Three Points of Praise

“And here – as Bentley was charged in this controversy with such boundless arrogance, and such ‘indecency in contradicting great men’ – let us note his tone in the Dissertation towards eminent men then living or lately dead. Nothing could be more becoming, more worthy of his own genius, than the warm, often glowing terms in which he speaks of such men as Selden, Pearson, Lloyd, Stillingfleet, Spanheim – in a word, of almost all the distinguished scholars whom he has occasion to name. Dodwell, who was ranged against him, is treated with scrupulous courtesy and fairness. Joshua Barnes, whose own conduct to Bentley had been remarkably bad, could scarcely be described more indulgently than in these words – ‘ one of a singular industry and a most diffuse reading.’ Those were precisely the two things which could truly be said in praise of Barnes, and it would not have been easy to find a third.”

-R.C. Jebb, English Men of Letters: Bentley, pp.69-70 (Harper and Brothers 1902)

Joshua Barnes was the Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge from 1695-1712. Jebb, who wrote the biography of Bentley from which this slighting animadversion is excerpted, was himself the Regius Professor of Greek from 1889-1906.

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