1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Headley

Thomas Campbell, in Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1845) 602.



HENRY HEADLEY, whose uncommon talents were lost to the world at the age of twenty-two, was born at Irstead, in Norfolk. He received his education at the grammar-school of Norwich, under Dr. Parr: and, at the age of sixteen, was admitted a member of Trinity College, Oxford. There the example of Thomas Warton, the senior of his college, led him to explore the beauties of our elder poets. About the age of twenty he published some pieces of verse, which exhibit no very remarkable promise; but his Select Beauties of the Ancient English Poets, which appeared in the following year, were accompanied with critical observations, that showed an unparalleled ripeness of mind for his years. On leaving the university, after a residence of four years, he married, and retired to Matlock, in Derbyshire. His matrimonial choice is said to have been hastily formed, amid the anguish of disappointment in a previous attachment. But short as his life was, he survived the lady whom he married.

The symptoms of consumption having appeared in his constitution, he was advised to try the benefit of a warmer climate; and he took the resolution of repairing to Lisbon, unattended by a single friend. On landing at Lisbon, far from feeling any relief from the climate, he found himself oppressed by its sultriness; and in this forlorn state, was on the point of expiring, when Mr. De Vismes, to whom he had received a letter of introduction from the late Mr. Windham, conveyed him to his healthful villa, near Cintra, allotted spacious apartments for his use, procured for him the ablest medical assistance, and treated him with every kindness and amusement that could console his sickly existence. But his malady proved incurable; and, returning to England at the end of a few months, he expired at Norwich.