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ment invective against inoculation; on consumptions, the spleen, the gout, the rheumatism, the king's-evil, the dropsy, the jaundice, the stone, the diabetes, and the plague.
Of those books, if I had read them, it could not be expected that I should be able to give a critical account. I have been told that there is something in them of vexation and discontent, discovered by a perpetual attempt to degrade physick from its sublimity, and to represent it as attainable without much previous or concomitant learning. By the transient glances which , have thrown upon them, I have observed an affected contempt of the Ançients, and a supercilious derision of transmitted knowledge. Of this indecent arrogance the following quotation from his preface to the Treatise on the Small-pox will afford a specimen: in which, when the reader finds, what I fear is true, that when he was censuring Hippocrates he did not know the difference between aphorism and apophthegm, he will not pay much regard to his determinations concerning ancient learning.
" Ás for this book of Aphorisms, it is like my lord Bacon's of the same “ title, a book of jests, or a grave collection of trite and trifling observati
ons; of which though many are true and certain, yet they signify no“ thing, and may afford diversion, but no instruction ; most of them being “ much inferior to the sayings of the wise men of Greece, which, yet are so “ low and mean, that we are entertained every day with more valuable sen“ timents at the table conversation of ingenious and learned men.
I am unwilling, however, to leave him in total disgrace, and will there-, fore quote from another Preface a passage less reprehensible.
“ Some gentlemen have been disingenuous and unjust to me, by wresting “ and forcing my meaning in the Preface to another book, as if I con“ demned and exposed all learning, though they knew I declared that I “ greatly honoured and esteemed all men of superior literature and erudi“ tion; and that I only undervalued false or superficial learning, that sige “ nifies nothing for the service of mankind; and that, as to physick, I ex“pressly affirmed that learning must be joined with native genius to make
a physician of the first rank; but if those talents are separated, I asserted, " and do still insist, that a man of native sagacity and diligence will prove a “ more able and useful practiser, tban a heavy notional scholar, encumbered er with a heap of confused ideas."
He was not only a poet and a physician, but produced likewise a work of a different kind, A true and impartial History of the Conspiracy against King William of glorious Memory, in the year 1695. This I have never seen, but suppose it at least compiled with integrity. He engaged likewise in theological controversy, and wrote two books against the Arians ; Just Prejudices against the Arian Hypothesis ; and Modern Arians unmasked. Another of his works is Natural Theclogy or Moral Duties considered a part from Positive;
with some Observations on the Desirableness and Necessity of a supernatural Revelution. This was the last book that he published. He left behind him The accomplished Preacher, or an Essay upon Divine Eloquence; which was printed after his death by Mr. White of Nayland in Essex, the minister who attendeci his death-bed, and testified the fervent piety of his last hours. He died on the eighth of October, 1729.
BLACKMORE, by the unremitted enmity of the wits, whom he provoked more by his virtue than his dullness, has been exposed to worse treatment than he deserved; his name was so long used to point every epigram upon dull writers, that it became at last a bye-word of contempt'; but it deserves observation, that malignity takes hold only of bis writings, and that his life passed without reproach, even when his boldness of reprehension naturally turned upon him many eyes desirous to espy faults, which many tongues would have made haste to publish. But those who could not blame, could at least forbear to praise, and therefore of his private life and domestick character there are no memorials.
As an author he 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 awaked 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 thew, 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 much 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 subordinare elegancies; he studied no niceties of versification ;. he waited for no felicities of fancy ; but caught his first thoughts in his first words in which they were presented: nor does it appear that he saw beyond his own performances, or had ever elevated his ideas to that ideal perfection, which every genins born to excel is condemned always to pursue, and never overtake, In the first suggestions of his imagination he acquiesced; he thought them good, end 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 poein on Creation has, however, the appearance of more circumspection; it wants neither harmony of numbers, accuracy of thought, nor ele gance of diction: it has either been written with great care, or, what cann: Vol. I.
be imagined of so long a work, with such feficity as made care less necessary.
Its two constituent parts are ratiocination and description. To reason in verse, is allowed to be difficult; but Blackmore not only reasons in verse, but very often reasons 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 description both of life and nature, the poet and the philosopher happily co-operate; 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 Moli
But that which Arthur with most pleasure heard,
How part is
in silken threads, and clings
He sung how earth's wide ball, at Jove's command,
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F Ε Ν Τ Ο Ν.
HE 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 twelve children, and being therefore necessarily destined to some lụcrative 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 required, left the university without a degree; tut 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 regalar modes of profit and prosperity; and reduced to pick up & livehood uncertain and fortuitous; but it must be remembered that he kept his name unsullied, and never suffered himself to be redaced, like too many of the same-sest, ro 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 Nis 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 to Mr. Bonwicke in Surrey; and at another kept a school for himself ar 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 -2 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 (2707) at the height of his glory.
He * He was entered at Jefus Colleges and cook a Barcl cloz's degree in 1904, H.