George Watson with Will Vaus, 1997
I read today in The Independent an article about the largest donation given to the Liberal Democratic party in the UK in a decade. You may read the article here: The Independent. What surprised me was to discover that I met the donor, George Watson, in 1997.
Watson was a student of C. S. Lewis at Oxford and a colleague at Cambridge. He wrote some essays about Lewis' literary criticism many years after Lewis' death. I was introduced to Watson by Walter Hooper and asked Watson if he would give a lecture to a Lewis tour group I was bringing through Cambridge. He agreed. And not only did he do that, but he also, very kindly gave us a tour of his college, St. John's, and Lewis' Magdalene.
Watson gave a very erudite lecture to our group in the conference room of our hotel. Despite being an avowed atheist/agnostic and a very unemotional character, he got choked up in the middle of his lecture when he was about to read a brief excerpt from C. S. Lewis' "English Literature in the Sixteenth Century". He asked me to read the excerpt. Here it is:
In the Prayer Book that earnest age, not itself rich either in passion or in beauty, is matched in a most fruitful opposition with overwhelming material and with originals all but over-ripe in their artistry. It arrests them, binds them in strong syllables, strengthens them even by limitations, as they in return erect and transfigure it. Out of that conflict the perfection springs. There are of course many good, and different, ways both of writing prose and of praying. Its temper may seem cold to those reared in other traditions but no one will deny that it is strong. It offers little and concedes little to merely natural feelings: even religious feelings it will not heighten till it has first sobered them; but at its greatest it shines with a white light hardly surpassed outside the pages of the New Testament itself. (end of chapter on "Religious Controversy and Translation")Since Dr. Watson expressed an interest in and reverence for The Book of Common Prayer, it seems appropriate to me to offer this prayer for him from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer....
O God, whose mercies cannot be numbered: Accept our prayers on behalf of thy servant George Watson, and grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy, in the fellowship of thy saints, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.