Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Most Famous of Oxford Societies

Once he [Benjamin Jowett] asked Belloc what he regarded as the best form of government. Belloc, as one of the only four Republicans in Oxford ... replied: 'A Republic.' 'Ah', said Jowett, 'but before you can have a Republic, you must have Republicans.' There were never enough Republicans for the Republic of which Belloc dreamed. There were enough, however, to form the Republican Club, one of the smallest, the shortest-lived, and the most famous of Oxford Societies. To qualify for membership you had to hold radical ideas of government and you had to have been fined for misconduct. The philosophy of the Club was inspired by Thomas Jefferson, whose birthday was celebrated as the principal feast of the year, although the beheading of Charles I and Louis XVI were remembered with an almost equal enthusiasm.

- Robert Speaight, The Life of Hilare Belloc, 1957

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