« 이전계속 »
the 3d of October, being appointed for the trial, the doctor only appeared there by his proctor, which was looked upon as a contempt of the vice-chancellor's jurisdiction. Dr. Middleton, therefore, by the leave of the court, appointed Mr. Cook his proctor, who accused Dr. Bentley of contempt for not appearing, and moved for some censure upon it, and called for the beadle to make a return of the first decree. But he being confined in his chamber by a fit of the gout, there made an affidavit, by improving some circumstantial talk he had with the doctor and some other gentlemen, the subject of which was, a complaint of the ill usage he had met with in his attending at Dr. Bentley's lodgings. Among other things, the beadle deposed, That Dr. Bentley said to him, " I will not be concluded by what the vice-chancellor and two or three of his friends shall determine over á bottle ;" (thereby reflecting on the clandestine way in which they had proceeded against him, without the formal consent of such a number of heads as be thought necessary to make a statutable arrest). For this expression, the vice-chancellor suspended the doctor from all his degrees, who had no citation, no hearing, not so much as any notice, from any hand, of what was then doing; and the vice-chancellor declared that he would vacate the doctor's professorship in two or three days, if he did not make his humble submission. Three court days are allowed for this submission, viz. the 7th, 9th, and 15th of October. On the two former days his name was not mentioned, and on the last, the vice-chancellor would certainly have forgot to summon him, if he had not been reminded by his brother the dean of Chichester. That same day the vice-chancellor required the professor to submit, and own himself rightly suspended, which he refused, but had recourse to the only remedy that was now left, viz. an appeal to the delegates of the university ; which was arbitrarily refused him. On this the vice-chancellor, thinking it prudent to have the sanction of the university to back him, called a congregation, and on the third court day after the suspension, informed the university of the steps he had taken, and the message he had sent the professor, which was, that he required him to come and acknowledge his crime, the legality of his suspension, and humbly beg to be restored to his degrees; to which the gentleman (he said) had returned no answer; and then he commanded it to be registered, that he would deliberate
farther of what was to be done, towards the maintenance of the university privileges and his own authority. Eight heads were present in the consistory, viz. two visitors of Bene't-college, Dr. Covel and Dr. Balderston; three late chaplains to his majesty, Dr. Laney, Dr. Adams, and Dr. Sherlock; the rival professor, Dr. Fisher; the masters of Clare-hall and St. John's college, Dr. Grigg and Dr. Jenkin. These gentlemen, at a consultation the same afternoon, in the master of Peterhouse's lodge, appointed a congregation the next morning to degrade the professor. But, when the time came, a friend.of the professor's being that day one of the caput, other business was proposed, but not concluded. On Friday morning, no mention was made, as ought to have been, of the proceedings at the last congregation; but, in the afternoon, Oct. 3, 1718, a vote of the body deprived Dr. Bentley of all the privileges, honours, and degrees, that he had received from it. Upon this, Dr. Bentley drew up a petition, which he presented to his majesty Oct. 30, 1718, complaining of the proceedings of the vice-chancellor and university, and begging his majesty's relief and protection, as supreme visitor of the university. The king in council taking the said petition into consideration, was pleased to order the same to be sent to the reverend Dr. Gooch, vice-chancellor ; who was thereby directed to attend his majesty in council on Thursday the 6th of November 1718, to give an account of the proceedings which occasioned this complaint. On this day the case was heard between the university and the doctor, before the king and council, and afterwards referred to a committee of council; but the ministry being unwilling to interpose their authority with regard to the proceedings, the matter was farther referred, in a judicial way, to the court of king's bench, where it was kept some time in agitation. At length, however, the proceedings of the university were reversed by that court; and on February the 7th, 1723-4, the court of king's bench sent down a mandamus to the university of Cambridge, to restore Mr. Bentley, master of Trinity college, to all his degrees, and whatever he had been deprived of, &c. This was agreeable to a prophetic passage at the end of one of the pamphlets, at that time printed in his defence : “ When our present heats are over, I question not but our professor's case will be looked upon with another eye, if it be not already seen, that the honour Vol. IV.
of the university was made a pretext only to cover the resentments of some particular persons amongst its members. As the determination of it lies at present before a judgment where merit and not malice is likely to be regarded, we shall in a little time, I make no doubt, with a more scholar-like pleasure than can be perceived in this usage of the learned Bentley, congratulate ourselves upon his restoration to his well-merited honours."
After this victory his time appears to have been chiefly employed on the literary undertakings of which we have given some account, until his death, July 14, 1742. He was buried in Trinity college chapel.
The life of this eminent scholar and critic, as given in the Biographia Britannica, although professedly corrected from the first edition of that work, remains a confused collection of materials, from which we have found it difficult to form anything like a regular sketch. Few names were more familiar to the scholar and the wit in the first three reigns of the eighteenth century, than that of Bentley, but no approach has yet been made to a regular and impartial narrative of his life. This is the more to be regretted, because he occupied a large space of the literary world, and was connected by friendship or controversy with some of the most eminent writers of his
age, both at home and abroad. It has been justly observed, that when we consider the great abilities and uncommon erudition of Dertley, it reflects some disgrace on our country, that
literary reputation should so long be treated with contempt, that he should be represented as a mere verbal critic, and as a pedant without genius. The unjust light in which he was placed, was not entirely owing to the able , men who opposed him in the Boylean controversy. It arose, perhaps, principally from the poets engaging on the same side of the question, and making him the object of their satire and ridicule. The “slashing Bentley" of Pope will be remembered and repeated by thousands who know nothing of the doctor's real merit. Perhaps it may be found that this asperity of Mr. Pope was not entirely owing to the combination of certain wits and poets against Dr. Bentley, but to personal resentment. We are told that bishop Atterbury having Bentley and Pope both at dinner with him, insisted on knowing what opinion the doctor entertained of the English Homer; he for some time eluded the question, but, at last, being urged to
speak out, he said : “ The verses are good verses; but the work is not Homer, it is Spondanus.”
Amidst all the opposition, however, raised against Dr. Bentley, by the wantonness of wit, or the spleen of controversy, it may not be difficult to form a correct opinion of his general character from his critical and controversial writings. His extensive learning is universally acknowledged, yet the stern and unaccommodating manners of the pedant are not less obvious. His critical powers were perhaps equal, if not superior, to any man of his time, and would have been the object of unmixed admiration, had he exerted them with less rashness, and with less of that conceit which sometimes made him value a happy yet merely probable conjecture, as if it had been a decision founded on incontrovertible proof. Although he possessed what his enemies have not denied him, a peculiarly acute and comprehensive mind, he too often consulted his imagination, and was seduced by that to enlarge the fair boundaries of critical conjecture beyond all reasonable measure. Of his works, now to be found in libraries, one may surely be esteemed a valuable proof of his talents and judgment; his edition of Horace: and the loss of his Greek Testament, by whatever means that work was interrupted, may be considered as depriving the author of what would probably have handed down his name to posterity with the highest honours due to critical acumen and accuracy.
Besides the estimate we form, of him as a scholar, Bentley may be viewed in two lights, as a public and a private character. On the former, it must be confessed that his disputes with the university have thrown a dark shade; and in both it may be said, that no man could have created so many enemies, without some just provocation. Whether this consisted only in a certain haughty and repulsive address, or coarseness of manners, and in a want of those amiable qualities which dignify social life and official station; or whether the accusations brought against him were of sufficient importance to justify the treatment he met with, independent of all personal considerations, may perhaps be ascertained by a close examination of the evidence (yet accessible) which was produced on this controversy. The restoration to his honours and privileges by a court of law, was undoubtedly a triumph, as far as those honours and privileges were valuable to him; but we do not find that he was restored to, or indeed ever possessed, that ge
neral esteem which his vast erudition and rank in academic life might have commanded under other circumstances.
Of his private character we have lately had some information from his grandson Richard Cumberland, esq. who in his own Memoirs, published a few years since, has given the following particulars :--His“ ordinary style of conversation was naturally lofty, and his frequent use of thee and thou with his familiars, carried with it a kind of dictatorial tone that savoured more of the closer than the court. This is readily admitted; and this, on first approaches, might mislead a stranger—but the native candour and inherent tenderness of his heart could not long be veiled from observation, for his feelings and affections were at once too impulsive to be long repressed, and he too careless of concealment to attempt at qualifying them. Such was his sensibility towards human sufferings, that it became a duty with his family to divert the conversation from all topics of that sort; and if he touched upon them himself, he was betrayed into agitations, which, if any one ascribes to paralytic weakness, he will greatly mistake a man, who, to the last hour of his life, possessed his faculties firm and in their full vigour. His emotions on these occasions had no other source and origin but in the natural and pure
be. nevolence of his heart.
“ He was communicative to all without distinction that sought information, or that resorted to him for assistance; fond of his college almost to enthusiasm, and ever zealous for the honour of the purple gown of Trinity. When he held examinations for fellowships, and the modest candidate exhibited marks of agitation and alarm, he never failed to interpret candidly of such symptoms : and on those occasions he was never known to press the hesitating and embarrassed examinant, but oftentimes, on the contrary, would take all the pains of expounding on himself, and credit the exonerated candidate for answers and interpretations of his own suggesting.”
Before Mr. Cumberland's death, he disposed of about sixty volumes of Greek and Latin classics belonging to Dr. Bentley, enriched with the doctor's manuscript notes. These are now in the British museum, and it is no secret that the
in the “ Observer” on the Greek poets, published by Mr. Cumberland as his own, were taken from his grandfather's MSS. Some original letters by Le Clerc and Dr. Bentley, between whom
a serious quarrel respecting Le Clerc's “ Me,