Lok, Henry (DNB00)

LOK, LOCK, or LOCKE, HENRY (1553?–1608?), poet, was third son of Henry Lok, a London mercer (d. 1571), by his wife Anne Vaughan. The latter is doubtless the 'A. L.,' i.e. Anne Lok or Locke, who translated into English verse Calvin's 'Sermons upon the Song that Ezechias made after he had been sick and afflicted by the Hand of God'(London, John Daye, 1550). At the close of the book a fresh title-page introduces 'A Meditation of a penitent Sinner, written in manner of a Paraphrase after the 51 Psalm of David.' A copy of the volume belonged to Bright, the book-collector, and contained the inscription 'Liber Henrici Lock ex dono Anne uxoris 1559.' Michael Lok [q. v.] the traveller was the poet's uncle, and Sir William Lok [q. v.] was his grandfather; Michael Cosworth [q. v.] was his cousin. According to Wood, Lok spent some time in Oxford between his sixteenth and twenty-first year, but does not seem to have matriculated in the university, and certainly took no degree. Wood states that on leaving Oxford he went to court and 'was received into the patronage of a noble Mæcænas.' In 1591 he contributed a sonnet to the 'Essayes of a Prentice,' by James VI of Scotland. In the years following Lok seems to have been a persistent petitioner for place about the court. Early in 1597 he was, according to his own account, encouraged by the Countess of Warwick to make application to Sir Robert Cecil for 'some pension, till an office or forfeiture may fall to my relief.' Early in 1598 he petitioned for the 'collectorship of Devon.' In 8 June 1598 he begged for the appointment of keeper of the queen's bears and mastiffs. 'It is better to be a bear herd,' he wrote, 'than to be baited daily with great exclamations for small debts.' Lok's appeals resulted in his obtaining some confidential employment. In 1599, when Cecil made him a present of a gelding, he spent the spring at Bayonne and the neigbourhood, collecting political gossip. He was skilled in cipher, but his zeal in seeking 'intelligence' exposed him to the hostile suspicions of the inhabitants, and at one time his life seems to have been in danger (State Paper MSS. Dom. Eliz. cclxxi. 91, 125, 273). A year later he was living in the Strand, and seems to have fallen into bad repute with Cecil, whom he vainly implored to employ him again in secret service in foreign ports. In March 1606 he was imprisoned as an insolvent debtor in the Westminster Gatehouse, and in May 1608 he was similarly situated in the Clink in Southwark. Piteous appeals for relief to his old protector, now Earl of Salisbury, seem to have been unavailing.

Lok married Ann Moyle of Cornwall, and had two sons, Henry, born in 1592, and Charles.

In 1593 Richard Field obtained a license to print a work entitled 'The first Parte of Christian Passions, conteyninge a hundred Sonnets of Meditation, Humiliation, and Prayer.' No copy of this book is now extant. In 1597 Richard Field printed 'Ecclesiasticus, otherwise called the Preacher, compendiously abridged, and also paraphristically dilated in English Poesie … composed by H. L., Gentleman. Whereunto are annexed sundrie Sonets of Christian Passions heretofore printed, and now corrected and augmented, with other affectionate Sonets of a feeling Conscience of the same Authors' (London, 4to). The whole work is dedicated by Lok to Queen Elizabeth. An address to the Christian reader, in which he refers familiarly to earlier paraphrases of 'Ecclesiastes' by Beza, Tremellius, and others, is followed by commendatory verses, including some in Latin, by John Lyly, and others in English by 'M.C.,' i.e. Michael Cosworth, Lok's cousin. Lok's verse-rendering of 'Ecclesiastes' is very poor, and is quite unreadable, rarely rising above doggerel. With it are printed 'Sundry Psalms of David, translated into Verse as briefly and significantly as the scope of the Text will suffer.' These efforts are no more successful, and justify Warton's description of Lok's as the English Moevius. Lok's works, like those of Thomas Hudson [q. v.], are described in 'The Returne from Parnassus' (1601) as fit 'to lie in some old nooks amongst old boots and shoes' (ed. Macrey, 11. 86). But Lok's sonnets, which are introduced by a separate title-page in the 'Ecclesiasticus' volume, though prosaic in expression, are full of fervent piety. Two hundred and four treat of the Christian passions, and these are succeeded by 102, entitled 'Sundry Affectionate Sonets of a feeling Conscience, and the same theme is pursued in a further sequence of twenty-two, entitled 'Peculiar Prayers.' Copies of Lok's volume are in the British Museum, the Bodleian Library, Bridgewater House, and in the possession of Dr. Grosart. The three last copies contain an appendix of sixty secular sonnets, addressed to the noblemen and noblewomen, and high officials of Elizabeth's court, including judges and bishops (Whitgift and Toby Matthew of Durham), Dr. Lancelot Andrewes, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir John Norris, Sir Francis Vere, Sir Edward Dyer, and Fulke Greville are also commemorated. The series concludes with a sonnet addressed 'to all other his honourable and beloved friends in general.' Dr. Grosart reprinted all these sonnets, together with the one prefixed to James VI's volume, in his 'Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies' Library,' vol. ii. 1871. Lok also contributed commendatory verses to Cosworth's rendering of the Psalms, in Harleian MS. 6906. He has been erroneously identified with the author of a poetical volume called 'Of Love's Complaints with the Legend of Orpheus and Euridice,' London, 1597, 12mo. The dedication is signed 'H. L.,' but these initials are those of Humfrey Lownes, the publisher.

[Dr. Grosart's Memoir in the reprint noticed above; Collier's Bibliographical Account, i. 478, 494; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1597-1608; Addit. MS. 24489. ff. 381 seq. (Hunter's manuscript Chorus Vatum); Bridges's Restituta. i, 24. iv. 202; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 2nd ed. i. 289, and ed. Bliss, i. 661-3; Warton's English Poetry; Ritson's Bibl. Poet.]

S. L.