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The Spike or Victoria College Review October 1930

The Pious Passman's Creed

page 46

The Pious Passman's Creed

1.I Believe that Latin is not a language, but only an Arts "subject"; it is therefore not expected to have any sense, but is a holy mystery, which was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be ineffable and incomprehensible.
2.I Believe that English is a noble language, which always says what it means and means what it says, and that one word means the same thing in any context: I therefore translate word for word into Latin, with the help of my dictionary, and without the help of my brains.
3.I Believe in the infallibility of my dear old English-Latin dictionary, from the love of which nothing shall ever separate me: for its present help to the emulation of Cassiod., Scrr. Eccl., Vulc. Gall., and other my great exemplars, and for its kindly providence in rendering for me all those words most requisite and necessary for Latin Prose, from Abraham's balm and billiards to yam and zoophyte, I do render it humble and hearty thanks.
4.I Believe that Unseen Translation is a cryptogram, to be read by faith and not by sight, and that the key to it is to omit all the small words, read the first three letters of the big ones, and then pass into a clarvoyant trance: having thus divined whether it is a little story about a dog, or a treatise on bio-chemistry, I studiously neglect all consideration of voice mood tense number gender person punctuation order spelling syntax and sense, and follow the gleam vouchsafed to me from that higher Wonderland where prepositions are pluperfect, substantives subjunctive, and adverbs feminine plural.
5.I Believe in the direct verbal inspiration of my early-Victorian grammar with the red edges: I do especially cherish its most sacred teaching that the genitive means "off," the dative "to," and the ablative everything else, that the present subjunctive means "may" and the imperfect subjunctive "might," and that the ablative singular of third declension adjuctives ends in -e, except comparatives. These beliefs, together with my ineradicable conviction that -urus is passive, I do regard as the fundamental axioms of my faith.
6.I Believe in the G.P. subjunctive, and shall always use it after all relatives, except in Oratio Obliqua, being persuaded that it is a poor subjunctive that cannot be called "generic" or "attracted," and that if I do not understand it, the examiner may.
7.I Believe that deponent participles are passive, and that neuter verbs have passives: I hope that by patient endeavour I shall one day invent a passive even of the verb "to be."
8.I Believe that an infinitive in English is an infinitive in Latin, that "esse" takes the accusative, and other verbs whatever they please, that "si" takes the subjunctive, "cum" takes the indicative, and "dum" take sthe cake.
9.I Believe in a personal devil, who walketh the earth as a raging examiner, seeking whom he may plough; but
10.I Believe in miracles, and therefore hope that I shall somehow frustrate his malevolent and insance prejudice against carelessness and stupidity, and so, at the latter end be wafted into that desired haven where Latin is no more.

H. W. Allen,

Vice-Master and Classical Tutor of Ormond College in the University of Melbourne.