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T HE brevity with which I am to
write the account of ELISHA FENTON is not the effect of indifference or negligence. I have sought irtelligence among his relations in his native county, but have not obtained it.
He was born near Newcastle in Staffordshire, of an ancient family, whose estate was very considerable; but he was the youngest of twelve children, and being therefore necessarily destined to fome lucrative employment, was sent first to school, and afterwards to Cambridge; but, with many other wise and virtuous men, who at that time of discord and debate consulted conscience, whether well or ill informed, more than interest, he doubted the legality of the government, and, refusing to qualify himself for publick employment by the oaths Tequired, left the university without a degree; but I never heard that the enthusiasm of opposition impelled him to separation from the church.
By this perverseness of integrity he was driven out a commoner of Nature, excluded from the regular modes of profit and prosperity, and reduced to pick up a livelihood uncertain and fortuitous; but it must be remembered
that he kept his name unsullied, and never suffered himself to be reduced, like too many of the fame fect, to mean arts and dishonourable shifts. Whoever mentioned Fenton, mentioned him with honour.
The life that passes in penury, must necessarily pass in obscurity. It is impossible to trace, Fenton from year to year, or to discover what means he used for his support. He was a while secretary to Charles earl of Orrery in Flanders, and tutor to his young son, who afterwards mentioned himn with great esteem and tenderness. He was at one time assistant in the school of Mr. Bonwicke in Surry; and at another kept a school for himself at Sevenoaks in
Kent, which he brought into reputation; but was persuaded to leave it (1710) by Mr. St. John, with promises of a more honourable employment. :
His opinions, as he was a Nonjuror, seem not to have been remarkably rigid. He wrote with great zeal and affection the praises of queen Anne, and very willingly and liberally extolled the duke of Marlborough, when he was (1707) at the height of his glory. Ima
He expreffed ftill more attention to Marlborough and his family by an elegiac Pastoral on the marquis of Blandford, which could be prompted only by respect or kindness; for neither the duke nor dutchess desired the praise, or liked the cost of patronage.
. The elegance of his poetry intitled him to the company of the wits of his time, and the amiableness of his manners made him loved wherever he was known. Of his friendship to Southerne and Pope there are lasting monuments. He published in 1707 a collection of poems.
By Pope he was once placed in a station that might have been of great advantage. Craggs, when he was ad. vanced to be secretary of state (about 1720), feeling his own want of literature, desired Pope to procure hiin an in
structor, by whose help he might supply . the deficiencies of his education. Pope
recommended Fenton, in whom Craggs found all that he was seeking. There
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