[The following entries have been transcribed from the minute books kept in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.]
The 217th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, January 19th . After the opening rites had been pronounced, six new fratres were initiated into the mysteries of the Confraternitas, namely Fratres Bradshaw, Cowie, Griffin, Lovett [sp?], Seth-Smith, and Lummerfield. The minutes of the last meeting were read and duly approved, and the Magister read out notes of absence from Fratres Bloor, Griffiths and Jones. The question of the Visitor’s Meeting was then raised; a letter from Mr. Lloyd George, its contents the expected polite negative, was read, and the Confraternity informed of the Senate’s decision to apply to Messrs. Louis MacNiece, Michael Redgrave, Ronald Franham [sp?], Philip Guedalla, and Commander Campbell, in the hope of obtaining a visitor from without the confines of Cambridge. When this business had been disposed of, the Princeps delivered his principial address; after bewailing the decrease in the numbers of the Confraternity, and XXX the policy of initiating fratres from other colleges of the university, the extended an official welcome to all new members of the society. A reminder of a few of the most important laws and customs of the Confraternity was the next point made by the Princeps, who stressed the necessity of appearing in garments becoming the dignity of the society, and especially in the distinctive hosiery which has been adopted from the earliest times as the emblem of Cleo’s neophytes; the existence of sumptuary laws which forbid the partaking of alcoholic refreshment until the pronouncement of the opening words of the paper; and the respect due to all Senators and Socii Honorabiles. Fr. Davidson next paid a tribute to his principial predecessor, Fr. Wilson, and ended his address on a note of piety, trusting that the Confraternity may once more receive divine guidance in its search for the truths of history. The Magister gave a short reply to the Princeps on behalf of the Confraternity.
Since a number of interested plebeians were absent from this meeting, the question of the election of tribunes was temporarily shelved, and the Princeps called upon the Pontifex, Fr. French, to read his paper on “Paracelsus”. This highly specialised subject was dealt with in an extremely competent manner, which gave the Confraternity a lucid understanding of the life of this unique character in relation to the scientific world of the sixteenth century. The career of Paracelsus, from his early years among the Swiss mountains to his death in Salzburg after a life of medical research in almost every country of Europe, was treated in detail by the Pontifex, who justified his opinion that this extraordinary man was the founder of modern medicine. Wherever he went, Paracelsus XXX, and obtained, the opposition of all in authority, but was more than a match for a host of critics in his campaign against scientific XXX and false tradition; his guiding notion was the essential unity of all things in nature, and his belief that minerals, as part of the universal life-force, could cure diseases, led to the discovery of considerable medical data that were at once genuine and valuable. An entertaining feature of Fr. French’s paper was the reference to the voluminous writings of Paracelsus, the passages quoted illustrating both the amazing arrogance of “Theophrastus Bombastus, Prince of Monarchs [sp?]”, and the nature of his beliefs in comparison with current alchemical and medical notions.
In spite of the technical character of the paper, it gave rise to an interesting discussion on alchemists and their search for the philosopher’s stone, enlivened by the enlightenment of the Pontifex on the subject of spontaneous generation and the practice of uroscopy [sp?]. When the curiosity of fratres on these and similar beliefs and practices had been satisfied, the closing rites were read at approximately 10.45, after which new members of the Confraternity signed their names on the sacred scroll and remained to hear the inveighing of the Socius Honorabilis against an eminent personage, who has, mercifully, no connections with the Confraternity and its sphere of action.
G. J. Edwards, Magister Rotulorum.
A. J. Davidson, Princeps
The 218th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m on Monday, February 2nd . The opening rites were first pronounced, and then Frater Harris was initiated into the mysteries and delights of the Confraternity. The minutes were read by the Magister, who next read an extremely eloquent and explanatory note of absence from Frater Lovett. The Pontifex, Frater French, then rose to deliver his pastoral charge. In words of measured dignity and solemn import, he informed the Confraternity of his intercession with the Muse and of his task in conveying the judgment of our lady upon the conduct of fratres; he dilated upon the displeasement of Clio arising out of our sundry imperfections, and deemed that expiation can only be won by increased devotion to our calling. With the voice of authority, he deplored the fleshly successes of certain fratres, and reminded the Confraternity of the true end of their libations. The necessity of sacrifices in the obtaining of outward harmony was also stressed, together with the moral obligations entailed in the conformance with the required standard of attire. But the greatest crime of which the Pontifex accused fratres was the abuse of the inner shrine, a temple wherein, he decreed, only those of senatorial rank could rightly enter; fratres of lower orders were forewarned of the dire penalties awaiting further violations or desecration of the shrine. Yet, in spite of these misgivings, the Confraternity was infinitely relieved to hear that our lady still views her devotees with favour, the Pontifex passing her blessing on to the society and its members, after once more urging fratres to follow her guidance in their pursuit of the true learning.
After hearing the pontifical homily and receiving the pontifical blessing, the Confraternity returned once more to temporal affairs by electing Fratres Griffiths and Jones to the honour and duty of tribunician [sp?] office. The Princeps then called upon the Magister Rotulorum to read his paper upon “Pretenders to the Throne of Henry VII”. The Magister dealt in some detail with the adventurous careers of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, and their effects upon the policy of Henry VII in his dealings with his Yorkist subjects and foreign rulers; at the end of a discussion of their identity, as demonstrated by contemporary beliefs and writings, he was reluctantly compelled to agree that both were imposters in their claims upon the English throne the discussion following the paper was concerned with a variety of questions, including available proofs of Warbeck’s origin and influence upon those with whom he came into contact; the merits and demerits of Henry’s policy during the impostures; comparisons with other pretenders; and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the two princes imprisoned in the Tower by Richard III.
After the closing rites had been pronounced, and Fr. Harrid had signed the sacred scroll, the meeting closed in the region of 10.10.
G. J. Edwards, Magister Rotulorum.
A. J. Davidson, Princeps, 15/2/42.
The 219th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, February 10th . After the opening rites had been read with customary dignity, the Magister read the minutes of the last meeting and they were duly signed by the Princeps. Two notes of absence were then read out from Fratres Summerfield and Bradshaw, the use of the term “Bacchanalian” by the second frater eliciting some comment from the Princeps. The Magister next announced to the Confraternity the contents of a new senatorial decree, whose object was to ensure the continuation of a worthy and hallowed tradition by enforcing upon all fratres delivering papers in the future the necessity of including some reference to the gracious Nancy Parsons [sp?], of noble fame, unless an exemptive licence had formerly been obtained from the Senate.
When fratres had assimilated the full import of this promulgation, the Princeps broached a subject originating with the Socius Honorabilis, discussed in detail by the Senate, and now entrusted to the confidence of the general body of the Confraternity. This was the possibility of holding, probably at the end of this term, some type of festival similar to that held in the principiate of Frater Hatch. Fratres gave a somewhat tacit assent to this proposal, no doubt dismayed by the likelihood that they would be called upon to uncover talents hidden from the world at large, although support of a less negative character was given to the Princeps when he suggested that there might be a dinner among the attractions of the evening. Since no dissentient views were offered, the Princeps promised to set the scheme in motion, and urged fratres to come forward and demonstrate to the Senate their willingness to participate.
The Caeremonarius, in place of the Comes whose duty it would be, were he anything but a memory in the minds of the more aged members of the Confraternity, then rose to deliver the terminal budget. Frater Wallis succeeded in making his plea for the financial co-operation of fratres as painless as his task allowed him, by stressing the vital necessity of each item of expenditure decided upon by the Senate. After describing the settlement of a long-standing debt handed down through the reminisces of a former Magister, he left the Confraternity to judge of the wisdom of the Senate in taking steps, despite the monetary outlay, to prevent the occurrence of similar incidents in the future. Passing on from a summary of the administrative and fiscal reforms involved in this decision, the Caeremonarius dealt with the items of refreshment, both initial [sp?] and libative [sp?], pausing to comment upon the purloining of “unburnt incense” at the close of the last meeting. After he had touched upon smaller items of expenditure, Frater Wallis ended his financial address by giving a provisional estimate of the contributions required from each member of the Confraternity. This budget met with no disapproval and was unanimously accepted.
The business part of the meeting was concluded by the reading of the tribunician oath by Fratres Griffiths and Jones; owing to the cunning of the Princeps, the tribunes had no opportunity of XXX the oath beforehand, and the element of surprise overcame any possibility of these two fratres jibbing at the pledges which they swore to keep during their term of office. This proceeding having passed without mishap, the Princeps called upon Frater Passant, who had consented, with XXX pleasure, to return to the worship of Clio from his service under dreadful Mars, to address the Confraternity on “A Possible Europe”. Frater Passant began with the words “Paper it is not,” but all fratres agreed that his “talk”, as he preferred to put it, was in style and delivery equal to any written paper. In the opinion of the speaker, the character of the European resettlement will be decided mainly by the progress of future events, although the opinions of the formulators of the Peace, and of all political thinkers, will no doubt be of great final importance. The question must be decided with reference to the Settlement of Versailles, since the best results can only be achieved by an understanding of that treaty’s faults and deficiencies. The first misunderstanding apparent at Versailles was occasioned by the predominance of political ideas; politically, the settlement was not inherently unjust, but its economic provisions left much to be desired. The reparations policy led to fierce competition among nations in their form of capitalist groupings, Germany especially finding the struggle for export markets the only alternative to chronic unemployment. In any future settlement, a repetition of this catastrophe must be averted by the formulation of some sort of economic unity, and it must be realised that old liberal economic ideals afford no way of ensuring a stable means of living for the masses of Europe. However, this was not the only failing of Versailles, whose main fault was the absence of any moral basis to its legalism and static character. The moral disunity and degradation of Western Europe has found no obstacle to its advance, and we see no answer to the “German lie” in the allied proposals for a New Europe. Frater Passant dealt with the Bolshevik bogey [sp?] as one of the forces behind the Nazi movement, but he seemed to be a little haunted by the same spirit himself, since he expressed a wish that Britain and America would be able to settle Europe without the aid of Communist Russia. Behind any settlement there must be a re-education of mankind in the principles of Christianity, in its less dogmatic sense of the assertion of the inviolability and ultimate value of the human individual.
The discussion following Frater Passant’s address took the form of a wide variety of questions and opinions on points affecting the reconstruction of Europe on a stable basis. Almost all fratres took part, while Frater Riches [sp?] satisfied himself, at least, in his vindication of Christian ethics against the unorthodox views of mere humanitarians. The Princeps was reluctantly compelled to call for the closing of the meeting by the reading of the rites by the Pontifex, since the time had reached the hour of eleven; but the discussion waxed fruitful even after the meeting had been formally closed, and was considerably enlivened by the appearance of the Socius Honorabilis from his pursuit of Clio in other spheres.
G. J. Edwards, Mag. Rot.
A.. J. Davidson, Princeps.
The 220th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, March 2nd . This was the annual Visitors’ Meeting of the society, and a fair number of guests took advantage of this opportunity of visiting the premier rest of Clio-worship in this island – with alas! too few of those by custom excluded from general meetings of the Confraternity. Owing to the presence of strangers, the opening and closing rites were read to a select gathering of senators in the inner sanctuary. The Senate then returned from its duties, the minutes of the last meeting were read, and the Magister read out notes of absence from Fratres Seth-Smith and Jones. Since there was no business to attend to, the Princeps straightway introduced the guest of the evening, Mr. Robert Gittings, and invited him to read his paper on the White Rajah of Sarawak, James Brooke, entitled “One of the i’s in Imperialism”. Mr. Gittings began by explaining that the centenary of the founding of Sarawak had recently been celebrated, and that it was his intention to prove one exception to the definition of Imperialism by George Bernard Shaw, who considered that the British Empire had been founded by a series of commercial adventures, culminating in military occupation. This exception was the founding of Sarawak by James Brooke, whose early life was dominated by the influence of the career of Raffles at Singapore. Urged by a determination to follow this example, he set out on a yacht in 1839 with a view to civilize the East Indians and destroy the Malayan slave trade. Arriving at Singapore, he was asked by the port authorities to go to a small river-state in Sarawak, where ship-wrecked sailors had been treated kindly. The introduction of Brookes to Sarawak was this made with no idea of colonisation. The state at the time of Brooke’s first visit was in a condition of crisis, owing to the exploitation by the local governor of the inhabitants, the land Dyahs. Brooke’s advice was at first not taken, but the representative, or Rajah-mudah, of the Sultan of Borneo finally decided in favour [of] Brooke rather than the villainous governor, Makotah. Brooke now became the Rajah of the small river-state, and after exterminating the Malay pirates of the area and extending his rule to other small river-states in Sarawak, with the help of £20,000 out of his own funds, he became in time Rajah of the whole of Sarawak; this latter was accomplished in spite of – though partly by means of – the evil practices of the Sultan of Brunei, whose chief delight appeared to consist in massacring his uncles, but who was overcome though the melodramatic but timely appearance of a British gun-boat. It now became necessary for Brooke to go to England, where his British agent, dismissed for embezzlement, had been spreading false rumours about Brooke’s activities in Sarawak. Richard Cobden attacked him in the House of Commons as an unprincipled trader and exploiter of natives but he was cleared from his charges by a personal appearance at a Court of Enquiry held at Singapore. On his return to Sarawak, a revolt by Chinese settlers was put down, again with the help of the British Navy in the form of a river gunboat. Brooke’s health was deteriorating by this time, but he lived long enough to see Sarawak recognised by Britain as an independent state. The good government of the first White Rajah has been carried on by his nephew and grand-nephew; commercial exploitation of the country has never been permitted, even after the discovery of oil in the island, while the native Malays and Dyahs have been encouraged to participate as officials in the actual administration. Mr. Gittings was warmly thanked by the Princeps for a paper full of interest even for those who formerly knew nothing of the subject; the interest roused by the speaker was amply illustrated by the questions put to him, the chief items of the discussion dealing with the customs of the head-hunters of Sarawak, the relations of James Brooke with the authorities of Dutch Borneo, the living representatives of the Brooke dynasty, the new constitution of Sarawak, and the present condition of the state, during and since the occupation of the Japanese. The meeting ended shortly before eleven o’clock.
G. J. Edwards, Mag. Rot.
The 221st meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, March 9th . This, an informal assembly elevated by the name of “Spring Festival”, had been long awaited by festive-minded fratres, who for days had been earnestly making preparations for the event – not least of which was the procuring from sundry quarters of a variety of the equipment necessary for libation, a ceremony which fratres at times feel in duty bound to perform. An air of soberness might have been given by the presence of three Socii Honorabilis, Fratres Thomson, Riches [sp?] and Passant, but this is all that can safely be said. The opening rites having been performed on the first bottle, and Frater Jones having expressed his satisfaction in no uncertain fashion, the festivities were commenced by the promulgation of two senatorial decrees by the Caeremonarius and Magister Rotulorum; it is to be hoped that future members of the Confraternity will be hesitant in fulfilling the letter of the law according to the first decree, at least at any Visitors’ Meeting. The Princeps gave an opening speech in a style reminiscent of one of the leading lights of music-hall; and then the Senate proceeded to initiate the Socius Honorabilis, Frater Thomson, who was compelled to answer in the affirmative many a subtle question posed by the Pontifex. Fratres Jones and Bloor next gave the Confraternity an inkling of the conversation – and thirst – of the aristocracy of Cambridge, the Socius Honorabilis being this time called upon to perform the menial task of ministering to their needs of every moment. This act was followed by the impressions of the Magister and Caeremonarius on the institution of the supervision, whose form was conceived after rather too obvious a model; after a succession of dazzling puns, these senators considered themselves lucky to escape with their – lives. The next item took the admirable form of a Brains Trust; the duty of question-master was amply fulfilled by Frater Bradshaw, while the residents were also present – the bearded Frater Lovatt, the Socius Honorabilis, suitably clad as the gallant Commander, and Frater Summerfield, who confirmed the persons of the scientific expert and the lady guest of the session; fratres were amusingly told the answers to questions which I fear the B.B.C. would hesitate to ask. As an interlude in the festivities, Frater Passant was persuaded to recount a few of his stock of Irish jokes, delivered in an unforgettable style. But the climax of the evening was yet to be. The Confraternity was prepared for the revelation by a pontifical homily, by means of which Frater French enjoined all fratres to prostrate themselves before their goddess. In the accompaniment of a solo rendered with great feeling by Frater Griffiths, the divine – and slightly buxom – form of Our Lady was finally displayed to her Confraternity. Attended in state by her two handsome handmaidens, Clio gave her blessing to the Confraternity, her request for a sacrifice being granted by a common descent upon the unfortunate Frater Bloor. After this, divers fratres descended still further, and the meeting finally ended round about midnight, after Frater Bloor had satisfied himself that the telephone was merely an inanimate object.
G. J. Edwards, Mag. Rot.
A. J. Davidson, Princeps.
The 222nd meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday, May 11th , at 8.15 p.m. This was the first of the Cromwell Evenings established by this year’s Senate, whose intention was that one meeting should be held in the Easter term of every year for the deliverance and discussion of a paper upon one of the College’s celebrities. An unfortunate hitch occurred at the beginning of the meeting, since it was discovered that the regalia of the Confraternity were missing. However, the rites were struggled through without them, and the minutes were then read and signed. The Magister read out notes of absence from Fratres Wallis, Griffiths and Griffin; these occasioned a motion that Frater Wallis should be forcibly removed from his bed and a vote of censure on the other absent fratres for the inadequacy of their excuses. Votes of censure being apparently popular with certain of the fratres present at this meeting, one was moved and passed upon the magister Rotulorum, who had appeared in dress that was evidently unbecoming to the dignity of his office, but who insisted on including Fratres Jones, Cowie and Harris in the motion for their omittance to appear in red socks; Frater Jones hastened to excuse himself and was accordingly excluded from the list of delinquent fratres. Encouraged by this victory, he attempted to move a vote of censure upon the Senate for their failure to prevent the insignia from disappearing, but the move was quashed by the Princeps, who also made it clear where the suspicions of the Senate lay with regard to the culpability for the disappearance. After a few words from the Princeps on the future of the Confraternity, he introduced the speaker of the evening, Frater Cowie, who gave a very sound paper entitled “Cromwell and Dunkirk”. He treated the subject as narrative of events, leading from the negotiations for the occupation of the fortress as “a bride to the Dutch and a door into the Continent,” up to the sale of Dunkirk by Charles II, and including convincing descriptions of the Battle of the Dunes and of the situation after the death of Cromwell. After a fair amount of discussion on the characters of Cromwell and Charles II and the New Model army in its continental expeditions, the Princeps closed the meeting, the last of a most successful year.
G. J. Edwards, Mag. Rot.
A. P. French, Princeps.
26th Oct. 1942.
The 223rd meeting of the Confraternity was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday the 26th of October . The two remaining Fratres, Fr. French & Jones, read the opening rites & then proceeded to initiate six new Fratres – Messrs. Ball, Coles, Carpenter, Halse, Smith & Troomans. The novices conducting themselves with a commendable humility & reverence. The opening rites were then re-read – This innovation having no predecessor. The then Pontifex, soon to be Princeps – proceeded to instruct new members into the sublime mysteries of the Confraternitas. He reminded the new Fratres of our distinguished founder [sp?], Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protecter of England – this statement might be questioned by the irreverent. He revealed to them the XXX they shared as members of the society & reminded them that they must pay due deference to our Lady Clio. Correctness of attire was a symbol of such feeling. To disclose the ‘XXX’ of the Confraternitas was unpardonable sacrilege.
He proceeded to say that Clio had been kind to her worshippers again this year. XXX of the two members who still remained XXX the sacred shrine, one was himself the Pontifex. He had conferred with Clio & spoken to her in a vision – an ecstatic experience. She had guided him & made his judgement infallible. So it was ordained that the following Fratres should form the Senate for his academic year. Princeps – Frater A. P. French, Pontifex Maximus; Frater T. T. Smith, Magister Rotulorum; Fr. I. H. M. Jones; Caeremonarius Frater K. Carpenter. The offices of Fabricius & Comes Sacri Thesaurus were to be held in commission by these your senators.
The inspired Pontifex now became the mundane Princeps. Financial matters were treated with a due disregard – especially as the Princeps himself had paid for the night’s refreshments out of his own pocket. It was decided that it would be necessary to levy a first fruit of ten [sp?] from each frater to meet the expenses of the year. Fratres were asked to be austere in their libations, which request was observed but only because the beer was sour and cloudy.
The Princeps then called upon the Mag. Rot. to read his paper on “The Siege of Paris & the Paris Commune”. As the wording of the title implied the reader saw the two occurrences as manifestations of the same spirit. The theme he laboured [sp?] was that Paris had controlled the French Gout. [sp?] during the Siege & saw no reason why she should not continue to rule France after the armistice Prussia had signed. The Commune was an attempt to prevent France regaining control. The Parisian, as opposed to the Marxian nature, of the Commune was stressed. M. Thiers was portrayed as a bungler, who by his lack of sympathy, made the civil war yet more embittered. He had to bear much of the responsibility of the massacres after the occupation of Paris by the Versaillese – a tragedy which Marxian writers have made much of.
Few questions were forthcoming – the length of the above paper been a severe test on the endurance of Fratres in more ways than one. The bibliography of the subject was discussed, & the conduct of the Germans.
The closing rites were held a little after eleven.
XXX Morus. James (Magister Rotulorum)
A. P. French (Princeps)
The 224th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17th 1942. The opening rites were read with a growing confidence by the Pontifex & two new Fratres – the Rev. Coupe & Mr. Edge, were initiates into the Confraternitas by him. The Princeps then called upon the Mag. Rot. to read the minutes of the last meeting. These were well received & were duly signed. A. Coles & Ball had read the tribunicial oath. After the Princeps had mildly reprimanded certain Fratres for the incongruousness of their dress * proceeded with a youthful ingenuousness to call upon the Socius Honorabilis Fr. Thomson to read his paper on “Recent changes in the Interpretation of the British Constitution of the C18”.
*After Fr. Coles and ball had read the Tribunicial oath, the Princeps…
The Socius Honorabilis has been at the shrine of his mistress Clio for some time now & his fascinating paper showed his understanding of her domain. He outlined the standpoint of the Victorian XXX – Lord Macaulay receiving his special intention – & showed how this interpretation of the past bore the imprint of their own age. Then he pointed out how the moderns had debunked their forefathers by insisting on giving to Constitutional History a wider meaning than mere institutional history & by rejecting the more facile of the Victorian explanations. Fratres were left with the question of how far this new orientation was in itself as narrow & as far from the truth as the Victorian interpretation. The whole paper was graced by a lively air & even those who are not fortunate enough to be initiated in the mysteries of C18 party history, could only be interested. The Socius Honorabilis smiled at the inconclusiveness of his own learning.
Questions were soon forthcoming & the historians present aired many of the old arguments. Some strove to fasten the stigma of Whiggism even to the moderns, but the Socius Honorabilis easily parried such blows. Scientific Fratres also made a few aberrations on the nature of history.
The Confraternitas then returned to the business of a more general nature. The question of a Visitors’ meeting was brought up. The Socius Honorabilis tended to a harshly realistic view & suggested that it was of little use writing to celebrities, of whom there was no hope of their coming who were most unlikely to accept the invitation & pointed out that the experience of the last few years had been that a local man had been asked at the last moment. Such a view, although conflicting with the distinguished & élite character of the Confraternity was accepted, & it was decided that we should ask a visitor with whom a member of the society might have some influence.
In spite of the fact that eleven bottles of beer had mysteriously disappeared since the last meeting & the blow this was to the finances of the Society, the Fratres were not as austere as previously in their as at the previous meetings. The closing rites were read a little before eleven.
XXX Morus. James (Mag. Rot)
A. P. French (Princeps)
30th November 1942
The 225th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Monday, December 2nd, 1942 at 8.15 p.m. in Frater Passant’s rooms. The opening rites were disposed of with al almost unbecoming haste & Fratres showed some eagerness to reach the main business of the evening – a paper on the history of the College by Frater R. H. D. Mayall. After a disturbance on the entry of numerous guests & the usual upheaval following the first word, Fratres listened intently.
Like so many things in this world & even more in the next the paper was in three parts. The foundation of the College was first considered, then the history of the College buildings, & its fortune as an institution & the greater men it brought forth.
After The terms of Lady Sidney’s will were explained, & the difficulties which beset the execution were emphasised. The generosity of Sir John Harrington made him our noblest benefactor & almost a co-founder with the Countess of Sussex. The actual opening of the College was delayed by the perhaps unusual cupidity of Trinity College. The later denial by the same college of this greed for gain was greeted with derision by most of the company. The previous occupant’s [sic] of the site – the Greyfriars – did not pass without mention.
The actual boundaries of the college site were described with the help of Loggan’s XXX. The growth of the College buildings & various structural changes which took place during this growth were remarked upon. This survey was carried right up to the present day.
There followed a review of its fortunes as an institution. Owing to the support of Sir John Harrington & the Earl of Kent the College soon established itself. Perhaps the most startling episode in the history of the foundation occurred in the reign of James II when that King attempted to Catholicize the universities. Sidney was the Cambridge college singled out by James for a special exemplification of his policy. Alterations were made in the statutes of the College to allow the Catholic Bassett to become Master. There followed the now uncommon sight of the worthy Fellows of this College been [sic.] harried by the papist Bassett their Master.
The C18 century saw the beginning of the fall in members, which continued to decline right into the nineteenth century. (The present Master afterwards added that while his father was at the college he was one of twelve undergraduates.)
Oliver Cromwell figured largely in the list of the great men of the College. The company duly gaped at the Lord Protector’s signature on the College rolls. Samuel Taylor & Thomas Fuller were both remembered.
Interest was increased when various relics from the XXX room were passed among the Fratres & their guests. But no such stimulus was needed to hold attention, for this fascinating paper was graced with a rare air & XXX. The Confraternity wishes to thank Mr. Mayall for perhaps the best paper ever read to its members. We apologise if we embarass [sic.] our modest entertainer by our eulogy.
A word must be added of our guests during this most enjoyable evening. The Governing Body in residence were present in force – a most rare assembly of notable. Indeed at times humble Fratres thought they had blundered into the Senior Common Room. But the greatest only bowed his head lower than the meanest before the noble Clio. We would issue a cordial welcome to all of the Fellows to future meetings of the Confraternity.
The closing rites were read a little after eleven p.m.
A. P. French (Princeps) 18th January 1943.
I. H. M. Jones (Mag. Rot.)