1828 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. Nathan Drake

Anonymous, in Review of Drake, Mornings in Spring; The Literary Chronicle 10 (1 March 1828) 129.



The amiable Nathan Drake has been set down as one of those writers with whom "the light that shines reflected from the past" appears to be the one engrossing ray of existence; — their end and aim, their occupation and enjoyment consisting in an undeviating glance backward at the events and actors of the past; it absorbs their thoughts and feelings, and makes them a portion of itself. From these individuals nothing inventive or original can be expected. They dress up their antiquated idol as gracefully as they can, but it is still the identical thing of centuries, whose beauty we acknowledge, or whose majesty and virtue we reverence, when we find them exhibited in their best monument, — the true and simple page of history, — but whose form seems curtailed of its fair proportions, when held up to us on every commonplace occasion by the garrulous moralizer and sentimental essayist. But of this class Dr. Drake cannot fairly be considered as a member; he invests his retrospections with too fresh and pure a grace. In his essays on periodical literature he told us nothing absolutely new; he merely restated facts, and re-echoed opinions; but there was a depth of love for his subject, and so much taste in arrangement, and tact in condensation, that the work could not fail to carry the reader forward, and awaken in his mind some pleasant trains of thought.