1732 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Richard Bentley

Philo-Bent, "On Emendation" Grub-Street Journal (12 August 1732).



MR. BAVIUS,

I believe you have not guessed at the true reason why Dr. B. preferred "old" to "bold" in Paradise Lost, B. I. 127. where he reads, instead of BOLD compeer, OLD compeer. This I imagine he did in opposition to his quondam antagonist the learned JOHNSTONUS; who in his criticisms upon the Ode of TOM BOSTOCK, hath given the preference to "bold," and instead of "old" TOM BOSTOCK, reads "bold" TOM BOSTOCK.

Give me leave to propose an emendation in the Bentleian manner of the famous song called Chevy Chace. In the common editions we read,

A bow he had bend in his hand
Made of a trusty tree:
An arrow of a cloth yard long
Full to the head drew he.

This corrupt reading leaves us to seek of what wood the "bow" was made, only informing us it was of a "tree"; and it makes the rime not "bold" enough. Read therefore on my authority,

—made of a trusty "yew"
An arrow of a cloth yard long
Full the head he drew.

What an easy alteration is this? none but a dull wooden-headed blunderbuss of an Editor could suppose the Poet wrote otherwise. The bows were generally, if not always, made of "yew"; for which see ROBIN HOOD'S Songs, and The Life of JOHNNY ARMSTRONG.
I am your humble servant,
PHILO-BENT,
July 31, 1732.