Thursday, May 05, 2016


The Wit and Genius of Those Old Heathens Beguiled Me

Richard Cumberland (1732-1811), Memoirs (London: Lackington, Allen, & Co., 1806), pp. 14-15 (on Richard Bentley, Cumberland's maternal grandfather):
She [Cumberland's mother, Johanna née Bentley] also told me, that, when in conversation with him on the subject of his works, she found occasion to lament that he had bestowed so great a portion of his time and talents upon criticism instead of employing them upon original composition, he acknowledged the justice of her regret with extreme sensibility, and remained for a considerable time thoughtful and seemingly embarrassed by the nature of her remark; at last recollecting himself he said—"Child, I am sensible I have not always turned my talents to the proper use for which I should presume they were given to me: yet I have done something for the honour of my God and the edification of my fellow creatures; but the wit and genius of those old heathens beguiled me, and as I despaired of raising myself up to their standard upon fair ground, I thought the only chance I had of looking over their heads was to get upon their shoulders."

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