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Truth And Rhyme

Jests Home




IN the days of Charles II., candidates for holy orders were expected to
respond in Latin to the various interrogatories put to them by the
bishop or his examining chaplain. When the celebrated Dr. Isaac Barrow
(who was fellow of Trinity College, and tutor to the immortal Newton)
had taken his bachelor's degree, he presented himself before the
bishop's chaplain, who, with the stiff stern visage of the times, said
to Barrow,--

Quid est fides? (What is faith?)

Quod non vides (What thou dost not see),

answered Barrow with the utmost promptitude. The chaplain, a little
vexed at Barrow's laconic answer, continued,--

Quid est spes? (What is hope?)

Magna res (A great thing),

replied the young candidate in the same breath.

Quid est charitas? (What is charity?)

was the next question.

Magna raritas (A great rarity),

was again the prompt reply of Barrow, blending truth and rhyme with a
precision that staggered the reverend examiner, who went direct to the
bishop and told him that a young Cantab had thought proper to give
rhyming answers to three several moral questions, and added that he
believed his name was Barrow, of Trinity College, Cambridge. Barrow,
Barrow! said the bishop, who well knew the literary and moral worth of
the young Cantab, if that's the case, ask him no more questions, for he
is much better qualified, continued his lordship, to examine us than
we him. Barrow received his letters of orders forthwith.





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