Richard Farmer took his degree of S.T.B. in 1767; that of S.T.P. in 1775, and was elected master the same year, on Mr. Hubbard's, the senior fellow, declining it, through infirmities and age. He is well known as the author of the Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare, first printed in 1766: in 1767 he published a second edition, but, with the exception of a few corrections of style, it contains no additional matter: a third edition was printed in 1789.
Dr. Farmer had also meditated to publish a History of the Antiquities of Leicester; and went so far as to print proposals for it: but, on becoming tutor of the college, he gave up the design. The papers prepared by him, being, I understand, very few, were communicated to Mr. Nichols, whose History of Leicestershire has been since printed on a very great scale, being the largest county history ever published.
In the Collections of Cambridge Poems, on public Occasions, there are one or two pieces of Dr. Farmer's, which shew, that he possessed a poetical, no less than critical taste, which might have ripened into excellence, had he continued to cultivate it. A congratulatory ode more particularly to the Duke of Newcastle, the chancellor, on laying the first stone of that part of the public library, erected in 1755, is very poetical, and to me it appeared to surpass every one I read in that collection for classical elegance.