The "J.B.Benson" Letter

From: John.B.Benson (1935-42)
Date: August 2016
To: Webmaster
Subject: COBA Website Corrections.

Hello Webmaster,

I have noticed that the following errors seem to be present in the wording of the section on the School Song CD.

In the example verse :-

suntmaiorum should be sunt maiorum (2 words);

fact should be facta;

segniorexorget should be segnior exSUrget (2 words & spelling)

With reference to the following section on the School Song :-

Title PAEN should be PAEAN

2nd verse 3rd line - excolentes NOT exolentes

If you would prefer a more accurate translation to a rough one, here it is. I have tried to keep the word order of the original even if that makes the English seem a bit archaic, and I have corrected some elementary howlers in the construe. I have also bracketed words included for full(er) understanding.

V1. (Long) live this fellowship, Esmeduna's glory! To none ever to be ranked second, always to the skies to be praised, great cradle of (true) men.

V2. See here its glorious home; its wall stand to the (four) winds. Here fostering learning & fearing no rivals, we live care-free.

V3. Health we pursue of body & mind. Whatever is beautiful we cherish, whatever is learned we strive for, offspring of a glorious nation.

V4 Inborn talents spur us on, and manly courage. Neither unknown are the deeds of our elders, nor will the generation of our juniors rise up less energetic.

V5 Now let us with mindful heart our patrons celebrate. Us have they enriched with their liberality, have enlarged with their distinction. To them honour let us give.

As for my credentials to offset this temerity, I was a Classical scholar of the school ('35 - '42), going on to Christ's College Cambridge on a major scholarship (Dec'42), where from 1946 - 49 (after 3 years in the Royal Navy) I read the full Classics Tripos, taking a double first. I then taught the subject in various schools from 1949 to 1988, ending up as H o D Classics in Winchester's 6th form college.

I believe there is some idea of inserting into the website material from past magazines, so if you can access Esmeduna copies, let me commend two to your notice:-

(1) The 3 poems by R.J. Beck (October 1937) 1934-1939. His parody of the Lady of Shalott, Boozy Dot, I regard as a masterpiece of the sort of talent the Collegiate fostered. He became a prisoner of war in Stalag 3 after he was shot down over Germany in 1942 (perhaps late 1941); I never heard of him again, so I don't know whether he became a later casualty of the war.

(2) The poem Alphabet by R.W. (October 1938)


P.S. There was a letter from Guy Adams asking for contact with acquaintances of Leonard Rossiter. My brother Frank Benson (1937 - 1944) was a friend of Rossiter's and knocked around with him quite a bit.

Hi John

Thanks for pointing out the errors. We must admit that quite often, when we look at the Site, we notice an error of some type. Where these things hide, in the meantime, is a mystery. We do wonder where they have hidden during previous scans through the Site. Anyway, we have corrected the points that you raise.

When it comes to the Latin, it MIGHT be 'a different ball game'. We certainly 'bow the knee' when it comes to your credentials. Our knowledge of the language is a little bit less than a negative number. We would need a five years course of evening class lectures to get within touching distance of your level of esxpertise. Thus, our first reaction is to accept your Latin expertise without question. However, our second reaction is to go to that well know 'fount of all wisdom', our readers of this Website :-)

Thus, we invite our members to read John's letter and assess it for accuracy. THEN WRITE IN WITH YOUR CONCLUSIONS.

Of course, we are expecting to hear that John's conclisions are 100% accurate. But, wouldn't it be interesting if someone who knew John at school had the pleasure of pointing out a point of fallibilty in his letter :-)

Let's see, shall we - Webmaster

Hi Webmaster

I fully endorse John's suggested corrections to the Latin version of our school song. Furthermore, I cannot find fault with the accuracy of his suggested translation, although, being a literal translation, it does seem a little stilted in places.


Li Ross