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Bradshaw, Henry (1831-1886) (DNB01)

BRADSHAW, HENRY (1831–1886), scholar, antiquary, and librarian, was the third son of Joseph Hoare Bradshaw and Catherine, daughter of R. Stewart of Ballintoy, co. Antrim. His father, a partner in Hoare's bank, belonged to the Irish branch of an old English family, long settled in Cheshire and Derbyshire, and was a member of the Society of Friends until his marriage. Henry Bradshaw was born in London on 3 Feb. 1831. He was educated at Temple Grove and at Eton, first as an oppidan, then, after his father's death, in college. After attaining the captaincy of the school he became a scholar of King's College, Cambridge, early in 1850. His undergraduate life was uneventful. He studied in a desultory manner, spent much of his time in the university library, read Wordsworth and Keble, Tennyson and Kingsley with avidity, discussed literature and theology, and made many friends, among them E. W. Benson, F. J. A. Hort, H. M. Butler, H. R. Luard, B. F. Westcott, and George Williams. The college was then confined to Eton men, but most of Bradshaw's friends were outside its walls. Early in 1853 he became, in what was then the ordinary course of things, a fellow of his college. King's men still enjoyed the doubtful privilege of obtaining a degree without examination; but Bradshaw resolved to enter for honours, and in 1854 took a second class in the classical tripos. Soon afterwards he accepted a post as assistant-master in St. Columba's College, near Dublin, a school founded some ten years earlier on high-church lines. Here Bradshaw remained two years, but, finding the work more and more uncongenial, he resigned in April 1856, and returned to Cambridge.

In November 1856 Bradshaw became an assistant in the university library. He seems to have hoped that his appointment would afford him opportunities and leave him time for study ; but in this he was disappointed, and in June 1858 he resigned. He remained, however, at Cambridge, and employed his now too abundant leisure in mastering the earlier contents of the library. In order to retain his services for the university, a special post was created for him. The manuscripts — of which a catalogue was then in course of publication — were in disorder, and the early printed books were scattered. Bradshaw was appointed in June 1859 at a nominal salary, afterwards increased, to supervise and rearrange these treasures. In the space of eight years, during which he held this charge, he worked a complete reform in the department, made many discoveries, enabled a correct catalogue of the manuscripts to be drawn up, and established his reputation as a bibliographer. He laboured with unremitting industry, and in the process of identifying the printers of early books, or unravelling the history of manuscripts, he made frequent journeys to different parts of England and the continent, and gained a first-hand acquaintance with most of the great libraries of this country and of Europe. He also attained a knowledge of many languages, Oriental as well as European, sufficient at least for the purposes of identification and description. He had already, in 1857, discovered the 'Book of Deer,' a manuscript copy of the Gospels according to the Vulgate version, containing charters in Gaelic, which are among the earliest remains of that language. This volume was eventually edited by John Stuart (1813-1877) [q. v.], and published by the Spalding Club (1869). The discovery (1858) of a large number of Celtic 'glosses' in a manuscript of Juvencus was the first of many similar finds which placed the study of the early Celtic languages on a new basis. In 1862 Bradshaw rediscovered the Vaudois manuscripts, which had been brought to England by Samuel Morland, Cromwell's envoy to the court of Savoy, and, having been deposited in the university library, had been lost to view for nearly two centuries. This discovery possessed not only philological interest — for these manuscripts contain some of the earliest remains of the Waldensian language and literature — but were also historically important. On the strength of a date in the poem called 'La Nobla Leyçon,' Morland, in his ' History of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont,' had dated back the origin of Vaudois Protestantism to the twelfth century. Bradshaw, however, discovered that an erasure had changed 1400 into 1100; and further examination proved that the poems themselves, and therefore, so far at least as their evidence was concerned, the tenets which they expressed, could not be dated earlier than the fifteenth century. In 1863 he took a prominent part in exposing the pretences of the forger Simonides, who professed to have written with his own hand the Codex Sinaiticus, discovered by Tischendorf in 1859. In 1866 Bradshaw made an important addition to early Scottish literature by bringing to light two hitherto unknown works, apparently by Barbour — the 'Siege of Troy' and the 'Lives of the Saints.' These poems were edited in 1881 by Dr. C. Horstmann. Their authorship is still matter of dispute. Meanwhile Barbour's greater contemporaries, Chaucer and Wycliffe, were engaging a large share of Bradshaw's attention. As an undergraduate he had studied Chaucer ; he now examined all the manuscripts of the poet, mastered the history of the text, discovered in the rhyme-test a means of detecting spurious works, and projected, along with Mr. Earle and Mr. Aldis Wright, a complete edition of the poet. He acquired such a knowledge of Wycliffe that he was invited by Walter Waddington Shirley [q. v.] to take part in the edition of Wycliffe 's works which that scholar was preparing; but, before anything came of this project, Shirley died (1866). At the same time Bradshaw was actively engaged in the study of early printing — a study naturally connected with his researches in manuscripts. Beginning with Caxton, he helped William Blades [q. v. Suppl.] in the preparation of his great work on that printer; but English printing could not be mastered without a knowledge of the presses from which it had sprung. He studied especially the Dutch, Flemish, and Rhenish printing, and was thus drawn into friendship with Holtrop, Vanderhaeghen and other leading bibliographers on the continent.

When the post of librarian fell vacant in 1864 Bradshaw was pressed to stand, but declined. On the resignation of Mr. Mayor, three years later, the general voice of the university called him to succeed ; and he was elected librarian without opposition on 8 March 1867. In one respect the appointment was a misfortune, for it prevented Bradshaw from carrying any of his multi-farious researches to the point at which, in his view, publication of anything but details was possible. He did not cease to be a student, but his real student-days were over. Always working as much for others as for himself, always slow to generalise, and apt to be led on from one field of research to another, he now found the obstacles to publication insurmountable. The superintendence of a great public institution occupied much of his time ; attacks of illness not unfrequently disabled him ; and towards the end of his life he took a larger part in the general affairs of the university. Accumulation of knowledge and experience had reached such a point that a few more years of uninterrupted work might have enabled him to produce a scholarly edition of Chaucer, a history of early typography, a treatise on later mediaeval liturgies, with valuable contributions to Celtic philology, early Irish literature, and kindred subjects. His temperament was indeed such that he might in any case have gone on inquiring and never producing as long as he lived ; but, at all events, the requisite leisure was denied him. The amount of his published work is small, and the reputation which he enjoyed among contemporaries will be almost unintelligible to those who, never knew him, and who are unaware how much of his labour took shape in the productions of others. On the other hand, he was not in every respect fitted for the duties of a librarian. His knowledge of the books in his charge was only equalled by his readiness to place it at the service of any diligent inquirer ; but the work of organisation was not congenial to him, and he more than once contemplated resigning his post. Nevertheless, he laboured hard to cope with the difficulties of his task, and success came in the end. Before he died he had, to a large extent, rescued the library from the somewhat chaotic condition in which he found it. He presided at the fifth meeting of the Library Association, held at Cambridge in 1882, and won the esteem of all the members present. Meanwhile he continued, so far as was possible, his researches, especially in Celtic languages and liturgiology. He explored the early history of the collection of ecclesiastical canons known as the 'Hibernensis,' unravelled many of the difficulties connected with the curious low-Latin poem entitled 'Hisperica Famina,' established the dift'erences which separate Breton from other Celtic dialects, and threw new light on mediæval cathedral organisation by tracing the development of the Lincoln statutes. In the midst of these labours, when his popularity and influence in the university and his reputation in the world of scholars were at their height, he died suddenly of heart disease in the night of 10-11 Feb. 1886.

In person Bradshaw was of middle height, broad-shouldered, and latterly somewhat stout. His hair was crisp, of a reddish-brown colour, and always kept very short. The face was clean-shaved and of a somewhat eighteenth-century type. The eyes were grey-blue; the features massive, but regular and finely cut, with a sensitive mouth, A portrait of him by H. Herkomer, R.A., hangs in the hall of King's College. His religious views were those of the church of England, but he was wide-minded and tolerant. In politics he was a conservative reformer. He sympathised strongly with the abolition of tests and the changes introduced by the university statutes of 1882. Though not a skilled musician, he had a considerable knowledge of music, and delighted in hearing the works of great composers, especially Bach. Naturally quick-tempered, he had great self-control ; but the slightest appearance of meanness, pretence, or uncharitableness roused his indignation. In conversation he was not epigrammatic but persuasive, full without being tedious, frank but tactful, frequently ironical but never bitter. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of his character was the combination of strength, uprightness, and personal reserve, with quick sympathies and unusual tenderness of heart. Though by no means universal in his friendships, he possessed an unequalled capacity for making, and keeping friends, especially among younger men ; and in every generation of undergraduates some two or three became attached to him for life. Such as enjoyed this privilege were permanently influenced not only by the beauty and elevation of his character, but by the high ideal of scholarship which he kept before him, the scientific thoroughness of his methods, and the absolute disregard of self which marked his relations to others and his devotion to the cause of learning. As a memorial of the scholar, and in order to carry on his work in one department, the 'Henry Bradshaw Society' was founded in 1890 'for the editing of rare liturgical texts.'

The most important of Bradshaw's published works, consisting of eight 'Memoranda,' or short treatises concerning early typography, Chaucer, Celtic antiquities, &c., with various papers communicated to the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, have been collected in one volume and edited by Mr. F. Jenkinson (Cambridge, 1889, 8vo).

[A Memoir of Henry Bradshaw, by G. W. Prothero, 1888; Collected Papers of Henry Bradshaw, 1889; personal recollections.]

G. W. P.