29 November 2021

Vigils again ... Oxford in the 1840s

 Until the Wreckovation of the Roman rite, today, of course, was the Vigil of S Andrew. It still is, of course, in the book of Common Prayer.

In what follows, Mr Vincent is a college tutor hosting a breakfast; I do not think he was sympathetic to the Ritualist Movement ... He is trying to be funny, but JHN is also, I suspect, making the point that all those admirably 'Catholic' directions in the Prayer Book, to which the Ritualists delightedly pointed, were obsolete.

"At this moment the door opened, and in came the manciple with the dinner paper, which Mr Vincent had formally to run his eye over. 'Watkins,' he said, giving it back to him, 'I almost think today is one of the Fasts of the Church. Go and look, Watkins, and bring me word.' The astonished manciple, who had never been sent on such a commission in his whole career before, hastened out of the room, to task his wits how best to fulfil it. The question seemed to strike the company [of undergraduates] as forcibly, for there was a sudden silence, which was succeeded by a shuffling of feet and leave-taking; as if, though they had secured their ham and mutton at breakfast, they did not like to risk their dinner. Watkins returned sooner than could have been expected. He said that Mr Vincent was right; today was 'the feast of the Apostles'. 'The Vigil of St. Peter, you mean, Watkins,' said Mr Vincent; 'I thought so. Then let us have a plain beef steak and a saddle of mutton; no Portugal onions, or current jelly; and some simple pudding, Charlotte pudding, Watkins - that will do.'"

[I don't want to make an enormous fuss about this ... I am aware that stylish Georgian writers sometimes would split an infinitive ... but S John Henry Newman in this piece misses a number of opportunities to Split, doesn't he?]


Shaun Davies said...

If this is a quotation - and not your brilliant and fertile imagination - could you give us the source ? It is very similar to some of the extracts in the COMMONPLACE BOOK OF MONSIGNOR GILBEY.

Stephen said...

Some say all things of highest importance occur at the margins; it's not any big swings at the mean that are as valuable as the little moves at the fringe. So, I now relish the opportunity to find and enjoy (after Advent, of course) "Portugal onions" in order to learn firsthand what it will taste to deny myself of them in Lent.

frjustin said...

The quotation could easily have been the product of our host's brilliant and fertile imagination, but in fact it's from Newman's "Loss and Gain", Part 1, Chapter 10.

Shaun Davies said...

Many thanks, Fr Justin, for enlightening us (or me, at any rate).

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I thought I had made it clear that this is from S John Henry Newman.

Expeditus said...

At Trinity (founded in the reign of Mary Tudor), in the days when poor old Leslie Houlden was still 'sound', we used to keep a vigil for the missions on St Andrew's Eve. I made a token gesture last night by reciting the lovely Litany of the Church (EH 651). The key verse for the missions comes near the end:
May her lamp of truth be bright,
Bid her bear aloft its light,
Through the realms of heathen night:
We beseech thee hear us.
Amen to that.
This Litany with its haunting tune by A. H. Browne (better known for 'Saffron Walden') was often sung at the Communion during the High Mass at Christchurch - all 18 verses!
At Trinity, we also used to have a Sung Mass at 8 am on 'Red Letter Days' with a small schola using the English Gradual. One 30 November, we collapsed in helpless mirth at the Alleluia verse: The Lord loved Andrew as a sweet-smelling savour. Better in Latin!

John Patrick said...

Well I didn't eat Portugal Onions nor Currant Jelly last Monday so I kept the Vigil I guess.

"Loss and Gain" just happens to be my current reading. It is fascinating to see how "Charles" i.e. JHN's thinking evolves towards the One True Church.