[The following entries have been transcribed from the minute books kept in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.]
The 276th meeting and second post-war banquet was held in the College Hall at 8.0 p.m on the first Saturday after the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, being 28th January .
The Senate, the Socii Honorabiles and the plebs foregathered in the rooms of the Princeps at 7.45 to partake of a little sherry before dinner. It was only to be regretted that there was a slight hitch in the arrival of glasses, much to the irritation of several particularly thirsty fratres, but tempers were soothed after invocation to the divine patroness – and the arrival of glasses which Frater Tibbotts finally loaned, and all fratres descended to the Hall.
It was generally agreed that the presence of domestic poultry – to wit chicken – on the menu proved infinitely more palatable, and indeed convenient,than that of a particularly wild game with which the fratres wrestled last year. The excellence of the meal can be judged by the fact that it provoked stimulating – and at terms heated – conversation, and the rising of the Princeps to propose the toast of the Confraternity and the Lady Frances Sidney may be said to have prevented a possible ideological conflict amongst some fratres. The speech of the Princeps was marked by a knowledge of many generous benefactors of the College, who sought to enrich Lady Frances’ original foundation, to whom we ought to be far more consciously grateful than we are. We are acquainted with the name of the Earl of Manchester – and it is probable -that we shall be on even more knowledgable terms with the noble Lord after hearing a future paper by the Princeps – but the present scribe at least must confess himself to have been abysmally ignorant of such patrons of the College as Thomas Fallen, Dean of Salisbury. The Socius Honorabilis, Frater Smail rose to respond to the toast of the Confraternity. The Confraternity, he observed, was the only college voluntary society which had maintained for 40 years its traditions and customs – save one. Here the Socius Honorabilis flung down numerous papers and old ‘fixture cards’ of the Confraternity, as he chose to term them, in confession of that righteous wrath which seems to seize upon Frater Smail whenever the question of cards is raised. He embarked upon a short history of the Confraternity, illustrating how previous fratres had all been satisfied with the traditional card, and deprecated this one break with tradition.
When the Pontifex rose to propose the toast of Lady Clio, he at once adopted grave tones. There were heretics among the fratres. The Lady Clio had appeared to him on Platform 1b of Liverpool St. Station to inform him that some fratres had deserted the worship of the Muse for the more plebeian following of the F.A. Cup. He suggested severe punishment for the offending plebs. It may be noted however that the Lady Clio had indeed intervened to inflict a dire torture on these plebs – that of watching their team being savagely defeated. In response to this toast, the Socius Honorabilis, Frater Thomson disclosed that he also had received a visitation from the Lady Clio. Like the Socius Honorabilis Frater Smail, he too had resorted to the archives of the Confraternity and quoted from the Masque of the Vicious and Virtuous Scholar, which the Senate of the Confraternity had performed in 1932. With this inspiration and with the ineffable guidance of the Lady Clio, he had realised what nature his speech should take. Indeed the Lady Clio had apparently enlisted the aid of her colleague, Calliope, and it would be impertinent to make any mundane comments on the heights of poetic wit to which Frater Thomson attained. It might be observed that the irresponsibility shown in one of our more celebrated Professors had not escaped the notice of the speaker – as it had not that of the attentive fratres.
With the speeches concluded and the port decanter unfortunately exhausted, the fratres adjourned to the rooms where the Fabricius had provided substantial liquid refreshment. The Confraternity was honoured by a most unexpected visit from an emissary of his ex-imperial majesty, Hirohito, who conveyed greetings from the Japanese Confraternity. This scribe at least was impressed as much with the quaint costume of his servant as with the formal conferral upon the Confraternity by this visit. The fratres then turned to more serious business and sought to rival the King of Denmark in this midnight revelry.
B.F.J. Pardoe (Princeps)
R.W. Parker (Magister Rotulorum)
The 277th meeting of the Confraternity was held in the rooms of the Socius Honorabilis, Frater Smail [2 – 1950 (Possibly 1st; labelled 1950-2-1.)]. After the performance of the opening rites, there was some business to discuss, notably with reference to the annual guest night and the thorny problem of finance. In addition it must be noted that a vote of censure was moved by the plebs in the Magister for having failed to complete the minutes of the Annual Banquet in the intervening period of time – 45 hours 30 minutes.
The Princeps promised to censure the Magister if this proved necessary and then turned to the main business of the evening. The Pontifex – surely in his official capacity! – read an extremely erudite but at the same time stimulating, paper on “Some Aspects of Mysticism in the Medieval World”. Mysticism, he suggested, was the attempt to realise the fusion of the temporal and the eternal, arising from a desire to eradicate the materialist errors in religion. Normally envisaged as a purely individualistic phenomena, in C149 C15 it achieved a much more corporate basis. Factors in this development were the friars, popularising the religious life because tending to deny its remoteness, a growth of vernacular literature and of mystic art. But it took various forms. After about a century and a half of the friars there appeared the Devotio Moderna, Gerard Groot, the community of Windisheim, and in particular the Brotherhood of the Common Life, a more or less freelance society demanding no technical vows for a religious order. The influence of the “Imitation of Christ” by Kempis was felt strongly for at least 40yrs after 1427. There was a tendency to deprecate any emphasis of the intellect. Eckhardt condemned any interest in theoretical subtleties. Groot appealed to students to students to eschew scholastic matters – a plea that coincidentally found a receptive audience among fratres. When Groot dogmatically asserted that only the profane mind could be happy in the Universities, there was an outburst of innocent merth which meant either some exceptionally clear consciences or, most probably, a contentment to be classified with the profane, amongst the listeners. Hume, quite clearly, had his predecessor in C14 in Nicholas d’Autrecourt, thought the Pontifex: Nicholas dubbed the reading of Aristotle as a waste of time and was sceptical of successive dependence on reason. But popularisation led to distortion. False mysticism went with sexual laxity; and XXX mysticism had its material expression in the ceremonies associated with Holy XXX Day and the pageantry with which readers of Huizinga will be familiar.
The Lady Clio would indeed have been grateful of the response from fratres, and the description of the Pontifex’s paper as stimulating was fully proven by the questions, which proved as constructive as any that had been heard in the Confraternity within the magister’s memory. A search – not altogether fruitless – was made to the causes of mysticism; questions were not deterred by the obvious difficulties involved in such a search, and the discussion was still lively when the Princeps called for the closing rites and the meeting became informal.
B.F.J. Pardoe (Princeps)
R.W. Parker (Magister Rotulorum)
At the 278th Meeting of Confraternitas, the Annual Guest Night, the guest of honour was Miss C.V. Wedgewood.
Fratres and guests, among them were a gratifyingly large contingent from Girton, assembled in the rooms of Socius Honorabilis, Frater Thomson, for coffee. Whilst it was encouraging to have so large a gathering, the atmosphere became noticeably overheated, whether due to conversation or more physical causes, and it was perhaps as well that at approximately 8.45 the Princeps called for all assembled to adjourn to the Senior Combination Room, with the exception of some of the Senate and a quorum of fratres who hastily, but with no lack of reverence, performed the sacred rites before joining guests and fratres in the S.C.R. There, once all were reasonably settled, the Princeps rose to introduce Miss Wedgwood. Indeed, as he observed, she needed no introduction and with a sober warning to her that the great Oliver looked down upon her from within his gilt frame, he gave way to the guest of honour.
Miss Wedgewood was entertaining and interesting, as we had expected, and although she disclosed that, whilst engaged in studying the Civil War for the last 5 years, she had still at least as much more to do, her paper on “The Civil War Reconsidered” showed no signs of an incomplete survey. Miss Wedgewood was most informed on all intimate stories of the less important men and women in the war, showing that intense interest in persons which would seem most typical of the feminine and journalistic approach, but this is to cast no criticism on its historical value. She commenced by stressing the romantic aurora with which the war had tended to be illuminated, not merely today from the all too frequent and cheap eulogies of the Royalist cause, summed up admirably in the term Cavaliers, but also from events which took place at the time. Within a short period after Charles raised his standard at Nottingham, the war had acquired a glamour far removed from the 30 Years War. The heroic stands – as that of Crompton at Banbury, the gallant defences by women for both causes – all these gave a roseate hue to the war and it was this spirit which Miss Wedgewood captured so well. She indeed put forward the ‘masque attitude to fighting’ shown by the Cavaliers, as a very minor factor in their defeat. Rupert’s polite attitude to Bristol’s surrender led to his dismissal by Charles; on the other hand the theatrical warfare in Wales and heroic but useless defences received an implicit commendation which was absurd. Miss W. then turned to the more XXX personalities. We are not sure whether Oliver would have appreciated his being compared to President Truman, as a ‘plain honest man’, but he would at least have been gratified at the application of one of his own phrases to himself – “russet-coated captain who feels some conscience of what he did”. As for Charles, Miss Wedgewood thought that the war made his reputation. He had been far less popular than his father, forbidding in his dignity, aloof – even for a king. But in the war he had shown himself more approachable and conscientious, and had established himself “on eye-level with his people” in a graphic phrase of the guest. Inevitably too, of course, his misfortunes endeared him to his people; his sale of the Scots aroused national sympathy and released emotional reserves, though its significance was no deeper than this.
The parallel build-up of the Puritan cause came more slowly, there being little glamour in dying in bed, as the Puritan did. Not until Corlisk was Cromwell to be redeemed. Here Miss Wedgewood developed the change in interpretation, a process with which we are all too familiar generally. The modern trend, with which the speaker was in part agreement, was – by no means surprisingly in these days – the greater less laid on economics. A new light, for instance, had been cast on the 11 years personal rule and on the Levellers. But Miss Wedgewood would not go the whole way with the new themes. The spirit of the age, which she stressed particularly, was all pervading and not restricted to purely economic funnels. The creative vitality, generally associated with the Elizabethans, should, she suggested, be also applied to the period of the Civil War. The presence and superabundance of speculated energy meant that the conditions for a conflict were present. The theme of inevitable conflict was thus sounded in her concluding words.
The questions which followed, ranging from the whereabouts of the Venetian ambassador to the reason why Englishmen were so much more emotional 300 years ago, showed that Miss Wedgewood’s paper had stimulated thought generally and the concluding words of the Princeps only informed the general feeling that the Confraternity was indeed fortunate in having received a visit from so distinguished a journalist and historian, and one for whom historical scholarship was not regarded as an excuse for ponderous expression.
R.W. Parker (Magister Rotulorum).
The 279th Meeting of Confraternitas was held in the rooms of Socius Honorabilis, Frater Smail, on Monday 27th February .
There being no initial business, after the reading of the minutes, Frater Tibbotts commenced his paper “Zanzibar.” He gave a rapid review of the history of Zanzibar, from its conquest by Persian Mohammedans who fled to the S. African coast in the C8, through the decline of the XXX Empire and the coming of the Portuguese, down to the partition of Africa in 1890.
But Frater Tibbotts’ chief concern was with the slave trade and its breakup. From the occupation of the Arabs in 1730 Zanzibar had become a convenient centre for the lucrative trade in black slaves, but the exploration and missionary work of the C19 century had given it much publicity. Livingstone himself described the depopulation of the hinterland as a result of the Arab excursion.Here Frater Tibbotts passed to the fratres two letters actually written by Livingstone – they were indeed a tribute to Victorian prowess for correspondence as well as possessing an interest in themselves. Frater Tibbotts described visually the mission of Sir Bartle Frere to Africa in 1672, and his attempts to persuade the Sultan, Said Bargash, to disassociate himself from the trade. Lack of cooperation from the United States and deliberate obstruction from the French XXX made success difficult, but in 1874 the Sultan signed the dismal treaty, and the sea was closed. The Arabs then turned to transportation by land – this aspect of the trade could be stopped by no stroke of the fan or burnish of the sword, but was a long but gradual process.
The questions which followed quickly upon the conclusion of the paper and the refilling of glasses were not confined to the slave trade, and Frater Tibbotts called extensively upon his personal experiences to stimulate a discussion which ranged from the authenticity of Graham Gun’s “Heart of the Matter” to the problem – particularly thorny still – of the colour XXX. At this juncture the Princeps decided that the closing rites should be performed and the meeting was declared informal.
R.W. Parker (Magister Rotulorum)
The 280th meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Thursday 9th March  in the rooms of Socius Honorabilis, Frater Smail, and after the opening rites had been performed, the Princeps welcomed two prospective members to the Cromwell night commemoration, which the Comes had XXX by XXX, in a subversive appeal to the memory of “that Man of Blood.” If the Comes had shown misplaced allegiance in his first revision he redressed his reputation by a most erudite account of the Confraternitas treasure in quasi-Byzantine solidi, which displayed commendable knowledge of numismatics though not of economics. It cannot but be observed that the much despised XXX and XXX had at least ensured financial stability, whereas the current account was parlous to the extreme, through no fault of the Comes. It was universally deplored that members of the Confraternitas had succumbed to the prevailing mood of apathy infesting the intellectual world as a whole and were not merely withdrawing themselves from the body politic, which was distressing; but also their contributions, which was calamitous.
The Princeps observed that enquiries had been made of the Earl of Sandwich, as to the possibility of a visit by the Confraternitas to Hitchinbrooke House. They had elicited a reply from the noble lord that a party would be most welcome not merely to the house, but to his lordship’s collection of paintings at the cost of 2 solidi for each frater. The Princeps suggested that the peregrination might might well take advantage of the omnibus to visit Burleigh, and he was afforded tacit consent by the plebs for his plans. Further enquiries were to be made to discover if aristocratic XXX had engulfed the East Midlands.
The Princeps then delivered his paper on Manchester, a neglected seventeenth century politician, who had the good fortune to share with the Confraternitas in the devotions of Lady Frances if not of Clio. He provoked the Caeromonarius and Frater Coles in his introductory XXX by acclaiming Edward Montague as the most celebrated of Sidney men; among the most talented of seventeenth century statesmen, the equal of Stafford and Hampden. Manchester, whose title came from the small town of Godmanchester near Huntingdon XXX of a new Tudor family, originally styled Magg, which had enriched itself from monastic lands. His father, an eminent lawyer had “husbanded well” both estates and their XXX; and Edward, the great nephew once XXX of Lady Frances herself, stayed at Sidney for a year while a relative was master of the College. The Princeps quoted a jejune passage from XXX Falk’s monastic biography to illustrate Edward Montague’s pleasant, dignified if XXX disposition, which a contemporary XXX served to XXX. Mr Falk waxed XXX over the five XXX virtues into which Montague entered, of which that to the Earl of Warwick’s daughter brought him into the circle of XXX sympathies, which included Pym and Hampden. He seems to have been well-disposed to all shades of Protestantism, and possessed the supple dexterity necessary to make himself agreeable in all company. After the Long Parliament, Charles I was induced to impeach him, although even this mark of censure seems to have been an afterthought. In his capacity as a colonel in Essex’s parliamentary army, and supreme commander to the Eastern counties he worked closely with Cromwell, whom he had earlier annoyed during an enclosure enquiry. This cooperation ended when the extreme Puritans broke with Essex and the Presbyterians on the need for unconditional surrender from the King. As a conservative reformer, Montague, 2nd Earl of Manchester, could not stomach the constitutional upheavals which Cromwell contemplated, and after a dignified protest against the King’s trial, he retired into the country, giving up his post as Keeper of the Seal, administrator of the University of Cambridge. During the Protectorate, he was approached by Cromwell to participate in the new second chamber, and by loyalist agents to support the Restoration. As a representation of the presbyterian group, and an erstwhile colleague of Clarendon, he was honored by Charles II with the dignity of Chamberlain, and died universally esteemed as one imagines in 1671. The Princeps whose paper was lucidly erudite, had found difficulty with his lack of source material, and to anticipate Frater Coles, he explained that the quarrel with Cromwell, to which Messrs. Bruce and Masson had devoted superfluous attention was the only aspect of Manchester’s career which had attracted the interest of previous historians.
During the discussion which followed, the Caeromonarius, who in the deeply regretted absence of the Pontifex had introduced the paper, expressed interest in the varied matrimonial experiences of Manchester, and felt that this would prove a fruitful source of enquiry. The military reputation of the Earl also provoked consideration of Cromwell’s expressed preference for Manchester as his commander, in view of their earlier quarrel. He appeared to have been a competent general, whose military achievements were blasted by dislike for total war on the King, and fratres felt that his reputation, XXX neglected, had been resuscitated by the Princeps to a level of exaltation which he could never expect to pass. A pliant, adaptable family man, who did not excite any violent controversies, he was both great, or would never have had questions thrust upon him.
After the Caeromonarius had drawn the discussion to a close, and congratulated the Princeps for his paper, the two new fratres XXX and Brant were initiated into the Confraternitas, and those fratres present inscribed their thanks upon the scroll of parchment with the quill provided by the Princeps. The closing rites were then performed, amid much XXX and detestable hilarity, which the Fabricius is devoid of words to depict, and imagination to confine. The imprecations of the Lady Clio may only be aborted by fasting and penance; that her wrath may be XXX aside upon absent fratres.
R.W. Parker (Princeps)
Bernard Selby (Fabricius).
The 281st Meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Fr. Smail’s rooms, and commenced about the middle of the first vigilia on Monday the 15th day before the Kalends of November [17.10.1950]. Those who were present Soc. Hon. Hunt, a hard core of veteran fratres, and a considerable body of new historians. After the opening rites, the latter were admitted, and heated by the Princeps to a brief exposition of the familiar functions and customs of the Confraternitas.
The paper, read by the Pontifex, was entitled “Leicester Politics and the Election of 1754”. Leicester politics were to command our attention because, by C18th standards, they [were] singularly independent and unpredictable, the result of a wide franchise which had been granted in 1683 and not been subsequently restricted. There were 2,000 electors in 1754. Three groups stood out in the political life of the borough, the Corporation which was Tory, the true Whigs and the Freemen. The forces of the Corporation was predominant since they were a wealthy, connected body, with the gift of numerous offices and the clearly vital prerogative of granting licences to ale-houses. Local historians had frequently tainted the Corporation with the stigma of Jacobinism. This was unwarranted. The truth was, said the Pontifex, that they simply exhibited “a commendable desire to be on the winning side whatever happened.” The Whig element in the town drew its chief support from the new class of manufacturers, in particular from the hosiery trade. They were led by such local dignitaries as the Duke of Rutland and the Earl of Stanford. The Pontifex emphasised the importance of the family connections of the aristocracy amongst when a certain “Aunt Dorothy” was of no importance, but will long be cherished in the memory of the Confraternitas. The third factor at election-time was the body of electors, including those mysterious characters “Scot” and “Lot:” their attitude to the parties was sensual rather than political.
Turning to the election of 1754, the Pontifex declared that by this time “the Venetian oligarchy had entered upon its Indian summer.” Heedless, it seemed, of the frowning ghost of Disraeli, he went on to describe the decay of parties and the resultant apathy. Except for the actual elections, whose enthusiasm was excited by the prospect of financial gain, everyone abhorred a contested election. But suddenly a pebble was thrown into the still waters of the Leicester political scene. That pebble was enclosure. The South Field, common land, was to be appropriated by the Corporation, and what was more, certain Aldermen were well to the front of the queue for the new houses. September witnessed the uprooting of fences: prosecutions followed. In November the Corporation modified the prosecutions and almost in the same breath announced their support in the forthcoming election, for the sitting members. But one opposition was formed and in the Lion and the Dolphin, Major Mitford was adopted as their candidate. The other candidates were George Wright and James Wigley, who was later to acquire a fine epitaph. Robert Mitford, better known as “the Major”, was an enigmatic person: the only record of him outside 1754 only increases the mystery by the suggestion that he had been dead for seventeen years. Canvassing began: in April writs were issued. At this point the Pontifex announced his intention of supplementing contemporary records by a “restrained use of the historical imagination.” That reference to one Captain Groomer who at another election boasted “of secured many return against great public interest” was not it seems hypothetical, and seemed to show the general attitude to C18th politics. On April 12th rival mobs clashed and windows at the Three Crowns were broken. The Pontifex conjured up “brass bands” and “Tory bludgeons with iron spikes. However, the pithy slogan “Damn Major Mitford” was authentic, as we may well believe. Nominations were handed in and from April 19th to 22nd, polling took place. Inns were open all day.
Both Tory candidates were elected, though by a narrow majority. The Pontifex gave us a colourful analysis of the poll-book, though hampered by the weak arithmetic of the printer. Apparently there was little corruption. The Corporation found it unnecessary to create Tory freemen or impose heavy fines on prospective Whig voters. The writs were returned, as was a Whig petition against the result. But this was overruled.
The Pontifex, his historical imagination at last unrestrained, concluded his erudite and amusing paper with a touching description of the festivities of both parties’ when the election was over.
In the ensuing questions, Fr. Rees did duty for the absent Fr. Coles by demanding and obtaining an account of the Pontifex’s sources. Fr. Smith asked whether ale or policy decided elections, the answer to which was that Leicester was by and large “against the government.” References to a shot fired at Queen Victoria on a visit to Leicester and to the renowned beauty of Leicester women concluded the discussion, which seemed to confirm our opinion of Fr. Brand’s obvious query of his subject.
At the invitation which followed Messrs. Beales, Clarke, Dart, Easterling, Henerd, Lloyd, Peck, Scott and Woodrow were made fratres. Both at this ceremony and in the closing rights [sic] fratres displayed a woeful lack of solemnity and self-control, which cannot be excused by the Pontifex’s unfamiliarity with the Latin, or by the quantity of refreshment consumed, for indeed there were twelve stout flagons of ale still unbroached at the conclusion of the meeting.
R.W. Parker (Princeps).
C.K. XXX (Magister Rotulorum).
The 282nd meeting of the Confraternitas was held on the 3rd day preceding the Kalends of November [29.10.1950] in Frater Thornely’s rooms. There was a good attendance to hear Frater Norman Hunt’s paper on “The Quakers as an Early Political Association,” though few perhaps realised at first sight how important an occasion it was. For it is seldom that the Confraternity is privileged to receive, on Lady Clio’s behalf, the first fruits of wholly original historical research. But as the evening advanced we began to realise what would happen when Socius Honorabilis Hunt’s work was finally published – the hasty revision of manuscripts, the footnotes and asterisks, the new editions of textbooks, the genial flutter in the historical dove-cotes.
His thesis was that the Quakers had invented the political association fifty years before any other body made use of such an organisation. Its basis already existed in the XXX religious organisation of the Quakers before 1675, in which year the Meeting for Sufferings was formed. This met weekly from 1676, and was “the XXX and galvanising force” of a deliberate political movement. But inspite of the fact that such devices as lobbying, making local enquiries about the sympathies of MPs, and even before the Oxford Parliament, attempting to organise the Quaker vote, there was no real progress before 1688. This was because intensified persecution was attributed by some to political forwardness, because the Meeting was more concerned with individual cases, and because Parliaments were few and short.
It was the regular Parliaments after 1688, and the religious settlement (“the least glorious front of the glorious revolution”), that produced the paradox of a Quaker political association. “This aspect of the Revolution” said Frater Hunt “was unrecognised by contemporaries and has remained unrecognised until this evening!” For the Toleration Act, though acceptable to the Quakers, left two grievances – tithes and oaths, in addition to the constant menace of a Tory-Anglican reaction. Before the final struggle over the Tithe Act which was to take place in the 1730s, there was a three-round contest on the issue of oaths, which in an age remarkable for the swearing demanded of a man imposed terrific disabilities upon the oath-less Quakers. The Affirmation Act, its renewal, and its revision, in 1696, 1702 and 1772 provided useful experience in the act of political agitation. During this post-Revolution period, other devices were tried, and new lessons learnt. A sub-committee was appointed in 1688 to attend Parliament daily: failure to synchronise their efforts led to disaster in 1692, and conflict with an unofficial Quaker group had the same result in 1713: lastly the necessity for a preliminary approach to the Government itself was recognised in 1722. The stage was set, or rather the ring cleared, for the bout over the Tithe Bill.
The Quakers offered tithes on XXX grounds, but their resistance had to take a passive form. They paid, but only after legal action had been taken. This legal process they wanted speeded up and made cheaper, and having secured this in permissive legislation, they wanted to made obligatory. They had a real grievance, though it was exaggerated, since many Quakers paid in any case. What in fact goaded the Meeting for Sufferings into action was that by 1729, not enough Quakers were being prosecuted. Two features of the conflict stand out; what was the necessity for the government to avoid offending the Church, while not driving the Quakers into the Tory bosom, – a feat accomplished by Walpole’s dexterity – one might say ambidexterity. The other feature was the restraint shown by the Quakers, who XXX from the unholy equivalent of an alliance with the Tories, save for a brief lapse in 1733. In 1730 Walpole brusquely refused the Quaker request. In 1731, he was conciliatory and promised “all aid short of help”. In 1732 Walpole was courteous but succeeded in stalling again. In 1733 he talked the Quakers out of action in ’34. Towards the end of ’34 he encouraged them, only to pour cold (or was it warm?) water on their 1735 aspirations. In ’36 for purely political reasons, he consented to Quaker action.
He could have put them off as he had done before, but Walpole had the ideas. He wanted Gibbon Bishop of London out of the way, and Gibbon would vote against the bill. His resignation would please the Court and the anti-Church Whigs, while Walpole’s previous opposition to the Test and Confrontations would prove to Churchmen that he was with them on the big issues. He chose the Quakers for the political manoeuvre because he would at once placate them, have the organisation at his disposal, and public office on his side – thanks to them.
The Meeting for Sufferings went into action. Propaganda was collected, sifted and distributed again. That worthy member, Esquire Glanville was secured to introduce the bill. There was intensive lobbying: a list was both compiled of MPs, and spoke to by Friends. Lobbying and pressure from the constituencies who coordinated for the first time. A united front was presented. The Bill passed the House of Commons but was defeated in the Lords by 54-35. It was in relation to the Upper House that the Quakers organisation was weakest. They had failed, but Walpole had won, for Bishop Gibson did vote against the bill and he did resign.
From 1736-1742 Walpole continued to put the Quakers off, turning on XXX charm before the 1741 elections. “It would be but kind to desist at this moment” reported the simple, good-natured Quakers. That for all their weakness, it was they who had invented one of the principal ingredients of late 18th, and and 19th Century democracy, the political association.
Fr. Hunt’s paper established this beyond any reasonable doubt, though his work is not yet complete. In answer to a question, he admitted that one might easily take the view that the embryo Quaker political association was in evidence long before 1736, and might be said to have existed a century before any other. He also argued that any evidence that late associations had consciously copied the Quakers would strengthen his case; he hoped to find this evidence. He knew of no other body which at that time could be called a political association, nor do we know of any other historian who has drawn attention to this unique creation of the Quakers. In default of any such rivals, all credit must go to the Quakers and Frater Hunt.
The closing rites, performed with more fitting solemnity than of late, brought the meeting to an end at about 11.0 p.m.
R.W. Parker (Princeps)
C.K. XXX (Magister Rotulorum)
The 283rd meeting of the Confraternitas Historica commenced at 8.15 on the Ides of November [5.11.1950] in Frater Smail’s rooms. After two new fratres, Hunt and Fletcher, had been initiated, the Confraternity awaited the arrival of the guest speaker Mr. Philip Grierson – the Senate not without some anxiety since it was rumoured that Mr. Grierson had phoned that very morning to enquire what was the subject of his paper.
But Mr. Grierson, inspite of having dined in hall, was quite unperturbed, and, after a brief display of XXX during which he produced a number of small envelopes from his waistcoat pocket, and from each envelope a glittering coin, he commenced his paper, which was entitled “Gold Coinage in the later Middle Ages.” He first emphasised the importance of coins as evidence in political and economic history and the history of art, and then described some of the errors into which historians, ignorant of the subject, had fallen. He said that his paper would be a short one, and provided a ready excuse to those who did not want to listen at all by handing round a tray of his coins: but interesting as the latter were, they were not more interesting than the paper itself.
There were three phases in the history of mediaeval gold coinage. From the 5th to 8th centuries, when the Roman system of coinage was dying out: from mid-8th to mid-13th century when there was scarcely any gold coinage: and from the 13th century onwards when it was re-introduced, and the peak of mediaeval design achieved. After referring to the Arabic gold coinage which was read as an international currency, and often imitated in the second period, and to an interesting coin inscribed “Alf” after Alfonso in 1186, he concentrated upon the third of the three periods. The reintroduction of gold coinage was evoked by the demand for a coin of higher denomination than the silver 1d, and so Frederick II minted his famous Augustale, a fine coin, in high relief, with laurel-wreathed and stylised content. The next successful gold coin was the Feoima d’Ono, the gold coin of Florence – 3 1/2 grammes of almost pure gold decorated with the lily, emblem of Florence and St. John the Baptist, patron-saint. The only change in the design of this coin in the centuries was the inclusion of the inclusion of the initials of the man in charge of the mint, after 1303. XXX inspiring the famous Genovena d’Ono, the florin was imitated all over Italy and the W. Mediterranean, and in Germany, Hungary and Bohemia.
In the great kingdoms of Castille, Portugal, France and England, coins of exceptional beauty were produced. The first really successful French gold coin was the “éans” (an invention) not as attractive as the previous “masse” but following, on that account, the strange rule that the less beautiful the coin, the more commercially satisfactory. In England Edward III in 1344 introduced the beautiful noble, which when reduced in value so that the rate of exchange for gold to silver was now 1:12, saw a hundred years of financial stability. In 1464 when the weight was reduced, and the Angel and Rose Noble introduced, the numismatic Middle Ages had ended in England. So had our guest’s paper.
But a succession of lively, though not always very pertinent, questions fellowed. Mr. Grierson dismissed Lombard’s theory, quoted by Frater Rees, of the influence of Arabian coinage into Europe. Frater Selby made a brief excursion into the C16th. To suggestions that mine-detectors and bull-dozers be used in the search for coins, Mr. Grierson replied that the more usual method was to was to “hang about and let the peasants bring ‘em in!” Fr. Smail wondered if he was the only person in the room who had understood the whole of Mr. Grierson’s paper – a question which Mr. Grierson was hardly in a position to answer. In fact we had not understood the whole of it, but this increased rather than diminished our enjoyment of and wonder at Mr. Grierson’s voluminous knowledge of the subject and selective treatment of it.
The tray of coins having been handed back (apparently intact) and the exhibits returned to the pockets of his waistcoat. Mr. Grierson’s took his leave of the Confraternity who then closed the meeting, as is the custom, will the closing rites.
R.W. Parker (Princeps)
C.K. XXX (Magister Rotulorum).
The 284th meeting of the Confraternity took place at 8.15 on the fifth day before the Kalends of November [26.11.1950] in Frater Smail’s rooms. The Opening rites were followed by the simple yet dignified ceremony of the election of the Tribunes Plebis: this year the interests of the Plebs were to be entrusted to the case of Frater Smith and Peak: the election unlike that in Leicester in 1754, was not contested.
A large gathering of Fratres, together with a new and welcome suppliant at the shrine of Clio in the person of Dr. Casey, then heard Frater Selby read a paper on the “Horrible Massacre of Amboyna.” Frater Selby first pointed out that it should more frequently be called the “Hellish Massacre of Amboina”, since this was the most popular designation of it in contemporary literature. He began his story in 1619, when after 20 years of rivalry in the East, the English and Dutch concluded a treaty, which ushered in an eve of still more bitter competition between the two. Coen, the go-ahead Dutch Commander in the East complained that the English were worse than useless (a statement which was certainly true at this time) but he was quite content that they should pay their full share of the cost of trading. In 1623 another treaty was signed, but before its text could reach the East Indies, the issue had been settled for good in favour of the Dutch. For a 23rd February of this year they had discovered a conspiracy amongst the English trades at Amboyna. The English confessed “some before, some after a very little torture” that they had conspired on New Year’s Day to kill the Dutch Governor of Amboyna, a considerable feat to have accomplished since the Governor was away at the time. But undaunted by considerations of clarity, the Dutch proceeded with the trial of the conspirators, who were clearly very bewildered by the whole affair – one of them imploring between doses of torture that they should only “tell him what they would like him to confess.” Their bewilderment ceased abruptly however when all but four of the English traders were executed together with seven of their Japanese servants.
A letter of protest from our agent in Batavia brought the news to England, where the King and Privy Council were (we are told) much moved, and the public showed great consternation. This began a long wrangle between the Dutch and English E. India Corps., and a series of violently XXX pamphlets which purported to give the story of the massacre. Frater Selby tried to construct what had in fact happened, using as his sources one of these pamphlets, entitled “the True Relation”, together with the Records of the Court and the accounts of the surviving Englishmen and the interpreter, a Scot named Forbes. He regretted not being able, for obvious reasons, to avoid himself of trusted sources. But his picture was a convincing one: his evidence included for example the fact the conspirators had at their disposal an armoury of 3 swords, 2 muskets and 1/2lb. of powder, and no slings. “What handiness!” was the possibly first comment of the XXX of the “True Relation”.
The virulence of English comment after the incident occasioned several complaints from the Dutch, one concerning a rather too vivid representation of the massacres in XXX, which was publicly exhibited. Naturally our protests were XXX, but they had little effect on the Dutch owing to the state of our navy at that time. Not until 1654 was an argument with the Dutch concluded at Westminster by Cromwell: the Dutch were to pay damages: unfortunately by this time most of those concerned were dead. But the box-office value of Amboyna persisted as Dryden’s play on the subject shows. In his ingenious version, the distortion of fact was only matched by the bathos of the dialogue and character treatment. 1688 saw the end of public interest in the affair.
Frater Selby suggested that there was no real historical significance to be attached to the massacre, since English trade in the East Indies was already in the last stages of decay by 1623. The violent end which Captain Towerson and his fellows met at Amboyna was the revolt of the action of an “unintelligent and frightened subordinate of Coen”, not the sinister design of Coen himself, who was only the scapegoat for British shame in the matter.
Frater Selby’s decision to deal mainly with the massacre itself and the XXX about it gave us a most entertaining, if somewhat slight, paper. The evening discussion of colonial issues was wide and more serious, and was only interrupted by the closing rites – declaimed by the Pontifex in his now almost impeccable Latin.
R.W. Parker (Princeps)
C.K. XXX (Magister Rotulorum)