1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Giles Jacob

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. S5v.



J. G. or JACOB, GILES. By these Initials Mr. Jacob has thought proper to distinguish himself in his Poetical Register, or Lives and Characters of the English Dramatic Poets, 8vo. 1723, vol. i. p. 318. — And, as no Writer has given us any Account of him but himself, we cannot pretend to offer to our Readers any thing so satisfactory concerning him as the Repetition of his own Words.

He is (says he, speaking in the third Person) the Son of a considerable Maltster of Romsey, in the County of Southampton, at which Place he was born Anno 1686. — His Mother is of the Family of the Thornburghs in Wilts, one of whom was Bishop of Worcester in the Reign of K. Cha I. and two of them attended the Royal Exile. — He was bred to the Law under a very eminent Attorney; and has since been Steward and Secretary to the Honourable William Blathwayt, Esq. a celebrated Courtier in the Reign of King William, and who enjoyed great Preferments in the State, in the late and present Reign.

He was Author of two dramatic Pieces, viz.

1. Love in a Wood. Farce.

2. Soldier's last Stake. C.

For the first of these, which, however, was never acted, he apologized that it was written in three or four Days, and before the Author was any ways acquainted with the Stage, or poetical Writings; and as to the latter, he only informs us that he had such a Piece prepared for the Stage.

Mr. Jacob followed the profession of the Law, and wrote several Books in that Science, some of which are still held in Esteem, particularly his Law Dictionary, and indeed Works of Compilement seem to have suited his Talent rather than those of Genius; for it must be confessed that his Poetical Register, notwithstanding some few Errors in it, is by much the best Book of the Kind hitherto extent; and yet so little Merit had his own dramatic Pieces, that, according to Whincop, Dr. Sewel, who was by no means remarkable for Ill-Nature, on reading his Farce called Love in a Wood, wrote the following very severe Lines in the Title Page.

Parent of Darkness! genuine Son of Night;
Total Eclipse, without one Ray of Light;
Born when dull Midnight Bells for Funerals chime,
Just at the closing of the Bellman's Rhime.

At what Time Mr. Jacob quitted the Stage of Life, I have not been able to trace; but as by his own Account he was no more than thirty-three Years of Age at the Publication of his Poetical Register in 1719, it is probable he might survive that Publication several Years.