[The following entries have been transcribed from the minute books kept in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.]
The 226th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on January 18th 1943 in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. Fratres sipped their coffees & then proceeded once more to proclaim their undying faith to our Lady Clio, who solicits her admirers away from this intolerable world to a shed [sp?] ‘where the weary cease from troubling’ & more important ‘where the wicked be at rest’. After these, the opening rites, had been read, the Magister Rotulorum was called upon to read the minutes of the last meeting. These were approved of by all except the Pontifex, who objected to a small & minor linguistic inconsistency, but the Princeps signed them with little demur. The Magister then mentioned Frater Edge’s failure to give due notice of his absence; he was instructed to write a note of censure to the offending Frater. The Princeps then wondered about the financial state of the Confraternity. Some suggested it was indecent to allow the plebeians to see the XXX side of so august a society. But the Caeremonarius dissected & analysed the complications of the situation & finally made it known that he definitely wanted another first fruit & tenth. 30 sestertii was fixed as an equitable levy.
The Pontifex then proceeded to introduce to us our own Princeps, who was to read a paper on “Paracelsus – a father of medicine”. While posterity might be referred back to the minutes of the 217th meeting of the Confraternity for an account of this paper, its merits are so great & its wisdom so deep that it was necessary that it should be read a second time to the same Confraternity, but for the first time to all Fratres present. Beginning even at the beginning of the life of Paracelsus in Swiss mountains, the Princeps led us along the path of this mans [sic] life. It was a devious route for not only did this man have the wander lust, but more often than not he was encouraged to leave a place by the authorities. His unpopularity was due partly to his own insufferable conceit “I, Theophrastus Bombast, Prince of Monarchs”, was his impressive but hardly tactful introduction. But his fearlessness in denouncing conventional medical remedies & in reviling men for failing to observe the world through their own eyes & been contented with Aristotles opinions, now some seven centuries old, was a deeper reason for the hostility of his own contemporaries. In spite of many startling remedies & cures, nothing could convince the medical profession of his genius. He had made a close study of herbs & their medicinal qualities, & had a justifiable respect for the efficacy of ‘country mosses’. Anatomy was another field of study where he rose above his own age & made valuable advances.
But while Paracelsus spurned his contemporaries for their foolishness, he himself shared with them many gross absurdities. He filled many books with fantastic theorisings [sic.], with but a grain of truth among them all. Throwing of [sic.] the trammels of his own time in some fields, he was yet in others the creature of his own age.
While reading this enlightened paper the Princeps quaffed much liquid, Paracelsian no doubt in origin (actually he complained of a cold, which he described as an act of God, more likely to the devil, this explained his thirst). Questions were soon forthcoming & for some time they were on a high level – the achievement of the Renaissance & yet its failure to throw off all the so called darkness of medievalism was remarked upon. Then came the rot [sp?], a Socius Honorabilis described a remedy for lumbago, it is well worth perpetuating – heat [sp?] a cabbage life [sic.] & place it on the affected region, bind on with bands of red flannel (the colour is of the utmost imperative) & then leave it on until it stinks. It is said that the offending Adam, that is the lumbago, leaves the sufferer. This instructive discourse seemed to lead up to psychic friends in spiritualist grandfathers, which have less value for future fratres.
Once again we thank out entertainer & we use the word in no Murdochian sense, for an excellent frater paper. The vision of Clio was seen by the Princeps but late in life, but the intensity of his experience compensates any late coming. Clio has allowed him to bask in her pleasures & well has he tastes of her ecstasy.
The closing rites were read about 11 p.m.
I. H. M. Jones (Magister Rotulorum).
A. P. French (Princeps Senatus)
The 227th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday February 1st. The opening rites were read by the Pontifex; Fratres intoning the responses in a closer unison than is usual. Fr. F. D. Johnston was initiated into the mysteries of Clio-worship & was becomingly embarrassed before such an awe-full scene. The Princeps then called upon the Magister to read the minutes of the last meeting. No one demurred & they were duly signed. Arising out of the minutes the correspondence between the Magister & the offending, although not offensive, Frater Edge, was made public to Fratres. A note of absence had been received from Frater Ball which was accepted as sufficient by all present. The Princeps then proceeded to announce the decisions of a Senate meeting, held around the Magister’s bed & over lunch in hall. A beerless evening was definitely a bad thing. Fratres would have to be abstemious at the Visitors [sic.] meeting & to call for such self-control a second time would distract Fratres from their contemplation of Our Lady Clio. With the consent of the plebeians the Caeremonarius was asked to bring out a ‘Catalogusa [sp?] Thesuin [sp?]’ for the whole year so that many enjoyable meetings should be certain of some memorial & not be forgotten though they had never been. Notice was given of the approaching Visitors [sic.] Meeting. Each Frater was allowed to bring two guests- one of either sex. The Princeps suggested that each Frater should make full use of this privilege so that as many as possible might escape from the outer-darkness for at least a few hours. The only other point was raised by Frater Carpenter who deplored the deficiencies in the dress of certain of those present. Fr. Harris defended himself on this XXX charge of impiety, ‘Messrs, Ryder & Amies’ so he said had no more of the approved socks. Various expedients were suggested; one of the more valuable was that Fratres going down from the University at the end of this year might well leave their socks behind – after they had been washed of course.
The Pontifex, Frater T. T. Smith was then asked to read his paper on “Akkenaten the Heretic”. This period of history was new to most Fratres – an advantage denied to many other speakers. He outlined the growth & development of the Egyptian Kingdom from the XXX of the two stone age Kingdoms through the period of the pyramids, the Hyksos invasion, up to the 18th dynasty when Egypt reached the height of her power & was the milch cow [sp?] of the rest of the Mediterranean powers. Akkenaten, a sickly youth & a deformed man substituted the cult of Aten in the place of the old Gods Amen, Ra, Ptah & such like. Aten the divine was symbolised in the visible disk of the sun, the gateway of heaven through which he poured life on the world. The material manifestation of his religion was the beautiful city of
The 228th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Thursday February 18th, 1943. It was the annual Visitors [sic.] Meeting, so Fratres & their guests after drinking coffee in Frater Passant’s room drifted down to the Senior Common Room, leaving only a small rump to read the opening rites. The Guest was Viscount Davidson of Little Gedding & he was introduced to the Company by the Princeps, Frater A. P. French. The minutes of the last meeting were read & signed & then Lord Davidson rose to speak. After paying delicate compliments to the Confraternitas he came to his subject – South America.
His Lordship had recently spent some time on that country on behalf of his Majesty’s Government. He emphasised the vastness of this undeveloped continent. Brazil alone was bigger than the United States. Breaking away from Spain & Portugal these severed states found a new cultural centre in Paris & a focus for their trade & commerce in London. They viewed the ‘nouveau riche’ to the North with some disdain, while Britain had always been regarded as a benign elder brother.
Reviewing the wan situation he pointed out that in the Argentine there was a curious relation between the Church & State. Furthermore the Americans had been a little tactless in their diplomatic dealings with that state. Relations with their own allies were not so difficult.
Having told the Confraternity of his own journey & reviewed the present situation, Lord Davidson went on to consider the future. He stressed the importance of air transport. But above all he reminded those present of Britain’s task in this field “We have brought civilisation” he said “in the practical sense to this content [sic.]. We British have a mission in that world.” That was indeed the main theme of this most interesting & inspiring paper. It put forward a point of view, which may be sneered [sp?] at, but it still possesses great vigour & much truth.
The whole paper was spiced with glorious anecdotes told in Sam Wellen style, which all appreciated. Questions came very easily & Lord Davidson was not slow in answering them, Discussions went on into the night. Those who stayed were given fascinating XXX side lights on South America. They were told of the Archbishop of Bolivia – after the ladies had left., of course. We thank Lord Davidson for a most delightful evening – the best Visitors meeting ever held by the Confraternitas.
I. H. Jones (Mag. Rot.)
A. P. French (Princeps)
The 229th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday, March 8th at 8.15 p.m. The opening rites were read & the Magister was called upon to read the minutes of the last meeting. The Caeremonarius mentioned the precarious financial state of the Society, but it was decided to postpone a consideration of the matter until the next meeting. The Magister Rotulorum was called upon to explain his deficiencies in dress which somehow he did. Two notes of absence were read from Fratres Edge & Harris & these were considered insufficient & a vote of censure was passed on both of them.
The Pontifex then delivered his Pontifical charge. He had had some trouble in getting in touch with our Lady. But after mixing his drinks & creating a general atmosphere she ‘shed her ethereal radiance’ upon him. She took rather a poor view of his poorer [sp?] state for ‘Her visage was haughty & her eye [sp?] was cold.’ She was also rather perturbed [sp?] with Frater Carpenter because his spelling was so bad XXX sends to the offender her stern admonishment, for though by calling he be not a blood member of the Muses [sic.] training, but merely an adopted brother yet he is bound to follow & uphold the cannons of accuracy. Her final word was to drink so much as honest enjoyment would allow. There was also a bit in Latin but the Magister could not understand it.
The Caeremonarius was then called upon for his paper on “Possible Worlds”. Admitting that scientific discovery had lowered man’s self respect by putting him on a par with the other animal species, the Frater thought that if life could be shown as something distinct to this planet, the sense of self respect might return. The uniform nature of matter throughout the universe had been proved, the origin of planets suggested. Life as a dynamic organism, linked to matter seemed only possible in the presence of liquid. None but solar planets had yet been observed, & of these only Mars & Venus seemed to be capable of sustaining life. Man was a doomed creature waiting only for a frozen death.
The paper was made yet more fascinating by a scathing with & an air of naughtiness. It stimulated much discussion, centring round the tendency of scientists in trying to escape from this earth, instead of learning the lessons of experience like their historical fratres. Frater Coupe acted as arbitrator & pacifier. The Pontifex showed an unfortunate lack of concentration & had to leave rather often. The meeting closed about 11 p.m.
I. H. Jones (Mag. Rot.)
A. P. French (Princeps) 17/v/43
The 230th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday evening, May the 17th, 1943. The Pontifex read the Opening Rites, with that assuredness which one year of office alone can give. The magister was then called upon to read the minutes of the last meeting. They were signed with no further audible protest. Out of those minutes arose the financial position of the Confraternity, there were settled to the especial satisfaction of the Caeremonarius. A note of absence, written in classic [sp?] language, from Fr. Coupe was read. No vote of censure was passed,, as no one could translate the Latin.
The meeting was the annual Cromwell night – the second of its kind, but by a decree of the Senate it has become an immemorial custom. At this meeting some person appointed by the Senate shall read a paper dealing, either with the Lord Protector, or else with some other former member of this College. Fr. Coles, duly appointed, had chosen to read a paper on George Lord [sp?] Goring. after giving a survey of this Cavalier leader’s fortunes as a general, he proceeded to show how he was typical of the Cavalier mind. How there were precipitated in him certain trends of thought so common to the King’s followers. Charles was an easier centre for loyalty & sentiment, than the mundane parliament. Principle & idealism seemed embodied in him rather than in the personalities of the Roundhead leaders. The impetuous Goring was prepared to overlook, or at least did not share that sense of suspicion which was the mainspring of the Parliamentary party. To Goring, as to other Cavaliers, the supposed intentions of Charles, his rumoured leanings towards Rome, was not a sufficient cause for a revolution.
Discussion was limited as few fratres were prepared to admit George as ‘their period’. Fr. Jones wondered how far Parliament’s ‘suspicion’ was not, to an extent, justified & particularized in certain definite acts of the King. A guest wished to know Fr. Coles’s technique in writing his paper, but such an intrusion upon his own imagination the Frater would not allow.
The closing rites were read a little before eleven* Fratres dispersed so [sp?] soon as they finished their beer.
*Fr. Coupe had sent a note of absence. It was written in Latin & as no one could translate the Latin, no vote of censure was passed.
I. H. Jones (Mag. Rot.)
A. P. French (Princeps) 25.x.43
The 231st meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday October [space left] 1943. It was the first meeting of the academic year & although there were many present only five fratres & one Socius Honorabilis were allowed to hear the new Pontifex, Fr. K J. Carpenter read the opening rites. The numerous guests were then invited back into the room when they were welcomed by the Princeps, who announced to them the composition of the Senate – Princeps Senatus, Fr. A. P. French, Pontifex Maximus, K. J. Carpenter, Magister Rotulorum, I. H. Jones, Caeremonarius, J. N. Ball. The Senate, in its wisdom, had decided to postpone initiation until the next meeting & so the Princeps proceeded to ask Fr. Jones to read his paper on “St. Bernard: an aspect of Benedictine Monasticism”.
The reader, after the usual disturbance, outlines briefly the controversy which had centred around the nature of early monasticism, making fond [sp?] references to Mr. Chesterton & others. He then attempted to show how the essence of the early Monastic ideal was reflected in the life & teachings of St. Bernard. The Saint insisted on a true vocation & wished the cloister to be something far more than a refuge from the world. He would not allow monks to make the best of both worlds. He suspected cultural & philosophical occupations & castigated ‘Abeland’ [sp?] who saw nothing though a glass XXX, but everything face to face. Bernard could not reconcile the ascetic & civilising ideal & saw himself & all monks not as teachers but sinners. He felt his duties as an [sic.] European arbitrator be a hindrance to his proper vocation.
Discussion centred round the sincerity of monastic vocations, how far they were of necessity rather than of choice. The monastic ideal was a reflection of the aspirations of medieval men, it was a reaction away from rather than an expression of, existing conditions. Some enquired of Fr. Jones whether asceticism was a good thing? [sic.] Fr. Thomson gave some helpful information, especially that Dr. Coulton was to be found at most times lying on the floor of the University library, with his ruck sack of course.
The closing rites were read a lot little before eleven & Fratres slowly dispersed.
I. H. Jones (Mag. Rot.)
A. P. French (Princeps)
The 232nd meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Frater Passant’s rooms on Monday Nov, 15th 1943. After coffee four five new Fratres were initiated into the Confraternity, namely Fratres Mott, Rimmen [sp?], Dodd, Tayren [sp?] & Boushien [sp?]. The Princeps officially in the absence of the Pontifex [sic.]. After this aweful ceremony a Senatorial Decree was read by the Magister at the request of the Princeps, it elucidated the position of the new order – Comes Senatus. This decree would be finally ratified at the next meeting, in the meanwhile however two gentlemen were initiated into this new dignity, namely Fraticelli Henden [sp?] & Hennis [sp?], Comistes Senatus. The opening rites were then read, the Fraticelli averting their eyes from the Ark & remaining silent, as ordered [sp?] in the decree. The minutes of the last meeting were read & signed by the Pontifex. The election of Fratres Mott & Rimmen as Tribunes of the plebs, followed. A discussion rose over red socks & the suggestion was made that as a war time economy Fratres should wear one red sock & one white. Nothing definite was decided. The Caeremonarius made a short statement on finance, warning [sp?] fratres of the need for a fat [sp?] subsidy.
After all this important business had been executed, Fr. J. N. Ball was called upon by the Princeps to read his paper on “Internationalism. XXX as a basis for political science [sp?]”. He began by pointing out that his title was a ‘non sequitur’ & had little bearing on the paper. He put part of the blame on the magister who suggested such a title, but went on to admit his debt, to Prof. E. H. Carr – the Magister was kind & didn’t point out that he found the offending title in Prof. Carr’s book. Fr. Ball then condensed [sp?] the treaties of Westphalia, Vienna & Versailles as European settlements, attempting to unravel the intertwined strands of idealism & realism which typified them all. Finally he considered the League of nations as an international experiment & saw its failure as the result of a youthful naivete which XXX XXX considerations. It was a reaction away from current happenings.
Discussion was brisk & the Socius Honorabilis, Frater Thomson, poured out much wisdom. His brilliant remark about the putting a cart without wheels before a non-existent horse [sic.], will long be remembered. The closing rites were read a little after eleven & Fratres soon dispersed [sp?].
I. H. Jones (Mag. Rot.)
A. P. French (Princeps)
The 233rd meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Frater Passant’s rooms at 8.15 p.m. on Monday November 29th. Before the opening rites were read Mr. Dennis Wilkinson of Jesus College was initiated as Fraticelli, Comes Senatus. Behaviour & bearing at this ceremony tended [sp?] to be improper, caused partly by the Caeremonarius’s ability to hit the lampshade with his wand during his progress towards the Pontifex, & XXX by the Pontifex’s halting [sp?] delivery. The opening rites were read with only slightly more decorum. The Magister was then called upon to read the Minutes of the last meeting. They were signed by the Princeps as correct.* Two matters arose out of this minutes [sp?] [sic.] first the ratification of the Senatorial Decree promulgated at the previous meeting. Objection was taken to Paragraph I Section A, in which the relation between those who were not members of Sidney Sussex College & the description ‘gentlemen’ was not clear. The decree was not XXX in this respect. Paragraph II Section C which originally read ‘No mention (of this Order) may speak during private business, except at the pleasure of the Senate’ was amended to read ‘No member may speak during private business when objected to by the Senate’. Fr. Passant gave warning of an intended investigation into the new title ‘Fraticelli’. The Tribune of the plebs, Frater Mott then pointed out that during the recent initiation of Fraticelli Wilkinson ‘all lights were not ablaze’ as stipulated in Paragraph III Section A of the same decree. He suggested with some pertinence that Fraticelli Wilkinson was not properly initiates, & he was more of a Frater than a Fraticelli, & if his initiation was valid then the Decree was invalid. His remarks indeed tended to undermine the efficacy of the Pontifex’s administrations. An attempt to apportion blame between the Pontifex & the Caeremonarius for this oversight did not promise to lead to a solution. Finally it was decided that Fraticelli Wilkinson was so, & that the Decree still remained valid in every way & was ratified. The second matter rising out of the minutes was soon dispatched, Fratres seemed certain they would soon possess red socks. Fraer Moll then took his traditional oath. This was followed by the pontifical charge. Fr. Carpenter admonished the elders & instructed the newcomers, paying especial attention to the Fraticelli. His prescription was a harmonious combination of hard work & lashings of beer – referred to as libations of course. It was remarkable how the Pontifex equalled at times [sp?] the eloquence & even the words of Edmund Burke, who has had a profound influence on our constitution. The strong Confucian strain in his wisdom was also evident. His general bearing during his revelation seemed to be a XXX between the supreme Bridgebuilder of Roman times & the story teller in the Arabian nights.
*Notes of absence were sent by Fratres Thomson, Rimmen & Fraticelli Horden [sp?]. These were accepted. A note was also sent by Fr. Ball, but as he was present a vote of censure was passed on him for being a fickle ‘Bobbing John’ in his attentions to Clio.
By this time Fratres were well prepared for Frater E. J. Passant’s paper on “November 9th 1918-Nov 9th 1943”. It was an article comparing the dilemma of the German Army leader of 1918, especially Ludendorff, with that of the Nazi chiefs of this war. He showed XXX the popular German revolution of November 1918 had been preceded by the revolution from above of September, October of that same year. To salvage what they could from the wreckage of defeat, Ludendorff & the officer class had handed their powers & their responsibilities to the Reichstag – the parlamentarization [sic.] of Germany was not the result of a popular revolution but of an officer class plot. He then went on to show the difficulty with which Adolf Hitler, Goering, Goebbels & company would have in repeating this political tactic. They might try the reverse process of handing power to the Army leaders, patriotic men, who had hated Hitler, but had been duty bound to obey orders. The intentions in each case were the same – to avoid the full consequences of defeat, to prepare anew & more [move?] carefully for XXX conquest. The nature & essence of dictatorship for him, was the ‘All or nothing’ psychology. This alternative, which offered but one choice, led to a greater & greater dislike of political facts, when they showed the madness of the chosen course.
Discussion was sustained, Russia’s place in the post-war world received much attention, so did the exact nature of the present Russian system [sic.]. The possibility of an extension of state capitalism as evolved under Marshal Stalin, to European countries was also dealt with. The disastrous effects of Lutheran political thought, its XXX, on German development was deplored. The differsiveness [sic.] of all political ideals & doctrines the relativity of political truth & sociological factors, were more grist for the mill. The closing rites were read soon after half past eleven, after what had been a ‘frightfully factual’ evening.
I. H. Jones (Mag. Rot.)
A. P. French 18.i.44. (Princeps)