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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > British and Irish linguists > Henley

The once notorious " Orator Henley," whom the Dunciad has immortalized as the " Preacher at once, and Zany of his age," was unquestionably a linguist of great acquirements. His " Complete Linguist," consisting of grammars of ten languages, was published when he was but twenty-five years old ; and throughout his entire career, eccentric as it was, he appears to have persevered in the same studies. John Henley was born at Melton Mowbray, in 1692, and graduated m the University of Cambridge. He took orders, and obtained some notoriety as a preacher; but his great theatre of display was his so-called " Oratory," where he delivered orations or lectures on a variety of topics, religious, political, humorous, and even profane. It was on one of those occasions that he drew together a large congregation of shoemakers, by the promise of showing them " the best, newest, and most expeditious way of making shoes," which he proceeded to illustrate by holding out a boot and cutting off the leg part! Henley died in 1756.

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