Sunday, November 4, 2007

Novel defense

The Smithsonian Book of Books by Michael Olmert

From The Smithsonian Book of Books comes this little detail of which I was unaware.

"The ability to read and write Latin among the clergy was a holdover from the time of Alcuin (of York). Reading the 51st Psalm in Latin was proof that one was in holy orders and so was exempt from criminal prosecution in civil courts. Ben Jonson, Shakespeare's friend, once used his classical training in this way to escape punishment for manslaughter after a duel. In America this legal device survived into the 18th century."

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