黄雪雁

4.2019-06-25

When I was sixteen, I fell upon an article in the Quarterly, which reviewed a Latin history of (I think) the Rebellion of 1715; perhaps by Dr. Whitaker. Years afterwards I learned that the critique was the writing of a celebrated Oxford scholar; but at the time, it was the subject itself, not the writer, that took hold of me. I read it carefully, and made extracts which, I believe, I have to this day. Had I known more of Latin writing, it would have been of real use to me; but as it was concerned of necessity in verbal criticisms, it did but lead me deeper into the mistake to which I had already been introduced,—that Latinity consisted in using good phrases. Accordingly I began noting down, and using in my exercises, idiomatic or peculiar expressions: such as 'oleum perdidi,' 'haud scio an non,' 'cogitanti mihi,' 'verum enimvero,' 'equidem,' 'dixerim,' and the like; and I made a great point of putting the verb at the end of the sentence. What took me in the same direction was Dumesnil's Synonymes, a good book, but one which does not even profess to teach Latin writing. I was aiming to be an architect by learning to make bricks.
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