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Supplement (1) to Oxford University Gazette No. 4739. Friday, 24 June 2005.
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Oxford University Gazette: Encaenia 2005

University Acts


1 Conferment of Honorary Degrees

THE PUBLIC ORATOR made the following speeches in presenting the recipients of Honorary Degreees at the Encaenia held in the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday, 22 June:

Degree of Doctor of Civil Law


President and CEO, GE Healthcare

Philosophi et Stoici et Epicurei adfirmabant mentem sapientis arcem esse virtute et recti scientia tam bene munitam ut nullus timor nullus impetus eam expugnare posset. Castellum pietatis prudentiae honestatis nunc produco; sic enim virum vocare licet qui cum negotia optime gessit tum commodo totius generis humani assidue consulit. Artem commercii lucro et damno apponendi in scholis didicit; artem hortandi et gubernandi vimque animi audacis ipse sibi paravit. In negotio versatur, otium non omnino neglegit: nam si illum librum consules qui Quis Ille inscribitur, comperies eum pilas et super retia et in foramina impellere iuvare, ita ut illud Iuvenalis in mentem fortasse veniat quod et opici cognoscunt, 'mens sana in corpore sano'. Aliorum certe valetudini succurrit; nam Fundationi de Wellcome adhuc iuvenis adscriptus, mox eis qui medicamenta et inveniebant et vendebant praepositus est. Inter quae virus benignum eo duce et auspice repertum est quo adhibito indicia illius morbi nostra aetate periculosissimi plerumque retroaguntur. Sed talia medicamina, quamvis utilia sint et salutaria, eos modo qui iam aegrotant adiuvare possunt; quapropter ipse quindecim abhinc annis societatem iniit ad morbos ante prohibendos institutam quam corpora hominum occuparent. Quae eo auctore ita crevit ut iam per totum orbem terrarum sit cognita. Vir adest igitur cuius negotia ac labores multis auxilium tulerunt, sed et plura fecit: inopibus subvenit, aedificia in ruinas labentia in novos usus renovavit, opus Fundationis Principis Galliae iuvit atque direxit.

Praesento strenuum negotiatorem benefactorem liberalem Gulielmum Castell, Equitem Auratum, Excellentissimo Ordini Reginae Victoriae adscriptum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.

Admission by the Chancellor

Negotiator audax ac generose, qui et commercia optime gessisti et aegrotantes multimodis adiuvisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.


Both the Stoic and Epicurean schools of philosophy maintained that the mind of the wise man was a citadel so well fortified by virtue and right understanding that no fear or shock could successfully assail it. The man whom I now present is a fortress of duty, judgement and distinction; for so one may reasonably call a man who has achieved the highest success in business and yet is also constantly concerned for the good of his fellow men. He learnt the art of accountancy at college, but the art of directing and motivating others, along with his boldness of mind, is a thing that he taught himself. Although so active in business, he does not altogether neglect leisure activity, since if you look him up in Who's Who , you will find that he likes to drive balls over nets and into holes—he lists tennis and golf among his hobbies—and there may come to mind that tag of Juvenal's known even to non-Latinists, 'mens sana in corpore sano', 'a sound mind in a sound body'. He has certainly benefited other people's health, for he joined the Wellcome Foundation as a young man, and in due course became director of its biotechnology division and then the foundation's commercial director. Among the successes achieved under his leadership was the development of Retrovir, a powerful weapon against AIDS, that deadliest scourge of our time. But such drugs, however effective, are mostly used to treat those who are already ill, and accordingly fifteen years ago Sir William joined a company dedicated to predictive and preventative health care. With him at the helm, it has grown into a world-wide business. We have here, then, a man whose work and career have benefited a great many people, but that is not all. He has been active in alleviating the blight of unemployment, concerned himself with finding new uses for decaying buildings, and served as Chairman of the Prince's Trust.

I present a formidable man of business and a generous philanthropist, Sir William Castell, LVO, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

Admission by the Chancellor

Bold and liberal man of business, who have both enjoyed the highest success in your career and helped the sick in many ways, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

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Writer and Clinical Professor of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York

Auditis an me ludit amabilis insania? Nam susurrum vestitus bombycini prope me percepi, nescio tamen utrum hominem videam an petasum. Adest autem qui mihi mederi potest; nam de viro quodam scripsit qui coniugem suam petasum esse credidit. 'Multa sunt mirabilia,' inquit Sophocles, 'sed nihil mirabilius est quam homo.' Hic quem produco homines scrutatus est mirabiliores quam ut ipsi poetae eos fingant. Scilicet Ovidius in Metamorphosesin narravit Pygmalionem sculptorem statuam tam pulchram fecisse ut Veneri eam in veram mulierem mutare placuerit. At hic veros homines multa per lustra tamquam effigies saxeas motus actionisque non capaces novo medicamento adhibito sanare potuit. Itaque, quod poeta finxit deum fecisse, hic fecit homo. De permultis mentis morbis scripsit, de animis in duas partes divisis, de eis qui artus vehementer et non sponte agitant vel vigilantes musicam somniant vel membra perdita sentiunt vel non perdita periisse credunt; denique si folia interretialia eius inspexeris, vix credes quot res quamque varias indagaverit. Propter libros suos non a medicis solum sed etiam a populo bene noscitur. Nec mirum est: nam pace doctorum liceat dixisse, scripta eorum seu de rerum natura seu de literis humanioribus saepius lectoris fastidium movere solent; at hic libros calamo tam lucido lepido eleganti exaravit ut gradum doctoris in litteris non minus quam in scientia vel in iure civili meruisse videatur. Praeterea, quamquam Novum Eboracum quadraginta annos iam incoluit, est Collegii Reginae apud nos alumnus, ita ut adfirmare ausim eum hodie domum reverti.

Praesento medicum sapientem scriptorem facundum philosophum alta mente praeditum, Oliverum Sacks, Novi Eboraci apud Collegium de Alberto Einstein Neurologiae Professorem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.

Admission by the Chancellor

Vir mentis humanae studiosissime, qui cum morbos animi summa peritia scrutatus es tum eosdem stilo eleganti exposuisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.


As Horace wrote, 'Do you hear, or is some delightful madness sporting with me?' I catch the rustling of silk robes beside me, and yet I am unsure whether I am looking at a person or some headgear. But present here is someone who can cure me, for he is the author of The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. 'There are many strange things,' says Sophocles, 'but none is stranger than man.' Our honorand has studied people stranger even than the poets can imagine. Ovid indeed told in his Metamorphoses how the sculptor Pygmalion had made a statue so beautiful that the goddess Venus consented to transform it into a real woman. But our honorand examined people who had for decades been like stone statues, incapable of movement, and by treating them with a then experimental drug was able to return them to normality. And so what the poets feigned a deity had done, he did, though a mere mortal. He has written about a great many mental abnormalities, about schizophrenia, about the jerky and involuntary movements found in Tourette's syndrome, about musical hallucinations, about people who think they feel the limbs that they have lost, and others who feel as though they have lost the limbs which they do have; all in all, if you look up his Web pages, you will be astonished at the number and variety of the topics that he has tackled. Through his books he is famous not only among professionals but among the public at large. And that is no surprise: with apologies to academics, it may be said that their writings, both in science and in the humanities, are all too frequently off-putting to their readership; but our honorand's books are so clearly, wittily and gracefully written that he may seem to have earned a doctorate of letters as much as a doctorate of science or of civil law. Moreover, although he has lived in New York for forty years, he was an undergraduate at The Queen's College here in Oxford, and so I venture the claim that he is today returning home.

I present a skilled physician, an eloquent writer, and a deep thinker, Oliver Sacks, Clinical Professor of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

Admission by the Chancellor

Great expert on the human psyche, who have investigated the diseases of the mind in masterly fashion and expounded them with elegance, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.

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Degree of Doctor of Letters


King Edward VII Professor of English Literature Emerita, former President of Clare Hall, Cambridge

Hanc quam nunc produco constat inter principes Cantabrigiensium diu locum occupavisse; tamen matris Oxoniae est alumna, quae apud Collegium Sanctae Annae eis studiis quibus auctores Anglicos tanto ingenio illuminavit primum incubuit baccalaureatuque et artium et litterarum honestata est. Apud scriptores antiquos legimus Aegyptos vinum imitantes triticum fermento miscuisse ad potum faciendum quem Graeci zythum vocabant; ita huic quam laudo duo genera eruditionis, alterum de fabulis commenticiis alterum de rerum naturae scientia, miscere placuit. Lectores ad novos haustus sapientiae calamo tam lepido allectat ut qui hoc zythum salutare biberunt, recte dicant, 'Utinam semper sic beer.' Carolum Darwin imprimis, Cantabrigiensem ipsum, scrutata est, cuius libros libris Georgii Eliot comparavit, ita ut saeculo undevicensimo fabulas fictas et naturae rerum studium nexu mutuo constricta esse docuerit. De aliis fabularum scriptoribus, praesertim sexus feminei, sagaciter disseruit, inter quas ea numeratur quae hanc sententiam satis notam prompsit: 'Mulier fabulas scribere vix potest nisi suam pecuniam suam cellulam possidet.' Quapropter etiam magis hanc quam laudo miror, non secus ac scriba quidam ad collocutionem nuper admissus mirabatur, quia simul res domesticas familiaresque direxerit, suos pueros educaverit, discipulos docuerit, denique multa atque egregia exempla aliis mulieribus imitanda praebuerit. Immo, licet eam tempore inani omnino carere putares, muneribus pro bono publico assidue perfuncta est, libris excellentibus praemia saepe tribuit, Aulam de Clare praeses gubernavit. In praesenti de Alicia scribit, quam nisi commenticia esset, inter nos Oxonienses ausim collocare.

Feminam praesento quae cum doctrinam promovit tum toti reipublicae litterarum profuit, Gillian Beer, Excellentissimi Ordinis Britannici Dominam Commendatricem, Academiae Britannicae Sociam, apud Cantabrigienses quondam et Professorem Regium Litterarum Anglicarum et Aulae de Clare Praesidem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.

Admission by the Chancellor

Interpres scriptorum sagax, quae cum libros stilo acuto exaravisti tum officio erga rem publicam bene consuluisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.


Our next honorand has long been ranked among the great and the good of Cambridge, but she is in fact an Oxonian, having begun at St Anne's her brilliant study of English literature, and earning here her BA and B.Litt. Certain ancient authors tell us that the Egyptians mixed corn with yeast to produce an alcoholic drink which the Greeks called zythum (in English, beer). Similarly, the interdisciplinary work of our honorand has mixed together study of the novel and study of scientific writing. She allures readers to imbibe her penetrating and original researches with so engaging a style that those who drink this health-giving beer might well say, 'I wish I could always be so lucky.' She has devoted especial attention to Charles Darwin, himself a great son of Cambridge, setting his work against the novels of George Eliot and demonstrating the closeness of the links between the fiction and the scientific literature of the nineteenth century. She has written shrewdly about other novelists, especially women novelists, among them Virginia Woolf, who famously pronounced that a woman could scarcely hope to become a novelist unless she had money and a room of her own. So I share the admiration of a recent interviewer in the Guardian for this honorand's ability to run a household, bring up her children, carry out her teaching duties, and all in all to act as a superb role model for women. What is more, although you might suppose her to be left with no spare time at all, she has shown a strong sense of public duty, having been a judge of many literary prizes and having guided Clare Hall as its President. At present she is writing about Alice, whom I would venture to claim as another Oxonian, but for her being a creature of fiction.

I present a lady who has both enlarged knowledge and benefited the republic of letters as a whole, Dame Gillian Beer, DBE, FBA, King Edward VII Professor Emerita in the University of Cambridge, and former President of Clare Hall, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

Admission by the Chancellor

Shrewd interpreter of literature, who have written with a keen pen and have also devoted yourself to public duty, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

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Qui fabulas commenticias saeculo undevicensimo componebant mores indolemque hominum ut re vera essent plerumque depingere volebant. Sunt tamen nuper qui phantasiam maluerunt stilumque quem grammaticis magicum nuncupare placuit. Haec quam produco et horum virtutes et illorum coniunxisse plane videtur. In Ohione nata, adhuc iuvenis professor litterarum linguae nostrae creata est. Praeterea opera aliorum olim typographis parabat, sed haud scio an intellexerit se meliores libellos ipsam exarare posse quam quos prelo committeret. Calamo suo naturam totius generis humani illuminat, tamen mores gentis nigrae imprimis indicavit. Quidquid agunt Afroamericani,

                    votum timor ira voluptas 
        gaudia discursus,
hoc omne fit materia quam arte sua in fabulas transfigurat. Quarum inventio tam singularis, allegoria tam audax, verba tam pulchre sunt modulata ut fortasse eam potius lyricis vatibus quam Musae pedestris cultoribus inseras. Non mirum est eam uni ex libris suis titulum dedisse qui nomen est illius populi nigri musicae numeris fortibus multiplicibusque praestabilis. Qua in narratione non solum homines describit sed genium loci adeo colit ut Novum Eboracum inter personas fabulae esse videatur. Celeberrimo autem illo libro qui Amata inscribitur vitam ac fortunam mulieris exponit quae ut pater ille Romanus—sic apud T. Livium legimus - filiam perire maluit quam mala ferre servitutis. Saevitiam ibi depingit et miseriam, tamen inter hominum luctum et dolorem nescioquo modo spem caritatem virtutem invenit. Sed non opus est ut libellum tam bene notum ipsumque a tot lectoribus amatum diutius describam. Auditor, si monumentum requiris, lege.

Praesento scrutatricem humani pectoris sagacem ac misericordem, scriptricem arte et epica et lyrica sollertissimam, Antoniam Morrison, Praemio Nobeliano nobilitatam, apud Universitatem de Princeton Professorem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.

Admission by the Chancellor

Scriptrix ingeniosissima, quae indolem hominum perspexisti plurimosque lectores iuvisti ac commovisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.


The novelists of the nineteenth century for the most part sought to depict human character and behaviour in naturalistic terms. Some more recent authors, however, have preferred the fantastical manner that critics have dubbed magical realism. Our present honorand has manifestly managed to combine the merits of both schools. Born in Ohio, she became a professor of English early in her career. She also worked in publishing, but one can imagine her coming to realise that she could herself write better books than those which she was sending to press. The study of human nature in her writing is universal in its scope, but she has above all depicted the lives of black people. Adapting Juvenal's words, one might say that all that Afro-Americans do,

                    their hopes and fears and anger, 
        Their pleasures, joys and goings to and fro,
form the material that her art transforms into fiction. So original is the content of her novels, so bold their imagery and so musical their language that one might be tempted to shelve her among the lyric poets rather than among the adepts of (in Horace's phrase) the Muse who goes on foot. It is no surprise that she has given one of her books a title that evokes a black music of complex and compelling rhythm, calling it simply Jazz. This novel not only depicts men and women but also demonstrates so strong a sense of place that New York City might seem to be one of the characters in the story. In her famous book Beloved she relates the experiences of a woman who like the Roman father in Livy has preferred that her daughter should die sooner than endure the miseries of slavery. The novel studies cruelty and suffering, and yet amid human grief and distress the author somehow finds hope, affection and goodness. But there is no need for me to describe further a book that is so well known and itself beloved by so many readers. Listener, if you seek her monument, read.

I present a shrewd and compassionate analyst of the human heart, a writer of epic and lyric power, Toni Morrison, Nobel Laureate, Professor of English at Princeton University, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

Admission by the Chancellor

Brilliant writer, who have deeply understood human nature, and delighted and moved a vast readership, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

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Hac quam nunc produco nemo inter aetatis nostrae pictores maiorem habet laudem. In Lusitania nata, multos abhinc annos in Britanniam transmigravit; quapropter utriusque gentis decus potest aestimari. Penicillum tractat versatilem: pigmentis modo usa est quae pictores eos Francogallos olim feris comparatos in memoriam redigunt; colorum varietates modo concordia subtili disponit; imagines etiam omni colore carentes summa peritia finxit. Praesertim mulierum usus ac mores depinxit; ars eius etiam in innocentiae puerilis investigatione versatur; sed animos spectatorum dum maxime delectat simul nescioquo pacto sollicitat:

                              medioque in fonte leporum
     surgit amari aliquid quod in ipsis floribus angat. 
In tabulis eius mulieres more canum ululare vel motus struthocamelorum imitari videmus. Scriptrix autem de rebus femineis celeberrima ait mulieres se ipsas in his imaginibus agnoscere, sua somnia, suas cogitationes. Simili modo existimator picturae quidam haud ineptus adfirmavit hanc blandimenta mendacia crudelitatem mulierum expressisse. Ille dixit, non ego. Equidem dicere mallem spectatores eam liberare, non ligare: iudicet quisque suo arbitrio quae vis sit in his tabulis quoque modo ipse moveatur. Profecto huius quam laudo ars tam singularis est ut quivis spectator pictorem statim agnoscere possit. Cum auram popularem numquam captaverit, tamen hanc ipsam ob causam favorem populi adepta est. Condant alii pisces muria vel arcana cubiculi vulgo ostentent; haec suam semitam petit, suum genium colit. Vir sapiens secundum Horatium est uno Iove minor:

liber, honoratus, pulcher, rex denique regum.

Ut ille sapiens, sic haec femina. At si forte requiris quo se duce, quo lare tutetur, nullius in verba magistri addicitur. Haec enim est quae respondere possit, 'Nemo me regit: ego rego.'

Praesento pictricem subtilem lepidamque, quae arte sua animos spectatorum arrigit commovet delectat, Paulam Rego, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.

Admission by the Chancellor

Pictrix valde artificiosa, quae penicillo daedalo cum voluptatem spectatoribus praebes tum naturam hominum penitus perscrutaris, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.


No painter of our time boasts a higher reputation than our next honorand. Though born in Portugal, she moved to Britain many years ago, and may be reckoned to be an ornament of both nations. Hers is a versatile art: the colours in some of her pictures may recall the French Fauve school, but at other times she achieves a subtle harmony of tones, and she has also shown herself a master of black and white illustration. Women's experiences have been an especial theme of hers, and her work also deals with ideas of children's innocence, but she combines the greatest visual charm with something obscurely disturbing. One thinks of Lucretius' words:

There in the midmost fountain of delight
Comes bitterness, which among the very flowers
Brings pain.

Some of her pictures show women howling like dogs or strutting like ostriches. A famous feminist writer has maintained that women recognise in her work themselves, their dreams and their private thoughts. And a competent (male) critic claims that she has depicted the coquetry, lies and even cruelty of women. Those are his words, not mine. I would prefer to say that she leaves viewers free and does not fetter them; each person must make his own judgement about the meaning of her pictures and their effect on his emotions. At all events, her art is so individual that any spectator can identify the artist immediately. She has never gone looking for popularity, but for that very reason has achieved popular success. Other artists may pickle sharks in formaldehyde or expose their bedrooms to public gaze; she follows her own path and the bent of her distinctive talent. According to Horace, the wise man is inferior to Jupiter alone, 'free, honoured, fair, ruler of rulers'. Our honorand resembles this picture of the philosopher. But if, to continue the Horatian theme, you ask who is her guide and to what school she belongs, the answer is that she is not the disciple of any master. For she is one who could reply, 'No one rules me: it is I who rule/for I am Rego.'

I present a subtle and delectable painter, whose work both disturbs and enchants the spectator, Paula Rego, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

Admission by the Chancellor

Masterly painter, whose creative brush brings delight to the spectator while penetrating deeply into human nature, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

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Degree of Doctor of Science


John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Ferunt plerique eos qui litteris humanioribus praesertim Oxoniae studuerunt nimis se iactare et ob scientiam antiquitatis putare se imperia exercere posse, leges ediscere, causas in foro perorare, palmam sine pulvere attingere. Vix tamen miraberis illos aliquantulum superbire, si vitam et opera huius quem nunc produco, viri ipsius modestissimi, in trutina examinaveris. Multa magnaque sane gesserunt antiquitatis studiosi; nemo ex eis, ut opinor, antehac praemium Nobelianum in physica est consecutus. Triplici modo matris Oxoniae est alumnus: Balliolensis philosophabatur; Mertonensis in physicam incubuit; Magdalenensis ea studia incepit per quae naturam rerum illustravit, propter quae gloriam est adeptus. Historicis utriusque linguae philosophisque et Graecis et Britannicis adulescens studuit, summis laudibus honestatus est; at integros fontes voluit accedere, quia intellexit philosophos duo milia annorum certavisse, nihil inter eos hucusque constare; quapropter maluit ita naturam rerum scrutari ut aliquid pro certo haberet. Corporaliter quidem campos Americanos diu incoluit, vis animi tamen extra moenia mundi processit,

atque omne immensum peragravit mente animoque,
unde refert nobis victor quid possit oriri,
quid nequeat, finita potestas denique cuique
quanam sit ratione atque alte terminus haerens.

Res indagavit quae vix credibiles videntur, liquorem liquore liquidiorem, frigora ad quae septentrionalia aestuant, lymphas quae tubulas minutissimas transire neque quicquam fricare possunt. Sed quominus omnia reperta eius bene animo comprehendam, frigidus circum praecordia sanguis est impedimento. Satis sit hoc dicere: si quis intellegere atque explicare potest quomodo minimae res simul et semina esse possint et fluctus, quantum est illius ingenium.

Praesento qui res alta caligine mersas in lucem produxit, Antonium Leggett, Equitem Auratum, Societatis Regiae Sodalem, Praemio Nobeliano nobilitatum, apud Universitatem Illinoisiensium et Urbanam et Campestrem Professorem Physicae, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.

Admission by the Chancellor

Investigator mundi oculatissime, qui arcana naturae retexisti atque explicasti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.


A fair number of people think that those who have read Greats at Oxford have too high a view of themselves: they suppose (it is thought) that because they have studied Classics they can govern empires, or expect high success in politics or at the bar, and can achieve all this with effortless superiority. But you will forgive them feeling just a little bit smug, if you weigh up the life and work of our next honorand, though he is himself a most modest man. Greats men have scored many notable successes, but none of them, I presume, has previously won a Nobel Prize in Physics. He is an Oxford man three times over: in his Balliol years he studied philosophy, at Merton he turned to physics, and at Magdalen he first embarked on those researches which have led to important discoveries and brought him fame. As an undergraduate he studied the Greek and Roman historians and both ancient and British philosophy, and earned first- class honours, but he wanted to drink from fresh springs. He came to realise that the philosophers had been wrangling for two thousand years and had so far agreed on nothing; so he preferred a mode of studying the world which could lead to definite conclusions. In body he has for a long time lived in the Midwest, but the force of his mind has travelled, in Lucretius' words

Beyond the flaming ramparts of the world,
And voyaged in mind throughout infinity,
Whence he victorious back in triumph brings
Report of what can be and what cannot
And in what manner each thing has a power
That's limited, and deep-set boundary stone.

The subjects of his researches take us to a realm of paradox: superliquids, temperatures cold enough to make the Arctic seem tropical, fluids that can pass through the thinnest capillaries without friction. But my lack of scientific flair—a lack that Virgil called 'the cold blood around my heart'—inhibits me from a full understanding of all his discoveries. I hope that it may be enough to express admiration for the brilliance of a mind that can not only understand such paradoxes of quantum physics as wave-particle duality but can also help to interpret them.

I present a man who has brought forth matters hidden in deep obscurity into light, Sir Anthony Leggett, Nobel Laureate, Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Admission by the Chancellor

Penetrating investigator of reality, who have revealed and disentangled nature's mysteries, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

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Director of Department of Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Development Biology

Dicit aliquis apud Petronium, 'Utres inflati ambulamus. Minoris quam muscae sumus, muscae tamen aliquam virtutem habent, nos non pluris sumus quam bullae.' Et apud vatem nostrum dux ille infelix dicit ut pueri muscas lascive necent ita deis nos caedere per ludum placere. Quod illi per allegoriam sunt locuti, haec quam produco veram rerum naturam exprimere repperit; quae semina ea genitalia oculatissime inspecta ex quibus animalium atque herbarum forma species indoles creantur paulum differre docuit sive in hominibus sint sive in muscis. O rem indignam, nos homines et bestiolas vilissimas inter se vix discrepare! Ex hac tamen quae nunc adest disce quantam virtutem homo praestare possit, quantum ingenium. Nam semina genitalia muscarum non solum speculata est sed etiam mutari coegit; praeterea pisces clavis albis nigrisque distinctos inspexit, ita ut nihil animale eam a se alienum esse putare videatur. Quibus studiis et scientiam promovit et toti generi humano beneficium dedit, quae non morbos tantum indagaverit sed et causas morborum penitus conditas in lucem prodiderit. Gaudeamus igitur semina muscarum ad nostra proxime accedere; propter operam enim eius quam laudo medici docentur cur corpora puerorum adhuc in utero latentium deformentur, curatioque invenitur quae ad cancros hactenus immedicabiles adhiberi potest, doloresque e resolutione nervorum exorti leniuntur. A nuculis alimentum corpori ducimus; ex huius Nuculae opera et corpora sanantur et mens alimento doctrinae nutriri potest. Quamobrem ut poeta laudatur qui miscuit utile dulci, sic omne tulit punctum quae cum scientiam naturae auxit tum aegrotantes adiuvit.

Praesento indagatricem naturae perspicacissimam, Christianam Nüsslein- Volhard, Societatis Regiae Sodalem, Praemio Nobeliano nobilitatam, apud Institutionem Planckianam Professorem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.

Admission by the Chancellor

Femina praestantissima, quae parvis ex rebus laudem non parvam adepta es hominesque morbis gravissimis adflictos adiuvisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.


One of the characters in Petronius remarks, 'We are just walking bladders. We are of less worth than flies—flies have some merit, but we are mere bubbles.' And the hapless duke in Shakespeare declares,

As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods:
They kill us for their sport.

Our next honorand has shown that what these writers said metaphorically represents the scientific reality; for she has studied with expert and detailed attention the genetic material which determines the form and character of all living things, animal and vegetable, and demonstrated how few are the genes which flies and human beings do not have in common. It is a humbling reflection that we humans and these paltry insects should be so little different. Learn, however, from our honorand what merit human beings can after all possess, and indeed what brilliance. For she has not only investigated the genes of flies but produced mutations in them; she has also studied zebra fish, so that she might be described as one who considers nothing animal a stranger to herself. Her researches have advanced knowledge and they have also benefited the human race as a whole, as she has not merely studied diseases but brought to light the underlying mechanisms of disease. Let us rejoice, then, that the genes of flies are so similar to our own, since her work has taught physicians the causes of malformations in unborn children and led to new therapies for hitherto untreatable cancers and for the palliation of motor neurone disease. From nuts we get nutrition for our bodies; thanks to the work of this Nüsslein not only are bodies healed but the mind can be nourished by scientific learning. Just as Horace praises the poet who has combined usefulness and delight, so she 'has carried off every vote' in combining pure scientific enquiry with practical help to the sick.

I present a penetrating scientific investigator, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, FRS, Nobel Laureate, Director of the Department of Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Development Biology, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Admission by the Chancellor

Most distinguished lady, who have earned no little glory from the study of little things, and brought succour to people suffering from grave conditions, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

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Professor of Developmental Psychopathology, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry

Maxima debetur puero reverentia. Sic locutus est Iuvenalis; necnon Horatius adfirmavit se virginibus puerisque cantare. Itaque, qui pueros venerati sunt ipsi maxima reverentia sunt digni; inter quos hunc quem nunc produco constat esse facile principem. Maiores nostri credebant petulantiam puerilem virga ac verberibus comprimendam: scilicet pusionis mores, nisi clunes ferulae crebro subduceret, in praeceps pessum esse ituros. Hic autem adest qui intellegit pueros, si improbe se gerant, saepe morbo mentis affici: miseros esse, non pravos. Alii existimant indolem cuiusque ab avis proavis abavis tradi, alii animos educatione formari atque flecti vel experientia rerum mutari; hic et horum et illorum sententiam summa peritia scrutatus est. Plurimos enim morbos illuminavit; sive pueri tristitia obstinata affliguntur, sive alios turbulente affligunt, sive vitiis ex inopia ortis deformantur, sive corpora sua motibus perpetuis ac vehementibus agitant, hic causas diligenter quaesivit, remedia comperit. Imprimis studio eius turbationis incubuit, obscurae mehercle et perplexae, quam propter sermonis Latini egestatem autismum vocare cogor. Itaque multos fratres geminos observavit ut melius sciat quatenus semina ea genitalia de quibus ante disserui autismum efficiant, quatenus rerum experientia. Neque officium rei publicae neglexit, qui magistratibus Britannicis atque Americanis consilium dedit, Fundationem de Wellcome gubernavit, conciliis et Societatis Regiae et Fundationis Medicinalis adscriptus est. O pueri et puellae—verba Flacci iterum profero—laudate mecum qui vestrae sollicitudinis animi miseretur vosque dolentes mulcere noscit.

Praesento medicum eminentissimum, qui puerorum phrenesin inspexit angorem lenivit, Michaelem Rutter, Equitem Auratum, Excellentissimi Ordinis Britannici Commendatorem, Societatis Regiae Sodalem, Londini apud Collegium Regale Psychopathologiae Professorem, multis magnisque honoribus iam cumulatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.

Admission by the Chancellor

Vir rei medicae peritissime, qui tanto ingenio et puerorum anxietatem perscrutatus es et dolorem curavisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Universitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.


The highest respect is owed to a child. So said Juvenal, and similarly Horace said that his song was addressed to boys and girls. So those who respect children do themselves deserve the highest respect; and among these the honorand whom I now present is agreed to occupy a pre-eminent place. Our forebears thought that a good thrashing was the way to deal with naughty children: a boy's character would go to rack and ruin (they supposed), if the cane were not regularly applied to his backside. The present honorand is a man who appreciates that when children behave badly, the cause may well lie in some mental disorder: they are unhappy, not wicked. Some people believe that each person's character is inherited genetically, others that the mind is formed and shaped by nurture and may be altered by circumstance; Sir Michael's penetrating researches have examined the claims of both camps. Whether the child's difficulty is depression or anti-social behaviour, whether children are warped by deprivation syndrome or suffering the agitations of hyperkinetic disorder, he has studied the roots of the problem and developed ideas for treatment. Above all, he has devoted himself to investigating the strange and puzzling disorder of autism (for which classical Latin lacks a word). He has studied the condition by using a large twin population in order to gain insight into the part played in it both by genetics and by environmental factors. He has also performed important public services: he has advised governmental bodies on both sides of the Atlantic on psychiatric matters, become a Governor of the Wellcome Trust, and served on the councils of the Royal Society and the Medical Research Council. O ye lads and maidens—I echo Horace again—join with me in praising a man who understands your troubles and has therapy for your pain.

I present a most distinguished psychiatrist, who has researched the mental problems of children and treated their distresses, Sir Michael Rutter, CBE, FRS, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at King's College London, the recipient of many eminent prizes, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

Admission by the Chancellor

Master of psychiatric knowledge, who have so brilliantly researched the mental troubles of children and treated their distress, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

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2 Encaenia

THE PUBLIC ORATOR delivered the following introduction to the Creweian Oration:

THE PUBLIC ORATOR: Honoratissime Domine Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui?


THE PUBLIC ORATOR: Encaenia, as our programme books helpfully inform us, means a festival of renewal: on this day we slough off our old skin and emerge glittering in silk, velvet and polyester, in red and pink and gold. To be sure, newness is much valued in our time. Mr Blair of St John's, around the time that he came to power, declared that Britain was a young country. It was hard to know what this could mean: constitutionally England is perhaps the oldest country in the world, and demographically we grow inexorably more elderly. But one recognises the prejudice in favour of youth, not to mention an ageism which in other contexts politicians are eager to avoid. And the hard truth is that we are really rather antique. Dowager-like, we tend to knock a few years off our age. Sometimes we claim to be hardly a day over 800, but frankly, we are a bit more than that.

But we do indeed renew ourselves. We have a new Professor of Poetry and Orator; we have a brand new Vice-Chancellor; we even have a newish Chancellor, plenty of mileage left, nice runner, light usage speaking up for the European constitution, unexpectedly available due to unforeseen circumstances. Of course, some things never change: Blueprint goes on saying that everything is absolutely wonderful, the Oxford Magazine goes on saying that everything is absolutely terrible, and the truth goes on being somewhere in between. And we have at least this advantage of antiquity, that we have been the first to do a number of things. For example, we hear a good deal today about access. Well, we invented it. Since at least the thirteenth century it has been part of our mission—and for once that much battered word seems just right—to seek out and educate the talent of the young and poor, and since then we have never ceased to make it part of our mission, even when we have been at our most torpid. (I see a few anxious faces, but I was referring to the eighteenth century.) So when politicians, sometimes educated in this place, seek to lecture us about access, we may feel that they are teaching their alma mater to suck eggs. For that matter, we were the first British university to produce a mission statement, and a pretty good one too: 'Dominus Illuminatio Mea'. We now have a longer mission statement in English; not everyone thinks it an improvement.

And we invented benefaction, more or less. It is more blessed to give than to receive—I have that on good authority—and in our unassuming way we have always been content to accept the lesser happiness. Throughout those eight hundred years we have never ceased to rely on the generosity and good will of our friends, and it is right that Encaenia should be, above all, a celebration of that generosity and an expression of gratitude. Some of our benefactors' names have become part of our lives. For instance, Nathaniel Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham is remembered at every Encaenia. There seems to have been some doubt about his exact intentions, but the dons, using that power of imaginative interpretation which marks out the finest academic minds, decided that what the late Bishop really wanted was for the university's worthies to drink champagne in the middle of the morning—all except the orator, whose Latinity might otherwise fall into that decadence so feelingly described by Mr Gibbon of Magdalen. But the gold medallist for getting himself remembered is surely Dr John Radcliffe, physician to Queen Anne, who to date has had named after him two libraries, two hospitals, a square, and a quadrangle, thus establishing the important principle that medics expect to be rewarded at a higher rate than the rest of us.

We have indeed had some splendid medical benefactions. Generous gifts have been received from the Wolfson Foundation for the Richard Doll Building for Trials and Epidemiology, and from the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation for the Islet Isolation Facility at the Nuffield Department of Surgery. Dr John M. K. and Mrs Elizabeth de C. Spalding have made a large gift for the Chair in Neurosurgery, and the John Templeton Foundation for OXSOM, the Oxford Centre for Science of the Mind. There is a medical element, too, in the exceptionally munificent endowment which Dr James Martin has given to establish the James Martin Twenty-first Century School. Through its multiple research institutes this will stimulate research on climate change, the problems of an increasingly ageing society, the inequalities of wealth across the globe, epidemics such as AIDS and SARS, and the effects of rapid technological change. These bold gazers into our future might puzzle the hero's tutor in A Yank at Oxford, who, as you may recall, looks up from his musty tome and observes wistfully, 'Somehow, nothing that has happened since the second century ever seems to me quite real.'

Encaenia itself has changed over the years: it was not always the decorous occasion that we present today. In earlier centuries the audience was often riotous, and the mysteriously named terrae filius mocked the great and good in a satirical and scurrilous speech. As late as the 1870s, one member of the audience noted with surprise that for once the Creweian Oration had been audible; really, the primness of those Victorians. And one change is quite recent: until fifteen years or so ago we used to hear students reading out extracts from their prize compositions. As some here will remember, this gave the proceedings an agreeably surreal air. Suddenly, without warning, a voice would announce, 'In the 1860s, Gladstone stood at a crossroads', and we would be educated for a few minutes in the high politics of the Victorian age. We might next revert to the obscurity of a learned language, as extracts from the Chancellor's Latin Prose and Verse prizes were recited. Abruptly, we would then be told, 'Slime streaks the walls. Rats infests the sewers'—and after a moment's alarm would realise that the Newdigate Prize Poem had begun.

But now, alas, we have done away with the student contribution. All we need to do now is to get rid of the dons and leave only the administration—and then at last the University can run smoothly. In compensation for the disappearance of student voices, the outgoing Presidents of the Middle and Junior common rooms of the colleges of the Proctors and the Assessor have been awarded a place in the procession. The outgoing Presidents, I notice. Like the kings and princelings dragged through the streets at a Roman triumph, they have known popularity, glamour and power, and here in the twilight of their glory they are led behind the Chancellor's chariot wheels to remind us how transitory is all earthly office.

We claim the Ashmolean as the oldest museum in the country, but it is about to become the newest. Its grand scheme of reconstruction and expansion is enormously exciting, and of course commensurately expensive. The Linbury Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation have both given nobly towards this great transformation, while the Arrow Charitable Trust has given both to the Ashmolean and to the Roy Jenkins Memorial Scholarship Fund. His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud has given the funds both for a gallery in the Museum to bear his name and for a scholarship programme. The Bate Collection of Musical Instruments regularly gave pleasure to my predecessor, and this time it provides the most astonishing news of the year: HEFCE have given us a sackbut and a serpent. Let no one now breathe a word of criticism of that noble body—unless there has been some misunderstanding. One can imagine the conversation in the corridors of power. 'Shall we send Oxford a serpent, sir?' 'Yes, and a pair of scorpions to the University of—Wherever.'

Our other museums have been as active as ever. ReDiscover has given amply to the Museum of Natural History for the renewal of displays. The Marconi Corporation has given the important Marconi Papers to the Bodleian and the objects associated with them to the Museum of the History of Science. Mr Gordon Bussey initiated this, as well as donations from the Wireless Preservation Society to fund research into the collection. The Museum of the History of Science has also mounted an exhibition based around the blackboard on which Einstein wrote when he visited this university. Blueprint duly printed a photograph of a blackboard on which the names Gazza, Lineker and Waddle were prominent. I wish I could tell you more about these eminent physicists. Gazza?—a colleague of Enrico Fermi, I imagine.

Let it indeed not be thought that we are out of touch with popular culture. Professor John Carey has published a polemical book attacking, among other things, the distinction between high and low art. Right on cue, Blueprint offered a picture of Javine singing 'Touch my fire' in the Eurovision Song Contest. The pretext for this was that a team of researchers from the Department of Physics, led by Professor Neil Johnson, have used a framework of complex networks to analyse the voting data of the countries taking part. Now we all know the Eurovision Song Contest to be so naff that we need an excuse for watching it, and this one is a masterpiece. Those of my pupils who turn up for a tutorial without an essay should take Professor Johnson's correspondence course. Masterly too is the team's report of its results. Some viewers may have got the impression that we came third from bottom, but we now learn that this was the result of false consciousness. The country that was found to be compatible with the greatest number of other countries, Blueprint records, was the UK; news to M Chirac, I think. In Professor Johnson's words, 'The UK was the only country to correctly give maximum points to the eventual winner and second- maximum points to the runner-up... So the notion that it is "in tune" with Europe still seems to hold.' And they still wonder where our politicians learned the art of spin. Perhaps it was from our Department of Physics that M Jean-Claude Juncker got his notion that France and the Netherlands really voted for the European constitution, despite carelessly managing to give the opposite impression.

The Bellhouse Foundation has made a substantial gift for the use of the Department of Engineering Science, Jeol (UK) Ltd for the Department of Materials Science, Nomura International plc for the Nomura Centre for Quantitative Finance, and the Beecroft Charitable Trust for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Beecroft Institute of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and for the Bodleian's Collection Development. The Scheide Fund of the New York Community Trust has been another of the Bodleian's principal supporters. Among gifts to support the arts and social sciences two of especial note are those of the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation for the establishment of the Shaikh Zayed Lecturership in Islamic Studies, and of Mr Jarvis Doctorow for St Edmund Hall and for the Jarvis Doctorow Post on Conflict Resolution in the Middle East. Our benefactors will be glad to know that our researchers continue to push back the frontiers of knowledge. Dr Gordon Lord has been researching into rarefied gas dynamics using Monte Carlo simulations—hot air and high rolling, I presume. Dr David Miles has argued that most of us are not Anglo-Saxons after all; instead, we derive most of our genetic characteristics from nomads who arrived here 14,000 years ago. These hunter-gatherers were tall, athletic, had very little body fat and were red-haired. I look around this audience. Red-headed, sinewy, hardly an ounce of fat?—yes, I do see that the argument is pretty decisive.

The year has been notable for a benefaction of our own to the republic of letters, with the publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. The Professor of Poetry will speak about this great work more poetically than I can, but I cannot forbear my own salute to this extraordinary achievement. It is remarkable that we possess, in this and the Oxford English Dictionary, what I suppose must be the two largest research projects in the humanities in the English-speaking world. Indeed, we claim that our reference works as a whole are the world's most trusted. Inspired by that thought, I looked up Oxford and Cambridge in the Shorter Oxford, to find that these august and impartial volumes devote six lines to Cambridge, sixty to Oxford. The Cambridge entry opens, 'A variety of pork sausage...' As for Oxford—but what is this? 'Of or pertaining to Oxford University... overrefined, affected.' Affected? Us? Some mistake there surely. With an overrefined shudder, I turn to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. In earlier editions, Cambridge made only one appearance, in a quotation from Baedeker's guide: 'Oxford is on the whole more attractive than Cambridge...' In more recent editions Cambridge's coverage has been increased: we now have Rupert Brooke: 'For Cambridge people rarely smile, / Being urban, squat, and packed with guile.' But enough of that great and beautiful university, our daughter and sister—and yes, it is a somewhat Oedipal fondness.

I return to our own parish pump. Last year Magdalen won University Challenge for the third year running. This year Corpus were the victors, defeating University College London by a very wide margin. They had previously beaten Balliol in a close-fought semi-final. This has been described as the 'real' final—at least in Balliol. It was not reported whether Corpus followed Magdalen's example of inviting Mr Gordon Brown to attend the climax of the competition. To turn to a more momentous contest, last year's American presidential election was the fourth in succession in which an Oxonian ran for the Democratic nomination. On the first two occasions, as all the world knows, the Oxonian won the nomination and the subsequent election; the last two times our men, Senator Bradley and General Clark, won respect but not the prize. It seems hardly necessary to mention that our own general election was won by the party led by an Oxford man. What a striking fact it is that of the seventeen general elections held since normal political service was resumed in 1945, fifteen have been won by parties under Oxonian leadership. Probably no other institution, even in France, could match the record of this our École Abnormale Supérieure. I wonder slightly why I should be boasting about all this, but then one thinks of the one election since the Second World War in which neither of the principal party leaders was an Oxonian—the election of 1992—and one's faith in the value added by our education is perhaps restored.

Meanwhile, over in Brussels, Britain's representation on the European Commission has been halved, but Oxford's representation remains at the same level, as you, sir, have been succeeded by Mr Mandelson of St Catherine's. More than half a century ago Sir Sarvepalli Radhakhrishnan was translated from the Spalding Chair of Eastern Religion and Ethics to the Presidency of India, a move which even we had to admit was a promotion; last year Dr Manmohan Singh of Nuffield became India's second Oxonian Prime Minister (Mrs Gandhi of Somerville being the first). He will receive an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law here next month. In March President Ciampi of Italy received the same degree by diploma. He in turn gave the Orator a medal bearing on its reverse a very satisfactory relief map of the United Kingdom, with just two places marked upon it: Londra and Oxford.

Three of the New Year's Honours recognised the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Professor Brian Harrison, its editor, was knighted, Robert Faber, the project director, received a CBE, and Rosemary Roberts, chief copy editor, an MBE. In addition, Professor Rees Davies was knighted for services to history, only a few months before his much lamented death, as was Professor John Vickers for public service. Professor Susan Iversen received a CBE for services to higher education and science and Dr Jeremy Farrar an OBE for services to healthcare and the prevention of tropical diseases in Vietnam. This month's birthday honours saw a knighthood for Professor Richard Gardner for services to biological sciences, a CBE for Professor David Pettifor for services to science, and a CMG for Professor Archie Brown for services to Anglo-Russian relations and the study of international affairs. The British Academy made fellows of Dr Anne Jefferson, Professor Jane Lewis and Professor Ritchie Robinson, while the Royal Society has added Professors Douglas Higgs, Nicholas Proudfoot and Lloyd Nicholas Trefethen to its ranks. So Arts and Sciences draw at three-all this year.

Exeter, the first former men's college to have a woman at its head, has now become the first to have appointed two women heads, with Ms Frances Cairncross succeeding Professor Marilyn Butler. Sir Neil Chalmers has taken up the Wardenship of Wadham; and Mr Tim Gardam has followed Dame Ruth Deech as Principal of St Anne's. Four halls have also seen a change of head. Dr Nicholas Richardson has become the first lay Warden of Greyfriars, succeeding Fr Thomas Weinandy; Dr Richard Finn has succeeded The Very Revd Fergus Kerr as Regent of Blackfriars; and Dom Leo Chamberlain has followed Dom Henry Wansbrough as Master of St Benet's. (I often recall Father Henry's solomonic murmur at a meeting of the Senior Tutors' Committee, when the wider dissemination of some document was proposed: 'But then people might read it.' One can never quite exclude that risk.)

This year Sir Walter Bodmer retires as Principal of Hertford, and Dr John Landers moves next door from All Souls to succeed him. Dr Richard Turnbull will follow Professor Alister McGrath as Principal of Wycliffe Hall, Professor David Clary will take Mr Tony Smith's place as President of Magdalen, and Sir Tony Atkinson will be succeeded at Nuffield by Professor Stephen Nickell. The new Principal of Jesus will be Sir John Krebs, following the retirement of Sir Peter North, the senior head of house. His twenty-one-year reign has been long for these days, though he can hardly match the more than sixty years clocked up at Magdalen by Dr Routh (who in his nineties is said to have replied, when told that one of the fellowship had taken his own life, 'No, don't tell me; let me guess') or Dr Leigh's fifty- nine years at Balliol. 'For fifty-nine years,' remarks the college history, 'the Senior common room seethed with discontent. Dr Leigh habitually sided with the more wrong-headed reactionaries.' It is the right-headed reactionaries that one prefers.

Heads of house apart, this oration does not usually list the retirements of our colleagues, however much beloved and however distinguished their service. As Odysseus says in the Iliad, 'Too many fall every day... and we harden our hearts, giving them the tears of a day.' But we know how much we owe to all those who serve this University, and how much we rely on the expectation that people will undertake chores and offices beyond the call of duty, not standing upon the strict letter of their contracts. That too is a species of benefaction. To all those who are retiring, we give our thanks and our wishes for long health and happiness.

There are two retirements, however, about which I must say a word more. The heavens themselves declare the passing of a Vice-Chancellor: lightning rends the sky, statues sweat blood, and the ceiling of the Sheldonian Theatre gives way. This is Sir Christopher Wren's first building, but for the moment, si monumentum requiris, don't look up. Streater's great ceiling painting has had to go into storage. When it was first put in place, a local poet was moved to praise it in verse, declaring

That future ages will confess they owe
To Streater more than Michelangelo.

We would love to have a benefaction to restore this Sistine Chapel of the upper Thames valley to its former glory. Of course, the painting is old-fashioned in some ways. Allegorically it represents the university threatened by the figures of Ignorance and Malice. How strange to think that that can ever have been the case.

Sir Colin Lucas's vice-chancellorship was praised by my predecessor a year ago, and I added a few informal words of my own when I had the privilege of welcoming Dr Hood as his successor. The press accused us of foresight and imagination in appointing an outsider for the first time in our history. As if we would do such a thing! As a Rhodes Scholar, Dr Hood had long been One of Us. He has already made his mark, locally and even nationally. Why, only a few weeks ago I heard on the radio, 'Hood is banned from Bluewater Shopping Centre'—at least, I think that is what I heard. A month or two earlier a Times first leader pronounced that the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford was doing absolutely the right thing—and that really must be a first since the invention of printing. We wish him energy and resilience, a modicum of guile, and the very best of luck.

On this occasion I am bound to mention one other retirement, and not only out of pietas and personal affection. Jasper Griffin gave an unprecedented prominence to the curious post of Public Orator. His Creweian Orations found a way of combining the roles of orator and terrae filius; he was admired by all for the wit, the brio and—no other word will do—the vibrancy of his performances, and by a smaller number for his resolute adherence to the Ciceronian clausula. It is, as so many kind friends have told me, a very hard act to follow—not least the resolute adherence to the Ciceronian clausula. As it happens, he was the man who had the task of teaching me Latin prose composition as an undergraduate; so if faults are found in my Latinity, you know whom to blame. He has passed on to me his bands, and even as I speak I feel his ligature around my neck.

I end by calling to memory those of our friends and colleagues who have died in the last year, among whom were Catherine Adler, Fellow of Kellogg, Peter Ady, Fellow of St Anne's, Lawrence Bachmann, Distinguished Friend of Oxford and Domus Fellow of St Catherine's, Peter Birks, Fellow of All Souls, Robert Burchfield, Fellow of St Peter's, Rupert Cecil, Fellow of Linacre, Michael Comber, Faculty Fellow in Classics, Barbara Craig, Principal of Somerville, Sir Rees Davies, Fellow of All Souls, Sir William Deakin, Founding Warden of St Antony's, Clare Drury, Fellow of University College, Nan Dunbar, Fellow of Somerville, Ulrich Eyck, Research Fellow of St Antony's, Charles Feinstein, Fellow of All Souls, Sir Henry Fisher, Fellow of All Souls and formerly President of Wolfson, Vivian Green, Rector of Lincoln, Michael Halsey, Fellow of Green College, Sir Stuart Hampshire, Warden of Wadham, James Harle, Student of Christ Church, James Harris, Fellow of Keble, Jenifer Hart, Fellow of St Anne's, Norman Heatley, Fellow of Lincoln, Brian Hitch, Fellow of Kellogg, Sir Donald Macdougall, Fellow of Wadham and Nuffield, William McKerrow, Fellow of Wolfson, Edith McMorran, Lecturer at St Hugh's, Roger Moorey, Fellow of Wolfson, Agatha Ramm, Fellow of Somerville, Martin Robertson, Fellow of Lincoln, Maurice Wiles, Canon of Christ Church, Harry Willetts, Fellow of St Antony's, Bryan Wilson, Fellow of All Souls, and Patrick Wormald, Fellow of All Souls and Student of Christ Church. Requiescant in pace et in aeternum luceat eis Dominus Illuminatio Mea.

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THE PROFESSOR OF POETRY delivered the following Oration 'in commemoration of the Benefactors of the University according to the intention of the Right Honourable Nathaniel, Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham':

In alternate years, at this ceremony there are granted 'six to eight minutes' to the Professor of Poetry, to the follow the Public Orator 'in commemoration of the Benefactors of the University'.

The happy duty is a pleasure greater even than that of seconding a motion, for it is seconding an emotion, the lovely one of gratitude. So it falls to me to endorse what has been vividly, specifically, and individually brought home by the Public Orator. The gratitude of us all will continue—and is continuous with the gratitude that our benefactors have themselves felt, when they gave thanks (in the act of giving) for what the University has given to them and to the worlds old and new.

In my letter of appointment, the Registrar advised that I speak of benefactors 'and their consequent "immortality" '. His wise inverted commas around 'immortality' in no way subtract or detract. Rather, they might serve to remind us—humanly and humanely—of the churchyard inscription that touched the poet Coleridge as alive with poignant comedy: 'A little while to perpetuate my memory'.

The English language—apprehending that the word 'benefactor' may have a masculine ring, and yet aware, too, that gender-marked terms (even 'actress') are no longer quite the thing—has declined to settle down with 'benefactress', and still less with a couple of others with whom the language once flirted: 'benefactrice' and 'benefactrix' (no relation). 'Benefactors' have rightly been left in possession of the field, the field being generosity with possessions. Moreover, 'benefactor' clearly rules as the part of speech: the noun that is an agent, the man or woman. No adjective derives effectively from 'benefactor' or 'benefaction', and no adverb, and—crucially—no verb. The attempts at a verb have failed, rather as there had failed in the seventeenth century those attempts at a truthful verb that would be the counterpart to the verb 'to lie'. For the language declined to believe that you can truth or can truthify, though it briefly entertained their possibility. The same has gone for 'to benefact' and 'to benefaction' and 'to benefactorate'—all buried in the Oxford English Dictionary. No, the nouns, benefaction and benefactor, stand alone to be honoured, with no fluent verb to make what the benefactor does sound easy.

It was an Oxford Professor of Poetry, Joseph Trapp, at the beginning of the eighteenth century (was it as recently as that?), who initiated the best and best- known exchange as to benefactions. King George the First had given to Cambridge University the Bishop of Ely's library. And to Oxford? Joseph Trapp, 'On His late Majesty's Gracious Gift to the Universities':

The King surveying, with judicious Eyes,
The State of both his Universities,
To one a Troop of Horse he sent: for why?
'Cause that learn'd Body wanted Loyalty:
To th'other he sent Books, as well discerning
How much that loyal Body wanted Learning.

To which Sir William Browne returned the retort courteous:

The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse,
For Tories own no argument but force;
With equal skill to Cambridge books he sent,
For Whigs admit no force but argument.

But let me turn to an earlier king, Charles the Second, a benefactor (in his way) to Oxford. He heard the words of a great poet, John Dryden, who shaped an 'Epilogue Spoken to the King at the opening the Play-House at Oxford on Saturday last. Being March the Nineteenth 1681'. Dryden's page for the stage moves from a camera obscura (the 'darkn'd Roome' that displays the outside world), to the theatre (which does the same), to Oxford as itself 'the publick Theater'. Dryden urges that there be vigorous debate—then as now?—but that it not degenerate into civil war, and he urges that 'publick thoughts' not monopolize the life of 'This Place the seat of Peace'.

As from a darkn'd Roome some Optick glass
Transmits the distant Species as they pass;
The worlds large Landschape is from far descry'd,
And men contracted on the Paper glide;
Thus crowded Oxford represents Mankind,
And in these Walls Great Brittain seems Confin'd.
Oxford is now the publick Theater;
And you both Audience are, and Actors here.
The gazing World on the New Scene attend,
Admire the turns, and wish a prosp'rous end.
This Place the seat of Peace, the quiet Cell
Where Arts remov'd from noisy buisness dwell,
Shou'd calm your Wills, unite the jarring parts,
And with a kind Contagion seize your hearts:
Oh! may its Genius, like soft Musick move,
And tune you all to Concord and to Love.
Our Ark that has in Tempests long been tost,
Cou'd never land on so secure a Coast.
From hence you may look back on Civil Rage,
And view the ruines of the former Age.
Here a New World its glories may unfold,
And here be sav'd the remnants of the Old.
But while your daies on publick thoughts are bent
Past ills to heal, and future to prevent;
Some vacant houres allow to your delight,
Mirth is the pleasing buisness of the Night,
The Kings Prerogative, the Peoples right.
Were all your houres to sullen cares confin'd,
The Body wou'd be Jaded by the Mind.
'Tis Wisdoms part betwixt extreams to Steer:
Be Gods in Senates, but be Mortals here.

Among the benefactions that have borne fruit within the last twelve months, we should remember those that have issued in the publication of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which does for lives—fifty thousand of them—what the Oxford English Dictionary does for words. And last month, with the help of those new terms 'update' and 'on line', there were added one hundred and forty further lives.

Let us think back to the Oxford DNB 's great predecessor—which I mean, of course, not the original DNB, but that most original of biographical ventures, the clerihew, the invention of Edmund Clerihew Bentley, creator of 'Biography for Beginners'.

The art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about maps,
But Biography is about chaps.

But 'chaps' ought to give us pause. Even those of us who believe that the past was nothing like as prejudiced as present-day complacency would like to think—even we would have to concede that the old DNB was rather a chapbook. Chaps, as English rather than British. Chaps, as British rather than domiciled here for much of their lives. Chaps, as not low, you know (oh, not professional sportsmen, and not from what Evelyn Waugh continued to call 'the criminal classes'). Chaps as men, by and large.

So let us remember that last month's new admissions gave salience to foreign residents and to women. An earlier volume that bridged the gap between the old DNB and the Oxford DNB had sought to rectify unjust omissions: of women, of artists, and even of those notables who were not benefactors but malefactors. Missing Persons was the witty title for this belated recognition of Missing Somebodies.

The consummating and consummate editor of the Oxford DNB, Brian Harrison, acknowledged at once that it had been 'public funds' that helped to launch the gigantic enterprise thirteen years ago. Which could and should bring us to praise finally the benefactor whom it is hardest to thank; the one who is neglected by the poets; the one to whom the University perhaps owes most: the taxpayer. So let us further thank, if not ourselves, one another. And all the others.

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Supplement (1) to Oxford University Gazette No. 4739. Friday, 24 June 2005.