BENTLEY, RICHARD, a distinguished classical scholar, was b. at Galion, in York shire, Jan. 27, 1662. In 1676, he entered St. John's college, Cambridge, in the !minis • capacity of subsizar. Little is known of his university career, except that he showed early a strong taste for the cultivation of ancient learning. At the usual time, he took the degree of bachelor of arts; and on leaving the university, he was appointed head master of the grammar-school of Spalding, Lincolnshire. About a year afterwards, he resigned this situation to become tutor to the son of Dr. Stillingilect, then dean of St. Paul's, and subsequently bishop of Worcester. 13. accompanied his pupil to Oxford, where lie had full scope for the cultivation of classical studies; and that he succeeded iu acquiring there some local reputation. is evinced by his having been twice appointed to deliver the Boyle lectures ou the evidences of natural and revealed religion. lie entered the church, and ow-ed to the patronage of the bishop of Worcester various ecclesiastical appointments, and through the same influence became librarian of the king's library at St. James'. In 1690, he published his Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris, which established his reputation throughout Europe, and may be said to have commenced a new era in scholarship. The principles of historical criticism were then unknown, and their first application to establish that the so-called epistles of Phalaris. which professed to have been written in the 6th c. D.C., were the forgery of a period some eight centuries later, filled the learned world with astonishment.
In 1700, 13. was appointed master of Trinity college, Cambridge; and in the following year, he married Mrs. Joanna Bernard, the daughter of a Huntingdonshire knight. The history of 13.'s mastership of Trinity is the narrative of an unbroken series of quarrels and litigations, provoked by his arrogance and rapacity, for which, it must be confessed, he was fully as well known during his lifetime as for his learning, Ile contrived, never theless, to get himself appointed re.sitis professor of divinity, and, by his boldness and
perseverance. managed to pass scathless through all his controversies. Notwithstanding that at one time the bishop of Ely, the visitor of Trinity, pronounced sentence depriv him of his mastership. and that at another the senate of the university pronounced a similar sentence of his academic honors, he remained in full possession of both the former and the latter till the day of his death. This stormy life did not impair his literary activity. He edited various classics—among others, the works of Horace— upon which he bestowed vast labor. He is, however, more celebrated for what lie pro posed than for what he actually performed. The proposal to print an edition of the Greek New Testament, in which the received text should be corrected by a careful com parison with all the existing MSS., was then singularly bold, and evoked violent opposi tion. Ile failed in carrying out his proposal: but the principles of criticism which he maintained have since established, and have led to important results in other hands. He is to he regarded as the founder of that school of classical criticism of which Porson eterwards exhibited the chief excellences, as well as the chief defects; and which, though it was itself prevented by too strict attention to minute verbal detail from ever achieving much, yet diligently collected many of the facts which men of wider views are now grouping tog-ether. to form the modern science of comparative philology. B. died in 1742, leaving behind him one son, Richard. who inherited much of his father's taste with none of his energy, and several daughters, one of whom, Joanna, married. and \VW; the mother of Richard Cumberland, the dramatist.—Monk's Life of Rickard Bentley, 1,930.