James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

November 14

Nell Gwynn

By Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837–1909)

  • A famous actress who became the mistress of Charles II. Her son was made Duke of St. Albans. She died Nov. 13, 1687.

  • SWEET heart, that no taint of the throne or the stage

    Could touch with unclean transformation, or alter

    To the likeness of courtiers whose consciences falter

    At the smile or the frown, at the mirth or the rage,

    Of a master whom chance could inflame or assuage,

    Our Lady of Laughter, invoked in no psalter,

    Adored of no faithful that cringe and that palter,

    Praise be with thee yet from a hag-ridden age.

    Our Lady of Pity thou wast: and to thee

    All England, whose sons are the sons of the sea,

    Gives thanks, and will hear not if history snarls

    When the name of the friend of her sailors is spoken:

    And thy lover she cannot but love—by the token

    That thy name was the last on the lips of King Charles.