The Times/1909/Obituary/William Richard Morfill
Professor W. R. Morfill
We regret to announce the death of Professor William Richard Morfill, Professor of Russian and other Slavonic languages at Oxford, which occurred at his residence at Oxford.
Mr. Morfill, who was 75 years of age and who had been in failing health for a long time, was a very remarkable man, and filled a special place in both Oxford and in the country as a representative of Slavonic studies. He was appointed reader in the Russian and Slavonic languages in 1889, and was raised by decree of the University to the rank of professor in 1900. Possessing an unusually powerful and retentive memory, and being an omniverous reader, he had a larger acquaintance with literature, both Russian and Polish, than even many educated natives of those countries. "We lose in him," says Sir James Murray, "a unique scholar, whose knowledge of the Slavonic languages, generally and comparatively, was greater than that of any Englishman, so far as I know." But his literary loves and knowledge were by no means confined to this field. He had an immense acquaintance with literature generally, both prose and poetic. His amiable temper, his warm and varied sympathies and interests, his amazing power of apt quotation made him a delightful companion and conversationist, and, in particular, he held for many years, a sort of salon where his friends Sir John Rhys, Sir James Murray, Professor Wright, and many other used to gather. Both personally and on public grounds he will be very much missed and his place will be specially difficult to fill.
Educated originally at Tonbridge School, Mr. Morfill matriculated at Corpus Christi College, but migrated to Oriel on election to a classical scholarship. He obtained first class honours in classical moderations in 1855, being place in the same first class with Dr. Edward Moore, then of Pembroke College, now Principal of St. Edmund Hall and Canon of Canterbury. He was a Fellow of the British Academy. Among his publications was a popular account of the Slavonic literature, written for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in 1883. He was re-elected only last Saturday as Curator of the Taylor Institution, of which for many years he was secretary and to which he was greatly devoted.
The funeral will take place to-morrow, the first part of the service being held at St. Philip and St. James Church, at 2, and the interment will be at St. Sepulchre's Cemetery, at 2 30.