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turers on the catechism; affixing the college-seal to documents in presence of fewer than sixteen fellows, and sometimes against the remonstrances of the whole seniority; alienation of college estates; expenditure of college property on private objects, and particularly in bribing one of the fellows to withdraw charges against him. In Bishop Monk's remarks all our readers will concur :
In the perusal of the foregoing narrative, some, perhaps, may have remarked that Dr. Bentley might have been an excellent lawyer; others may have thought his talents adapted for military command: but all must agree that such a display suited any character rather than that of a learned and dignified clergyman.-P. 637.
We have already traced the leading points in Bentley's literary career up to the production of his immortal Dissertation on Phalaris. But the great critic had not been wholly employed in making new acquisitions. He had projected new editions of Philostratus, Hesychius, and Manilius; and he produced a collection of fragments, notes, and emendations to Grævius's Callimachus, which our learned author has thus characterized :
Dr. Bentley's notes and emendations upon Callimachus, and his collection of the fragments of that poet, were drawn up, after repeated interruptions, and transmitted to Grævius for publication during the year 1696: the last batch of fragments he sent to Utrecht on his return to town from Worcester, where he had been passing two months with the Bishop. Grævius's Callimachus appeared in the August following, and presented two extraordinary specimens of Greek erudition; differing from one another, but each constituting a monument to the fame of its author: the collection of fragments by our critic, and the diffuse commentary by Ezechiel Spanheim. The inexhaustible stores of knowledge in mythology, antiquities, and philology, which the latter exhibits, are an object of admiration; and though he overlays the poet with his learning, yet his commentary will always be valued as a mine of information upon every subject of which it treats. The merits of Bentley's performance were different: above four hundred fragments, raked together from the whole range of ancient literature, digested in order, amended and illustrated with a critical skill, which had no example, presented a still greater novelty. There existed no collection of Greek fragments which he could have taken for his model; and Valckenaer, one of the greatest scholars who have trodden in his footsteps, speaking of this collection, says, 'qua nihil in hoc genere præstantius prodiit aut magis elaboratum.'-Pp. 58, 59.
In 1701, Bentley married Mrs. Johanna Bernard, daughter of Sir John Bernard, of Brampton, in Huntingdonshire. In the same year he became Archdeacon of Ely, and, by consequence, a member of Convocation. He now projected editions of classical books for the use of his college, and began with Horace. This edition was ten years in preparation, and certainly was not calculated to sustain his richly merited celebrity. Every scholar will agree with Bishop Monk that Bentley's acquaintance with Latin was greatly inferior to his knowledge of Greek; while a stroke of the pen, or the omission of a letter, are much more influential in the latter language than in the former. Accordingly Bentley's Latin emendations are almost every where forced
and considerable; while his Greek corrections are brief, neat, and demonstrative. One idea on which he constantly acted was, that an author must necessarily always have expressed himself with the strictest propriety; and wherever his text appeared to deviate from this, an alteration was accordingly obtruded. This assumption is so manifestly contrary to truth, that it is astonishing how it could have been, for one moment, admitted by the discriminating intellect of Bentley. But it frequently happens that the emendation is as devoid of propriety as the original. Thus in the line cited by the Bishop, "Et malè tornatos incudi reddere versus," where Bentley corrects ter natos," there is a manifest incongruity between the ideas of "incus" and "natus." Whether Horace inadvertently incurred the impropriety which all MSS. exhibit, or whether he considered the metaphors as of too little importance to require reconciliation, so long as their meaning was evident, or whether some unknown particulars of ancient art would harmonize ideas which appear to us as distinct as those of an anvil and a lathe, are different questions; but Bentley's correction contradicts MSS. and does not effect the consistency for which he contends. Another unfortunate propensity of our great critic was that of seeking a parallel authority for every expression of a classical author, with as much assiduity as if the subject of his criticism had been a modern writer of a dead language. Passages are frequently "slashed" with no better reason than the absence of a similar cast of expression in other writers. Beside these blemishes, which equally affect all Bentley's criticisms on Latin authors, he was, in his Horace, peculiarly unfortunate: having printed his “emended" text before the notes were written, his pride compelled him to the vindication of many 66 corrections,' ," which consideration must have shown to be indefensible. Upwards of twenty of these emendations he felt it necessary to his reputation to retract. That he has "made Horace dull," is a verdict which, though pronounced by wit, has been fully ratified by judgment.
While employed on his Horace, Bentley had embarked a portion of his fame on an undercurrent of criticism. Mr. John Davies, Fellow of Queen's College, was publishing an edition of the Tusculan Questions. To these Bentley contributed a body of emendations, exhibiting that skill in the old versification of Latium, which enabled him at a subsequent period to clear, to a great extent, the intricate subject of the Terentian metres. Mr. Peter Needham, Fellow of St. John's College, about the same time, published an edition of the Commentary of Hierocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras. To this Bentley supplied a body of emendations and conjectures by no means equally felicitous with those on Cicero. Christopher Wolfius, of Leipsic, immediately published a review of them, and demonstrated, from an
authoritative MS., the collation of which Needham had been vainly endeavouring to procure, the incorrectness of many of Bentley's conjectures. But the critic retrieved this ground abundantly. Le Clerc was at that time exercising a despotic sway over continental literature. Flushed with the solitary eminence which literary Europe seemed disposed to allow him, in electing him a kind of arbiter scientiarum, he unfortunately so far forgot the heaven-descended maxim, yvõðɩ σɛavrov, as to undertake an edition of the Fragments of Menander and Philemon. Bentley's notes on the Tusculans had not been spared by Le Clerc in a review which he then conducted, called the Bibliothèque Choisie; whether this circumstance, or the solicitation of friends, induced the publication of Bentley's emendations, is now of little moment. The work is one of those which immortalize the name of its author. The metrical learning which it exhibits, can only be appreciated by those who are acquainted with the degree of ignorance which then prevailed on that subject, even amongst eminent scholars.
In 1713, the talents of Bentley were summoned to a field into which we may justly be expected to follow him. Antony Collins, a gentleman of education and fortune, had for some time appeared in the character of an apostle of infidelity; and he now presented the world with a synopsis of his opinions, under the title of "A Discourse on Freethinking." The work ill deserved the importance attached to it by the sensation which it occasioned; but it was plausible; it was one of those insidious sophisms, which, by means of artful substitutions, endeavours to dazzle the reader into assent. "Freethinking" was here substituted, though covertly and cautiously, for scepticism; and it was by implication assumed, that Christianity was in all cases the result, not of reflection, but of prejudice. The manifest right which every man possesses, of freely reflecting on what is offered for his assent, the manifest duty which the right imposes, were, by this insinuating writer, converted into a right and duty of dissenting from Christianity. The Clergy, naturally enough, were assailed; attacks on Christianity having been, by experience, found to be facilitated by warfare on the Clergy. Nor were the Clergy alone, as a body, the subject of this author's malevolence. "At the present day it is interesting to observe, that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts' was in its early years distinguished by the especial hatred of the enemies of Christianity."* Collins's work, as might have been expected, produced a great number of replies, which, though written
* Monk, p. 271. This is a pithy text, which we should like to see developed in the form of a discourse. There are professed friends of Christianity, who at the present day "distinguish" this noble Society in like manner. We recommend to such persons a consideration of the company with which they are associated in the above historical To them the observations should be particularly "interesting."
by men of eminent talents, have been dragged into obscurity by the weight of the name to which they were attached. The genius of Bentley, however, triumphed over this disadvantage; his "Remarks on Freethinking," of "Phileleutherus Lipsiensis," are known to all our readers, and admired as extensively as they are known. He exposed their fallacy; and while he vindicated with rude but effective energy a genuine freedom of thought, he showed that this freedom only led to the establishment of Christianity on the surest evidence; while the shallowness, the bad faith, the defective learning, and the false positions of his antagonist were displayed in a strain of the keenest and most mortifying ridicule. For this work Bentley received the thanks of the bench of Bishops. It is perhaps scarcely necessary to say that this valuable treatise is incomplete, and that what we possess was published at different periods, although in the same year. A grace passed in the Senate of Cambridge, desiring Bentley to finish the work; and he was specially requested by the Princess of Wales to execute this desire. He had actually begun to print another part of the "Remarks," when the discouragement given by government and the University to his claim of fees for creating Doctors in Divinity, caused him to relinquish his task in disgust in the middle of a page. Enough, however, had been done for Collins.
The specimens of sacred criticism which Bentley had introduced in his "Remarks," induced Dr. Hare, in his " Clergyman's Thanks to Phileleutherus," to suggest this field to his friend's occupation. About three years afterwards, Wetstein, when in England, offered the Doctor the use of all his collations. Bentley immediately decided on undertaking the work, and propounded immediately his intentions on the subject to Archbishop Wake. His scheme, from which he promised himself a degree of accuracy that should not differ " twenty words or even particles" from " the best exemplars at the time of the Council of Nice," was undoubtedly calculated to produce a text eminently correct. He intended to collate the oldest MSS. of the New Testament, and "of the Latin too of St. Jerome, of which there are several in England, a full thousand years old." St. Jerome declares that his version was made "ad Græcam veritatem, ad exemplaria Græca, sed vetera. Bentley had partially examined very ancient copies of this version, and collated them with the Alexandrian MS.; and he had found in the two a wonderful coincidence, not only in the words, but even in the order of them. The rest we give in his own words:
To conclude,-in a word, I find that by taking 2000 errors out of the Pope's Vulgate, and as many out of the Protestant Pope Stephens', I can set out an edition of each in columns, without using any book under 900 years old, that shall so exactly agree, word for word, and, what at first amazed me, order for
order, that no two tallies, nor two indentures can agree better. I affirm that these so placed will prove each other to a demonstration: for I alter not a letter of my own head without the authority of these old witnesses.-P. 313.
The latter assertion was intended to obviate an apprehension very generally entertained, and too sufficiently grounded, that the New Testament would be sacrificed to the gratification of the great editor's slashing" propensities. Indeed, in the very section of Phileleutherus's letter which had suggested to Dr. Hare the peculiar fitness of Bentley for theological criticism, there are some conjectures which, however happy, are certainly bold, considering the field on which they are exercised. Had Bentley indulged his genius on this occasion, perfect as was his adaptation for the work, and brilliant as was the character of his conjectures, every sober Christian would have deprecated intrusting the title-deeds of his heavenly inheritance to one who was thus disqualified. But when we consider the pledge which is here exhibited, it is impossible not to regret that a scheme of such transcendant utility should have been abandoned for objects every way inferior, and some derogatory both to the literary and moral reputation of the projector. That the work would have been conducted with a stoical indifference to conjecture, we may conclude from Bentley's reply to a well intended writer, who solicited him not to omit the disputed verse, 1 John v. 7. He says,
Now in this work I indulge nothing to any conjecture, not even in a letter, but proceed solely upon authority of copies and Fathers of that age. And what will be the event about the said verse of John, I myself know not yet; having not used all the old copies that I have information of.
But by this you see, that in my proposed work, the fate of that verse will be a mere question of fact. You endeavour to prove (and that's all you aspire to) that it may have been writ by the Apostle, being consonant to his other doctrine. This I concede to you: and if the fourth century knew that text, let it come in, in God's name: but if that age did not know it, then Arianism in its height was beat down, without the help of that verse: and let the fact prove as it will, the doctrine is unshaken.-P. 349.
Finding the public mind interested in the question, Bentley chose the litigated verse for the subject of his prælection, or probationary lecture, previous to his admission to the Regius Professorship of Divinity in 1717. Of this Bishop Monk says,
The composition excited great sensation at the time and long afterwards: it was preserved in manuscript, and perused by some scholars little more than forty years ago. I hope and believe that it is still in existence, and may ere long be brought to light: but all my endeavours to trace it have hitherto been ineffectual. It has, however, been in my power to collect such testimony respecting its contents, as must put an end to all the doubts which have been started relative to Bentley's judgment upon the controverted text.-P. 348.
The substance of this testimony is that Bentley rejected the text. The controversy has been enlarged since, but generally with the same result. We may suggest, however, that we ought to await the collation of many more MSS. before pronouncing a decided opinion.