HUBERT WATSON, CLASSICAL SCHOLAR.                                     

The rarified level of Hubert's scholarship is evoked by the following letter which appeared in the Times on June 4th 1997 from Hubert Picarda, QC.

Philip Howard should not fret over his Latin howler ("Sorry, I played you false...", May 31 1997).
The great classics master Thomas Ethelbert Page, CH, DLitt, blundered almost as badly. In his Latin elegiacs celebrating the 150th anniversary of The Times on January 1st, 1935, he heinously treated the final syllable of quinquaginta as short (though I believe sexaginta occurs thus, once in Martial).

Hubert Watson, a Balliol man, wrote to the Editor:

"Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat
Homerus": Inclytus offendit Pagina, tunc stupeo.
Qinquaginta metri causa si scribere
fas est, Omnia dediscant quae docuit pueri.

"It grieves me sore when Homer nods":
But when Page blunders, O ye Gods!
If qinquaginta's really short,
Let boys unlearn the rules he taught.

The Editor's neat reply, declining publication "with compliments and regrets", at least avoided a trisyllabic ending to the pentameter:

Ne coram populo mendosum corrige,
lector, Offendat quamvis Pagina, parce seni.

Of scholar's faults let not the world be told,
If Page has blundered, reader, spare the old.

According to Watson, in Jabberwocky etc. (More English Rhymes with Latin Renderings. 1937), Page, then well into his eighties, "was not a little upset when he realised the mistake he had made".

Yours faithfully  
Hubert Picarda  Lincolns Inn, WC2
Editor's note: The above is cribbed from page 65 of "Jabberwocky etc, (English Rhymes with Latin renderings) By H.D.Watson, privately printed 1937