" I do," the ghost answered, " I've no reason to be
ashamed of it. On the first day of those Lents, I
wasn't shoved out when the gun went; I was over-
lapped at Grassy, but I took them to the Willows. In
the second race I was overlapped at Grassy, and
bumped at the Railway Bridge ; and in the third the
boat behind had a shot at Grassy and didn't catch me
till Morley's Holt. On the last day I was missed by
three inches at Grassy again."
" Where were you bumped that time ? " asked the
First Lent Boat somewhat scornfully, as the Hollow-
" Thought I'd catch you ! " chuckled the ghost :
*' that day I got away, and wasn't bumped at all. I'm
as proud of those races as my two Swaddle friends are
of their Henley victories."
"And quite right too," shouted the old tub eight
from the top rack. " How are you, old Hollow-Ground ?
Dear me ! what cutting things they used to say about
your seats in the old days ! "
"Ah ! " the ghost replied, "but I had the best of it :
it wasn't my integument that was damaged. Yes, I've
made more men stand up then most ships."
"It's a desperate kind of racing," said the '79 ghost:
" I know it well from the other point of view. To be
all but caught, and to row for a mile or more with the
enemy's nose within a foot of your rudder, is bad
enough ; but the boat behind has the worst time : to
be within a yard of victory, and yet to miss it, is the
most aggravating sensation that ever a boat felt. C'est
686 The Dibutanie.
le dernier pas qui coute in a bumping race : I should
have been head of the river but for those abominable
last few inches."
" 1 was head of the river," a new voice remarked
with justifiable pride, — "the last fixed-seat eight that
ever rowed there."
Then another ghostly racing eight loomed into view
beside the others. The ships in being shook with
reverent nervousness, but the ghosts of the ships past
cheered uproariously ; and at last the new eight, with
the diffidence and precocity of youth, managed to
stammer a request for reminiscences. So the Head of
the River ghost told the history of the great bump of
1872, — the four nights of fierce but unsuccessful ex-
ertion, and every detail of the glorious fifth race up to
the crowning moment. At that point the enthusiasm
of the other ghosts interrupted the narration : they
broke out into a roaring chorus, and sang of the
magnificent way in which
'Monging for a close affinity,
Goldie, rowing more than fifty.
Overlapped and bumped First Trinity."
Ghost music can penetrate where less ethereal
sounds are never heard, and the song summoned
scores of other ghosts from the place where good ships
go when they are broken up. One after another the
shadowy forms made their mysterious entrance, —
clinkers and racing ships, eights and fours, sliders and
fixed-seat boats, keeled craft and keelless, from the
broad and massive eight of early days down to the
slim smooth-sided cedar boat of recent times. In a
few minutes the Boat house was filled with a Babel
of mysterious voices ; for every ghost had her stock of
reminiscences, and every ghost was determined to tell
them to the last detail, so magically did the old
associations of the place work upon her memory and
enthusiasm. The '56 head of the River ship told of the
race against Royal Chester at Henley, and what
714^ Dibutante. 687
amusement and finally what consternation were caused
by the enemy's craft, — the first keelless eight that ever
" And she did roll," said the narrator sorrowfully ;
" my stretcher-straps ! how she did roll ! But alas ! she
rolled home an easy winner."
Then an older voice told of the glorious days of Pat
Colquhoun, of the '37 race against Queen's College
Oxford, and how six men rowed her from Henley to
Westminster during the following night.
" Bother that '37 race ! " she exclaimed : " it isn't a
very cheering history ; but we must take the ups and
downs together. I saw the first race for the Colquhoun
Sculls the same summer; the course was from West-
minster to Putney, and several ladies embarked in me
to see the sight. Think of that, you flimsy, unstable
youngsters ! "
However, most of the ghosts were chattering of less
important events. Hundreds of long forgotten races
and a thousand out-of-date details were described and
criticised : the elder ghosts talked of the Pike and Eel
lock and the Bumping Post, of six-oars and ten- oars,
and of rival boats with long disused names, — the Black
Prince, the Monarch, and the Tobacco Pipes and
Punchbowls ; the ships of the present could understand
very little of the conversation, but occasionally they
made a half-hearted attempt to play off the New
Drainage System against the Wonders of the Past.
But suddenly another ghostly form became visible,—
a bulky in rigged eight, with a two-foot stern-post and
a rudder as big as a tea-tray : the whole company ceased
chattering, and respectfully made room for the last
comer, as she took up her station beside the new ship.
" Bless you all, my children," the old ghost began in
a grave, motherly voice. " Is this the neophyte who is
to be admitted into our fellowship to-night ? "
The new ship trembled with nervous awe, but could
make no answer.
688 The Dibutanie.
" Do you not know me, my child ? " the same voice
continued. " I am the Great Grrandmother of you all, —
the Lady Margaret, the first Lady Margaret. More
than seventy years ago I was the first eight-oar that
ever floated on the Cam, and ever since that day
there has been a Lady Margaret First Boat to uphold
the honour of my name. Now it is your turn : do your
best, my child ; never be faint-hearted when things look
black, or careless when they look rosy: go your best
every stroke ; and then the honour of my name will be
safe in your keeping."
There was a murmur of applause, and then the old
ship addressed her fellow ghosts.
" Children," she said, " sing the Song of the Past ;
and then the neophyte shall be sworn in."
Once more the grave voice ceased, and with a burst
of mellow music the ghosts sang the Song of the Past.
*' Sing of the Ship, — that ship of fame,
The first to carry the Foundress' name;
First of a thousand eights she came
To rouse the Cam from his sleepy ways:
Big as a barge she may seem to you,
But her planks were sound and her lines were true.
And stout were the hearts of the sturdy crew
That rowed in the olden days.
Then follow the men of long ago
Thorough the thick and thin ;
Row as hard as they used to row,
And you'll win as they used to win.
Sing of the Crew, — that crew of note,
The crew of the Lady Margaret Boat,
Who vowed that the Banner of Red should float
Proudly up at the river's head ;
Who faltered never for storm or sun,
But swung to the stroke, — eight blades like one,
Till the thing they had vowed to do was done,
And the foremost flag was red.
The Dibutanie. 689
Sing of the giants of long ago,
Merivale, Sehvyn, Trench, and Snow,
As long as the river they loved shall flow.
Their wreath of laurel shall still be green.
Sing to the same triumphal tune
Of Berney, Shadwell, and Pat Colquhoun ;
Never has eye of the wandering moon
Better or braver seen.
Sing of the days of fifty-four,
When Wright and Kynaston drove the oar,
And raised the flag to the head once more,
Ther« for a four years' reign to wave.
Sing of the oarsmen true and strong,
Whose pluck has carried the flag along ;
And Goldie's laurel shall crown the song,—
Goldie, the great, the brave.
Sing, and think of the place you hold :
You are a link in a chain of gold.
Joining the glorious days of old
With the glorious days that are yet to be:
Seventy years are calling you,
Bidding you wake, and work, and do.
Grip the beginning, and drive it through.
And answer them ** Si je puis 1 "
Then follow the men of long ago
Thorough the thick and thin ;
Row as hard as they used to do,
And you'll win as they used to win.**
Thus the song came to an end, and the '37 ship was
appointed to administer the oath; for she had once
been stroked by a famous lawyer, and had the repu-
tation of being well posted in legal ceremonies.
••You shall well and truly try" — she began in a
solemn voice ; but at that point the ghost of the first
Lady Margaret interrupted.
*' That's enough," she said : " you can't always win ;
promise that you will always well and truly try."
R. H. F.
VOL. XX. 4 U
Illud etiam addiderim, stibesse saepe nominibas
arriffetrtv quandam vel affinitatera, quarum exempla in
scriptoribus turn vetustis turn hodiernis inveniri possunt.
£x. veL ep. MS.
Subjicitur exemplum hodiernum.
A.D. vm. Kal. Apr. mDcccxcix.
Inf indunt partter sulcos.
Iside iam Camus committitur, Aureus Aura,
Hinc Dolor, hinc Validus remigis arma movet.
Callidus Onetes Ferrum divendere certat.
Parte alia Belli frangere claustra Phylax.
Viribus interea totis contendit Oryctes
Si modo demittat brachia lassa Faber.
Omen abest aliis. Musse minus apta procaci
Nomina, transtrorum gloria, vate carent.
THE COMMEMORATION SERMON
BUss the Lord^ O my soul, and forget not all his bmefits* PSALM ciii. 3.
I HE nineteenth Christian century is ended» and
we are now in the twentieth.
There have been ways and ways of reckon-
ing the lapse of years ; but now the whole
civilised world dates as from the year of the Birth of
Christ, counting that to be the turning point of universal
history, the one divine event round which " the whole
An event of this supreme importance is one about
the date of which, it might be thought, there should
never have been a doubt. But it has been long agreed
that the Birth of Christ took place some years " before
Christ" according to our reckoning, a commpnly
received date for the Nativity being B.C. 4,.
At the time of its occurrence it passed unheeded by
the world, and afterwards it was.ipipossible to. determine
exactly when it came to pass, S^me Church writers of
the fourth century dated it, as \v.e should say, 2 or 3 B.C.
But not till the sixth century was it made the starting
point of our tale of the years.
St Luke was careful* to give chronological data by
which to fix the Nativity. "And it came to pass in
those days th^t there went out a decree from Caesar
Augustus th^t all the world should be taxed. And.
692 The Comniemoration Sermon^
this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor
By the great man's hegemony and the imperial
decree and its execution the Evangelist had fixed the
year of the birth of our Lord,^to the world at the time
a trivial and unknown detail in a Jewish genealogy.
But distance dwarfs great things and great ones
of the past, and brings to view greater things that were
obscured by them, as low hills hide the lofty mountain
visible in its grandeur only from afar. A microscopic
examination is now wanted to ascertain the when and
the where and very existence of things and persons
importance and prominent in their day. Who was the
great Cyrenius, or Quirinus ? To most of us he is little
but a name, known by St Luke's mention of him in
connexion with the Birth of Jesus. A most learned
Gospel chronologer begins his inquiry into the famous
taxing with the remark that ^'before examining in
what year it was held, we must first firmly establish
that it was held at all."
The nineteenth century from the Birth of Christ
being ended, we may fitly on this our anniversary look
back to the approximate date of its commencement,
and recall in memory some of the members of our
College who have lived in it, whom we delight to honour.
A biographer begins his volume with the remark
that there are names more conspicuous than that of the
subject of his memoir, but none more worthy to be
held in everlasting remembrance. The name is that of
our Henry Martyn.
Born at Truro, where his name lives in the new
Cathedral, he entered this College in October 1797, that
is to say, at or near the beginning of the Christian
century lately ended. According to another reckoning
also we may begin the century with him, for he was
the Senior Wrangler of 180 1. In the next year he
was elected a Fellow of the College and gained the first
of the two Members' Prizes for a Latin Essay.
The Commemoration Sermon. 693
At first he purposed to give hinself to the study of
Law ; but before long he found that his call was to
to another career.
Appointed to a chaplaincy in the service of the East
India Company, in July 1805 he sailed from Portsmouth
on his nine months' circuitous voyage to Madras, unvier
the convoy of a powerful fleet. As they crossed from
Madeira to South America, Nelson fought and fell at
Trafalgar. Capturing the Cape of Good Hope on their
way in January, one day late in April 1806, at sunrise,
they anchored in Madras roads.
Arrived at his destination, Martyn began the study
of Hindustani, with the assistance of a Brahmin from
Cashmere, "whom he wearied with his untiring
On the 1 8th February, 181 2, he writes in his diary,
" This is my birthday, on which I complete my thirty-
first year. The Persian New Testament has been
begun, and, I may say, finished in it, as only the last
eight chapters of the Revelation remain."
On the 16th October in that year, in the twelfth year
from his graduation before the age of twenty, Henry
Martyn, " wanting the years of Christ," ceased from his
severe, unintermittent labours, —fervent preacher of the
Gospel, translator of the New Testament into two
Eastern languages, an example of self renouncing
devotion to high ideals which has kept its power to
kindle a like flame in others from then till now.
For ever coupled, like the names of two of the
Twelve, are the names of two members of the College,
Clarkson and Wilberforce, Apostles of a great forward
movement in philanthropy, the crusade against the
The beginning of the end was Clarkson's most famous
of Prize Essays, which won the first of the two Members'
Prizes for a Latin Essay in 1784. The story is best told
in the author's own words :
Of the Vice Chancellor, Dr Peckard, Master of
694 ^^ Commemoration Sermon.
Magdalene, he writes, '^ In consequence of his office, it
devolved upon him to give out two subjects for Latin dis-
sertations, one to the middle bachelors, and the other to
the senior bachelors of arts. . . .To the latter he proposed
the following lAnm liceat Invitos in ServituUm^ dare? ot
Is it righi to make slaves of others against their willf*
''This circumstance," he goes on to say, ''became
the occasion of my own labours. , . .In studying the
thesis, I conceived it to. point directly to the Afiican
... .At any rate, I determined to give it this con-
struction. But, alas! I was wholly ignorant of this
subject ; and, what was unfortunate, a few weeks only
were allowed for the composition. I was determined,
however, to make the best use of my time. I got access
to the manuscript papers of a deceased friend, who had
been in the trade.
. .. .But I still felt myself at a toss for materials, and
I did not know where to get them; when going by
accident into a friend's house, I took up a newspaper
then lying on his table. One of the articles which
attracted my notice was an advertisement of Anthony
He^eMET'S Historical Accormt of Guinea. ... In this
precious book I found almost all I wanted. . . .Furnished
then in this manner, I began my work. But no person
can tell the severe trial which the writing of it proved
... .In the night I had little rest. I sometimes never
closed my eyelids for grief. ...I always slept with a
candle in my room, that I might rise out of my bed
and put down such thoughts as might occur to me in
The prize won, and the Essay read in the Senate
House, Clarkson was still haunted by the "horror of
great darkness " which had fallen upon him as he
Something must be done. He thinks of publishing
his Essay in English as a first step. A London
The Commtm&taHon Sermon. 693
publisher encouragingly assures him^ that ^^as the
original essay had been honoured by the University
of Cambridge with the first prize, this circumstance
would insure it a respectable circulation among persons
of taste." Clarkson thanks him for his civility ; and
the book sees the light under other auspices in June
1786, or about a year after the Essay was read in its
original form at Cambridge.
The young essayist is introduced to the eloquent
and influential Wilberforce, and a Committee is formed,
which labours and persists against all discouragements
year after year; till at length, in the twentieth year
from its formation, a bill for the abolition of the Slave
Trade passes the Lords, and then the Commons, and
becomes law of the land. This was within a year of
Henry Martyn's arrival in India in April 1806.
While he was still a student of the College, an
appointment of great and lasting importance in the
sphere of public school education was made by the
College. The year 1898 was the centenary of the
election of Samuel Butler, afterwards Bishop of Lich-
field, to the Headmastership of Shrewsbury School.
After him Benjamin Hall Kennedy, and after him the
present Headmaster, were appointed by the College
from among its members to the ofiice which Butler
made so great; and the three brilliant scholars in
succession have held it from 1798 till now.
Early in Butler's career the unexpected happened-
He had been at Rugby School, and was to have entered
at Christ Church, when he met Dr Parr, whose portrait
hangs in our Combination Room. "By accidental
introduction to Dr. Parr," he wrote in his diary, "I
was removed from Christ Church, Oxford, v/here a day
had been fixed by my intended tutor. ...for my ad-
mission, to St John's College, Cambridge." This
accidental circumstance led in due course to his appoint-
ment as Headmaster, and to all that followed it. The
phenomenal success of his teaching, which left its mark
The Commemoration Sermon. 697
^* walked from Cambridge to London in thirteen hours
without stopping." In the course of his long voyage to
New Zealand he learned two things needful for the
complete success of his work as missionary Bishop, the
Maori language and the art of navigation.
Sound in body as in mind, athlete as well as scholar,
he was exceptionally well-fitted for the physical labours
and trials of his visitations.
Advocate of a military discipline, he set the example
of readiness to go anywhere and do anything at the
bidding of lawful authority. Enthusiast for a bodily
exercise which profiteth not a little, he wrote "My
advice to all young men is in two sentences, Be temperate
in all thingSy and Incumhite remis^
The century of our retrospect dawned in days of the
darkest in modern times. A dead calm preceded the
storm which was to shake the thrones and systems of
the civilized world ; and in that interval of stagnation
the great poet of the century, William Wordsworth,
grew to manhood.
Bom at Cockermouth, and educated at Hawkshead,
he entered the College in his eighteenth year in 1787.
His early life, in contrast with his mature age, was a
revolt against convention and against prudence. He
had little sympathy while here with the studies of the
place ; but in after years he paid his poet's tribute to
geometry, that " independent world, Created out of
Fresh from the Senate House in 1791 he visited
London and then Paris. In France, where he was
resident for a time, his imagination was enthralled
by the Revolution, which stirred his nature to its
depths. In his own sphere he was the prophet of a
revolution which has renewed the face of the earth.
His early effusions reflect the garish style of their
day, quaintly justified by our highly poetical scientist,
Erasmus Darwin. The embryo master-poet celebrates
the bicentenary of his school at Hawkshead in such
VOL. XX. 4X
698 The Commemoration Sermon,
lines as these, supposed to be inspired by the Genius of
"And has the Sun his flaming chariot driven
Two hundred times around the ring of heaven.
Since Science first, with all her sacred train.
Beneath yon roof began her heavenly reign ? "
In his maturity he chose by preference crudely
simple subjects, as vehicles of profound thoughts :
" *Tis my delight, alone in summer glade,
To pipe a simple song for thinking hearts."
Of the Statesmen of the century we can claim two
of the greatest, whose names come together in the
sentence from an obituary notice of one of them, " It
is hard to say why it should be, but when you
looked at Charles Villiers you immediately thought
of Palmerston." Of Henry John Temple, Viscount
Palmerston, the bare mention must now suffice. Villiers,
less prominent but scarcely less great, was the prescient
promoter of a measure of which the judicious Lord
Melbourne is reported to have said, " The Minister who
should try to carry the total abolition of the Corn Laws
would be considered fit for a lunatic asylum."
Of a speech of Villiers it has been remarked, " There
could not be found a more extraordinary instance of the
skill of the statesman suggesting the foresight of the
prophet." Of Villiers championing a cause seemingly
hopeless, though in the end to prevail, it was said by no
less an authority than Benjamin Disraeli, "Anybody
but the honourable and learned member for Northamp-
ton would have sunk in the unequal fray."
The names of our two astronomers Herschel and
Adams stand out together in the annals of science. Of
the most famous achievement of the younger contem-
porary, planned in or before his second Long Vacation
and worked out while he was still a B.A., Sir John
Herschel spoke as " That great discovery of Neptune,
which may be said to have surpassed by legitimate
The Commemoration Sermon. 699
means the wildest dreams of clairvoyance." Of the
new planet, as yet unseen, he had said in resigning the
chair of the British Association in September 1846,
"We feel it trembling along the far-reaching line of
our analysis. We see it as Columbus saw America
from the shores of Spain."
The two names in death are not divided, for in 1895,
the Jubilee year of his great theoretical discovery, John
Couch Adams was commemorated by a medallion
placed in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, in
company with the monuments of Newton, Horrox,
the Herschels, and Charles Darwin.
In the crypt of St Paul's, with Nelson and Welling-
ton, rests our former Fellow, Lord Almoner's Reader in
Arabic in the University, Edwin Henry Palmer, slain
by Arabs in the desert in the time of the Egyptian war
of 1882, while on a mission from the Foreign Office, in
which he used his Eastern lore and native tact with
good effect, but risked and lost his own life in the
Lastly, conspicuous in the roll of officers and
benefactors of the College is the name of James
Wood, successively Fellow, Tutor, and for twenty-four
years Master ; one who combined high intellectual and
practical ability with Christian graces of character ; a
pattern to young and old, to rich and poor; one and
the same in both extremes of fortune ; an example of
the utmost frugality in the one as of princely generosity
in the other.
This chronicle was all but ended, when yesterday,
shortly before this hour, a beloved and honoured
resident Fellow of the College, my own contemporary
and friend, worn out by one exhausting illness, after
another, passed quietly away. Mathematician, and
astronomer, son of a mathematician and astronomer,
and nephew of two Senior Wranglers, author of works
of recognised authority in his earlier studies, at the
call of the College, Philip Thomas Main took up the
700 The Commemoration Sermon^
onerous duties of Lecturer in Chemistry, one of the
modern subjects which this Foundation of the Lady
Margaret had been foremost in promoting, for the
College had an efficient chemical laboratory before
such a structure was thought of in the University.
Not without zeal, as I can testify, for research and