Bentley, Richard

, only son of the preceding, was a man of various and considerable accomplishments, with wit, genius, and elegant manners; but was imprudent in his conduct, frequently involved in distresses, and reduced to situations uncongenial with his feelings, and unfavourable to the cultivation and encouragement of his talents. He was educated at Trinity college, Cambridge, lived for some years after his marriage in the South of France, and in the island of Jersey, and afterwards, about 1763, at Teddington, near Twickenham, in consequence of his intimacy with Mr. Horace Walpole. His nephew informs us that “they carried on, for a long time, a sickly kind of friendship, which had its hot fits and cold tits, was suspended and renewed, but never totally broken.” Mr. Bentley was the designer of many of the gothic embellishments of Strawberry-hill, and made also the designs for an edition of Gray’s works, printed there. In one of these he -personifies himself as a monkey, sitting under a withered tree with a pallet in his hand, while Gray reposes under the shade of a flourishing laurel. “Such a design,” says Mr. Cumberland, “with figures so contrasted, might flatter Gray, and gratify the trivial taste of Walpole; but in my poor opinion it is a satire on copper-plate, and my uncle has most completely libelled both his poet and his patron, without intending so to do.” In Walpole, he certainly did not find a very liberal patron, yet it is said that he enjoyed a place of about JiOO a year by that gentleman’s means, and had also the profits of the “Lucan,” printed at Strawberry-hill, amounting to about 40. For the translation of “Hentzner’s Account of England,” on which Mr. Walpole employed him, he was promised clOO; but this, according to Mr. Cole’s account, his patron reserved for his family.

About the conclusion of the last reign, his nephew, Mr. Cumberland, brought him acquainted with the celebrated Bubb Doddington, afterwards lord Melcombe, and by his means he got some situation under administration, which he does not specify. He adds, however, that there was not a man of literary talents in the kingdom, who stood so high in favour with the premier, lord Bute, as Mr. Bentley, and though, when his lordship went out of office, Mr. Bentley lost every place of profit that could be taken from him, he continued to enjoy a pension of 500 per annum, in which his widow had her life, and received it many years | after his decease. It was in consequence of this connection that he wrote in 1765, “Patriotism,” a satirical poem, attacking Wilkes and his friends; reprinted in Dilly’s Repository, vol. IV. Before this he had composed his drama of “The Wishes,” which was privately rehearsed at lord Melcombe’s villa, but was unsuccessful on the stage. Mr. Bentley in 1761 wrote his poetical “Epistle to lord Melcolmbe,” and Mr. Cumberland regrets that, if it be in the hands of any of Mr. Bentley' s family, it should be withheld from the public, not knowing that Mr. Bentley published it himself in the St. James’s Chronicle in April 1763, in consequence of Lloyd, the poet, having printed an incorrect copy in his “St. James’s Magazine.” Mr. Bentley’s other dramas were, “Philodamus,1767, which was also unsuccessful; and the “Prophet,” a posthumous comedy, 1788, performed for a few nights. He died in Abingdon-street, Westminster, Oct. 2S, 1782. 1


Cumberland’s Life. Cole’s ms Athenae. Davies’s Life of Garriek, vol. I. f. 335. Lord Orford’s Works, vol. V. p. 261—353.