1935

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


The 165th meeting of the Confraternity, took place on Saturday 21st January [1935] and was the occasion of the Annual Banquet.

In the absence of the Pontifex Maximus, the opening rites were read by Frater Passant who made a hasty revision of the Latin necessary not only for these ceremonies but also for that of inaugurating a new member into the sacred rites and customs. His performance before a large and critical audience, would have brought him credit in the most erudite Senate House. After Frater Bolton had been initiated , we took our formal leave of Clio though we were to meet her again in the course of the evening.

It was a very large Confraternity which adjourned in the hall. We welcomed not only a large number of local and usual Fraters but a numerous and distinguished body of past members. When Clio had been saluted in company with other guardian spirits, the company sat itself down to study the [implications?] of the menu, which had been translated into Latin. It seemed on the whole that the Fratres had less difficulty in deciding what was on the plate before him than had been the case in previous years. If this was indeed so it must be attributed to the classical ability of Messrs McHaughton and Clark, who had very obligingly lent their skill to the service of the Confraternity.

When the port was beginning to waver in its circulation, the company adjourned for a few minutes while the hall was cleared for the performance of historical charades. A time may come when History will no longer be able to furnish us with examples of the XXX of Kings and Queens culled form the pages of a recent authoritative history of England. But the dramatic representations which enlivened the stall proved that such a performance was still in the words of that classic mentioned above, ‘a Good Thing’. The whole panorama of English history from the ride of Lady Godiva – which fortunately the Confraternity was sparred form witnessing, with the exception of peeping Tom – to the non-amusement of Queen Victoria. The Fratres were too engrossed to hear the feeling to draw the curtain over the portrait of Mr O. Cromwell, as the latter saw against the awful things he did in [statue pupillon?]. Towards the end however one daring excursion was made into European History. King Henry IV of Germany stood shivering in the snow outside the Castle of Canossa in a dress shirt but without his trousers, while Hildehand [heathed?] [fured?] brown-stone within. Soon all these things were finished and the party moved to Fr Passant’s rooms, leaving the hall some faint sighs of the glories that were not to be till another had passed. In Fr Passant’s rooms however there was a crescendo of merriment until later of the hour led to the gradual dispersal of Fratres. They made their way home feeling that the Confraternitas had celebrated its 24th Birthday in a way not unworthy of its traditions.

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


The 166th meeting of the Confraternitas took place in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.30pm on Monday, February 11th [1935].

After the opening ceremonies, three sets of minutes had to be read. They were all passed without comment. Some of the votes of excuse were very bellicose and the Fabricius proposed a vote of censure on Frater Hoopes on account of his advancing reason of dress as reason of absence, but his motion was lost by 9 votes against 7. The Magister proposed that Frater Blake’s vote should be considered insufficient and this was carried but only after the Princeps had been called upon to give his casting vote. The Fabricius then called attention to the continual absence of sometime Frater Hemming; but it seems that at present the Confraternity has no knowledge of his existence. A joint vote of censure was passed upon Fratres Bolton, Das Gupta, winder, Adams and Hay for absenting themselves without providing any reason.

The vexed question of dress was then raised, and after a little discussion, the Princeps offered to make a concession to the reformers. An informal meeting night he held, of as many members of the Confraternitas as chose to attend. There the whole matter might be discussed openly and without the restrictions of a constituted assembly. After a very short period of [alarms?] and [exclusions?], Frater ashford proposed that the Plebs should humbly accept the proposal of the Senate. Frater Wade, his plebeian pride aroused, objected to the word humbly, and with this exception the motion was carried.

The business had been shorter than at any after meeting of the academic year, and it was at a comparatively early hour that the Princeps was able to call upon Frater Smail, to read a paper on “Latin and Greek”. Far from bearing any resemblance to the dustiness of these dark and decaying studies, it held the interest of the Fratres from the first moment till the last. He was concerned with showing the First Crusade as a meeting point between two civilisations, and watching the reactions of the leaders, who were often representative of their cultures, one to another. He produced an excellent [funi?] map for the benefit of those who were not sure whether Antioch was in the Balkans or Palestine and to this not inconsiderable section it rendered able assistance. The discussion which followed was one of the liveliest that we have ever seen. It was obvious that the Princeps would be able to deal with all the questions that were asked, which thing was discouraging to those who had spent some [time] in search of points on which might trap him.

The closing rites were read at 11.30

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


The 167th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.30pm on Monday, February, 25th [1935].

Immediately after the usual salutations, R. G. K. Thompson was admitted to the Confraternity. Frater Porock proposed that the epithets “drab and decaying” which had been used in the minutes were unfitted to apply to the studies of Latin and Greek and it was refreshing to see a vigorous opposition reject a motion so obsolescent in character. Frater Swain proposed that the name of Hemming should be struck off the two rolls of the Confraternity, and indeed so completely has it been effaced that future Fraters may judge that it was “writ in water” only. Frater Swain enquired whether Frater Blake had been informed of the grievous displeasure of the Confraternity by letter. The Magister replied that he had informed the XXX brother verbally and that he thought the latter was duly contrite. The Princeps answered the result of a plebiscite which had been held among the members of the society on two questions – 11 members were of the opinion that evening dress ought to be abolished, 13 wished to retain it; 9 members were for a revision of the Codex and constitution, 14 against.

The announcement was not received with wild applause, in fact almost at once a certain party began casting doubts on the honestly of the Magister who had recorded the votes. There was some talk of a commission of enquiry but this was lost sight of and as no specific charge was proved against him he was left untouched.

Partly owing to the result of the plebiscite, Frater Swain stole Jove’s thunder by resigning his office of tribune. Jove however informed him that as he had never taken the tribunal oath he had never been a tribune. But it was agreed that he had been a tribune if not technically. This did not deter Frater Margerison from proposing a vote of censure on the whole of the Senate, because the plebs had expressed no desire to be informed of the intricacies of the Codex. Very soon afterwards the business was interrupted by the proposal of a vote of censure on the Senate, from the settee which seems to have become the seat of opposition. Both motions were carried by 8 votes against 3.

The lack of finding a successor to Frater Swain provide very difficult. Frater after frater was proposed but each in either lacked to find a seconder or refused to stand. Finally the Princeps had to declare an interregnum without office. When nothing else could be found to discuss, the notes of absence were read, with the exception of one from the Fabricius which was half read and half readable. Frater Swain proposed that a vote of censure should be passed on its author for being flippant. Votes of censure were passed on fratres Bottom, woodhouse, Morgan and Hay who were not present at the meeting and who had sent no notes in explanation. The last batch brought the number of votes of censure passed in the evening up to 17.

The paper which followed was by Frater Wade and its subject, “Henry VIII”. It opened with a preface on prefaces which inflammatory in tone. The more serious matter which followed gave quite an orthodox interpretation of the Bluebeard among English Kings and ended with a particularly blood-curdling description of what happen to his coffin.

Signed:
F. G. Herd (Magister Rotulorum)
R. C. Smail (Princeps Senatie – 10.3.35)
Princeps – F. C. Herd
Pontifex Maximus – I. Drummond
Magister Rotulorum – D. G. Porock
Ceremoniorius – D. G. Phillips
Comes Sacre Thesauri – W. H. N. Hotopf
Fabricius – E. V. Morgan


The 168th meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Frater Passant’s room on Sunday, March, 1935. Since it was the occasion of the Visitor’s Meeting the Society joined its guests in the Senior Combination Room immediately after the transactions of the business.

The start of the meeting was a little delayed due to a conference meeting of the Senate held in Frater Passant’s other room. The minutes were read and unusually little exception was taken to them. The purpose of the Senate’s meeting was revealed when the names of the officers for the following year were announced. The notes of excuse were duly deferential though it was painful to see the hold which more flippant activities held for some members of the College. After the complete mispronunciation of a note in Latin from Frater Swain, the Magister preferred to exhibit rather than to read a note in Greek from a member whose identity will always be hidden under a cloud. So the confraternity refrained from passing any votes of censure on fratres who had not sent notes, in case the object of their wrath should be the new Xenophon. Frater Leslie proposed a vote of censure on the latter, but the motion was lost. A vote of censure was also proposed on Frater Leslie for proposing this vote of censure, but that was neglected and the business closed.

Professor Admiral Sir H. W. Richmond was the guest of honour and his paper was on the strategy of British forces in 1794. He showed that by failing to follow out vigorously any one of the possible lines of attack the British government lost an opportunity of bringing the war to a more decisive conclusion. Had the whole of its strength been used either in La Vendee or at Toulon or in the main theatre of the war, the armies of the Republic would have been crippled. He showed Burke in a new role – that of strategist and justified the timeliness of his military councils.

The discussion was animated and ranged over the whole field of modern society. We found ourselves at one point dealing with the revolution in sailing in the time of either Henry VIII or Elizabeth and at another with the organisation of the British fleet before the Great War. All of which, as our guest said, “hasn’t very much to do with 1793”.

Signed:
F. G. Herd (Mag. Rot.)
F. G. Herd (Princeps)


Minutes of the 169th meeting of the Confraternity, held in Fr. Passant’s rooms, on Monday, Oct, 21st at 8.30pm [1935].

The meeting was preceeded by a meeting of the Senate in Frater Passant’s inmost room. During this meeting a group of elderly and debauched plebs occupied the couch near the fire which is the traditional seat of the Senate. The Senate, however, tacitly agreed that this breach of its privileges was beneath its contempt, and proceeded to the opening rites.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and accepted. The acting mag. Rot. Read notes of excuse, and a note of sympathy was passed to Fr. Thompson for being without trousers in our inclement weather. The list of members was then read and votes of censure were passed on those members who did not send notes of excuse. Fr. Smail then proposed that, as this was Trafalgar Day, the minutes of the meeting be written in red ink. The proposal accepted on the proposer agreeing to provide the ink. The same frater who seemed in flippant mood, then demanded an explanation of Fr. Morgan’s acting as Mag. Rot. This was explained to his satisfaction and the meeting proceeded to the hearing of the paper which was its main business.

This was given under the title of “Vindictive and Innovative” by Fr. Drummond. He dealt under this title with the literature of political controversy in the eighteenth century, and gave a comprehensive survey of the politics and [formalities?] of the period as the appeared in its literature. Horace Walpole and [Jermias?] were his chief sources and he gave us a carefully assessed judgement on the character and merits of each. The question of the identity of [Jermias?] , Fr. Drummond justly left on one side as irrelevant but other fratres had less discretion and the point was later the subject f a good deal of discussion. He discussed at some length the general situation created by the attempt of George III to regain real political power through the medium of the “King’s Friends”, and drew character sketches, as they appeared in literature, of a number of leading personalities of the time including the King, the Duke of Grafton, Lord North and Henry Parsons. His apt quotations from his sources often caused amusement and much appreciated by the confraternity.

Besides the identity of [Jermais?], the discussion ranged over a wide field, and its relevance to the subject of the paper was not always readily perceptible. Fr. Brock explained to the confraternity his views on the medieval philosophy of love. By this time the night was far spent and, when the closing rights were applied, a number of fratres had to depart in haste.

Signed:
F. G. Herd (Princeps Senatus)


Minutes of the 170th meeting of the confraternity held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Monday, November 10th at 8.30pm [1935].

[The  following paragraph marked ‘to be rewritten’:]

The first business of the confraternity was the invitation of new members which was carried out with the customary rites. The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved and, arriving out of them , the Magister proposed a vote of censure on Fr. Smail for having broken ihs blighted word, in that he had not applied the red ink in which the minutes of the last meeting were written. This ink had been bought by the magister, at considerable cost to the confraternity. The [feccant?] frater put forward a vigorous defence, consisting chiefly of abuse of the magister, and the vote of censure was defeated. Fr. Snail then proposed a vote of censure on the Magister for having proposed the previous vote of censure; the Magister did not begin to reply, and the motion was carried.

Notes of excuse were and also notes of resignation from Fr. Phillips and Thompson, of whom the latter took exception to the dress worn by the Confraternity. This led to a long and reasoned speech from Fr. Passant in which he suggested to the senate that it might see fit to allow the confraternity to meet in lounge dress except for the three ceremonial meetings. Fr. Passant appealed to the Senate to raise this question above the level of a messy party brawl. Fr. Smail and Marquerison seemed determined to reduce it to that level, but the Princeps dealt firmly with them and announced that the senate would consider the matter and let the confraternity know of its decisions before the next meeting.

The plebs decided that they would not elect tribunes until what Fr. Smail described as ‘their legitimate grievances’ had been satisfied.

His paper was read by Fr. T. Wyatt In. A. On the subject “how others see us”. Fr. Wyatt gave an historical account of the English character as it appeared in the literature of France. He brought an immense amount of information and a great number of amusing stories, to show how that most of the characteristics now applied to the English by the French date from very early times. Starting from the time when France was divided into three parts, Fr. Wyatt passed rapidly on to the fifteenth century where Froissart described the English as ‘rejoicing with sadness’. Hard riding, hard drinking and hard swearing were already English characteristics, and he showed how ‘un goddam’ became the word first for an Englishman and then for a drunkard. The English of that time had a reputation for strength and covetousness. During the next three centuries the English enjoyed a reputation for political instability and fickleness which seems lately to have gone the other side of the channel. Visitors to England showed very little knowledge of its geography, and already deplored its climate, while they admired the looks but suspected the morals and disapproved of the dress of its women. As he drew nearer to modern times, Fr. Wyatt had to eat out a certain amount of material, owing to the lateness of the hour. The confraternity was naturally disappointed, but it may have been just and useful retribution on the Plebs for their factiousness. In conclusion, Fr. Wyatt referred to the forecasts of English decadence during the crisis and to more recent admiration of our imagined memory.

After a short discussion, the closing rites were performed, and the Confraternity dispersed.

Signed:
E. Victor Morgan (Magister Rotulorum)
F. G. Herd (Princeps Senatus)


Minutes of the 171st meeting of the confraternitas held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Mon. Nov. 16th at 8.30pm [1935] – The Princeps in the chair.

The meeting was held in the absence of the Magister and his official experience of it therefore depends largely on hearsay. It was rumoured that this opportunity was seized by a section of the Confraternity to make an attack on the Magister, and that a vote of censure was passed. The Princeps read the minutes of the last meeting which were duly passed and signed, and notes of excuse were then read. These apparently led to some discussion. The Princeps also announced the result of the Plebiscite, which showed a majority of eight votes to seven in favour of the continued wearing of evening dress at all meetings.

The confraternity then proceeded to the principle business of the evening – the hearing of a paper by Fr. Cattow on the subject of “Luther and Culture”. Fr. Cattow addressed the fact Luther was not altogether a reactionary against the culture either of the middle ages or the renaissance. He, himself, was trained in law and was a [important?] Latin scholar, and, in his educational work, he gave due attention to the new classical studies. In another sphere his hymn tunes were the source of a national movement in Church XXX.

The paper greatly interested the Confraternity and it is to be deeply regretted that its memory was not sufficiently enduring to supply the magister with fuller details. The paper was followed by the usual lively discussion before the closing rites were finally applied.

Signed:
F. C. Herd. (Princeps)
F. Victor Morgan (Magister Rotulorum)

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