Another Look at ‘Amyntor’s Grove’: Pastoral and Patronage in Lovelace’s Poem

Dosia Reichardt
James Cook University, Cairns

Reichardt, Dosia. "Another Look at ‘Amyntor’s Grove’: Pastoral and Patronage in Lovelace’s Poem". Early Modern Literary Studies 11.3 (January, 2006):5.1-20 <URL:>.

  1. The poetry of Richard Lovelace has undergone a re-evaluation in the past three decades as historical criticism has revealed him as a writer who confronts the turmoil of his times and articulates the changing dimensions of the Cavalier world. One of the poems in his first volume of mostly lyric verse which has hitherto been overlooked in this process is ‘Amyntor’s Grove, His Chloris, Arigo, and Gratiana.  An Elogie’.[1]  The poem’s interpretation has been overshadowed by an identification of the inhabitants of the grove as Endymion Porter and his family: an identification that has endured since 1864 when Hazlitt suggested that Lovelace had included references to several courtiers in this poem.[2]  Hazlitt’s footnote, expanded by C. H. Wilkinson in the standard edition, travels through subsequent commentaries as an explanatory tag for the poem.  It has also become attached to critical debates about the relationship of Lovelace’s poetry to Marvell’s, with reference to the latter’s ‘The Gallery’. Nigel Smith, for instance, in his recent edition of Marvell discusses the links between ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ and ‘The Gallery’ and notes that ‘Amyntor may refer to Endymion Porter’.[3]  H. M. Margoliouth links Marvell with Lovelace, while L. N. Wall discusses Marvell’s admiration for Lovelace and his borrowings from a number of poems including ‘Amyntor’s Grove’.[4] 

  2. I would argue that the Amyntor of Lovelace’s poem is not Endymion Porter, but almost certainly a reference to Charles I especially given Lovelace’s many covert references to the King in his poetry and the evident pull of the centripetal force of royalty even in the love lyrics.  Lovelace was one of many Royalist writers using a language of articulating a response to the experience of defeat.  By equating Amyntor with Porter, Lovelace’s poem becomes only a late addition to a poetic mode popular in the 1630s and loses its allegorical force.  Identifying Amyntor with Charles I, and Chloris with Henrietta Maria, provides a more consistent reading of Lovelace’s poem, especially if ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ is set against other, and earlier, poems to Porter and his wife Olivia (none of which bother to disguise their patron’s name). Porter was a friend to many court poets and the subject of numerous verses by those he had helped, all of whom are from a generation of poets previous to Lovelace.[5]  Sir William Davenant, the poet laureate and a protégé of Porter’s, is more prolific in praising his patron than his King and ten poems specifically addressed to Endymion and/or Olivia appeared in his printed collection of 1672.[6]  Four of these poems, all titled, ‘To Endimion Porter’, celebrate Porter’s generosity to poets, but otherwise the sometimes lengthy panegyric allows form to dominate content.  Davenant’s poems are a bland and empty collation of generic phrases from which it is possible to discern that Porter was at court, but nothing else.

  3. Thomas Randolph, who died in 1634-5, has one poem that advises against immoderate grief in his ‘A Pareneticon to the truly noble Gentleman Master Endymion Porter’. [7] Porter’s skill with pen and sword are praised by Randolph, but it is only in Robert Herrick’s panegyrics that Porter appears as himself.  Herrick, supported by Porter in the 1620s and to whom Porter became a father figure, wrote five poems addressed to Porter by name.[8]  In these Porter is almost a deity; his steps fertilise the soil he walks on. This point of view was not shared by the Lincolnshire commoners, whose enclosed land had been granted to Porter by the King in 1633.[9]  In 1641 the peasants reclaimed the marshes; the country haven, beleaguered but intact, that is celebrated in Lovelace’s poem had long passed out of Porter’s domain.  Herrick explicitly praises Porter for never having had mercantile dealings overseas to bring back spices, and for being free of envy and ambition and content with his own holdings.   Herrick also praises Porter as a patron of poetry, an attribute entirely missing in ‘Amyntor’s Grove’, while portraying as a reluctant courtier a man who profited from his position at court.[10]

  4. By the 1640s, however, Porter no longer appears in manuscript or printed verse as a figure to be praised.  There is one contemporary reference to him in a long poem which appears in Henry Oxenden’s MS. Commonplace book of 1647.  In ‘The Progress’, Porter (along with Goring) is a figure of fun:
    Porter did wait [till] t’was his turn;
    Meantime with jealousy he did burn.
    Leave off this humour of Spanish blood,
    ’Tis thy wife’s virtue must make her good.[11]
    A comment on the printed version of this in Henry Huth’s Inedited Poetical Miscellanies refers to Porter: ‘Lovelace is more than suspected of figuring him under the name of Amyntor in two of his productions’.[12]  In the 1650s Porter appears only in Davenant’s dedication to him in his Poems of 1658.  In the same year John Eliot includes in his own volume an un-attributed version of Davenant’s ‘For Mistress Porter on a New Year’s Day’.[13] A decade later, however, Porter enjoyed a rehabilitation in David Lloyd’s Memoires of 1668 which speaks favourably of his actions in 1642 and his popularity with Charles I.[14]

  5. Whereas in the country house poems of Jonson, Carew and Herrick land and house are conventionally used to represent the moral qualities of their owner, ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ indicates how complex a comparison between outer and inner virtue can become. As L. N. Wall suggests, Amyntor’s Grove is a ‘rather perplexing place’.[15]   In Lovelace’s poem the speaker is invited to view a large collection, as intricate and dense as a tapestry, which includes many valuable paintings: ‘Gems so rarely, richly set, / For them we love the Cabinet’ (71).  These are not the interior furnishings celebrated in Jonson’s poetry, but a series of Continental works of art by Titian, Raphael and Giorgone: ‘Next the great and powerful hand / Beckens my thoughts unto a stand’.  Amyntor is above all a wealthy collector, and it is Lovelace’s focus on his acquisitions that initially suggests, but effectively subverts, the link between Porter and Endymion accepted by contemporary critics.  Lovelace specifies the favourite painters of Charles I (known for their erotic nudes) and then alludes to Henrietta Maria’s preference for devotional works: ‘Now every Saint Cleerly divine, / Is clos’d so in her severall shrine’.[16]  ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ refers to the portraits the poet is shown in religious terms, as if they were enshrined saints, but those privileged enough to view Royal portraits were aware that they served as propaganda, ‘mending nature’ as Lovelace observes, with flattering physical depictions.[17]  Moreover, Charles’ patronage of foreign artists was perceived as ‘innovative, foreign, imperialist and worst of all Catholic’.[18] 

  6. Nevertheless, the art works have been associated with Porter.  L. E. Semler suggests that Lovelace had been influenced by Vasari in his description of the paintings and accepts that Endymion is Porter.[19]  Norman Farmer in his discussion of the links between poetry and the visual arts restates at length Hazlitt’s conjecture and notes that ‘Lovelace’s poem may be a quite accurate appreciation of Porter’s country house and collection’.[20]  Leah Marcus concurs:
    The ‘Amyntor’ of the poem was almost certainly Endymion Porter, friend of poets, who had been responsible for the acquisition of much of Charles I’s celebrated collection of art.  Porter’s country house was like a miniature Whitehall in that it displayed his own smaller art collection put together in the course of his purchases for the king.  In Lovelace’s poem, Endymion Porter’s paintings, displayed on the walls of his country house, define the precincts of a sacred grove which serves as a setting for a Royalist ritual of Bacchanalian transcendence.[21]
    Lovelace only mentions the most desirable and expensive artists of the period for whom there was fierce competition among the European aristocracy.  Although he was himself a collector and (in the 1630s) the subject of works by Van Dyck, of whom he was a close friend, Porter was not in the front rank of picture buyers which included England’s greatest private picture collector, Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel.  As Philip Fehl writes, Porter was one of a number of diplomat-connoisseurs engaged by the nobility to select and buy paintings; a group which included Henry Wotton, Dudley Carleton and Balthasar Gerbier.[22]  Jonathan Brown’s extensive survey of the seventeenth-century world of collectors refers to Porter as a go-between, but he is not included as one of those who could afford the coveted artists specified by Lovelace. The link between Amyntor and Endymion Porter rests more on the latter’s role in having acted as the King’s confidante in several major art deals.[23]  Wilkinson notes that there is no evidence that Porter ever owned any paintings by the three artists specified in Lovelace’s poem. These artists were, however, part of the King’s collection, acquired in a spectacular coup from the Duke of Mantua.[24] All three artists specified by Lovelace were particular favourites of Charles I and prominent in his collection; his most expensive tapestry was a Raphael, as was his most expensive painting.[25]

  7. In the only full-length study of Lovelace, Manfred Weidhorn notes Porter’s role in forming the King’s collection, having asserted that ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ was addressed to Endymion Porter.  He goes on to speculate:
    Lovelace, belonging to both the court and the country-house circles, probably came to know Porter at court or while on the 1639-40 expeditions with General Goring, to whom Porter was related.[26]
    In an article on Marvell’s ‘The Gallery’, Renée Ramsay also accepts Weidhorn’s association of Porter and Lovelace:
    If (sic) as Manfred Weidhorn suggests, Lovelace’s poem can be associated with Endymion Porter, its celebration of that gentleman’s activities as an art-collector and art-buyer for Charles I offers further evidence of its contextual importance for Marvell’s poem.[27]
    In ‘The Gallery’ Marvell, however, specifies the Royal collections of ‘Whitehall’ and of ‘Mantua’:  the link between Marvell’s and Lovelace’s poems is better defined if ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ refers to the King’s pictures – not Porter’s.  Moreover, if Marvell’s poem is read as a response to Lovelace then an identification of the portraits of Clora suggests itself. A re-reading of Lovelace which places Charles and Henrietta Maria at the centre of ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ provides a view of Marvell’s ‘The Gallery’ as a poem furnished with pictures of the Queen. The speaker in the gallery is first enchanted by seeing the woman as a shepherdess – a figure which occurs in Lovelace’s poem and which was associated with the Queen through court drama and masque. In the third stanza of Marvell’s poem a portrait of Aurora is admired. In Luminalia (1638), the Queen is enthroned as brightness in imagery that links the Virgin with Aurora.[28] The portrait of Venus in her pearly boat in the fifth stanza has long puzzled commentators on Marvell’s poem who have searched in vain for actual paintings that correspond to Marvell’s descriptions, but the Queen was associated with shells and ships in Tempe Restored (1632) and arrived as Indamora in a maritime chariot in The Temple of Love (1635). Marvell’s poem mirrors the ‘good’ Cloras with depictions of the woman as a murderess and a sorceress, so by implication the Queen who is a charming pastoral nymph is also a vain witch involved in sinister rites who keeps her tools in a ‘tyrant’s cabinet’ – a fixture intricate with gems in Lovelace’s poem. Equating Amyntor with Porter in Lovelace’s poem obscures the possibility of reading Marvell’s poem in this way.

  8. Though they may have had friends in common, the connection between Porter and Lovelace is tenuous.[29]  Furthermore, by the 1640s Lovelace could not have been seeking Porter’s patronage.  Endymion Porter’s collection was housed not in his country residence but in the Strand, in a house which he abandoned when he joined the King in 1642. As a result of this gesture he was in financial trouble by 1644.[30] He was exiled in 1645, and lived in very straitened circumstances on the Continent where his family joined him in 1647.  Porter’s property was confiscated or encumbered and he died in 1649 having returned to England after the King’s execution. Lovelace sent Lucasta to the press in 1648, and it seems uncharacteristic that he would retain for publication a poem celebrating a situation that no longer existed.  By the time Lucasta was being prepared Porter’s art collection did not exist.  Although the King’s collection was threatened with disposal - in 1648 it was still intact.

  9. Porter had been voted dangerous and exempted from pardon by Parliament in 1642 and had meddled in Irish politics in 1644, so it is possible that Lovelace would not want to address him by name.[31]  Nevertheless, Lovelace included a sonnet to General Goring (an unpopular figure in the 1640s) in the 1649 Lucasta and wrote openly of his gratitude to Charles Cotton in ‘The Triumphs of Philamore and Amoret’ (1659).  Lovelace’s indirection in ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ is of another kind, more consistent with the ‘patient fortitude’ of his loyalism.  The individual who voices aloud his support for the King in ‘To Althea, From Prison’ while celebrating ‘Our carelesse heads with Roses bound, / Our hearts with Loyall Flames’ is the same ‘grateful, Loyal Soule’ who while at Amyntor’s grove toasts Chloris in an overflowing bowl with company who have ‘bound our loose hayre with the Vine’ while admiring Amyntor’s pictures.  The echo of Lovelace’s most popular poem within ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ reinforces the political sub-text.

  10. Lovelace’s poem is anomalous.  He does not provide a moral epistle, nor does his poem’s title refer to an actual estate or family, but to a magical sanctuary belonging to a shepherd (familiar to readers of pastoral in all its forms) and a nymph Chloris (ubiquitous in pastoral lyrics). Lovelace’s title is indicative of the poem which follows. Alastair Fowler has commented on the generic function of names and their particular importance in pastoral.[32] Conventional names signal allegiance to one or more classics, but are supplemented by partly ‘nuclear’, partly ‘innovatory names’ to signal wit and direction. Lovelace’s Amyntor derives from the Theocritan Amyntas and from Tasso’s Amintas. It is not in Fowler’s list but occurs frequently in the song-books and plays of the period.  It appears, however, to have gained impetus after 1620.[33] In manuscript and printed miscellanies of the Stuart period Amyntas or Amyntor often features in lyrics of pastoral loss or rejection when paired with Chloris.[34]  Thus, in his title, Lovelace announces his appropriation of both classical and popular elements: he also signals that Amyntor’s grove is subject to loss and change.  The poem is, after all, subtitled ‘An Elogie’.  The pastoral mode was a congenial way of writing about political circumstances and Lovelace’s use of ‘Amyntor’ and ‘Chloris’ may have been transparent to the readers and writers of his time; a means not of obscuring identity, but of adding meaning.

  11. In the lyrics of the period Amyntor/Amyntas is a shepherd. The iconography of Charles I and also his son as a good, if careless, shepherd, though gaining momentum after 1649, was already current in the 1640s.  Fanshawe’s 1647 translation of Guarini’s tragic-comedy Il Pastor Fido was dedicated to Prince Charles on whom, as the faithful shepherd, the resolution of the pastoral romance depends. Thomas Jordan’s “The King’s Complaint: The King Imprisoned at Holmby” is directed to be sung to the tune of “In faith I cannot keep my Sheap”.[35]  Lawrence Venuti, discussing Lovelace’s ‘To Chloe, Courting her for his Friend’ (22) finds in the third stanza a comparison of the Royal shepherd with an usurer.[36]  That Lovelace was not alone in picturing the King as a classic figure of pastoral despair is shown by the inclusion of a poem titled “Charles on the Departure of his Queene into France” and dated 1644 in a manuscript miscellany of the time. [37]  This manuscript poem explicitly links Charles and Henrietta with Amyntas and Chloris - -a pair of pastoral lovers who have been separated. The title has been appended to a popular lyric which laments: ‘Chloris, now thou hast flown away / Amyntas Sheep are gone astray’. Moreover Lovelace proves prescient in his portrayal of the King as a shepherd.  Pastoral iconography, so central to the mythic construction of the pre-war court, would re-surface after 1649 as the lamenting wooer of Chloris metamorphosed into the Christian martyr - the ‘good shepherd’ - without whom the populace of England were as lost sheep.  Alexander Brome’s ‘The Pastorall’, subtitled ‘On the King’s Death’ and popular in manuscript miscellanies, recasts Charles as Damon mourned by his abandoned and preyed-upon flock.[38]  Charles, who had been celebrated in drama, poetry and painting as the chaste lover, the upholder of artistic value and the conqueror of dragons becomes in Brome’s verses not only the ‘good shepherd’, but like Amyntor, a pipe-playing poet.

  12. This removes Lovelace’s poem from the country house genre in which poets are specific about patrons and houses. Marvell writes ‘Upon the Hill and Grove at Bill-borow.  To my Lord Fairfax’; Herrick writes of Sir Lewis Pemberton; Jonson writes on Sir Robert Wroth, but neither topography nor lineage can be discerned in Lovelace’s poem, which places the ostensible residence of a wealthy patron within a pastoral fiction. ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ suggests either that previous poets had disguised literary tropes in seemingly naturalistic and georgic fashion, or that the idyllic haven is an ephemeral artifice, an illusion, which can be packed up at any time, like the elaborate props of court masques which history had already discarded.  The poem’s typically pastoral adynata point to the real impossibility of pastoral harmony in the 1640s, except within a self-consciously literary framework, itself the possession of a dispersed and reduced elite.

  13. Lovelace opens in courtly style with an extravagant compliment to Chloris which reverberates throughout the poem.  The lady of the house becomes ‘The gentlest Sheapherdesse, / That ever Lawnes and Lambes did blesse’, and Lovelace adds cherubs and nymphs to give an Arcadian gloss to an apparently acquisitive lifestyle. Henrietta Maria’s fondness for promoting and participating in pastoral dramas and masques is well documented. In 1631 she first appeared in Jonson’s Chloridia as the nymph Chloris who transforms the earth in Spring - a role Lovelace possibly alludes to.  Lovelace’s constellation of images would have been familiar to his readers. Playford’s Third Book of Ayres (which though published in 1669 contains much material form previous decades) has a song, ‘A Description of Cloris’, which contains many of the descriptive elements found in ‘Amyntor’s Grove’:
    Have you e’re seen the morning Sun
    From fair Aurora’s bosome run?
    Or have you seen on Flora’s Bed
    The Essences of White and Red?
    Then you may boast for you have seen
    My fairest Chloris; Beauties Queen

    Have you been near the bonfire
    The Phoenix makes before she dies?
    Then you can tell (I do presume)
    My Chloris is the world’s perfume.[39]
    Although every lyrical Chloris is not necessarily Henrietta Maria, this particular volume of songs makes the association explicit. There are numerous songs about Amyntor and Chloris and ‘Amintor’s Well-A-Dying’ (linked with the King and Queen in manuscript) is included. The first song is ‘Chloris landing at Berlington’ and in the index of contents a note is appended: ‘On the Queen’s landing at Burlington’. Lovelace has another poem in his posthumous volume: ‘Love Made in the First Age: To Chloris’ (146) in which the poet bitterly recalls a lost golden age of innocence. The association of the King and Queen with a new golden age had been unrelenting in the 1630s. Townsend’s masque Tempe Restored (1632) portrayed the queen as displacing Circe and together with her husband returning the kingdom to Saturn’s reign – the first fabled age of gold.[40]

  14. Removing Porter from Lovelace’s poem thus reveals it as a critique of the pre-war court. In maintaining the paradox of the title Lovelace comments on the unreality of the pastoral convention in court theatricals: the wilderness, landscape or garden expensively recreated indoors, the outdoor natural cave or grotto crafted by Inigo Jones.  The family enjoys private pleasures indoors and has nothing to do with nature (either wild or cultivated), which is carefully excluded, or with the business of estate management alluded to, for instance, in Herrick’s poems to Porter.  The inhabitants of Amyntor’s grove, neglecting the external world, show a sly preference for illusion over reality.  Real figures are untouchable, but painted shadows may be safely enjoyed ‘without a blush’.  As a result the company is beleaguered: its response to the winter that rages outside is that of the companionship celebrated in Lovelace’s ‘The Grasse-hopper’; one that marks off the external world so that the friends can create ‘A Genuine Summer in each others breast’ (39).

  15. While praising the couple’s chaste Platonic marriage using the image of the phoenix whose nest of fire resides in Chloris’s eyes (so that Amyntor and Chloris take on the qualities celebrated in the Royal marriage in pre-war masques) Lovelace uses tone to convey disapproval of an acquisitive lifestyle where appearance is everything. Arriving at the grove with great delight the poet recalls:
        I did begin
    T’observe the curious ordering
    Of every Roome, where’ts hard to know
    Which most excels in sent or show (71).
    Clearly this is no Penshurst, which Jonson proclaims in the opening line not to have been built for ‘envious show’, nor is it Amarantha’s austere haven which has ‘No Cabinets with curious Washes’ (107). With iconic and sensual imagery, Lovelace describes the grove as an aesthetic construct.  In its elaboration the poem itself becomes an artefact that a patron might wish to possess.  

  16. Lovelace places the family within a mythical space, a sacred precinct: the habitat of the gods in ancient Greek lyrics, but linked with the Anglican church in Cavalier poetry. After 1641, the aristocratic elite had become concerned about the threat to order posed by opposition to the bishops. Charles ‘became the natural rallying point’ for those who felt that episcopacy formed a bulwark protecting stability and property.[41] Amyntor’s grove indulges its guests with vaguely pagan and Catholic ritual in which Leah Marcus identifies the rites of a ‘wine-drenched communion’ – a celebration linked with Henrietta Maria’s observance of her Catholic faith in her chapel at Somerset House.[42]  These rites are in opposition to Puritan religious practice and Lovelace underlines the typical Puritan perception of Cavalier behaviour: ‘Wee bound our loose hayre with the Vine’. The wine allows the participants to ‘drench their oppressing cares’ and choke ‘the wide Jawes of our feares’ – an incursion of troubles normally excluded from all modes of pastoral, and by tradition from sacred groves.[43] The classical grove has an odour of sacrifice, trees smelling of frankincense and orchards bearing golden fruit.[44]  In Lovelace, the indoor setting is scented with ‘Arabian gummes’ and is a space in which ritual and ceremony are indulged:
                   the Indians richest prize
     Is kindled a glad Sacrifice:
     Cloudes are sent up on wings of Thyme,
     Amber, Pomegranates, Jessemine,
     And through our Earthen Conduicts sore
     Higher than Altars fum’d before (73).
     However, the sacrifice is more prosaic than the poetic hyperbole suggests.  Amyntor’s guests indulge in smoking, a vice against which almost as many pamphlets and poems were written as against drinking in the early seventeenth century. Lovelace uses the sensual imagery to distance the family from contemporary events, though a note of melancholy emerges.  As in Virgil’s eclogues, it is not the struggle with nature that arouses this, but the fragility of the happy scene.[45]  In the final stanza Lovelace reminds his readers that not all groves are sanctuaries as the threatening imagery of storms, frosts and winds, worms and serpents echoes the descriptions of haunted and hell-like caves and groves from the Aeneid and from Old English poetry.

  17. Lovelace introduces the couple’s progeny into the poem calling them Arigo and Gratiana, but his description of both children (as nymph and cherub) is intensely theatrical and reads as if the poem’s narrator were looking at a stylised family portrait. Moreover, their names are neither pastoral nor conventional and underline the separation of Amyntor’s grove from the everyday world. Unlike his royal predecessors, Charles had eschewed public appearances, and the initial indifference of many to the King’s cause in the early 1640s can be partly attributed to this lack of contact with his subjects. Amyntor is isolated.  The landscape is on the walls; the court has shrunk to a gallery.  The portraits on the walls provide ‘Livelier, nobler Company, / Then if they could or speake, or see’. Opposition is silenced, and the leisurely enjoyment of art, once characteristic of the court, is transferred to a private setting. The King has become a bourgeois gentleman, rather than a country landlord; indeed he is in danger of becoming a museum exhibit himself.

  18. The anonymous visitor to the grove does not write from an admiring but from a detached point of view: the narrative voice places it within the charmed circle, and intimates that the pastoral dichotomy is not between court and country or country and city but between indoor civilisation and external danger.  Outside the grove and its convivial gathering the winter awaits with frost and winds. These winds had already swept Endymion Porter into poverty and exile, yet Lovelace points to the future with his introduction of Amyntor’s children. The boy is described as ‘armed so with Majesty’ and having great maturity for though he looks to be five years old he ‘spake eighteen’ and is already carrying a sword. Leah Marcus writes ‘The poem was probably written in 1648 – that perilous year for Charles I’, although she does not explore this further.[46] The dating of Lovelace’s compositions is often hard to verify, but in 1648 the future Charles II was eighteen, which strengthens the identification of Amyntor with Charles I.[47] 

  19. Lovelace’s poem ends with a fourteen- line stanza which reveals his poem as a Graeco-Roman hymn.[48]  Having invoked the gods with costly incense, Lovelace petitions them for the continuation of the line through the ‘Blooming Boy, and blossoming Mayd’ whom he hopes will ‘be neere betrayd / To eating worme, or fouler storme’. The poem ends in a pensive mood as the poet hopes that no harm will come from the north wind (the Scots, presumably) and that the generations will survive until the end of time.  These new generations are envisaged as fruit-bearing trees beneath a patriarchal sun, an image Lovelace uses for the King as in the direct reference to Charles I as ‘the whole Ball / Of Day on Earth’ in ‘To Lucasta. From Prison’.  Loyalism is tempered with awareness that patronage of the arts had created an illusion of harmony in the realm, just as pastoral literature and drama had created an illusion of nature for a secluded court.  As the Cavalier winter draws near Lovelace recognises that it is only while ‘ravisht’ with wine and art that the poet can ask rhetorically of those halcyon days if Amyntor’s grove ‘were not a Paradice’.

  20. The poem, however, achieves consistency, clarity and adds to Lovelace’s reputation as a politically and historically aware writer only if the identification of Amyntor with Endymion Porter is discarded. Although only a small amount of research was necessary to reveal how flimsy the link is, Hazlitt’s suggestion has been uncritically accepted and passed on.  Lovelace’s  poetry as a whole, contextual evidence and manuscripts of the time point to Amyntor as referring to Charles I and Chloris to Henrietta Maria.  In portraying the King as a lovelorn shepherd, a patron of the arts, a lavish host and a patriarch and his wife as a nymph, a pastoral goddess, and a chaste wife Lovelace affirms his loyalty, but tempers it by reminding readers of the King’s extravagances, of Henrietta Maria’s controversial acting and her Catholic rites, and of the isolation and artificiality of the pre-war court.

The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in funding travel to research manuscript material.


[1] C. H. Wilkinson, (ed.), The Poems of Richard Lovelace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), pp. 71-4. All subsequent quotations are taken from this edition. Page numbers will follow in brackets.

[2] W. Carew Hazlitt, (ed.), Lucasta. The Poems of Richard Lovelace, Esq. (London: John Russell Smith, 1864), p. 84.  In the ‘Biographical Notice’ to his edition, Hazlitt also writes, “Ellinda marries Amyntor, under which disguise, I suspect, lurks the well known Mæcenas of his time, Endymion Porter”. (p. xxxvi).  Hazlitt refers to a manuscript version of ‘Amyntor’s Grove’ with variations from the printed Lucasta which has not been located. The 1649 Lucasta also contains a dialogue ‘Amyntor from beyond the Sea to Alexis’ (101) – a lament which Hazlitt links more tentatively to Porter.

[3] Nigel Smith, (ed.), The Poems of Andrew Marvell, 1621-1678 (London: Pearson Longman, 2003), p. 92.

[4]H. M. Margoliouth, (ed.), The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell, Vol I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), p. 92.  L. N. Wall, ‘Some Notes on Marvell’s Sources’, Notes and Queries, April (1957), 171.

[5] In addition to Davenant, Randolph and Herrick, Dekker, Warmstrey, May, Robert Dover, and Bolton received help from Porter.

[6] Madagascar with other Poems (London, 1672) contains, ‘To Endimion Porter’ [4]; ‘For the Lady Olivia Porter; A Present upon a New-Yeares day’; ‘To Endimion Porter, when my Comedy (call’d the Wits) was presented at Black.Fryers’; ‘To Endymion Porter, upon his recovery from a long Sickness’; ‘To Endimion Poreter, passing to Court to him by Water’.  Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1672) has ‘Song. Endimion Porter, and Olivia’ and ‘To all Poets upon the recovery of Endimion Porter from a long Sickness’. All of these can be found in The Works of Sir William Davenant, (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1968), pp. 217, 223, 229, 233, 235, 237, 239, 243, 321, 324.

[7] Thomas Randolph, Poetical and Dramatic Works, (ed.), W. Carew Hazlitt, (London: Reeves and Turner, 1875), p. 639.

[8] Four of these occur in the Hesperides and one in Noble Numbers.  They can be found in The Complete Poems of Robert Herrick Volumes I-III, (ed.), Alexander B. Grosart (London: Chatto and Windus, 1876), pp. 70, 124 (Vol. I); pp. 136-8, 212-15 (Vol. II); p. 70 (Vol. III).

[9] See Brian Manning, The English People and the English Revolution (London: Penguin, 1978), pp. 136-41.

[10] C. V. Wedgwood describes Porter as one of the King’s most trusted attendants and ‘an inveterate wire-puller’ and records that in his desperate attempts to gain money in the 1640s the King sold to Porter and other favourite courtiers the right to manufacture white writing paper.  See C. V. Wedgwood, The King’s Peace 1637-1641 (London: Collins, 1974), pp. 149, 335. Porter even managed to retain his seat in Parliament into 1642.  See Robert Ashton, The English Civil War, Conservatism and Revolution 1603-1649 (London: Weidenfeld, 1989), p. 132. 

[11] This version is taken from a copy of Hazlitt’s edition of Inedited Poetical Miscellanies, 1584 – 1700 (Printed for Private Circulation, 1870) in the Bodleian; Bod 2804e89. The volume is unfoliated.

[12] The comment refers back to Hazlitt’s edition of Lovelace.  Interestingly Hazlitt directs readers to Huth for information about Porter in his edition of Randolph’s poems although Hazlitt himself edited some of the previously unprinted manuscripts in Henry Huth’s possession. 

[13] John Eliot, Poems, or Epigrams, satyrs, elegies songs and sonnets upon several persons and occasions  (London, 1658), p. 25.

[14] David Lloyd, Memoires of the lives of those personages that suffered for the Protestant religion and allegiance to their soveraigne from 1637 to 1666 (London, 1668), p.657.

[15] Wall, ibid., 171.

[16] See Rosalind K. Marshall, Henrietta Maria: The Intrepid Queen (London: HMSO, 1990), pp. 60-91.

[17] Christopher Hill, The Century of Revolution 1603-1714 (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1961), pp. 99-100.

[18]  Kevin Sharpe, Criticism and Compliment, The Politics of Literature in the England of Charles I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p. 5.

[19] L. E. Semler, The English Mannerist Poets and the Visual Arts (Madison: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1998), p. 169.

[20] Norman K. Farmer Jr., Poets and the Visual Arts in Renaissance England (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1984), p. 57.  Farmer also writes of ‘Porter’s own elegantly furnished home, Aston-sub-Edge, whose cabinet of paintings is described in Richard Lovelace’s “Amyntor’s Grove”’, p. 71.

[21] Leah S. Marcus, ‘Politics and Pastoral’, in Kevin Sharpe and Peter Lake (eds), Culture and Politics in Early S tuart England  (London: Macmillan, 1994), p. 151.

[22] Philipp. K. Fehl, ‘Poetry and the Entry of the Fine Arts into England: ut pictura poesis’, in C. A. Patrides and Raymond B. Waddington (eds), The Age of Milton: Backgrounds to Seventeenth-Century Literature (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980), p. 297.

[23] Graham Parry, The Seventeenth Century, The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature, 1603-1700 (London: Longman, 1989), p. 52.

[24] Ibid., p. 49.

[25] Brown, Kings and Connoisseurs, p. 220.

[26] Manfred Weidhorn, Richard Lovelace (New York: Twayne, 1970), p. 66.

[27] Renée Hannaford Ramsay, ‘The Poet as Art Critic, Identity and Representation in Marvell’s “The Gallery”’, Studies in Iconography, 15 (1993), 215. It is possible to reverse the connection.  Charles H. Hinnant refers in a footnote to L. N. Wall’s suggestion that Lovelace inspired Marvell and then notes: ‘It is just possible, however, to suppose that Lovelace’s rather vague and generalised passage depends upon Marvell’s poem for its source’.  See ‘Marvell’s Gallery of Art’, Renaissance Quarterly, 24 (1971), 26.

[28] For a detailed discussion of Henrietta’s roles in pastoral drama and masque see Erica Veevers, Images of Love and Religion: Queen Henrietta Maria and Court Entertainments (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 19890, especially pp. 100-145.

[29] Charters, petitions and correspondence by and about Porter survive (see note below) but there is no mention of Lovelace. 

[30] See Gervas Huxley, Endymion Porter, The Life of a Courtier 1587-1649 (London: Chatto and Windus, 1959).  There are references in manuscript to be found in Additional Charters, British Library, 6223,1633,6225; BL Add, MSS. 15858; 33374; and BL Egerton 2550, 2533.  The Dictionary of National Biography has a four-page entry on Endymion Porter contributed in 1896 by C. H. Firth.  All are consistent about the decline of Porter’s fortunes in the 1640s. In BM Add, 15587 there are a number of letters written by Porter from exile.

[31] Annabel Patterson has pointed out how ‘veiled’ much Royalist discourse of this period was.  See her Censorship and Interpretation, The Conditions of Writing and Reading in Early Modern England (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984); see also Lois Potter, Secret Rites and Secret Writing, Royalist Literature 1641-1660 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989). Randy Robertson discusses at length both Lovelace’s awareness and evasion of censorship and the recurring image of the King in the poetry in hisThe Subtle Art of Division, Censorship and Conflict in Seventeenth-Century England  (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

[32] Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature.  An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), pp. 77-9.

[33] An informal search through the poetry and songs of the Tudor and early Stuart period yielded few examples. For example, Edward Doughtie’s edition of Lyrics for English Airs: 1596-1622 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970), p.313 has only one reference to Amyntas.

[34] There are many lyrics featuring Amyntas and Chloris in the drolleries and in Interregnum publications such as John Cotgrave, Wits Interpreter(London, 1655).  Bodleian, MS Rawlinson Poet 65 is a miscellany with an especially large number of very short poems about Amyntas and Chloris. Amyntas is generally a pathetic figure and this characterisation seems to have lasted. ‘As poor Amyntas sighing sat’ is the opening line of a song in The Last and Best Edition of New Songs (London, 1667), p.32. The London Drollery (1673), p 13,  features a seducer in a grove as ‘Amyantas’ while in The New Academy of Complements  (London, 1669), p89 ‘sweet Amintor’s dead’.

[35] Thomas Jordan, Music and Poetry Mixed in a Variety of Songs and Poems (London, 1663), p. 9. 

[36] Lawrence Venuti, Our Halcyon Dayes, English Prerevolutionary Texts and Postmodern Culture (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), p. 251.

[37] British Library: Add 47111, fol. 139r.  This same lyric also occurs in another miscellany that includes verse from the 1640s (British Library: Add 22603 fol. 24r). This popular lyric about the desolation of the abandoned shepherd who no longer plays music or cares for his flock is printed (with variations) in Choyce Drollery (London, 1656), p. 63, where it is titled ‘On a Shepherd that died for Love’. The song was credited to Dr R. Hughes in Lawes Book of Ayres (London, 1953) and to Dr Henry Hughes in the 1669 Ayres and Dialogues where it is called ‘Amintor’s Well – A – Dying’.

[38] Alexander Brome, Poems (ed), Roman. R. Dubinski (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1982), p. 120.  A manuscript version in Bodleian Ashmole 47, fol. 146 specifically addresses ‘poor Charles’ and refers to the populace as geese and cattle.

[39] Henry Lawes, Ayres and Dialogues. The Third Book (London, 1669), p.24.

[40] See Thomas N. Corns, ed., The Cambridge Companion to English Poetry: Donne to Marvell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 205.

 [41] David L. Smith , ‘From Petition to Remonstrance’, in David L. Smith, Richard Strier and David Bevington, (eds), The Theatrical City, Culture, Theatre and Politics in London, 1576-1649 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), pp. 216-17.

[42] Leah Marcus, The Politics of Mirth, Jonson, Herrick, Milton, Marvell and the Defense of Old Holiday Pastimes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 221.

[43] Jonson’s ‘To Penshurst’ also includes wine and a feast, but the focus is on the equality between host and poet in the fare they are served.

[44] Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, The Green Cabinet, Theocritus and the European Pastoral Lyric (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962), pp. 188-9.

[45] Laurence Lerner, ‘The Eclogues and the Pastoral Tradition’, in Charles Martindale, (ed.), Virgil and his Influence (Bristol: Bristol Classical Press, 1984), p. 195.

[46] Marcus, ‘Politics and Pastoral’, p. 150.

[47] Interestingly Herrick, writing a congratulatory pastoral for the birth of Prince Charles in 1630 uses three pastoral characters to take the roles of the Three Kings in the nativity story.  He names them Mirtillo, Amarillis, and Amintas. Herrick, Complete Poems Vol. I, pp. 148-50.

[48] See William H. Race, Classical Genres and English Poetry (London: Croom Helm, 1988), pp. 142-79.  Race does not mention Lovelace but outlines the principal topics to be found in hymns and points out that praise is the dominant mode.


Works cited


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