Monday, August 20, 2012


Remembering Students' Names

William M. Calder III, "C.M. Bowra on W.S. Barrett: An Unpublished Testimonium," Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 45 (2005) 213–217, at n. 6 on p. 215, quoting a remark by Joshua Whatmough to his students in a class on Greek dialectal inscriptions:
Forgive me if I do not remember your names. To remember them would cause me to forget something more important.
P.G. Naiditch, A.E. Housman at University College, London: the Election of 1892 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1988), pp. 156-157, quoting R.W. Chambers' recollections of a speech delivered by Housman:
When...Housman left us to take the Latin chair at Cambridge, he apologized to his assembled students, past and present, for this lack of memory [of the names of his women students]. A certain Dartmoor shepherd had, just at that time, attained a place in history by getting into prison and out of it. This Dartmoor shepherd knew the faces of all his sheep. Housman admitted that he did not. 'But then', he said, 'if I had remembered all your faces, I might have forgotten more important things'—not, he hastened to explain, things more important in themselves, but more important to him; had he burdened his memory by the distinction between Miss Jones and Miss Robinson, he might have forgotten that between the second and fourth declension.
The second "Dartmoor" in the quotation from Chambers appears as "Dartmouth" in Naiditch's book. I corrected it from R.W. Chambers, Man's Unconquerable Mind: Studies of English Writers, from Bede to A.E. Housman and W.P. Ker (rpt. New York: Haskell House, 1967), p. 368. Thanks to Jim K. for correcting a misprint of my own.

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