“Truth, honour, humanity are dead”

The Union of Democratic Control was a movement opposed to many aspects of the war. It was obviously very controversial, as John Maxwell Image reports from Cambridge. Opponents included the classicist Henry Jackson, Vice-Master of Trinity College, a very distinguished academic who was among those who brought about the admission of women students at Cambridge.

29 Barton Road
23 January ‘16
My dearest S[mith]

Are you troubled in Malvern by the UDC? Union of Democratic Control? Well, last term they publicly advertised a Meeting to be held in the rooms of one of the Fellows. The Council read the Advertisements and prohibited the Meeting. Thereupon 14 of these demanded a College Meeting on the subject. It was held yesterday. 42 Fellows present. Virtually, it was of course to elicit a vote of want of confidence in the Council: that, and nothing less. But with Asquithian cunning, their motion in virgin innocence professed merely that a Fellow should have the right to entertain in his own rooms meetings upon any subject, not illegal or immoral. Illegality is best handled by the police, rather than the Council; and no crimes are so atrocious as those committed in the veil of morality. Quantum religio, et cetera.

The Meeting was opened in a speech of nearly one hour’s duration: under cover of defence of liberty of speech, for he professed dissociation from the UDC. The speech was platitudinously irrelevant and when, towards the close of his hour, he unexpectedly aid, “To come to the point”, listeners tittered. Oratory on all sides frothed and fumed. Idle amendments were proposed – and carried! At last one sound head – who had travelled up from London got up and proposed. “I move that the Question be not put.” He was instantly seconded – and his motion carried by a thumping majority! Delighted, we broke up after 2 ¾ hours of tub thumping.

The odd thing is that at a meeting – a Caucus – to oppose the UDC’s proposal, on the previous Saturday, when the universal feeling appeared that the case demanded a vote on a straight issue and no timid amendments, this very thing was moved, “that the Question be not put” – and only 3 men (of whom Bild was one) voted for it. One week later it was carried by 2 to 1.

The most painful thing to me was when dear old Jackson (who is so deaf that he can have heard nothing of the oratory) suddenly arose and delivered his soul. I had never heard accents so loud, or language so downright. He dared to say exactly what honest men universally are feeling, about German warfare. “Truth, honour, humanity are dead. The War is not ending, it is going on. I hope it will go on until after I am dead.” U.s.w. Oh how I wish I had the memory to recall the actual words. Quid si ipsam tumantem audiisses!

I thought poorly of Grey and his Barsalong talk. I heard the whole story, soon after it had happened, from the Captain of a British destroyer.

All affectionate wished for the New Year from us both to you and die Madame.

Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

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RIP Gilbert Houldsworth

Family and friends of the Vansittart Neales were doing their bit in various ways. Florence’s daughters were getting vaccinated in order to become nurses, while one family friend had already made the ultimate sacrifice. William Gilbert Houldsworth, a 23 year old Lieutenant in the Scots Guards who had joined the army in May 1914 just after graduating from Oxford, was severely wounded at the Battle of the Aisne on 13 September, dying ten agonising days later.

23 September 1914

Both girls inoculated…

Jamie Balfour wounded – hope slightly. William went off to Malvern to join the Worcesters. Gilbert Houldsworth died.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)