1934

[The following entries have been transcribed from the minute books kept in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.]


The 158th meeting of the Confraternity was held on Saturday January 27th [1934] this being the occasion of the Annual Banquet.

The Confraternity was happy to welcome Fratres Scott-giles and A. P. Rooke from the world outside, while the presence of such occasional fratres as Smith, Maycock, Knot-Skand and Wyatt were a no less pleasing addition to the gathering. When the Lady Clio had been both hailed and bidden farewell the company moved across to the College there to pass a convivial evening. The menu had been rendered unto sounding hexamities by Messrs Townsend and Holmes, who, although members of that great other confraternity, the Boat Club, had most kindly lent us their knowledge and skill for the occasion. The Latin was difficult, for the exigencies of verse form necessitated the use of rare words; but when Frater Passant could be seen forlornly shaking his head, and Frater Wyatt finding two nouns “malum” and “prunum” with unholy XXX and translating them as “a bad plum”, then indeed it was apparent that the Latin was much too difficult. After the repast was done a frater asked his Tutor if he had known what he was eating. “Yes” was the reply “but not from the menu”; which shows how much more French than Latin most epicures know.

Still later in the evening the dais was cleared for the performance of charades. They were historical charades, and so well were they enacted, that the pageant of history raised from its tomb in the text-books and given again the colour and movement of Life. Once more the New Forest glades sang with the shouts of the Norman Huntsman, and in the mists of the morning the red king lay alone and dead. Yet again Henry Beauclerc was saddened for ever by the news of his son’s disaster and the Saracen maid with her his English wards searched Europe for XXX and his lover. Undeterred by two centuries of experience George Washington still could not tell a lie, nor could the efforts of German National Socialists prevent the telling of the true story of the Reichstag Fire. All these things were done, and yet they were not all. Two coloured troubadours, whose identity will always be a subject for lively contention, took to the stage, and in the manner of troubadours sang in the honour of him whom they esteemed most in the assembled audience. When they had finished the evening finished in the rooms of Frater Passant, where fratres of all generations puffed at cigars of inordinate length. And in such joyous manner did the Confraternity celebrate its 23rd birthday.

Signed:
R. C Smail. (Magister Rolutorum)
D. Thomson (Princeps)


The 159th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday, Feb 12th at 8.30pm [1934].

The Confraternity paid its respects to the Lady Clio, and listened to two sets of minutes. The Pontifex was not in a good humour and proposed that they were tendenlious. Unfortunately no one else knew what the word meant and were uncertain as to whether the Pontifex wished to pass a vote of confidence or a vote of censure. And the Magister passed on his way unmolested.

The notes of absence were nearly all refused. Frater Winterton, who is inclined to credit other people with his own weaknesses, proposed that the note sent by Fratres Clank and Wade should be voted amusing; he even moved a vote of thanks to its impious andunrepentant authors. All of those things were very properly rejected by the slightly outraged Confraternity, and Frater Winterton was left to giggle quietly to himself. Frater Leslie’s note was voted vague and wholly insufficient. To him as on Fratres clank and Wade a vote of censure was passed; while on Fratres Hemming Margesison and Romani, who had so far fallen from their sun high standards of courtesy and tact as to absent themselves brazenly and without excuse, there was passed a very severe vote of censure indeed.

At this point the Magister drew attention to the unconstitutional methods by which the Tribunes of the Plebs had last time been elected. By a happy chance the Plebs were entirely satisfied as to the integrity of those who had been so corruptly chosen, and the election was allowed to stand.

There was no more business and the Princeps called upon himself to read a paper. On finding himself agreeable he did so, and within an hour had taught even the sectors of the Temple much concerning the life and thought and methods of Edward Gibbons. We can only marvel with Frater Passant that the examiners for the Member’s Prize should have found anything to put before the Princeps scholarly treatise.

When the questions had been asked and answered there was a general discussion on the possibilities of an excursion to some palace of historical interest during the May term. Hinchinbroke was suggested; Castle Rising and Kings Lynn were most honourably mentioned; but the formal decision was left for a future occasion.

Signed:
R. C. Smail (Mag. Rot.)
D. Thomson (Princeps)


The 160th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passants rooms on Monday, February 26th at 8.30pm [1934].

To be married by proxy is a very agreeable proxy, but to record the activities of the Confraternity in the same manner is hardly so satisfactory. On this occasion the very barest record must suffice.

In the absence of the Magister the Princeps read the Minutes. Frater Turner proposed that the word ‘tendenlious’ be removed, this notion was carried by 8 votes to 3, one member being exceptional enough to abstain. The notes of absence were leanfully apologetic and manifestly sincere, and for the first time during the foresaid academic year the Confraternity failed to pass a vote of censure. The way was clear for the Princeps to announce that the visitors meeting would take place on the following Sunday at half past eight in the evening and that Mr Kingsley Martin would talk on “the Historical Basis of British Fascism”.

Thereafter the Princeps was XXX and voices hushed for Frater Tyas whose paper was on “Bismarck. Keeper of the Peace”. It showed Bismarck as the author ‘of the damned system of alliance which were to be the curse of Europe’.

Frater Thyme

Signed:
R. C. Smail
D. Thomson (Princeps)


The 161st meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Sunday March 14th 1934. This being the occasion of the visitor’s meeting, the confraternity subsequently found its guests in the Senior Combination Room.

After preliminary chatter the meeting hushed itself to listen attentively to Mr Kingsley Martin’s address on “The Historical Background of Fascism”. He commenced with the ideals of 1789; then he described the political system by which the 19th century expressed them, and so led up to the entry of fascism into modern affairs. It was plain that his knowledge was strongest concerning the German National Socialists, and it was from their testimony that he drew most of his examples; and although some were disappointed that he did not say more concerning the Italian Fascist state and the fascist party in England, Mr Kingsley Martin’s talk did not fail to hold the respect and attention of everyone present.

The discussion which followed was a little disappointing. It was soon apparent that most of the company were readers of the New Statesman and were in agreement with Mr Kingsley Martin’s views. Therefore he met with no opposition, but only with a series of rather dull questions. A few belligerent and convinced Fascists would have made all the difference. But this was no XXX and the XXX of questions happily continued. Someone elicited from the speaker some extremely interesting information concerning Sir Stafford Cripps; while Frater Clarke was to pronounce the magic name of Thyscen, which sent him home happy. And soon after 11.00 pm the rest of the gathering followed him; but not until they had passed a most sincere and cordial vote of thanks to Mr Kingsley Martin.

Signer:
R. C. Smail (Mag. Rot).


The 162nd meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday, October 29th, 1934, at 8.30pm.

A very small band of Fratres listened to the preliminary salutations of Clio. Few knew the opening words and most followed the Princeps with incoherent noises. The m use must have understood however that the invocation was little more than a rehearsal, and that her presence was not really necessary, for so far had the Confraternitas fallen from its lofty pretensions, that it was now concerning itself with a business meeting. The Princeps found nothing to object to in his own minutes and promptly signed them. The Magister, it seemed, was deemed worthy of his office without the customary initiation, so that we were soon able to pass to the business of electing new members; and all except two were initiated on the spot. However we may previously offended against her dignity, Clio must surely have been appeased by number of her neophytes. Emerging from the shadow of the Ceremoniorius they passed an endless stream before the Pontifex into the Confraternity.

This rite performed, the Confraternity seated itself to listen to the notes of excuse. The elder Fratres, judging the new senate yet young and inexperienced sought to take advantage of their immaturity by absenting themselves in shoals. Through all the communications rang a note of defiance; but so outraged was the society at the messages from Fratres Black and Wade that they passed unheeded the fact that the XXX had absented himself without forsending any reason and that Frater barely had vainly enquired that there was a society more to be honoured than this. After Frater Romain’s resignation had been accepted and the Ceremoniorius authorised to collect his red XXX, the meeting turned to fuller consideration of the case of Fratres Black and Wade. The Magister made it known that they wished to explain the reason for their absence verbally to the Confraternitas, and that they had a petition to present. He thereupon moved that they be admitted. So auspicious was the meeting that it refused by 10 votes to 9 to admit the fratres simultaneously, dreading – who knows! – some plot, some infernal machine that needed two for its operation. They were reassured by the entrance of Frater Black, for in spite of his revolutionary attire, he bore himself with a mild and gentle manner. Then followed a scene of obscure argument, misquotations of the Codex and exhaustive cross-examinations. Fratres Black and Wade were frankly disbelieved. At one stage it was suggested that they should be subjected to the ordeal by fire, but since it took so long to heat Frater Passant’s poker, the proposal had to be abandoned. The Princeps, emboldened by the respect which was shown to him by Fratres Black and Wade, who had managed by what was called a legal fiction, both to be present in the room at the same time, the Princeps passed form strength to strength. From the chair, he proposed and carried a severe vote of censure on the petitioning Fratres. Since then it has been found that the Codex states by implication that fratres of more than nine terms residence are not bound to excuse themselves in case of absence; so it becames a doubtful point whether the vote of censure has any legal justification. The Princeps then declared that the meeting was at an end and, to Frater Passant’s surprise, announced that the latter had consented to hold a social gathering for the rest of the evening. He refused to hear the petition until those who presented it should appear in conventional dress. The more curious fear that we shall never know what that document contained.

The closing rites were read to a slightly outraged Clio and the meeting broke up into excited groups to discuss the sensational events of the evening.

Signed:
F. G. Herd. (Magister Rotulorum)
R. C. Smail

The following were proposed and elected: –

Messrs.  Swain
Townsend
Blake
Adams
Brock
Das Gupta
Hay
Hotopf
Morgan
Phillips
Secretan
Thompson
Winder


The 163rd meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday, 12th November 1934, at 8.30pm.

The opening ceremonies had been performed with slightly more success than had been the case at the previous meeting. Before he Pontifex shed his ceremonial attire, he consecrated the new Magister to his duties with a fluency of Latin phraseology. The minutes were read and passed; but they inspired the [Fabrians?] to propose a vote of censure on the Princeps for his alleged dictatorial behaviour at the last meeting. Neither he nor the seconder Frater barely had been present at that meeting, but they deemed their interpretation of the minutes sufficient evidence on which to base such a motion. The Princeps disproved their statements at once by ruling their motion out of order. The notes of excuse were read and no comment was made or was thought necessary to check the number of fratres present by reference to the list of members, so that those who had absented themselves without stating any reason, might be discovered. Since the Magister could produce no such list, the Fabricius, not to be denied passing a vote of censure on something, proposed one on the Magister for the aforesaid offence. It was passed by a decisive majority. The Election of the Tribunes of the Plebs proceeded smoothly and the free choice of the commons led to Fratres Swain and Phillips being appointed to head the Plebs and check the Senate.

The business then turned on the question of who should be invited to speak at the visitors meeting. The two original proposals were Professor Williams and Admiral Richmond. But they were by no means all. Many distinguished names passed from mouth to mouth and for many minutes the stream continued. A biased observer might have called some of the later suggestions flippant. No definite motion was proposed and passed and it seemed to be taken for granted that as long as the Senate secured one of the personages mentioned, the Confraternity, would be satisfied.

When this vast amount of business had been dispatched, the Princeps called upon the Pontifex to read his paper on Napoleon. Only the early part of the Emperor’s career was selected for study and of that the Pontifex told us with geographical and topographical detail. After the paper was ended it was the expedition to Egypt which drew a large proportion of the attention of the Fratres and the arrival of Frater Passant leant added authority to the discussion.

At 11.25 the closing rites were read but the fraters did not disperse until a few minutes before midnight.

Signed:
F. G. Herd (Magister Rotulorum)
R. C. Smail


The 164th meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.30pm on Monday, 16th November 1934.

When the Fratres assembled, there was a certain amount of secretive bugging which might be interpreted as the prelude to great events which were to come. Even while the minutes were being read the Plebs showed that they were in their most turbulent mood, as soon as the Princeps had received the [registration?] Book they fell on the record with the angry criticism of those well versed in studying the art of revolution. They objected strongly to the mention of three names which the Magister Rotulorum had thought fairly representative of the number which had been mentioned in connection with the visitors meeting. As criticisms grew both in intensity and extent, the Comes intervened with the solution that the minutes should be completely rejected and rewritten. The proposal was seconded by the Magistor Rotulorum and carried without opposition.

The notes of excuse were read. It was remarked that certain of the members had not attended any of the meetings that term. It was asked whether the Magister had yet compiled a list of fraters. When told that he had, the Princeps suggested that, as the Confraternitas wished to know if any fratres had absented without sending any written note of excuse, the roll should be called. This was done, but unfortunately the Magister with gross carelessness overlooked Frater Marquerison’s name. This subjected him to a vote of censure proposed by Frater Morgan and carried by a large majority.

In the performance of his office of XXX, Frater Swain then asked leave to read a petition of the Plebs. Permission being granted, a document of some length was read objective to the dictatorial action of the Princeps at past meetings. At the end the Princeps replied that he was graciously pleased to grant the petition. This left the matter in a certain amount of ambiguity. It was soon clarified when Frater Swain, on behalf of the Plebs, regretfully proposed a vote of censure on the Princeps for appearing at the meeting dressed in a soft shirt and without his band of office. This proposal was duly seconded and opposed but it was with some hesitation that Frater Casey seconded the opposition. The Princeps called upon the Pontifex to take the chair and defended himself in a very eloquent speech, expressing in the course of it some democratic opinions which made some of the assembly suspect that at heart he must be a Leveller. After the speech Frater Casey found himself compelled to withdraw his support from the opposition. Another seconder could not be found and the vote of censure was passed without being put to the meeting.

“The business was nearly over yet. The magister rose to propose that the Confraternity should no longer meet in evening dress. Although welcomed by the healthier and saner fratres”, the Princeps was obliged to rule the notion out of order. He explained that the Senate alone had power to amend or repeal an act of the constitution. The Plebs clamoured for an immediate meeting of the Senate to decide the vexed questions. The Senate willing to appease them agreed to meet in Frater Passant’s outer room. During the short period that the Senate were debating, feelings ran higher and higher among the plebs. When the parties returned, the plebs were already bordering n a state of insurrection. The Princeps announced that the senate had decided that no change should be made in the Codex. With cries of thwarted rage, egged on by their demagogues and Frater Clarke particularly, the plebs raised the standards of revolt, seized each a bottle of the Society’s beer and departed with cries – “To the [Palatine Stile?]”.

The Society which now consisted of [few?] members proceeded to a review of the situation with courage and detachment. But after one or two conferences with the emissaries of the Plebs, it was found to be impossible to reach agreement, without protracted argument and discussion. This would have made it impracticable for the Comes to read his paper, and so a device was used by the Princeps which saved the Comes’ paper from the ears of the plebs and avoided compromising their position on the question at issue. The meeting was closed in the usual fashion and the Princeps announced the Comes would read his paper to any of the members who wanted to be present. The question of an alteration to the Codex was left to a future meeting to decide. Nearly all the [Palatinate?] plebs returned and with tem came Messrs C. A. G. Coleridge and H. H. Edwards whom the listeners were glad to welcome.

Frater Winterton’s paper on “Eamon de Valera” was extremely apt. There were frequent references to battle, murder and sudden death. We found there the fever ridden atmosphere of revolutions which had lately been so real to us. In order to show, the part played by his hero in its true proportions, the Comes traced the cultures of Irish History through the greater part of the nineteenth century, before discussing in more detail the events which had become familiar to contemporaries.

The lateness of the hour prevented many questions. A brief informal conference failed to produce any change in the disagreement.

Signed:
F. G. Herd (Mag Rot)
R. C. Smail

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