13 June 2020


Gracious! It is rumoured that some of our Oxonian Natural Philosophers are about to come up with a vaccine against you-know-what. That will make the other university hopping mad, won't it? Not to mention the academy so cumbersomely named Cantabrigia Massachusettensium. I wonder if there will be priority of access to vaccines for those of us who matriculated in the Michaelmas term of 1960 for the Honour School of Litterae Humaniores ...

Not that you should think that such research is a new phenomenon here. Nathaniel Hodges, of Cardinal College in this University, is justly celebrated for his well-observed account of the Great Plague in the 1660s. His magnum opus Loimologia was even recently commended to us by Mrs Vice-Chancellor during our present little medical difficulty; but, weak-hearted woman that she is, she seemed to draw back from the full implementation of Dr Hodges' magisterially sage advice 
"that all Means of propagating the Plague may be removed, it is very wisely ordered by the Magistracy, to kill all Dogs, Cats, and other domestick Brutes, lest these creatures in their Passage from one Place to another should carry along with them the pestilential Infection"..

Ah, "this indefatigable and unsavoury Engine of Pollution" (sic ait John Sparrow). Man's oldest and filthiest Friend! Vale, Canis.

I'm 100% with the Doctor on this one. I gather that in the Bronx Tigers have been spreading Coronavirus. I like to think of my New York Friends marauding through their Streets [zeugmatriggerwarning] on Elephants and Tiger Shoots. It must look quite Raj. Spiffing good Shot, Carruthers!

Oops ... I appear to have caught from Dr Hodges the Habit of Giving all Nouns an upper Case initial Letter. It does seem so much more prescriptive, doesn't it? I wonder if Hitler became so terribly bossy because he used a Language that adhered to this Convention.

But Hodges appears to share Herr Hitler's Views about Tobacco:
"It remains that we now say somewhat concerning the Use of Tobacco, whose Vertues for this purpose are extreamly cried up by Diemebrooeck, and some others; but whether we regard the narcotick Quality of this American  Henbane; or the poisonous oil which exhales from it in Smoaking; or that prodigious Discharge of Spittle which it occasions, and whch Nature wants for many other important Occasions; or, lastly, the Exercise it gives to the Lungs in drawing it; besides the Aptitude of the pestilential Poison to be taken down along with it, and the Irksomeness of its Scent; I must confess my self at Uncertainties about it; though as to my self, I am its professed Enemy, and was accustomed to supply its Place as an Antidote with Sack.".

Ah ... no ... Hitler was not exactly a Sack Man, was he? I wonder, incidentally, if there may be just a Hint of a Smidgeon of a Dash of Irony in some of Dr Hodges' Observations: "it is certainly true, that during the late fatal Times, both the infected and the well found vast Benefit from [Sack] ..."


PM said...

What would Oxford be without sack?

Evie said...

Careful now, I’m a graduate of a certain university in Cantabrigia in republica Massachusettensium, whose coat of arms bears the word Vertias (whether or not they mean it).