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Poor Fenton seems through life to have
been endeavouring to shake out of his hand
the birch and ferule of the pedagogue, but
always failed. The last kind office done for
him by his friend at Twickenham was to
procure him employment with Lady Trumbal,
widow of Sir William Trumbal, to superintend
the education of her son, whom he first
directed in his studies at home, and afterwards
"attended" to Cambridge. When the
young heir was fairly licked into shape, Elijah
was not turned adrift, but, being found a
harmless, easy, useful, willing kind of man,
her ladyship retained him in her household
at Easthampton, in Berkshire, as auditor of
her accounts. He passed the remainder of
his life in a "pleasing retirement," and died
at the seat of Lady Trumbal in seventeen
hundred and thirty. He had written a
tragedy, translated the Odyssey, educated the
"renowned translator of Pliny," appeared at
Court, produced an Ode "next to Alexander's
Feast," possessed a thousand pounds, and
been the friend of Mr. Pope. He ended his
days "in a pleasing retirement"—in a position
something between that of a pensioner
and a house-steward; checking the accounts
of Mrs. Frugal the housekeeper; auditing
the incomings and outgoings of Mr. Spigot,
the butler's cellar, and Dorothy Draggletail's
dairy. I dare say he took the vice-chair at
a rent-dinner with much dignity and
affability, and there wore those famous court
clothes, in the purchase of which his thousand
pounds had melted away like smoke.

Mr. Pope's friendship did not end with his
friend's life. He behaved most handsomely
to his memory. In a letter to his other
friend, Mr. Broome, he says, speaking of
Fenton, "No man better bore the approaches
of his dissolution (as I am told), or with less
ostentation yielded up his being. . . He died
as he had lived, with secret though sufficient
contentment. . . As to his other affairs, he
died poor but honest (!), leaving no debts or
legacies, except of a few pounds to Mr.
Trumbal and my lady, in token of respect,
gratitude, and mutual esteem. I shall with
pleasure take upon me to draw this amiable,
quiet, deserving, unpretending Christian and
philosophical character in his epitaph."

Here is the philosophical character as
drawn by Mr. Pope:

This modest stone, what few vain marbles can,
May truly say, Here lies an honest man;
A poet blessed beyond the poet's fate,
Whom Heaven kept secret from the proud and great,
Foe to loud praise and friend to learned case,
Content with science in the vale of peace.
Calmly he looked on either side, and here
Saw nothing to regret, or there to fear;
From nature's temp'rate feast rose satisfied,
Thank'd Heav'n that he liv'd and that he died.

Such is the testimony of Pope.

I am sorry; I really am very sorry; but I
must add one more extract from a letter
which does not place the friendship of Mr.
Pope in quite so shining a light.

"Mr. Fenton," says Lord Orrery, in a letter
to a friend written in seventeen hundred and
fifty-six, "was my tutor; he taught me to read
English, and attended me through the Latin
tongue from the age of seven to thirteen
years. He translated double the number of
books in the Odyssey that Pope has owned.
His reward was a triflean arrant trifle. He
has even told me that he thought Pope feared
him more than he loved him. He had no
opinion of Pope's heart, and declared him to
be, in the words of Bishop Atterbury, 'mens
curva in corpore curvo'a crooked mind in
a crooked body. Poor Fenton died of a
great easy chair and two bottles of port a
day. He was one of the worthiest and most
modest men that ever belonged to the court
of Apollo."

Such is the testimony of Lord Orrery. I
wonder whose is the true onePope's
or his!

So, this is all I have to set down about
Mr. Pope's friend. I hope a great many
people know much more about him than I
do; should the contrary be the case, some
day, when the lives of Obscurorum Virorum
come to be written, these pages may serve
the historian in some stead.


SUPPOSING that a gentleman named MR,
SIDNEY HERBERT were to get up in the House
of Commons, to make the best case he could
of a system of mismanagement that had filled
all England with grief and shame:

And supposing that this gentleman were to
expatiate to the House of Commons on the
natural helplessness of our English soldiers,
consequent on their boots being made by one
man, their clothes by another, their houses
by another, and so forthblending a
sentimental political economy with Red Tape, in
a very singular manner:

I wonder, in such case, whether it would
be out of order to suggest the homely fact
that indeed it is not the custom to enlist the
English Soldier in his cradle; that there
really are instances of his having been
something else before becoming a soldier; and
that perhaps there is not a Regiment in the
service but includes within its ranks, a number
of men more or less expert in every
handicraft-trade under the Sun.

This day is published, for greater convenience, and
                      cheapness of binding,
                 THE FIRST TEN VOLUMES
                    HOUSEHOLD WORDS,
Price of the Set, thus bound in Five Double instead of
            Ten Single Volumes, £2 10s. 0d.

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