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to have been well-conducted, and to have incurred no punishment, during the whole of his undergraduateship.*
He impressed the scholars of the University with strong notions of his aptitude for attaining distinction in classical pursuits.
Two emendations which he made about two years after he entered Cambridge, his earliest attempts of the kind on record, deserve to be noticed. In the first Idyl of Theocritus, ver. 66, we still read,
Πᾶ πόκ ̓ ἄρ ̓ ἦσθ ̓ ὅκα Δάφνις ἐτάκετο ;
Porson altered it to
Πᾶ τόκ ̓ ἄρ ̓ ἦσθ ̓
In Virgil, Æn. iii. 702, the common reading is
for which Porson proposed to read
Immanisque Gela, fluvio cognomine dicta,
which Kidd calls an admirable emendation, and which, though it may at first startle a young reader, is supported by Æn. vi. 38, gaudet cognomine terrâ. These criticisms of Porson were communicated to Kidd by Dr. Goodall.
One fellow-collegian with whom he was very intimate was Walter Whiter, afterwards rector of Hardingham, and well known to classical scholars. He would go into Whiter's rooms, open whatever book Whiter would allow him to take, and, with any pen
*Notes and Queries, 1st series, vol. iii. p. 28.
that he could find on the table, write notes on the margin in the neatest of hands. Mr. Whiter's nephew possesses a copy of Athenæus that belonged to his uncle, in which are many annotations written by Porson with the greatest distinctness, though the paper is porous.
He was elected scholar of his College in 1780, and gained the Craven University Scholarship, without difficulty, in December 1781. A translation of an epitaph into Greek iambics, which he performed at the examination for the Craven scholarship, is preserved. It is said to have been completed in less than an hour, with the help only of Morell's Thesaurus, according to Dr. Thomas Young, but, according to others, without any help from books at all. Who was the author of the English lines is not known. The Reverend William Collier, Senior Fellow of Trinity College, set the verses, and told Mr. Kidd that he took them from a magazine of the day. Kidd says that he searched most of the magazines for them, but to no purpose; and Porson himself expressed a suspicion that they were Mr. Collier's own.
"Stranger, whoe'er thou art that view'st this tomb,
As softest music; to the charms of love
Not cold, nor to the social charities
Of mild humanity. In yonder grove
He woo'd the willing muse. Simplicity
Stood by and smiled. Here every night they come,
Ω ΞΕΙΝΕ, τουτον όστις εισορᾷς ταφον,
We give them without accents, just as they are printed by Mr. Kidd, but the last line, as Dr. Young has observed, should undoubtedly be written
Τεθνηχ· ὃ δη ταχιστα πασχουσ' οἱ 'γαθοι.
In the first line he uses unjustifiably the Ionic form ξεῖνος. The ninth line shows that he had either not then discovered what he afterwards called the pause, or disregarded it. Young remarked that there are some inaccuracies in the use of the tenses, but there seems to be nothing in this respect that is indefensible. When the iambics were shown, several years afterwards, to Parr, he said, “You do not, Mr. Porson, consider these as faultless?" Porson answered, evasively, that for every single fault that Parr could point out, he himself would find seven.
He took his degree in 1782 as third senior optime, the number of wranglers being eighteen. Soon after
wards he obtained the first Chancellor's medal, Sparke, subsequently Bishop of Ely, being awarded the second. On the first of October, in the same year, he was elected to a fellowship in his College, being chosen, in violation of the custom then prevailing, while he was still a junior bachelor, a relaxation being made in his favour on account of his eminent abilities.* Since 1677, when Newton was elected fellow, junior bachelors had not been allowed, with three exceptions, to be candidates for fellowships till 1818, when Connop Thirlwall was chosen; the three exceptions being Richard Bentley, the son of the critic; Rogerson Cotter, and Thomas Robinson, the author of "Female Scripture Characters." At present, and since 1830, all bachelors without distinction are admitted to the fellowship examinations. The emolument of Porson's fellowship did not exceed 1007. per annum.
At what time of his life he first began to pay those ardent devotions to Bacchus for which he was afterwards so remarkable, is not, we believe, stated in print. He probably first indulged in them, like Addison, as a lene tormentum ingenio, a pleasant excitement to his faculties, and was unable to restrain himself from frequent repetitions of the gratification. Indeed, when a remark was once made to him, in a subsequent period of his life, by a gentleman at a dinner party, as they were sitting over their wine, and as Porson was beginning to talk, that he had been "exceedingly shy during dinner," he rejoined, with an arch look, that
*Monthly Magazine, Nov. 1808.
† Monk's Bentley, vol. ii. p. 348. Rev. H. R. Luard, Cambr. Essays, 1857.
"Addison had never been himself till the second bottle." The writer in the "Gentleman's Magazine," whom we have already cited, suggests that he may have found wine or spirits a relief to his asthma, and that this may have been the origin of his attachment to the cups which, unlike Bishop Berkeley's tar-water, cheer, but inebriate.
AN UNTRUE STORY.
Mr. William Maltby, who, being Porson's intimate friend, has bespattered him with ungracious anecdote more than any other person that has written of him, relates that "during the earlier part of his career, he accepted the situation of tutor to a young gentleman in the Isle of Wight, but was soon forced to relinquish the office, from having been found drunk in a ditch or a turnip-field."+ Mr. Maltby, before publishing this, should have considered whether there was a time at which it could have occurred. Ponendæque domo quærenda est area primum. It did not happen before Porson went to Eton, and from Eton he went directly to Cambridge, where he seems to have resided pretty constantly till he got his fellowship in his twenty-third year; after which event it surely did not take place. He might indeed have entered into a short engagement of the kind during one of the vacations, but, if he did, it is strange that there is no allusion to it in any other writer of him. Mr. Siday Hawes, Porson's nephew, has expressed to us a firm belief that Porson never was a private tutor, nor ever in the Isle of Wight. The interval between his election to his fellowship and the
* Stephens's Memoirs of Horne Tooke, vol. ii. p. 315.