Friday, August 03, 2018


Old Keeckero Kaisar

Charles Forster Smith (1852-1931), "The South's Contribution to Classical Studies," in The South in the Building of the Nation, Vol. VII (Richmond: The Southern Historical Publication Society, 1909), pp. 135-172 (at 147-148, on Milton W. Humphreys):
Washington and Lee University was the first institution in this country to adopt the Roman pronunciation of Latin. This was in 1868, and due to Humphreys. The head of the department (Professor Harris) had told him he might investigate the subject and adopt what he should believe to have been the pronunciation of Cicero. Humphreys did so, but when the professor attended an oral at the intermediate examination he was amazed, and wanted Humphreys to abandon the "new-fangled pronunciation." But this Humphreys refused to do. He had already met ridicule enough from his students, e.g., the nickname of "old Keeckero Kaisar." He taught all the students of the first two years, i.e., four-fifths of those who went on into advanced Latin, and these, having become accustomed to the Roman pronunciation, refused to change when they reached Professor Harris. "I have had some fights in my life of which I am wont to boast," says Humphreys, "as when, from sunset till dark, with one three-inch rifle I fought at 400-500 yards range nine pieces of artillery under Colonel DuPont (five of them belonging to the regular army); but the fight of my life that required most moral courage was c=k, j=y, v=w in Latin, with the influence of my full professor against me."

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