1766
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

[Characters of English Poets.]

Scots Magazine 28 (October 1766) 544.

Oliver Jaques


Nine quatrains give characters of Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Thomson, Collins, and Young. The poem is signed "O. Jaques Lond. Chron.," the newspaper from which it was reprinted in the Scots Magazine. In April the Scots Magazine had reprinted an imitation of Gray's Elegy by this poet, also from the London Chronicle.

Headnote: "London, Oct. 1766. Sir, if the following descriptions of the best Poetical Writers of our own country, should afford any of your readers pleasure my wishes will be answered. As I have allowed myself but one stanza to give an idea of the merit of each poet, there will be some allowance made, it is to be hoped, for a too confined display of the beauty of each author's style and manner" pp. 543-44.

I have not identified the poet, who published an "Abelard to Elosia" in the Royal Magazine with the signature "Olive Jaques" 12 (October 1765) 214-15.



His happy, humorous vein, and rugged style,
His rough and careless thoughts, from fancy beam'd,
Mark Chaucer's song, the Druid of our Isle,
That led our bards, to distant region's fam'd!

Next Spencer wrote his rude inchanting lays;
The light thought hovers o'er his fairy scene;
The Virtues lent him his immortal praise,
He sung their beauties each with mind serene.

Shakespeare, the glass of Nature, where we view
The passions flashing on with vivid blaze!
Held all in doubt to deem his visions true,
And darted, quick as thought, thro' Reason's maze.

From Milton's page inferior scripture flow'd,
Some angel seem'd to breath each note divine!
The hallow'd fire flamed up to Nature's God,
While tears humane confess'd the mortal line!

With warm ideas beaming strong from thought,
Still on the waver and Aolian air,
Pope struck the lyre, or reason'd as he ought,
When moral truth obtain'd his pious care.

How, Thomson! can a worthless bard rehearse
Thy goodness, thy warm tenderness of soul,
That flows and vibrates still thro' every verse,
That melts the touch'd heart ere we reach the goal!

Poor Collins sung, but Nature could not bear—
The wild bard fainted in his sister's arms,
He sigh'd and died — pale Fancy dropt a tear
To see her son o'erpowered by her charms.

While Nature slept around, Young's dreadless mind
Roam'd thro' the stilly dread of night alone,
Each scarce-heard echo of the whistling wind
Crept to his soul, and death was all his groan.

Wife, children lost, and friends just gone before,
Intrude the dreary thought on wretched man,
We laugh away with health the present hour,
The next with sorrow live on Wisdom's plan.

[p. 544]