1809 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Jackson of Exeter

Nathan Drake, in Essays Illustrative of the Rambler (1809-10) 2:460-61.



THE FOUR AGES. The dissertation which has given a title to this volume, and which is an attempt to invert the common order of the Ages, as enumerated by Ovid, occupies not more than one sixth part of its contents, the remainder consisting of short essays; and as the author, in an advertisement prefixed to his work, declares that "the greatest part of these essays should be considered as Sketches for a Periodical Paper, which was once intended for publication, and that they are, in consequence, upon familiar subjects, and treated as such," I have thought it necessary to introduce some notice of them in this catalogue of periodical essays.

The late Mr. William Jackson, of Exeter, celebrated for his musical talents, and the author of a well-known and very ingenious work, under the title of Thirty Letters, is the writer of these Sketches, which are forty in number, and are, both in point of style and matter, highly interesting. Ethics, criticism, biography, and fictitious narrative, form the chief part of the topics which he has chosen; these are written with great vivacity, and, setting aside a few eccentricities of opinion, display no small portion of judgment and ingenuity. Of the tales, the Ghost, the Use of Accumulation, and the Cup-bearer, are the most striking; and the Biographical Sketches of Gainsborough, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, are truly characteristic, and touched with uncommon vigour and spirit. The Four Ages and Essays were published in an octavo volume in 1798.