1712 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Thomas Newcomb, in Bibliotheca, 1712; Nichols, Select Collection of Poems (1780-82) 3:60-63.



Bentley immortal honour gets,
By changing Que's for nobler Et's:
From Cam to Isis see him roam,
To fetch stray'd Interjections home;
While the glad shores with joy rebound,
For Periods and lost Comma's found:
Poor Adverbs, that had long deplor'd
Their injur'd rights, by him restor'd!
Smil'd to survey a rival's doom,
While they possess'd the envied room;
And, hissing from their rescued throne
Th' usurper's fate, applaud their own.
The Roman nymphs, for want of notes
More tender, strain'd their little throats,
Till Bentley, to relieve their woes,
Gave them a sett of Ah's and Oh's:
More musically to complain,
And warble forth their gentle pain.
The suffering fair no more repine,
For vowels now to fob and whine;
In softest air their passion try,
And, without spoiling metre, die:
With Interjections of his own
He helps them now to weep and groan;
That, reading him, no lover fears
Soft vehicles for sighs and tears.
Instructed by his learned code,
What makes a Jig, or forms an Ode,
We view what various beauties meet,
To leave each fragrant line so sweet;
How Horace' lines our passions keep
Awake, and Bentley's lull asleep.
No verse can moan a limping foot,
But he applies his plaster to't:
With pious care binds up the sore,
And kindly bids it hop no more!
While, with his helping comments nigh,
Instead of crutches to apply
To crazy verse (which envious Time
Had weaken'd both in sense and rhyme);
For a lame Muse's surgeon meet,
Instead of legs, sets broken feet.
Though no one single charm can fly
The search of his sagacious eye
(That Horace but in vain pretends,
To own a line which Bentley mends).
The reverend critick hardly knows
If David wrote in verse or prose;
While every string and sounding wire,
That erst compos'd the Roman lyre,
Were to the sage as fully known,
As if the harp had been his own!
Could'st thou, great bard, without a qualm,
But hear rehears'd one pious Psalm;
To slighted David lend an ear,
Not swooning what he sung to hear;
We then might view thy learn'd abodes,
With Hymns adorn'd, instead of Odes;
And thou thyself perhaps content
To con him o'er, at least in Lent;
To mortify, the Jewish chuse,
Regaling on the Latian Muse.