1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Nathan Drake

Anonymous, in Review of Drake, Mornings in Spring; The Monthly Review S3 8 (May 1828) 14-15.



Dr. Drake's name is not altogether unknown or undistinguished in our literature. Though ungifted with any very considerable portion of original talent, he has contrived to render his lucubrations acceptable to a certain class of readers, by the ease and clearness of his style, and by the nature of the topics which it has been his fortune to select. An attentive observer of the current in which the intellect of his own day has run, he has pored over it with peculiar delight; he has accurately recorded the gleams of sunshine which now and then illumined it in its progress, and he appears to have satisfied himself that there is no occupation more pleasant in this world of ours, than that of sitting in a library-chair for the greater part of a day, wrapped up in a warm morning gown, turning over the while such books as chance to meet his eye in a well-stored collection, and transferring to paper, and from thence to print, such reflections as arise in his mind concerning them.

It is a hapless limitation, however, to Dr. Drake's usefulness, that, though as yet we hope in vigorous health and age, he thinks and writes too much in the style that prevailed some forty years ago. He is a disciple of the Hayley school, which in the opinion of modern critics, is synonymous with tameness and mediocrity; his works have no freshness about them; none of the flush of that living, fiery heat, which characterizes the literature of our time. Even where he touches upon the most recent productions of our celebrated authors, Dr. Drake speaks of them as if they belonged to the period of his youth; he catches no inspiration from their genius; his taste remains unimproved by their example; and he reverts to Hayley and Hole, et id genus omne, as the only stars that burn in his hemisphere.