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THE LIFE

RICHARD

OF

PORSON, M. A.

PROFESSOR OF GREEK IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

FROM 1792 TO 1808

BY THE

REV. JOHN SELBY WATSON, M.A., M.R.S.L.

Fluctibus è mediis terras dabit ille magistro,

Et dabit astra rati; cùmque æthera Jupiter umbrâ
Perdiderit, solus transibit nubila Lynceus

Valerius Flaccus

LONDON

LONGMAN, GREEN, LONGMAN, AND ROBERTS

1861

PREFACE.

Ir may seem strange that so eminent a scholar and critic as Richard Porson, a man whom not only his countrymen, but the whole learned world, acknowledge to have been at the head of his department in literature, should have been honoured with no complete biography. Various notices of him were published about the time of his death, and anecdotes and short accounts of him have occasionally appeared since, but no full history of his life has ever been offered to the public.

The object contemplated by the writer of the following pages has been to throw into some kind of order the several particulars concerning Porson which have hitherto been suffered, for the most part, to lie scattered and unconnected, and to combine with them any additional information regarding him that might be discoverable. With this view no available source of intelligence has been neglected. The Porson manuscripts at Cambridge have been carefully consulted, and several letters extracted from them which have

never before been published. Applications, also, for information, have been made to Porson's surviving connexions, and to all from whom it seemed likely that it might be obtained.

From Mr. Siday Hawes, Porson's only surviving nephew, I have received several acceptable communications, containing replies to every point on which I have desired to be instructed.

The kindness of the Archdeacon of Colchester, Dr. Charles Parr Burney, the son of Porson's intimate friend, has enabled me to give, from his father's papers, a nearly complete list of the subscribers to the fund for Porson's annuity, and has supplied me with some letters and anecdotes relating to the learned professor.

To the Rev. H. R. Luard, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, author of a memoir of Porson in the "Cambridge Essays" for 1857, who has collected numerous documents, in print and manuscript, concerning Porson, and who has arranged, with praiseworthy care and judgment, the great scholar's manuscripts in Trinity College Library, my sincere thanks are due for many obliging answers to inquiries, and for permission to inspect his Porsonian treasures, especially a body of manuscript memoranda of Mr. Edmund Henry Barker, not included in the assemblage of heterogeneous fragments called "Barker's Literary Anecdotes." To Barker, it may be observed, every one who writes of Porson must be in some degree indebted, for though he had

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