1941

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


The 209th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Monday February 17th 1941 in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15. After the opening rites had been pronounced and the Minutes read, a vote of censure was note of excuse from Frater Stevenson was produced and a vote of censure passed on Fratres Angles and Bulleel [sp?] for absence without notification. The Comes inquired whether a hue and cry had been instituted with regard to the loss of the Codex and what was the result. The Princeps replied that he had searched far and wide, but in vain, and remarked that that the search seemed likely to lead to the former Princeps, Frater hatch. Communication with him, however, seemed difficult, since it was rumoured that the Frater XXX was now a guest of His Majesty – a suspected infraction of ancient privilege. The unscrupulous monk had not yet been found, the Chaplain had yet to be approached. Frater D. F.Stephenson was elected as Tribune of the Plebs to succeed Frater Motblack. At this stage the Pontifex was censured for an act of strip-tease.

The Princeps then called on Frater Hadden to give his paper on “The Political Thought of the Encyclopaedists”. Frater Hadden described the historical antecedents of encyclopaedias with reference for example to Francis Bacon and mentioned the many illustrious names of contributors to the French Encyclopaedia. After outlining the history of this publication and its suppression, he spoke of Diderot’s characteristic views.

The closing rites were read about 10.30.

Signed:
G. M. Drukker (Mag. Rot.)
A. Briggs (Princeps. 24:2:41)


The 210th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Monday February 24th 1941 in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. After the opening rites had been pronounced by the Pontifex and the Minutes read by the Magister, attention was called to the unseemly dress of the Pontifex and, Frater C. S. Betts, a welcome stranger to the shrine of Clio, was initiated into the Confraternity and welcomed greeted by the assembled Fratres. The Minutes were then read, and attention was drawn to the unseemly attire of the Pontifex Maximus and Ceremonarius, who lacked even that decorous minimum that is permitted to those who gaze upon the light of Clio’s splendid mien. A vote of censure was accordingly passed on the two responsible senators, and extended to include Fratres Angles and Bulleel for unsatisfactory explanation of their failure to attend the previous meeting and an unbecoming levity during the reading of the opening rites.

The question of the replacement of the Codex was then considered, and a commission, consisting of Fr. Thomson, Socius Honorabilis, Fr. Briggs, Princeps, and Fr. Wilson, formerly Pontifex Maximus, was set up to investigate + discover anew the laws of the Codex. They would consult available fratres of especial age + learning, in particular Fr. Morgan.

The Princeps who presided then called on the venerable Frater Hotopf who had consented to humour the Confraternity with a paper on “Psychology and Political Theory”. In presenting a few thoughts on the psychological basis of man’s organization in political society the State, Frater Hotopf discussed various modern explanations of the fact that man was a social animal social nature of man. He showed the insufficiency of the Benthamite explanation theory of the identity of interests and proceeded to examine alternative explanations from current political doctrines and from psychologists and sociologists such as William James and Prof. Ginsberg. He suggested that the most adequate allowance for the Social + Poltical instincts of man was to be found in the Communist theory of state organisation, rather than in Democratic or Fascist theories.

This paper, as learned and stimulating as it was novel, long exercised the minds of Fratres on diverse questions of political theory and its psychological basis foundations; and the closing rites, recited in the region of 11 o’clock, did not finally conclude the discussion that animated had been called forth.

Signed:
G. M. Drukker (Mag. Rot.)
A. Briggs (Princeps)

5:5:41.


The 211th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Thursday March 6th, 1941 as the annual visitors’ meeting. The Princeps was in the chair. Fratres being rather few and their guests still more so, this meeting was held contrary to custom in Frater Passant’s rooms. After the pronouncement of the opening and closing rites, the guest of the Confraternity, Prof. Penson, was introduced, and two other XXX devotees of Clio*, were installed for the evening in the Senatorial couch.

*appearing by kind permission of the Socius Honorabilis

As the Magister had omitted to write up the minutes of the previous meeting the Princeps immediately welcomed the speaker and asked her to give her paper “From hostility to friendship: Anglo-French relations, 1898-1906”. With a wealth of circumstantial detail and an which endowed the period most trivial commonplace of diplomatic incidents with an unsurpassed interest + illumination, Prof. Penson traced over the last few years of the nineteenth, and first years of the twentieth century, the whole course of Anglo-French relations. From the suspicions and rivalries of the 1890s, when British diplomacy succeeded in achieving a not very splendid isolations, through the rebuffs administered by the period of coldness with which the British government received the tentative advances of Delcassé and Cambon, to the long negotiations and compromise which converted [sp?] into an entente cordiale a process of give and take in colonial interests, Prof. Penson wove a web of fascinating intrigue around the bare facts of diplomatic history. Both In relation to the larger facts of international rivalry, and German and commitments and Austrian and Russian interests, as in the more personal contributions to the entente – such as Edward VII’s extraordinary effect on the people of Paris – on which the Princeps and Magister had views of their own, the Speaker showed the same ease of presentation and wit.

In the discussion that followed the Princeps showed his remarkable grasp memory for historical scholarship absorption of historical erudition, and Fratres sat impressed by the overwhelming learning of the resulting dialogue.

Signed:
G. M. Drukker (Mag. Rot.)
A. Briggs (Princeps). 5:5:41.


The 212th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Monday May 5th 1941 in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.30 p.m., for the purpose of reading of the “Institutes!, the collection of laws drawn up by a select sub-committee to give guidance to the Confraternity during the War in the absence of the Codex.* The opening rites were read and the Magister read the Minutes of the last two meetings, and much objection dissent was expressed at his report of the shortcomings of Fratres in the last meeting but one. This being beyond the reach of the memory of most, a vote of censure was passed on the Magister, but the offending passages were not deleted.

*Frater Brackenbury made a welcome reappearance.

When Fratres had settled themselves sufficiently for the evening’s entertainment, the Princeps, who was in the chair, read out the preamble to the “Institutes”, signed by himself, Frater Thomson, Socius Honorabilis and Frater Wilson, Sometime Pontifex. He then followed this explanation by reading the “Institutes” themselves, which had already received the sanction of the Senate. Much discussion followed but there was general acceptance of the wisdom of the restatement of the laws of the lost Codex. It was resolved to place copies in the Ark, the Minute Book and the old Library and it was even thought suggested that copies might be interred after dark under the chestnut tree in the college garden and dispersed among the distant moors of Yorkshire and overseas in Armenia, there to take their place beside Magna Carta till the end of the War.

Frater Belts [sp?] meanwhile continuously and mystically crypticly referred to the Princeps’s past, with remarks such as “what happened at Ely?” on the lines of *“what happened in the cowshed?”

*Cold Comfort Farm, – Stella Gibbons, – Penguin Books, – out of print

The Confraternity turning to thoughts of the future concerned themselves much with the proper maintenance of the rites and traditions of the society. Frater Waller, with commendable zeal for the enlightenment of the future posterity, suggested that the minutes of that meeting should be type-written, and we all knew the Magister’s calligraphy (or, for the benefit of those initiated into the mysteries of the Greek tongue, “cacigraphy”) sympathised; but it was thought to be too drastic a breach with the tradition of the Confraternity and inappropriate to the sanctity of its records.

The Fratres congratulated the Commission esp. Fr. Wilson on its inspiration [sp?] + Frater Wilson expressed his appreciation of the current year’s work of the Confraternity, in the standard of its papers, and in its the reverence for the traditions of its procedure. Frater Thomson and Frater Morgan convinced in his view that the Confraternity had in the past two years attained a position of favour with Clio, which made up amply for the backsliding of the recent past. The Princeps exhorted the fratres who would be up next year to keep sacred the traditions and learning of the Confraternity, and expressed his the Confraternity’s good wishes to all who were about to embark on the stormy seas of life in the armed forces.

The closing Tribunes of the Plebs signed their names on the parchment provided [sp?] for the purpose. The closing rites were pronounced by the Pontifex, and the Princeps, Magister, Fabricius and Frater Wilson aided for some time by Frater Morgan and, in a more passive way, by the Ceremonarius, proceeded to revelries which amply expressed their devotion to Clio.

Signed:
G. M. Drukker (Mag. Rot.)
J. E. Wilson (Princeps Senatus)

13.10.41


The 213th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on October 13th [1941] at 8.15 p.m. After the opening rites had been read, four new Fratres were initiated, namely Fratres French, Griffiths, Jones & Wallis, after which the Princeps, who was in the chair, demanded the minutes of the last meeting. These were deciphered with great ingenuity, and then only at the cost of excessive eyestrain, by the Magister Rotulorum. As is the custom with each newly-elected Princeps, Frater Wilson proceeded to deliver a short inaugural address. After explaining the unprecedented position of the Confraternitas in being deprived of all the preceding past year’s Senate but declaring with confidence that the future could & would be bright, the Princeps went on to pay a sincere tribute to his immediate predecessor, Frater Briggs, a gesture heartily approved by all present. So great was the admiration felt by the Princeps for Frater Briggs that, fearing the inadequacy of his own considerable eloquence, he had recourse to no less a man of mighty words than Oliver Goldsmith. Passing to the composition of the new Senate, Frater Wilson explained that, since eligible members for the offices of Comes Sacre Thesauri [sp?] and Fabricius were lacking, each Senator would enjoy the dignity of Lord of the Treasury and Lord of the Buttery. The new Pontifex Maximus was Frater Stephenson, Magister Rotulorum Frater Davidson, while Frater Edwards was Caeremonarius. Exhorting all devotees of Clio to invoke the blessed Muse in this out time of crisis, * giving an assurance that he himself would do his best to fill worthily the Principial office, Frater Wilson brought to a conclusion an address both eloquent & sincere. Replying on behalf of the Confraternitas, the Magister Rotulorum, whose brief remarks were given an undue length by the untimely near-intrusion into the sacred chamber of one of the powers of darkness, thanked the Princeps for his unselfish acceptance of a difficult position in such a time. Sympathising, as one who spoke from experience, with the present lot of so many ex-Senators & other Fratres, the Magister expressed his delight at the continued liberty of the ex-Princeps, & with an assurance that all members would strive to help the present one & the Confraternity as a whole, he ended his reply.

Frater Wilson having informed new Fratres of the sumptuary and other laws, the Socius Honorabilis raised the question of financial responsibility, & it was decided that the annual Budget should be presented by the Magister Rotulorum, Frater Thomson meanwhile making sure for the well-being of his own soul that the sacred golden emblem still retained its former weight. On the Princeps’ suggestion that the new Tribunes of the Plebs should consist of one historian & one non-historian, Fratres French and Wallis were duly elected. Proposing the master of Downing as a possible speaker, Frater Wilson instructed those present to think before the next meeting of people who might be invited to address the annual Visitors’ Meeting, and there the matter was left.

The Confraternitas now turned to the serious business of the evening, & after the Pontifex had read out the title of his paper, “The Growth of Tyneside Industry & Commerce”, a charge on the refreshment was made, led by the Princeps. Taking Newcastle as his measure, the Pontifex tested Professor Nef’s theory of the not-so-revolutionary character of the Industrial Revolution. He showed that there had been very considerable development in industry, especially mining, in the Tyneside of the seventeenth century, this fact bearing out to a certain extent the theory under question. Frater Stephenson went on to put this earlier development into its proper perspective as compared with more recent progress, & concluded that it was but a verbal quibble in the case of Tyneside to deny the term ‘Revolution’ to an expansion of such colossal proportions in ship-building, mining & heavy engineering as had taken place. This very refreshing address was punctuated by the showing of graphs and drawings arranged by the speaker & of a somewhat Fougasse-like nature.

The ensuing discussion, being both long & hearty, touched on such widely separated points as the importance of coalfields during the Civil War & the question of whether the unemployed tended to turn to escapist of realist pastimes. The XXX of workers dividing into small but distinct sections of society was stressed XXX Leeds, South Wales, & London being cited as examples. After new Fratres has inscribed their names on the scroll, the closing rites ended at 11:30 p.m. an initial meeting which had proved highly entertaining.

Signed:
A. J. Davidson, Mag. Rot. 13.10.41
J. E. Wilson, Princeps.


The 214th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on October 27th [1941] at 8.15 p.m. After the opening rites had been pronounced, Frater Bloor was initiated, and the Magister Rotulorum read the minutes of the last meeting. Notes of absence from Fratres French and Griffiths were produced, and on the proposal of the Socius Honorabilis, following grave doubts cast by the magister on the sincerity of Frater French’s excuse, it was resolved that in future his domestic policy ought move XXX to coincide with the Visitor’s meeting. The Confraternitas was then regaled with pleasant news in the form of messages of best wishes, conveyed by the Socius Honorabilis on behalf of three ex-senators, Fratres Drukker, Gillespie, and Taylor. These were gratefully acknowledged & reciprocated by the Princeps, speaking for all present.

The next business was the announcement of three new Senatorial decrees. With a view to increasing attendances at meetings while the number of resident Fratres was so small, the Socius Honorabilis, Frater Thomson, was empowered to invite as perpetual guests any new [sp?] students of other colleges whom he supervised, provided that their number should never exceed half that of resident undergraduate Fratres. Also ass Fratres might bring along one guest each, if they notified the Magister beforehand of their intention. The second decree was to the effect that all enactments of the Senate, if at all bearing on the future conduct of the Confraternitas, should be embodied into a Terminal Edict and placed in the Ark. Lastly, a Cromwell night was instituted, preferably to take place early in the Summer Term, on which a paper should be read dealing either with the Lord Protector or with some other former member of this college.

After these decrees had been recommended to the consideration of the Tribunes, the Princeps read his paper on “The Roman Wall in Cumberland and Northumberland”. Recounting some of the numerous theories concerning the origin of the famous wall, Frater Wilson selected as best fitting he material evidence that one which gives an earlier date to the wall than to the ‘vallum’, and ascribes to the latter the functions of a customs frontier. The wall, built by the legions themselves, was 73 miles in length, in height originally 15 feet, and included 15 forts and, at intervals of a Roman mile, towers. The purpose of the wall was its use as an obstacle against raiding parties and as a raised lookout over the surrounding country. Detailing the later history of the wall, the Princeps concluded a talk, illustrated admirably by photographs, by referring to the increased interest in it taken by the nineteenth century & the fact that excavation enlarges our knowledge of the wall year by year. A lively discussion raised the points of the possibility of driving chariots along its top & the fact that the wall could quite well be used as a happy hunting-ground for highwaymen. A somewhat loftier level of conversation was reached with the comparison of the respective odours of the camel and the pony. After Frater Bloor had signed the sacred scroll, the closing rites were read at 11.0 p.m.

SIgned:
A. J. Davidson, Mag. Rot.
J. E. Wilson, Princeps.


The 215th meeting of the Confraternitas took place in Frater Passant’s rooms on Nov. 17th [1941] at 8.15 p.m. The opening rites having been read in accustomed hallowed secrecy, the doors of the chamber were thrown open to allow the entry of a flock of guests, who, after the minutes had been disposed of, were cordially welcomed by the Princeps. The Pontifex then rose to deliver his Pastoral Charge, a homily, which, if it would be unfair to accuse its author of wilful plagiarism, certainly bore a distinct resemblance to a quite noteworthy ‘XXX’ of a certain modern poet. Invoking the blessing of our Lady Clio, & commending to the Confraternitas the precept of his worthy predecessor, George, Frater Stephenson exhorted his wayward flock to guard more carefully those sacred secrets which so remissly had of late been allowed disclosure. Certain that he would not preach to them again, the Pontifex reminded Fratres that others too might prepare for a sudden departure, but that as long as they should bathe in the blessed light of Clio’s exaltation, they must do their utmost to uphold the standards of our egregious Confraternitas. Here Frater Stephenson concluded a charge which very unbecomingly had been too often punctuated by what could only have been gurgles, the origin of which, he criminally ascribed to the conduct of a completely blameless Magister.

The question of a speaker for Visitor’s Evening was, according to a now well established principle, allowed to rest.

Frater F. H. Maycock regaled the meeting with what was certainly its most delicious paper this term on “John Donne, Dean of St. Paul’s, 1573-1631”. The poet, one of the strangest products of a strange century, led an early life of debauchery, which must have given him food for cogitation when he entered the Church. But his writing had great effect on the younger poets of the clay, who eagerly followed up his attack on Elizabethan sentimentality. Here Frater Maycock quoted passages from Shelley & Coleridge, contrasting with their poetical language the realistic imagery of Donne’s poem, ‘The Dissolution’. Donne led a wretched life, perhaps the best account of the condition of himself & his wife being his epigram, “John Donne, Anne Donne, undone”, but in 1614 came the turning-point when he received a living from the Crown & soon entered holy orders. The poet’s preaching was as fiery as his writing, torn between the reason & the appetites, between the grotesque & sublime, he startled his congregation into apprehension & remorse. Perhaps his last outstanding feat was the earning of Archbishop Laud’s dislike, after which he literally laid himself to rest.

Unfortunately, through domestic reasons, the Magister missed the ensuing discussion, & the Pontifex, on whom he rashly relied for information, immediately followed him from the room, brandishing a curious artificial flower. The meeting, it is understood, ended at approximately 11.0 p.m.

Signed:
A. J. Davidson, Mag. Rot.
J. E. Wilson, Princeps, 1/12/41


The 216th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, December 1st [1941]. The opening rites were read in the inner shrine, in order to prevent the eviction of guests present at the meeting, and the minutes were then read, giving rise to a suggestion that the Magister and Pontifex had failed in their duties at the last meeting by a hasty departure before the reading of the closing rites; a vote of censure on these two senators was accordingly passed, and a face-saving amendment by the magister defeated. A list of the following term’s officers, provisional on their appearance in residence, was then read out, being as follows:- Princeps, Fr. Davidson; Magister, Fr. Edwards; Pontifex, Fr. French; Caeremonarius, Fr. Wallis.

After the Princeps had lamented the enforced departure of the Pontifex, Fr. Stephenson, and welcomed the opportune appearance of Fr. Gillespie to fill the vacancy in the office which he had performed so dutifully in the past, the acting Pontifex gave a short pastoral charge. Though deploring his descent from the celestial regions to which he had of late been accustomed, he welcomed the opportunity of pouring out untold libations to Clio, and gave an indulgence “plenary and absolute” to Fratres to do likewise, quoting the authority of Briggs on the subject. He exhorted the new blood of the Confraternity to uphold the love of true and unsullied learning to which they had now committed themselves, and ended with a further assertion of pontifical infallibility. The Princeps, in thanking Fr. Gillespie for his homily, tentatively queried the validity of the dispensing [sp?] power of the Pontifex, but was eager to suggest that, in view of the length of the preliminary business and the obvious anxiety of the Pontifex to drink to Clio, the practice of waiting until the first words of the paper had been read aloud should not be allowed to aggravate the general thirst of the Confraternity.

The suggestion having been universally welcomed, the Caeremonarius next delivered the customary budget XXX in the place of the non-existent Comes. After summarising [sp?] the financial arrangements necessitated [sp?] by the admittance of guests to meeting, he asked for a subsidy from fratres and permanent guests calculated to meet the incurred expenses, and the budget was at last unanimously adopted, in spite of some bickering occasioned by the objections of the Pontifex to alleged aspersions on the character an conduct of the late Comes, Fr. Waller. The budget speech gave rise to the promulgation of a senatorial decree of November 30th, 1941, which opens the way to full memberships of the Confraternity to any male student invited to attend meetings by the Socius Honorabilis, since members of St. Catherine’s College had been asked to contribute towards the expenses of the society – a practice which would in time violate the sacred principle of “No taxation without representation”. The decree was accepted by sic votes to three, after the Princeps had uncharitably refused to put to the vote an amendment of the Pontifex calculated to include the inmates of Girton and Newnham in the provisions of the decree. It was then decided that such members of St. Catherine’s College as wished to become members should be initiated at the next meeting of the Confraternity.

The alleged dictatorial attitude of the Princeps was next objected to by two fratres who appeared anxious to introduce into the Confraternity that freedom from restraint which they no doubt enjoy in the land of their birth, but they were effectively silenced at long last by the Princeps, who vindicated himself by relevant quotations from the Institutes. He set the minds of the turbulent plebs at rest by enlightening them on the principles underlying the promulgated laws and the tribunician rights, and hinted that it was quite within his power to adopt a certain amount of dictatorship if the situation demanded it.

When the same two fratres had compensated themselves for this principial rebuff by obtaining a vote of censure against the unfortunate Caeremonarius, who was apparently wearing clothes unsuited to the true nature of the meeting, the Pontifex belatedly attempted to mollify the Princeps by suggesting that the disgruntled fratres were perhaps objecting, not to Fr. Wilson’s personal conduct, but to the powers contained in his office, and therefore to the Institutes themselves, though these were in part prepared by the Princeps. Now rapidly exhausting his own patience, the Princeps summarily disposed of the matter by calling upon the Magister Rotulorum to deliver his “Refutations upon the letters of Junius”. Before Fr. Davidson began, however, the eyes of the Confraternity were regaled with the strange sight of a single-file relieving expedition, organised and led by the Princeps.

The more serious business of the meeting having now been reached, those present were amply rewarded for their patience by the excellence of the paper given by the Magister; the “sense of period” was achieved from the very beginning, and an insight was given into the character of the unknown Junius as shown by his letters, and into the ramifications produced by their writing in the political world of the eighteenth century. Fr. Davidson first dealt with the relations of Junius with Willus [sp?] and Horne [sp?] Zooke [sp?], his vituperative outbursts against George III and his ministers, and his literary duel with the ponderous Dr. Johnson. The anonymity of the satirist was next considered, not in relation to its solution, on which the speaker considered speculation worthless, but with regard to the reasons for its preservation. The Magister was of the view that cowardliness and the fear of becoming a martyr to his cause were the main reasons for the refusal of Junius to reveal his identity; he was prevented from the very beginning from gaining the personal support and protection of the mole [sp?] which was afforded to Wilks, and he was in fact far more than a mere demagogue, though prejudice, arrogance and self-love were obvious traits of his character. The force of his writings was somewhat lessened by his tendency to allow himself to be sidetracked on minor issues, and although he may have intended to put forward a widely-accepted programme, he departed from his purpose by the continual pursuit of red herrings. An overriding belief in justice was his main principle, and his attacks were justified by the viciousness of the administration and its individual members. The powers of Junius were shown to be failing in his context with XXX, and after his exit had been prepared by the writings of “Philo-Junius”, he disappeared abruptly when the opposition disintegrated and the anti –revolutionary activities of George III met with success by party hacks.

The Magister was deservedly thanked by the Princeps for a paper characterized by the vigour of its style and its enlivening points of wit. In spite of the speaker’s warnings, discussion dealt mainly with the possible identity of Junius, and it was again effectively established that Burke must have disguised himself very thoroughly, if it was he who wrote the letters; it was also decided that Junius cannot be said to have been one of the known chief members of the Chathamite group, though he was allied to this body in matters of vague policy.

After the questions of interested fratres had been answered, the closing rites were read and the meeting, a lengthy but highly entertaining one, closed at approximately 11.00 p.m.

Signed:
G. J. Edwards, Magister Rotulorum.
H. J. Davidson, Princeps, 14/1/42

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