Sunday, January 08, 2012


The Case of the Missing Dictionary

T.R. Glover, Cambridge Retrospect (Cambridge: At the University Press, 1943), pp. 85-86 (on John E.B. Mayor):
'Impudent fellows,' he called Lewis and Short; 'when they say a word is rare, I write not in the margin; why, they dare to say that adjutorium is rare; from Theodore Priscian alone I have gleaned 740 instances.'


At one stage a terrible misfortune befel him. The copy of Lewis and Short, in which he was registering his reading and his corrections of their 'impudence', disappeared, and could not be found. It seemed only too likely that it had been stolen—what a thesaurus of learning it would afford to a rival scholar, who might wish to supersede Lewis and Short—a German, perhaps. That Mayor would concentrate long enough to supersede them himself with a work of his own, nobody who knew him would have believed; but making notes toward a project was another thing, an enjoyable task that gave the sensation of valuable work. But the book was gone—stolen! Mayor notified the learned journals and all who read them, scholars and booksellers, that if they were offered this lost dictionary, they must know it was stolen from him. But it was not stolen, nor indeed very far away. His bedmaker, innocent soul, had used it—not to produce a rival lexicon, but to support a chest of drawers which had lost a foot. Notumque fovens quid femina possit.
Hat tip: Alan Crease.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?