390 History of Wake Forest College
his expressions were told around the dinner tables in the College
boarding houses. His orders to his servant were in sesquipedalian
words: "Extinguish the nocturnal luminary," which his fac totum had
learned to know was his master's word for candle and not for the
moon. "When the great orb of day shall descend beyond the scraggy
hills of the western horizon, remember to replenish the supply of
aqueous fluid in the vessel." That such language was natural to him is
shown by the fact that he used it in emergencies. Once when he was
seeking to quell a nocturnal rough-house, a strong-armed student
caught him from behind as in a vice, when Owen gasping for breath,
said: "Relax your grasp, or I shall immediately become a corpse." At
another time, when he was handing out diplomas to the graduates at
commencement of 1853, a member of the class threw back to Owen
the diploma handed him who immediately replied, "A fit
consummation of a long course of insubordination." In his writing,
however, consisting of numerous published articles in the Biblical
Recorder, there is none of the gradiloquence that was said to
characterize his oral discourse. His diction is choice and his style in
other respects excellent. It should be said further that these letters
show that he was a man of more native ability than Battle and the
students credit him with. His thoughts are clear, cogent and clearly
expressed and to the point, and without exuberance of ideas or ex-
travagance of language.
Owen was at the College for fifteen years, 1843-59, longer than any
other instructor of this period except William Tell Brooks. He was
succeeded by one of his students, Professor James H. Foote, who had
no other college or university training than that which he had got from
Owen. Of another of his students who became Tutor in the College,
B. W. Justice, Wallace has said, "He was the finest Greek scholar that
I ever knew," while Wallace himself acquired in Owen's classroom
that mastery of Latin grammar which enabled him to read Latin as
well as
the lady to whom he proposed said that she could not understand his language, and,
laughing, jumped up and left him in the parlor alone. Foote, article cited.
9 Wake Forest Student, XXVIII, 325 f.
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