America's Oldest "Tea Drinking and Whisky" Speaking Society

Great Moments in Merton Society History
The Discovery of the Merton Society Archives
The following is the text of a speech given by Viscount William of Sawchman, Merton Librarian, to the Society at the Reunions 2000 Dinner held on May 25, 2000.

The Merton Librarian Holding Forth

"I would like to start by indicating that I have an important announcement to make, and following that we will make a special presentation to each of you. First, the announcement.

"Just a few years ago, workmen performing renovations at Cottage Club made an exciting discovery. Upon tearing out a urinal in the men's room, they discovered a hidden strongbox of old documents and other related items. As best could be determined, they probably were hidden behind this basin just after "The Great War" (otherwise known as the First World War). Eventually, this mysterious discovery was brought to my attention as a member of the Board of Governors of Cottage Club. No one really knew what to make of it, but once I had the opportunity to inspect the find, I realized what a treasure they had found: these were the long lost secret Library archives of the Merton Society! You can imagine how emotionally moved I was, being the official Librarian of the Merton Society!"

At this point, Viscount Sawchman appeared visibly shaken, and several members of the audience felt obligated to clear their throats extensively in order to bring the Librarian back to the reality of his subject matter. He then continued,

"Here were the original signed parchments of Merton's Rules of Order, the original Seal of the Society, and a whole collection of original insignias and ornamental items from the Society's golden days! Keep in mind that prior to this discovery, we did not have a lot of information about the early years of the Merton Society. Practically all we knew was that the Society's insignia incorporated the motto "SAPOR CUM FACETIA OMNIA VINCIT" (Good Taste with Humour Conquers All), and the Society's colors were the same as those of the British 17th Lancers Regiment, the one that participated in the "Charge of the Light Brigade" in 1854 at the battle of Balaklava in the Crimea...."

Here the Viscount was interrupted by the Duke of Homersex, who expressed profound delight at the prospect of having Greek pastries for dessert. After the laughter died down, the Librarian proceeded,

Balaklavas Interruptus

"The only other piece of information we had before this was that some time after the University Cottage Club adopted these same colors for its own, the Merton Society added a Maltese Cross to its insignia to commemorate the five members of the 17th Lancers Regiment who were awarded the Victoria Cross, Great Britain's highest military honor. We suspected that this was because the 17th Lancers Regiment was forced to abandon its colors and be absorbed into the 21st Lancers Regiment under pacifist collectivist pressures in 1922---"

A Round of Profound Throat-Clearing
The audience was not pleased with this veiled reference to Bolshevism, and the members expressed their displeasure in various ways....

"---and the Merton Society wanted to give the 17th Lancers a more respectful place in history after that event. However, until now, we only had reproductions of the Society's original insignia artwork. So, as our presentation this evening, each of you has been given a packet. Inside each of your envelopes is a Merton Society Medallion, made from the cache of original Merton Society insignias retrieved from this fabulous discovery.

"In addition to the medallions, those of you who have given Merton Society lectures in the past will be receiving medals made from the same insignias that we found. Known as the Most Venerable and Illustrious Order of the Merton Cross, these medals are awarded only to those persons who, through their exceptional and scintillating contributions to the Society, have enhanced the well-being of the membership at a Merton Society meeting. Please open your packages now.

"Thank you, and bon appetit!"

Each member retrieved his Merton Society medallion and other paraphernalia from his package. There was much delight and discussion as each one placed his own medallion around his neck and subsequently admired the new ornaments on his neighbors.

And, to this day, the Merton Society Medallion and the Order of the Merton Cross Medal are worn proudly by Merton Society members. Return to Top