Dr. Nathan Drake

John Gough Nichols, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine NS 6 (August 1836) 215-16.

June 7. At Hadleigh, Suffolk, aged 70, Nathan Drake, M.D. a Honorary Associate of the Royal Society of Literature, &c. &c.

Few families have furnished more names to the catalogue of authors than that of Drake, during the last and the previous centuries.

Dr. Nathan Drake was brother to the late Richard Drake, esq. of York, and was born in that city on the 15th. Jan. 1766.

He graduated at Edinburgh in 1789; and, after a short residence at Billericay, in Essex, and at Sudbury, in Suffolk, finally settled as a physician, at Hadleigh, in the latter county, in 1792, where he practised forty-four years.

In 1807, Dr. Drake married Miss Rose, of Brettenham, in Suffolk, by whom he had several children; three of them died young, and lie buried in Hadleigh churchyard.

The walk of literature adopted by Dr. Drake was that of light essays, and ingenious illustrations of our standard literature; though his first attempt as an author was a medical treatise, published while he was a resident at Edinburgh. His later contributions to that science consist of papers in different medical periodicals. Of his literary works, by which his name is more generally known, the following is a correct list:

The Speculator; a Periodical Paper, written in conjunction with Dr. Edward Ash. 8vo. 1790.

Poems. 4to. 1793.

Literary Hours. First edition, 1 vol. 8vo. 1798. 4th edition, 3 vols. 8vo. 1820.

Essays illustrative of the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. 3 vols. 8vo. 1805. Second edition, 1812.

Essays illustrative of the Rambler, Adventurer, Idler, and other periodical papers, to the year 1809. 2 vols. 8vo. 1809.

The Gleaner; a Series of Periodical Essays, selected from authors not included in the British Essayists. 4 vols. 8vo, 1811.

Shakespeare and his Times, including the Biography of that Poet; criticisms on his Genius; a new Chronology of his Plays; a Disquisition on the object of his Sonnets; and a History of the Manners, Customs, and Amusements, Superstitions, Poetry, and elegant Literature of his age. 1817. 2 vols. 4to. Reviewed (by the late Archdeacon Nares) in Gent. Mag. vol. LXXXVIII. ii. 211, 334;

Winter Nights. 2 vols. 8vo. 1820.

Evenings in Autumn; a series of Essays. narrative and miscellaneous. 1822. 2 vols. 8vo. (See Gent. Mag. xcii. i. 522.)

Noontide Leisure. 2 vols. 8vo'. 1824.

Mornings in Spring. 2 vols. 8vo.

Memorials of Shakespeare. 1828.

In addition to the above, Dr. Drake has left a MS. ready for the press: — Selected Version of the Psalms, with copious Notes and Illustrations. which will be published by his family. Of these works, the fourth, fifth, and seventh on our list display much refinement of taste, and industry of research. The papers illustrative of our periodical essayists are at once amusing and interesting, from the variety of information they afford, touching that popular department of our national literature; and the History of Shakespeare and his Times, throws much light on the manners, customs, and amusements, superstitions, poetry, and elegant literature of that age.

The papers contained in the last eight volumes of Essays, from the Winter Nights, to the Mornings in Spring, inclusive, are of a very miscellaneous character, — critical, narrative, biographical, and descriptive. They are pleasing and elegant in their style, and evince no inconsiderable delicacy and discrimination of taste, unvarying kindness of heart, and purity of moral feeling. Their most striking characteristics are, perhaps, grace and amenity, rather than force or originality. The amiable character of their author is, in fact, impressed on all his productions; and in that character, as developed and displayed in his writings, exists their greatest charm. As an author, and as a man, Dr. Drake was kindness, courtesy and candour, personified. In his criticism, he seemed only to look at what was beautiful or pleasing; and in his intercourse with his fellow creatures, his candour and charity were equally conspicuous. It may, indeed, be said of him with perfect truth, that in a professional and literary career of near half a century, amid all the turmoils of party strife and contentious rivalry, he so "pursued the even tenor of his way," as never to have lost, by estrangement, a single friend, or made one enemy.

As a medical practitioner, he was deservedly respected and esteemed by his professional brethren for his courtesy and skill; and yet more endeared to all whom he attended by the urbanity of his manners, and the unaffected kindness of his heart. The former was so uniform towards all persons and on all occasions, yet so cordial, that even the extreme of politeness in him seemed his very nature; for the overflowing benevolence in which it originated was an ample pledge of its sincerity.

Some lines by Bernard Barton, To Nathan Drake, M.D., on reading the first paper in his Winter Nights, will be found in Gent. Mag. xc. ii. 65.