Saturday, July 14, 2012

Richard Bentley

Sir Walter Scott wrote a biography of dramatist Richard Cumberland in 1824, which is published in "Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott".  Cumberland was the grandson of today’s subject, critic and theologian Richard Bentley.  Bentley is known for his development of the field of Hellenism.  As seen in the small section of Scott’s biography below, in addition to a dramatist grandson, his daughter Joanna was an inspiration to Lord Byron.  Richard Bentley died on July 14th, 1742.

‘This author, distinguished in the eighteenth century, survived till the present was considerably advanced, interesting to the public, as well as to private society, not only on account of his own claims to distinction, but as the last of that constellation of genius which the predominating spirit of Johnson had assembled about him, and in which he presided a stern Aristarchus. Cumberland's character and writings are associated with those of Goldsmith, of Burke, of Percy, of Reynolds, names which sound in our ears as those of English classics. He was his own biographer; and from his Memoirs we are enabled to trace a brief sketch of his life and labours, as also of his temper and character; on which latter subject we have the evidence of contemporaries, and perhaps some recollections of our own.

RICHARDCUMBERLAND boasted himself, with honest pride, the descendant of parents respectable for their station, eminent in learning, and no less for worth and piety. The celebrated Richard Bentley was his maternal grandfather, a name dreaded as well as respected in literature, and which his descendant, on several occasions, protected with filial respect against those, who continued over his grave the insults which he had received from the wits of queen Anne's reign.  This eminent scholar had one son, the well-known author of The Wishes, and two daughters. The second, Joanna, the Phoebe of Byron's pastoral, married Denison Cumberland, son of an arch-deacon, and grandson of Richard Cumberland, Bishop of Peterborough. Though possessed of some independence, he became Rector of Stanwick, at the instance of his father-in-law, Dr. Bentley, and, in course of time, Bishop of Clonfert, and was afterwards translated to the see of Kilmore...’

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