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BLACKMORE, by the unremitted enmity of the wits, whom he provoked more by his virtue than his dulness, 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 byword of contempt; but it deserves observation, that malignity takes hold only of his writings, and that his life passed without reproach, even when his boldness of reprehension natur. ally 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 domestic 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 awed him to silence nor to caution ; they neither provoked him to petulance nor depressed him to complaint. While the distributers of literary fame were endeavouring to depreciate and degrade him, he either despised or defied then, 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 subordinate elegances; 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

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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 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 close

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 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 didactic 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 heroic 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
Were noble strains, by Mopas sung, the bard
Who to his harp in lofty verse began,
And through the secret maze of nature ran.
He the Great Spirit sung, that all things fill’d,
That the tumultuous waves of chaos stil'd;
Whose nod dispos’d the jarring seeds to peace,
And made the wars of hostile atoms cease.
All beings, we in fruitful nature find,
Proceeded from the Great Eternal Mind;
Streams of his unexhausted spring of power,
And, cherish'd with his influence, endure.
He spread the pure cerulean fields on high,
And arch'd the chambers of the vaulted sky,
Which he, to suit their glory with their height,
Adorn'd with globes, that reel, as drunk with light.

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His hand directed all the tuneful spheres,
He turn'd their orbs and polish'd all the stars.
He fill’d the sun's vast lamp with golden light,
And bid the silver moon adorn the night.
He spread the airy ocean without shores,
Where birds are wafted with their feather'd oars.
Then sung the bard how the light vapours rise
From the warm earth, and cloud the smiling skies;
He sung how some, chilld in their airy flight,
Fall seatter'd down in pearly dew by night;
How some, rais'd higher, sit in secret steams
On the reflected points of bounding beams,
Till, chill'd with cold, they shade th’ etherial plain,
Then on the thirsty earth descend in rain ;

low some, whose parts a slight contexture show;
Sink, hovering through the air, in fleecy snow;
How part is spun in silken threads, and clings
Entangled in the grass in glewy strings ;
How others stamp to stones, with rushing sound
Fall from their chrystal quarries to the ground;
How some are laid in trains, that kindled fly,
In harmless fires by night, about the sky;
How some in winds blow with impetuous force,
And carry ruin where they bend their course,
While some conspire to form a gentle breeze,
To fan the air, and play among the trees ;
How some, enraged, grow turbulent and loud,
Pent in the bowels of a frowning cloud,
That cracks, as if the axis of the world
Was broke, and heaven's bright towers were downward hurld.
He sung how earth's wide ball, at Jove's command,
Did in the midst on airy columns stand;
And how the soul of plants, in prison held,
And bound with sluggish fetters, lies conceald,
Till, with the spring's warm beams, almost releas'd
From the dull weight with which it lay opprest,
Its vigour spreads, and makes the teeming earth
Heave up, and labour 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 forced 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 numerous birth ;
Which way the genial warmth in summer storms
Turns putrid vapours to a bed of worms;
How rain, transform’d by this prolific 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.

FENTON.

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

* 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 churchyard of Stoke upon Trent, is distinguished by the fole lowing elegant Latin inscription from the pen of his son.

H. S. E.
JOANNES FENTON

de Shelton
antiquâ stirpe generosus ;
juxta reliquias conjugis

CATHARINA
formâ, moribus, pietate,
optimo viro dignissimæ ;

Qui
intemeratâ in ecclesiam fide,
et virtutibus intaminatis enituit;

necnon ingenii lepore

bonis artibus expoliti,
ạc animo erga omnes benevolo,

sibi suisque jucundus vixit.
Decem annos uxori dilectæ superstos
magnum sui desiderium bonis

omnibus reliquit,
Anno salutis humanæ 169 i,

ætatis suæ 50.
See Gent. Mag. 1791, vol. LXI. p. 703. N.

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VOL. II.

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