Page images

One of his essays is upon the Spleen, which is , was now settled ; a hero introduced by Black treated by him so much to his own satisfaction, more was not likely to find either respect or that he has published the same thoughts in the kindness ; “ Alfred” took his place by “Elisame words; first in the “Lay Monastery;" | za,” in silence and darkness; benevolence was then in the Essay; and then in the a ashamed to favour, and malice was weary of Medical Treatise on the Spleen. One passage, insulting. Of his four epic poems, the first had which I have found already twice, I will here ex, such reputation and popularity as enraged the hibit, because I think it better iraagined, and critics; the second was at least known enough better expressed, than could be expected from to be ridiculed; the two last had neither friends the common tenor of his prose :

nor enemies. “_As the several combinations of splenetic Contempt is a kind of gangrene, which, if it madness and folly produce an infinite variety of seizes one part of a character, corrupts all the irregular understanding, so the amicable accom- rest by degrees. Blackmore, being despised as modation and alliance between several virtues a poet, was in time neglected as a physician; his and vices produce an equal diversity in the dis- practice, which was once invidiously great, forpositions and manners of mankind; whence it sook him in the latter part of his life; but being comes to pass, that as many monstrous and ab- by nature, or by principle, averse from idleness, surd productions are found in the moral as in the he employed his unwelcome leisure in writing intellectual world. How surprising is it to ob- books on physic, and teaching others to cure serve, among the least culpable men, some whose those whom he could himself cure no longer. 1 minds are attracted by heaven and earth with a know not whether I can enumerate all the seeming equal force ; some who are proud of hu- treatises by which he has endeavoured to diffuse mility ; others who are censorious and unchari- the art of healing; for there is scarcely any distable, yet self-denying and devout; some who temper, of dreadful name, which he has not join contempt of the world with sordid avarice ; taught the reader how to oppose. He has writand others who preserve a great degree of piety, ten on the small-pox, with a vehement invective with ill-nature and ungoverned passions! Nor against inoculation; on consumption, the spleen, are instances of this inconsistent mixture less the gout, the rheumatism, the king's evil

, the frequent among bad men, where we often, with dropsy, the jaundice, the stone, the diabetes, admiration, see persons at once generous and and the plague. unjust, impious lovers of their country and flagi Of those books, if I had read them, it could tious heroes, good-natured sharpers, immoral not be expected that I should be able to give a men of honour, and libertines who will sooner critical account. I have been told that there is die than change their religion ; and though it is something in them of vexation and discontent, true that repugnant coalitions of so high a de- discovered by a perpetual attempt to degrade gree are found but in a part of mankind, yet physic from its sublimity, and to represent it as none of the whole mass, either good or bad, are attainable without much previous or concomientirely exempted from some absurd mixture.” tant learning. By the transient glances which

He about this time (Aug. 22, 1716) became I have thrown upon them, I have observed an one of the Elects of the College of Physicians ; affected contempt of the ancients, and a superand was soon after (Oct. 1) chosen Censor. He cilious derision of transmitted knowledge. Of seems to have arrived late, whatever was the this indecent arrogance the following quotation reason, at his medical honours.

from his preface to the “Treatise on the SmallHaving succeeded so well in his book on pox” will afford a specimen: in which, when “Creation,” by which he established the great the reader finds, whai I fear is true, that, when principle of all religion, he thought his undertak- he was censuring Hippocrates, he did not know ing imperfect, unless he likewise enforced the the difference between aphorism and apophthegm, truth of revelation ; and for that purpose added he will not pay much regard to his determinaanother poem, on “Redemption." He had like- tions concerning ancient learning. wise written, before his “Creation,” three books “As for his book of Aphorisms, it is like my on the “Nature of Man."

Lord Bacon's of the same title, a book of jest.s, The lovers of musical devotion have always or a grave collection of trite and trifling obserwished for a more happy metrical version than vations ; of which though many are true and they have yet obtained of the “Book of Psalms." certain, yet they signify nothing, and may afford

This wish the piety of Blackmore led him to diversion, but no instruction, most of them gratify; and he produced (1721)." A new Ver- being much inferior to the sayings of the wise sion of the Psalms of David, fitted to the Tunes men of Greece, which yet are so low and mean, used in Churches ;” which, being recommended that we are entertained every day with more 5y the archbishops and many bishops, obtained valuable sentiments at the table conversation of a license for its admission into public worship; | ingenious and learned men." but no admission has it yet obtained, nor has it I am unwilling, however, to leave him in total any right to come where Brady and Tate had disgrace, and will therefore quote from another got possession. Blackmore's name must be preface a passage less reprehensible. added to those of many others who, by the same “Some gentlemen have been disingenuous attempt, have obtained only the praise of mean- and unjust to me, by wresting and forcing my ing well.

meaning, in the preface to another book, as if I He was not yet deterred from heroic poetry. condemned and exposed all learning, though There was another monarch of this island (for they knew I declared that I greatly honoured ne did not fetch his heroes from foreign coun- and esteemed all men of superior literature and tries) whom he considered as worthy of the epic erudition ; and that I only undervalued false or muse; and he dignified “Alfred" (1723) with superficial learning, that signifies nothing for twelve books. But the opinion of the nation I the service of mankind ; and that as to physic,

sexpressly affirmed that learning must be joined his first thoughts on the first words in which with native genius to make a physician of the they were presented; nor does it appear that he first rank ; but if those talents are separated, I saw beyond his own performances, or had ever asserted, and do still insist, that a man of native elevated his views to that ideal perfection which sagacity and diligence will prove a more able every genius born to excel is condemned always and useful practiser than a heavy notional scho- to pursue, and never overtake. In the first lar, encumbered with a heap of confused ideas.” suggestions of his imagination he acquiesced; he

He was not only a poet and a physician, but thought them good, and did not seek for better. produced likewise a work of a different kind, His works may be read a long time without the

A true and impartial History of the Conspira- occurrence of a single line that stands prominent cy against King William, of glorious Memory, from the rest. in the Year 1695.” This I have never seen, but The poem on “Creation” has, however, the suppose it at least compiled with integrity. He appearance of more circumspection; it wants engaged likewise in theological controversy, and neither harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, wrote two books against the Arians: “Just nor elegance of diction; it has either been writPrejudices against the Arian Hypothesis ;” and ten with great care, or, what cannot be imagined “ Modern Arians unmasked.” Another of his of so long a work, with such felicity as made works is “Natural Theology, or Moral Duties care less necessary. . considered apart from Positive; with some Ob Its two constituent parts are ratiocination servations on the Desirableness and Necessity and description. To reason in verse is allowed of a supernatural Revelation.” This was the to be difficult; but Blackmore not only reasons last book that he published. He left behind him in verse, but very often reasons poetically, and “ The Accomplished Preacher, or an Essay finds the art of uniting ornament with strength, apon Divine Eloquence;" which was printed and ease with closeness. This is a skill which after his death by Mr. White, of Nayland, in Pope might have condescended to learn from Essex, the minister who attended his death-bed, him, when he needed it so much in his “Moral and testified the fervent piety of his last hours. Essays." He died on the eighth of October, 1729.

In his descriptions, both of life and nature,

the poet and the philosopher happily co-operate; BLACKMORE, by the unremitted enmity of the truth is recommended by elegance, and elegance wits, whom he provoked more by his virtue sustained by truth. than his dulness, has been exposed to worse

In the structure and order of the poem, not treatment than he deserved. His name was so only the greater parts are properly consecutive, long used to point every epigram upon dull but the didactic and illustrative paragraphs are writers, that it became at last a by-word of so happily mingled, that labour is relieved by contempt; but it deserves observation, that pleasure, and the attention is led on through a malignity takes hold only of his writings, and long succession of varied excellence to the ori. that his life passed without reproach, even when ginal position, the fundamental principle of wis. his boldness of reprehension naturally turned dom and of virtue. upon him many eyes desirous to espy faults, As the heroic poems of Blackmore are now which many tongues would have made haste tó little read, it is thought proper to insert, as a publish. But those who could not blame could specimen from “Prince Arthur," the song of at least forbear to praise, and therefore of his Mopas, mentioned by Molineux : private life and domestic character there are no

But that which Arthur with most pleasure heard, memorials.

Were noble strains, by Mopas gung, the bard, As an author he may justly claim the honours Who to his harp in lofty verse began, of magnanimity. The incessant attacks of his And through the secret maze of Nature ran. enemies, whether serious or merry, are never

He the Great Spirit sung, that all things fillid, discovered to have disturbed his quiet or to have Whose nod dispos’d the jarring seors to peace,

That the tumultuous waves of Chaos stillid; lessened his confidence in himself; they neither And made the wars of hostile atoms cease. awed him to silence nor to caution; they neither All beings we in fruitful nature find, provoked him to petulance nor depressed him to Streams of his unexhausted spring of pow'r, complaint. While the distributors of literary And, cherished with his influence, endure. fame were endeavouring to depreciate and de- He spread the pure cerulean fields on high, grade bim, he either despised or defied them, and arch'd the chambers of the vaulted sky, wrote on as he had written before, and never

Which he, to suit their glory with their height,

Adorn'd with globes that reel, as drunk with light. turned aside to quiet them by civility or repress His hand directed all the tuneful spheres, them by confutation.

He turn'd their orbs, and polish'd all the stars. He depended with great security on his own

He fill'd the Sun's vast lamp with golden lighi,

And bid the silver Moon adorn the night. powers, and perhaps was for that reason less He spread the airy ocean without shores, diligent in perusing books. His literature was, Where birds are wasted with their feather'd oars. I think, but small. What he knew of antiquity I Then sung the bard how the light vapours rise suspect him to have gathered from modern com

From the warm earth, and cloud the smiling skies; pilers; but, though he could not boast of much Fall scattered down in pearly dew by night';

He sung how some, chilld in their airy flight, critical knowledge, his mind was stored with How some rais d higher, sit in secret steams general principles, and he left minute researches on the reflected points of bounding beams, to those whom he considered as little minds.

Till, chill d with cold, they shape the ethereal plain,

Then on the thirsty earth descend in rain; With this disposition he wrote most of his How some, whose parts a slight contexture show, poems. Having formed a magnificent design, Sink, hovering through the air, in fleecy snow; he was careless of particular and subordinate How part is spun in si ken threads, and clings elegancies; he studied no niceties of versification, How others stamp to stones, with rushing sound he waited for no felicities of fancy, but caught | Tall from their crystal quarries to the ground;

How some are laid in trains that kindled fly, it still, having form’d its living house, it rears
In harmless fires by night, above the sky;

Its head, and in a tender plant appears.
How some in winds blow with impetuous force,

Hence springs the oak, the beauty of the grove, And carry ruin where they bend their course,

Whose stately trunk fierce storms can scarcely move While some conspire to form a gentle breeze,

Hence grows the cedar, hence the swelling vine To fan the air and play among the trees;

Does round the elm its purple clusters twine ; How some, enrag'd, grow turbulent and loud,

Hence painted flowers the smiling gardens bless,
Pent in the bowels of a frowning cloud,

Both with their fragrant scent and gaudy dress.
That cracks, as if the axis of the world [hurld. Hence the white lily in full beauty grows,
Was broke, and heav'n's bright tow'rs were downwards Hence the blue violet, and blushing rose.
He sung how earth's wide ball, at Jove's command, He sung how sunbeams brood upon the earth,
Did in the midst on airy columns stand;

And in the glebe hatch such a numerous birth;
And how the soul of plants, in prison held,

Which way the genial warmth in Summer storms
And bound with sluggish fetters, lies conceal'd,

Turns putrid vapours to a bed of worms;
Till, with the Spring's warm beams, almost releas'd How rain, transform'd by this prolific pow'r,
From the dull weight with which it lay oppress'd, Falls from the clouds an animated show'r.
Its vigour spreads, and makes the teeming earth He sung the embryo's growth within the womb,
Heave up, and labour with the sprouting birth :

And how the parts their various shapes assume;
The active spirit freedom seeks in vain,

With what rare art the wondrous structure 's wrought It only works and twists a stronger chain;

From one crude mass to such perfection brought; Urging its prison's sides to break away,

That no part useless, none misplac'd we see, It makes that wider where 'tis forc'd to stay;

None are forgot, and more would monstrous be.



The brevity with which I am to write the ac- | left the university without a degree; but I never count of Elijah Fenton is not the effect of in- heard that the enthusiasm of opposition impelled difference or negligence. I have sought intelli- him to separation from the church. gence among his relations in his native country, By this perverseness of integrity he was but have not obtained it.

driven out a commoner of Nature, excluded He was born near Newcastle, in Staffordshire, from the regular modes of profit and prosperity, of an ancient family,* whose estate was very and reduced to pick up a livelihood uncertain considerable ; but he was the youngest of eleven and fortuitous ; but it must be remembered that children, and being, therefore, necessarily des- he kept his name unsullied, and never suffered tined to some lucrative employment, was sent himself to be reduced, like too many of the same first to school, and afterwards to Cambridge ;t sect, to mean arts and dishonourable shifts. but, with many other wise and virtuous men, Whoever mentioned Fenton, mentioned him who, at that time of discord and debate, consult- with honour. ed conscience, whether well or ill-informed, The life that passes in penury must necessamore than interest, he doubted the legality of rily pass in obscurity. It is impossible to trace the government, and, refusing to qualify him- Fenton from year to year, or to discover what self for public employment by the oaths required, means he used for his support. He was awhile

secretary to Charles, Earl of Orrery, in FlanHe was born at Shelton, near Newcastle, May 20, ders, and tutor to his young son, who after1683 ; and was the youngest of eleven children of John wards mentioned him with great esteem and Fenton, an attorney at law, and one of the coroners of tenderness. He was at one time assistant in the the county of Stafford. His father died in 1694 ; and his school of Mr. Bonwicke, in Surrey; and at angrave, in the church yard of Stoke upon Trent, is dis other kept a school for himself, at Sevenoaks, tinguished by the following elegant Latin inscripuon, in Kent, which he brought into reputation ; but from the pen of his son: H. S. E.

was persuaded to leave it (1710) by Mr. St. JOANNES Fenton

John, with promises of a more honourable emantiquâ stirpe generosus;

ployment. juxta reliquias conjugis

His opinions, as he was a nonjuror, seem not CATHERINÆ

to have been remarkably rigid. He wrote with formâ, moribus, pietate,

great zeal and affection the praises of Queen optimo viro dignissima : Qui

Anne, and very willingly and liberally extolled intemeratâ in ecclesiam fide,

the Duke of Marlborough, when he was (1707) et virtutibus intaminatis enituit ,

at the height of his glory.
necnon ingenii lepore
bonis artibus expoliti,

He expressed still more attention to Marlac animo erga omnes benevolo,

borough and his family, by an elegiac pastoral sibi suisque jucundus vixit.

on the Marquis of Blandford, which could be Decem annos uxori dilectæ superstes prompted only by respect or kindness ; for neimagnum sui desiderium bonis

ther the Duke nor Dutchess desired the praise, omnibus reliquit, Anno { salutis humanæ 1694,

or liked the cost of patronage.

The elegance of his poetry entitled him to the See Gent. Mag. 1791, vol. LXI. p. 703.-N | He was entered of Jesus College, and took a bache bleness of his manners made him loved where

company of the wits of his time, and the amiabridge graduates that he removed in 1726 6 Trinity ever he was known. Of his friendship to Hall.-N.

Southern and Pope there are lasting monuments.

de Shelton

ætatis suæ 56.

He published, in 1707, a collection of poems. pable of amendment. To this edition he pre

By Pope he was once placed in a station that fixed a short and elegant account of Milton's might have been of great advantage. Craggs, life, written at once with tenderness and intewhen he was advanced to be secretary of state, grity. (about 1720,) feeling his own want of literature, He published likewise (1729) a very splendid desired Pope to procure him an instructor, by edition of Waller, with notes, often useful, often whose help he might supply the deficiencies of entertaining, but too much extended by long his education. Pope recommended Fenton, in quotations from Clarendon. Illustrations drawn whom Craggs found all that he was seeking. from a book so easily consulted should be made There was now a prospect of ease and plenty, by reference rather than transcription. for Fenton had merit and Craggs had generosi The latter part of his life was calm and pleaty; but the small-pox suddenly put an end to sant. The relict of Sir William Trumbull inthe pleasing expectation.

vited him, by Pope's recommendation, to eduWhen Pope, after the great success of his cate her son ; whom he first instructed at home, “Iliad,” undertook the “Odyssey," being, as it and then attended to Cambridge.

The lady seems, weary of translating, he determined to afterwards detained him with her as the auditor engage auxiliaries.-Twelve books he took to of her accounts. He often wandered to London, himself, and twelve he distributed between and amused himself with the conversation of his Broome and Fenton : the books allotted to Fen- friends. ton were the first, the fourth, the nineteenth, He died, in 1730, at Easthamstead, in Berkand the twentieth. It is observable, that he did shire, the seat of Lady Trumbull; and Pope, not take the eleventh, which he had before trans- who had been always his friend, honoured him lated into blank verse ; neither did Pope claim with an epitaph, of which he borrowed the two it, but committed it to Broome. How the two first lines from Crashaw. associates performed their parts is well known Fenton was tall and bulky, inclined to corputo the readers of poetry, who have never been lence, which he did not lessen by much exercise; able to distinguish their books from those of for he was very sluggish and sedentary, rose Pope.

late, and when he had risen, sat down to his In 1723, was performed his tragedy of “Mari- books or papers. A woman that once waited amne;" to which Southern, at whose house it on him in a lodging told him, as she said, that was written, is said to have contributed such he would “lie a-bed, and be fed with a spoon." hints as his theatrical experience supplied. This, however, was not the worst that might When it was shown to Cibber, it was rejected have been prognosticated; for Pope says, in his by him, with the additional insolence of advis- Letters, that he died of indolence ;" but his ing Fenton to engage himself in some employ- immediate distemper was the gout. ment of honest labour, by which he mightobtain Of his morals and his conversation the account that support which he could never hope from his is uniform ; he was never named but with praise poetry. The play was acted at the other thea- and fondness, as a man in the highest degree tre; and the brutal petulance of Cibber was con- amiable and excellent. Such was the character futed, though, perhaps, not shamed, by general given him by the Earl of Orrery, his pupil ; applause. Fenton's profits are said to have such is the testimony of Pope ;* and such were amounted to near a thousand pounds, with the suffrages of all who could boast of his acwhich he discharged a debt contracted by his quaintance. attendance at court.

By a former writer of his life a story is told Fenton seems to have had some peculiar sys- which ought not to be forgotten. He used, in tem of versification. “Mariamne” is written in the latter part of his time, to pay his relations in lines of ten syllables, with few of those redun- the country a yearly visit. At an entertainment dant terminations which the drama not only made for the family by his elder brother, he obadmits, but requires, as more nearly approach- served, that one of his sisters, who had married ing to real dialogue. The tenor of his verse is unfortunately, was absent; and found, upon inso uniform that it cannot be thought casual ; and quiry, that distress had made her thought unyet upon what principle he so constructed it, is worthy of invitation. As she was at no great disdifficult to discover.

tance, he refused to sit at the table till she was The mention of his play brings to my mind a called, and when she had taken her place was very trifling occurrence. Fenton was one day careful to show her particular attention. in the company of Broome, his associate, and His collection of poems is now to be considerFord, a clergyman, at that time too well known, ed. The “Ode to the Sun” is written upon a whose abilities, instead of furnishing convivial common plan, without uncommon sentiments ; merriment to the voluptuous and dissolute, but its greatest fault is its length. No poem might have enabled him to excel among the vir- should be long, of which the purpose is only to luous and the wise. They determined all to see strike the fancy, without enlightening the un“ The Merry Wives of Windsor,” which was derstanding by precept, ratiocination, or narraacted that night; and Fenton, as a dramatic tive. A blaze first pleases and then tires the poet, took them to the stage-door, where the sight. door-keeper, inquiring who they were, was told Of “Florelio" it is sufficient to say, that it that they were three very necessary men, Ford is an occasional pastoral, which implies someBroome, and Fenton. The name in the play thing neither natural nor artificial, neither cowhich Pope restored to Brook was then Broome. mic nor serious.

It was perhaps after this play that he under The next ode is irregular, and therefore defectook to revise the punctuation of Milton's poems, tive. As the sentiments are pious, they cannot which, as the author neither wrote the original copy aor corrected the press, was supposed ca

* Spence.

easily be new; for what can be added to topics great modesty wch you know was natural to on which successive ages have been employed ? him, and ye great Contempt he had for all sorts

Of the “Paraphrase on Isaiah” nothing very of Vanity and Parade, never appeared more favourable can be said. Sublime and solemn than in his last moments: He had a conscious prose gains little by a change to blank verse; Satisfaction (no doubt) in acting right, in feeling and the paraphrast has deserted his original, himself honest, true, and unpretending to more by admitting images not Asiatic, at least not than was his own. So he died, as he lived, Judaical ;

with that secret, yet sufficient, Contentment.

As to any Papers left behind him, I dare say
-Returning Peace,
Dove-ey'd, and rob'd in white-

they can be but few; for this reason, he never

wrote out of Vanity, or thought much of the Of his petty poems some are very trifling, Applause of men. I know an instance where without any thing to be praised, either in the he did his utmost to conceal his own merit that * thought or expression. He is unlucky in his way; and if we join to this his natural Love of

competitions ; he tells the same idle tale with Ease, I fancy we must expect little of this sort ; Congreve, and does not tell it so well. He trans at least I hear of none except some few further lates from Ovid the same epistle as Pope; but I remarks on Waller (wch his cautious integrity am afraid not with equal happiness.

made him leave an order to be given to Mr. To examine his performances one by one Tonson) and perhaps, tho? 'tis many years since would be tedious. His translation from Homer I saw it, a Translation of ye first Book of Opinto blank verse will find few readers, while an- pian. He had begun a tragedy of Dion, but other can be had in rhyme. The piece addressed made small progress in it. to Lambarde is no disagreeable specimen of As to his other Affairs, he died poor, but hoepistolary poetry, and his ode to Lord Gower nest, leaving no Debts, or Legacies; except of was pronounced by Pope the next ode in the a few pds to Mr. Trumbull and my Lady, in English language to Dryden's “Cecilia.” Fen- token of respect, Gratefulness, and mutual Eston may be justly styled an excellent versifier teem. and a good poet.

I shall with pleasure take upon me to draw Whatever I have said of Fenton is confirmed this amiable, quiet, deserving, unpretending by Pope in a letter, by which he communicated Christian and Philosophical character, in his to Broome an account of his death.

Epitaph. There truth may be spoken in a few

words: as for Flourish, & Óratory, & Poetry, I To the Revd. Mr. BROOME.

leave them to younger and more lively Writers, At Pulham, near Harlstone

such as love writing for writing sake, and wd Nor

rather shew their own Fine Parts, yn Report [By Beccles Bag.)

Suffolke. the valuable ones of any other man. So the Dr Sir,

Elegy I renounce. I INTENDED to write to you on this melan I condole with you from my heart on the loss choly subject, the death of Mr. Fenton, before of so worthy a man, and a Friend to us both. yrs came; but stay'd to have informed myself Now he is gone, I must tell you he has done you and you of ye circumstances of it. All I hear many a good office, and set your character in ye is, that he felt a Gradual Decay, tho' so early in fairest light to some who either mistook you, or Life, and was declining for 5 or 6 months. It knew you not. I doubt not he has done the same was not, as I apprehended, the Gout in his Sto- for me. mach, but I believe rather a Complication first Adieu: Let us love his memory, and profit by of Gross Humours, as he was naturally corpu- his example. I am very sincerely lent, not discharging themselves, as he used no

Dr Sir, sort of Exercise. No man better bore ye ap

Your affectionate proaches of his Dissolution (as I am told) or

& real Servant with less ostentation yielded up his Being. The Aug. 29th, 1730.

A. Pope.


JOHN Gas, descended from an old family, that without prospect of hereditary, riches, he was had been long in possession of the manor of sent to London in his youth, and placed appren. Goldworthy,* in Devonshire, was born in 1698, tice with a silk-mercer. at or near Barnstaple, where he was educated by How long he continued behind the counter, or Mr. Luck, who taught the school of that town with what degree of softness and dexterity he with good reputation, and a little before he re- received and accommodated the ladies, as he tired from it, published a volume of Latin and probably took no delight in telling it, is not English verses. Under such a master he was known. The report is, that he was soon weary likely to form a-taste for poetry. Being born of either the restraint or servility of his occu

pation, and easily persuaded his master to dis* Goldworthy does not appear in the Villare.--Dr. J. charge him. Holdsworthy is probably meani.-C.

The Dutchess of Monmouth, remarkable for

« EelmineJätka »