1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Fenton

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 91 (Supplement 1821) 644-45.



Nov. . . At Glynamel, near Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Richard Fenton, esq. author of A Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire, 4to, 1811; a work which will carry down his name to posterity, in conjunction with that of his native country. It was dedicated to that general patron of similar publications, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, bart. in the following feeling terms: "Indebted for its birth to your suggestions, for its maturity to your fostering encouragement, and for its chief embellishments to your fine taste in the application of the pencil, this production is so much your own offspring, and stands connected with you by so may ties, that it cannot be separated from you without a species of violence, of which my heart will not allow me to be guilty. — Recollecting the numerous journeys in which we have traced together the vestiges of antiquity; the many hours of my existence which your conversation has informed and cheered; the thousand offices of sympathy and benevolence with which you have dissipated the gloom hanging heavily on my mind, and have alleviated that anguish which my own fortitude was insufficient to sustain; I must surrender myself to the temptation of proclaiming you, without any reference to the present volume, and without attending to the sensibilities and prohibition of your own delicate mind, as the friend of my fortunes and my life."

Having already, in our vol. LXXXII. ii. 450, spoken so fully of this work, we shall only now say, that it deserved to be of more pecuniary advantage to its author than we fear it proved.

Mr. Fenton was bred to the Law, and being a Barrister, attended the Circuits in Wales for several years. In the early part of his life he spent much of his time in London, when fitting himself for his profession; during which period he associated with Goldsmith, Glover, Garrick, and many wits of that age, amongst whom (being a man of a very lively and social disposition) his company always proved acceptable. He united most happily the powers of the mind with those of the pen, both in poetry and prose; and besides some occasional publications which were published (though not bearing his name), amongst which we may for a certainty place A Tour in Search of Genealogy, and Memoirs of an Old Wig, (each full of humour and anecdote taken from real life), he undertook the arduous task of translating Athenaeus, a Greek author but little known, though so frequently quoted, and which he lived to complete, both poetry as well as prose, and deposited it in the library of Sir Richard Colt Hoare at Stourhead.

The publication of Athenaeus is a great desideratum in classical literature; and the only reason, perhaps, for its never having been attempted, has been, the difficulty of finding an author who could unite the talent of poetry with prose. We have reason to believe that Mr. Fenton's MSS. would not be withheld by their present liberal possessor, from any person willing to undertake to publish them.

He was a man of the soundest principles, and strictest honour, and every one who once enjoyed the pleasure of his society, must ever regret his loss.