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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

XV. Education

§ 26. Bentley’s Range of Studies

At Cambridge, Bentley is a capital instance of the university teacher whose catholic interest and zeal for knowledge extended beyond his own chosen studies. As first Boyle lecturer (1692), he attempted to confute atheism, not by the authority of the scriptures but by a study of gravitation, physiology and psychology. This sympathy with modern studies was not less characteristic of his mastership of Trinity than was his desperate struggle to maintain his office. In 1704, he made a dwelling and an observatory in the college for one of its fellows, Roger Cotes, the first Plumian professor of astronomy and of experimental philosophy; the fact marks the establishment at Cambridge of the Newtonian school of mathematics. Bentley also fitted up a laboratory for Vigani, who, after lecturing in Cambridge for some years, was made professor of chemistry in 1703. In 1724, Bentley was instrumental in founding the first botany chair in his university, and he favoured a design for drawing up a history of modern geographical discoveries.