fellowship, since he could not take orders. Dr. Postlethwaite expressed surprise at that resolve. Porson indignantly rejoined that, if he had intended to take orders, he would not have applied for a lay fellowship. To the end of his days Porson believed that in this matter he had suffered a cruel wrong; and the belief was shared by several of his friends. Dr. Charles Burney, writing in December 1792 to Dr. Samuel Parr, mentions that Porson (referring to his studies) had been saying how hard it was, ‘when a man's spirit had once been broken, to renovate it.’ Having lost his fellowship, Porson was now (to use his own phrase) ‘a gentleman in London with sixpence in his pocket.’ At this time, as he afterwards told his nephew, Hawes, he was indeed in the greatest straits, and was compelled, by stinting himself of food, to make a guinea last a month. Meanwhile some of his friends and admirers privately raised a fund for the purpose of buying him an annuity. A letter from Dr. Matthew Raine (of Charterhouse) to Dr. Parr shows the good feeling of the subscribers. Porson was given to understand that ‘this was a tribute of literary men to literature,’ and a protest against such treatment as he had recently experienced. The amount eventually secured to him was about 100l. a year. He accepted it on condition that the principal sum of which he was to receive the interest should be vested in trustees, and returned, at his death, to the donors. After his decease, the donors, or their representatives, having declined to receive back their gifts, the residue of the fund was applied to establishing the Porson prize and the Porson scholarship in the university of Cambridge.
Porson had now taken rooms at Essex Court in the Temple. His fellowship was vacated in July 1792. Shortly afterwards William Cooke [see under Cooke, William, d. 1780], regius professor of Greek at Cambridge, resigned that post. Dr. Postlethwaite (the master of Trinity) wrote to Porson urging him to become a candidate. Porson was under the impression that he would be required to sign the Thirty-nine Articles, and wrote to Postlethwaite, 6 Oct. 1792: ‘The same reason which hindered me from keeping my fellowship by the method you obligingly pointed out to me would, I am greatly afraid, prevent me from being Greek professor.’ On learning, however, that no such test was exacted, he resolved to stand. He delivered before the seven electors a Latin prelection on Euripides (which he had written in two days), and, having been unanimously elected, was admitted professor on 2 Nov. 1792. The only stipend then attached to the office was the 40l. a year with which Henry VIII had endowed it in 1540. The distinction conferred on the chair by its first occupant, Sir John Cheke, had been maintained by several of his successors, such as James Duport, Isaac Barrow, and Walter Taylor. But latterly the Greek professors had ceased to lecture. Porson, at the time of his election, certainly intended to become an active teacher. But he never fulfilled his intention. It has been said that he could not obtain rooms in his college for the purpose. This is improbable, though some temporary difficulty on that score may have discouraged him. When his friend Maltby asked him why he had not lectured, he said, ‘Because I have thought better on it; whatever originality my lectures might have had, people would have cried out, “We knew all this before.”’ Some such feeling was, no doubt, one cause; another, probably, was the indolence which grew upon him (in regard to everything except private study). And in those days there was no stimulus at the universities to spur a reluctant man into lecturing. But if he did nothing in that way, at any rate he served the true purpose of his chair, as few have served it, by writings which advanced the knowledge of his subject.
After his election to the professorship, Porson continued to live in London at the Temple, making occasional visits to Cambridge, where it was his duty to take part in certain classical examinations. He also went sometimes to Eton or to Norfolk; but he disliked travelling. In his chambers at the Temple he must have worked very hard, though probably by fits and starts rather than continuously. ‘One morning,’ says Maltby, ‘I went to call upon him there, and, having inquired at his barber's close by if Mr. Porson was at home, was answered, “Yes; but he has seen no one for two days.” I, however, proceeded to his chamber, and knocked at the door more than once. He would not open it, and I came downstairs. As I was recrossing the court, Porson, who had perceived that I was the visitor, opened the window and stopped me.’ The work in which Porson was then absorbed was the collation of the Harleian manuscript of the Odyssey for the Grenville Homer, published in 1801. His society was much sought by men of letters, and somewhat by lion-hunters; but to the latter, however distinguished they might be, he had a strong aversion. Among his intimate friends was James Perry [q. v.], the editor of the ‘Morning Chronicle.’ In November 1796 Porson married Perry's sister, Mrs. Lunan; their union seems to have been a happy one, but