From my notebooks: The Oxford Book of Oxford

~chosen and edited by Jan Morris

Oxford academics asking Henry III for a postern gate through the city wall at Oxford:

1st SCHOLAR: We ask license for the making of a gate through the city wall.

2nd SCHOLAR: No, we do not want the making of a gate for that would mean the gate was always in the making, and never made. What we want is a gate made.

3rd SCHOLAR: No, we do not want a gate made, for a gate made must already be in existence somewhere else, and so we should be taking somebody else’s gate.

The king told them to go away and make up their minds. 3 days later they had agreed on a formula:

We ask permission that the making of a gate might be made (Ostium fieri in facto esse).

Permission was granted.

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