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in his cathedral. Soon afterward, he was recommended by his patron conjunctively with Dr. Lloyd Bishop of Lichfield, as a fit person to open the Lecture upon Mr. Boyle's foundation, in defence of Natural and Revealed Religion. The specific subject of his Discourses, eight in number, was the confutation of Atheism; and this he effected in so masterly a manner from a view of the faculties of the soul, of the structure and origin of human bodies, and the beginning and frame of the world itself, that his volume beside passing through numerous editions at home has been translated into several of the languages of the Continent.*
rds these Disc from Sir Isaac ne of all that
His pride, indeed, is said to have been the reason, why he did not go beyond the first year in preaching the Boyle Lectures.
* Whiston regards these Discourses, which demonstrated the Being and Providence of a God from Sir Isaac Newton's wonderful discoveries, as “ perhaps the most valuable of all that great critic's performances :" but Bentley himself, as the same writer informs us, was afraid that he had by their very unanswerableness “ done harm to Christianity; as occasioning those sceptics or infidels to divert from their denial of a God and a Providence, from which they might be always driven with great ease, to the picking up of objections against the Bible in general, which would certainly afford them a much larger field for contradictions."
Very soon after their delivery, upon consulting Bishop Lloyd on the subject of the Scripture-Prophecies, he was so much annoyed to find that his Lordship understood a day to mean a year (which, however, the ancient language of prophecy plainly implies) that he bluntly asked Newton, to whom Whiston had introduced him, " Whether he could demonstrate the correctness of the Canon?' The invidiousness of the allusion so offended the Philosopher, that he refused to see the captious questioner for a twelvemonth. Bentley even persuaded Daubuz, in the way of banter indeed, that "he ought to prove his principle of interpretation à priori ;' and for the sagacity
the correctad introduced hi he bluntly askent language day to
: In 1693, upon the death of Mr. Justel, he was made Keeper of the Library at St. James'. Soon after his nomination, and before the signing of his patent, by his diligence he procured for it no fewer than a thousand volumes, under the Act of Parliament which prescribes that one copy of every book entered at Stationer's Hall shall be transmitted to the royal collection.'
In 1694, arose the celebrated dispute between him and the Hon. Charles Boyle,* with respect to the
displayed in his preface to the · Exposition of the Apocalypse,' held him subsequently in high esteem.
For a question úpon the proportions of Nebuchadnezzar's Image of Gold in Dan, vi., which nearly lost him his mistress, “ a most excellent Christian woman,” and for some other petty exceptions to the chronology of that prophet, of whom (though expressly quoted by our Blessed Saviour himself, Matt. xxiv. 9, Mark. xiii. 14, Luke xxi. 20) “ he was very desirous to get clear,” as well as for his hostility to the Apocalypse, Mr. Whiston impeaches Dr. Bentley of Scepticism—“Scepticism, he says, not Infidelity : for I take the evidence for the truth of the Bible to be so prodigiously strong in all original authors, that no persons so learned as Dr. Bentley and Dr. Hare can, I believe, by any temptation proceed farther than scepticism; how much farther soever comparatively ignorant and unlearned writers- I mean, such as Collins, Tindal, Toland, Morgan, and Chubb-may have proceeded, in their grosser degrees of infidelity."
* This young nobleman, born in 1676, was entered at the age of fifteen of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1703, by the , death of his elder brother, he became Earl of Orrery: in 1710-11, at the negotiating of the peace of Utrecht, was appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the States of Flanders and Brabant, and in September, 1711, created Baron Boyle of Marston, in Somersetshire. He continued to reside at Brussels, as Envoy, till June 1713; and in the commencement of the new reign was made a Lord of the Bedchamber, and Lord Lieutenant of the county of Somerset. The former post, however, he resigned in 1716, having previously been deprived of his regiment; VOL. V.
Epistles ascribed to Phalaris, Tyrant of Agrigentum. Of those Epistles Mr. Boyle had recently published an edition, with a Latin Version and Notes; and, in
and in 1722, on suspicion of being concerned in Layer's plot, he was committed to the Tower, where he suffered severely in his health. He died August 28, 1731, at the age of fifty five.
During his residence at Oxford, having already printed a translation of the Life of Lysander' from Plutarch, he was employed by Dean Aldrich, who had engaged several of the young students under his care to publish editions of the Classics, to give to the world the Epistles of Phalaris.' With a view to this, wishing to collate a MS, of this work in the King's library, he desired one Bennet, à London bookseller, to request the loan of it from Bentley. The MS., say the friends of Boyle, was not granted till after earnest solicitation and great delays:' and as, in the confidence of it's not being speedily reclaimed, it was not instantly put into the collator's hands, little advantage was derived from it; the librarian having within six days re-demanded it “in a very rude manner, and with very slighting and disparaging expressions both of Mr. Boyle and his work.” Such is the story told by Mr. Bennet, Dr. William King, Mr. Boyle, &c. Dr. Bentley, on the other hand asserts, that the MS. was delivered to Mr. Boyle's agent within a month after it had fallen under his care as Library Keeper; that it was voluntarily offered, with a notice, that it must speedily be returned; that he never heard the collation was uncompleted, and indeed could scarcely have believed such a statement, as it might at any time have been made from beginning to end in four hours.' This, Boyle resented by the following sarcastic passage in his preface; Collatas etiam (Epistolas) curavi usque ad Epist. XL. cum Manuscripto in Bibliotheca Regia, cujus mihi copiam ulteriorem Bibliothecarius pro singulari humanitate sud negavit : and refusing, upon Dr. Bentley's civil expostulation and explanation (for ' to have insisted on the cancel,' he said, • might have been forcing a gentleman to too low a submission') to erase the obnoxious sentence, drew down upon himself thé tremendous hostility of his justly-incensed foe. The matter
indeed, as that foe indignantly observes, being confounded with · many flat contradictions, may properly be reduced to this short
question, “ Utri creditis, Quirites-Dr. Bentley, or Mr. Bennet"
the Preface, had resentfully commented upon what he thought ungenerous treatment and unjustifiable expressions on the part of Dr. Bentley. The latter in
- the scholar, or the bookseller? Yet Bennet had the honour of a funeral sermon from Atterbury.
Even of Boyle's · Examination' it has been questioned, whether any considerable part proceeded from his own pen: many critics, both then and since, having concurred in ascribing it to Dean Aldrich, Dr. Atterbury in particular (who owns, in a letter, that he wrote about half and planned the whole' ) Dr. John Friend, Dr. Smalridge, and other wits of Christ Church, who heartily hated and wished to humble the redoubtable Bentley, Alsop, likewise, as appears from the preface to his Fabularum
Esopicarum Delectus, took part in the controversy, calling his adversary Ricardum quendam Bentleium, virum in volvendis Lexicis satis diligentem. Pope told Warburton, that · Boyle wrote only the narrative of what passed between him and the bookseller, which itself too underwent some correction; that Robert Friend, the master of Westminster, and Atterbury wrote the body of the criticisms; and that Dr. King, of the Commons, wrote the dull argument to prove Dr. Bentley not the author of the · Dissertation on Phalaris,' and the Index, and a powerful cabal gave it a surprising run.' (Warburton's Letters.) The marriage of Bentley's son to a niece of Dr. Friend's softened the Cambridge Critic toward his Christ Church opponents; and he declared, that • F. had more good learning in him than he had ever imagined.'
Dr. William King, who was accidentally present at a conversation between Bentley and Bennet, on being applied to by Boyle for the particulars, gave a short and expressive statement of them in a Letter, which procured for him an acrimonious castigation of eight pages; and the happy application of Horace's pun, in the Proscripti Regis Rupila pus atque venenum. In this severity, however, Dr. King was so far from acquiescing, that he soon afterward published his eleven • Dialogues of the Dead;' presenting as many different views of the subject, and replete with that peculiar and admirable species of banter, which must have abundantly mortified his great adversary's vanity.
consequence, in a · Dissertation upon the Epistles of Themistocles, Socrates, Euripides, Phalaris, and the Fables of Æsop, appended to the second edition of Wotton's • Reflexions on Ancient and Modern Learning,' in 1697,* assigned strong reasons for disuputing the genuineness of the Letters in question. To these remarks the partisans of Boyle, sometimes denominated “the Bees of Christ Church,' and by Rymer (in his “Essay concerning curious and critical learning) called “a Select Club, published an elaborate, witty, and scurrilous reply. Several of the wits and critics of the age, including Swift, Pope,
* Wotton, an English divine of uncommon learning, was born in 1666. His almost incredible talent for acquiring languages has been recorded by his father in a pamphlet, stating his proficiency in the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew tongues at six years of age! Under ten, he was admitted of Catharine Hall; and, at Eight and twenty, he published his • Reflexions upon Ancient and Modern Learning. In this surprising performance, in which he encounters Sir William Temple’s theory (that the ancients possessed a greater force of genius than the moderns, and that all our knowledge is nothing more than scattered fragments saved out of the general shipwreck') even Mr. Boyle allows that “ he is modest and decent, and speaks generally with respect of those he differs from, and with a due distrust of his own opinions. His book has a vein of learning running through it, where there is no ostentation of it.” But Temple had incautiously asserted, that the two oldest books he knew of in prose were Æsop's Fables and Phalaris' Epistles ; and that the latter, by Bentley ascribed to some dreaming pedant with his elbow on his desk,' exhibited the statesman, the soldier, the wit, and the scholar.' Hinc illæ lacrymæ. In 1707, Wotton took his Doctor's degree. From difficulties in his private fortune, he retired into Wales in 1704; and acquired such skill in that language, as enabled him to undertake the publication of the • Laws of Hoel Dha,' which however he did not live to finish. He died in 1726.