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1773.]

may well be supposed that Mr. Hewitt was very economical, and it is yet related, among the people of that neighbourhood, that he has been seen roasting a turnip, like Curius Dentatus, for his supper, and rocking a cradle and reading a book at the same time.

EXAMINED AT CAMBRIDGE.

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Being desirous to advance young Porson in life, Mr. Hewitt spoke of him in high terms to Mr. Norris, a wealthy and benevolent gentleman of Witton Park, in an adjoining parish, who afterwards founded the Norrisian Professorship of Divinity at Cambridge. Mr. Norris expressed his willingness to assist the boy, if his abilities should be found correspondent to Mr. Hewitt's representations, and requested a friend of his, the Rev. Thomas Carthew, incumbent of Woodbridge in Suffolk, to examine him. Mr. Carthew, not being a regularly bred scholar, as he was some years a solicitor before he took orders, declined to undertake the responsibility of pronouncing on Porson's merits, but being acquainted with the Rev. James Lambert, who had been recently appointed Greek professor at Cambridge, asked him to make a thorough investigation of the boy's qualifications. Lambert assented, with conditional offers of further service, and Carthew, in acknowledgment, wrote him a very sensible letter, which well deserves to be made public.

Woodbridge, Feb. 26th, 1773.

"DEAR SIR,

"Your interesting yourself so kindly on behalf of the poor lad whose genius you heard me commend, is not only an act of benevolence towards him, but also a very obliging civility to me, and as such I shall ever acknowledge it.

"Immediately on the receipt of your letter I wrote to the lad's friends, and last night I received an answer from my

friend Mr. Norris, wherein he expresses his sense of the generosity of your conduct, and directs me to inform you that, after full consideration, he has judged it expedient to send the boy immediately to Cambridge, in order that his abilities may be put to the test by the Professor himself, for, he observes, that these luminaries, like the phenomena in the sky, very often shine only just long enough to excite attention and surprise, and then drop at once into obscurity. If, on examination, his genius shall be found by you to be answerable to those high presages which the partiality of his present instructor has conceived of him, so as to be worthy of a successful recommendation to the Charterhouse, Mr. Norris will be responsible for his expenses there; but if you should think his talents have been overrated, which is not improbable, as his poverty and mean birth may have encouraged a favourable prejudice, Mr. Norris will then direct his kindness towards him on a more humble plan, and more suitable to his rank.

"I apprehend the lad will be with you nearly as soon as this letter.

"I am, dear Sir, with all possible esteem and respect,
"Your most obedient servant,
"THOMAS CARTHEW."

P.S. "You will find the lad rather an unwinning cub than otherwise, but you will, I doubt not, make allowance for the awkwardness of his manners."

About the same time Mr. Hewitt wrote to Lambert, relating what Porson had read with him while under his tuition.

"SIR,

"As I have had the orderly and good boy under my care for almost two years, I think it proper to tell you how he has been employed during that time. He had read some of Corderius' Colloquies' when he first came, and having two little boys of my own who were reading Erasmus, I put him

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1773.]

to them, the greatest part of whose Colloquies' they read together, and translated into English, which last task the boy performed in about half the time they could. I ordered him to lay by his Erasmus, and endeavour to turn his English into Latin, which he did so accurately that he varied but little from his author either in order or words. He is now doing the same by Cæsar's Commentaries.' When he first began Ovid, I expected some little trouble in teaching him to scan, but, to my great surprise, found none, and I do not remember that he ever read six lines false as to quantity through his whole Metamorphoses.' He has read all Terence, the Eclogues,' and Georgics' of Virgil, and is got into the ' Æneid.'

"

"

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HIS EARLY ATTAINMENTS.

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"Perhaps you may wonder that I have said nothing of Greek hitherto, but my method (perhaps a wrong one) is to have lads pretty well versed in Latin first, and, as my own boys are by no means equal to him, I was obliged to defer it the longer. I have not time to attend to the boy by himself, otherwise I doubt not but he might have made a considerable progress in that language. What I do for him is gratis, otherwise I should think myself guilty of injustice. They are now getting the Greek verbs, and will begin the Greek Testament shortly. This boy and one of my own generally employ an hour or two every day in mathematics, in which science Porson had made such proficiency before he came to me as to be able to solve questions out of the 'Ladies' Diary,' to the great astonishment of a very able mathematician in these parts. To say anything more about the lad is needless, as you will try him yourself, and I heartily wish you may find him worthy of your recommendation, and your success herein will be a great pleasure and satisfaction to,

"Sir, your most obedient and very humble servant, "T. HEWITT,

"Of Bacton, near North Walsham, Norfolk."

Before this letter was written, a translation of a stanza of Beattie's "Minstrel," done by Porson, had been

sent to Lambert, as an indication of what might be expected from him with further cultivation.

Lambert, being unwilling to take the whole weight of the affair on himself, called to his assistance Mr. Postlethwaite and Mr. Collier, head tutors of Trinity College, and Mr. Attwood, assistant tutor, esteemed an eminent mathematician. Each of these three gentlemen testified strongly to Porson's abilities, and Lambert transmitted their reports, through Mr. Carthew, to Mr. Norris. The whole account of the circumstances attendant on this examination of Porson, is recorded in a paper in Lambert's handwriting, preserved, with Hewitt and Carthew's letters, in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge. The paper was written to confute a notion of Beloe's, that Porson's journey to Cambridge at this time, though often mentioned by his family, had in reality never taken place, as it was utterly improbable that a mere boy would be sent to be examined by a Greek professor. Lambert concludes the document thus: "Porson returned home; but how long he remained under Mr. Hewitt's charge, by what means his patronage became afterwards so extensive, or in what manner he accumulated that stupendous mass of knowledge in a language of which in the beginning of 1773 he was only studying the verbs, I cannot say." Lambert ceased to reside in college soon after, and heard nothing more of Porson till he had grown up and become distinguished.

He continued under Mr. Hewitt's tuition for something more than another year, during which time he seems to have advanced into Livy, Cicero, and Horace, and to have read some portion of Homer.

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It being determined to send him to the Charterhouse, Lambert kindly introduced him to the Marquis of Granby, who was then an undergraduate of the college, and who immediately wrote to the Duke of Rutland and the Earl of Mansfield, to engage their interest for him at that seminary, of which they were governors. But their nominations for the next vacancy had been long pre-engaged, and some other plan of education was to be sought for him.

Mr. Norris still held to his resolution of serving him, and determined on raising a fund, by contributing largely himself, and by procuring such subscriptions as he could, for educating him at a first-rate school, and for afterwards maintaining him at the University. This scheme succeeded beyond Mr. Norris's expectations, for many persons of eminence interested themselves about a youth of such ability, and gave liberal donations. Among the contributors were Bishop Bagot, another bishop whose name is now unknown, Sir George Baker, Dr. Poynter, Dr. Hammond, a prebendary of Norwich, and Mrs. Mary Turner, a grand-daughter of Sir George Turner, and relative of Mr. Norris. This lady took a great liking to Porson, paid him constant attention, and gave him permission, when he should return from school for the holidays, to pass them at her house.

The treasurer of the fund was Sir George Baker, then president of the College of Physicians, and eminently distinguished for his learning and classical taste. It was perhaps by his recommendation that the school chosen for Porson was that of Eton, at which he was entered in the month of August 1774, when he was in his fifteenth year.

SENT TO ETON.

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