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XLVIII. Anecdotes of Mr. HENDERSON, of Pembroke College,



April 3.


MUCH has been said in your Miscellany respecting the late Mr. Henderson, of Pembroke college, Oxford, whose extraordinary abilities and eccentricity of character justly rendered him, during his life, an object of general curiosity, and will continue to stamp an adscititious value on any authentic particulars that may be recorded of him.

A correspondent in your last Magazine requests Mr. Agutter to favour the world with an account of "the literary courses Mr. Henderson took, and the various authors he conversed with, in his penetrations of the obscure regions of magic, divinity, and physic." As Mr. Agutter will, in all probability, return a copious answer to the inquiries of this correspondent, I shall avoid a discussion of the points alluded to by him, and shall content myself with exhibiting a few traits of Mr. Henderson's character and deportment, collected during that acquaintance which I maintained with him at the University of which he was a member.

It may not perhaps be impertinent or superfluous to mention some particulars relative to the commencement of our acquaintance. I had never seen Mr. Henderson before he entered at Pembroke college, though his fame had previously reached my ears. One morning, while I was occu pied in my apartments at this college, I was surprised by the unexpected appearance of the joint-tutors of our society, introducing to me a stranger, who, from the singularity of his dress, and the uncouthness of his aspect (I speak not with any disrespect,) attracted my notice in an uncommon degree. His clothes were made in a fashion peculiar to himself: he wore no stock or neckcloth; his buckles were so small as not to exceed the dimensions of an ordinary knee-buckle, at a time when very large buckles were in Vogue. Though he was then twenty-four years of age, he wore his hair like that of a school-boy of six. This stranger was no less a person than Mr. Henderson, who had that morning been enrolled in our fraternity, and had been recommended to apartments situated exactly under mine;

[* He died on the 2d day of November, 1788, in the thirty-second year of his age. E.]

which, I believe was the sole reason of his being introduced to me in particular, as it was not otherwise probable that I should have been singled out as the person who was to initiate this freshman in the ways and customs of the college.

Mr. Henderson passing some hours of that day with me, I was gratified with a rich feast of intellectual entertainment. The extent and variety of his knowledge, the intrinsic politeness of his manners, his inexhaustible fund of humour and anecdote, concurred to instruct, please, and amuse me.

From this period, to the time of my relinquishing an aca demical residence (a space of about four years,) I was frequently honoured with the society of Mr. Henderson. I had, therefore, many opportunities of being acquainted with his natural disposition, his habits of life, and his moral as well as literary character.

His temper was mild, placable, and humane. He possessed such a spirit of philanthropy, that he was ready to oblige every individual as far as lay in his power. His benevolence knew no bounds; and his liberality was so diffusive, that it submitted with difficulty to the circumscription of a narrow income. He was fond of society, and well`qualified to shine in it. He was frank, open, and communicative; averse to suspicion, and untinctured with pride or


His mode of life was singular. He generally retired to rest about day-break, and rose in the afternoon; a practice, however, that was frequently interrupted by the occasional attendance which he was obliged to give to the morning service of the college chapel. He spent a great part of the day in smoking; and, except when in company, he usually read while he smoked. He had no objection to the liberal use of wine and spirituous liquors; and, notwithstanding his philosophic self-denial in other respects, he did not always scrupulously adhere to the rules of temperance in this particular. But this failing, which, I believe, he did not often practise, and which never led him into any glaring impropriety of conduct, was lost amidst the general blaze of merit and virtues with which his character was adorned.

The following remarkable custom was frequently observed by him, before he retired to repose. He used to strip himself naked as low as the waist, and, taking his station at a pump near his rooms, would completely sluice his head and the upper part of his body; after which, he would pump over his shirt, so as to make it perfectly wet, and putting it

on in that condition, would immediately go to bed. This he jocularly termed "an excellent cold bath." The latter part of this ceremony, however, he did not practise with such frequency as the former.

His external appearance was as singular as his habits of life. I have already mentioned those exterior traits which struck me in my first interview with him; and the same peculiarities remained with him during the whole time of my being honoured with his acquaintance, and, I believe, to the end of his life. He would never suffer his hair to be strewed with white dust (to use his own expressions,) daubed with pomatum, or distorted by the curling irons of the friseur. Though under two and thirty years of age at his death, he walked, when he appeared in public, with as much apparent caution and solemnity as if he had been enfeebled by the co-operation of age and disease.

With regard to his moral and religious character, he was a pattern highly worthy of imitation. He was, in the strict sense of the phrase, integer vite scelerisque purus. He shewed a constant regard to the obligations of honour and, justice; and recommended, both by precept and example, an attention to moral rectitude, in all its ramifications. He had the courage to repreve vice and immorality wherever they appeared; and though he was sometimes treated, on these occasions, with contumely and insult, he bore, with a moderation truly Christian, so ill a return for his well-meant endeavours. In his principles of religion he was orthodox, without being rigid. His devotion was fervent, without making too near an approach to enthusiasm or superstition. He was perfectly acquainted with the religious dogmas of every different sect, and could readily detect the respective fallacies of each. But, however he might differ from these sectarists, he behaved to them, on all occasions, with great politeness and liberality, and conversed with them on the most amicable terms of general sociability.

His abilities and understanding were eminently conspicuous. His penetration was so great as to have the appearance of intuition. So retentive was his memory, that he remembered whatever he learned; and this facility of recollection, combined with a pregnancy of imagination and solidity of judgment, enabled him to acquire a surprising fund of erudition and argument; a fund ready at every call, and adequate to every emergency.

His learning was deep and multifarious. He was admirably skilled in logic, ethics, metaphysics, and scholastic theology. Duns Scotus, Thomas Aquinas, and Burgersdicius,


were authors with whom he was intimately conversant. He had studied the healing art with particular attention, and added, to a sound theoretical knowledge of it, some degree of practice. His skill in this art he rendered subservient to his philanthropy; for he gratuitously attended the valetu dinarian poor wherever be resided, and favoured them with medical advice as well as pecuniary assistance. He had a competent knowledge of geometry, astronomy, and every branch of natural and experimental philosophy. He was well acquainted with the civil and canon laws, and the law of nature and nations. In classical learning, and the belles lettres, he was by no means deficient. He was master of the Greek and Latin tongues, as well as of several modern languages. He affected not elegance either in his Latin or English style; but was happy in a manly, perspicuous, and forcible diction, which he preferred to the empty flow of harmonious periods. He was versed in history, grammar, and rhetoric. In politics he was a firm Tory, and greatly disapproved the general conduct of the Whig party. In this respect he resembled his friend Dr. Johnson.

His skill in physiognomy remains to be mentioned. He spoke of the certainty of this science with all the confidence of a Lavater. He constantly maintained, that, by the mere inspection of the countenance of any individual in the world, he was able, without having either seen or heard of the person before, to give a decisive opinion of his disposition and character. Though I am inclined to consider this as an extravagant boast, I am ready to allow that the characters of many persons may be discovered by such inspection, and Mr. Henderson frequently succeeded, in a wonderful manner, in his attempts of this kind.

He pretended to a knowledge of the occult sciences of magic and astrology. Whether this was, or was not, a mere pretence, I leave to the judgment of the enlightened reader. Suffice it to remark, that his library was well stored with the magical and astrological books of the last century.

I never knew any one whose company was so universally courted as that of Mr. Henderson. His talents of conversation were of so attractive a nature, so variable and multiform, that he was a companion equally acceptable to the philosopher and the man of the world, to the grave and the gay, the learned and the illiterate, the young and the old, of both sexes.

1789, April.

Yours, &c.

C. C.




THE printed accounts of Sir William Trumbull are so very short, and even defective as to the place of his nativity and burial, that the following outline of the principal transactions of his life, taken from his own manuscripts,† may be found satisfactory to your readers, and afford some assistance to the future biographers of that great man, who was not only eminent as a Christian and a statesman, but as the early friend and correspondent of Pope.


SIR WILLIAM TRUMBULL was the eldest son of W. T. Esq. a justice of the peace in Berkshire, and grandson of another W. T. who was agent and envoy from James I. to the Archduke Albert, at Bruxelles, from 1609 to the end of the year 1625. Of this great man,‡ of his rise and family, I could say a great deal in this place, enough to fill a volume, he himself having made so particular a collections of letters, memoirs, minutes, and negociations, of all the great men of note in his time, with whom he entertained a constant and familiar correspondence, as sufficiently shewed his care, industry, vigilance, and sufficiency, in the employment he served, and out of which the public might be furnished with a good account of his life, as well as the occurrences and transactions of his own time; I say, much might be said of this valuable and excellent man, but that it suffices only to mention this of him at present, because he was the family pattern and model which Sir W. Trumbull had in his eye, that spurred him on to an imitation of those virtues, which, if they appeared so bright in the grandfather, shone forth in much greater lustre and perfection in the grandson, an abridgment of whose life we are now taking.

See Biog. Brit. fol. vol. V. p. 3405. note D, and the Biographical Dict. last edit. art. Trumbull.

In the possession of the Rev, B. Bridges (whose grandmother was sister of Sir William Trumbull). Baronetage, 1741, V. p. 189.

His daughter Elizabeth married John Bridges, Esq. and was mother of the antiquary; of whom see Brit. Topog. vol. II. p. 38. Granger mentions a portrait of him, vol II. p. 210, 8vo edit.

These collections were in the Gallery at Easthamstead Park.

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