I Always Preferred ‘Cum’

Winston Churchill, My Early Life:

“Dr. Welldon took a friendly interest in me, and knowing that I was weak in the Classics, determined to help me himself. His daily routine was heavy; but he added three times a week a quarter of an hour before evening prayers in which to give me personal tuition. This was a great condescension for the Headmaster, who of course never taught anyone but the monitors and the highest scholars. I was proud of the honour: I shrank from the ordeal. If the reader has ever learned any Latin prose he will know that at quite an early stage one comes across the Ablative Absolute with its apparently somewhat despised alternative ‘Quum with the pluperfect subjunctive.’ I always preferred ‘Quum.’ True he was a little longer to write, thus lacking the much admired terseness and pith of the Latin language. On the other hand he avoided a number of pitfalls. I was often uncertain whether the Ablative Absolute should end in ‘e’ or ‘i’ or ‘o’ or ‘is’ or ‘ibus’? to the correct selection of which great importance was attached. Dr. Welldon seemed to be physically pained by a mistake being made in any of these letters. I remember that later on Mr. Asquith used to have just the same sort of look on his face when I sometimes adorned a Cabinet discussion by bringing out one of my few but faithful Latin quotations. It was more than annoyance, it was a pang. Moreover Headmasters have powers at their disposal with which Prime Ministers have never yet been invested. So these evening quarters of an hour with Dr. Welldon added considerably to the anxieties of my life. I was much relieved when after nearly a whole term of patient endeavour he desisted from his well-meant but unavailing efforts.”

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