RECORD: Keynes, Neville. 1877. [Recollection of Darwin's honorary LLD degree]. Diary. CUL-Add.7831.2 Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker (Darwin Online,

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Kees Rookmaaker. Edited by John van Wyhe 7.2008. RN1

NOTE: Editorial symbols used in the transcription:
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Reproduced with permission of Richard Darwin Keynes and the Syndics of Cambridge University Library.

[page 49]

Saturday, 17 November 1877

The honorary degree of LLD was conferred upon Darwin in the Senate House amidst a scene of some disorder. The building was crammed, floor and galleries, the undergraduates being chiefly in the galleries; and it was of course an occasion on wh. undegraduate wit felt bound to distinguish itself. The chief pleasantry consisted of a monkey swung across by strings from gallery to gallery, which monkey was in the course of the proceedings to have been changed into a man. Before however this desirable consummation was reached, the representative of the original ancestor, (than whom he was less fortunate), was seized by one of the proctors, & thus prevented from fulfilling his high destiny. The perpetrators of the joke were very wrath, & vented their fury chiefly in groans for Humphreys, the most unpopular of the proctors. He was also made the butt of such remarks as this, Would Dr. Darwin kindly afford us some information regarding the ancestors of Mr. Humphreys? — a sally which took amazingly. Sandys, the public orator, introduced Darwin, according to custom, in a rather long Latin oration, wh. was delivered amidst a ceaseless fire of interruptions, (chiefly feeble), from the wittiest of the under-

1 A copy of the printed oration can be seen in DAR200.3.35-36. See other items in Darwin's papers relating to his honorary degree here.

John Neville Keynes (1852-1949), economist and father of John Maynard Keynes, became a fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge, in 1876.

[page 50]

graduates. Sandys (I imagine inadvertently) made use of the word apes, & then the cheering was enormous. Darwin bore himself in a rather trying position with remarkable dignity; but I heard afterwards that his hand shook so much while he was signing the registry, that his signature was scarcely legible. Another emblem swung from the galleries was a large ring of iron, adorned with ribbons, supposed to represent the missing link. It was ultimately swung down into the lap of one of the lady visitors, who pluckily cut it down and appropriated it, amidst tremendous applause. I afterwards found that this courageous lady was Miss Borchardt.1

1 Malvina Borchardt of Girton College.

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