Three irregular Spenserians (ababcC) signed "Philocyon, March 10, 1797." In Laura, Capel Lofft's massive anthology of sonnets, the title is given as: "XXVII. On the Anniversary of a favorite Terrier: who strayed to Troston X Mar: MDCCXVII." There Lofft, a wealthy country magistrate, describes the poem a "sixain" and supplies a note: "Fox has deserv'd and continues to deserve so well that I could not prevail to omit this though not perfectly a sonnet. — 17th Sept. 1805."
Charles James Fox (1749-1806) was the leader of the opposition in Parliament; William Pitt the younger (1759-1806) the Prime Minister. Lofft, as the poem implies, supported the opposition. His obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine describes him as "a warm politician in the whig school" — which was rather an understatement. He was eventually compelled to flee his estates at Troston when his support for the fallen Napoleon made him odious to his neighbors.
Literary Gazette: "Mr. Lofft was a warm politician in the Whig school, an earnest black letter enthusiast in literature, and in private life an amiable man" (19 June 1824) 396.
The Albion [New York]: "Mr. Lofft, though a lawyer, was most liberal and consistent in his politics; and though an author, a poet, and a critic, most generous in his strictures, and benevolent in his conduct towards men of genius and letters. If his feelings erred, the failing was always on the side of charity. Few have distinguished themselves for such a length of time in so many various branches of our literary history. Mathematics, classics, law, poetry, music, and criticism, all, by turns, occupied his pen, from an early period to the latest hour, as his separate works, as well as numerous contributions to periodical publications, will amply testify" 3 (14 August 1824) 68.
Fox to whose lot hath fall'n a favorite name—
A Name to social worth and freedom dear,
Shall not this day's return some mem'ry claim
Which thee, with all thy woes and cares, left here?
Much hadst thou suffer'd in thy youthful prime
And man had been thy foe, worse than to others, time.
Thy cares, thy fears, are gone: — and never more
May they return upon thy gentle head!
Nor food and shelter thy faint eye implore
Doubtful, nor chill thy trembling limbs bespread
In agony and dread, from hopeless flight,
As when thy quivering life here caught the pitying sight
Of her who still protects thee! — Taxes come!
Unkind to thee, and thy deserving race,
Of dogs and men PITT little heeds the doom.
But thee, nor tax, nor aught more dire displace.
E'en should invasion come, safe be thou still!
And none do ill to thee, who dost to nothing ill!