1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elijah Fenton

Thomas Campbell, in Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1845) 349.



ELIJAH FENTON was obliged to leave the university on account of his non-juring principles. He was for some time secretary to Charles, Earl of Orrery; he afterward taught the grammar-school of Sevenoaks, Kent; but was induced, by Bolingbroke, to forsake that drudgery for the more unprofitable state of dependence upon a political patron, who, after all, left him disappointed and in debt. Pope recommended him to Craggs as a literary instructor, but the death of that statesman again subverted his hopes of preferment; and he became an auxiliary to Pope in translating the Odyssey, of which his share was the first, fourth, nineteenth, and twentieth books. The successful appearance of his tragedy Mariamne on the stage, in 1723, relieved him from his difficulties, and the rest of his life was comfortably spent in the employment of Lady Trumbull, first as tutor to her son, and afterward as auditor of her accounts. His character was that of an amiable but indolent man, who drank, in his great chair, two bottles of port wine a day. He published an edition of the poetical works of Milton and of Waller.