Friday, March 03, 2017
A Nest of Latin Misprints
Even Thomson's entry in the old Dictionary of National Biography, which is solemn and strait-laced to a fault, hints there was something amiss. Alongside his awards and honours, it found space to notice his 'peculiar grin' and the fact that he was 'most careless in his attire and appearance, and behaved as though it were a matter of no interest either to himself or others'. The obituary in Country Life said he had 'the appearance of a grocer’s errand boy'. However it was left to one of his Trinity colleagues, A.S.F. Gow, to administer the sharpest rebuke, though he couched it 'in the decent obscurity of a learned language':The Latin as quoted here is full of mistakes:
In memoriam Josephi Thomson, qui, propter minimarum particularum scientiam maximo utriusque universitatio collegio praepositus, alteram officii partem omnino neglexit, altera ita functus est ut neglectam maluisses. Raucus, edentulous, ipexus, urorem duxit non amabileum, cuius ope et auxilio suffultus, heredibus LXXX milia librarum sterling-arum, collegio domicilium hara immundius, posteri exemplum memorabile avaritiae reliquit.
George Lyttelton, who had been a master at Eton alongside Gow, before he moved to Trinity, copied this into his commonplace book, providing a translation:
In memory of Joseph Thomson who, by virtue of his knowledge of the smallest particles, attained the mastership of the greatest college in either university. He totally neglected the one part of his duties and discharged the other in such a way that it would have been better if he had neglected that also. Loud-mouthed, toothless and unkempt, he married an unpleasant wife, thanks to whose money he was able to leave £80,000 sterling to his heirs, a house filthier than a pigsty to the college, and to posterity a model of avarice never to be forgotten.
For universitatio read universitatis.Here is a screen capture of the Latin, taken this morning, in case you think I'm making this up:
For edentulous read edentulus.
For ipexus read impexus.
For urorem read uxorem.
For amabileum read amabilem.
For sterling-arum read sterlingarum.
For posteri read posteris.
For a mostly correct Latin version see George Lyttelton's Commonplace Book, 2nd ed. (Settrington: Stone Trough Books, 2003), p. 102, although even there you'll find an additional misprint (memorablile, should be memorabile). Here is the Latin purged of mistakes:
In memoriam Josephi Thomson, qui, propter minimarum particularum scientiam maximo utriusque universitatis collegio praepositus, alteram officii partem omnino neglexit, altera ita functus est ut neglectam maluisses. Raucus, edentulus, impexus, uxorem duxit non amabilem, cuius ope et auxilio suffultus, heredibus LXXX milia librarum sterlingarum, collegio domicilium hara immundius, posteris exemplum memorabile avaritiae reliquit.
Labels: typographical and other errors