Alexander Stille, "Latin Fanatic: A Profile of Father Reginald Foster," American Scholar
63.4 (Autumn, 1994) 497-526 (at 499):
"You don't have to be all that intelligent, but Latin takes a little bit
of toughness," he growls. "I hope you are all here voluntarily. I don't
like the idea that some of you have been pushed into this classroom
by some requirement," a word he pronounces with the utmost scorn
and distaste. "Because if that's the case, I'd like to push you right back
out. If you have to take Latin and don't want to, there is a list here,
and you can just put your name on it and leave. And I will give you a
passing grade for the year. I'm interested in teaching Latin to people
who want to learn. So, if you don't like me or you don't like Latin, then
you can leave and that will be that. Got it? If you want to learn Latin,
we'll learn Latin. I don't care if you are registered. You can sit here
for five years and not be registered. I don't know how much they're
charging downstairs — I think it's too much."
"Why do you want to study Latin? The question is, Why don't people want
to study Latin?" he asks the class in a loud rhetorical shout, pacing back
and forth in front of the blackboard. "If you don't know Latin, you know
nothing! I had my first experience of Latin forty years ago, and I have not
been bored by Latin for ten minutes in these forty years. Latin is one of
the greatest things that ever happened in human history."
When Foster begins to shift into high gear, he picks up in speed
and volume, like a high-performance car moving into overdrive. "If
you don't know Latin, you're sitting out there on the sidelines — don't
worry, most of the world is out there with you. But if you want to see
what's going on in this whole stream of two thousand years' worth of
gorgeous literature, then you need Latin."
Id. (at 500):
"People are not told what
Latin is all about," Foster says. "They are just told to memorize all the
forms, the conjugations and declensions. Latin has nothing to do with
memorization. Every bum and prostitute in ancient Rome spoke
Latin and they didn't learn it by memorization. Got it?"