Jacob, Hildebrand (DNB00)

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JACOB, HILDEBRAND (1693–1739), poet, born in 1693, was only son of Colonel Sir John Jacob, third baronet, of Bromley, Kent, by his wife Lady Catherine Barry, daughter of the second Earl of Barrymore. He was named after his mother's brother, Hildebrand Alington, fourth lord Alington (d. 1722). He is usually described as of West Wratting, Cambridgeshire. During 1728 and 1729 he visited Paris, Vienna, and the chief towns of Italy. He died, in the lifetime of his father, on 25 May 1739, having married Muriel, daughter of Sir John Bland, bart., of Kippax Park, Yorkshire, by whom he left a son, Hildebrand (see below), and a daughter.

Jacob published anonymously in 1720–1 a clever but indelicate poem, ‘The Curious Maid,’ which was frequently imitated and parodied. ‘The Fatal Constancy,’ a tragedy, acted five times at Drury Lane, was published in 1723, 8vo. ‘Bedlam: a Poem,’ and ‘Chiron to Achilles: a Poem,’ appeared in 1732, 4to; they were followed in 1734 by a ‘Hymn to the Goddess of Silence,’ fol., and ‘Of the Sister Arts: an Essay,’ 8vo. These scattered writings were collected, with large additions, in 1735, in 1 vol. 8vo: ‘The Works of Hildebrand Jacob, Esq., containing Poems on various Subjects and Occasions, with the “Fatal Constancy,” a Tragedy, and several Pieces in Prose. The greatest Part never before publish'd.’ In the dedicatory epistle to James, earl of Waldegrave, ambassador extraordinary at the court of France, Jacob states that he published the book because incorrect copies had been circulated, and because he wished to convince his friends that he was not the author of ‘some, perhaps, less pardonable Productions that were laid to my charge here at home while I had the advantage of living under your Lordship's protection abroad.’ The dedicatory epistle is followed by an amusing ‘Dialogue, which is to serve for preface,’ between the publisher and author. In the essay, ‘How the Mind is rais'd to the Sublime,’ Jacob shows himself to have been an enthusiastic admirer of Milton. ‘A Letter from Paris to R. B * * * *, Esq.,’ gives a very interesting account of his travels in 1728–9. Jacob's other works are ‘Donna Clara to her Daughter Theresa: an Epistle’ (verse), 1737, fol.; and ‘The Nest of Plays,’ 1738, 8vo, consisting of three separate comedies—‘The Prodigal Reformed,’ ‘The Happy Constancy,’ and ‘The Trial of Conjugal Love’—which were acted on the same night at Covent Garden, and were emphatically damned.

Sir Hildebrand Jacob (d. 1790), the poet's son, who succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his grandfather in 1740, is said to have been excelled by few as a general scholar, and ‘in knowledge of Hebrew scarcely equalled.’ It is related of him that in early life, as soon as the fine weather set in and the roads were clear, he used to start off with his man, ‘without knowing whither they were going.’ When it drew towards evening he inquired at the nearest village whether ‘the great man in it was a lover of books and had a fine library. If the answer was in the negative, they went on further; if in the affirmative, Sir Hildebrand sent his compliments that he was come to see him, and then he used to stay till time or curiosity induced him to move elsewhere’ (Gent. Mag. 1790, p. 1055). In this way he travelled through the greater part of England. He died unmarried at Malvern, 4 Nov. 1790, aged 76, and was buried at St. Anne's, Soho.

[Jacob and Glascott's Hist. and Geneal. Narrative of the Families of Jacob, privately printed, p. 42; Baker's Biog. Dram. 1812; Gent. Mag. 1790, p. 1055; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. ii. 61, 83.]

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