Page images


Treatise on Judicial Evidence; 1817, Paper Relative to Codi fication and Public Instruction; 1824, The Book of Fallacies. These were followed by other works of less consequence. All his productions have been collected and edited by Dr. Bowring and Mr. John Hill Burton, and published in 11 vols. It is well, however, for B.'s reputation that it does not rest wholly on his collected works; and that he found in M. Dumont, Mr. James Mill, and Sir Samuel Romilly, generous disciples to diffuse his principles and promote his fame. In his early works his style was clear, free, spirited, often eloquent; but in his later works it became repulsive, through being overloaded and darkened with technical terms. It is in regard to.these more especially that M. Dumont has most materially served his master by arranging and translating them into French, through the medium of which language B.'s doctrines were propagated throughout Europe, till they became more popular abroad than in his own land. Mr. James Mill, himself an independent thinker, did much in his writings to extend the application in new directions of B.'s principles, a work in which, apart from his original efforts, he has achieved a lasting monument of his own subtilty and vigor of mind. Criticisms of B.'s writings will be found in the Edinburgh Review, by Sir Samuel Romilly; and in the Ethical Dissertation (Encyclopædia Britannica, 7th and 8th eds.), by Sir James Mackintosh. But the most valuable contribution in English to his reputation is unquestionably Benthamiana, by Mr. John Hill Burton, advocate, containing a memoir, selections of all the leading and important passages from his various writings, and an appendix embracing an essay on his system; and a brief, clear view of all his leading doctrines.

In all B.'s ethical and political writings, the doctrine of utility is the leading and pervading principle; and his favorite vehicle for its expression is the phrase, the greatest happiness of the greatest number,' which was first coined by Priestley, though its prominence in politics has been owing to Bentham. In this phrase,' he says, 'I saw delineated for the first time a plain as well as a true standard for whatever is right or wrong, useful, useless, or mischievous, in human conduct, whether in the field of morals or politics. It is noticeable that the phrase affords no guidance as to how the benevolent end pointed at it is to be attained; and is no more than a quasi-concrete expression of the objects of true benevolence. In considering how to compass these objects, B. arrived at various conclusions, which he advocated irrespective of the conditions of society in his day, and of the laws of social growth which, indeed, neither he nor his contemporaries understood. He demanded nothing less than the immediate remodelling of the government, and the codification and reconstruction of the laws; and insisted, among other changes, on those which came at a later day to be popularly demanded as the points of the 'Charter-viz., universal suffrage, annual parliaments, vote by ballot, and paid representatives. However impossibie some of these schemes were, it can

[ocr errors]


not be denied that B. did more to rouse the spirit of mod. ern reform and improvement in laws and politics than any other writer of his day. Many of his schemes have been, and many more are, in the course of being slowly realized; the end and object of them all was the general welfare, and his chief error-apart from his over-estimate of the value of some changes which he proposed-lay in conceiving that organic changes are possible through any other process than that of growth and modification of the popular wants and sentiments. It was this error that led the philosopher, in his closet in London, to devise codes of laws for Russia (through which country he made a tour, 1785) and America, the adoption of which would have been equivalent to revolutions in these countries, and then bitterly to bewail the folly of mankind when his schemes were rejected.

In ethics, as in politics, he pressed his doctrines to extremes. It has been said that his doctrine of utility was so extended that it would have been practically dangerous, but for the incapacity of the bulk of mankind for acting on a speculative theory.

By the death of his father, 1792, B. succeeded to property in London, and to farms in Essex, yielding from £500 to £600 a year. He lived frugally, but with elegance, in one of his London houses (Queen's Square, Westminster); and, employing young men as secretaries, corresponded and wrote daily. By a life of temperance and industry, with great self-complacency, in the societyof a few devoted friends (who, says Sir James Mackintosh, more resembled the hearers of an Athenian philosopher than the proselytes of a modern writer), B. attained to the age of eightyfour. See UTILITARIANISM.

BENTHAMIA, ben-thăm'i-a: genus of plants of the nat. ord. Cornacea (q.v.), consisting of Asiatic trees or shrubs, of which the fruit is formed of many small drupes grown together. B. frugifera, a native of Nepaul, is a small tree, with lanceolate leaves, and a reddish fruit, not unlike a mulberry, but larger; not unpleasant to the taste. The flowers are fragrant.

BENTINCK, běn'tink, Lord WILLIAM GEORGE FREDERICK CAVENDISH, commonly called Lord George B.: 1802, Feb. 27-1848, Sept. 21; third son of the fourth Duke of Portland; at one time leader of the agricultural protection party. He entered the army when young and attained the rank of major. He subsequently became private sec. to his uncle, the Right Hon. George Canning. Elected in 1826 M.P. for Lynn-Regis, he sat for that borough till his death. At first, attached to no party, he voted for Rom. Cath. emancipation and for the principle of the Reform Bill, but against several of its most important details, and in favor of the celebrated Chandos Clause (q. v.). On the formation of Sir Robert Peel's ministry, 1834, Dec., he and his friend Lord Stanley, afterwards Earl of Derby, with some adherents, formed a separate section in the house of commons. On the resignation of Sir Robert


Peel in April following, Lord George openly joined the great conservative party, which acknowledged that statesman at its head. and adhered to it for nearly eleven years. When Peel introduced his free trade measures, 1845, a large portion of his supporters joined the protection party then formed. of which Lord George became the head, and a leading speaker in the debates. His speeches in the ses sion of 1845-6 were most damaging to the government of Sir Robert Peel, and contributed in no small degree to hasten its downfall in July of the latter year. Lord George supported the bill for the removal of the Jewish disabili ties, and recommended the payment of the Rom. Cath. clergy by the landowners of Ireland. In the sporting world he is understood to have realized very considerable gains, and he showed the utmost zeal at all times to suppress the dishonest practices of the turf. He died suddenly, at Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire. A Life by Benja min Disraeli appeared 1851.

BENTINCK, Lord WILLIAM HENRY CAVENDISH: 1774, Sept. 14-1839, June 17; second son of the third Duke of Portland, and uncle of Lord William George Frederick Cavendish B: a general officer and statesman. He became an ensign in the Coldstream Guards, 1791. Having served with distinction in Flanders, Italy, and Egypt, he was, 1808, appointed gov. of Madras, where he advocated several useful reforms; but his proscription of beards and the wearing of turbans and earrings by the sepoys when on duty led to the mutiny and massicre of Vellore, and his own imme diate recall After serving with the army in Portugal and Spain, he was sent as British minister to the court of Sicily and commander-in-chief of the British forces in that island. At the head of an expedition, he landed in Catalonia, 1813, July, penetrated to Valencia, and afterwards laid siege to Tarragona, but was repulsed at Villa Franca. Between 1796 and 1826, he held a seat in parliament as member for Camelford, Nottinghamshire, and Ashburton. In 1827, he was appointed gov.gen. of India, and sworn a privy-councilor. His policy in India was pacific and popular, and his viceroyship was marked by the abolition of Sutti (q.v.), and by the opening of the internal communication, as well as the establishment of the overland route. After his return, 1835, he was elected M.P. for Glasgow. He died at Paris.

BENTLEY, bent li, RICHARD: 1662, Jan. 27-1742; b Oulton, Yorkshire: distinguished classical scholar. In 1676, he entered St. John's College, Cambridge, in the humble capacity of subsizar. Little is known of his univ. career. On leaving the univ., he was appointed head-master of the grammar-school of Spalding, Lincolnshire. About a year afterwards, he resigned this situation to become tutor to the son of Dr. Stillingfleet, then Dean of St. Paul's, and subsequently Bp. of Worcester. B accompanied his pupil to Oxford, where he had full scope for the cultivation of classical studies; and was twice appointed to deliver the Boyle Lectures on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion.


He took orders in the church, and owed to the patronage of the Bp. of Worcester various good ecclesiastical appointments, and through the same influence became librarian of the King's Library at St. James's. In 1690, he published his Dissertation upon the Epistles of Phalaris, which estab lished his reputation throughout Europe, and may be said to have begun a new era in scholarship. The principles of historical criticism were then unknown, and their first application to establish that the so-called Epistles of Phalaris, which professed to have been written B.C. 6th c., were the forgery of a period some eight centuries later, filled the learned world with astonishment.

In 1700, B. was appointed Master of Trinity College, Cambridge; and in the following year, he married Mrs. Joanna Bernard, the daughter of a Huntingdonshire knight. The history of B.'s mastership of Trinity is the narrative of an unbroken series of quarrels and litigations, provoked by his arrogance and rapacity, for which he was fully as well known during his lifetime as for his learning. He contrived, nevertheless, to get himself appointed regius prof. of divinity, and, by his boldness and perseverance, managed to pass scathless through all his controversies. Notwithstanding that at one time the Bp. of Ely, the visitor of Trinity, pronounced sentence depriving him of his mastership, and that at another the senate of the univ. pronounced a similar sentence of his academic honors, he remained in full possession of both the former and the latter till his death. This stormy life did not impair his literary activity. He edited various classics--among others, the works of Horace-upon which he bestowed vast labor. He is, however, more celebrated for what he proposed than for what he performed. The proposal to print an edition of the Greek New Test. in which the received text should be corrected by a careful comparison with all the existing MSS., was then singularly bold, and evoked violent opposition. He failed in carrying out his proposal: but the principles of criticism which he maintained have since been triumphantly established, and have led to important results in other hands. He is to be regarded as the founder of that school of classical criticism of which Porson afterwards exhibited the chief excellences, as well as the chief defects: and which, though it was itself prevented by too strict attention to minute verbal detail from ever achieving much, yet diligently collected many of the facts which men of wider views are now grouping together, to form the modern science of comparative philology. B. at his death left one son, Richard, who inherited much of his father's taste with none of his energy; and several daughters, one of whom, Joanna, was the mother of Richard Cumberland the dramatist.-Monk's Life of B (1830); Jebb's Bentley (1882).

BENTON, THOMAS HART; 1782, Mar. 14-1858, Apr. 10; b. near Hillsborough, Orange co., N. C. son of Col. Jesse B., a lawyer, who was private sec. to Gov. Tryon, the last of the royal governors of North Carolina. His mother was a Virginian, of the Gooch family, and the


wife of Henry Clay was his own cousin. While a boy of eight years of age his father died, leaving a large family of young children, of whom Thomas was the eldest. His mother was without much means, and the opportunities for the education of her children were but slight. Thomas studied for a while at a grammar school and also at the Univ. of North Carolina, but without graduating. He left college to go with his mother to Tennessee, where the family settled on a large tract of land, property left by Col. Jesse Benton, 25 m. S. of Nashville. Here the whole family gave their efforts to opening a farm of 3,000 acres; and the settlement, then on the extreme frontier, gradually filled up and was called Bentontown, a name which it still retains.

B. found time to study law, and was admitted to the bar in Nashville, 1811, having for his friend and patron Andrew Jackson, at that time judge of the supreme court of Tennessee. During the war with England, 1812, Mr. B. waz one of Gen. Jackson's aides-de-camp and they were warm friends, but a quarrel between his brother, Jesse Benton, and William (afterwards Gen.) Carroll, drew into it both Col. Benton and Gen. Jackson, and, 1813, Sept. 4, a street fight occurred in Nashville, in which Jackson was shot in the left shoulder, and Jesse Benton severely stabbed, while Col. Benton was struck by Jackson with a horsewhip.

In the same year, Col. Benton was appointed lieut. col. in the U. S. army, but held his commission only a short time, peace being declared between England and America. In 1815, he established himself in St. Louis, where he founded the Missouri Inquirer, the management of which brought him into conflict with a number of people, and he fought several duels, in one of which he killed his opponent, a Mr. Lucas. His paper made a strong fight for the admission of Missouri as a state, and on that event occurring he was made one of the new senators. From this time forward he was regularly re-elected to the U. S. senate, of which he remained a member 30 years. During this long period Col. B. was active in debate and committee work on all the important questions which occupied the minds of the people and of their representatives and senators, and became recognized as one of the foremost statesman in the country. A man of towering presence, powerful will, broad and vigorous intellect, a thorough student, and posssssed of a remarkable memory, he was one of the ablest leaders in the councils of the nation. During the early years of his service as senator he gave much of his time and influence to the advocacy of such land laws as should facilitate the great pioneer movement which was then going on in the west and southwest. During the two administrations of Gen. Jackson, Col. B. was one of his staunchest supporters, and his influence both with the democratic party and with the pres. was felt in its rela tion to every grave and important public question. Among the subjects to which he devoted himself with the greatest assiduity and earnestness, the proposal of an amendment

« PreviousContinue »