Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Burges, George

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BURGES, GEORGE (1786?–1864), classical scholar, was born in a remote station in Bengal about 1786. His father dying soon after his birth, he was sent to England, and educated at the Charterhouse under Dr. Raine. Thence he proceeded to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1802, and gained a scholarship there in 1803; he graduated B.A. in 1807 and M.A. in 1810. He obtained one of the members' prizes in 1808, and again in 1809. At Cambridge he acted for many years as a private tutor; he had a great reputation for his knowledge of Greek, and is said to have spoken it like a native. He once had considerable private property, but lost it through speculations and inventions. Bishop Blomneld, whom he had attacked with great acrimony, procured for him, through Lord Melbourne, a pension of 100l. a year in 1841. Burges was a tory, and his politics appear to have inspired some of his classical criticisms. When in 1840 Lord Brougham translated the 'Do Corona' of Demosthenes, Burges met it with a long review in the 'Times,' assailing Brougham as well as his translation with extreme virulence.

In his own classical writings, although his learning was great and his criticism acute, he was led away by his arbitrary and querilous dissent from rival editors, and appeared to regard emendation more as an exercise of ingenuity than a means for restoring the original texts. He was a frequent contributor to Valpy's 'Classical Journal,' and in its pages constantly attacked Blomfield, who replied in the 'Museum Criticum,' each accusing the other of plagiarism, he published the 'Troades' of Euripides in 1807; the 'Phœnissa' in 1809; the 'Supplices' and 'Prometheus' of Æschylus in 1831: he translated the Greek 'Anthology,' and the bulk of Plato, for Bohn's classical library, in 1848; edited Poppo's 'Prolegomena,' with criticisms, in 1837: translated the new reading's in Hermann's posthumous edition of Æschylus in 1848: and edited the 'Fragment of Hermesianax' in 1839. Besides these classical works he wrote and dedicated to Byron a play called 'Erin, or the Cause of the Greeks,' by 'An Asiatic Liberal,' in 1823; and also wrote a pamphlet on the use of native guano in 1848. Burges used to contribute to the 'Gentleman's Magazine,' and for the 'Era' he wrote a series of papers called 'Hungry Handless,' to show the social evils of excessive machinery. The latter part of his life he spent at Ramsgate, and died 11 Jan. 1864, aged 78.

[Gent. Mag. 3rd ser. xvi. 268-9; Athenæum, 23 Jan. 1864; Classical Journal, xliii. 204; Museum Criticum, vii. 488; British Museum Catalogue; Watt's Biblioth. Brit. (where he is confused with the Rev. George Burges, B.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge, who died in 1853.).]

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