Invoking Bad Latin

John E. Pomfret, Student Interests at Brown 1789-1790

“The letters of these undergraduates fail to impress us with their erudition -try as the authors might to show their best. With respect to spelling and grammar, they were exceedingly lax, and although Latin is invoked frequently, it is a very bad Latin. The pursuit of learning, however, was held in high regard, for even out of term, the curriculum was a favorite topic of conversation. ‘What progress do you make in my Lord Euclid?’, wrote Thomas Park. ‘Pray inform me,’ queried Job Nelson during the Christmas recess, “have you proportioned out your Studys when you got your fire made and your feet up on the mantletree?’ John Waldo was discouraged, not having made good use of his time. ‘Vacation has passed,’ he wrote, ‘and I have not only done nothing for commencement but have made little improvement of my time. Some part of it I have been indisposed for study. I don’t doubt, you have read more than I have and kept a school besides. The Capt. set sail for home last Friday. He has made some huge strides in reading this vacation: 7 vol. of Hume 2 of the history of America and the 12 L. of Virgil which he said he was not afraid to be examined in anywhere. This amount he gave to Tutor Maxcy when he returned. I confess I have been so idle I have not read have (sic) so much.”

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