1936

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


Minutes of the 172nd Meeting of the Confraternity, held on Mon, Feb 3rd at 8.30 [1936] in Fr. Passant’s rooms.

The minutes of the last meeting were read, and, in the absence of Fr. Smail, approved without demur. It was then remembered that a large number of fratres were absent, while the Magister had no note of excuse. On the motion of Fr. Passant the magister was instructed to remind fratres of the rule whereby members had XXX as a result of being absent from two successive meetings without notes of excuse acceptable to the confraternity. The first XXX of the banquet was discussed, and the Magister was motivated to apply to the tutor for permission to hold it on the second Saturday of lent term. fr. Porock proposed a vote of censure on the magister as the official responsible for the action of Fr. Passant in not having secured a speaker for the visitor’s meeting. The magister denied having accepted such responsibility, and the motion was withdrawn, Fr. Passant promising to write to miss Carn that same evening.

The initiation ceremony was then performed and Fr. Barber and Simpson were made members of the Confraternity.

The paper was read by the Princeps on the subject of “Revolutionary [Achievements?] in Religion”. He began with a quotation from Carlyle and then traced the development of religion in relation to national spirit down to the time of the end of the Convention. The main force behind the revolutionary religion was the philosophic distrust of Catholicism, combined with the identification of the XXX with the enemies of the people in La Vendee and beyond the frontier. The first form taken was that the erection of altars of Liberty which were described in amusing detail. This was soon followed by the worship of XXX, in the person of an actor from the opera. The Princeps was at pains to show that the systematic attempts of the government to discredit and suppress Christianity came only after the members of the Convention had seen for themselves its effect on the armies. In the same way the popularity of the new religion among the people rose and fell with the danger from foreign invasion. The change from the worship of Reason to that of the Supreme Being was described and the question of how far it was a return in the direction of Catholicism discussed. In conclusion the Princeps remarked on the surprising extent to which Christianity had been stamped out during this time, and conjectured that, had the time of national danger been longer, it might have disappeared from France altogether.

This stimulating paper provoked a very lively discussion. Analogies with modern Germany and Russia were freely drawn, and discussion then showed a tendancy to wander into the realms of theology. Fr. Brock defended Catholicism with vigour of the newly converted, and denounced his audience as heretics all.

The closing rites were performed about 11.30.

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


Minutes of the 173rd meeting of the Confraternity, held in Fr. Passant’s room on Mon. Feb 19th at 8.30pm [1936]. The Princeps in the chair.

The confraternity was privileged to welcome Professor Ernest Barker to the meeting.

The minutes were read and approved and notes of excuse were read and accepted. A roll was taken on the motion of Fr. Brock, and the votes of censure were passed on fratres Bolton, Adams, Hay and Thunder, for being absent without notes of excuse. Fr. Brock then proposed a number of votes of censure on the magister. The first, for having mislaid a note of excuse, was defeated, but a second one for mislaying the minutes book was carried despite the Magister’s plea of extenuating circumstances. A third, for having failed to produce programmes was ruled out of order by the Princeps. The question of the pastoral charge was then raised and a vote taken for the information of the Senate, showed that the meeting invoked a charge to be read by the Pontifex before the next meeting. It was announced amid general approval that Miss Carn had consented to read a paper at the Visitor’s Meeting.

Fr. Thompson then read a paper to the confraternity on the subject of “Why Whigs?” which he paraphrased – “were there any distinctions between parties in the eighteenth century”. He quoted a passage in which Prof. Hearnshaw traced the origin of parties back to the Garden of Eden, an interesting variant, he thought of Dr Pharson’s, ‘The first Whig, sir, was the Devil’. Dr. Thompson’s own view was more accurately expressed in the words of Mr Keith Feiling, ‘Toryism is as dead as Queen Anne’, exactly is dead, added F. Thompson, for it died with her. The names Whig and Tory were used by each party for the other rather than for itself and terms of abuse. Fr. Thompson examined the party divisions from the point of view of tradition, economic interest, policy and personal loyalty and, from each point of view, found then almost non existent. By means of a geographical division of the country he showed four districts which had been Tory in the 19th century became Whig in the 18th and ‘vice versa’. Both parties had largely the same economic interests and accepted one another economic policy after a certain factious show of opposition. As regards policy, Fr. Thompson showed how the Whigs were the war party under Godolphin, how they became peaceloving under Walpole, militant again under Chatham and most pacific of all under Fox. In each case the Tories took the opposite point of view. Finally the idea that all tories were Jacobites was delusion encouraged by Walpole to which only the vagaries of Bollingbroke lent a certain colour. The real power in politics was not real parties but personal and family groups, and the names Whig and Tory were given by those of these groups on the side of the floor to those on the other.

Professor Barker congratulated Fr. Thompson on an excellent paper and gave a very helpful exposition of the points of detail on which he differed from him. This was followed by a lively discussion, and the closing rites were performed at 11.30.

Signed:
E. Victor Morgan (Mag. Rot)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps Senatus)


Minutes of the visitor’s meeting of the Confraternitas held in Fr. Passant’s Room and then in the Senior combination room on Sunday, March 8th 1936.

For the first time in its history, the confraternity was privileged to welcome a lady as the guest of honour, when Miss Carn (Girton College) read a paper on ‘the Rule of Law in English History’.

While a large number of members and guests were refreshing themselves with coffee and biscuits in Fr. Passant’s outer room, in his inner chamber the senate was in XXX about the choosing of its successors. The following were chosen: – Princeps – Fr. Morgan; Pontifex – Fr Brock; Comes – Fr Hoptopf; Magister – Fr. Simpson; Ceremoniarius – Fr. Aveling; Fabricius – Fr. Barber.

The opening and closing acts were there performed and, it having been agreed to take the minutes of the last meeting as read, the meeting was adjourned to the Senior Combination Room.

Miss Carn was introduced by the Princeps, who reminded the confraternity that she and it were making history.

In the course of a very interesting paper, Miss Carn traced the rule of law from its earliest appearance among Anglo-Saxon peoples, until modern times. She regarded the Norse element as of great importance and illustrated it, in its earliest form from the Icelandic sagas. Miss Carn was of the opinion that it was not mere national pride which made us claim for the Englishman a special regard for law and order, and she attributed this regard largely to the norse element in our national character.

The interest aroused by the paper was reflected in the lively by discussion which it was followed. Special conditions in Iceland were discussed between Miss Carn and Fr. Drummond; a legal visitor raised a question on the subject of Roman Law; and other topics discussed ranged from the work of Henry II to the curse of Earl de Clifford.

A vote of thanks was proposed by Fr. Drummond and a very enjoyable evening was thus brought to a close.

Signed:
E. Victor Morgan (Magister)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)


Minutes of the Annual Banquet of the Confraternitas held on Saturday, April 20th, 1936.

The banquet, postponed from its normal date at the beginning of the Lent Term owing to the death of his Majesty, King George V, bore signs of impending XXX (looks like ‘triposes’?). Owing to forebodings of these, it was decided that it was hardly practicable to stage the annual after dinner entertainment. Only a small number of fratres were present, including only one non-resident member – Fr. White.

The opening and closing ceremonies were performed in Fr. Passant’s rooms, and the confraternity then adjourned to pay sacrifice to its muse. A slight error in the XXX of the menu, which seems to be traditional, puzzled a few people, but imperfect description paled before the excellence of the food and a good time was had by all.

Signed:
E. Victor Morgan (Magister)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)


Minutes of the 176th Meeting of the Confraternity, held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Mon: Oct: 19th [1936] at 8.30pm. The Princeps in the chair.

After the opening ceremonies three sets of minutes were read with difficulty by the Magister who was quite unprepared for the illegibility of the Princeps’ handwriting and unfortunately had omitted to bring his spectacles with him. Letters of excuse were read and accepted and soon new members elected.

The Pontifex Maximus proceeded to deliver a Pastoral Charge – An exhortation of undoubted wisdom but made totally inaudible by the unseemly interruptions of Fr. Herd. His objections were overruled, but nothing daunted, Fr. Herd resorted to base barsacking. Unduly roused by such reprehensible conduct the Pontifex so far forgot himself as to make, with the aid of his right hand and the end of his nose, an extremely rude gesture at Fr. Herd. This was followed by a vote of censure against the Pontifex.

Fr. Passant appeased the Confraternity for the late hour of his arrival by announcing that he had been in communication with Fr: Scott-Giles and that there was a reasonable chance of the misses Dorothy Layers and Helen Rimpson being able to attend the visitor’s meeting.

The Princeps then called on the Pontifex to read his paper which was entitled ‘Phoenix’ and which concerned faith and truth from Socrates to present day. It was an attempt to arrive at some knowledge of the nature of truth and the possibility of man’s attaining it. Under the titles of Socrates and Christianity, the approach to truth was discussed in the methods of logic and faith. In a third section – the Reformation – faith and truth were not necessarily connected. But again to say that Christianity was untrue in itself an historical untruth. This contradiction could be resolved by distinguishing between absolute and imminent truth. Man had never found absolute truth, though convinced of its existence and the only truth attained, imminent truth was what was necessary for salvation at any time. Finally Fr. Brock came to the conclusion that only imminent truth had been found and possibly that was all men ever could find outside the terms of Augustine philosophy.

Apart from this main theme the paper was full of obiter dicta in themselves no less important. A quotation from T. S. Elliot’s Wasteland set at the beginning and the end made it difficult to decide the degree of Fr. Brocks acceptance of the inherent Epicureanism of his thesis, especially in face of several flashes of stoic ardours, which did much to relieve the base XXX of his conclusions.

At the conclusion of this illuminating discourse the two fratres who had (warmed) the senatorial couch and found its comfort too soporific, awoke from their deep and fortunately silent slumber. But there was little discussion. Fratres, overcome perhaps by the length of the paper, appeared to be meditating in the outer darkness and so the closing rites were read at about 11.P.M.+

Signed:
A B Simpson (Mag Rot)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)

Firkins
Marston
Taylor
Timbs
Matler
Singleton
Biggin


Minutes of the 177th Meeting of the Confraternitas, held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Mon. Nov. 9th [1936] at 8.30pm. The Princeps in the chair.

Owing to the large number of members present the opening rites were performed with a fluency and absence of hesitation – doubtless most pleasing to Clio. Four new members were initiated and Magister Rotulorum was decorated with the regalia of office and consecrated to his duties. The minutes were read, sundry and minor corrections were made and then Frater Eubleton pointed out that the pastoral charge should not have been delivered in the presence of those not yet admitted to full membership. His objections were declared to be out of order by the Princeps who thereupon signed the minutes as correct. The notes of excuse were accepted after the Confraternity had been informed by an elderly and nameless pleb that ‘a note of excuse was… well er a note of excuse’. Votes of censure were passed on Fratres Barber and Aveling who had omitted to don their Senatorial bands of office. The plebs then refused to elect any Tribunes: it was decided that the visitor’s meeting should be held in conjunction with the Argonauts.

So far business had proceeded fairly smoothly but the atmosphere became rather strained when Fr. Smail asked the Princeps to give an exact ruling as to when he considered himself justified in proposals out of order – otherwise anything and everything suggested by the plebs might be immediately vetoed. Rather than remain under such an unjust system – Fr. Smail continued – he would immediately recede. The Princeps replied by declaring that the plebs was obstinate – an observation which produced from Fratres Eubleton and Herd a considerable show of wrath and outraged dignity. However the dispute was terminated by Fr. Passant’s able defence of the Princep’s justifiable but perhaps high-handed action.

By now the confraternity, had grown tired of these trivial bickerings and was becoming impatient to hear the real business of the evening which was the reading of paper entitled “Moeller van der Bruck” by Fr: Passant. Unfortunately o sooner had he started when to the great distress of his hearers, he was suddenly taken ill and had to retire to his inner sanctum. The great number of entrances and exits made by a harassed Princeps convinced the remaining Fratres that the sufferer was very poorly indeed and relief was sincere and universal when he reappeared well enough to finish his paper and answer questions. In the meantime Fr. Smail had stepped into the breach and continued the good work, efficiently and clearly.

It was a vigorous, broad-minded and unbiased account of the life and work of Moeller van der Bruck. His book ‘Das Dritte Reich’ – a summary of the author’s beliefs and hopes, was given the most attention. Briefly – it is an attempt to justify the German people in the world and to show that their claims have a right of recognition in the future. Conditions have produced two sets of nations – the old and the new. The socialism of the young nations will surely triumph against the liberalism of the old. The dynamic attitude towards life is the only one feasible and M. van der Bruck possessed a hate of rationalism and liberalism. Thee had only been two Empires – that of Charlemagne and later the H.R.E was the first: – the German Empire of 1871 – 1918 the second and ‘Das Dritte Reich’ is a prophecy of the future and a complete rejection of the Weimar Republic. Its main consideration is a true socialism along with a non-reactionary conservatism. Marxism, liberal democracy and any form of reaction are bitterly attacked. It is interesting to note that the scheme of his thought is something very like German National Socialism today.

A certain amount of discussion followed and the closing rites were at about 11 PM.

Signed:
A. B. Simpson (Mag Rot)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)


Minutes of the 178th Meeting of the Confraternitas held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Mon. Nov. 23rd [1936] at 8.30pm. The Princeps in the chair.

The meeting was considerably delayed by the College (Amaganiation?) Club which had chosen the same evening to discuss several vital problems, the most important of which was the question of a change of college neckties – their colour and composition being considered quite out of order. Eventually a sufficient number of the Fratres appeared to enable the opening rites to be read. Notes of Censure were passed on Fratres Eubleton and Fr. Smail for failing to send notes of excuse for non-attendance. No sooner done than the two Fratres arrived and quietly explained that it was not considered necessary for members of more than 9 terms standing to send any leaves of absence. Correct. One up to the domini. The main business of the evening was the reading of a paper by the Princeps on “Burke and political party”. This was a good account of the merits of one of the most discussed of all political thinkers. A Burke “fan”, the writer tried to convert the doubtful and the ignorant to his own way of thinking. Fr. Eubleton who had obviously been preparing a question of great import for some stretch of time could hardly restrain himself and was on his feet as soon as Fr. Morgan had put down his paper, not even allowing the reader some well-earned refreshment. Discussion was lively and prolonged and continued after the Closing Rites, which were read at 11 PM.

Signed:
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)

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