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upon by statesmen, would subvert society from its foundation, and go nigh to extinguish (unless a merciful Providence interfered) the whole human race? Had they used this necessary caution, could they have given publication to such bare, crude, transparent fallacies? And not having done so, are they to be free from censure ?
We are the very last persons that would exercise an unsparing severity, and refuse to make due allowance for misapprehension, ignorance, blindness, and apparent goodness of intention. But lenity of this sort, however natural to us, becomes dangerous and criminal if carried too far. The drunkard, the thief, and the murderer, have likewise their many and strongly palliative circumstances to plead in their excuse. If we could follow the worst criminal from the cradle to the scaffold, and make due allowance for the violent passions he inherits with his blood, the depraved example of his parents and early companions, his education in crime, and all the other circumstances beyond his control which led him gradually onwards in his career of guilt-we should be almost tempted to absolve him from responsibility. But this must not be. The moral character of an action, or a publication, is to be determined only by its tendency to injure or to benefit society; and by this test the Political Economist must submit to be tried at the bar of public opinion, as well as the thief.
Nor when we look to the tone and bearing of these writers themselves, do we find them so amiably mild and diffident, so lenient in their treatment of what they consider the errors of others, as to claim the exercise of a similar indulgence from others towards them. Their anonymous publications, in particular, * have many of them been characterized by a dictatorial dogmatism in the delivery of their peculiar opinions, and a strain of low, coarse, and violent invective against those who hesitate to assent to them, only to be rivalled by the egregious shallowness and falsehood of the positions that have been thus fitly supported.
In vindication then of ourselves we assert, and beg our readers in justice to us to believe, that in the review we have taken of these mischievous fallacies, far from indulging in an excess of uncalled for vituperation, we have been engaged in a constant and difficult struggle to restrain our feelings of indignation and abhorrence at the cool and phlegmatic effrontery with which the most revolting, the most injurious, as well as, happily, the most unfounded and irrational doctrines have been over and over again promulgated as the 'Principles of the Science of Political Economy.'
• We allude to several of the articles on Political Economy, the Corn-Laws, &c., in the Edinburgh and Westminster Reviews of the last ten years, particularly in the latter.
Art. V.--The Life of Richard Bentley, D.D., Master of Trinity
College, and Regius Professor of Divinity in the University of Cambridge. By James Henry Monk, D.D., Dean of Peterborough, (now Bishop of Gloucester.) London. 1830. THE life of a scholar in general possesses less general interest
than any other volume of biography ; not merely as being usually uneventful, the quiet and monotonous course of a recluse student, chiefly passed within the peaceful precincts of a great library; but as, for the most part, little characteristic of the age or state of society in which its days may have elapsed. The great writer of each particular period is the image and representative of the state of the public mind during his own age. The popular poet (it is essential, if not to his greatness, at least to his popularity) embodies the passions and feelings of his time; he is the perpetual record of the tone of thought, of taste, of imaginative excitement prevalent in his own country and during his own day : the political writer, the orator, the divine, even the historian, although he may not, like Clarendon or Burnet, relate contemporary events, bear the same strong impress of the time in which they have lived; to have influenced their own age they must have been full of its spirit. There is always a strong reciprocal action and reaction of the popular mind on the literature, as well as of the literature on the public mind; it is at once an exciting cause and the living expression of the events, the manners, the character of each separate period of history. Hence the life, as well as the writings of the successful author, are full of historic instruction and interest; whether he has mingled much or little with the political, or religious, or literary factions of his day; whether a busy actor, or a calm and remote observer of the vicissitudes around him ; whether he has been born to honours, had honours thrust upon him, or forced his way upward through the difficulties of humble birth or poverty; the slow or rapid cultivation and developement of his faculties under favourable or adverse circumstances, the secret of his success, the manner in which he has risen to fame, the power or the art by which he has obtained or preserved his hold on the public mind, the patronage which has encouraged or enervated, the neglect which has chilled or strung to more vigorous exertion, his friendships, and jealousies, and enmities, all are full of information, if not of amusement: so that often the most lively and distinct history of some particular period is to be found in the biography of soine distinguished man of letters.
The scholar alone belongs to another age-a different race; he is entirely abstracted from the present, and lives only in the past.
From him we collect little more than the actual state of classical learning in his day, not even its degree of influence on the public mind; his passions, his emulations, the incidental touches of his personal character, are struck out in collision with the few of his own secluded caste; they receive no colouring from, they impart no colour to, the general state of thought and feeling. Though we most readily acknowledge that the greater amenity of modern manners has in general softened the tone of learned controversy, yet the rudeness and asperity of other times lingered long with the classical critic; he was the last to adopt the milder language which prevailed in other departments of literature.
Even the correspondence of a scholar, which, in the case of other authors, is full, if not of the incidents of his time, at least of literary anecdote, is commonly dead and barren; all that is valuable has found its way into the most recent and improved editions of the ancient authors, the rest relates to discussions long obsolete, and controversies for ever set at rest. In short, to the general reader, we know no subject which we should so utterly despair of rendering interesting or attractive, as the life of one of that laborious and useful class, whose name perhaps has been highly celebrated in his day, and to whom we owe a debt of the greatest value, correct and well illustrated editions of the best writers of antiquity.
The biography of Bentley is an exception to this general principle. No one can complain of want of incident in a life which was one long feud, and almost one endless lawsuit : although these incidents may have taken place in a narrow sphere, and the University politics of the past century may awaken but little curiosity, there is something in the character of the man; his dauntless self-confidence and immeasurable contempt for his adversaries, his inflexible determination ; his singular address and fertility of resource; his invincible propensity for plunging into difficulties, and consummate dexterity in extricating himself, that give a kind of interest, and almost dignity, to the unimportant squabbles in which his whole life was engaged. Although
Æstuat infelix angusto in limitein a wider sphere, in times and under circumstances more suited to develope the ambition of a domineering churchman, the despot of Trinity College might have swollen into a Wolsey or a Hildebrand; the fiery spirit which wasted itself, in keeping the University of Cambridge in a perpetual ferment, and disturbing the classical repose of its peaceful fellows, might, like another De Retz, have embroiled the affairs of a great nation, and ministered constant agitation to the populace of a turbulent and lawless capital.
Nor is the life of Bentley less characteristic of his times; it is marked in every page with the impress of a period when the nation was split into two fierce contending factions, arrayed against each other on every question of literature as well as of politics, in a spirit of zealous partizanship unparalleled even in our own age; so that the most abstruse question of scholarship, the authenticity of certain worthless epistles attributed to an ancient Sicilian king, became a controversy, about which Whig and Tory ranged themselves under the opposing banners. How remarkably the political changes of the times influenced the incidents of Bentley’s life will hereafter appear; and we trust that we may attribute to the strong and constant excitement which then absorbed the public mind, some part of the indifference with which the nation in general seems to have looked on the unseemly spectacle of an eminent churchman, the head of the most splendidly endowed and most distinguished society in the University of Cambridge, living in a state of implacable warfare with almost all around him; one of the ablest defenders of Christianity, one who laid claim to the highest rewards of his profession, the unquestioned meed of his unrivalled abilities and knowledge, so utterly devoid of the real and intrinsic graces of the Christian character.
Even if addressed to none but scholars, the life of Bentley ought to have been written; it was an homage due from those who could best appreciate his powers and his services, to the unrivalled sagacity, the unequalled attainments, the unwearied industry of the father of the present great school of classical criticism ; for even the eccentricities of Bentley often throw more light on a dark and abstruse question than the steady and regular course of others; but, abounding as it does with more general interest, we may wonder that the task has been reserved for his present biographer ;-our wonder, however, will be unmingled with regret. Besides his eminent qualifications as a scholar, the connexion of Dr. Monk with the University of Cambridge, more particularly with Trinity College, has given him advantages of which he has amply availed himself; he has wound his way through the intricacies of Bentley's feuds and litigations with great skill and clearness. Above all, he has maintained throughout a tone of honesty and candour from which his natural reverence for the unequalled erudition of the great scholar has never tempted him to depart. He shows too much judgment, as well as too high a tone of moral and religious feeling, to condescend to palliate the grievous defects in the character, while he does ample justice to the powers and the extraordinary attainments, of his hero. The style is, in general, plain and masculine ; if sometimes negligent, and at others over elaborate, its ordinary tone is that of a writer of strong sense, and of elegant and scholarlike accom
plishment. plishment. The high opinion which we entertain of the Life of Bentley must be our apology for our somewhat tardy notice; under the pressure of subjects of more immediate and stirring interest, it was safer to postpone the examination of a work of standard merit, and whose existence we might venture to ensure, than of others on whose ephemeral existence the tomb of the Capulets' might have closed, if we had run the risk of more than ordinary delay.
Richard Bentley was the son of a respectable yeoman of Oulton, near Wakefield, in Yorkshire. Cumberland, his grandson, indignantly refuted what, to his 'gentle ears,' sounded like a reproach, his descent from a tanner or a blacksmith.' In those days it was much more usual for the learned professions to recruit their ranks from the respectable class of independent farmers than at present. On one hand, these professions are so over crowded with candidates of higher connexions and of better hopes; on the other, mercantile pursuits offer so much more various and so much greater advantages, that the old ambition of having a son ' a scholar' has rapidly given place to that of having him a flourishing trader, or even a rich and influential attorney. Among the sober and happy peasantry of Scotland, this respect for the proverbial • excellency of learning' still maintains a lingering hold on the mind ; but, in England, the possession, if not of house and land, at least of an increasing capital, and steady thriving business, is much more frequently the utmost visionary height to which the hopes of the substantial yeoman elevate the more promising branches of his family. Bentley received his early education at the Grammar School of Wakefield. Of Jeremiah Boulton and John Baskervyle, under whom, especially the latter, he received his first initiation in classical literature, the industry of Dr. Monk has been able to discover nothing worthy of record; although to * this school belongs the singular distinction of having produced two scholars who held the office of Regius Professor of Divinity in their respective universities at the same time. John Potter, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, who filled the theological chair at Oxford, when Bentley was chosen to the same post at Cambridge, was sent from Wakefield to University College.' This is more remarkable, as the rise of these two eminent men seems to have been entirely unconnected. It has not rarely happened that the success of one distinguished scholar has contributed not merely to the fame, but the advantage even of an obscure school, from that natural and honourable feeling ascribed to Bentley; · For the place of his education, Bentley testified throughout life the greatest attachment, and extended to persons coming from that seminary his encouragement and patronage. How many have