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With prodigal economy prefer :
When in the bag thy hops the rustic treads,
Shouldst thou thy harvest for the mart design, Be thine own factor; nor employ those drones Who've stings, but make no honey, selfish slaves! That thrive and fatten on the planter's toil.
What then remains unsung? Unless the care
And now, ye rivals of the hop-land state,
Greenwich, where Queen Elizabeth was born.
My countrywoman hail! thy worth alone
Nor shalt thou, Mereworth, remain unsung,
"The seat of the Dake of Dorset.
BORN ABOUT 1680.--Died 1730.
“Why art thou slow to strike th' harmonious shel,
(Epistle to Fenton, by Dr. W. Broome.)
(Lines on the death of Fenton, by the same.)
Instead of apologizing for the omission of this writer in the chronological rank in which we ought to have placed him, we should perhaps rather ask excuse for giving him a place at all, having had but a slight connection with the county of Kent; but Dr.Johnson thought him worthy of a niche in his temple of poetical fame ; Pope made choice of him as a coadjutor in his great work; and he appears to have been loved and honoured by his contemporaries. From these we have gathered the following memorial,
ELIJAH FENTON was born at Shelton, near New. castle-under-line, of an ancient family of considerable property, but being the youngest of twelve children, he was destined for the clerical profession, and after leaving school, was sent to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took a Batchelor's degree, in 1704. At that time of discord and debate, many wise and virtuous men consulted conscience rather than interest, and Fenton, among these, doubting the legality of the goveroment, declined to qualify himself for public employment by taking the oaths required, and left the university, with no other prospect of a livelihood than such as he could derive from his literary talents.
“ The life that passes in penury," says Dr. Johnson, “must necessarily pass in obscurity." His biographer adds that it was impossible to trace Fenton from year to year, or to discover what means he used for his support, as enquiry of his relations in Staffordshire had been made in vain. We find him usher at one time to Mr.Bonwicke, a celebrated schoolmaster, at Headley in Surrey, and he was afterwards master of the free grammar school of Sevenoaks; this he left in 1710, for a more lucrative employment, becoming under the patronage of St. John, Lord Bolingbroke, secretary to Charles, Earl of Orrery in Flanders, and tutor to his only son, who always mentioned him with great esteem and tenderness. At the termination of this engagement, he obtained through the recommendation of Pope, a desirable situation with the Hon. James Craggs, Secretary of State, (about 1720,) the advantages of which he was soon deprived of, in consequence of the death of that minister by the small pox. His industry then met with
an employment which engaged rather his versifying, than his poetical powers.
“When Pope,” says Dr. Johnson, “after the great success of his Iliad, undertook the Odyssey, being, as it seems, weary of translating, he determined to engage auxiliaries. Twelve books he took himself, and twelve he distributed between Broome and Fenton ; the books attributed to the latter, were the 1st, the 4th, the 19th and the 20th. How the two associates performed their parts is well known to the readers of poetry, who have never been able to distinguish their books from those of Pope."
For this task he received £300; and by his tragedy of “ Mariamne,” which was brought on the stage in 1723, and met with great applause, he is said to have gained £1000, which he very honourably employed to discharge a debt contracted during his attendance at court. As Fenton's exertions appear to have been rather the products of necessity than choice, it is Bot wonderful that he is little to be traced as a writer after this period; for having obtained an easy situation as tutor to the son of Sir William Trumbull, whom he accompanied to Cambridge, and afterwards resided in the family, he had recourse to the press only as an amusement, To an edition of Milton's Poems, in which he undertook to revise the punctuation, 'he prefixed a short and elegant account of the author: he also published in 1729, a very splendid edition of Waller.
He died in 1730, at East-hamstead Park, near Oakingham, in Berkshire, the seat of Lady Trumbull, and like his employer Craggs, was
" Prais'd, wept, and honour'd by the muse he lov'di".