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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."

Prince Arthur, book iv.


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Born at Shelton, in Staffordshire

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Educated at Cambridge, but leaves without taking a Degree Becomes a Nonjuror - Secretary to the Earl of Orrery and Tutor to his Son Acquires the friendship of Southerne and Pope Publishes his Poems Odyssey His Benevolence of Heart and Burial at Easthampstead, Berks

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Assists Pope in the and Indolent Habits

Works and Character.


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 country, 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 other 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 public employment by the oaths required, 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 com

He was born May 20, 1683, at Shelton, near Stoke in Stafford, and was the youngest of eleven children of John Fenton, an attorney-at-law, and one of the coroners for the county of Stafford. His father died in 1694; and his grave, in the churchyard of Stoke-upon-Trent, bears a Latin inscription from the pen of his son. Old Shelton Hall, in which Fenton was born, was destroyed by fire 22nd May, 1853.

2 He was entered of Jesus College, and took a Bachelor's degree in 1704. In 1726 he removed to Trinity Hall. Nichols, in his 'Select Poems,' viii. 296, says he was admitted a pensioner July 1, 1700.



moner 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 same sect, 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 him with great esteem and tenderness. He was at one time assistant in the school of Mr. Bonwicke, in Surrey; 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.

He expressed still 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 Duchess desired the praise or liked the cost of patronage.

The elegance of his poetry entitled him to the company of

3 Died 1731. His edition of the 'Epistles of Phalaris,' published 1695, led to the famous controversy in which Bentley was so greatly distinguished. The wife of the great Earl of Cork, and the mother of the race of Boyles, was a Fenton.

↑ John, born 1707, died 1762, the biographer of Swift and the friend of Pope. "If Lord Orrery had been rich," said Johnson, "he would have been a very liberal patron."-Boswell by Croker, p. 345.

5 Warton (Essay on Pope,' i. 306), ed. 1782, says he was only an assistant in a school at Sevenoaks."

To the Queen on Her Majesty's Birthday. By Mr. Fenton. London: printed for Benjamin Tooke, at the Middle Temple gate, in Fleet Street.' Folio, n. d.

7 Died 20 Feb. 1702-3.

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