Oxford University Gazette: Encaenia 2007
CONGREGATION 20 June
1 Conferment of Honorary DegreesTHE PUBLIC ORATOR made the following speeches in presenting the recipients of Honorary Degrees at the Encaenia held in the Sheldonian Theatre on Wednesday, 20 June:
Degree of Doctor of Civil Law
Mr JAMES EARL CARTER
Former President of the United States of America
Aeneas Troianus, cum in Italiam pervenisset, sociis dixit, 'hic domus, haec patria est'; Vergilius enim fingit Dardanum, Troiae auctorem, in Italia esse natum. Virum praesento qui hodie eisdem verbis quodam modo uti possit; nam Iacobus Oglethorpe, Georgiae patriae eius conditor atque fundator, et in comitatu Oxoniensi natus est et in hac Vniversitate apud Collegium Corporis Christi educatus. Qui cum coloniam posuisset, vix credere potuisset unum ex alumnis suis summum magistratum totius orbis terrarum olim esse consecuturum. De actis et moribus hominis tam clari, qui vitam necessario in conspectu omnium degit, vix opus est ut sermone amplo disseram. Quis nescit eum per multos annos, ut Cincinnatus, procul a pulvere et clamore forensi rus habitavisse agrosque coluisse? Tum nucibus relictis ad praefecturam civitatis suae arcessitus, tam prudenter atque honeste se gessit ut suffragiis civium Americanorum praeses sit creatus; quo in officio oneratissimo per quattuor annos sapienter et salva fide rem publicam gubernavit.
Difficile est magnum subito deponere honorem; et plerumque principes civitatis, cum magistratu abierunt, magnis chartis res sibi gestas explicare atque orationes magnificas magna mercede promere videmus. Illi cum dignitate otium petunt, hic otium maluit, ut ita dicam, negotiosum. Omni ope atque opera ad libertatem firmandam pacem promovendam felicitatem augendam nisus est; quare quinque abhinc annos laurea Nobeliana plausu universo est coronatus. Etiamnunc in septimo decimo lustro aetatis suae omnes nervos contendit ut vermium genus quo multi Africani doloribus atrocissimis cruciantur omnino deleatur. Itaque ut olim Cyro regi Lysander Lacedaemonius sic nos ei dicere possumus, 'Recte vero te... beatum ferunt, quoniam virtuti tuae fortuna coniuncta est.'
Praesento virum bonum gubernandi peritum, Iacobum Earl Carter, Civitatium Foederatarum Americanarum quondam Praesidem, praemio Nobeliano nobilitatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.
Admission by the Chancellor
Princeps sapiens et misericors, gentis humanae propugnator, qui scriptis factis exemplo multos in multis orbis terrarum partibus iuvisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.
When Aeneas reached Italy, although he was a Trojan, he told his comrades, 'Here is our home, this is our fatherland.' For Virgil represents Dardanus, the originator of Troy, as Italian by birth. I present a man who might today, after a fashion, use the same words, for James Oglethorpe, the founder of his native state of Georgia, was born in Oxfordshire and educated in this University at Corpus Christi College. When Oglethorpe settled his colony, he could scarcely have imagined that one of his nurselings would in the course of time come to occupy the most powerful office in the whole world. There is little need for me to discourse at length about the career and character of so famous a man, whose life has necessarily been passed in full public gaze. Everyone knows that he spent a good many years, like Cincinnatus, far from the dust and noise of political life, living in the country and working his farm. But turning to graver matters—or in the Roman phrase, 'leaving his nuts'—he was called to the governorship of his state, and there proved himself so effective and honourable that the American people elected him their President. In that most exacting of positions he administered the republic for four years wisely and with unimpaired integrity.
It is difficult to put aside great office, and often enough we see statesmen upon leaving public life writing massive tomes about their own achievements and delivering well- remunerated lectures of self-praise. An honorific retirement is what they want; this man, however, has preferred the paradox of a strenuous leisure. He has continued to strive with all his powers for the establishment of democracy, the spread of peace and the increase of happiness, and five years ago he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to universal applause. Even now, in his ninth decade, he is campaigning for the elimination of the Guinea worm, an African parasite which causes excruciating pain. So we can speak to him the words which Lysander the Spartan once spoke to King Cyrus: 'Rightly do they call you a happy man, for in you success and virtue are conjoined.'
I present a pattern of the good statesman, James Earl Carter, former President of the United States of America, Nobel Laureate, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.
Admission by the Chancellor
Wise and compassionate leader, champion of the human race, who by your writings, actions and example have benefited many people in many parts of the world, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.
Baroness HALE of RICHMOND, DBE
Lord of Appeal in Ordinary
Mos est hominum eos laudibus ornare qui 'avia... loca nullius ante trita solo' peragrant. Ita cuiusque artis πρωτος ευρετης a Graecis honore praecipuo colebatur. Vergilius dicit primam suam versu Syracosio lusisse Musam, necnon Horatius principem se 'Aeolium carmen ad Italos deduxisse modos' iambosque Archilochi Latio ostendisse gloriatur. Ecce quae semper in annalibus Britannicis memorabitur quia prima e sexu muliebri in subselliis summi huius reipublicae tribunalis sederit. Perraro etiam ad illud tribunal arcessuntur qui in lucis academicis ius et leges docuerunt; quare et hanc ob causam in hoc fastigium eam ascendisse gaudeamus. In primo suo libro de eis legibus scripsit quae ad mente captos homines pertinent; tum ius de pueris protegendis, quod et academici et iudices diu neglexerant, tanto acumine examinavit ut collegio ad leges Angliae emendendas delecto cooptata sit; ibi quoque sui sexus adfuit prima. Commentarios exaravit; cum apparitoribus magistratuum multos sermones contulit; magistratibus ipsis consilium dedit; tandem senatus legem de pueris tuendis promulgavit quam constat populo Britannico maximae utilitati fuisse. Tum ius de divortio eo consilio emendare conata est ut nulla discidium petentibus culpa assignaretur; sed utrarumque partium timiditas fuit impedimento. In excelso illo loco quem nunc tenet adfirmavit duos viros vel duas mulieres, dummodo communiter viverent, dignos esse qui apud leges maritus et uxor vocarentur. Et Dido quidem Vergiliana amorem suum coniugium vocavit, Aeneas autem, 'nec coniugis umquam,' respondit, 'praetendi taedas aut haec in foedera veni.' Quam litem si haec iudicavisset, haud scio an plus iustitiae vidissemus, minus tragoediarum.
Praesento feminam doctam atque prudentem, quae et academiam novit et forum, Brendam Marjorie Baronissam Hale de Richmond, Excellentissimi Ordinis Britannici Dominam Commendatricem, Vniversitatis Bristoliensis Cancellariam, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili.
Admission by the Chancellor
Legum interpres erudita et sapiens, quae iustitiam in libris explicavisti in tribunali promovisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Iure Civili honoris causa.
It is the custom of mankind to bestow praise on those who, in Lucretius' words, tread 'the pathless lands where none have trod before'. The ancient Greeks were especially reverent towards the 'only begetter' of each form of art. Virgil claims that his muse is the first to have sported in the pastoral fashion of Theocritus, while Horace boasts that he is the first to have converted the lyric manner of Sappho and Alcaeus into Italian verse and to have presented Archilochus' invective to a Roman audience. Here is a person who will always have her place in British history as the first woman to have sat on the benches of our highest court. It is also a great rarity for judges in the House of Lords to be recruited from the ranks of academic lawyers—another reason for us to rejoice in her elevation. Her first book was devoted to the law of mental health. She then turned to child law, a subject that had been neglected by both academics and the judges themselves, and her book on this topic showed such penetration that she was appointed to the English Law Commission; in this position too she was the first woman. She was vigorously active in writing discussion papers, building relationships with civil servants, and advising ministers; the outcome was the Children Act of 1989, generally recognised as an outstanding advance in social policy. She then turned to reform of the divorce laws, pressing for the concept of fault to be removed from the proceedings, though the cautiousness of both government and opposition caused some stickiness. In her present high office she has argued that the expression 'husband and wife' should be extended in legislation even to established same-sex partnerships. Virgil's Dido calls her love-affair a marriage, whereas Aeneas asserts that he never
pretended to the lawful claim Of sacred nuptials, or a husband's name. (tr. Dryden)
If our honorand had been judging the case, I fancy that we should have had more justice and less tragic rhetoric.
I present a learned and judicious lady, well versed in both the academic study and the practice of law, Brenda Marjorie Baroness Hale of Richmond, DBE, Chancellor of the University of Bristol, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.
Admission by the Chancellor
Wise and erudite interpreter of law, who have explicated justice in your books and promoted it on the bench, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law.
Degree of Doctor of Letters
Dame ANTONIA BYATT, DBE
Femina quam nunc offero postquam Cantabrigiae litteris Anglicis studuit baccalaureatumque in artibus nacta est, ad Collegium de Somerville apud nos migravit; quare utriusque universitatis ornamentum est aestimanda. Adde quod duos libros de Iride nostra, ipsa quoque Collegii de Somerville alumna, adhuc iunior scripsit. Maius tamen nomen non propter commentarios de aliis scriptos sed ob fabulas commenticias narratiunculasque a semet ipsa excogitatas adepta est; in quibus se saepe audacem atque incitatam praebuit. Forsitan eam cum Iride comparare liceat, sive id nomen auctorem significat sive deam, quae 'mille trahens varios adverso sole colores' per caelum volat. Licet aliis de adulteriis municipalibus scribere sufficiat, haec altius largiusque spectat. Vt theologi medii aevi de fide intellectum quaerente disserebant, ita huius in pagina ars intellectum quaerens exhibetur. Quodcumque docuerunt philosophi et litterarum existimatores, quocumque modo homines naturam vel rerum vel dei sunt scrutati, id omne in materiem vertit quam, velut muliones qui terga iumentorum sarcinis onerant, in suos libros congerat. In celeberrima et, ut opinor, optima ex suis fabulis, cui Possessio inscribitur, dum amores cum nostrae aetatis tum aetatis Victorianae narrat, simul monstrat quam lubrica sit historicorum disciplina, quam difficile tempus praeteritum sine ira et studio repraesentare. In fabula recentiore cui nomen Cantatrix personam magistri cuiusdam Latinitatis induens adfirmat linguarum differentias documento nobis esse quam imperfecte res in quibus versamur intueri valeamus; qui enim Latine cogitet, aliter cogitare quam qui Anglice. Itaque etiamsi mihi esset Ciceronis eloquentia, notiones quas in huius feminae libris invenias fideliter explicare non possem. Nec sermo Anglicus sufficeret; sufficiunt solum verba quae ipsa scripsit.
Praesento fabulatricem doctam et animosam, Antoniam Susannam Byatt, Excellentissimi Ordinis Britannici Dominam Commendatricem, Collegii de Somerville et alumnam et sociam honoris causa adscriptam, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.
Admission by the Chancellor
Scriptrix acris et vivida, quae tot res tot saecula tuis libris complexa es, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.
The honorand whom I now present spent her undergraduate years studying English at Cambridge, before migrating here to Somerville, and so she may be reckoned an ornament of both universities. One might also note that two of her early books were about Iris Murdoch, another daughter of Somerville. Her principal fame, however, comes not from her studies of other writers, but from novels and short stories, products of her own imagination—works often notable for their boldness and energy. A comparison with Iris may be fair enough, whether by that name one means the novelist or the goddess who in Virgil 'draws a thousand colours from the light' on her flight through the heavens. Other novelists may be happy to restrict themselves to narratives of bourgeois adultery, but she has a bigger and broader scope. The theologians of the middle ages talked about faith seeking understanding; art seeking understanding is what we find in her work. Like the muleteer loading up his animals, she takes philosophy and literary criticism, scientific research and religious experiment and freights her books with them. Possession, the most famous and perhaps the finest of her novels, tells both a modern and a Victorian love story, but at the same time it exhibits the slipperiness of history and the difficulty of getting to an unprejudiced account of the past. In a more recent novel, A Whistling Woman, she uses the person of a Latin teacher to assert that languages show us that our way of seeing the world is incomplete; for 'a man thinking in Latin is not thinking the same thoughts as a man thinking in English'. And so even if I had Cicero's eloquence, I could not give an accurate account of the ideas to be found in her work. Nor would English suffice; only her own words can do that.
I present a learned and ambitious novelist, Dame Antonia Susan Byatt, DBE, former student and now honorary Fellow of Somerville College, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
Admission by the Chancellor
Vivid and penetrating writer, whose books have embraced so wide a range of themes and generations, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
Sir CLIVE GRANGER
Emeritus Professor, University of California at San Diego
'Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas,' dicit poeta Mantuanus. Felicissimus igitur hic quem nunc produco est aestimandus, quippe qui causas non modo cognoscat sed etiam invenerit; ei enim qui oeconometriae student saepe de causis Grangerianis loquuntur. In Cambria natus est; quin gaudemus eum in indice Cambrensium illustrium numerari, etiamsi mima quaedam nomine Catharina—pro pudor—locum teneat aliquanto altiorem. In Anglia tamen est educatus, primum Cantabrigiae, deinde Nottinghamiae, ubi et baccalaureatum meruit et per multos annos discipulos docebat. Tum penatibus trans Oceanum vectis, inter Californienses (secundum Mercurium Oxoniensem gentem mitem nec carnis humanae nimis edacem) per sex iam lustra vixit. Eis imprimis rebus studet quae στοχαστικην διαγνωδιν requirunt. Quis nescit pretium vel praediorum vel bonorum vel cuiuslibet mercaturae continuo mutari et velut undas oceani motibus incertis fluctuare? Hic tamen modum invenit quo adhibito isti motus et in foro et ab Aerarii Anglici praesidibus melius possint aestimari. Dixit ipse oeconomistas saepe existimare homines nihil nisi meram rationem consulere, se tamen sua mente inspecta naturam humanam aliter esse compositam repperisse. Quare cum principia mathematicae, quae cogitatione non sensu intelleguntur, subtiliter indagat, tum semper inventionem suam ad ea quae in usu habemus adhibere conatur. Et si quis putat homini qui rebus tam tetricis tantaque caligine mersis incubuerit necesse esse indolem severam atque austeram praebere, maxime errat: constat enim inter omnes comem eum esse alacrem humanum: barba Silenum evocat, non Rhadamanthum. Quapropter permultorum non solum admirationem meruit sed et amorem.
Praesento virum sapientissimum, doctorum oeconomiae doctorem, Clivum Gulielmum Iohannem Granger, equitem auratum, praemio Nobeliano nobilitatum, apud Vniversitatem Sancti Iacobi Californiensium professorem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris.
Admission by the Chancellor
Magister peritissime, qui lumine ingenii tui porticus et academiae et fori illustravisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Litteris honoris causa.
Happy is the man, says Virgil, who has learnt the causes of things. Especially happy, then, must be the man whom I now present, since he not only knows the causes of things but has actually discovered them: econometricians, in fact, talk about 'Granger causation'. He was born in Wales, and I am delighted to find him appearing in the 'List of Welsh Heroes', though I must regretfully add that he ranks somewhere below Miss Catherine Zeta Jones. However, he had his schooling in England, first in Cambridge and then in Nottingham; he was also an undergraduate at Nottingham University, and taught there for many years. He then moved across the Atlantic, and it is now more than thirty years that he has lived among the Californians (according to Mercurius Oxoniensis, 'a gentle tribe, not cannibal'). His research has paid particular attention to economic relations requiring stochastic formulation. It is a truism that the values of stocks, commodities and property are, like the sea, in continuous movement and liable to unpredictable fluctuations. Our honorand, however, has discovered a method by which both the stock exchange and the Bank of England have been able to improve their forecasting of these movements. He has said himself that economists often treat people as purely rational agents, but he has only to look at his own processes of thought to see that human nature is not like that. And so while exploring the exacting and abstract realm of mathematical ideas, he is constantly attentive to the practical application of his discoveries. It would also be a great mistake to think that as a man devoted to a knotty and obscure subject he must be grave and aloof. On the contrary, he is well known to be friendly, lively and approachable: his beard is cheerful rather than judgemental. He commands the affection as well as the admiration of a great many.
I present a profound scholar, a powerful influence upon his fellow economists, Sir Clive William John Granger, Nobel Laureate, Professor of Economics at the University of California at San Diego, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
Admission by the Chancellor
Masterly economist, who by the brilliance of your intellect have lit up both City and cloister, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.
Degree of Doctor of Science
Dr RICHARD A. LERNER
President of the Scripps Research Institute, Lita Annenberg Hazen Professor of Immunochemistry and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Chair in Chemistry
Maiores nostros nimis credulos fuisse putamus, si legimus eis plumbum posse in aurum transmutari esse persuasum. Eidem tamen maiores, si eis ea miracula explicare possemus quae viri docti hoc saeculo fecerunt, nosmet deriderent quia plane falsa pro veris inepte haberemus. Hic porro quem nunc praesento id fecit quod et scientiae peritissimi fieri non posse olim existimabant. Inventionis eius magna est varietas, quippe qui de conformatione proteinorum nova docuerit atque adipis genus quoddam somnum efficere nuper monstraverit. Magnum autem nomen in primis nactus est quod corpusculorum alienis corpusculis resistentium catalysin in enzymas efficere potuit. Antea enim lex naturae, secundum illam quidem chimiae doctrinam quae classica vocatur, talem catalysin vetare videbatur; hic tamen novam rationem repperit qua adhibita enzymae quae naturaliter per multa centena milia annorum oriuntur fere momento temporis creentur. Quo quid mirabilius? Praeterea hic primus bibliothecam, ut dicitur, anticorporum collegit, quae in enzymas conversa morbo afflictis magnum auxilium conferunt. Hic si omne tempus studio incubuisset, iam dignus esset ut eum honestaremus; tamen non tantum propter suam investigationem laudem meruit sed etiam quia Institutionem Scrippsianam sagaciter gubernans ad scientiam ituris viam fecerit. Adde quod vincula tam artae coniunctionis cum nostra biochimiae facultate fabricavit ut discipuli gradum doctoris in philosophia et Oxoniensem et Californiensem simul consequi possint. Litora Oceani Pacifici a rivo Tamesis nostrae vastum maris aequor campi immensi montes altissimi separant; sed montes campi mare nec sapientiae neque amicitiae obstare possunt quominus et gentes coniungantur et scientia rerum naturae promoveatur.
Praesento magnum scientiae indagatorem magnum Vniversitatis nostrae fautorem atque amicum, Ricardum Alanum Lerner, Institutionis Scrippsianae apud Californienses praesidem, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.
Admission by the Chancellor
Dux et magister prudentissime, cuius reperta et admirationem excitant et aegros adiuvant, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.
We consider our ancestors all too credulous, if we are told that they believed that lead could be transmuted into gold. But if we could expound to those same ancestors the marvels that scientists have brought about in this day and age, they would mock us in turn for our nave acceptance of obvious falsehoods. And indeed the honorand whom I now present has achieved something that even the experts used to think impossible. The range of his discoveries is remarkable: he has had new insights into the structure of proteins and he has recently found a sleep-inducing lipid. But his greatest fame comes from his development of a new kind of catalysis and the conversion of antibodies into enzymes. It had been thought impossible to achieve such catalysis by classical chemical procedures, but he discovered a technique for producing almost in the twinkling of an eye the kinds of enzymes which in the natural state evolve over millions of years. Can anything be more marvellous than that? Moreover, he has constructed the first combinatorial antibody library, enabling the creation of enzymes with powerful therapeutic effects.
Had he done nothing but study, he would amply deserve the honour that we offer him, but he has also earned distinction not only from his own researches but for advancing others on the road to scientific knowledge through his skilful leadership of the Scripps Institute. In addition, he has forged such close links with our own Department of Biochemistry that students can now obtain a doctorate from both institutions jointly. A vast expanse of sea, great plains and lofty mountains divide the banks of the Thames from the shores of the Pacific Ocean, but mountains, plains and sea are no bar to prevent learning and friendship from bringing nations together and increasing scientific understanding.
I present a great scientific researcher and a great friend and ally of this University, Richard Alan Lerner, President of the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Admission by the Chancellor
Wise leader and master, whose discoveries both benefit the sick and stir our sense of wonder, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Lord May of Oxford, OM, FRS
Former Head of the Office of Science and Technology and Former President of the Royal Society and Royal Society Research Professor in Zoology, University of Oxford and Imperial College, London Virum nunc laudo qui et in Australia, patria sua, et apud Harvardienses illi parti philosophiae difficillimae quae ad rem physicam pertinet per multos annos summa diligentia studuit. At propter scientiam animalium atque herbarum nomen est adeptus. Verum est; tamen non prius ad investigationem rerum sensibilium mentem contulit quam omne immensum ratione contemplativa acriter meditatus est. Itaque mathematicen, quam antea biologiae praeceptores parum intellexerunt, ad naturae inquisitionem adhibere potuit. Mathematici iam docuerant et perturbationem in natura rerum necessario inesse et dubitationem; quibus rationibus usus eleganter monstravit cur pestes ex improviso increbrescentes per populos celerrime diffundi videamus. Antea nesciebamus utrum natura locorum facilius mutaretur vel vitiaretur ubi plura essent genera animalium an ubi pauciora; hic per mathematicen monstravit quanto maior sit varietas, tanto maiorem esse et stabilitatem. Simili modo probavit et plura genera et citius nostra aetate quam priscis saeculis exstingui et penes nos homines esse culpam. Iam rude donatus, nihil veteris vigoris atque aemulationis amisit. Quotannis cum amicis adhuc per loca montuosa iter pedestre facit, ut inter alta Alpium cacumina naturae lepore fruantur, arcana scrutentur. Dicit vates noster
Quae mense Maio germina pullulant Flabra ventorum concutiunt,...Sed hoc in viro 'ver adsiduum atque alienis mensibus aestas' continuo videtur.
Praesento rerum naturae scrutatorem insignissimum, magistratuum nostrorum consiliarium sagacissimum, Robertum McCredie Baronem May de Oxonia, equitem auratum, Ordini Insigniter Meritorum adscriptum, Societatis Regalis sodalem et quondam praesidem, Collegii de Merton in australibus Oxoniae partibus quondam socium, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.
Admission by the Chancellor
Naturae inquisitor peritissime, qui cum scientiam auxisti tum reipublicae profuisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.
The man whom I now turn to praise spent a good many years both in his native Australia and at Harvard University in the exacting study of theoretical physics. 'Some mistake,' you may think: he owes his fame to his mastery of the biological sciences. True enough; but he did not turn his attention to research into the world that we know through our senses until after keen study of the nature of the universe in abstract terms. This has enabled him to apply mathematics, a discipline about which earlier generations of biologists knew rather little, to the investigation of nature. Chaos theory teaches that disorder and unpredictability are a fundamental part of the way things are; applying chaos theory, he has found an elegant mathematical formulation to explain why we find the occurrence of sudden outbreaks of epidemic disease. It used to be uncertain whether complex or simple ecosystems were the more fragile; he has proved mathematically that the greater the complexity of a system, the greater its stability. By similar techniques he has also demonstrated that the rate of extinction of species is higher today than in earlier epochs, and that human activity is to blame for this. Although he has now earned his retirement, he has lost none of his energy and ambition. He still goes walking with his friends every year in the mountains, to enjoy the charms of nature and to debate its mysteries among the lofty peaks of the Alps. 'Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,' says Shakespeare; but to this man we might more readily apply Virgil's words: 'Spring lingers on, and summer past its time.'
I present an eminent researcher into the natural world, a wise advisor of the British government, Robert McCredie Baron May of Oxford, Kt, OM, Fellow and sometime President of the Royal Society, Emeritus Fellow of Merton College in the southern part of Oxford, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Admission by the Chancellor
Masterly investigator of nature, who have both increased knowledge and done service to the nation, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Professor CHINTAMANI NAGESA RAO, FRS
National Research Professor and Honorary President and Linus Pauling Research Professor of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India
Catullus duos ex amicis suis laudat qui eum usque ad remotissimas orbis terrarum partes prosequi volunt, sive in extremos penetrabit Indos sive horribiles ultimosque Britannos adibit. Nam putabant homines antiqui et hunc et illum populum exemplum gentis praebere cuius res et mores in tenebris atque obscuritate involverentur. Hoc modo tamen inter se differebant, quod Britanni quidem adhuc erant barbari atque inhumani, Indi iam cultum amplissimum possidebant. Vetustissima est Indorum sapientia sed et novissima; quod ut probem hunc testem offero. Constat eam chimiae partem quae ad materiem pertineat maximo momento in posterum futuram esse; constat inter omnes illa doctrina instructos hunc virum primum locum occupare. Opus cui imprimis incubuit magnum ac perdifficile habetur; quod breviter explicare conabor. Multos iam annos intellexerunt eruditi quaedam metalla, si frigidissima facta sint, vim electricam fere nulla vi resistente posse transmittere. Nuper tamen compererunt etiamsi frigus absit, vim illam resistentem removeri posse; hanc tamen facultatem non in metallis sed in oxydis argillosis exsistere, quorum implicatissima sit fabricatio. Ex omnibus hominibus doctis qui hanc materiam intellegere et in utilitatem vertere temptant, hic est consensu omnium princeps. Si opera et honores eius recitarem, in ingentem me locum immitterem: ad quadraginta libros et commentarios plures quam mille exaravit; innumerabilia abstulit praemia; apud universitates prope quadraginta ad gradum doctoris admissus est. Ingenium vigorem incitationem laudat omnis chimicorum sodalitas.
Praesento magnum Indiae alumnum, magnum orbis terrarum civem, Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, Societatis Regalis multarumque societatum doctorum sodalem, apud Institutionem Nehruensem professorem et eiusdem praesidem honoris causa creatum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia.
Admission by the Chancellor
Chimiae magister insignissime, qui materiei et naturae et usui summo ingenio studuisti, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Scientia honoris causa.
Catullus praises two friends who are willing to follow him to the ends of the earth, whether he journeys 'to India's farthest shore' or to that shaggy and most distant people, the Britons. Classical antiquity regarded both nations as examples of peoples whose lives and customs were shrouded in a mysterious obscurity. But there was this difference, that the Britons were rude and uncultivated, whereas India already enjoyed a highly developed civilisation. The wisdom of India is very ancient but also very modern—a truth to which the present honorand stands as a witness. The experts agree that the chemistry of materials will have a leading part in the chemistry of the future; and they are all agreed that our honorand is the outstanding figure in this branch of science. The problem to which he has especially directed his research is reckoned to be of great importance and exceptional difficulty; I shall attempt a brief account. Science has long been aware of superconductivity: in a state of extreme cold certain metals can transmit electric current with little or no resistance. But it has recently been discovered that superconductivity can occur even in warmer conditions; but this phenomenon is found not in metals but in ceramic oxides of extraordinary chemical complexity. Our honorand is acknowledged to be the leader among the scientists who are working to understand these materials and adapt them to practical use. Were I to list his works and the honours that he has received, I should be embarking on an enormous task: he has written around forty books and more than a thousand articles; he has won countless prizes; and he is the holder of nearly forty honorary degrees. His vision, energy and passion are the admiration of the entire chemical community.
I present a great son of India and a great citizen of the world, Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao, Fellow of the Royal Society and of many other learned bodies, Linus Pauling Research Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research and honorary President of the same, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Admission by the Chancellor
Eminent master of the science of chemistry, who have studied both the structure and the use of materials with unsurpassed brilliance, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.
Degree of Doctor of Music
Mr DANIEL BARENBOIM
Pianist and Conductor
Multos quidem viros illustres nostris Encaeniis honestavimus, paucissimos tamen quorum fama iam decem lustra celebrata est. Hodie autem adest qui abhinc annis quinquaginta primum Londini et Novi Eboraci clavicymbalo cecinit, ex quo tempore semper inter musicos nostri saeculi praestantissimos est aestimatus. Si quis iuvenis vel puer magnum nomen est nactus, facile est ei plausum et laureas satis habere, difficile vero miraculum ingenii eius puerilis quod divino quodam spiritu afflari videtur in illum intellectum qui hominis adulti est proprius transfigurare. At hic quem nunc offero, utcumque ad calcem pervenit, aliud certamen protinus desiderat: nova opera semper petit, novos labores.
Quomodo artem tam vividam, tam versatilem optime laudem? In musica Ludovici van Beethoven, cuius opera clavicymbalistica hic iterum orbibus phonographicis nunc committit, quamvis luctus ac dolor sonis tragicis repraesentetur, fidem immensam immensum gaudium usque sentimus. Simili modo, ars huius viri, sive organo solus vel cum paucis canit sive symphoniacos moderatur, voluptatem musicae spirat, spirat gentis humanae amorem. Existimare enim videtur vim moralem, ut ita dicam, et incitamentum ad virtutem nescioquo pacto in sonorum concentu latere. Quare Concilium et Orientale et Occidentale creavit ut symphoniaci adhuc iuvenes e gentibus inter se discordantibus orti concordiam inveniant. Apud Deorum Crepusculum Ricardi Wagner, quod opus hic summa peritia egit, mundum aqua atque igni vastari ipsumque Olympum deleri videmus; tamen post flammas et diluvium Naiadas rursus lascivire rerumque summam novari. Ita huius ars et vita spem ac vigorem ostendit invictum.
Praesento et Musarum et hominum amicum egregium, Danielem Mosen Barenboim, et clavicymbalistam et symphoniacorum moderatorem insignissimum, ut admittatur honoris causa ad gradum Doctoris in Musica.
Admission by the Chancellor
Magister praestabilis, qui concordiam cum sonorum efficis tum gentium promovere conaris, ego auctoritate mea et totius Vniversitatis admitto te ad gradum Doctoris in Musica honoris causa.
We have honoured many eminent men at Encaenia, very few though who have enjoyed celebrity for half a century. But present today is someone who made his debut as a pianist in London and New York fifty years ago, since when he has always been considered one of the outstanding musicians of our time. If a person wins fame in youth or in childhood, it is easy for him to rest on his laurels, and difficult indeed to develop the seemingly god- given talent of a child prodigy into an adult understanding. But as soon as the man whom I now present has reached one goal, he is immediately impatient for a fresh challenge: he is constantly on the look-out for new tasks to undertake. How shall I best praise an art so brilliant and so wide in its range? In the works of Beethoven (whose piano sonatas our honorand is currently recording again), however tragic their expression of grief and pain, we remain aware of an enormous faith and joy. So with this man: whether as soloist or chamber musician or conductor, his performances exude a delight in music-making and a love of humanity. He believes, or so it seems, that there is latent within music a kind of moral force or call to better things. Accordingly, he has founded the West East Divan, in the hope that young orchestral musicians drawn from peoples who have been at enmity may find a new harmony. In Wagner's Götterdämmerung (a work of which our honorand is a masterly interpreter) we see the world ravaged by fire and water and Valhalla itself destroyed; yet after flame and flood the Rhinemaidens disport themselves again and nature once more renews itself. So do this man's art and life display irrepressible energy and hope.
I present a distinguished friend of the Muses and of mankind, Daniel Moses Barenboim, illustrious alike as pianist and conductor, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Music.
Admission by the Chancellor
Eminent maestro, who create harmony in music and strive for harmony amongst peoples, I on my own authority and that of the whole University admit you to the honorary degree of Doctor of Music.
2 EncaeniaTHE PUBLIC ORATOR delivered the following introduction to the Creweian Oration:
THE PUBLIC ORATOR: Honoratissime Domine Cancellarie, licetne Anglice loqui?
THE CHANCELLOR: Licet.
THE PUBLIC ORATOR: Thank you, sir. Henry James once said that the most beautiful words in the English language were 'summer afternoon', but for the Orator, as perhaps for his audience, the most beautiful word in Latin is 'licet'. A flattering friend has suggested to me that the trickiest part of my job must be finding decent English into which to translate my Latin. If you promise not to tell anyone, I will let you into a secret: that is not quite the hardest part. But it could have been worse: when Lord Curzon became Chancellor of the University, he awarded some forty honorary degrees. One imagines the orator's lifeless body being discovered shortly afterwards—a man so broken by his ordeal that he wrote his suicide note in English.
It is a privilege to praise the distinction of our honorands, and classical Latin does indeed offer ample models for the practice of eulogy. But it is richer still in the language of lampoon, invective and vituperation, and for this audience to appreciate the full range of Latin vocabulary, we need an innovation: would this occasion not have a richer variety if we added a few dishonorary degrees? There is no shortage of candidates. The procedure would be the same as with our existing degrees: nominations invited from the whole academic community, a committee drawing up a long list and then a shortlist, until only a few truly outstanding names remained. The only difference would be that in this case serving politicians need not be rigorously excluded.
But enough of these sour thoughts. This is a day for celebration, as we recall the liberality, past and present, that has advanced the work of this place across the centuries. We have always delighted in honouring our benefactors. Archbishop Sheldon has given us the most uncomfortable seating in western Europe, and we even honour him. And it is important that we should honour our friends appropriately. Imagine Nathaniel Lord Crewe as he goes about his daily duties as a bishop, planning the next sermon, unfrocking a curate or two. A smile is on his lips and a song is in his heart. And why? Because he is thinking of the quadrangle that Oxford is going to name after him—or perhaps it will be a library. And then he hears that he has got an oration. It must have been a bitter blow. But perhaps it was not quite like that. For in earlier centuries there were two conditions for being commemorated on this day: the first was great munificence and the second was being dead. Some of our generous friends have issues with the second of these requirements, and now, happily, we commemorate them in their own time.
This is an enormously complicated place. The collegiate system must sometimes make our leaders feel that we have all the problems of other universities and a lot more besides. Well, not quite. An Australian university has been locked in dispute over a nude painting of its Vice-Chancellor, the issue being whether the picture belongs to the lady herself or to the institution. If this has been a problem here, it has been efficiently hushed up. But given our complexity, we certainly need to master the arts of management. It is excellent news, therefore, that the Saïd Business School Foundation has made a benefaction for the Executive Education Centre at the Saïd Business School, a large addition to what was already a wholly exceptional gift, and BT has given very substantially for the BT Centre for Major Programme Management. Complexity is conventionally described as Byzantine, and we are now in a better position to discover whether the cliché is true, with the opening of the Stelios Ioannou School for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies, made possible by the generosity of Mrs Ellie Steliou Ioannou, Mr Dakis Joannou, Mrs Sylvia Joannou, and the Ioannou family. The Centre is discreet: you enter a modest house in St Giles', and as in a film with bad continuity, you suddenly find yourself in a magnificent atrium. Looking back, you see the rear of the old St Giles' houses enclosed within the atrium, like the scenery on a stage. One almost expects a band of peasant lads and lasses to trip from the wings to begin the opening chorus. I can testify myself to the transformative effect that the Centre has had on the Classics Faculty since it opened for business in February. Immediately south of the Centre, the Ashmolean Museum's dramatic redevelopment is well under way. The Robert and Rena Lewin Charitable Trust has given liberally for the museum's Robert and Rena Lewin Gallery of Modern Art. And Mr Yousef A.L. Jameel has made a generous gift for the Centre for the Study of Eastern Art in both its solid and online forms. The University Museum of Natural History has received donations from the EPA Cephalosporin Fund, from the Department of Culture and the Wolfson Foundation, from the Negaunee Foundation, and from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental)—the last an ingenious scheme by which the university's garbage is recycled into money for preserving some of its treasures.
It is not always easy to persuade the public of the subtler benefits that universities give to society, but no one doubts the value of our medical research. Here there are some splendid benefactions to celebrate: from the Hon. Sir Michael Kadoorie for the Chair in Trauma Rehabilitation; from the Li Ka Shing Foundation for the establishment of the Li Ka Shing Foundation Global Health Programme; from the Wolfson Foundation for the Wolfson Vaccine Delivery Technology Centre; from the Dunhill Medical Trust for the Stroke Research Programme; from Johnson and Johnson UK for the Johnson and Johnson Scholarships in Global Health Science; and from an anonymous benefactor for the Department of Experimental Psychology and for the Osler House project.
From time to time our scientists have been in the news. It is perhaps fortunate that it was your other institution, sir, the University of Newcastle, that was reported to be mixing human and cow genes, as this oration does not do mother-in-law jokes. But another scientific story was home grown. 'It's cruel to make pupils study in the morning, claims Oxford Professor,' ran the headline. Professor Russell Foster's neuroscientific research, the story explained, had found that young people have different sleep patterns and it was stressful for them to start work much before the afternoon. I do not grudge Professor Foster his moment in the sun, or at least in the Daily Mail, but I wish it to be known that I made the same discovery myself in the late 1960s, and I got no publicity at all.
Whatever their sleep patterns, the constant presence of the young is one of the privileges of working in this place. We need young blood, and when the freshers come up each autumn, the sight of all that young blood makes me feel like Dracula at a Transylvanian village maidens' annual outing. So it is a pleasure to salute a gift from Pearson plc for the establishment of the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment. And we celebrate Mr Zvi Meitar's generous gift for the Zvi Meitar/Vice-Chancellor Oxford University Research Prizes.
As the Vice-Chancellor himself declared in his annual oration last autumn, Oxford has been pursuing the highest excellence for centuries. To be sure, this is a boldly revisionist view of our condition in the eighteenth century; it will be recalled that Mr Gibbon of Magdalen took a different view. But today at least, the announcements of forthcoming lectures in the Gazette testify to the range and vitality of our studies. In the past three terms, lecturers do not seem to have been as concerned to tease, puzzle or amuse us as at some times, but it has been possible to award this year's 'Who says we're dumbing down?' prize to the visiting lecturer who took as his topic, 'Where is Latin America?' For more advanced students: 'Where is Peru?' As Dr Johnson of Pembroke wrote, 'Let observation, with extensive view, Survey mankind from China to Peru', and our own observation is certainly worldwide. Chinese studies, indeed, have been advanced by Dr Stanley Ho's gift for the establishment of the Dr Stanley Ho University Lecturership in Chinese History and an associated Tutorial Fellowship at Dr Johnson's own college.
As usual, it has been an eventful year. In general, this oration draws its Weltanschauung from the philosopher Crosby: we accentuate the positive, we eliminate the negative. But it cannot be denied that passionate controversy has stirred the quadrangles in the last few months. The issue has been, of course, whether a degree from this place makes you BA (Oxon) or BA (Oxf). Those who have been here a while may recall the time when the Oxford Mail was hawked in the streets and one could follow on the billboards from day to day the adventures of a feckless and disreputable individual called Oxon Man. 'Oxon Man in Gem Raid Rap', 'Oxon Man on Bigamy Charge'. He got around: 'Earthquake—thousands dead, including Oxon Man'. He had more lives than a cat: one moment he was perishing in a freak accident, the next he was back to his daily round of burgling, mugging and falling down manholes. It is this indestructibility that makes him so fine a model for a resilient university that has survived the vicissitudes of the centuries; so may we long continue to be Oxon men—and of course, Oxon women. 'Oxon', we are told, is an anomaly, but what of that? Our guiding principle in this university has always been the ethical self-referentialism of the philosopher Sinatra: we do it our way.
The Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education has made a large gift to establish the Uehiro Professorship of Practical Ethics and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. From practical ethics I move—I hope that it is not too great a distance—to politics. A year ago, when I noted that once more the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition were both Oxonians, I wondered whether I would be able to repeat the boast. Well, I can—just. Now we know why Mr Blair of St John's has been hanging on so long. As Mr Brown, graduate of Edinburgh, prepares to succeed him, it is worth looking back, once more, over a remarkable record. Since Mr Chamberlain, graduate of Birmingham, demitted office in 1940, the United Kingdom has had no Prime Minister who graduated from a university other than this one. In that time, there have been eleven premiers; eight of them were educated here, the other three in the University of Life. (I know that some of the public think that we dons are people who applied to Life and got rejected.) Who knows what the future will bring? Meanwhile it has been interesting to read claims in the press that the opponent whom Mr Cameron of Brasenose really fears is his contemporary, Mr Miliband of Corpus.
Only one European country enjoys an Oxonian head of state, and we duly bestowed an honorary degree on King Harald V of Norway last July. We have it on high authority that the land of the lemming has been hopelessly immiserated by its refusal to join the European Union (like Switzerland), but His Majesty gallantly concealed his wretchedness, and he seemed very much at home. His college, Balliol, gave a luncheon which combined ease and grandeur; it was a fine occasion.
The Guardian's University Guide has ranked us first among this country's universities for the third year running; but perhaps it is the international accolades that please us most. If you go to the Truman Presidential Museum in Independence, Missouri, you can follow the great man's career from his small-town childhood through to the early years in Kansas City, and then on to the senate, the presidency and the world stage. Then, in the last room of all comes the culmination: the final glass case displaying the document in which the Registrar certifies Harrium S. Truman to be an honorary Oxford Doctor of Civil Law. We trust that this important precedent will be noted in the appropriate quarter.
Still on the other side of the Atlantic, I can report an even more exalted endorsement. Some years ago a colleague of mine was interviewing candidates in the United States for admission here, one of whom was the daughter of first-generation Americans. My colleague asked an obvious question: 'Why do you want to come to Oxford?' The candidate leant forward, gripped her knees in her arms, and said: 'I have to tell you the truth. Ever since I was five years old, my mother has prayed to God every day that I should go to Harvard. Four months ago God spoke to my mother. He said, "Oxford's better." ' You will be wondering: which is His college? But here a page of my script has gone missing.
Some among us have had individual recognition. In the New Year's Honours, CBEs were awarded to Professor Doreen McBarnett, Professor Stephen Nickell, Dr Farhan Nizami, and Ms Sarah Spencer, and Mr Peter Lund received an MBE. In last week's Birthday Honours Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell became a Dame, Professor Myles Burnyeat and Dr Dieter Helm were made CBE, and Mrs Margaret Scully was awarded an MBE. The Royal Society has elected to its number Professors Siamon Gordon, Richard Moxon and Andrew Zisserman, while the British Academy has chosen no less than six of us: Professors Robert Adams, Dorothy Bishop, Richard Carwardine, Neil Shephard and Avi Shlaim, and Dr Sudhir Hazareesingh. Sir John Krebs (as he then was) has been raised to the peerage, and the Vice-Chancellor has received the 2007 World Class New Zealander Supreme Award. (Didn't I say that he was into world domination?) Congratulations to them all. As usual, there are comings and goings among the heads of societies. Lady English leaves St Hilda's, to be succeeded by Ms Sheila Forbes; the Revd Paul Fiddes is demitting as Principal of Regent's Park, and Professor Margaret MacMillan will shortly take up the Wardenship of St Antony's. We also mourn the death in office of Sir Gareth Roberts, President of Wolfson.
In the Aeneid of Virgil, when the hero arrives in Italy, he sends a hundred orators to greet the local king: it is perhaps the grimmest line in that sombre poem. Today we fall short of that alarming total by ninety-eight, but it is none the less time that I made way for the Professor of Poetry. Before I do so, I end, as ever, by calling to our minds those friends and colleagues who have died in the past year, and whose benefaction to the university was their lives and service; among whom are Derrick Barlow, Fellow of Jesus, James Barr, Student of Christ Church, Paul Beeson, Fellow of Magdalen, Brebis Bleaney, Fellow of Wadham, Malcolm Bowie, Fellow of All Souls, Jonathan Cohen, Fellow of Queen's, Anthony Corner, Fellow of Worcester, Peter Derow, Fellow of Wadham, David Dew-Hughes, Fellow of University, Peter Ganz, Fellow of St Edmund Hall, Ewen Green, Fellow of Magdalen, Sir Michael Hart, Fellow of All Souls, Sir Raymond Hoffenberg, President of Wolfson, Bent Juel-Jensen, Fellow of St Cross, John McManners, Fellow of All Souls, John Macquarrie, Canon of Christ Church, Francis Maddison, Fellow of Linacre, Rodney Needham, Fellow of All Souls, Benjamin Noble, Fellow of Hertford, Anthony Nuttall, Fellow of New College, Arthur Peacocke, Fellow of St Peter's, Alan Raitt, Fellow of Magdalen, Sir Philip Randle, Fellow of Hertford, Sir Gareth Roberts, President of Wolfson, Sir Peter Russell, Fellow of Exeter, Leslie Woods, Fellow of Balliol, and Jonathan Wordsworth, Fellow of St Catherine's. Requiescant in pace, et in aeternum luceat eis Dominus Illuminatio Mea.
CREWEIAN ORATION 2007
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':
It falls to the Professor of Poetry to second—in three or four hundred seconds—what has been warmly, specifically, and individually brought home by the Public Orator: the great generosity of benefactors to the University this year. Heading a most handsome list are benefactions for two worlds that are in no way at odds but which may not often coincide in simple thankfulness. Mr Wafic Rida Said has granted support for the Executive Education Centre at the Saïd Business School, and Mrs Ellie Steliou Ioannou, Mr Dakis S. Joannou and Mrs Sylvia Joannou, for the Stelios Ioannou Centre and School for Research in Classical and Byzantine Studies.
It would take the imagination of a poet to realize for us all an intersection of the classical world, the Byzantine world, and the business world. I am not that poet, but I have commissioned for Encaenia a translation of a poem by the greatest of modern Greek (and Alexandrian) poets: Cavafy. The poem garners different kinds of legacy and of munificence, of generosity and of magnificence, while welcoming the variety of its origins and of its worlds. This new translation is by a poet whom I had the honour of introducing here in Oxford some months ago, the Greek-American poet George Kalogeris.
HOME FROM GREECE So here we are, Hermippos, almost there— And the captain has confirmed it. I believe he said The day after tomorrow. But even so, At least we're sailing across our own waters now, Carried along by those familiar currents We love, the ones that flow back to our own countries: Cyprus, Syria, Egypt. But why so quiet, Hermippos? Aren't we both in the very same boat, Feeling happier the farther from Greece we go? We really should stop fooling ourselves. And isn't That just what it means to be Greek, if you ask your heart? It's time we acknowledged the truth: we too are Greeks. (What else could we be?) But drawn to things and moved In ways that to other Hellenes can seem so strange Our Greekness might as well be another world— One that goes all the way back to its Asian roots. Just think how unbecoming of us it would be, As philosophers, if we chose to speak in some phony Athenian accent, like those petty provincial kings With their pompous (and of course `Macedonian') titles. Remember how ludicrous they appeared to us Whenever they happened to show up at our lectures? No matter how hard they tried to keep it veiled, Somehow a bit of Arabia, or even Persia, Was always showing through. And how they tried To hide the slightest faux pas, those poor wretches, Concocting some pathetic ostentation. No, that's not our style at all. For Greeks like us, That kind of pettiness never measures up. So what if the blood coursing through our veins Just happens to be Syrian, or Egyptian? That's nothing to be ashamed of. But all the more reason, Hermippos, that we should know how to honour it.
'That we should know how to honour it'. Anonymous benefactors are especially elusive when it comes to knowing how to honour them. Let us give them thanks in all our names. In a previous Oration, I made a point of thanking the benefactor who is perhaps the most anonymous of all: the taxpayer. Today, in a similar spirit, I should like to extend the thanks of all of us to an old friend who is not even a person at all but an institution, one that makes possible our gathering here, the means by which we know to be here at all, and exactly how and when and for what: the Oxford University Gazette, the town-crier that is a world-crier.
More than a century ago, the Balliol man who was soon to become Public Orator (like today's Public Orator, a distinguished classical scholar here) set down in verse his understanding of how we are all beneficiaries of the Gazette. I happen to know the poem because I am the happy owner of the copy of A.D. Godley's Lyra Frivola that eighty years ago belonged to the scholar who would in due course become the Vice-Chancellor when I was a fellow of Worcester: A.L.P. Norrington. Several pieties and gratitudes therefore come together in the four stanzas of Godley's 'Lines to an Old Friend' (1899):
When we're daily called to arms by continual alarms, And the journalist unceasingly dilates On the agitating fact that we're soon to be attacked By the Germans, or the Russians, or the States: When the papers all are swelling with a patriotic rage, And are hurling a defiance or a threat, Then I cool my martial ardour with the pacifying page Of the Oxford University Gazette. When I hanker for a statement that is practical and dry (Being sated with sensation in excess, With the vespertinal rumour and the matutinal lie Which adorn the lucubrations of the Press), Then I turn me to the columns where there's nothing to attract, Or the interest to waken and to whet, And I revel in a banquet of unmitigated fact In the Oxford University Gazette. When the Laureate obedient to an editor's decree Puts his verses in the columns of the Times; When the endless minor poet in an endless minor key Gives the public his unnecessary rhymes; When you're weary of the poems which they constantly compose, And endeavour their existence to forget, You may seek and find repose in the satisfying prose Of the Oxford University Gazette. In that soporific journal you may stupefy the mind With the influence narcotic which it draws From the Latest Information about Scholarships Combined Or the contemplated changes in a clause: Place me somewhere that is far from the Standard and the Star, From the fever and the literary fret,— And the harassed spirit's balm be the academic calm Of the Oxford University Gazette!All of this, of course, to be printed very soon in... the Oxford University Gazette.