« PreviousContinue »
Singular Wager.-A young Entertaining Miscellany, you will, woman had laid a wager she by inserting them, oblige would descend into a vault, in the middle of the night, and bring from thence a skull. The person who took the wager had previously hid himself in the vault, and as the girl. seized a skull, cried, in a hollow voice, "Leave me my head!" "There it is," said the
To Miss B-
-ks on her singing.
girl throwing it down, and catch-Will bend beneath its soft controulanother. Leave me my That it can rouse the slumb'ring
To the Editor of the Oxford Entertaining Miscellany.
Some fearful heart, which only longs SIR, If you think the inTo live and die unseen. closed worthy of a place in your Sherringham, 1894.
Thou hast thy beauties! sterner ores,
Than those of thy precursors: yet
Belong the charms of solemn majesty And naked grandeur. Awful is the
Yet I neither see, nor smell, taste, nor hear.
Both male and female, I am you'll al
And yet I am neither, nor neither sex
mourn; never glad, 1
Of thy tempestuous nights, when My lips, tho' they move, yet I still clouds are blown have no voice;
By hurrying winds across the trou- I never was born; no, nor ever shall
Pensive, when softer breezes faint-Kind gentlefolks, tell—if you please—
Through leafless boughs, with ivy
what am I?
In marble walls as white as milk,
Thou hast thy decorations, too; al- Lin'd with a skin as soft as silk ;
Thou art austere; thy studded man- A golden apple does appear:
No doors there are to this strong hold, With icy brilliants, which as proudly Yet thieves break in, and steal the
Like pale, but lovely ones, seen following Epitaph in your Miscellany, and you will oblige
when we dream.
SIR, -I should be glad to see Fled from that body which now here the following Enigmas in your Entertaining Miscellany,
A nose, eye, and tongue, I can shew, To be they know not what, they know
Richard Porson, was born December 25, 1759, at East Ruston, in the county of Norfolk, a pic
"No part of History is more inturesque hamlet, distant but one structive and delightful than the Lives mile from the borders of the Gerof great and worthy Men."
PROFESSOR PORSON, M.A. GREEK PROFESSOR, CAMBRIDGE.
man Ocean. His father, Mr. Huggin Porson, was parish-clerk of this humble village, and from him Richard was first initiated in his letters. Until the age of fifteen he was placed at a school The union of a powerful natu- under the care of a Mr. Summers, ral genius, with acquirements where he gave such c vincing zealously and arduously obtained, proofs of his rising talents, as exproduced the very eminent cha-cited the utmost astonishment. racter whose name stands as the His clearness and extraordinary subject of this memoir. Possessed acuteness in the art of arithmetic of a genius powerful in judgment were most remarkable, and ke and in its operations developing was so skilful in the exercise of an acuteness, clearness, and par- his pen, that no competitors could ticularly in the most difficult trials surpass him in the beauty and of critical skill--a depth of thought elegance of his characters. Aided -unequalled and sovereign in its by a powerful and retentive me majesty of power. "In Greek," mory, he was equally successfu says one of his biographers, "we in mastering the first difficulties have no hesitation in pronouncing attendant upon a research in the him the very first; not merely of lower ranks of classical learning, his own age but of every other." at this tender age, and enjoyed It suggests a somewhat interest- the proud honours of bearing off ing inquiry when we consider all the Latin, mathematical, and that to birth or fortune Porson Grecian prizes, cum multis aliis. owes nothing. That a mere strip- The period was now arrived ling, without example, without when he must quit his native spot, bias, unaided by the influence of and enter upon a wider and more any literary authority or exertion dangerous field of enterprize. should so early throw himself into Porson's disposition was of a rothe mazes of speculative sophis-mantic and somewhat daring natries and controversies, and give ture; and, unfortunately, in after up his soul to the dry and labori-life, their impressions too freous pursuits of ancient literature, quently betrayed him into loose, seems most incompatible with irregular and voluptuous habits. the usual habits of mankind. it was natural, therefore, that a
youth of fifteen, sanguine, hope- had made him an honour to the
ful and aspiring, should view the prospect before him with no small interest of heart and calculation, How happily has one of our eminent poets anticipated his frame of mind at this period in the following lines:
"As yet he was a stranger to all strife,
society in which he had entered ; and in 1785, he took his degree of Master of Arts. According to the statutes of the College, he was obliged either to enter into holy orders, or to surrender his fellowship, but long before the period arrived when these statutes would operate, he had resolved to resign
Save that which nature makes, and his fellowship, from some scruples
that to him
Was the soul's harmony, the spirit's
The prospect of the world was distant -dim,
respecting subscription to the thirty-nine articles. His fellowship accordingly ceased in 1791; but, in 1793, he was chosen Greek
And yet he deem'd it bright; but Professor, by a unanimous vote of the seven electors. The distinc
that wild whim,
Which in young hearts doth bear the tion of this appointment was grate
name of Hope, Filled up his cup of error to the
He panted for the world, and down the slope
ful to him; and it was his first design to give an annual course of lectures, but from this he appears to have been diverted by
Tow'rds it he fain would bound like various circumstances.
the antelopes." In the mean time he became a Through the kind liberality and frequent contributer to some liteinterest of Mr. Morris, of Grosve-rary journals, and in all his essays nor-square, Porson was placed at displayed a critical acumen, a Eton; and there he made so rapid plenitude of knowledge, and a an advancement in the various force of reasoning and wit, which branches of learning as to ensure are rarely found in one man. him a character, the fame of which Before he had been known many reached Cambridge long before any steps were taken for his entrance to one of the Colleges.
years to the public by these occasional effusions, Porson was universally acknowledged to be the first Greek scholer of his time.
In 1777, he was entered at Trinity College, and here his com- He wished to have edited Æschybined talents and vast power of lus, but did not meet with that intellect, his rapid rise and pro- encouragement which he had fangress, astonished the minds of the ticipated: he edited, however, a most competent judges. In 1781, few Greek plays, and assisted in he was elected Fellow of the Col- a London edition of Heyne's Virlege, as his great endowments gil and the Grenville Homer,
honourable and esteemed sense of that appellation.
More he was expected to have done, and more he might have done, with surpassing talent; but Por- When the London Institution son neglected his great endow-was established, Professor Porson ments, and suffered coarse, un-was selected to fill the office of amiable, and loathsome habits to principal librarian. He did hocloud the bright meridian of his nour to his office, although he glory. He was careless and in-derived little from it. It was, different of himself, and disregard- however, ample provision for a ed the grand preceptman in whose eyes money had so little value. He died of an asthmatic disorder at his rooms in the
Principis est virtus maxima nosse suos."
Institution, September 25, 1808, in the forty-ninth year of his age. His remains were interred in the anti-chapel of Trinity College, where an elegant monument is erected to his memory.
He wanted regularity of conduct; what he did was by fits and starts, on which no dependance could be placed. But these are errors, alas! too commonly attached to great minds. Yet they are stains which are soon forgotten and forOf his relations, the only surgiven. Their characters are deviver is a sister, a most amiable veloped in their works, and if and accomplished woman, the there they offend-they offend wife of Siday Hawes, Esq. of beyond restitution; but if the Colteshall, Norfolk. ascetic influence of their passions involve them in practical impuni
ties only, then the dart rebounds
and wounds but the soul of the author.
AUTOMATON CHESS PLAYER.
The construction of machines, capable of imitating even the mechanical Porson's manuscript notes on actions of the human body, shews exvarious classical authors, (now quisite skill; but what shall we say in the library of Trinity College) of one, capable not only of imitating of which a volume has been pub-actions of this kind, but of acting as lished, are the most valuable of external circumstances require, as though it was endowed with life and
his works, and are sufficient to reason! This, nevertheless, has been raise the highest esteem for his done. M. de Kempelen, a gentleman talents, and regret that he profited of Presburg, in Hungary, has conan Androides, capable of so little by them; for Porson's structed acuteness, his solidity of judg-playing at chess! Every one, who is ment, his intense application, and stupendous memory, made him, what the world seldom sees, a complete critic, in the most
in the least acquainted with this game, must know, that it is so far from being mechanically performed, as to require a greater exertion of the judgment and rational faculties than is sufficient