Second Part - 23rd September 2009


0:05:07 I came back to Cambridge in 1987, partly because I was getting rather disenchanted with life in the faculty in Oxford; I enjoyed the college side of life in Oxford; All Souls had funded the Chichele Professorship of Economic History in 1931 and a Professorial Fellowship went with the Chair; if you were a professor in one of the poorer undergraduate colleges it was fairly bleak as you were unlikely to be offered rooms in the college; All Souls was very comfortable for fellows; I met Hugh Lloyd Jones who had been a lecturer in Classics here and had later become Regius Professor of Greek in Oxford; he indicated that to be a college tutor in Oxford was fine, but to be a professor meant that you were outside the heart of the faculty; he claimed that, for non-laboratory subjects in Oxford the faculties were just liaison committees of the college tutors and that: “Tutors, English, good; Professors, German, bad”; it is not quite like that now in Oxford; that was one of the reasons for my leaving Oxford, but the other was an invitation to be a candidate for the Mastership of Downing; I never discovered then or since how that came about; I had no connection with Downing at all; it was a poor college and knew that they would have to pay me a living wage so could have selected a retired diplomat or a Cambridge professor who would prove less expensive; the offer when it came was very attractive; we still had quite a lot of friends in Cambridge, also the Master's Lodge in Downing is a very handsome residence and not too large to be oppressive, with a two acre garden attached; Ann, my wife, has a long-standing interest in gardening so was happy to come to the Lodge; the one disappointment was that I had no operational link with the faculty, I was a formal member but completely on the outside; without a faculty job one didn't know what was going on, and in Cambridge the faculty is the centre of things as far as historical activity is concerned; I was welcomed at the Modern Economic History seminar which I organized with the Professor of Economic History for some years; I was not invited to supervise any graduate students, however, the balance was in favour of accepting and I have never regretted doing so; Downing looked after us very well; it was difficult in many ways succeeding John Butterfield who was a charismatic person, central on the scene, both for the University and for the College; he had been Vice Chancellor, Regius Professor of Medicine, and a charismatic Master of the College; he was very kind to me and did everything in his power to smooth my path into Downing; nevertheless he was a difficult person to succeed; he had been a professorial fellow in the College before becoming Master so he knew much more about it than I did; he had a remarkable rapport with everyone; I remember when one porter had to go into Addenbrookes for a minor operation, Butterfield visited him the first morning after he was admitted, on the ward round; the nurses were amazed by this visitation to one of the humbler patients; that was typical of him; John was a busy person whose instinct was always to accept invitations so he was over-committed in every way; this did lead to him not doing as much as he should have done in Downing; one of the advantages of my position was that I did not initially have any other commitment, so a full-time Master; that didn't last too long as the Council of the Senate and the Vice Chancellor were aware of my presence, and I became the Vice Chancellor's deputy on several syndicates and committees; that did bring me into the centre of University life, if not in the faculty


17:41:16 There are two major benefactors of Downing, one thanks to Alan Howard and the Cambridge Diet, the other out of the blue, from someone who had not been closely associated with the College; the Cambridge Diet was in many ways a legacy of John Butterfield; he had helped Alan Howard when he was an academic here; Howard had a PhD in Chemistry; while studying he became interested in low calorie intakes in rats and Butterfield suggested that if it also worked in humans he could make a lot of money; Howard turned his attention to low calorie diets for human nutrition; he wrote a little book on the Cambridge Diet and Butterfield wrote a very influential preface with all his authority as Regius Professor of Medicine; Alan did not look back from that point and has always acknowledged his moral debt to the College and Butterfield; I arrived first October 1987 when the Howard Building was erected and waiting to be opened; that derived from the generosity of Alan Howard three or four years before; since then he has been clear about, when mandating money to the College he is also mandating the architect; he would have none other than Quinlan Terry and that has been so for all the other buildings that he funded, including the new Howard Theatre; the sequence began with the Howard Building and continued with the residential building that was the third side of Howard Court, as it is now named; the fourth side is now in completion with the theatre; it is not accidentally named as a theatre - not a lecture theatre in the Cambridge sense, but more like a miniature opera house; again, Quinlan Terry is the architect and Francis, his son, has done quite a lot of the internal murals; Downing has found itself in the position of traditional landed families where they built according to the limit of the mortgage they could raise rather than to the limit of their income; Downing has been able to fund buildings from benefactions but runs the risk of heavy maintenance costs when the benefaction runs out; the other benefaction which was being discussed when I arrived but not secured, was for the library; the College did not have a dedicated library before; the funding came about with initial discussions when Butterfield was Master, but I took them over; that was funding by an alumnus, Joseph Robinson, later Maitland Robinson, who had read history in Downing in the late 1920s; he had fallen in love with the daughter of the person who owned the Hull telephone exchange and company; it was an unique company in the sense that they ran landlines throughout the city area of Hull then leased the apparatus to subscribers; Maitland Robinson wanted to elope but the family were against this, and he should either give up the girl or take both her and the company; he decided to do the latter; the telephone wires were strung from poles and it was suggested post 1945 that the same could be used for a cable television system; he did try to do this, and it would have been thirty to forty years in advance of ITV, but he failed to do so for two reasons; they couldn't get the technology right - the idea was that they would sell the front end of television sets operated from a central broadcasting station; he was also frozen out by the television companies who would get greater profit from selling complete television sets to customers rather than the front end through a powerful commercial intermediary; he then went into the television rental business by default rather than by design; the company was very successful until he sold out to Thorn, and made a great fortune because of that; part of that fortune came to Downing through the Maitland Robinson Library; his second wife, Joanna, became so angry at being confused with David Robinson, also a television magnate who founded Robinson College, changed the family name by deed poll to Maitland Robinson; possibly Maitland was her pre-married name; as part of ‘heritage Downing’ Quinlan Terry was thought the appropriate architect, and I think that the library is his most successful academic building; the College was a little anxious about Quinlan designing the library so, as a condition of the commission, the College required that he act jointly with Harry Faulkner-Brown, an architect who specialized in university libraries; they each acknowledged the professional status of the other so that the technical design was Faulkner-Brown's; it was very specific, requiring natural light on all four sides, that no reader should ever be disturbed by someone collecting a book behind them so the wall of books had to be in a central core - this saved money as it reduced the weight on the perimeter walls; there were also other quite rigid requirements which Quinlan was perfectly happy to accept; it is a library that works very well in a technical sense and is a very handsome structure; Joanna Maitland Robinson has been living in the Channel Islands and comes regularly to Downing


37:49:23  The shock of coming to Cambridge was not only my separation from the faculty, but also because nothing could be of greater collegiate contrast than All Souls and Downing; looking out of my window in All Souls I would see no one but a college servant raking the gravel; in Downing I was in the middle of a hectic undergraduate operation; since then the number of graduate students has grown inordinately and the number of undergraduates, only marginally; it was a pleasant shock because All Souls was really an island in time, more particularly when John Sparrow was Warden; I was welcomed in Downing; in Cambridge, it seemed to me, you either had confrontational or consensus colleges; Christ's at that time was an archetypal confrontational college; Downing, perhaps because it was a small fellowship, was a consensus college, and one had to be careful about upsetting people; there were one or two who had spiky relationships but did not last long in the fellowship after my arrival; the personal relationships have always been very good and such conflicts as there were, were diffused before they could become self-perpetuating; it seemed to me that one of the tasks of the incoming head of college was to get as many people into the Lodge, whether senior or junior members, and to raise the profile of the College; I had quite a handsome entertainment allowance which we spent to the full; I liked entertaining and Ann was very good at it; at that point we had a fellows' butler who knew what the level of expectations were; that had sadly gone by the board now; I was able to hand over to David King with the College in a good state and as a congenial society


44:52:15 The link with Keio University preceded my arrival although I sought to enhance it; it came about partly through John Butterfield, but also through the President of the College, in the Cambridge sense, the senior Fellow, John Treherne; Treherne was a biologist who had discovered a talent for writing and was taken up by P.D. James; she is an Honorary Fellow of the College and has provided funds for a creative writing prize; Treherne had links with Keio and, with Butterfield, Downing established a Keio fellowship so that a senior member of the faculty of Keio would come to Downing every year;  Keio funded an apartment in a College building on Lensfield Road, equipped with a Japanese-style kitchen so that Keio fellow's wives would find it familiar for the three months or so that they would stay; I helped to instigate a large summer school for junior members of Keio who come in August with faculty members; Keio, as with most Japanese links, are much more meticulous about maintaining the link and fulfilling all the courtesies and expectations of maintaining such a link than on the Downing side; the portrait of Fukuzawa in Downing was presented to us by Keio with a 10,000 Yen note with his image on it, but the note was subsequently stolen; one of the difficulties is that Keio has a large faculty and, on the whole, every member wants to come to Cambridge for three to six months; there are only thirty-plus active fellows of Downing, very few of whom wanted to spend half a year in Japan; if anyone from Downing is going to Japan for a conference or passing through Japan, then they would probably visit Keio and give a seminar or lecture there; one of the staunch links between Keio and Downing is Toshi Takamiya; another thing which consolidated the link was that a few years ago I was asked to become one of the two international advisors to Keio; that took a lot of time and was fascinating for me; the other advisor was the President of Brown University who then became head of a major foundation, the Carnegie Institute, in the United States, but I don't think he had so much to do with Keio in detail as I did running up to the 150th anniversary celebration


52:51:06 I have tended to accept invitations that have locked up a lot of time; I don't regret this but they have got in the way of publishing large books in retirement; I have done all kinds of things; I was involved in the Jerusalem committee for a time when Teddy Kollek was Mayor, the Wissenschaft Collegium in Berlin, the Central European University in Budapest, and in the early years with Buckingham University; with academic commitments I had a major task where I was the general editor of volume six of 'The History of Humanity' which was organized and published by UNESCO; that was a snake pit and I wish I had never become involved; that was the nineteenth century volume and it became more and more controversial, more particularly with conflicts between ideologies of left and right as one approached the present; a good fifty percent of the authors had actually died before publication at the beginning of 2009; I have also been giving an annual set of lectures in the Institute of Philosophical Studies in Naples; they have wanted to publish them and there are now four little books in print and another on the way, and they are extremely reluctant that I should cease that commitment; I have also been head of the advisory board of the Central European University Press in Budapest; I have been much in favour of George Soros; he has been a genuine philanthropist even though he made a billion pounds when the pound went out of the European payments system in 1992, but what he did was to put every penny of it into supporting liberal causes in central and eastern Europe, including setting up the Central European University; it is an English language press as C.E.U. is registered in the United States, and has been a beacon of light in central Europe; it is a niche publisher, but very successful