Richard Porsojv, an English scholar, born at East Ruston, Norfolk, Dec. 25, 1759, died in London, Sept. 25, 1808. At the age of nine he was sent to a village school at Happisburgh, where he remained three years. His father, who was parish clerk of East Ruston, required him to repeat every night the lessons that he had gone through during the day; and to this early exercise of his memory may perhaps be attributed that retentive power for which it afterward became remarkable. When 15 years of age he was sent to Eton at the expense of some gentlemen of the neighborhood. He then knew by heart nearly the whole of Horace and Virgil, the Iliad, the Odyssey, and many parts of Cicero and Livy; and in his own opinion he acquired little at Eton but facility in Latin versification. In 1777, principally by the assistance of Sir George Baker, president of the royal college of physicians, he entered Trinity college, Cambridge, where he obtained a fellowship in 1782, and graduated M. A. in 1785. Conscientious scruples deterred him from subscribing to the thirty-nine articles, and he vacated his fellowship in 1791. In 1792 his friends subscribed £2,000, which was so invested as to give him for the rest of his life an income of £100 per annum; and he was made regius professor of Greek at Cambridge, with a salary of only £40 a year.
In 1806, on the establishment of the London institution, he was appointed head librarian, with a salary of £200. His first attempts as an author were made in Dr. Maty's " Review " as early as 1783, and consisted of articles on AEschylus, Brunck's Aristophanes, "Weston's Hermesianax, and other subjects. In 1786 he added some notes to an edition of Xenophon's Anabasis, and in 1790 published notes on Tou-pii Emendationes in Suidam. He first appeared as an author under his own name in the letters to Archdeacon Travis upon the contested verse 1 John v. 7, entitled "Letters on the Three Witnesses" (1790). He added a few short notes to the London edition of Heyne's Virgil, corrected the text of AEschylus for the Glasgow edition, prepared an edition of the "Hecuba," "Orestes," "Phcenissse," and "Medea" of Euripides, collated the Harleian manuscript of the Odyssey for the Gren-ville Homer, and added notes, and corrected for the press the first volume of the edition of Herodotus printed at Edinburgh in 1806. He bestowed considerable pains on the restoration of the Greek text of the Rosetta stone.
His Notes, in Aristophanem and Notce ad Pausa-niam were published in 1820, and the Photii Lexicon in 1822. The work entitled Adversaria was arranged after Porson's death from memoranda found among his papers. Sedentary and irregular habits impaired his consti-tion, and he has been described as an habitual drunkard, but apparently without truth, though he drank at times to intoxication. Asa classical scholar and critic he has had few rivals. - See "Life of Richard Porson, M. A.," by the Rev. John Selby Watson, M. A. (8vo, London, 1861).