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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Hugill    PERSONAL CONNECTIONS


The Apostles, or the Cambridge Conversazione Society, to give it its full name, was an influential, but secret Cambridge society. It was unusual in that members did not cease to belong once they graduated, so that older members would meet undergraduate members and could have great influence on them. Meetings were held on Saturdays and after tea, they would read papers, often on moral topics and hold long, often vigorous discussions.

During the long vacation in 1893 G E Moore got to know both Ralph Wedgwood and his cousin RVW. At this time, both RVW and Ralph Wedgwood were considered as embryos; young undergraduates who existing Apostles have spotted and are considering for membership. G E Moore would later refer to his new group of friends' brilliant conversation and long discussions of politics, literature and philosophy, all approached with great seriousness. By October 1893 Ralph Wedgwood has been elected to the Apostles but there is no more mention of RVW so in some way he was obviously found wanting.

The friends would go away together on reading parties visiting Skye, Cornwall and Cumberland at various times. The group (RVW, Ralph Wedgwood, George Trevelyan, Maurice Amos and others) would do a great deal of walking and hardy bathing and of course there were long, intense discussions as well as reading. Of this group only Amos and RVW did not become Apostles, so there must have been an element of secrecy and awkwardness about the group. By Easter 1896 G E Moore was saying in a letter that he did not enjoy the reading party so much and went on to describe RVW as querulous and ill-humoured.

After he went down from Cambridge, RVW retained friendly links with this group and in 1900 G E Moore would stay with RVW. G E Moore would go on to become a major philosopher, producing his magnum opus Principia Ethica in 1903. He sent RVW a copy, RVW found it 'difficult but wonderful'. Moore and his work would have a very great influence on the male members of the Bloomsbury group. Desmond MacCarthy, Lytton Strachey, Saxon Sydney Turner, Leonard Woolf, Maynard Keynes and James Strachey were all Apostles and highly receptive to Moore and his philosophy. As far as RVW was concerned, Lytton Strachey would later comment that he found his music rather 'South Kensington' probably because Strachey knew his female relatives.

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Copyright © 5 February 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK


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