1948

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


The 260th meeting of the Confraternity was held in the rooms of Socius R.C. Smail on Wednesday, January 21st [1948]. The minutes were read and accepted. The Magister then pleaded with fratres for a higher literary standard in notes of absence: this plea though graciously supported by the Princeps, was received by fratres in silence – possibly the silence of repentance – possibly of sheer indifference, such is the naughtiness of the times.

The Princeps then called upon Frater G.M.V. Argles to read his paper, ‘Brighton, the Prince Regent and the Rake-Helly set.’ Frater Argles immediately set the tone of his paper by a brief discussion of the moral implications of ‘a week-end at Brighton,’ and then proceeded first by statistic and quotation, then by vivid anecdote to lead fratres back in time to the days of Regency Brighton. It is not possible to précis such a paper without doing violence to it: the style was not analytic but impressionist, there was no argument, but only vivid imagery which it is difficult to recapture. With the greatest deftness Frater Argles painted a myriad of characters upon his canvas to the obvious delight of all fratres, and showed himself equally fully familiar with both ‘the XXX folly and the bloated disease’ which he described. The Whig Duchess and the butler’s belly, Lady Montague Wortly with her dirty feet, the Queen Mam, the Duke of Queensbury, ‘that sin XXX fragment’, and the big bully butcher of Brighton were all, like the pensioned-off mistress of the Duke of Queensbury, passed in review. Sheikh Dean Mahomet was pictured mysteriously shampooing, Martha Gunn vigorously ducking and XXX XXX fluently swearing. Amidst all these characters there moved the Prince Regent accompanied by Mrs. XXX, whose ‘smooth white bosom’, fratres were glad to learn, ‘was justly famous.’ The Brighton Pavilion too had its vivid descriptions, – ‘20th century Fox XXX was the frater’s own phrase, but he also quoted William Cobbett’s turnip top description and the opinion of Sir Robert Sitwell that the Pavilion might be regarded as [a] fine example of ‘British Empire style.’ Finally, fratres were told, the Pavilion found its proper use as a hospital for Indian troops in the First World War.

The discussion which followed was anecdoted rather than argumentative and was only concluded when Socius Taylor gave a belated tone of sanctity to the proceedings by informing the Confraternity that it was in the Brighton Pavilion that he had heard a performance of ‘The Messiah’. The meeting became informal at 10 p.m.

Signed:
APR Brand (Princeps).
K.J. Goodfellow (Magister Rotulorum)


The 261st meeting of the Confraternity was held on Wednesday February 18th [1948] in the rooms of Socius R.C. Smail. The minutes of the previous meeting were read and accepted without comment.

Fr. Noble then craved permission to present a Prayer and permission was graciously given by the Princeps. In language both solemn and plagiaristic Fr. Noble denounced “the damnable and hellish plot” which, he asserted excited to delay the election of the Tribunes of the Plebs. The Princeps in reply bad all fratres know that the Senate was too devoted to the bright-year goddess, Clio to conspire to subvert the divinely ordained constitution of the Confraternity, and he exhorted them to appear at the next meeting of the Confraternity read to proceed to the election of Tribunes.

The Pontifex then called upon the Princeps to read his paper upon William Cobbett. Fr. Brand began by giving a brief sketch of Cobbett’s early life, remarking that Cobett as a self-educated man had no use for the universities, ‘those dens of dunces’ as he called them. Whilst fratres were still pondering the truth of Cobbett’s definition, the Princeps proceeded to describe Cobbett’s experiences in the Army as a Sergeant-Major, noting in particular his description of officers. Cobbett however left the Army after he had unsuccessfully proffered embezzlement charges against the Quartermaster and proceeded to the U.S.A. where he became a Tory pamphleteer. His return to England resulted however, in a change of political sympathies, when he saw the realities of agrarian distress exciting where he had imagined yeoman prosperity. Fr. Brand gave his opinion that it was the shock of his return to a distressed England that made of Cobbett a reminiscent radical. His favourite phrase became ‘When I was a boy’ and he always looked and worked for a return of the prosperous agrarian England which he imagined had existed in the days of his youth. Denunciation of ‘the bloody Tories’ only landed Cobbett in trouble however, and he spent two years in Newgate prison before paying a second, somewhat informed visit to the U.S.A. Despite his delight that in ‘the land of liberty’ there was neither a XXX, nor ‘the Lay-dy face of a tax collector,‘ Cobbett soon returned to England to champion the cause of that middle-aged and tarnished beauty, Queen Caroline. Cobbett in his last years became an M.P. but was bitterly disappointed by the terms of the Great Reform Bill and finally died a disillusioned man in 1835. Such is the briefest and quite inadequate survey of the Princeps enlightening and informative paper.

Questions followed from fratres, and all were answered by the august Princeps both with gesture and vivid colloquialism. The meeting finally became unformative at 10.20 p.m.

Signed:
APR Brand (Princeps).
K.J. Goodfellow (Magister Rotulorum)


The 202nd meeting of the Confraternity, the annual guest night, was held on Thursday, February 26th [1948]. The Confraternity was honoured to have as its principal guest and speaker Professor Commager of Columbia University.

Socii D. Thomson and R.C. Smail entertained Prof. and Mrs. Commager to dinner before the meeting began and were kind enough also to invite the Princeps, the Pontifex and the Magister. It had been better perhaps for the records of the Confraternity had the last-mentioned remained unbidden. The strain of XXX at two XXX in the one XXX proved too great for the Magister, who unbound Bacchus with greater warmth than Clio – with the unfortunate result that he was left with memories of the meeting rather than with records.

Fratres and their guests associated in Dr. Thomson’s rooms for coffee and after some thirty minutes of XXX tittle-tattle the whole party proceeded to the Senior Combination room to hear Prof. Commager’s paper ‘Some Intellectual and Social Aspects of 20th c. America’. Fratres listened for some fifty minutes to a most interesting, informative and comprehensive survey of American habits and customs in the 20th c. The Magister however was lulled rather than informed by the quiet voice of Professor Commager, a voice which to him seemed to harmonize so well with the red glow of the log-fire. Questions followed the reading of the paper: the Magister discovered that by pressing his centre XXX XXX, a draught of cool air could be made to pass up the back of his neck. Then all were delighted, – fratres and their guests by the easy and fluent answer of Prof. Commager, the Magister and cooling draughts of air. Discussion finally ended when Professor Commager twice arrived at the College gates at 10.30 and shortly afterwards the last fratres left the log fire, all having enjoyed a most pleasant and entertaining evening.

Signed:
APR Brand (Princeps).
K.J. Goodfellow (Magister Rotulorum).


A Senate meeting of the Confraternity was held in Fr. Brand’s rooms on Monday June 7th [1948] at 2 p.m. The purpose of the meeting was to appoint officers of the Senate for the coming year. The following were appointed:-

Princeps: Fr. K.J. Goodfellow
Pontifex: Fr. R. le N. Noth.
Magister: Fr. B.F.J. Pardoe
Fabricius: Fr. D.O. Jones.
Caeromonarius: Fr. P.H. Coles
Comes: Fr. Wellington.

It was decided that the Magister should inform the above fratres of their election and at the same time exhort them to prepare papers for the Confraternity during the Long Vacation.

There being no other business, the meeting adjourned.

Signed:
APR Brand (Princeps)
K.J. Goodfellow (Magister Rotulorum).


A meeting of the Senate of the Confraternity was held in the rooms of Frater Goodfellow at 1.30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12th [1948].

The Senate proceeded to discuss the programme for Michaelmas Term. It was decided that four meetings should be held but it was then found that, most regrettably, the exhortations earlier given to new Senators to produce papers for the entertainment and enlightenment of the Confraternity had proved of no avail. However, a gloomy prospect was fortunately relieved when it was discovered that there had been one unsolicited offer of a paper and that the Princeps had succeeded in charming the newly-arrived Mr. Thornely into accepting an invitation to read a paper. Two meetings then remained to be provided for but the Senate inveighed the Princeps and the Pontifex into promising to fill the breach.

The sore question of finance was next discussed. The Comes reported that, though the accounts balanced, there were no assets. It was accordingly decided that there is need for more systematic accounting than has apparently hitherto been and that the Comes and Fabricius should endeavour before the next meeting of the Confraternity to estimate the likely liquid requirements for the ensuing term and thereby decide upon what subscription should be levied for the term.

Finally, constitutional matters were reviewed and it was resolved that owing to the stringencies of the late war many laudable customs of the Confraternity had been permitted to lapse and that it was now right and proper to revive such of these as were practicable.

At about 2.30 p.m., since no further business remained, the meeting was closed.

Signed:
K.F. Goodfellow (Princeps)
B.F.J. Pardoe (Magister Rotulorum)


The 263rd meeting of the Confraternity was held in the room of Socius Smail at 8.15 p.m. on Thursday, October 21st [1948]. The opening rites were, in the absence of the Pontifex Maximus, ably concluded by the Caeremonarius but the Senate were deeply grieved to note the lack of a due and reverend humility in the plebs in that they showed unwarranted and sacrilegious hilarity when the Fabricius employed a tankard and pencil to herald the approach of the Ark of the Covenant.

On the completion of the rites the minutes of the previous meeting were duly read and approved. The Princeps then delivered his inaugural address. He lamented that in the past certain of the laudable and immemorial customs of the Confraternity had been perverted or allowed to lapse and he declared it his intention to resuscitate these during his term of office. Specific reference was made to the relapse into obscurity of the custom whereby the smoking of cigarettes was permitted during the reading of papers to create that state of atmosphere so valuable to the promotion of athletic fitness and so conducive to geniality but whereby it was not permitted during the post-lectorial discussion, except to those fratres who had asked a question, lest the pre-occupation of puffing the tobacco-weed should hinder the functioning of fratres inquisitive powers.

The Caeremonarius then rose to enroll the merits of Tradition and, with words aptly chosen from the obiter dicta of Cromwell, he besought the princeps to forgive the past transgressions of the Plebs in assuming to themselves a right to drink during meetings of the Confraternity and he pleaded that all fratres might be allowed to indulge in Bacchanalian enjoyment during meetings in the ensuing year.

The Princeps graciously assented and then called upon Socius P.A.M. Taylor to read his eagerly awaited paper on ‘Henry Solly – a Victorian Reformer.’ The paper displayed that great erudition which the Confraternity have by experience come always to expect from Socius Taylor and, though it was apparent, from the murmurs which arose during the course of the paper, that fratres did not wholly approve of Henry Solly and his tub-thumping No-Beer-For-the-Plebs slogans, all fratres showed considerable gratification in having learned something of a character whom not even the Dictionary of National Biography mentions.

Questions followed and when Socius Taylor had exhausted the inquisitions made chiefly by smoke hungry senators and after new members had been initiated, the meeting was declared informal.

Signed:
K.F. Goodfellow (Princeps)
B.F.J. Pardoe (Magister Rotulorum)


The 264th meeting of the Confraternity was held in the rooms of Socius Smail at 8.15 p.m. on Wednesday, 3rd November [1948].

After the performance of the opening rites and the reading of the minutes of the previous meeting the Princeps, in accordance with the warning duly given at the first meeting of the term, proceeded to call upon the Plebs to nominate two of their base fellows to fill the office of Tribunes. The plebs, however, remained in sullen stupor and it was only after principial threats of disenfranchisement that one of their number in the person of Frater Ray timidly but becomingly proposed Frater Phillips. A second spell of silence then ensued until Socius Smail, mindful, no doubt, of the distant days when he himself had been a pleb, rallied to the cause to second Frater Phillips and to nominate Frater Hall as the second of the Tribunes.

This soc-ial intercession immediately gave rise to discussions upon the constitutional issue of whether a Socius could of right make such nominations but the Pontifex, fresh from meditation at Shelford, could divine no reason why nomination should not been so made and the Princeps accordingly declared Fratres Phillips and Hall Tribunes of the Plebs for the ensuing year.

He then called upon the Pontifex to deliver his promised paper on John, Lord Hervey. It proved most entertaining. Frater Noble gave an admirable account of the Queen’s Bed chamber background to the Walpole administration and he conjured up for his audience the atmosphere of eighteenth century court life with most interesting details of the clinic habits of George II, Queen Caroline, Frederick, Prince of Wales, – not to mention Hervey himself and half the courtesans of eighteenth century London.

A lively discussion followed and eventually, after the invitation of one new frater, the meeting was closed at approximately 10.15 p.m.

Signed:
K.F. Goodfellow (Princeps)
B.F.J. Pardoe (Magister Rotulorum)


The 265th meeting of the Confraternity was held in the rooms of Socius Smail at 8.15 p.m. on Monday, 15th November [1948].

Formalities having been concluded the Princeps delivered himself of a gentle reproof to his brethren on their dilatoriness in acquiring the red socks insignia of the Confraternity; and then, after expressing the pleasure of the Confraternity in having Mr. J.W.A. Thornely as a guest, he resigned the chair to the person of the Pontifex Maximus and proceeded to regale the meeting with his paper on Sir Edward Coke.

That the Princeps himself lawyer and historian should have chosen a renowned lawyer as his subject for an historical occasion was indicative of his possession of that great quality, the art of compromise, with which, we are told, every true Englishman is endowed. Alternatively, it might perhaps have been interpreted merely as an attempt on the part of the Princeps to justify his new legalistic learnings.

However, whatever the true significance of the title, the paper proved most instructive. The Princeps carefully avoided the dull chronological relation of events and have instead a most elucidating exposition of Coke’s apparently unpleasant character, an exposition which will doubtless be regurgitated, for the benefit of examiners, by those fratres trying their strength in the Mays next year. Frequent references to Lady Coke’s continual machinations to lay hands upon the family furniture stimulated considerable interest among fratres but unfortunately the Princeps was unable to throw any light upon what must have been extraordinarily fine, but apparently most elusive, furniture.

After the paper and the ensuing discussion, Mr. J.W.A. Thornely was admitted to the Confraternity with all traditional pomp and circumstance and the meeting was eventually closed at approximately 10.25.

Signed:
K.F. Goodfellow (Princeps)
B.F.J. Pardoe (Magister Rotulorum)


The 266th meeting of the Confraternity was held in the rooms of Socius Smail at 8.15 p.m. on Wednesday, 1st December [1948].

The opening rites were carried out with all proper decorum and the minutes of the previous meeting were read and approved. The Princeps then proceeded to propound certain matters of business. He announced his regret at the prospect of Frater P.A.M. Taylor’s impending departure from the bosom of the Confraternity and at his suggestion the fratres, then assembled, resolved that their appreciation of the devotion of Frater Taylor to the Confraternity be recorded in the annals of the Confraternity as a light to posterity and as a reminder that even in the year of grace 1948 there was yet at least one frater who never required to be badgered into preparing a paper for the enlightenment of his brethren.

Business was resumed and the Princeps, mounting his favourite, the hobby horse with red socks, reminded fratres that even Good-fellows are known to lose their patience sometimes and that, if his exhortations continued to be left unheeded, he might have to adopt the slogan – ‘No socks if not red.’

Moving next to the question of reviving the annual banquet, he received for the proposal the full support of those present, and on the point of the banquet’s customary date that rock of tradition, Socius Smail, in his best ex-cathedral manner pronounced the date in question to be that of the Saturday next after the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

The oracle had spoken and, with an expression upon his face as that of one coming from the grottos of Delphi, the Princeps terminated business and requested Frater Thornely to proceed with his promised paper on the ‘Historical Aspects of the Law of Defamation.’ For an hour which yet seemed but a few minutes the learned, legalistic frater led his audiences through the mazes of the law and the discussion which followed showed that many fratres had keenly imbibed all the hints as to deportment within the law of defamation, whilst the Magister himself had carefully noted for possible future reference that it is safer to impute unchastity to a woman than to impute dishonesty.

The meeting closed at approximately 10.45 p.m.

Signed:
K.F. Goodfellow (Princeps)
B.F.J. Pardoe (Magister Rotulorum)

Insert:

The Princeps congratulated Frater Thornely on his excellent paper and, with the approval of the assembled fratres, pronounced his will that Frater Thornely be enrolled among the august and distinguished company of the Confraternity’s Socii. Then, lest any claim of meanness fall upon the Senate in not conforming to the laudable tradition of testing new Socii, the Princeps produced a most nutritive looking repost in the form of a cereal cake and a glass of milk, which the new Socius consumed, vitamins and all, with obvious relish. Meanwhile the Magister offered up a silent prayer that peace might reign ‘tween Beer and Milk within the confines of Socius Thornely’s stomach. (KFG).


A meeting of the Senate was held, after some little delay XXX by the forgetfulness of certain members, in the rooms of Frater Goodfellow at 1.45 p.m. on Saturday, 4th December [1948].

The Senate proceeded to consider the sore question of the correct usage of the title ‘Socius’. The Pontifex and the Magister expounded the slender matter which the Constitution and the annals have to say on the subject and, in the light of thereof, it was decided –

First, that henceforward the title shall be restricted to those who have rendered good service to the Confraternity and/of whom the Senate formally deem worthy of preferment.

Second, that the ancient form of address be adhered to, that is in instances informal briefly as ‘Honorabilis’ and in instances formal as ‘Socius Honorabilis, Frater …’,

Third, that in the absence of any list of existing Socii the undermentioned be deemed to be such:-

The Master
Frater D. Thomson
Frater R.C. Smail,

and fourth, that Frater Thornely be added to those aforementioned.

The programme for the Lent Term was discussed and appropriate dates were accordingly appointed for two ordinary meetings, Cromwell Nights, the Annual Banquet, and the Annual Visitors’ Meeting.

In view of the fact that the Comes was not present the finances of the Confraternity could not satisfactorily be delved into and, since there was no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

Signed:
K.F. Goodfellow (Princeps)
B.F.J. Pardoe (Magister Rotulorum)

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