Letter: O Latin, mon amour]

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The Independent Online
Sir: Dr Rosemary O'Day's account (31 May) of 16th-century Huguenot refugees teaching French through 'entertaining and sprightly conversations' reminds me of an idea put forward by John Aubrey in the following century. Reacting against the formal methods of Dr Busby at Westminster, he produced An Idea of Education of Young Gentlemen, in which, among many splendid or quirky ideas, was a way of getting pupils to learn Latin unconsciously. The school would recruit '10 or 12 Swisse or Dutch or Scotish Boyes of about fifteene years old', who would be given free education in return for a promise to speak nothing but Latin when talking among themselves, or with the other boys.

However, he issued a dark warning against recruiting French boys for this purpose since 'their mindes do chiefly run on the propagation of their race'.

Yours faithfully,

MICHAEL HUGILL

London, SW15

31 May

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