A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Porson, Richard

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Porson, Richard (1759-1808). -- Scholar, s. of the parish clerk of E. Ruston, Norfolk, was distinguished from childhood by a marvellous tenacity of memory which attracted the attention of the curate of the parish, who ed. him, after which he was sent by a gentleman to Eton. Subsequently a fund was collected for the purpose of maintaining him at Camb., where he had a brilliant career, and became a Fellow of Trinity Coll. This position he lost by refusing to take orders. In 1792 he was appointed Prof. of Greek in the Univ., but resided for the most part in London, where he was much courted by literary men, but unfortunately fell into extremely intemperate habits. P. was one of the very greatest of Greek scholars and critics; but he has left little permanent work of his own. He ed. four plays of Euripides, viz., Hecuba, Orestes, Phœnissæ, and Medea. His most widely read work was his Letters to Archdeacon Travis on the disputed passage, 1 John v. 7, which is considered a masterpiece of acute reasoning. He is buried in the chapel of Trinity Coll.