The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, October 1913
On Ceremonies. — A Bacon Manuscript
A Bacon Manuscript.
What is a ceremony? said the Registrar, and waiteth still for an answer. For indeed it hath been seen, many times, that there is little ceremony about it. Yet I would not have the Senate use none at all; for Ceremonies, to the elder sort, are a part of experience, not to be missed, and to the younger a part of education. It was well said by the Poet that joined the sententiousness of the stoic with the happy humour of the epicurean, that it is pleasant to play the fool in season. Certainly it seemeth so on Diploma Day when those that are of riper years do in a manner renew their youth watching the tumult from a safe place, and making sport of the Chancellor, or other Great One, tossed and buffeted on a sea of wit.
Suave mari magno turbantibus acquora ventis
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem:
so, always, that it be not done with ostentation, but discreetly, and with due semblance of respect.
As for the younger sort, they do commonly hold with the desperate saying of the Leather Medallist, That he would rather be shot than swot. Likewise, that the bookworm is a trashy thing. Wherefore they eschew lectures, and diligently seek out all Shows and Ceremonies, as, the ball-play, dances at the Women's Hostel, fireworks of Heretics, and the like and, especially fail not at the Festival of Capping. Which indeed is a noble Pageant, not to be matched in Europe. To speak first of the preparative, or Students' meeting. A man shall see there stout handling of ticklish matters. As when the Professor, not long since, bearing in mind the detestable example of Guido Fawkes, proceeded to eliminate potential explosives. Wherein, truly, he is much to be commended; for there be some Sparks still, that would blow everything to blazes. For the Ceremony itself; I will not at this time stay to describe it. But it showeth plainly the capriciousness of Fortune, which by dignities bringethpage break page break page 11
men to indignities. Be this as it may, Nou semper erunt Saturnalia. Let a young man, therefore, seize Occasion by the forelock, and learn betimes how to play the Merry Andrew, without reproach, while Authority strives to be heard or, as Terentius hath it, how to be a Gentleman, even in joco. In the Masques and Mummeries that come after, let him bear his part bravely, with no false shame. Let him black his face, as an Ethiop, or don woman's apparel. Did not the Consul, at the feast of Lupercus, run about the city with no apparel at all? Yet it was not said, save by carping 'Fully, that he was stripped of honour.
Let none think that these be only Toys. We read that in times past it hath been the custom to choose, for a season, a Boy for Bishop which, with a merry train of children, having a mitre on his head, and his crozier borne before him, did ride upon an ass to the very steps of the altar not as in mockery of holy things, but for a pattern to the rest of innocency and humbleness of heart. Even so by these Ceremonies, which have a deeper meaning than doth appear, the young man's education is perfected: and he goeth forth from his Alma Mater totus teres atque rotundus, fairly fashioned in every part.