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REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
ART. I.-The Life of Richard Bentley, D.D. Master of Trinity College, and Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge: with an Account of his Writings, and Anecdotes of many distinguished Characters during the period in which he flourished. By JAMES HENRY MONK, D.D. Dean of Peterborough. London : Rivingtons. 1830. 4to. pp. lxxxiv. 668. Price £3. 3s.
Ir is worthy of observation, that the exaggerated panegyric which we are perpetually hearing on the superiority of the present age to all which have preceded it, is almost constantly accompanied with a depreciation of those studies in which former generations excelled, and on which they laid the foundation of their learning. In this respect there exists a striking contrast between the character of the present times and that of almost every other. Even to the very age which produced the eminent person whose biography we are about to consider, respect for the learning of former times has been a prominent characteristic of an intellectual age. We are not defending that bigoted addiction to antiquity which measures excellence by years, and which Horace and Pope have so happily ridiculed as the fault of their respective times; yet it is impossible not to be affected by the fact, that even the prejudices of those eminently literary periods were entirely in favour of their predecessors. It is otherwise with us; our prejudices (if we may, without offence to this enlightened age, suppose such things to exist except in Churchmen and "ultra tories") are altogether the other way; and the charge of antiquity is as fatal to a course of literature, or a system of instruction, as it would be to a ball dress, a novel, or an opera. We are not content with the consciousness of our preeminence in knowledge, without a dignified display of our contempt for those whom we have surpassed; and our benighted ancestors are dragged at the wheels of our triumph, in order that the world may estimate the victory at its fullest value. The literature of
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together before him, when he washed his hands in water in this vessel, after which it was cleaned, and then the whole multitude advanced, one after another, and touched it in the same manner as they touch his foot, when they pay him obeisance. If the guilty person touched it, he died immediately upon the spot, not by violence but by the hand of Providence; and if any one refused to touch it, his refusal was a clear proof that he was the man.-Cook's Third Voyage, Book II. c. 8.
In the temple Kurumado, in a corner to the left, within a large wooden grate, we took notice of a sexangular lanthorn covered with black gauze, which could be turned round like a wheel, and is said to be of great service in discovering unknown and future things. We were told likewise that a large book of their gods and religion lay in the same lanthorn, of the contents whereof they would, or could, give us no particulars, and only would make us believe that it was a very strange and miraculous thing.-Kampher's Japan, Vol. II. p. 600.
The conjuror fills a pewter basin or a brass pan, full of water, then sets up a stick on each side; from the tops of the sticks he stretches a small cord, and from the centre of that cord suspends a grain of pepper by a thread, just to touch, but not in the water; he then dips his fingers in the water and flirts them in the culprit's face; if he is guilty, a white film immediately covers his eyes, which deprives him of sight, and causes most excruciating pain, but if he is innocent, it has no effect. After the guilty person has made his confession, the conjuror dips his.-History of Sierra Leone.
Before the Sumatrans go to war, they kill a buffalo, or a fowl that is perfectly white, and by observing the motion of the intestines, they judge of the good or ill-fortune that will attend them. The priest who performs this ceremony, had need to be infallible, for if he predicts contrary to the event, he is sometimes put to death for his want of skill.—Marsden's Sumatra, p. 310.
In the Rudhiradhyaya, or sanguinary chapter, translated from the Calica Puran, there are a variety of curious omens explained according to the direction in which the head of a human victim, buffalo, &c. falls when severed from the body.-Asiatic Researches, Vol. V.
The Scythians have amongst them a great number who practise the art of divination; for this purpose they use a number of willow twigs in this manner : They bring large bundles of these together, and having united them, dispose them one by one on the ground, each bundle at a distance from the rest. This done, they pretend to foretel the future, during which they take up the bundles separately, and tie them again together. They take also the leaves of the limetree, which dividing into three parts, they twine round their fingers; they then unbind it, and exercise the art to which they pretend.-Herodotus Book IV.
The inhabitants of the Pelew Islands entertained so strong an idea of divination, that whenever any matter of moment was going to be undertaken, they conceived they could, by splitting the leaves of a particular plant, that was not unlike our bulrush, and measuring the strips of this long narrow leaf on the back of their middle finger, form a judgment whether it would or would not turn out prosperous. It was noticed by several of our people that the king recurred to this supposed oracle on different occasions, particularly at the time they went on the second expedition against Artingall, when he appeared to be very unwilling to go aboard his canoe, and kept all his attendants waiting till he had tumbled and twisted his leaves into a form that satisfied his mind, and predicted success. Our people never observed any person but the king apply to this divination.-Wilson's Pelew Islands.
The Afghauns (see p. 66, this book) pry into futurity by astrological and geomantic calculations, and by all sorts of divination and sortilege. Amongst other modes, they form presages from drawing lots, from the position assumed by arrows poured carelessly out of a quiver. I remember a conversation which I had (immediately before Shauh Shooja's great struggle with his competitor in
less profound, is more widely disseminated; still, so far as classical literature has been less critically studied, less encouraged by the authority of those who assume the tone in affairs of learning, less influential in forming the taste and character of popular writers, has the present age advanced?
To these queries we should return a decided negative. And it is with regret that we are reminded by our limits to refrain from discussing the grounds of our decision; and shewing, as perhaps we some day may, from palpable cases, the evils arising from the neglect of classical pursuits. Our present observations must be confined to the task of introducing our thanks to the learned author, now (we are happy to state) Bishop of Gloucester, for this very choice, minute and valuable piece of biography; to the impartial and attentive consideration of which we strongly invite every candid mind before pronouncing a decision on the futility of classical studies. Not that the singularis humanitas" of Bentley had any connexion with those "literæ humaniores" with which he was so deeply imbued; but his critical knowledge of these enabled him to confute in his masterly lectures the atheistical spirits of his day; to expose the insidious plausibilities of Collins, and the rhapsodical dogmatism of Boyle; to supply a logical mode of examining those very important questions, the genuineness of a work and the authority of a copy. His classical criticism is not to be regarded as a mere tissue of conjecture, or even of critical facts; it is a lucid display of the principles of critical examination, illustrated by practical instances. In this character of Bentley's writings we have chiefly in our eye the renowned dissertation of Phalaris, the emendations of Philemon and Menander, and Phileleutherus's letter; not that his Horace, or even his Milton, is wholly destitute of this redeeming excellence, though that self reliance, which was so peculiarly the distinguishing attribute of Bentley, has, in these works, unquestionably betrayed him into an audacious and dictatorial effrontery far worthier his earlier opponents than himself. The Terence, with all its extravagances, contains a masterly "oxedíaoμa" on the metres. Nor do we know any of his editions, except the Lucan, from which great advantage cannot be derived. To this we may add, that Bentley applied to the examination of every question which he considered so abundant an apparatus of learning, that it is almost impossible to peruse any of his works without deriving positive information on many topics, beside the advantage of a close intellectual discipline, and the fullest comprehension of the subject examined.
The Bishop of Gloucester has therefore conferred on the literary world a benefit, worthy, both in magnitude and character, of his Lordship's station and literary fame. He has shown that those studies, in the promotion of which he has been so long and so honourably
engaged, have gained the approbation and pursuit of the highest intellectual powers, and been productive of the most beneficial conBut the biography of Bentley is contradistinguished from that of scholars generally, by a circumstance which, though less honourable to its subject, is more calculated to arrest the attention of a reader. His was not the life of the retired student, unconnected with all histories and interests save those of learning. His days, on the contrary, were past in ceaseless activity and restless turbulence; his life is interwoven not merely with the literary but the political history of his time; it is, moreover, almost identical with the contemporary history of the University of Cambridge, and considerably connected with that of the sister university; so that a correct and well detailed account of this eminent character is in the highest degree interesting to almost every description of readers.
No writer could have been better qualified for this task, than Bishop Monk. Congeniality of pursuits and tastes enable him alike to appreciate and display the literary character of Bentley; and his subsidia have been such as few biographers can boast. In continual intercourse with those who have succeeded to Bentley's appointments, and in ready and perpetual access to stores at once copious and authentic, nothing was requisite to our author but diligence and discrimination in the inspection, use, and arrangement of materials; and these he appears to have abundantly possessed. Accordingly, there has resulted a work of great minuteness and perspicuity, and, it is impossible to doubt, of very considerable accuracy. This, which is the most essential constituent of all good biography, is the more deserving notice, as the particulars furnished by Cumberland, who, from his relationship to the great subject of the present work, is sometimes quoted as the very highest authority, are often very materially in
We proceed to collect some account of the subject of this biography, from the work itself. Bentley was born on the 27th of January, 1661-62, at Oulton, in the parish of Rothwell, near Wakefield, in Yorkshire. He was the eldest son of Thomas Bentley, a person of small independent property, by Sarah, daughter of Richard Willie, a stone-mason at Oulton. His education commenced, according to Cumberland, under the auspices of his mother, from whom he learned the Latin Accidence; it is certain that he was sent to a dayschool at the neighbouring hamlet of Methley, and afterwards to the grammar-school of Wakefield. His father having died when he was thirteen years of age, his maternal grandfather sent him, in the following year, as a subsizar to St. John's College, Cambridge, at that time the largest in the University. In 1679-80, he graduated B. A. and was sixth on the first Tripos. But at that time it was the custom for
the Vice Chancellor and the Proctors to nominate an honorary senior optime each; and the names of these students were registered next to that of the first man of the year. Bentley's place on the Tripos corresponded therefore with that of third Wrangler. It is not necessary, however, at least for Cambridge readers, to observe that there is no comparison between the standards of proficiency in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Bentley was excluded from a fellowship at St. John's, in consequence of the untoward regulation, abolished by royal authority ten years since, which only permitted two fellowships to be held at a time by men of the same county; but his merits having attracted the attention of his college, he was appointed to the mastership of Spalding Grammar School. This situation he relinquished shortly after, for the office of domestic tutor to the son of the eminent Stillingfleet, the Dean of St. Paul's. In 1683, he proceeded M. A.
It was in the leisure, the choice society, and the ample library of Dean Stillingfleet's residence, that Bentley was principally enabled to amass those stores of classical and theological learning, with which he afterwards astonished and instructed the world. Here he wrote what he called his Hexapla, a thick quarto volume, in the first column of which he set down every word of the Hebrew Bible alphabetically; and in five other columns, all the interpretations of those words which occur in the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate Latin and Septuagint, and in Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. Though Bentley's language is frequently pedantic, and he has been universally charged by his adversaries with pedantry, and but languidly vindicated by his friends; yet was he so far from impertinently displaying his accomplishments, that it is to the effect of accidental circumstances, that we are indebted for our knowledge of his acquaintance with many departments of learning. While preeminent in reputation as a classical scholar, there can be little doubt, that had his great scheme for a revision of the New Testament been completed, it would have been the noblest work ever presented to Christendom; while his theological productions evince him to have been no less skilled in sacred than in profane criticism.
In 1689, Bentley accompanied his pupil to Wadham College, Oxford, of which he became a member, and was admitted ad eundem. It was here that he laid the foundation of his fame. The curators of the Sheldon press were then printing the Chronicle of Joannes Malela, a writer of the middle ages, valuable only on account of the illustration which he furnishes to chronology, and as one of the sources whence the Greek lexicographers extracted their historical notices. Bentley was solicited by Dr. Mill to print some remarks by way of Appendix. This he did in his celebrated" Epistola ad Millium." It