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The Scottish Nation

HENRY, THE MINSTREL, or BLIND HARRY, as he was familiarly called, who commemorated in vernacular poetry the achievements of Wallace, the champion of Scottish independence, flourished in the fifteenth century. He is stated, by Dempster, to have been living in 1361; but Major, whom Crawford supposes to have been born about 1446, records that when he was in his infancy, Henry the Minstrel composed his metrical history of Wallace. So few memorials, however, have been preserved of him, that we only know the half of his name, and have no means of ascertaining what his surname was. Major farther informs us that he was blind from his birth, and that he gained his livelihood by following the occupation of a wandering minstrel. The only manuscript known to be extant of Henry’s heroic poem, which is entitled ‘Ye Actis and Deides of ye Illuster and Vailzeand Championn Shyr Wilham Wallace,’ is preserved in the Advocates’ Library, and bears the date of 1488. The first printed edition appeared at Edinburgh in 1570, and the latest and most correct at Perth in 1790. From the poem itself, which abounds in the romantic and marvellous, it would appear that the author had some knowledge of the Latin and French languages, of classical history, of divinity, and even of astronomy. For much of his materials, he followed very strictly a book of great authority, being a complete history of Wallace, written in Latin, partly by John Blair, chaplain to that hero, and partly by Thomas Gray, of which, however, there is now no trace.

HENRY, PRINCE OF WALES, eldest son of James the Sixth of Scotland, by Anne, sister of the king of Denmark, one of the most accomplished princes of the age in which he lived, was born February 19, 1594. He early proved himself an apt scholar, and his attainments were extraordinary for his years. Besides being versant in the learned languages, HE SPOKE THE French and Italian fluently. He had likewise made considerable proficiency in philosophy, history, fortification, mathematics, and cosmography. Of the transcendent abilities of Sir Walter Raleigh, he entertained a very high opinion, and in allusion to the long imprisonment of that great man, he is reported to have said that no king but his father would keep such a bird in a cage. Sir Walter Raleigh had designed a second and third volume of his History of the World, and had commenced a discourse on the Art of War by Sea, both of which he intended to dedicate to the prince, but his highness’ untimely death discouraged him from proceeding with these works. Prince Henry died in November 1612. His death was occasioned by a violent fever; although it was for some time erroneously believed that he was poisoned. Subjoined is his portrait.

[portrait of Henry Prince of Wales]

HENRY, DAVID, a miscellaneous writer, was born in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen, December 26, 1710, and was bred a printer. Early in life he went to London, where a concurrence of circumstances placed him within the notice of Mr. Edward Cave of St. John’s Gate, proprietor of the Gentleman’s Magazine, whose sister he married in 1736. After which he began business at Reading, where he started a newspaper, and another at Winchester. In 1754 he became the partner of his brother-in-law, at St. John’s Gate, where for many years he took an active part in the management of the Gentleman’s Magazine, to which he was a frequent correspondent. Mr. Henry died at Lewisham, June 5, 1792. He published the following works:

      Twenty Discourses, abridged from Archbishop Tillotson, &c. London, 1763.

      The Complete English Farmer, or a Practical System of Husbandry. London, 1772, Published without his name.

      An Historical Account of all the Voyages round the World, performed by English Navigators. London, 1774, 4 vols. 8vo. Also without his name. To this work he added in 1775 a fifth volume, containing Captain Cook’s Voyage in the Resolution, and in 1786 a sixth, comprising the last voyage of Captain Cook.

      He compiled, besides, a series of useful and popular publications descriptive of the Curiosities and Monuments of Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London, &c.

HENRY, ROBERT, D.D., an eminent historian and divine, the son of a farmer, was born in St. Ninian’s, Stirling-shire, February 18, 1718. He received the rudiments of his education at the parish school of his native village, and at the grammar school of Stirling, and completed his studies at the university of Edinburgh. He was afterwards appointed master of the grammar school at Annan, and being licensed to preach in March 1746, he was ordained minister of a congregation of presbyterian dissenters at Carlisle, where he remained twelve years. In 1760 he removed to Berwick-u0on-Tweed, to become pastor of a similar congregation in that town. In 1768, through the influence of Mr. Lawrie, then lord provost of Edinburgh, who had married his sister, he was appointed minister of the New Greyfriars church, in that city, from whence, in 1776, he was translated to the collegiate charge of the Old church. In 1770 the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by the university of Edinburgh.

      The first volume of his ‘History of England, on a New Plan,’ was published in 1771; and on its appearance, the work was assailed, in various publications, with the most acrimonious criticism, chiefly from the pen of Dr. Gilbert Stuart, whose letters on the subject, collected by d’Israeli, the elder, are inserted in the ‘Calamities of Authors.’ Dr. Henry, however, steadily persevered in the prosecution of his design, and four other volumes were published at successive intervals, the last in 1785. Through the recommendation of the earl of Mansfield, George the Third bestowed on him an annual pension of £100. The property of the work had hitherto remained with himself; but in April 1786, when an octavo edition was intended, he conveyed the copyright to Messrs, Cadell and Strahan, for the sum of £3,300. He had prepared for the press a sixth volume, bringing down the History to the reign of Henry the Eighth, which, edited by Mr. Laing, was published in 1793, with the author’s Life prefixed. Dr. Henry died November 24, 1790, in the 73d year of his age. Subjoined is his portrait.

[portrait of Dr. Robert Henry]

      Dr. Henry bequeathed his collection of books to the magistrates of Linlithgow, to form the foundation of a public library, for the use of the inhabitants of that town. He was interred in the churchyard of Polmont, where a monument is erected to his memory. He had married, in 1763, Ann, daughter of Mr. Thomas Balderston, surgeon in Berwick, who survived him. The fifth edition of his History appeared in 1823, in twelve volumes 8vo. A French translation was published in 1789-96.

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