1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Joseph Warton, in Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope (1782) 2:233-35.



SWIFT inherited from Sir W. TEMPLE, and POPE from SWIFT, an inveterate and unreasonable aversion and contempt for BENTLEY; whose admirable Boyle's Lectures, Remarks on COLLINS, Emendations of MENANDER and CALLIMACHUS, and Tully's Tuscul. Disp., whose edition of HORACE, and above all, Dissertation on the Epistles of PHALARIS, (in which he gained the most complete victory over a whole army of wits) all of them exhibit the most striking marks of accurate and extensive erudition, and a vigorous and acute understanding. He degraded himself much by his edition of Paradise Lost, and by his strange and absurd hypothesis of the faults which Milton's amanuensis introduced into that poem. But I have been informed that there was still an additional cause for POPE's resentment; that ATTERBURY, being in company with BENTLEY and POPE, insisted upon knowing the Doctor's opinion of the English Homer; and that, being earnestly pressed to declare his sentiments freely, he said, "The verses are good verses, but the work is not Homer, it is Spondanus." It may however be observed, in favour of POPE, that Dr. CLARKE, whose critical exactness is well known, has not been able to point out above three or four mistakes in the sense through the whole Iliad.