Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/120

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
106
PORPORA—PORSON

the most characteristic anatomical distinctions between the porpoise and other members of the Delphinidae is the form of the teeth (numbering twenty-three to twenty-six on each side of each jaw), which have expanded, flattened, spade-like crowns, with more or less marked vertical grooves, giving a tendency to a bilobed or often trilobed form (fig. 2).

The porpoise, which is sociable and gregarious, is usually seen in small herds, and frequents coasts, bays and estuaries rather


FIG. 2.-Teeth of Porpoise.

than the open ocean. It is the commonest cetacean in the seas round the British Isles, and not infrequently ascends the Thames, having been seen as high as Richmond; it has also been observed in the Seine at Neuilly, near Paris. It frequents the Scandinavian coasts, entering the Baltic in the summer; and is found as far north as Baffin's Bay and as far west as the coasts of the United States. Southward its range is more limited than that of the dolphin, as, though common on the Atlantic coasts of France, it is not known to enter the Mediterranean. It feeds on mackerel, pilchards and herrings and, following the shoals, is often caught by ishermen in the nets along with its prey. In former times it was a common article of food in England and France, but is now rarely if ever eaten, being valuable only for the oil obtained from its blubber. Its skin is sometimes used for leather and boot-thongs, but the so-called “ porpoise-hides ” are generally obtained from the beluga. The Black Sea porpoise (P. relicta) is a. distinct species. A third species, from the American coast of the North Pacific, has been described under the name of Phocaena vomerina, and another from the mouth of the Rio de la Plata as P. spinipennis. Nearly allied is N eophocaena phocaenoides, a small species from the Indian Ocean and Japan, with teeth of the same form as those of the porpoise, but fewer in number (eighteen to twenty on each side), of larger size, and more distinctly notched or lobed on the free edge. It is distinguished from the common porpoise externally by its black hue and the absence of a dorsal fin. (See Cetacea.)

(R. L.*)


PORPORA, NICCOLA [or Niccolò] ANTONIO (1686-1767), Italian operatic composer and teacher of singing, was born in Naples on the 19th of August 1686. He was educated at the Conservatorio di Santa Maria di Loreto. His first opera, Basilio, was produced at Naples; his second, Berenice, at Rome. Both were successful, and he followed them up by innumerable compositions of like character; but his fame rests chiefly upon his unequalled power of teaching singing. At the Conservatorio di' Sant' Onofrio and the Poveri di Gesu Cristo he trained Farinelli, Caffarelli, Mingotti, Salimbeni, and other celebrated vocalists. Still his numerous engagements did not tempt him to forsake composition. In 1725 he visited Vienna, but'the Emperor Charles VI. disliked his llorid style, especially his con» stant use of the trillo, and refused to patronize him. After this rebuff he settled in Venice, teaching regularly in the schools of La Pietà and the Incurabili. In 1729 he was invited to London as a rival to Handel; but his visit was unfortunate. Little less disastrous was his second visit to England in 1734, when even the presence of his pupil, the great Farinelli, failed to save the dramatic company of Lincoln's Inn Fields theatre, known as the “ Opera of the Nobility, ” from ruin. The sequence of dates and visits in Porpora's life are variously stated by different biograpliers. The electoral prince of Saxony and king of Poland had invited him to Dresden to become the singing master of the electoral princess, Maria Antonia, and in 1748 he is supposed to have been made Kapellmeister to the prince. Difficult relations, however, with Hasse and his wife resulted in his departure, of which the date is not known. From Dresden he is said to have gone to Vienna, where he gave lessons to Joseph Haydn (q.v.), and then to have returned in 1759 to Naples. From this time Porpora's career was a series of misfortunes. His last opera, Camilla, failed; and he became so poor that the expenses of his funeral were paid by subscription. Yet at the moment of his death in 1767 Farinelli and Caffarelli were living in splendour on fortunes for which they were largely indebted to the excellence of the old maestro's teaching. In George Sand's Consuelo much use is made of a romantic version of the life of young Haydn and his relations with the heroine, Porpora's pupil, and with Porpora himself. A good linguist and a man of considerable literary culture, Porpora was also celebrated for his power of repartee. 'His operas are, on the whole, tedious and conventional; but he produced some good work in the form of instrumental music and chamber-cantatas. A series of six Latin duets on the Passion (accessible in a modern edition published by Breitkopf and Haertel) is remarkable for dignity and beauty.


PORRIDGE (an altered form of “ pottage, ” Fr. polage, soup, that which is cooked in a pot), a food made by stirring meal, especially oatmeal, in boiling water and cooking it slowly until the whole becomes soft. The dish and its name are particularly identified with Scotland; in Ireland it is commonly known as “stir-about.” The former application to a broth made of vegetables or of meat and vegetables thickened with barley or other meal is obsolete, and the earlier “pottage ” is the usual word employed. The form “ porridge ” apparently dates from the 16th century. In “ porringer, ” a porridge-bowl, the n is inserted as in “ passenger, ” “ messenger.”


PORSENA (or Porsenna), LARS, king of Clusium in Etruria. He is said to have undertaken an expedition against Rome in order to restore the banished Tarquinius Superbus to the throne. He gained possession of the Ianiculum, and was prevented from entering Rome only by the bravery of Horatius Cocles (q.v.). Porsena then laid siege to the city, but was so struck by the courage of Mucius Scaevola that he made peace on condition that the Romans restored the land they had taken from Veii and gave him twenty hostages. He subsequently returned both the land and the hostages (Livy, ii. Q-IS; Dion. Halic., v. 21-34; Plutarch, Poplicola, p. 16'I9). This story is probably an attempt to conceal a great disaster and to soothe the vanity of the Romans by accounts of legendary exploits. According to other authorities, the Romans were obliged to surrender the city, to acknowledge Porsena's supremacy by sending him a sceptre, a royal robe, and an ivory chair, to abandon their territory north of the Tiber, to give up their arms, and in future to use iron for agricultural purposes only. It is curious that, in spite of his military success, Porsena made no attempt to restore the Tarquinian dynasty. Hence it is suggested that the attack on Rome was merely an incident of the march of the Etruscans, driven southward by the invasion of upper Italy by the Celts, through Latium on their way to Campania. This would account for its transitory effects, and the speedy recovery of the Romans from the blow. With the departure of Porsena all traces of Etruscan sovereignty disappear and Rome is soon vigorously engaged in the prosecution of various wars (see Tacitus, Hist. iii. 72; Pliny, Nat. Hist. xxxiv. 39 [14]; Dion. Halic. v. 35, 36, vii. 5). The tomb at Chiusi described by Pliny (Nat. Hist. xxxvi. 19) as that of Porsena cannot have been his burial-place (see CLUSIUM).

For a critical examination of the story, see Schwegler, R6mische Geschichle, bk. xxi. 18; Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, Credibility of Early Roman History, ch. xii. 5; W. Ihne, Hist. of Rome, vol. i.; E. Pais, Storm di Roma, i. ch. iv. (1898). Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome gives a dramatic version of the story.


PORSON, RICHARD (1759-1808), English classical scholar, was born on Christmas Day 1759 at East Ruston, near North Walsham, in Norfolk, the eldest son of Huggin Porson, parish clerk. His mother was the daughter of a shoemaker named Palmer, of the neighbouring village of Bacton. He was sent first to the village school at Baeton, kept by John Woodrow, and afterwards to that of Happisburgh kept by Mr Summers.