A nineteenth-century English poet whose claim to fame rests on two things, the Eton Boating Song, and his translation of the epigram by Callimachus on his friend Heraclitus. See either of those nodes for the text, both Cory's and the original Greek.
He was born William Johnson in Torrington in Devonshire on 9 January 1823. He went to Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, where he got the chancellor’s medal for an English poem on Plato in 1843, and the Craven Scholarship in 1844. On graduation he returned to Eton, where he worked as assistant master between 1845 and 1872, being regarded as one of their most influential tutors.
In 1858 he published a volume Ionica of his poems, versions of classical poetry, which contains the famous epigram beginning "They told me, Heraclitus, they told me you were dead". This was expanded in 1891. In 1865 he wrote the Eton Boating Song.
He retired in 1872 on inheriting an estate at Halsdon, and took the surname Cory. In 1880 he published A Guide to Modern British History (meaning 1815 to 1835). He spent four years in Madeira before moving to Hampstead in 1882, and he died on 11 June 1892.
At Eton he said this about the purpose of education:
You are not engaged so much in acquiring knowledge as in making mental efforts under criticism. A certain amount of knowledge you can indeed with average facilities acquire so as to retain; nor need you regret the hours you have spent on much that is forgotten, for the shadow of lost knowledge at least protects you from many illusions. But you go to a great school not for knowledge so much as for arts and habits; for the habit of attention, for the art of expression, for the art of assuming at a moment's notice a new intellectual posture for the art of entering quickly into another person's thoughts, for the habit of submitting to censure and refutation, for the art of indicating assent or dissent in graduated terms, for the habit of regarding minute points of accuracy, for the habit of working out what is possible in a given time, for taste, for discrimination, for mental courage and mental soberness. Above all, you go to a great school for self-knowledge.