« PreviousContinue »
France and the present Friends of France.' These tracts are said to have been much altered and amended by Maynwaring, and printed under the eye of Oldmixon. They were serviceable to the war interest, in opposition to the strictures of Swift, and the efforts of the tory party. Tindal often refers to them, in his continuation of Rapin, as valuable historical documents respecting that period.
In the discharge of his official duties, Hare followed the army to Flanders; but how long he remained there, or when he resigned his station as chaplain-general, does not appear. Soon after the publication of his political pieces, we find him advanced to the deanery of Worcester, and engaging with great warmth as the coadjutor of Sherlock, Potter, Snape, and others, in the famous Bangorian controversy. About four years after Hoadly preached his sermon on the kingdom of Christ, when the controversy to which it gave rise had already raged to an extraordinary height, Hare published an elaborate discourse, in the form of a sernion on Church Authority. In this discourse, Hoadly saw, or fancied he saw, many artful though indirect attacks on his sermon, and its whole tenor was opposite to the principles which he had avowed and defended. Nothing more was wanting to rouse the spirit of Hoadly. He replied to the discourse on church authority, with his usual ability, and perhaps with more than his usual acrimony. Hare contented himself at first with a few strictures on Hoadly's reply, in a postscript to the succeeding edition of his discourse, in which argument abounds less than wit, and dignity less than satire. This was intended only as a feint to draw the public attention away from the arguments of Hoadly, till he should have time to prepare a more formal answer. This was published about a year afterwards, under the title of Scripture vindicated from the Misinterpretations of the Lord Bishop of Bangor.' Formidable for its learning and its length, this answer was not wanting in candour and soberness, excepting perhaps some parts of the preface, in which the reader is too often reminded of the postscript. In the Bangorian controversy our author sent out another piece, called * A New Defence of the Lord Bishop of Bangor's Sermon.' The title is ironical, and such is the general tenor of the production itself. The writer feigns a deep concern for the fate of Hoadly's sermon, and is surprised that neither he nor his friends have hit on a mode of defending it, which he kindly suggests, and which is no other than to prove from its numerous defects, that it was composed in great haste, and given to the public without revision.
In the year 1727, Dr Hare was advanced to the bishopric of St Asaph, having been previously removed from the deanery of Worcester to that of St Paul's. He was translated to the see of Chichester in 1731, which, together with the deanery of St Paul's, he retained till his death.
During his residence at the university, and for some time afterwards, a warm friendship subsisted between him and Dr Bentley. When he went into Holland as chaplain-general of the army, Bentley put into his hands a copy of his notes and emendations to Menander and Philemon, to be delivered to Burman, the celebrated professor at Leyden. Bentley also dedicated to Hare his · Remarks on the Essay of Free-thinking,' which essay was supposed to have been written by Collins, formerly Hare's pupil. With this dedication he was much gratified, and return
ed a flattering letter of thanks to the author. Unluckily this friendship was not destined to be of long continuance. It was interrupted and finally broken off, for reasons not well-known, but, as Dr Salter insinuates, not very creditable to either party. As their evil stars would bave it, they fell on the design of writing notes to the same authors. Hare had published an edition of Terence, and was preparing his favourite Phædrus for the press, when he was surprised by the intelligence
, that his friend Bentley was engaged with both of these authors, and would shortly bring them out together. What real grounds of dissatisfaction existed on either side, or where the greatest blame belongs, cannot now be ascertained. No more can be said, than that an irreconcileable enmity followed. Bentley left out the dedication in the second edition of his remarks, and mentions not Hare's name in his Terence. Hare did not fall behind his antagonist in the violence of his dislike, nor in his pains to make it public. His · Epistola Critica,' addressed to Dr Blind, is a professed attack on Bentley's . Phædrus,' although, in addition to some trifling and much profound criticism on that work, it is made a vehicle of spleen and personal censure. He boasts of convicting Bentley of ignorance, plagiarism, and all the sins to which an author can be tempted ; and, not satisfied with achievements like these, he proceeds to assert, and prove, that the world had been egregiously mistaken in its estimate of the editor's scholarship and critical sagacity. He is surprised beyond measure, that any thing so imperfect as Bentley's · Phædrus,' should come from a man of such reputed erudition. The only branch of knowledge in which he allows Bentley to excel, is that of the Greek metres, and the mysteries of Greek verse. Here he permits him to sit in the chair of pre-eminence. He takes care, however, to deduct as much as he can from the value of this concession, first, by charging Bentley with the folly of holding the learning of all other men in contenapt who do not consider this kind of knowledge as the greatest human attainment; and, secondly, by going to the other extreme, and pretending that it is comparatively worth nothing. A work on which Bishop Hare bestowed more pains than any other, perhaps, was his system of metres in Hebrew poetry, first published in connexion with the Hebrew psalms, divided in conformity with his notion of their measures. Josephus and Philo maintained that the poetry of the Hebrews had metres similar to those of the classical poetry of other nations, and in this opinion they were followed by others among the ancients, particularly Origen and Jerome. The opinion made its way silently among the learned till the time of Joseph Scaliger, who set himself in earnest to confute it, alleging at the same time, that it had never been proved, that it rested on assertion, and only held its ground because it had never been opposed. His discussion awakened curiosity, and opened a new theatre on which were to be displayed the skill and talents of the orientalists. Many theories were started, and as many exploded; some critics found every imaginable perfection of art and taste in the poetical numbers of the Hebrews; others met with no success in the search, and zealously maintained, that the poets of Israel did not model their compositions after any principles like those of the classic metres, but were guided by such rules only as the judgment and taste of each writer might suggest. Gomar was one of the most successful metrical adventurers. He discovered both metre and rhyme; Buxtorff and Heinsius approved his work. Cappel and Pfeiffer wrote against it, and gave equal satisfaction to the opposite party. Le Clerc was for rhyme without metre; a scheme more untenable in the opinion of Bishop Lowth than any other. He had some followers, but was opposed by Calmet and Dacier. In England, Bishop Hare was the first who entered deeply into this subject; and, after having examined it to the bottom, he proposed a new theory of Hebrew metres, which he fondly imagined would reconcile all differences, and restore the poetry of the Bible to its pristine dignity and perfection. When he published his Psalter, however, with a full exposition of his scheme, he had the mortification to find that it was coldly received by the public. Notwithstanding the little attention which Hare's hypothesis attracted at first, it was regarded with great respect by the learned, as is manifest from the testimony of Bishop Lowth, who deemed it worthy of a laboured confutation. “ The arguments advanced in its favour,” says Lowth, “ appeared so conclusive to some persons of great erudition, as to persuade them, that the learned prelate had fortunately revived the knowledge of the true Hebrew versification, after an oblivion of more than two thousand years; and that he had established bis opinion by such irresistible proofs, as to place it beyond the utmost efforts of controversy.” Lowth undertook to prove this a delusion and to overthrow the scheme itself. Public sentiment has for the most part acquiesced in his arguments and decisions. Hare's hypothesis found a strenuous advocate in Dr Edwards, who wrote a Latin treatise in its defence, to which Lowth replied in what he called his 'Larger Confutation.'
Dr Hare's most celebrated performance is a treatise entitled “The Difficulties and Discouragements which attend the Study of the Scriptures, in the Way of Private Judgment.' This was published without his name, soon after his return from Holland, and took so well with the public, that it speedily ran through several editions. It was accounted the finest specimen of irony in the language ; and, if we except Hoadly's · Dedication to the Pope,' which came out shortly after, no piece in its way has probably since appeared, which would not suffer by comparison. Some persons affected not to understand him ; they were disposed to take his irony in earnest, and forward to whisper suspicions and discontent in the ears of the convocation. It is not known that any evils ensued to the author ; he had clearly stated it to be his object, by showing the discouragements attending the study of the scriptures, to impress on individuals and religious societies the important duty of removing these discouragements. His concluding remarks abundantly evince his sincerity, and are uttered in a tone of seriousness, and with a concern for the interests of religious knowledge, which it would seem impossible to misapprehend. Bishop Hare died in 1740, his works were collected and published in 1746, in four volumes octavo.
He that shall judge Bishop Hare by his writings will heartily res. pond to the eulogy of Blackwall, who calls him a “sound critic, consummate scholar, and a bright ornament of the church and nation.” It is presumed that there have been few better classical scholars, although he
may not have towered to the height of his gigantic rival, Dr Bentley. His Latinity claims the praise of elegance and purity. His political
tracts bear marks of a vigorous intellect, and an acuteness in some of the deeper principles of government. In controversy we have seen that he is less successful; we are oftener fatigued than convinced,-verbal disquisitions come upon us in the guise of arguments,-learning is expended to show the extent of learning,—materials abound, knowledge, mental energy, force of language, but they are awkwardly applied.
Dr Richard Bentley.
BORX A. D. 1661-62.--DIED A. D. 1742.
RICHARD Bentley, a celebrated critic and theologian, was born January 27th, 1661–62, at Oulton, not far from Wakefield, in the West riding of Yorkshire. His father, Thomas Bentley, possessed an estate at Woodlesford, a township in the same parish with Oulton. His mother's maiden-name was Willie. She is recorded to have been a woman of an excellent understanding, and by her it is said that Bentley was taught the rudiments of the Latin grammar.
He was afterwards sent to the grammar-school at Wakefield. On the death of his father, Bentley, then thirteen years of age, was committed to the care of his maternal grandfather, by whom he was sent, in the following year, (1676,) to St John's college, Cambridge. After the regular period of residence and study, Bentley commenced Bachelor of Arts, and obtained in the list of honours a position corresponding with that of third wrangler, according to the present method of designation. He was precluded from a fellowship by a statute, then and long after in force at St John's college, which restricted the number of fellows from each county to two. At the age of twenty, however, he was appointed by his college to the head-mastership of the grammar-school of Spalding, in Lincolnshire. This situation he retained for a twelvemonth, at the end of which he accepted the office of domestic tutor to the son of Dr Edward Stillingfleet, then dean of St Paul's, and afterwards bishop of Worcester. In 1663, Bentley proceeded Master of Arts. During his residence with Dr Stillingfleet, he seems to have prosecuted his studies with extraordinary vigour and success. He informs us that “ before he was twenty-four years of age, he wrote a sort of • Hexapla;' a thick volume in quarto, in the first column of which he inserted every word of the Hebrew bible alphabetically ; and in five other columns, all the various interpretations of those words in the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate, Latin, Septuagint, and Aquila, Symmach us, and Theodotion, that occur in the whole bible. This he made for his own use, to know the Hebrew, not from the late Rabbins, but from the ancient versions ; when, bating Arabic, Persic, and Ethiopic, he read over the whole Polyglot.” In 1689, Dr Stillingfleet—now become bishop of Worcester-sent his son to the university of Oxford, accompanied by Bentley as his private tutor. Both tutor and pupil entered Wadham college, where shortly after Bentley was incorporated Master of Arts, as holding the same degree in the university of Cambridge. At Oxford, he became acquainted with many scholars of distinguished abilities and erudition ; and enjoyed the privilege of unrestricted access to the Bodleian library, the principal manuscripts of which he seems to have examined with indefatigable industry. Among the literary projects which at this early age his gigantic ambition prompted him to form, we find mention of new editions of Greek grammarians and Latin poets; a complete collection of the Fragments of the Greek poets; and a republication of the Greek lexicographers, in four voluines, folio. In 1690, he took deacon's orders, and was soon after appointed chaplain to his patron the bishop of Worcester. In the following year appeared the earliest publication of Bentley ;-his celebrated · Epistola ad clarum virum Joannem Millium,' appended to the Oxford edition of the Chronicle of Joannes Malelas Antiochenus.' This tractate, though of limited extent, established his reputation throughout Europe, as a critic of the very highest order of excellence. When we consider the number of topics discussed-of which many were among the most obscure and intricate within the whole range of philological criticism,—the reach and originality of his speculations on questions supposed to have been exhausted by the learning and sagacity of his predecessors,—the prodigious display of erudition, apparently not less extensive and incomparably more accurate than that of Salmasius, Scaliger, or Casaubon,—the close, irresistible logic with which he supports all his discoveries and conclusions,--and the animation of his style, which throws a charm and liveliness over subjects naturally the most devoid of interest, we may safely pronounce the Epistle to Dr Mill,' to be one of the most extracrdinary performances in the entire compass of classical literature. Indeed, but for one of the subsequent productions of the same author, it would have remained to this day unrivalled. It was greeted immediately with the loudest commendations by Grævius, and Ezekiel Spanheim; and has ever since been spoken of by the first critics with reverence and wonder. (See in particular, Ruhnken's preface to
Alberti's Hesychius.') In 1692, Bentley was nominated by the trustees of the honourable Robert Boyle, to preach the first series of lectures in conformity with the testamentary instructions of that eminent philosopher; an honour to which he frequently adverts with evident exultation. His sermons were professedly in confutation of atheism, with a more direct and specific aim at the metaphysical impieties of Hobbes and Spinosa. They display the peculiar talents of Bentley to the greatest advantage. His universal reading had supplied him with exact and copious information on all the numerous topics connected with his "great argument," and the native vigour of his understanding enabled him to reason down his adversaries with a force and clearness which have never been surpassed. In the seventh and eighth sermons he applies the doctrines of the Newtonian physicswhich at that time were scarcely heard of beyond the circle of the learned—to the support and illustration of natural theology; and in no part of the work does his acute and powerful intellect appear in a more commanding attitude than in this. Before the publication of these discourses, he entered into a correspondence with Newton, on some of the points adverted to in these two serions; and the letters which on this occasion passed between the first critic, and the first philosopher of the age, are eminently interesting and instructive. In the same year Bentley received a prebend in Worcester cathedral. Shortly after he was made keeper of the royal library at St James's, and re-appointed Boylean lecturer. In 1695, he was made chaplain