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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 17, No. 13. July 15, 1953

Cold Perfection

Cold Perfection

A picture as beautiful and delicate as the painted Elizabeth which she was portraying is the best description of Meida O'Reilly's speech on Elizabeth I. Peeling off two vertical strips from her subject she concentrated on her oration around them; the result was an effect which, contrary to the expressed opinion of the speaker, did not go beyond the robes of majesty. The delivery was too much of an elocutionary item to give depth and sincerity to the speech. Nevertheless it was a delightful contribution to the evening, with all the glitter and artistry of a perfectly cut diamond. The speaker sought after and achieved, cold perfection. In my view it deserved second place in the contest. The lurid death scene of Essex appeared as a conscious and fruitless striving after effect. My advice to orators is to treat a death scene with simplicity, sincerity, and above all with brevity.

The final two sentences of this speech were the best two sentences of the evening. They captured, with magnificent rhetorical effect, more perfectly than this pen can describe, the two opposed facets of Elizabeths character which Meida set out to illustrate—a monarch and a lonely woman.