1946

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


The 248th meeting of the Confraternity was held at 8 p.m. on Monday, 11 February, 1946. This was the Annual Visitors’ Meeting, and fratres and their guests assembled first in the rooms of Fr. Thomson to partake of the only material refreshment which the evening was to offer. Coffee-drinking and conversation having been deemed to have taken up sufficient time, Fr. Thomson mounted the rostrum and politely requested the company to “ooze out” of his rooms. His listeners did their best to obey this injunction, and a general drift took place towards the Senior Combination Room, where the actual meeting was to be held. A select body of Senators and senior fratres first dis-guested themselves and remained behind to clear up a little of the débris, and to perform the opening rites in solemn conclave. When this essential ceremony was completed, the above-mentioned fratres hastened to the Senior Combination Room, into which the large audience, numbering over eighty, had with difficulty “oozed.”

Without conducting any further business, the Princeps introduced the visiting speaker, Professor Dexter Perkins, Professor in American History and the University, who then began his talk on “Some Interpretations of the Entry of the United States into the First World War.” The speaker’s ease of delivery and charm of expression earned the interest of his audience from the beginning, when he emphasised that many of the opinions he was to utter were not acceptable to himself and were, in fact, common to certain members of “the other University” of the United States. He dealt first with the isolationist hypothesis, with its insistence that the neutrality of America from 1914 to 1917 was only superficial and that partiality was apparent both in the Wilsonian administration and in the attitude of the general public. The most effective way to combat this theory, declared the Professor, was to admit the truth of its basis, since even supposedly neutral Americans are entitled to their own personal convictions towards belligerent nations, and Wilson was genuinely reflecting public opinion in his policy of favouritism towards the Allies. After exploding several isolationist contentions, Professor Perkins briefly described Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policy in leading Americans away from the isolationism which had been such an encouragement to Hitler, and ended with a comparison between 1919 and 1940.

The Princeps thanked the Professor for a most entertaining talk and opened the meeting for questions and discussion. A succession of questions were fired at the speaker, who obviously enjoyed listening to possible criticisms. After a discussion which ranged over a wide field of current affairs, the Princeps again thanked Professor Perkins and shortly after 10 o’clock closed a meeting that had been as instructive as it had been interesting.

Signed:
PAM Taylor (Princeps Senatus).
GF Edwards (Magister Rotulorum).


The 250th meeting of the Confraternity was held at 8.15 p.m. on Tuesday, 26 February [1946], in Fr. Compe’s rooms. Owing to difficulties occasioned by the presence of visitors at the previous meeting, the closing rites had first to be read; this ceremony, followed as it was by the opening rites, was performed in the absence of the Pontifex by the Caeromonarius, who is to be congratulated on possessing an accent only slightly worse than that of his superior. The shuffle for seats, which took place as the Confraternity settled itself down for the evening, resulted in an ousting of the Princeps from his rightful chair, but the offending Frater Harrison turned a deaf ear to all principial pleas. The Princeps, still disgruntled, then added his complaint at the absence of principial nectar to the indignation voiced by Fr. Winter on the paucity of beverage provided for the refreshment of the Confraternity; the Fabricius was fortunately shielded by absence from this outburst of wrath, but remedy was promised by principial action.

Having laudably conquered his wounded feelings, the Princeps introduced the speaker of the evening, Mr. H.C.P. Zyack, Warden of Bottisham Village College, who then began his paper on “East Anglia and the Settlement of New England.” He dealt first with the personnel who migrated to Massachusetts Bay from the counties of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, between 1630 and 1642, with especial reference to the leader of the movement, John Winthrop. The motives of the immigrants were next analysed, divided generally into ecclesiastical, economic, political and personal reasons. After touching on the means of migration and the attempts of Archbishop Laud to limit the movement, the speaker described the significance of the movement for New England – particularly its influence on what he called the “saintly, business-like thuggery” and “close-cramped atmosphere of tyranny.” Mr. Zyack closed with an estimate of the migration’s consequences in East Anglia and England as a whole, and a calculation of the probably numbers involved.

The Princeps opened the meeting for discussion, and the interest occasioned by the paper was reflected in the number and variety of questions asked. Fr. Brand again distinguished himself by earning full marks for the brightness of his question, and other fratres were reluctant to open their mouths after his success for fear that condemnation might follow approval.

The closing rites were read, more confidently, in the region of 10.45, and thus an enjoyable meeting came to a close.

Signed:
PAM Taylor (Princeps Senatus).
GF Edwards (Magister Rotulorum).


The 251st meeting of the Confraternity was held at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, 4 March [1946], in Fr. Compe’s rooms. The opening rites were first performed and the minutes of the last two meetings read and approved. Then followed the Pastoral Charge, in which the Pontifex with becoming dignity urged the duties of constancy, sobriety and loyalty to our Lady upon both the newly-initiated and those fratres returning from service under a lesser, but temporarily stronger deity. The impassioned appeal of the Pontifex for guidance from on high was unfortunately followed by a scene that was aptly described by the Princeps as a “sorrowful anti-climax.” But the desires of fratres for bodily sustenance were rapidly satisfied, and the Princeps then called upon Fr. Winter, Tribune of the Plebs, to render a statement of accounts, in the suspicious absence of the Comes, Fr. Waller. Fr. Winter responded with a diffidence occasioned either by his own inviolability or the illegibility of Fr. Waller’s handwriting. A debit was discovered and declared, and after some discussion, in which certain of the plebs forcibly disclaimed financial responsibility for the dinner, exclusive to Senators, held in Professor Perkins’ honour, liability for the debts of the Confraternity were suitably apportioned among the varying ranks.

The late, unheralded arrival of Fr. Smail was at this point noted with mute disapproval, and a further atmosphere of discomfiture was occasioned by some plain speaking on the part of Fr. Winter, who deplored the day now commonly chosen for meetings of the Confraternity, and stressed the unwilling loyalty of certain fratres in foregoing the attractions of the Union Society. A threatened rupture was averted by a compromise solution of Fr. Harrison, who suggested that a day should be chosen for meetings of the Confraternity which appeared to be acceptable to the majority of its members.

With the menace of domestic crisis thus removed, the Princeps was able to call upon Fr. Harrison to read his paper, entitled “The Expansion of Russia to the Pacific” – a title which the speaker hastened to assure us was only adopted in deference to the susceptibilities of certain Senators, since his earlier choice had been “An Early Phase of Russian Imperialism.” The expansion of Russia was treated chronologically, beginning with the development of the early river trade routes, the rise of the Novgorod Empire and its replacement by the Lithuanian Empire. The break-up of the Tartar domain and the triumph of Moscow on the decline of the Hanse were next dealt with, and the progress of eastwards expansion was correlated with the failure of Ivan the Terrible to force an outlet to the Baltic.

The similarity of the internal colonisation of the Muscovite Empire with that of European powers overseas was effectively illustrated by Fr. Harrison, who then proceeded to tell the story of the part played in the spread of the Empire by the Cossack hosts, the trading families and the individual pioneers. The governmental organisation of the newly-colonised areas was treated with a familiarity unfortunately unshared by the speaker’s audience, but the Pacific was at last triumphantly reached, and an extremely erudite and informative paper came to an end.

The Princeps thanked Fr. Harrison for his paper and opened the meeting to discussion. Questions on the provisioning of the colonists and the administration of ostrogs and wowods were answered by the speaker; the insistence of Fr. Brand on the superiority of ermine (as worn by the “best people”) over squirrel was equalled by Fr. Winter’s interest in caviare, and the attempt of Fr. Smail to compare Generalissimo Stalin with Ivan the Terrible met with the amusement it called for. After several other questions had been answered, the meeting was closed by the reading of the closing rites, at 10.15, and Fr. Winter began his arduous task of inducing fratres to settle the debts of the Confraternity as disclosed by the Comes.

Signed:
Tom Blackburn (Princeps).
GF Edwards (Magister Rotulorum).


A Senate meeting of the Confraternity was held at 11.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 June, 1946, in the rooms of Frater Taylor. The Comes, Fr. Waller, first reassured his co-senators on the state of the finances, and disclosed a debit of only 5d., largely due to a magnanimous gesture on the part of the Fabricius, Fr. Mortimer. After very little discussion – all senators being agreed upon the eminent suitability of their successors to the various offices which needed to be filled – the following fratres were appointed to hold senatorial ranks for the forthcoming year: –

Princeps  Fr. Blackburn
Pontifex Fr. Hunt
Magister  Fr. Stephenson
Fabricius  Fr. Lowe
Caeremonarius Fr. Brand

After these appointments had been made, arrangements were decided upon to bring their notification to the general body of the Confraternity, and since no senator felt himself inspired to pronounce a valedictory blessing, the meeting came to an end at approximately 12 o’clock.

Signed:
T.P. Blackburn (Princeps).
GF Edwards (Magister Rotulorum).


A Senate Meeting of the Confraternity was held at 6 p.m. on Friday October 11th 1946 in the rooms of Frater Stephenson. It was agreed that there should be three meetings of the society during the term and the dates were fixed for October 30th, November 20th and December 4th. The Princeps announced that three speakers had volunteered to give papers and it was agreed without division that they should be delivered in the following order:-

Oct 30: Fr. Blackburn  “The Efforts towards Anglo-German Alliance 1898-1901”
Nov. 20: Fr Scott-Giles (an old member of the Confraternity) “British Road Development”
Dec. 4: Fr Stephenson “John Lilburne”

The Magister was instructed to make the detailed arrangements necessary for the visit of Fr. Scott-Giles. A general discussion followed concerning dress and catering arrangements. It was decided to aim at reintroducing evening dress as the official apparel of the society in the Lent Term. Catering arrangements for the first meeting were left in the capable hands of the Fabricius.

Signed:
DF. Stephenson (Magister Rotulorum)


The 252nd meeting of the Confraternity was held at 7-0 p.m. on Wednesday October 30th [1946] in Fr. Smail’s rooms. After the opening rites had been read nine new members were initiated into the sacred mysteries of the Confraternity with all proper dignity and traditional ceremony. After allowing a decent interval to elapse in which the newly elected fratres could accustom themselves to the atmosphere of intellectual light and spiritual warmth of the Confraternity, the Comes proceeded to gather in a capital levy. Fratres, doubtless long immured to the inevitability of taxation, accepted the demand with apparent docility. The strategy of this direct approach was to become fully evident later in the evening when the Princeps in his address stressed as one of the fundamentals of the Society the principle of no taxation without consent. In the happy knowledge that the financial basis was secure the Princeps now called upon the Magister to read the minutes of the last meeting. There followed a pretty example of high-handed action, as slick as it was ingenious, the Princeps signing the minutes as correct without inquiring the opinion of the assembled fratres. Such was the level of plebeian watchfulness (or rather the lack of it) that this passed entirely unnoticed. In the circumstances it seemed almost wasteful that the action had not been reserved for minutes of a more controversial nature. In accordance with immemorial custom the Princeps now delivered his Principial address. After welcoming the newly enrolled fratres he explained for their benefit (and for that of the older members recently returned) the fundamental laws of the Constitution, calling particular attention to the duty of the Plebs to elect two tribunes and giving notice that this election would be held at the next meeting. Whilst admitting the difficulties of present days conditions, he emphasised the importance of correct dress which was as important an element in the essential character of the society as its solemn rituals. He concluded, in a memorable and moving passage, by expressing the hope that Clio would bless the efforts of fratres now able once again to devote their undivided attention to her pursuits. The Magister made a brief reply, stressing the democratic safeguards embodied in the constitution and sorrowfully planning on record the loss of Volume II of the Minutes of the Confraternity. Fratres seemed disinclined to be equally sorrowful.

Fr. Blackburn now began reading his paper on “The Efforts toward Anglo-German Alliance 1898-1901” and after observing the time-honoured pause, so essential to the physical well-being of the Confraternity, described the detailed diplomatic negotiations of the period between the main European powers. The narrative was excellently illustrated by quotations from the writings of Chamberlain, Von Bulow, Kaiser William and others, and an interesting picture emerged of the personalities of the statesmen involved. There was a touching reference to the peculiar relationship existing between the Kaiser and the Tzar. Particularly interesting perhaps was Fr Blackburn’s explanation of the reasons behind such apparently inexplicable events as Chamberlain’s…

[Page missing.]


The 253rd meeting of the Confraternity was held at 8.15 p.m. on Wednesday November 20th [1946] in Fr. Smail’s rooms. After the opening rites had been read the Princeps welcomed Frater Scott-Giles, who had been a member of the Society since 1919, and who had very kindly made a special journey to Cambridge to read us a paper on ‘The History of British Roads’. Fr. Scott-Giles soon displayed his knowledge of the customs of the Confraternity, and after a few comments on the books provided as proper reading for senior guests, proceeded to tackle his subject with obvious enthusiasm. The story of British road development was traced from Roman times to the present day and the talk was illustrated by a series of beautifully drawn maps and diagrams. The subject was treated in light but scholarly fashions, and fratres were kept highly amused by the wealth of anecdotes and choice quotations. Particularly memorable was the speaker’s description of stage coach journeys, his sympathy for Queen Elizabeth’s sufferings, and his references to Arthur Young’s feelings concerning the roads around Preston. The talk was not really of a controversial nature and consequently there was no formal discussion as is normally the case. Instead fratres hastened to examine more closely the many maps and diagrams which Fr. Scott-Giles had produced.

The Princeps thanked the speaker for a most interesting and delightful paper, and the closing rites were then read about 1015 p.m. Before the meeting adjourned two new fratres were admitted into the Confraternity.

Signed:
T.P. Blackburn (Princeps).
D.F. Stephenson (Magister Rotulorum).


[Minutes for 244th meeting missing.]


The 255th meeting of the Confraternitas was had on Wednesday February 5th [1947] in Frater Smail’s rooms. Owing to the absence of the Magister Rotulorum on most unscholarly business in the Corn Exchange these minutes are recorded by the palsied and frozen hands of the Caeremonarius. It is useless for him to attempt imitation of Frater Stephenson’s flowing XXX, so that fratres must content themselves with this bald and inelegant narrative.

Owing to fratres preoccupation with affairs unhistorical no paper of the usual sort was forthcoming. Instead fratres Brand and Winter supplied the deficiency with two short monographs.

Frater Brand, being the first to perform, read a paper, surely the shortest the Confraternitas has heard, on “America, her legacy from the XXX and from Europe.” He concluded that the heritage of English Common Law, political traditions and religion was a more potent factor in American XXX than the psychology engendered by the Backwoods and the guest XXX. Modesty forbids the writer to dwell further on his own handiwork – excellent though it was suffice it to say that Fratres Goodfellow and Noble kept him well occupied with questions which were almost too much for his coffee sodden brain. Frater Winter’s contribution proved XXX in content and profound in learning, dealing with “Federal activity in the Fields of Industry and Labour in the 20th Century.” He dealt with the attempts of the judicature to nullify the effects of progressive legislation, of the long struggle of rugged individualism, and the final triumph of the populist ideal under the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. His XXX of the Tennessee Valley Authority…

[Page missing.]

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