The New International Encyclopædia/Knight, Richard Payne

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KNIGHT, Richard Payne (1750-1824). An English archæologist and philologist. Owing to ill health, he had but a few years of actual schooling, which, however, his vast fortune enabled him to supplement by extensive travel. In Italy (1767 and subsequently) he interested himself in the study of art and of classical antiquities, and upon his return devoted himself to the enlarging of his archæological collection made there, and to publishing his memoirs. He was returned to Parliament, but though serving from 1780 to 1806, he was more spectator than actual participator in the debates, from 1814 he was a trustee of the British Museum, and at his death left this institution his magnificent collection of ancient bronzes and Greek coins, valued at £50,000. In addition to this bequest the results of Mr. Knight's extensive travels and researches appeared in numerous publications, including his Account of the Remains of the Worship of Priapus Lately Existing at Isernia in the Kingdom of Naples (1780). His Analytical Essay on the Greek Alphabet (1791) created a sensation, because in it Knight was the first to question the authenticity of certain Greek inscriptions which Fourmont had pretended to have found in Laconia, and which such eminent scholars as Winckelmann and Heyne had accepted as genuine. While his best work is that on the Principles of Taste (1805), he expended much careful study on an edition of Homer (1816).