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William Willymott, English examples to Lily’s grammar rules, for children’s Latin exercises: with an explanation to each rule. 4th ed. (London, 1727). Purchased July 2010.

Historical student textbooks can offer a fascinating insight into the attitudes, views and even humour of a particular period. This recently-acquired early printed Latin exercise book, intended for use at Eton School, contains  English sentences for translation into Latin, mostly on the subject of ethics and history. However, the book also includes a number of general remarks about contemporary society for the student to translate, usually didactic in tone. Of these remarks, certain present practical advice: 

Tread upon a Dog by chance, or put him to pain upon the dressing of a Wound; the one he passes by as an Accident, and the other, in his fashion, he  acknowledges as kindness; but offer to strike at him, tho’ you do him no hurt at all, he flies yet in the face of you, even for the Mischief you barely meant him.

Others offer a wry observation or reproach:

The Sin of Disobedience to Parents was by the Law of Moses punishable with Death. But if Parents now-a-days should proceed so with their children, many might make themselves Childless.

The book’s author, William Willymott, was a grammarian and school master, born at Royston in Cambridgeshire around the year 1670. Educated at Eton School, he was admitted as a scholar to King's College, Cambridge, on 20 Oct. 1692, graduating B.A. in 1697, M.A. in 1700, and LL.D. in 1707. He died in 1737. This particular copy of Willymott’s book belonged to John Battie, who signed and dated its flyleaf in 1736.