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nity, the hypocrisy of profession, the endeavour to shield crime under the protection of apparent sanctity and devotion to sacred pursuits, meet us on so many occasions, that we are often compelled to ask, were those men divines of the church of England ? Were they Atheists, or Pagans, who were ignorant of, or despised, the rules of Christianity ? Were they the teachers or the corrupters of youth? Talk of religion! Where was the religion of Cambridge, what was it, during the mastership of Bentley? The details of his career too plainly answer that question.

Hitherto, it must be acknowledged, those details have been given in a very imperfect form. The article which appeared in the Biographia Britannica in 1748, was, for a long time, the only store-house from which the notices of Bentley's life were derived. Dr. Monk has gone at large into the subject. Soon after it began to engage his attention, two unexpected and important sources of information presented themselves: first, the collection of Bentley's correspondence with the greatest scholars of his time, for about half a century, was discovered in Trinity Lodge, at the death of the late master, along with several other papers of great importance in his history. Secondly, the manuscripts of Dr. Colbatch, and others of Bentley's prosecutors, having been carefully preserved by two or three successive possessors, at length fell into the hands of an attorney at Cambridge, and on his death were sold by his son, along with his books, to a small second-hand book-shop : at that moment, when in the last stage of its journey to the grocer's or pastry cook's, the whole collection was accidentally seen and rescued from its fate by two members of Trinity College. This large mass of papers comprehends the correspondence of Colbatch with many distinguished characters, of which the letters of Conyers Middleton, relative to his quarrels with Bentley, form an interesting part; and the various controversies which agitated the University of Cambridge and Trinity College for nearly thirty years, are here elucidated by the most satisfactory authorities-the records of different courts, briefs for counsel, and the evidence of witnesses on the opposite sides.' Dr. Monk has also derived materials from other unpublished sources of information, especially from manuscript journals kept by several individuals who, for their own purposes, kept very exact records of events in which Bentley was concerned during some of the most interesting periods of his life.

Bentley's family was of the higher description of English yeomen. He was born on the 27th of January, 1661-62, at Oulton, a village not far from Wakefield, in Yorkshire. His mother was the daughter of a stonemason, a circumstance of which no man need be ashamed, especially no scholar who raises himself above his original station in society by his industry and talents. It is mentioned, much to the credit of this good woman, that she was the first to teach her son the Latin Acci

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dence. He seems to have gone through the usual rudiments of education at a day school near Oulton, and afterwards at the grammar school of Wakefield with so much reputation, that his grandfather, who was partial to him, resolved to send him at a very early period of his life to the University. He was only fourteen years old when he was admitted a subsizar of St. John's College, Cambridge. Among his contemporaries was one, however, who was admitted at a still earlier age--William Wotton, a juvenile prodigy, who, when he entered the University, was a mere child. His name is recorded in Catherine Hall, Gulielmus Wotton, infra decem annos, nec Hammondo nec Grotio secundus." That a boy of scarcely ten years should be considered as not inferior to Hammond or Grotius, it is difficult to believe. It seems, however, to be a well ascertained fact, that at six years

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was able to read and translate Latin, Greek, and Hebrew; to which, at seven, he added some knowledge of the Arabic and Syriac.' It is added, that when Wotton proceeded Bachelor of Arts, he was acquainted with twelve languages. With this surprising scholar, who in after life maintained a high reputation, Bentley kept up an uninterrupted friendship.

Such was the opinion entertained of Bentley's acquirements, after residing for six years at his college, that he was appointed head master of Spalding school in Lincolnshire, a situation which, however, he filled only for twelve months, when he accepted the office of domestic tutor to the son of Dr. Edward Stillingfleet, Dean of St. Paul's, a man of great learning, and the most amiable disposition. In the dean's family young Bentley was at once placed in the high road to preferment. He enjoyed the opportunity of seeing and conversing with most of the leading characters of the day, and had at his command one of the best private libra ries in the world. Here, it is understood, he chiefly amassed that wonderful fund of knowledge which is exhibited in his earlier publications. Theology and the Oriental languages principally en. gaged his attention; nevertheless his favourite pursuits at that, as well as every other period of his life, were the classical authors. From the commencement of his studies, he was in the habit of noting in the margins of his books, such suggestions as occurred to him in reading them--a habit to which we owe the copiousness and variety of his criticisms in this line.

Although Bentley, from an early period, looked forward to the church as his profession, yet in consequence, perhaps, of the unsettled state of the times, he did not receive orders until some years after the usual age. He was not ordained deacon until March, 1689-90. A residence at Oxford, as the private tutor of young Stillingfleet, enabled him to become acquainted with the manuscript treasures of that University. The work on which he appears first to have set his mind, was a complete collection of the Frag, ments of the Greek Poets. For some reasons, however, which do

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not appear, he abandoned this design. It was next proposed to him to publish all the Greek Lexicographers; a scheme that merged in another for a new edition of the Lexicon of Hesychius, in which, besides reducing the work to order, he made no fewer than five thousand corrections. It was while he was engaged in this undertaking that his attention was accidentally drawn to the subject' which actually established his first unrivalled fame as a critic.' Among the numerous chronicles drawn up by the early Christian writers of the history of the world, from Adam to their own time, was a Greek historical work, compiled in the beginning of the ninth century, by Joannes Malela Antiochenus. A copy of this work existed in the Bodleian library, and after having been revised and illustrated by Gregory, a man of great learning in the time of Charles I., by Chilmead, the compiler of the catalogue of the Bodleian manuscripts, by Mill and Hody, was about to be printed, when it came under the notice of Bentley. The real value of these old chronicles consists in those portions of them which are founded on passages taken from the older writings that have perished. Here was full scope given for the display of Bentley's learning ; • the passages selected to be the subjects of his remarks, consisted either of verses reduced by the compiler to his own prose, which Bentley restores with equal learning and cleverness; or of allusions to the poets, particularly the Attic dramatists. These remarks he embodied in a letter to Dr. Mill, which was published in 1691, and immediately obtained for him a rank in the scholastic world, equal to that of Scaliger and Casaubon. A curious controversy arose between him and Hody, as to whether the chronicler's name ought to be Malelas or Malela. The question was sharply contested between the parties. Bentley very satisfactorily shewed that Malelas was the proper name; but the offence of being beaten on such a topic by so young a critic, was never forgiven by Hody, who accused his antagonist of arrogance and bitterness of style.

The attention of Bentley to the classics was for a while interrupted by his appointment to the Boyle Lectureship, in 1692, the duties of which consisted in a defence of the Christian religion against infidels. In the discharge of this office he fully answered the expectations of his patrons. The progress which had then been made by the doctrines of Hobbes and Spinoza, rendered his exertions at once useful and conspicuous. He had the honour upon this occasion of making known, in a popular form, the sublime discoveries of Newton, which had been published for six years, without attracting much attention. The great astronomer also rendered material assistance to the lecturer, as may be seen from his four letters on the subject, addressed to Bentley, which were published in 1756, and reviewed by Dr. Johnson, in the first volume (p. 89) of the “Literary Magazine.' The fame which Bentley had now acquired, as a critic and

a a lecturer, was followed by its usual attendant, envy. He had

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already, it seems, made abundance of enemies, the number of whom was not diminished by his conversation and demeanour; in which, says our author, 'a certain haughtiness was discoverable. He adds, there is a traditional anecdote, current during his lifetime, which, whatever be its foundation, shows the opinion prevalent on this subject. It is, that a nobleman, dining at his patron's, and happening to sit next to Bentley, was so much struck with his information and powers of argument, that he remarked to the bishop after dinner, “My lord, that chaplain of your's is certainly a very extraordinary man." “Yes," said Stillingfleet, “had he but the gift of humility, he would be the most extraordinary man in Europe.”

Bentley's dispute with the famous Joshua Barnes, though a trifling one, and really conducted upon his side with courtesy and good humour, shews how rudely the controversies of that period were sometimes carried on. Bentley expressed no more than a doubt as to the authenticity of six epistles attributed to Euripides, and which Barnes incorporated in his edition of the works of that poet. Joshua, who was the most unfortunate and universal of editors, hurt by the objections of the great critic, declared that to doubt the letters being the genuine work of Euripides, was “a proof of impudence or want of judgment,” perfrictæ frontis, aut judicii imminuti.

It is matter of regret that the Boyles' lectures, delivered by Bentley, have never been published. They have been much praised for vigour of style and cogency of argument. Dr. Monk does not even know what has become of the manuscripts. We hope that they have not been sacrificed to the grocer.

Towards the close of 1693, Bentley was appointed Prebendary of Worcester and keeper of the royal library at St. James's. Shortly after this period he was engaged in the celebrated controversy upon the fables of Æsop and the epistles of Phalaris, which had its origin in a dissertation, prefixed by Fontenelle, the agreeable author of the “ Plurality of Worlds," to his pastoral poetry. In that essay, he maintained that, in point of genius, the modern were infinitely superior to the ancient authors. A proposition so bold attracted the attention of most men of taste and accomplished education of that day, and among the rest, of Sir Williain Temple, who had been for some time living in dignified retirement from public life, of which he was so long the ornament. It was this elegant scholar's misfortune to write an answer to Fontenelle's argument. He endeavoured to shew that "the oldest books extant were still the best in their kind,” and in proof of his position he particularly referred to the “ most ancient prose books written by profane authors," the fables of Æsop and the epistles of Phalaris. Bentley, though not agreeing in Fontenelle's view of the original question, completely disproved this part of Sir William's argument by demonstrating, from their chronology, their

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language and matter, that the epistles attributed to the Tyrant of Syracuse were spurious; and that the collection of fables, ascribed to Æsop, in fact originated with Babrius, a Greek poet, from whose verses they were transferred to prose by Maximus Planudes, a monk. This discovery, however, Bentley owed to Neveletus, who, in the year 1610, printed 136 of the fables from a manuscript in the Heidelberg library. The essay upon Phalaris is one of the niost admirable pieces in the whole range of criticism. It overflows with learning, and is at the same time written in a very animated and engaging style. Besides answering Sir William Temple, it was directed pointedly against a new edition of those epistles, which was published by the Hon. Charles Boyle, under the auspices of the Dean of Christ Church. Hence, as soon as the essay appeared, it threw the whole community of Oxford into a ferment. A coterie, consisting of Atterbury (Pope's Atterbury), George Smalridge, and three or four others, was immediately formed, for the purpose of defending the labours of the patrician; and it is a curious, and by no means a creditable token of the spirit which prevailed in Oxford at the time, that these controversialists resolved not only to attack Bentley's production, but also 'to hold up every part of his conduct and character to ridicule and odium; to dispute his honesty and veracity as well as his learning, and, by representing him as a model of pedantry, conceit and ill-manners, to raise such an outcry as should drive him off the literary stage for ever.'

· Accordingly,' adds the Biographer, 'every circumstance which could be discovered respecting his life and conversation, every trivial anecdote, however unconnected with the controversy, was caught up, and made a topic, either of censure or ridicule. In short, the obnoxious scholar, whose only strength they supposed to be his learning, was to be borne down by the weight of a combined attack upon his literary, moral, and personal character.

• The principal share in the undertaking fell to the lot of Atterbury; this was suspected at the time, and has been since placed beyond all doubt by the publication of a letter of his to Boyle, in which he mentions, that in writing more than half the book, in reviewing a good part of the rest, and in transcribing the whole, half a year of his life had passed away. The main part of the discussion upon Phalaris is from his pen: that upon Æsop was believed to be written by John Friend : and he was probably assisted in it by Alsop, who was at that very time engaged on an edition of the Fables. But the respective shares cannot be fixed with certainty ; nor is this a matter of importance, since Atterbury, by his own confession, made him responsible for the faults of the whole. In point of classical learning, the joint-stock of the confederacy bore no proportion to that of Bentley, their acquaintance with several of the books upon which they comment, appears only to have begun upon this occasion; and sometimes they are indebted for their knowledge of them to their adversary: compared with his boundless erudition, their learning was that of school-boys, and not always sufficient to preserve them from distressing mistakes. But profound literature was at that period confined to few; while wit and raillery found

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