1937

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


The 179th Meeting of the Confraternity was held on Sat. Jan. 23rd [1937] this being the occasion of the Annual Banquet.

In spite of valiant efforts with ½ d stamps and invitation cards, not one member from the world outside designed to attend the annual Banquet and indeed there was a number of excuses from present fratres who found they were unable to make merry with the Brethern. It was with regret that the Confraternity learnt that unless Fr. Passant attended a meeting in the metropolis, financial chaos would descend upon the society of which he is the treasurer. Perhaps the most original excuse was that of the Fratre who announced he was going to buy a motor car. However, the gathering was pleased to find in its midst Fratres Smith and K. Shaw. After the opening rites the society migrated with some show of speed on the part of the Princeps, to the college dining hall, there to gaze n awe and wonder at the array of XXX of XXX and at the strange composition of the menu rendered into Latin (complete with one hexameter0 by Mr. N. A. Davies. While the quality of the meal was such as would have satisfied the most fastidious gastronome, it is to be doubted whether the Fratres, in trying to determine what was in front of them, found much left in Mr Davies’ efforts. However, the victus looked very nice.

When the port had completely failed in its circulation owing to the serious difficulty it found in getting past the Princeps end of the table, fratres adjourned to fr. Passant’s room. In the course of this hazardous journey, the Princeps no doubt flushed by the fine (couries) he had made in the port, committed a dastardly and unprovoked outrage on the person of the Magister by launching a vicious attack with the aid of a soda-syphon.

Conversation was now quite unrestrained and Clio, hitherto affable in the happiness of her devotees, received a rude shock when her high priest began prattling in some barbaric and outlandish tongue and was immediately answer by the Magister. The grief she felt at the slow degeneration of her official must have been deep and genuine and was shared by all and sundry. But a few minutes later the Pontifex was seen solemnly and in all seriousness taking an oath with his right hand tightly clasping a Trotskyist tract that never again would he indulge in the cult of Bucchus. By now the cry was Scutage and such a hubbub was raised as to seriously inconvenience the frater frantically endeavouring to get into telephonic communication with the outer world. At 11.30pm a large escort which seemed to be finding Sidney Street rather narrow was observed heading towards Round Church Street – in its midst – the Pontifex – dormant. Fr. Adams was complaining of Lumbago. But a good time was had by all.

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


The 180th Meeting of the Confraternitas held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Mon Feb 8th [1937] at 8.30pm, the Princeps in the chair.

The minutes were read but were not passed by the Princeps until he had deleted the attempt made by his faithful Magister to disguise the haste with which he (the Princeps) had dashed to his food on the occasion of the Annual Banquet. Notes of excuse were received from Fratres Hotopf and Marston, who seemed to be in some doubt as to the exact date of the meeting. On him and on Fratres Adams, Firkins, Secretan and Winders (these four failing to appear and neglecting to excuse themselves) were passed votes of censure.

Many a year has passed since the Senatorial couch has been so honoured, for on this the 180th meeting it support the persons of Professor Barker, Professor Kautorovich and Fr. Passant who was for once allowed a seat on his own sofa. And indeed the paper read by Fr. Smail was worthy of such an audience. Entitled “modern warfare and the citizen” it held the rapt attention of fratres both young and old. Starting modestly with a declaration of his own limited experience in the school of military tactics, Fr. Smail went on to discuss military science as practiced by Napoleon, as advocated by Clauswitz and as ssen in the last war. In spite of the fact that many countries put their faith in conscription and the training of as agreat a number of men as possible, mechanisation and specialisation in warfare was rapidly lessening the need of vast armies. Danger from the air required that the civil population should be prepared and ready for any eventuality. Therefore instead of thrusting to the mobilisation of enormous numbers of men, it was essential that in the event of war which would mean a sudden and unexpected air-attack, civilians must know what to do, where to go and how to behave. Such is the nature of Fr. Smail’s conscription.

There was so much discussion among the fratres that Fr. Passant had to crane silence in order to enable the visitors to pronounce judgement. After a certain amount of backchat as to who should speak first and why, Professor Kautorowitz announced that he could not agree with Fr. Smail’s conclusions. He also declared that the best means of defence from the air was a bucket of sand and went on to describe the grim effects of a small incendiary bomb which on reaching its destination registered heat in the neighbourhood of 20,000. One frater was heard to ask what was the best thing to do to it? Amidst the hilarity provoked by this enquiry – the answer, ‘turn it upside down and spit on it’ went unheard.’

We witnessed Professor Barker declare that the subject was outside is sphere of study. However he (and both) agreed with Kautorowitz in one point – the undoubted excellence of Fr. Smails “modern warfare and the citizen”.

Closing rites read at 11.10pm.

Signed:
A. B. Simpson (Magister Rotulorum)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)


The 181st meeting of the Confraternitas held in Fr Passant’s rooms on Feb 22nd at 8.30pm [1937] – the Princeps in the chair.

The Confraternitas is indebted to Fr. Herd for only at the last minute did he agree to write a paper – stepping into the breach left by Fr. Rickes who found that pressure of work compelled him to postpone his thesis till next year.

Unfrtunately members failed to show any appreciation for the difficulties which the Senate had experienced in arranging this meeting. There were notes of excuse from Fratres Marston, Barber, Taylor,Timbs, Mather, Aveling and Hotopf. The Pontifex Maximus, after the reading and signing of theminutes, suggested that it was not worth while for Fr. Herd to tire himself and possibly the Confraternity in delivering his paper.

However nothing daunted by the size of his audience and the enthusiasm of the Pontifex, Fr Herd succeeded in awakening a keen interest in the Congress System of as experienced by Europe in the years following the Napoleonic wars.

Closing rites were read at 11PM and the refreshment failing at midnight, the small band of brothers dispersed to bed.

Signed:
A. B. Simpson (Magister Rotulorum)
E. Victor Morgan (Princeps)

Officers for 1937 – 1938

Princeps Senatus  –  Simpson
Pontifex Maximus  –  Baiss
Magister Rotulorum – Mather
Caeremoniarius  – Timbs
Comes Sacrae Thesauri  – Barber
Fabricius  – Aveling

Fr Passant was at the time on a bed of sickness, suffering from Lumbago.


The 182rd Meeting of the Confraternitas was held in the College Hall on Sunday March 7th [1937] being the occasion of the visitors meeting.

Lengthy correspondence during the Michaelmas and Lent Terms had at last born fruit and for this unusual and highly entertaining evening the confraternity’s thanks go to Fr. Passant.

The guests of honour were Miss Dorothy. L. Sayens, Miss Helen Simpson, Miss M. st: Clare Byrne and C. W. Scott Giles Esq:

After post-prandial refreshment in Fr Passant’s rooms, the society and its guests migrated to the Hall there to hear some lights upon the history of a little known noble house from the earliest times. It is said by those who knew him that the late J. H. Round was contemplating a history of the Winsey family at the time of his death. The world at large has been robbed of this – but there are some advantages for the Confraternity was able to learn the history of the Wimsey family with the knowledge that its members were privileged by sharing in knowledge to yet known to the generality of men. Mr Scott-Giles told of the stirring history of the Wimsey family in the middle ages. Of the family’s life under the ‘Augerian’ Kings, contributing no small part to that glorious tradition of Liberalism, which has made England what it is – (Cheers! But gestures of disapproval from an Anglo-Indian in the front row). By the Liberal Tradition is meant, of course, the great services of the English Aristocracy to the cause of freedom, tolerance and the Empire.

But Mr Scott-Biles devoted the major part of his time to the problems of heraldry raised by the Wimsey arms. The fact that these included 3 mice was of importance to a rather different connection. It has long been a major heresy to suppose that the plays of Shakespeare were written by an uneducated actor of that name. Bacon and the Earl of Oxford have both been proposed as the true authors but Shakespearean students must now revise their views for Miss St: Clare Byrne has proved convincingly that the bulk at least of the plays were written by no less a person than that shy statesman Peregrine, 5th Earl of Denver. Mice were shown to play a large and perplexing part in the Shakespearean imagery, a part which can only be explained by the fact that the mouse had a special significance to those who knew.

Miss Helen Simpson dealt with the domestic life of the Wimseys in the 17th C. She was fortunate to have in her possession a household book containing recipes for all manner of dishes and cures for most diseases.

Miss Dorothy Sayers read a pamphlet, written by ‘a clergyman of the established church’ and dedicated to the 2nd Duke of Denver. This gives an account of an obscure member of the Wimsey family who lived in the late 18th Century. He was indeed a most remarkable man: after running through the whole garmat of classification and heterodox opinion, he retired to live as a hermit in a lonely part of the East Coast. He read only the bible, dressed for the most part in scales of fishes and was never known to speak. By the locals he was considered the chief wonder in that part of the world.

Altogether a very pleasant evening and a fine display of scholarly fooling; conducted chiefly in the spirit of intelligent parody, it was this eminently successful.

Signed:
A. B. Simpson (Mag Rot)
Princeps


The 183rd Meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Fr Passant’s rooms on Monday October 25th 1937 at 8.30pm: The Princeps in the chair.

After the opening ceremonies two sets of minutes were read and eight new members proposed. Before settling down to the main business of the evening, Fr. Morgan complained of a change in the beer and close on his heels came Fr. Hotopf complaining of a change in the biscuits. Such conservatism being duly noticed by the Magister, Fr. Passant was heard to suggest that the Magister should under to ascertain everyone’s favourite beer and see that it was supplied. The Magister has taken his stand on the status quo ante. Frater Passant then suggested that we might like to suggest possible visitors for the visitors meeting next term: in all, five names were suggested; Professor C. H. Williams, Professor Previte-Orton, Prof. Walker, Mr Christopher Dawson and Mr Poston. The Princeps then called upon Fr. Brock to read a paper entitled ‘toleration and the faith’ which, as he confessed was neither tolerate or as faithful as it should have been. In essence, it was a development of a very old idea, the city of God and the city of man; his treatment of it must definitely be classed with those other imperfect pre-Augustinian treatments. In the first section entitled Beckett and the secular state, the problem was posed. Then the consistency of the church on this point was demonstrated by the gospels to the recent encyclical ‘Nit Brennende Soye’. The attitude of the medieval church to heresy was then explained, and, as it appeared in discussion afterwards, he here again gave away more than was necessary. In a fourth section the idea of the secular state was developed as it appeared in the rise of toleration , leading to a separate of John Locke’s letter on toleration. The harsh preference for Hildebrandine ideas shown in the conclusion was modified in the subsequent discussion, in which Fr. Passant’s liberal tenacity was well to the fore and a pitched battle was thus avoided.

The closing rites were read at 11.30pm and the fratres in their on times and by various devious ways went to bed.

Signed.
Donald Mathew (Mag Rot)
A. B.Simpson (Prin. Sen.)

Higgin
Bulmer
Potter
Fricker
Hatch
Squire
Wilson
Coggan
Singleton
Potter
Slaughter
Girkins


The 184th meeting of the Confraternitas was in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Monday Nov 15th [1937] at 8.30pm: the Princeps in the Chair.

After the opening rites had been read 8 new members were initiated. The minutes were then read and, after no little discussion, which centred around the Magister’s improper use of the phrase status quo, finally passed.

Before the evening was to get underway, an unknown frater made the discovery that there was beer – but no glasses! The fratres, profoundly moved, hastened to pass a vote of censure on Fr. Passant, who in his capacity as steward was ultimately responsible for such household matters. Nevertheless, the spectacle of elegant fratres in immaculate evening dress endeavouring to sup voicelessly beer from bottles, added a pleasantly unorthodox tone to the evening.

The question of the election of a tribune of the plebs was brought up and Fr. Smail strongly urged the plebs to stand by the precedent set on the memorable occasion when the plebs on the mater of the futility of tribunes and the oligarchic nature of the senate, seceded and, with the beer, adjourned to the room below.

Eventually ¾ of an hour after the opening rites had been read a frater banged on the wall and fr. Thompson duly appeared to read his paper on ‘Bubb Dodington and Richard Rigby’ in which he proposed to show the change over from the group system of representation in the eighteenth century, to the party system of the 19th, and to use for his illustration two men who stood as a link between them; Bubb Dodington and Richard Rigby. After stressing the Kaleidoscopic nature of 18th century politics he went on to show how these groups held, of necessity, to a doctrine of solidarity among their members; that there was great difficulty in creating and organising a regular and sustained opposition; and that party solidarity and regularity was necessary for permanency of tenure: Rigby himself was an advocate of unity among the opposition. The whole paper was throughout illustrated by amusing illustrative episodes from the lives of these two inveterate place hunters whose careers epitomised the attitude of the 18th century groups who with their moderation and good nature allied with the cynicism of professional politicians, had for their motto ‘to live and let live – on the public’.

After a provocative and suggestive discussion in which it was endeavoured unsuccessfully to connect Nancy Parsons with the two great men, the closing rites were read at 11pm .

Signed:
Donald Mather (Mag. Rot)
A. B. Simpson (Princeps)


The 185th Meeting of the confraternitas was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Monday Nov 29th [1937] at 8.30pm: the Princeps in the chair.

After the opening rites and before the business of the evening, the fratres passed votes of censure on Fr. Singleton for failing to send a vote of excuse, on the Magister for his share in the beer-but-no-glasses fiasco; and Fr. Brock for his inability to see straight. Fr. Morgan, after senatorial pressure, vacated the sen, couch.

Attention was then turned to Fr. Baiss who read a paper on ‘History and Environment’. After apologising for his temporary dissention to Clio, Fr Baiss expanded the geographical interpretation of history as based on the chinatic theories of Ellsworth Huntington and the Challenge and Response motif of Arnold Toynbee. He did not attempt to be an impartial interpreter but sought rather to exaggerate deliberately the geographical arguments.

World climate had not even in historic times been continually the same and the Caspian Sea and the Giant Trees of California were successfully invoked to explain Huntingford’s view of the pulsation of climate as opposed to the view of progressive desiccation. The influence of different climates on individuals and races was then discussed and especially the incidence of malaria and its relation to climatic and racial cycles.

Having treated more the particular effects of climate Fr. Baiss then went on to discuss its general relation to great civilisations of the past: The Mayas in Qucatan and the Kymens of Cambodia were taken as examples and Huntingdon’s climatic analysis applied to them.

A comparison was then drawn between Huntingdon and Toynbee’s theory of the rise of civilisations. The challenge and response motif of the latter was explained and examples showed that there was considerable ground for belief that civilisations have not arisen where conditions are most favourable from the human point of view, but rather where man has risen to the right intensity of challenge.

Finally, a transfer was made to Iceland and the relation of Icelandic history to climate and challenges was examined in some detail. Fr. Baiss waxed so enthusiastic at this point on the great achievements of the Icelanders that he described some of his own experiences in that country and then read tow lengthy and emphatic extracts from Toynbee pointing out by what a narrow margin the Christian so-called civilisation which in its turn would have made Iceland the centre of a great civilisation embracing both hemispheres.

A vigorous discussion followed. The closing rites were read at 11.30pm.

Signed:
Donald Mather (Mag Rot)
A. B. Simpson (Princeps Senatus)

Elected to membership:

Hatch
Fricker
Wilson
Girkins
Bulmer
Singleton
Potter
Slaughter

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