Henry Felton was born on 3 February 1679 in the parish of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and died on 1 March 1740 at Barwick-in-Elmet, Yorkshire. He was educated at St Edmund Hall, Oxford (MA, 1702; BD, 1709; DD, 1712), and ordained priest in 1704. After preaching in and around London, and a brief period at the English Church in Amsterdam, in 1709 he became chaplain to the Dukes of Rutland. He was elected Principal of St Edmund Hall in 1722. In 1736 the third Duke presented him to the rectory of Barwick-in-Elmet. He published mainly theological tracts and sermons, attacking deism and Socinianism. His first major publication, however, was a work on criticism and the ‘rules of writing’: A Dissertation on Reading the Classics, and Forming a Just Style (1713). The piece proved to be reasonably popular, and a fifth edition was published in 1753. The Dissertation deals with issues that are relevant to philosophical aesthetics (taste, form and content, the sublime, etc.), but the account given of these issues is very sketchy. Thus, about the notion of ‘right taste’ Felton simply says that ‘a good Taste is to be formed by reading the best Authors’ (p. 150). The question of objective standards for the critical assessment of art and literature is not discussed.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.