Henley, Anthony

, an English gentleman of parts and learning, was the son of sir R ->bert Henley, of the Grange in Hampshire, descended from the Henleys of Henley in Somersetshire; of whom sir Andrew Henley was created a baronet in 1660. This sir Andrew had a son of the same name, famous for his frolics and profusion. His seat, called Bramesley, near Hartley-row, in the county of Southampton, was very large and magnifirent. He had a great estate in that and the other western counties, which was reduced by him to a very small one, or to nothing. Sir Robert Henley of the Grange, his uncle, was a man of good sense and osconomy. He held the master’s place of the King’s-bench court, on the pleas side, many years; and by the profits of it, and good management, left his son, Anthony Henley, of the Grange, of whom we now treat, possessed of a very fine fortune, above 3000l. a-year, part of which arose from the ground-rents of LincolnVinnfields. | Anthony Henley was bred at Oxford, where he distinguished himself by an early relish for polite learning. He made a great proficiency in the study of the classics, and particularly the ancient poets, by which he formed a good taste for poetry, and wrote verses with success. Upon his coming to London, he was presently received into the friendship and familiarity of persons of the first rank for quality and wit, particularly the earls of Dorset and Sunclerland. The latter had especially a great esteem and affection for him; and as every one knew what a secret influence he had on affairs in king William’s court, it was thought strange that Mr. Henley, who had a genius for any thing great, as well as any thing gay, did not rise in the state, where he would have shone as a politician, no Jess than he did at Will’s and Tom’s as a wit. But the Muses and pleasure had engaged him. He had something of the character of Tibullus, and, except his extravagance, was possessed of all his other qualities; his indolence, his gallantry, his wit, his humanity, his. generosity, his learning, his taste for letters. There was hardly a contemporary author, who did not experience his bounty. They soon found him out, and attacked him with their dedications; which, though he knew how to value as they deserved, were always received as well as the addressers could wish; and his returns were made so handsomely, that the manner was as grateful as the present.

There was, for a long time, a strict friendship between /Mr. Henley and Richard Norton of Sonthwick in Hampshire, es-q. who was often chosen to represent that county. This gentleman had the same passion for the Muses; and the similarity there was in their pleasures and studies, made that friendship the more firm and affectionate. They both lived to a good age before they married, and perhaps the breach that happened between them was one reason of their entering both into the state of matrimony much about the same time. Mr. Henley married Mary youngest daughter and co-heiress of the lion. Peregrine Bertie, sister to the countess Pawlet, with whom he had 30,000l. fortune, and by her he left several children. Of these Anthony, the eldest, died in 1745; and Robert, the second son, was created baron Henley and lord keeper of the great seal in 1760; became lord chancellor in 1761 and earl of Northington in 1764.

On becoming a husband and a father, Mr. Henley | relinquished his gay mode of life, and was chosen a member of parliament for Andover in 1698; after which he was constantly the representative for either Weymouth, or Melcombe Regis, in the county of Dorset. He was always a zealous assertor of liberty in the house of commons, or at least of what went by that name; and on one occasion moved in the house for an address to her majesty, that she would be graciously pleased to give Mr. Benjamin Hoadly some dignity in the church, for strenuously asserting and vindicating the principles of that revolution which is the foundation of our present establishment in church anci state. This made him odious to the Tory party, and some impotent endeavours were used to have him laid aside in the queen’s last parliament; but he carried his election both at his corporation, and afterwards in the house of commons.

Mr. Henley wrote several compositions, though he did not put his name to them; and very frequently assisted the writers of the “Tatler” and “Medley.” No man wrote with more wit and more gaiety. He affected a simplicity in his writings, and in particular was extremely happy in touching the manners and passions of parents and children, masters and servants, peasants and tradesmen, using their expressions so naturally and aptly, that he has very fre quently disguised by it both his merit and character.

His most darling diversion was music, of which he was entirely master; his opinion was the standard of taste; and after the Italian music was introduced, no opera could be sure of applause, till it had received his approbation. He was such an admirer of Purcell’s music, and the English manner, that he did not immediately relish the Italian; but, practice reconciling his ear, he was at last much attached to it. Whether he composed himself, we know not; but he sang with art, and played on several instruments with judgment. He wrote several poems for music, and almost finished the opera of “Alexander” set by Purcell. Garth, in his preface to the Dispensary, has highly praised Henley, who was his friend; and his death, which happened in 1711, was very generally lamented. 1


Memoirs of persons who died in 1711, 8vo, 1712. Swift’s Works. Tatler and Spectator, with notes.