimonies of the Divinity of Christ, from the first four centuries, 1789, 8vo. — History of the Corporation and Test Acts, 1790, 8vo. — Remarks on the Letter of Edmund Burke, concerning the Revolution in France, and on the proceedings of certain Societies in London relative to that event 1790, 8vo. — Essay on the Effect of a Dissolution of Parliament on an Impeachment by the House of Commons for High Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1791, 8vo, — Remarks on the Letter of Mr. Burke to a Member of the National Assembly, with several Papers in addition to the Remarks on the Reflections of Mr. Burke on the Revolution in France, 1791, 8vo. — The first and second Books of Milton's Paradise Lost, with Notes, 1792, 4to. — The Law of Evidence, by Chief Baron Gilbert, considerably enlarged; to which is prefixed some account of the Author, his abstract of Locke's Essay, and his Argument on a Case of Homicide in Ireland, — 1791, 1796, 2 vols. 8vo.; the copy of which, furnished by him, was abruptly discontinued in the middle of the last volume, and the work was concluded by another hand. — On the revival of the Cause of Reform in the Representation of the Commons in Parliament, 1810, 2d edit. 8vo. — Aphorisms from Shakspeare, 1812, 18mo. — Laura, or an Anthology of Sonnets and Elegiac Quatorzains, original and translated, 1812, 5 vols. fc. 8vo. — Mr. Lofft has also written numerous articles in the Gentleman's Magazine, Monthly Magazine, Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine, Young's Annals of Agriculture, &c.