1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Isaac D'Israeli, in Quarrels of Authors (1814) 3:299-300.



What happened to POPE, on the publication of his HOMER shows all the anxious temper of the Author. Being in company with BENTLEY, the Poet was very desirous of obtaining the Doctor's opinion on it, which BENTLEY contrived to parry as well as he could; but in these matters an Author who calculates on a compliment, will risk everything to obtain it. The question was more plainly put, and the answer was as plainly given. BENTLEY declared that "the verses were good verses, but the work is not Homer — it is Spondanus!" From this interview Posterity derives from the mortified Poet the full-length figure of "the slashing BENTLEY" in the fourth book of the Dunciad;

The mighty Scholiast, whose unwearied pains
Made Horace dull, and humbled Milton's strains.

When BENTLEY was told by some officious friend that POPE had abused him, he only replied, "Ay, like enough! I spoke against his Homer, and the portentous Cub never forgives!" Part of POPE's criticism only is true; but to give full effect to their severity, Poets always infuse a certain quantity of fiction.