Brandy and Novels: Enemies of Greek Scholarship

Recollections of the Table Talk of Samuel Rogers, to which is added Porsoniana:

“I believe, with you, that Burney was indebted to Porson for many of those remarks on various niceties of Greek which he has given as his own in different publications. Porson once said to me, ‘A certain gentleman’ (evidently meaning Burney) ‘has just been with me; and he brought me a long string of questions, every one of which I answered offhand. Really, before people become schoolmasters, they ought to get up their Greek thoroughly, for they never learn any thing more of it afterwards.’ I one day asked Burney for his opinion of Porson as a scholar. Burney replied, ‘I think my friend Dick’s acquaintance with the Greek dramatists quite marvellous; but he was just as well acquainted with them at the age of thirty as he is now: he has not improved in Greek since he added brandy-and-water to his potations, and took to novel-reading.’ Porson would sometimes read nothing but novels for a fortnight together.”

Related image
Louis Charles Moeller, ‘Men Drinking Punch’

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