[The following entries have been transcribed from the minute books kept in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.]
The 118th meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Fr: Passant’s Rooms on Monday Jan: 30th .
The solemn splendour & deep solemnity of the opening ceremonies was added to by the unusual circumstance of Fr. Passant having a lamp in working order, & for the admissions of Fratres Leeper & Crompton the Pontifex was, for once, able to read his adurations [sic] correctly. Indeed one incident boded ill for the reputations of certain fratres, but happily all ended well. At the moment when one of the newly admitted fratres temporally [sic] obscured the light, by passing before it, a sudden crash of meltal [sic] was heard. Startled fratres peeped round to find the casket that contains the sacred bullion lying open & empty upon the floor. So horrified were the tribunes that, far from at once starting on their work of taking XXX XXX, locking of the doors & rolling up the carpet, they left it to to [sic] the Magister to instigate a search. His detective instinct sensed that the sacred bullion might be described as a hidden talent, his faultless memory reminded him that there was a parable in the Scriptures upon a talent uselessly hidden in a napkin, & his intimate knowledge of humanity led him to perceived [sic] that the Dean was the most likely person to have heard of that talent. Then by a rapid process of deduction it dawned upon him that the dean was the correct person to suspect. He made a rapid, but fruitless search, while one Frater advised that the lights should be extinguished, & the guilty given an opportunity of replacing the bullion unseen. The Dean was seen to flinch, & the hunted look came into his eyes. He appeared to be making a rapid mental resolution, & stooping down he pretended to pick something from the carpet. “Here,” he cried, “it is”.
After this Frater Passant read a letter from Fr. Hackforth, in which he said, that owing to lack of time, he much regretted he must offer his resignation from the Society, as he would be unable to attend its meetings. Frater Passant then spoke to the society on the difficulties of attendance by XXX, & though suggestions were put forward, it was finally decided that there was nothing for it but regretfully to accept Fr: Hackforth’s resignation.
Fr: Passant then announced the date of the visitors [sic] meeting, & Fr: Gladstone, seconded by Fr: Robson proposed that Ladies should be admitted. The motion was carried 16-3. Messrs: Bovenizer & Wright were then duly proposed & seconded for membership to the society, & the question of fixture cards was gone into; it being decided to leave it in the hands of the Senate.
After this the most important question of the evening was discussed. Fr: Gage proposed that the Society should meet in ordinary clothes, to which Fr: Stansfield proposed the amendment that dinner jackets & red socks should be worn for banquets & the latter with trousers on ordinary meetings. Fr: Lancaster seconded the amendement [sic]. The Magister then read a letter from Fr. Weekes, & recounted a vision, back up with material evidence, that he had had from the Lady Clio. Fr: Stansfield proposed that the evidence, which consisted of a garter & some locks of golden hair, should be returned to the Lady Clio up the chimney. It was perhaps this impertinent suggestion that caused Our Lady to harden the hearts of Fratres & to force them to betray themselves to self inflicted hardship & discomfort. Frater Stansfield lost his amendement [sic], & the society decided to meet as before, in dinner jackets & scarlet hose, by 13 votes to six.
A gentle reprimand was then administered to the Dean for appearing in black socks, & Fr: Stansfield made a suggestion that the rule of dress should be relaxed for senior members. The suggestions however did not meet with agreement, & was not passed.
This concluded the Private business, & Frater Lancaster was able to read a learned paper on Bismarck.
G. J. W. Gibson (Mag. Rot.)
E J. Passant (Princ. Sen. 13.2.28)
The 119th meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Monday Feb 13th .
The minutes were read & signed & apologies for absence were recieved [sic] from Fratres Taylor, Watson & Robson. It was decided that fratres might bring more than one guest to the visitors [sic] meeting & that ladies should be admitted. Fr: Gibson, seconded by Fr: Gage, again proposed that the society should ceased [sic] to meet in dinner jackets, except upon special occasions, & Fr. [Royce? Joyce?] proposed the amendement [sic], which was carried, that the motion should be take [sic] at another meeting to be held on March 5th, when Fr. Robson was also to read his budget. The Princeps instructed the Magister Rotulorum to let all fratres know by letter that so important a motion was to be discussed on March 5th.
Fr. Rabson then rose & complained to the Princeps of what he called “the horse-play that went on before the Princeps arrived”. While leaving Fratres ignorant of what he referred to, the Pontifex accused certain unnamed fratres of charges from which no doubt, had they had the opportunity, they could have cleared themselves. The Princeps rightly informed Fr: Rabson that his complaints were out of place, & that as the actions to which he referred had taken place before the opening of the meeting, they had nothing whatever to do with the Society.
On his sitting down it was seen that Fr. Rabson, that staunch supporter of correct & proper dress, was arrayed in brown shoes. Fr. Gibson proposed a vote of censure. Fr. Rabson rose & explained that he had come in brown shoes as he had no others, Fr. Passant pointed out that if parts of one’s appearance were unalterable at least proper clothing could be bought or borrowed, & their motion of censure was passed nem. con.
This brought the private business to a close, & Fr. Picker read the society a most interesting paper on Cavour which was followed by an enlightening flow of questions & answers.
E. J. Passant (Princ. Sen)
G. J. W. Gibson (Mag. Rot.)
The 120th meeting of the society was held on Monday, Feb: 20th . After the opening & closing ceremonies had been performed fratres adjourned for the visitors [sic] meeting, which was held, after coffee had been served in Fr. Passants [sic] rooms, in the Senior Combination Room. Here Professor Trevelyan read a [sic] the society a paper on “Fiction & History” in which he showed how the historical novel helps to keep history from becoming too much of an exact science. Nearly all fratres were present, & the magister counted at least 45 members & guests so the meeting was a very successful one. In thanking Professor Trevelyan Fr: Passant [supposed?] that it was the first time a regius professor of history had ever read a paper to Sidney, as it was certainly the first that one had read a paper to the Confraternitas. Professor Trevelyan replied that he had seldom seen, for the size of the college, a better attended society, & that he had much enjoyed the questions at the end of his paper.
E. J. Passant (Princ. Sent.)
G. J. W. Gibson (Mag. Rot.)
The one hundred and twenty first meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Pater Passants [sic] rooms on Monday, March 5th .
The proceedings were opened with the investment of Fr: Prideaux as the Pontifex Maximus for the ensuing year.
Frater Gibson then read the minutes for the last two meetings, & after the words “common room” had been changed to the expression “combination room” they were duly signed. Frater Passant was pleased to commend Frater Gibson on his style.
There was a momentary hush, a tense breathlessness among fratres, as Frater Robson rose to read his budget. This was done in an audible voice. One thing only seemed amis [sic]. Whereas other fratres of the same standing had only to pay 4/- it was suggested that Frater Gibson should subscribe 4/6 towards the expenses incurred by the society. The suggestion met with a certain amount of sneaking aplause [sic] from the “hoi polloi”, a body always eager to see their betters abashed, their senators discomforted, but on Frater Gibson’s animadverting that Frater Taylor had been ommitted [sic] from the budget, & suggesting that he should be called upon to aid him in bearing this undue & unmerited financial strain, the budget was settled amiably & carried nem con.
Next came the momentous motion proposed by Frater Gibson, who was seconded by Frater Gage, that the society should cease to meet in that form of dress known as the “dinner jacket” on other than festive occasions & visitors [sic] meetings. There was, Frater Gibson pointed out, no rule that the society should meet encumbered in the evening wear of twentieth century instigation. Merely a custom had grown up. However habit had hardened the hearts of fratres to such an extent that a majority of one was actually obtained by those voting that fratres should continue to meet in dinner jackets; ten voted that the lamentable practice should continue, nine that it should cease.
Cast down though he was at this sad steming [sic] of the tyde [sic] of progress, Pater Passant yet read the society a highly stimulating & deeply interesting paper on The Place of Political Thought in History. The society is much beholden to him, not only for this excellent evening, but also for having so successfully guided it & its affairs during his term of office as Princeps.
J. C. M. Gibson (Magister Rotulorum)
H. E. Robson (Princeps)
The one hundredth & twenty second meeting of the society was held in Pater Passant’s Rooms on Monday October the twenty ninth , when Pater Prideaux read the society an erudite & deeply interesting paper on The Antiquities of Cambridge. [A note reads: The evening began with prayer & mystic rites & the reading of his Pastoral Charge by Frater Prideaux. This address, this hommily [sic], this oracular manifestation, this revelation of the will of our Lady Clio through the life of our Pontifex Prideaux, was full of sound advise [sic] & solemn warnings to fratres & patres, to Senate & plebs. It ended with prayer for the future, & thanksgiving for the past.]
The private business was opened with the reading of the minutes of the last meeting which were duly signed by the new Princeps after the words “Psycology [sic] & politics” had been change for the expression “The place of political thought in history”. The election of two new members to the Senate was then proceded [sic] with, & from a choice of Fratres Watson, Herring, Thomson, Bovenizer & Pulman, Fratres Watson & Thomason were eventually selected. Fratres Lancaster & Bovenizer were elected as tribunes, & November 24th was provisionally fixed as the date for the banquet.
The society then proceeded to the discussion of new members, & Messrs Rooke (O. J), Taylor (E. J.), Cooke, Wyatt & Gunner were duly proposed & seconded. After this the visitors [sic] meeting was discussed & Frater Passant proposed that Professor Chapham should be invited to read the Confraternitas a paper. This suggestion seemed to meet with universal agreement & no other name was proposed until Frater Gibson, feeling that Professor Chapham should realise that he was no mere stop gap for want of better, but was chosen from among the salt of the earth, proposed as an alternative that Signior Mussolini should be called upon to read the society a paper on Political Science. This suggestion loosed the pent up floods of desire & hero-worship cherished within the breasts of the fratres & Mrs McPherson, ex prime-minister Lloyd George, Professor Barker, University lecturer Velacot, & Professor [Larky?] were rapidly proposed & seconded in succession. It was left to the Senate to chose [sic] between the respective merits of this host of attractions men & women.
The private business was brought to a finish by a motion proposed by Frater Gibson & seconded by Frater Rooke, that in future the Society, on ordinary occasions, should meet in ordinary clothes. Frater Gibson had previously ascertained that his motion would be passed by a considerable majority, reversing that despicable excess of one, that last year had thrown it out. However, where he had counted on courage he found cowardice, where he had counted on support he found it lacking, where he had counted on stern-hearted revenge he found pity: Frater Passant rose & suggested that new members should be given a change of expressing their oppinions [sic]. With false tears in his eyes & self pity in his voice he called upon the society to yield up their hope & comfort & give the die hards another change. Frater Passant’s long standing position in the Society, Frater Passant’s experienced oratory, Frater Passant’s self martyrdom, Frater Passant’s eloquence so moved the tender hearts of fratres that by a majority of 10-4 they decided to adjourn the hearing of Frater Gibson’s motion until the 1st meeting of the Lent term.
This brought the private business to a close & the society proceeded to listen to Frater Prideaux’ excellent paper.
G. J. M Gibson (Pro & ex Magister Rotulorum)
H. E. Robson (Princeps. Nov 12 28.)
The one hundred and twenty-third meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on thursday [sic], Nov. 12th . Frs. Passant, Rooke, Taylor, Lancaster and Wright sent notes regretting their unavoidable absence. The minutes were read & approved after the expression Pastoral Charge had been substituted, on the Princep’s [sic] motion, for Pontifical Oration. Rooke G.J. was then received into the Confraternitas with the old accustomed ceremonies & Cooper, Wyatt & Taylor E. J were nominated for membership. Not even the most humble & abject apologies could melt the hearts of the fratres, who passed a vote of very severe censure on the Comes & the Magister Rotulorum for not appearing in the proper trappings of their office.
The Princeps raised the question of the revision of the laws & the abolition of contradictions in them. The fratres were agreed that the laws needed revision & finally decided that the Senate should be left to determine who should examine the laws with a view to producing next term proposals of amendment.
After Fr. Bovenizer had read the Tribunitial Oath, the Comes proceeded to his terminal ordeal, the exposition of the Budget. He showed none of the signs of trepidation or lack of self-confidence that might have been expected. In a spirited & amusing discourse he juggled light-heartedly with the fratres’ money, now raising hopes on high, & the next moment dashing them to the ground. At the end of some complicated manoeuvres he triumphantly asked for 21- from each frater & no one dared question his figures. Fr. Pulman, indeed, asked the reason for so low a subscription, but the Comes apparently satisfied him. The Budget concluded in what must be by now a time-honoured way, with an appeal for speedy payment.
Private business being over, Fr. Gibson read his paper on St. William of Norwich. His vivid & amusing description of anti-Semitic feeling in 12th Century England, interspersed asit [sic] was with erudite quotations from French, Latin & English authors & enlivened with racy anecdotes of miracles done at St. Williams tomb, vastly entertained the fratres, who, at its close, thanked him in the usual way.
When the flow of questions had ceased, the meeting ended with the customary ceremonies.
A. J. Crompton (Mag. Rot.)
H. E. Robson (Princeps.)
The 124th meeting of the Confraternitas Historica on Saturday, November 24th, 1928 was the occasion of the Annual Banquet. The opening & closing ceremonies were performed & Cooper, Taylor E. J. & Wyatt were initiated into the Society before the famished Fratres trooped across to the Hall for dinner. Messrs. Dunford, Middleton & Jones were kind enough to provide music between the courses.
After the very proper recipe for Cookerye had been approved of, Fr. Robson gave his Principial Oration. The Society then settled down to an evening of entertainment. The historical charade of Frs. Gibson, Robson, Prideaux, Watson & Pulman roused such a spirit of emulation in Frs. Thomson, Herring, Cooke & Wyatt that they produced another charade impromptu. Fr. Passant gave an excellent impersonation of an Irish parson & with Fr. Smith got up a third charade. In the interval there was lusty singing from the whole Society & the sound of revelry by night continued to a late hour after the Fratres had adjourned for a second time to Fr. Passant’s rooms. All who had helped to get up the entertainment were warmly thanked.
A. J. Crompton, (Mag. Rot.)
H. E. Robson (Princeps)