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Porson's Memory

Professor Porson, the great Graecist, when a boy at Eton, displayed the

most astonishing powers of memory. In going up to a lesson one day, he

was accosted by a boy in the same form: "Porson, what have you got

there?" "Horace." "Let me look at it." Porson handed the book to his

comrade; who, pretending to return it, dexterously substituted another

in its place, with which Porson proceeded. Being called on by the

he read and construed the tenth Ode of the first Book very

regularly. Observing that the class laughed, the master said, "Porson,

you seem to me to be reading on one side of the page, while I am looking

at the other; pray whose edition have you?" Porson hesitated. "Let me

see it," rejoined the master; who, to his great surprise, found it to

be an English Ovid. Porson was ordered to go on; which he did, easily,

correctly, and promptly, to the end of the Ode. Much more remarkable

feats of memory than this, however, have been recorded of Porson's


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