Henry Bradley (1845-1923)
From Literary Anecdotes About 19th Century Authors Born After 1829

The earliest record of Henry is singularly characteristic. It was before he was four years old, on the occasion of his being taken for the first time to church—the meeting-house, no doubt, of the Congregational community to which his parents belonged—where he obstinately persisted in holding his book upside-down. This eccentricity gave them some anxiety, until it was discovered that the child really could read, but only with the book in that position. Unknown to them he had taught himself during family prayers: while his father, sitting with a great Bible open on his knees, was reading the lesson aloud, the boy, standing in front of him closely poring over the page, had followed word by word and thus worked out the whole puzzle—and so completely, that long after he had accustomed himself to the normal position he could read equally well either way. His mature faculty seems to have been perfect in his infancy, and in this first picture of him Philology and Piety are seen hand in hand.

Robert Bridges, Three Friends (1932), p. 152.

BRADLEY'S knowledge and advice were widely sought as a final resource, and many books owe their reputation to his guidance and correction: thus once when required to make some formal statement of his published work, he appended the remark that much of his best work was in other men's books. The following anecdote will illustrate his attitude towards such debtors. He was generously defending a certain scholar's philological reputation against a detractor, who, willing to concede what he might, said at last,

`Well, after all, the man can't be quite a fool who gave us that brilliant reading * * *.'

Bradley was silent, moving uncomfortably in his chair, while his honesty, his charity, and his modesty, contended within him. At length honesty prevailed and he said,

`To tell you the truth, I sent him that.'

Robert Bridges, Three Friends (1932), pp. 225-226

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