Life of Charles Walter Moule [1834 – 1921]
Classical Lecturer & Librarian of Corpus Christie College Cambridge
Compiled by Michael Russell OPC for Fordington © 2007
Charles Walter Moule was born on the 9th February 1834 at Fordington vicarage , the fifth of eight sons of Henry Moule [1801-1880] and his wife Mary Mullett Evans. He was baptised by his father in St George’s church on 13th March 1834.
Fordington Vicarage and the River Frome
Like his elder brothers he was educated initially by his father who surrounded him at the vicarage with a stimulating academic environment from an early age. As was expected he went onto Cambridge University entering Corpus Christi College on 5th July 1853. At the end of each term Charles returned to the vicarage, and to the company of his brothers. His youngest brother Handley recalls that idyllic time in his Memories of a Vicarage which he wrote in 1914. He says that both his brothers Charles and Arthur were clever fly fishermen and that when he was twelve or thirteen he often went out with them on warm summer evenings to their river, the beautiful Frome to watch them fish and land their prey. He recalls of that time:-
“I still seem to see that dear crystal stream, flowing broad and shallow, and the maze of sunshine and shadow cast upon it through the oaks and alders, and the poise and dart of the trout just discernible in the current. Those same delicious meadows witnessed innumerable bathings too. All along the green lengths, and in their poplar bordered nooks and coves, the river, rushing through “hatches” from one level to another, scoops out deep gravely pools, and here and there it was our delight to plunge and swim”
During his time at Cambridge the college was becoming known as a place where the spiritual life of undergraduates was being carefully nurtured. In 1857 Charles graduated in the Classical Tripos at Cambridge as one of a group of four who were bracketed senior classics. Two went on to earn fame as Sir JR Seeley Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge and Canon Kynaston Professor of Greek in the University of Durham.
Classical Lecturer & Tutor at Cambridge
After gaining his Degree (BA) in 1858 he was elected to a fellowship at Corpus and became assistant Master at Marlborough College from 1858 to1864, obtaining his Master of Arts Degree in 1861. He was then called back into residence at Corpus in the capacity of Classical Lecturer.
On the election of Dr Perowne to the Mastership of Corpus in 1879 Charles was appointed to succeed him as tutor and held the post until 1892.
Charles married when he was 51 years old at Acomb church in Yorkshire on 29th December 1885 to Mary Dora the youngest daughter of the late Richard Cautley Lt Col of the 10th Bengal Cavalry and his wife Jane. Mary had been born in 1855 in Rutland and was therefore 30 years old and 21 years his junior. The ceremony was performed by his brother the Reverend Handley Moule Principal of Ridley Hall Cambridge.
Librarian of Corpus Christie College
From 1895 to 1913 he was College Librarian and became dedicated to the care of the unique collection of manuscripts given by Archbishop Parker. In 1913 he became President a position he held until his death in 1921. Well respected I note he is listed as being present at the funeral of Lord Braybrook, for 50 years master of Magdelain College, on 15 Jan 1904.
Charles died at the age of 87 on 11th May 1921 at 13 Cramer Road Cambridge and was buried at Grantchester in the churchyard there.
As an author he wrote The Marlborough Carmen & Musa Domestica but he was also a good poet. When his mother died in 1877 he wrote the following poem during the watches of the night.
Farewell, beloved and noble face,
Reflexion of the Saviour’s grace,
Fair image of a life
Which, pressing toward the Holiest Place,
Still climbed the steep, still ran the race,
And conquered in the strife!
Farewell, mute lips and sightless eyes,
Ye sharers of our smiles and sighs,
The sunlight of our board!
Consolers sweet of sorrowing cries,
Lovers of fields, and waves, and skies,
And singers to their Lord!
Farewell, the deft, strong, gentle hand,
That wrought the Master’s last command
With never-weary will;
That sewed, nursed, guided, summed, or planned,
Or scattered joy by sea or land,
Till palsy dropt the quill!
Farewell, dear feet that cannot move!
How long, upborne by mighty love,
Through home, school, street, ye passed!
Ah, what a maze of steps ye wove!
To run God’s errand’s how ye strove!
Nor spirit failed at last!
Farewell, our Mother’s tenderest heart!
Thow canst not die, nor dead thou art,
Though now to sleep thou’rt fain,
Sore is the pang from thee to part;
When wilt thou ease thy children’s smart,
And beat for us again?
Farewell, O freed and mounting soul,
Beyond the grave, beyond the pole,
Where’er thy rest may be;
May He whose presence was thy goal
Be near us whilst the seasons roll,
And let us come to thee!
Note: A good quality photograph of Charles Walter Moule at the age of 50 can be purchased from the Cambridge Antiquarian Society Portrait Collection Ref CAS F84 1884.