July 8th 1823
I have indeed been behaving somewhat amiss of late, but I only received a copy of the Porson prize <1> yesterday morning from Perry. The author is Mr - Kennedy, and proh tempora, inversi q: mores! <2> - a Johnian, a Johnian & Barham<3> still in the field!!
Have you heard that Dobree<4> has succeeded to the chair of Porson?<5> Old Greenwood<6> found a letter from an old Greek Professor of Queen Mary's days, in which that learned Theban says that, on being created D.D, he was obliged to obtain special permission to enable him to keep his professorship: so Dr Monk<7> made a precipitate retreat from the chair. Dobree is said to have made a splendid inaugural speech, dwelling much as you may suppose, on the immortal Porson; whereas Monk, he observed, was 'variis negotiis districtus', <8> and therefore unable to advance the blessed cause of 'Greek letters all over the world.'
The Master <9> has carried his building scheme, and has sent begging circulars to all members of the Royal & Religious Foundation: there is a printed form - then a few lines from the master; and then a few, more familiar & earnest, from Whewell, <10> signed 'Tutor', so I conclude that Johnny Brown <11> is tutorially defunct. Whewell's second Volume <12> is quite new, and spoken of very highly at Cambridge. Coddington <13> says, "that I may defer Optics for the present, as he intends to enlighten the world on that subject in about a month" - Higman <14> has 5 men in the first class; one of them moreover, was the first man in it; moreover too he had the two first men in the second. I spent a few days in Cambridge last May, and found all the men hard at work. I had been but idle at Liverpool, and suffered the same kind of punishment at Cambridge, that the poor wretches do in Dant[e's]<15> Purgatory, where the sinners in each sort are tormente[d] by voices singing out on all sides the names and de[illegible] of those who have been most famous for the opposite virtues - [text missing] could hear nothing but the din of preparation, and every knot of men seemed to me to be discussing the chances of the different candidates. There are now 5 vacancies; Amos <16> superannuated, Spencer & Lambert <17> dead; Hustler <18> married, and Bird <19> going to be married. To give us confidence, he has neglected to take his M.A. degree; so his fellowship is absolutely vacant. Ollivant <20> has walked over the course for the first Essay: neither Barnes nor I could spare time, or, to say truth had much inclination. Key <21> prayed me to conceal the real state of things from you: he was going to begin to read very hard at Mathematics. Rawlinson was a great favourite - quod Dii avertant. <22>
Yr sincere Friend
T. K. Arnold
Shakspeare [sic]. Henry 8th Act 5. Scene 4th
'This royal infant' - 'And so stand fixed'.
[here translated into 34 lines of Greek verse]
2. He means 'pro curia, inversique mores!', that is, 'for the times, custom is corrupt', Horace, Ode 3, 5, 7. The winner in 1823 and 1824 was Benjamin Hall Kennedy (1804-18889), later Headmaster of Shrewsbury and then Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge.
3. William Foster Barham (1802-1848). He won the Porson Prize in 1821 and 1822, which explains the surprise that Kennedy was able to take it in 1823 whilst Barham was still competing.
4. Peter Paul Dobree (1782-1825), Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge from 1823-1825.
5. Richard Porson (1759-1808), Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge from 1792-1808.
6. Possibly John Greenwood (1734-1832), of Trinity.
7. James Henry Monk (1784-1856), Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge from 1808-1823.
8. Torn between different interests.
9. Christopher Wordsworth (1774-1846).
10. Rev William Whewell (1794-1866), Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor and natural philosopher.
12. Possibly A Treatise on Dynamics. Containing a ... collection of mechanical problems (Cambridge: J. Deighton & Sons, 1823).
13. Rev Henry Coddington (1798-1845), natural philosopher, fellow & tutor, Trinity College, Cambridge; d. in Rome.
14. Rev John Philips Higman (1793-1855), mathematician.
15. Text torn away under seal.
16. Probably Andrew Amos (d. 1860), first professor of English law at University College, London.
17. James Lambert (1742-1823), professor on Greek from 1771 to 1780, although not very active in the 19th c., he managed to hold on to his fellowship until his death.
18. James Devereux Hustler (1784–1844), mathematician, married Elizabeth Mansel in 1823.
19. Charles Smith Bird (1795-1862), clergy, entomologist, and writer on theology.
20. Alfred Ollivant (1798-1882), author & Bishop of Llandaff.
21. Thomas Hewitt Key (1799-1875), philologist.
22. Which may the gods avert.
23. Readdressed in another hand.
24. With book.