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Starting from the known fact that Milton, being then blind, could not write down his verses or read his proof-sheets, Bentley discovered a large number of what he took to be errors of the amanuensis or of the printer. Next, he invented a hypothesis that some friend, employed by Milton as 'editor,' abused his trust by inserting in the poem many passages, and some long ones, of his own composition. Bentley professed to correct the misprints and to detect the spurious passages. Further, in very many places he frankly abandons all pretence of recovering Milton's text and corrects the poet himself. The book was published in 1732, shortly before Bentley's second trial before the bishop of Ely. The corrections were printed in the margin in italics; the insertions of the imaginary editor were enclosed between brackets and were also printed in italics; the notes at the foot of the page seek to justify the corrections and excisions.

This strange production cannot be excused on the ground that Bentley was in his dotage. The notes show that his mind was still working with the old vigour. But his undoubted superiority in a different field had apparently persuaded him that he would prove equally successful in an unfamiliar enterprise. He has generally a sort of prosaic logic on his side, and sometimes he has more. A very favourable specimen of his notes will be found on Paradise Lost VI 332, where Milton speaks of a 'stream of nectarous humour' issuing from Satan's wound. Bentley notes that nectar was the drink of the gods; next he shows conclusively that Milton is translating a line in Homer, which says that the blood of the gods is ichor; and he ends by saying that Milton wrote 'ichorous humour.' This is a notable criticism: if Milton did not write 'ichorous,' he certainly should have written it. But Bentley's very next note is typical of the perversity which runs through the whole commentary. On the line,

And with fierce ensigns pierc'd the deep array1

the note is as follows:

Another Blunder again, though not quite so vile as the last. Why are Ensigns, the Colours, called fierce; the tamest things in the whole Battel? And how could they pierce an Array that are never used for striking? The Author gave it,

And with fierce Onset pierc'd the deep array.

The book was read with amazement; and, while some made fun of the author, others wrote serious refutations. It is probable,

1 Paradise Lost, bk. vi, 1. 356.

however, that the taste of that age did not resent the outrage as keenly as we might suppose. It is a remarkable fact that, on the margin of his own copy, Pope signified his approval of many of the new readings, though, in his published poems, he attacked Bentley repeatedly for his treatment of Milton. Pope's hostility may have been partly inherited from Atterbury and Swift. He had a grievance of his own as well, if the story be true that Bentley said to him of his translation of Homer: 'a pretty poem, Mr Pope, but you must not call it Homer.' When Bentley was asked, late in life, why Pope assailed him, he said: 'I talked against his Homer, and the portentous cub never forgives.'

Bentley wrote one piece of English verse which is preserved in Boswell's Life of Johnson. Johnson praised the verses highly on one occasion and recited them with his usual energy.' He added: 'they are the forcible verses of a man of strong mind but not accustomed to write verse; for there is some uncouthness in the expression.' The verses describe the arduous labours and scanty rewards of a scholar's life; and Johnson's praise and his blame are alike just.

Bentley died in Trinity college after a few days' illness on 14 July 1742. Four months earlier, Pope had published, in the fourth book of The Dunciad, his full-length caricature of the most famous scholar in Europe, now over eighty years old. It suited Pope's purpose or his humour to represent Bentley as one of the dullest of men. But the truth is that no greater intellect than his has ever been devoted to the study and elucidation of ancient literature.

Of Bentley's contemporaries at Cambridge and elsewhere, several made a reputation for learning and scholarship; and these will be briefly mentioned here. Of Joseph Wasse, Bentley said: 'When I die, Wasse will be the most learned man in England.' He was a fellow of Queens' college and edited Sallust, besides preparing material for an edition of Thucydides. John Davies, president of Queens' college and one of Bentley's few intimates, edited many of the philosophical works of Cicero. Conyers Middleton, fellow of Trinity college and protobibliothecarius of the university (1721), bore a prominent part in the warfare against Bentley. During his lifetime, he enjoyed a great reputation as a keen controversialist and the master of an excellent style. Of his numerous works, the chief are his Life of Cicero, which brought him much profit, and his Free Enquiry, which involved him in prolonged controversy with more orthodox divines. William

Warburton, bishop of Gloucester, cannot be called a scholar, in the strict sense of the word: his knowledge of the ancient languages and literature was very small. Yet he had vigour of mind and much miscellaneous reading, so that his chief work, The Divine Legation, was regarded by many of his contemporaries as a genuine masterpiece.

The influence of Bentley is clearly seen in the work of three Cambridge scholars who belong to the generation after him.

Jeremiah Markland, fellow of Peterhouse, had some intimacy with Bentley in his studious old age, and devoted his own life to study and retirement. He twice refused to stand for the Greek chair at Cambridge. He edited several Greek plays; but his masterpiece is his edition of the Silvae of Statius. It shows great acumen, together with a wide and exact knowledge of the Latin poets; and it still remains the best commentary on this author. John Taylor, fellow of St John's college, and librarian (1732) of the university, won his reputation by learned editions of portions of the Greek orators. Richard Dawes, fellow of

Emmanuel and, afterwards, a schoolmaster at Newcastle, published only one book, his Miscellanea Critica; but it marks a distinct advance in Greek scholarship. Though it pleases him to speak slightingly of Bentley, yet it is clear that he had studied Bentley's writings with minute attention; and thus he was enabled to make important discoveries in Greek syntax and Greek metre, which no one would have applauded more heartily than Bentley, had he lived to hear of them1.


This summer [1656] came to Oxon 'The Antiquities of Warwickshire,' &c. written by William Dugdale, and adorn'd with many cuts. This being accounted the best book of its kind that hitherto was made extant, my pen cannot enough describe how A. Wood's tender affections and insatiable desire of knowledg were ravish'd and melted downe by the reading of that book.

It was in these words that Anthony Wood2 greeted the appearance of a book which represented the firstfruits of a new movement in the study of local history and antiquities. This movement, which becomes noticeable in the seventeenth century,

1 For a list of scholars whose names belong to the history of this period of literature, but are mainly associated with studies other than classical, see the bibliography to this chapter.

2 Life and Times of Anthony Wood, ed. Clark, A., vol. 1, p. 209.

approached the subject from a new standpoint, and, in place of depending upon bald and hackneyed compilations by previous writers, sought to found its history on the study of original documents and records, supplemented by local topographical investigation. With immense industry and untiring patience, 'collections' were made from every accessible source. Charters, registers, muniments, genealogies, monumental inscriptions, heraldic achievements, were all made to yield their quota; and if, in the amassing of material, the collectors were sometimes too uncritical of their 'originals,' or in the maze of detail have lost sight of broader issues, they at least preserved from oblivion a multitude of valuable records and paved the way for the remarkable series of county histories and other kindred works produced in the succeeding century.

The centre of the new school was at Oxford, where, since the opening of its doors in 1602, the library of Sir Thomas Bodley had been rapidly accumulating materials and extending its collections, until it became a great storehouse of sources, and served as the nursing-ground of a remarkable group of men, which includes the names of Wood, Hearne, Rawlinson, and Tanner.

To these may be added the author of The Antiquities of Warwickshire, for, though Sir William Dugdale was not an alumnus of the university, yet, during his sojourn in Oxford, in 1642–6, he fell under the spell of the Bodleian and collected there abundant material for the works he was at that time projecting.

The book which Wood greeted so enthusiastically was not undeserving of the encomium. In its fulness, its method, its reliance upon original sources, and its general accuracy, it was much beyond anything that had hitherto appeared. It set a new standard in topographical history, and inspired succeeding writers to emulate its merits. If, among its author's many works, the Warwickshire volume may be esteemed his masterpiece, yet the book which, at the present day, most notably maintains Dugdale's fame is Monasticon Anglicanum, an account of English monastic houses, consisting, to a large extent, of charters of foundation and other original documents. In this undertaking, he collaborated with Roger Dodsworth, an indefatigable worker who spent his life in the study of genealogy and ecclesiastical and monastic history, and whose enormous manuscript collections now repose in the Bodleian. Wood says of him that 'he was a person of wonderful industry, but less judgment, was always collecting and 1 Fasti Oxon., ed. Bliss, P., vol. 1, p. 24.

transcribing, but never published anything': a characterisation that would describe equally well many another antiquary whose ambitious schemes have failed of fruition.

The first volume of Monasticon appeared in 1655, the year after Dodsworth's death and just seventeen years after the authors began their joint work. The second volume, which was delayed until the sale of the first should produce funds to defray some of the expense, came out in 1661; and, in 1673, Dugdale published a third volume containing Additamenta and documents relating to the foundation of cathedral and collegiate churches. The precise share in this work with which the respective authors are to be credited has been, almost from the first, a subject of controversy; but this is a matter of little moment. Dugdale claimed that a full third of the collection was his, and that the work had wholly rested on his shoulders1; and there can be no doubt that, apart from his contributions to the text, the work owes its appearance in print to Dugdale's energy and methodical scholarship. In 1722-3, captain John Stevens, to whom is attributed the English abridgment of Monasticon which appeared in 1718, brought out two supplementary volumes to the original work, containing additional charters and the records of the friaries.

By a happy chance, there came into Dugdale's hands, about the year 1656, a large collection of manuscripts and documents relating to St Paul's cathedral, amounting 'to no lesse than ten porters burthens'; and, setting to work upon these, he produced two years later his History of St Paul's Cathedral, and thus preserved a valuable record of the building and monuments that were, within a few years, to be destroyed in the great fire.

The History of Imbanking and Drayning of divers Fenns and Marshes (1662), which was undertaken at the request of Lord Gorges, surveyor-general of the Bedford level, suggests a subject somewhat outside the scope of Dugdale's activities; but his wide acquaintance with manuscript sources and the contents of state archives, aided by a journey through the district in 1657, enabled him to compose a treatise abounding in historical and antiquarian interest. He takes leave to interpret the limits of his subject very widely, and is quite aware of the irrelevancy of his digressions. The isle of Ely gives an opening for narrating at large the life of Saint Audrey (translated from a Cottonian manuscript), and then follows the whole story of the feats of Hereward in defence of the isle against William the conqueror and his knights. 1 Life, Diary, and Correspondence of Sir William Dugdale, ed. Hamper, W., p. 284.

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