6 May 2023

Political Subversion at the heart of Oxford!

I suspect that, in these days of spring, back in the year 1749, there may have been quite a lot of nervousness in this University. Remember that only four years previously, the Prince of Wales, bearing a Commission of Regency from the King his Father, had led his forces into the very heart of England. 'Smug Herrenhausen' had loaded ships with loot so as to be able to make a swift gettaway from London if that became necessary. 

His Royal Highness was, of course, destined a couple of decades later, upon the death of King James VIII and III, to become King himself of The Three Kingdoms, our late Sovereign Lord King Charles III.

And Oxford had more reason to feel queasy than most other places. On the Ides of April, 1749, Dr William King had delivered a rousing speech in the Sheldonian Theatre to mark the 'Dedicatio' of the 'Bibliotheca Radcliviana' (the large round library in the middle of Oxford ... whenever the Meejah nowadays want a typically 'Oxford' picture, they source a photograph either of my own college's 'Bridge of Sighs', or of what the young people now call the "Rad Cam").

In 1749, all the great and the good of the "Jacobite" world were gathered; Dr King dedicated his speech to men who, in the eyes of the Whig oligarchy, were disloyal or of questionable loyalty. The University honoured them with honorary doctorates. Their names included that of the famous Welsh baronet Sir Watkin Williams Wynn. And their womenfolk were there too: Ut foeminae omnes sint quam simillimae praestanti huic Nympharum cohorti, si non specie et pulchritudine oris, at pudicitia et sanctimonia, at corporis cultu, at morum elegantia!

What made this speech so incendiary and so politically dangerous were the six sections at the end, each beginning with the word REDEAT. Y'see, "May he/she/it return" was a motto engraved upon the drinking glasses of loyal families, often beside an engraved image of Charles III. It was a suspect motto of the feared Stuart dynasty. 

In Dr King's speech, however, this Latin Subjunctive was technically, grammatically, syntactically, linked with such baroque abstract virtues as Astraea nostra ... Justitia ... Christianissima virgo, si non genetrix, certe equidem custos virtutum omninium! And with "magnus ille Genius Britanniae".

Dr William King was ... just about ... legally covered!

The gathered loyalists showed that they loved it, cheering to the Sheldonian's ceiling every reiterated REDEAT.

But ... suppose some intemperate enthusiast were to market an English translation in which King's careful syntax were sundered ... REDEAT could easily be given "the Pretender" as its subject! That way might lie, for William King, the block and the axe ...

So, at the start of the printed version King included a careful request that nobody should translate his speech "me invito ... in sermonem patrium '''!

I rather think that nobody ever did. But what they did do ... the "Jacobite" drinking classes ... was to commission a new generation of toasting glasses throughout the Three Kingdoms with the engraved likeness of Charles III accompanied by ... the words Magnus ille Genius Britanniae!!

I so lament the tragedy that King Charles III was never crowned! 

How different the Histories of these Three Kingdoms could have been, God bless the three of them!!! 

No Yewkay!!


Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Mr Codo

I can't see what on earth your Comment has to do with this post. So I have deleted it.

John Hunwicke

PM said...

In the late 1970s, when an over-studious undergraduate was a 'gnome', the Camera was known as the Gnome Dome.

Thomas said...

I read somewhere that Charles Edward abjured his Catholic faith in an effort to secure support for his claim to the throne from some of the British aristocracy. It rather put me off him, I must admit. If true, I hope and pray he was reconciled to the Church before he died.

PseudonymousposterJohn said...

God save the King:
Send him soon...

Pastor in Monte said...

Given that the Church seems to have acknowledged two kings Charles III, maybe one should refer to one as King Charles III(a) and the other as King Charles III(b).