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not blame, could, at least, forbear to praise, and, therefore, of his private life and domestick character there are no memorials.
As an author be may justly claim the honours of magnanimity. The incessant attacks of his enemies, whether serious or merry, are never discovered to have disturbed his quiet, or to have lessened his confidence in himself; they neither awed him to silence nor to caution; they neither provoked him to petulance, nor depressed him to complaint. While the distributors of literary fame were endeavouring to depreciate and degrade him, he either despised or defied them, wrote on as he had written before, and never turned aside to quiet them by civility, or repress them by confutation.
He depended with great security on his own powers, and perhaps was, for that reason, less diligent in perusing books. 'His literature was, I think, but small. What he knew of antiquity, I suspect him to have gathered from modern compilers ; but, though he could not boast of mueb critical knowledge, his mind was stored with general principles, and he left minute researches to those whom he considered as little minds.
With this disposition he wrote most of his poems. Having formed a magnificent design, he was careless of particular and subordinate elegancies; he studied no niceties of versification ; he waited for no felicities of fancy; but caught his first thoughts in the first words in which they were presented: nor does it appear that he saw beyond his own performances, or had ever elevated his views to that ideal perfection, which every genius, born to excel, is condemned always to pursue, and never overtake. In the first suggestions of his imagination he acquiesced; he thought them good, and did not seek for better. His works may be read a long time without the occurrence of . a single line that stands prominent from the rest.
The poem on Creation has, however, the appearance of more circumspection; it wants neither harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, nor elegance of diction: it has
either been written with great care, or, what cannot be imagined of so long a work, with such felicity as made care less necessary.
Its two constituent parts are ratiocination and descrip. tion. To reason in verse, is allowed to be difficult; but Blackmore not only reasons in verse, but very often rea. sons poetically; and finds the art of uniting ornament with strength, and ease with closeness. This is a skill which Pope might have condescended to learn from him, when he needed it so much in his Moral Essays.
In his descriptions, both of life and nature, the poet and the philosopher happily cooperate ; truth is recommended by elegance, and elegance sustained by truth.
In the structure and order of the poem, not only the greater parts are properly consecutive, but the didactick and illustrative paragraphs are so happily mingled, that labour is relieved by pleasure, and the attention is led on, through a long succession of varied excellence, to the original position, the fundamental principle of wisdom and of virtue.
As the heroick poems of Blackmore are now little read, it is thought proper to insert, as a specimen from Prince Arthur, the song of Mopas, mentioned by Molineux.
But that which Arthur with most pleasure heard,
ten te ver . nisi se smiting skies: Be ane to sme smilin her air fight. fal aanai 11 iers ;
On the cei pes bouting beams,
with the spring 'n warm boams, almost releas'd
ud lub with the sprouting birth :
The active spirit freedom seeks in vain, It only works and twists a stronger chain ; Urging its prison's sides to break away, It makes that wider, where 'tis forc'd to stay: Till, having form'd its living house, it rears Its head, and in a tender plant appears. Hence springs the oak, the beauty of the grove, Whose stately trunk fierce storms can scarcely move. Hence grows the cedar, hence the swelling vine Does round the elm its purple clusters twine. Hence painted flowers the smiling gardens bless, Both with their fragrant scent and gaudy dress. Hence the white lily in full beauty grows, Hence the blue violet, and blushing rose. He sung how sunbeams brood upon the earth, And in the glebe hatch such a num'rous birth; Which way the genial warmth in summer storms, Turns putrid vapours to a bed of worms; How rain, transform'd by this prolifick power, Falls from the clouds an animated shower. He sung the embryo's growth within the womb, And how the parts their various shapes assume; With what rare art the wondrous structure's wrought, From one crude mass to such perfection brought ; That no part useless, none misplac'd we see, None are forgot, and more would monstrous be.
The brevity with which I am to write the account of Elijah Fenton, is not the effect of indifference or negligence. I have sought intelligence 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 eleven children, and being, therefore, necessarily destined to some 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
, He was born at Shelton, near Newcastle, May 20, 1683; and was the youngest of eleven children of John Fenton, an attorney-at-law, and one of the coroners of the county of Stafford. His father died in 1694; and his grave, in the church-yard of Stoke upon Trent, is distinguished by the following elegant Latin inscription from the pen of his son:
H. S. E.
necnon ingenii lepore
bonis artibus expoliti,
sibi suisque jucundus vixit.
no ætatis suæ 56. See Gent. Mag. 1791, vol. lxi. p. 703. N. z He was entered of Jesus college, and took a bachelor's degree in 1704: but it appears, by the list of Cambridge graduates, that he removed, in 1726, to Trinity hall. N.