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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55

University of New Zealand

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University of New Zealand.

The ceremony of distributing the diplomas gained by students of Canterbury College at the annual examination of the University of New Zealand took place in the College Hall yesterday afternoon. The front seats were reserved for graduates and undergraduates, but the latter—those of the male sex at all events—preferred to take up a position at the back of the hall, either from excessive modesty, or, what is more likely, from a desire to signify their approval of the proceedings after the manner of their kind without being immediately under the eyes of the Professors and other magnates on the platform. The body of the hall, which was open to the general public, was well filled, the great majority of those present being ladies. Punctually at 3 p.m., the hour appointed for the commencement of the proceedings, a sort of informal procession, consisting of the Professors of the College and the other gentlemen who were to take paît in the ceremony, entered the room and ascended the platform, saluted by the undergraduates with three cheers, and the tootling of a tin trumpet and other instruments of discord. Among those on the platform were the Most Rev the Primate, the Very Rev the Dean, His Honor Justice Johnston, the head masters of Christ's College and the Boys' High School, the principal of the Normal School, the Rev C. Turrell, Messrs F. Fitchett and Izard, and Lieutenant-Colonel Lean and Major Slater.

Professor von Haast presided, and before distributing the diplomas, read the following address :—

Fellow Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen,—Owing to the unavoidable absence of the Chancellor of the University, I have been entrusted with the pleasing task of presenting the diplomas gained during the last examination to the successful students of Canterbury College, whom I wish here to congratulate most heartily upon their well deserved success. I may be permitted to observe to them that they have thus gained one of the first steps on the ladder of knowledge, and if they wish really to become masters in any one subject, they must also in the future continue to toil and work, with an honest endeavour to advance truth in all its aspects. This is the more necessary, as in the age in which we live the advancement of knowledge is most remarkable and striking. Gradually, one by one, some of the secrets of nature are unveiled to the astonished eye and the enchanted mind, and though we shall never be able to fathom the vera causa of our being and of the great laws by which the cosmos is governed, our understanding will become more extended, and our sense of the beautiful more expanded, than they ever were before. The time of mediæval teaching is past,—science in all its phases every day becomes more necessary to the intellectual and material welfare of the community. Nature blindness,—to use the expression of an eminent North American writer,—has gradually to give way in the human mind to an earnest endeavour of the student to become acquainted, as far as possible, with the world to which we belong, and the physical laws by which it is governed. At the present time there is no power like knowledge—scientific knowledge—both in peace and war. If New Zealand wants to become a great country, if it wishes to march abreast with other civilised nations, it must assist, with no niggardly hand, the highest aim of education, the search after truth. Thus, only, will it be able to raise the general standard of knowledge, and sharpen the power and ability of its inhabitants to battle with the great questions of life, and to grasp the difficulties, even in international questions, which surround us everywhere. And this brings me to a theme of considerable importance to our Alma mater; a question that will at once point to the great difference between literary and scientific disciplines. Those of our Professors teaching scientific subjects labour, as a rule, under great disadvantages in comparison to their colleagues who devote themselves to humanistic studies, for they must prepare apparatus and specimens for the illustration of their lectures. In many instances, however, they do not possess the necessary material to do so adequately, and thus are often deprived of the means of bringing the results of the latest researches—often wonderfully interesting and instructive—before their students. I would like to ask, what has the University of New Zealand, what have the page break affiliated Colleges done for physical research since they began their work? Has an Astronomical Observatory been established? In what state are our laboratories for physical, chemical, or physiological research? What provision has been made for obtaining new instruments and apparatus, so necessary for the elucidation of the results of the latest discoveries? I have to answer that, owing to its peculiar constitution, nothing could be done by our University, and that in most of the affiliated Colleges, owing to their limited income, scarcely any new apparatus has been obtained, and when this was done it was only owing to the constant and unflagging endeavours of the teachers, who, however, for that very reason, did not rise in favour with the holders of the purse strings. I am well aware that in most instances the strictest economy is necessary in our University Colleges to make both ends meet; but, nevertheless, owing to the great and incalculable value of the results of scientific research, some small annual grant ought to be set aside for obtaining the necessary appliances to keep pace with modern research in the Northern Hemisphere. If the matter were properly represented to the Government of the Colony, I have no doubt that some funds would be set aside for the purpose. As the want has been felt for some time past of a proper and well equipped astronomical observatory in New Zealand, under the direction of an astronomer who could devote part of his time to teaching the students of our University that sublime science, the necessary grant for the erection of such a valuable institution ought also to be obtained. Of the great English Universities Cambridge stands foremost in showing us that the spirit of modern enquiry has taken hold of its rulers. Large sums of money are spent annually on the erection of museums, chemical, physical, and physiological laboratories, and new Professorships are created, so that all those subjects of modern date, but of eminent value to the rising generation, can be properly taught. The Cambridge University Calendar furnishes us with an instructive insight into the great changes that have taken place since the beginning of the century in the teaching power of that venerable institution. I find that besides four Professorships for purely theological subjects, which may be said to be only of use to students belonging to the Church of England, eighteen new chairs have been endowed. Of these, eleven belong to purely scientific subjects, and seven to humanistic studies. Of the latter, three belong to extinct languages, Latin, Sanscrit and Anglo-Saxon, and the others to Political Economy, Law, and the Fine Arts. The greater part of all these Professorships have been established since 1863. In order to keep pace with the requirements of the science teachers, museums and laboratories had also to be provided. By a series of extensive new edifices, and the alteration of older buildings, all the Professors of the Natural Sciences have—the Cambridge University Calendar of 1881 states—been furnished with a connected series of museums and lecture-rooms, further increased by a range of workrooms in three floors commenced in 1877. During the month of May last, the Senate has also approved of the erection of a new chemical laboratory on an extensive scale, fitted up with all the newest improvements. Guided by such illustrious men as Professor Michael Poster and the late Professor Clerk Maxwell, a scientific school has sprung up at Cambridge that will bring new lustre and additional renown to that ancient University, and atone in some degree for the neglect scientific teaching has hitherto sustained from those who set teaching in the old beaten track above all other human knowledge. And that this comparatively young scientific school produces eminent men is clearly proved, by the choice of five Cambridge men as Fellows of the Royal Society of London at the yearly election of fifteen new Fellows in May last, whilst ten others have been elected in the last five or six years. I may also draw attention to the fact that, at that old established University, constant endeavours are made to do away with those compulsory subjects that are not of paramount value to scientific students, or even to those who do not wish to devote their life to philological researches, and I have no doubt that this desirable change will soon be accomplished so that all subjects will be treated as of equal value. Whatever may be the fate of the Universities of the future, one thing is certain, that they will only deserve their name—Universitas—if they devote themselves to the whole range of human knowledge, without favouring some subjects more than others—in fact, if they cease to have compulsory subjects at all, and allow the students to select for themselves those branches of knowledge for which they have the greatest aptitude in order that they may thus do most benefit to the community of which they are members. Naturally, the Universities of the future must take care that students who graduate in them represent fairly the knowledge of the times in which they live, and do not merely possess some knowledge in one or two subjects while they are totally ignorant even in the rudiments of all others. It is scarcely necessary to add that, as I have pointed out elsewhere, our secondary schools have greatly to be remodelled, and the method of teaching extinct and living languages altogether altered. Lately, on Oct. 27 last year, the new buildings of a University were opened, which in many respects comes up to the standard the highest education in a great State requires page break at the present time. The University of Strasbourg took the place of the so-called Académie de Strasbourg, which came to an end during the great France-German war in 1870-71. The new University was endowed in a way worthy of the great Empire to which Strasbourg now belongs. A number of the best teachers from Germany were attracted by liberal remuneration, but still more by the erection and endowment of laboratories, museums, and workrooms on a grander scale than anywhere in the world, even in the largest capitals of Europe. This great work of peace will probably do more to unite again to the great German Empire that portion so long in the hands of another nation, than any other means that could be devised. Though the ancient buildings of the former Académie do Strasbourg were not unimportant, a sum of about £6720.000 has been expended by the German Empire on new buildings, and a sum of £50,000 is annually devoted from its exchequer to supplement the comparatively large income of the former institution. There are 92 Professors to teach 858 students, of whom, in the summer semester of 1881, 252 were natives of Alsace-Lorraine, but the number is gradually increasing, and I have no doubt that owing to its perfect organisation and liberal endowment for scientific research, Strasbourg will shortly be one of the most frequented Universities on the Continent. You will agree with me that such a magnificent and complete creation for the advancement of the human mind is worthy of the great Empire from which it has emanated, and that we cannot do better than to follow in an humble way this example, as well as that of Cambridge. Whatever may be the opinion of educated men as to the subjects that ought to be selected for a University course, they ought all to agree that, principally, the inductive method ought to be used in the future for the elucidation of all questions in which the human reasoning power has to be brought into action. I can easily understand why the immortal father of modern science (Francis Bacon) stood alone and unheard amongst his contemporaries. He preached in the wilderness. All those who could have understood and followed him were entangled in the meshes of scholastic traditions, from which they could not free themselves. But now the times have fortunately changed, and though many of our great thinkers who have merely received the old intellectual training cannot active take part in modern research, they at least recognise the value of the new methods of inductive science. Again, lately we had a striking proof of this recognition in the solemn ceremony of unveiling the Darwin statue on June 9, in the great Hall of the Natural History Museum in London, upon which memorable occasion the Prince of Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury stood side by side with Professor Huxley and many other leading men of science, representing modern thought and research, One great step has thus been gained; but before the desired result can really be obtained of placing the subjects to be taught by inductive reasoning on the same footing with those to which syllogistic reasoning is applied, we have to begin a thorough reform of our secondary schools. When the head masters of the latter place the same importance upon scientific subjects and modern languages as upon the old disciplines; when it is once admitted that the proper study of mankind is not man, but Nature, of which he is only a minute and unimportant atom, and that our intellectual and moral faculties can be trained just as well, if not better, by an insight into the great laws by which this wonderful world of ours is governed, than by merely studying the sayings of ancient writers, then a new era of happiness and comfort will begin for the general benefit of present and future generations.

The address was warmly applauded at the conclusion.

The Registrar, Mr F. G. Stedman, then read an extract from the annual statement of the Chairman of the Board of Governors, showing that four students from the College have this year obtained the degree of M.A. Miss E. Searle gained at the same time first-class honours in languages and third class in political science; W. P. Evans, first-class honours in mathematics; R. M. Laing, second-class honours in biology; and A. J. Mayne, third-class honours in languages. Ten students of the College have passed the final sections of their B.A. examination, and had the degree conferred on them (two of them under the teachers' regulations)—Miss C. Alexander and H. Cross, H. Inglis, G. Hutton, H. von Haast, P. Kime, R. Lamb, T. Rowe, J. G. L. Scott and H. Wilson—while ten have passed the first section of their B.A. examination (three of them under the teachers' regulations)—Misses A. Gresham, A. Harband, B. Jack, E. Pitcaithly, E. Milsom and L. M. Mill, W. Craddock, J. H. Simmonds, W. Haworth and W. Cuthbert. Of the two who this year obtained the degree of LL.B., J. R. Thorn-ton belonged to this College. The Bowen prize, offered for an essay on some subject connected with English history, was this year gained by Miss M. Lorimer, of this College, A. R. Meek, also of this College, being mentioned as proxime accessit. The Gilchrist scholarship was gained this year by H. M. Inglis, of this College. This year a new regulation, made by the Senate at its meeting in 1884, confining the competition for senior scholarships to the second section and final year of the B.A. degree, and their resolution applying this regulation to the examination seven months thereafter, excluded a large number of students of the College from competing for page break senior scholarships, but of the which were awarded, a Canterbury College student, H. M. Inglis, obtained one—that for experimental science. The College exhibitions, given for excellence in honours work at the College annual examination, were awarded as follows:—For Latin, T. W. Rowe; English, Misses B. Gibson and E. Pitcaithly, equal; mathematics, W. Haworth; natural science, Miss C. Alexander; experimental science, H. M. Inglis; history, political economy, and French, W. H. A. Craddock. The graduates of the New Zealand University who have been educated at the College now number 45, 21 of whom have obtained the degree of M.A., and 24 that of B.A. Three of these have also obtained the degree of LL.B; Of the M.A.'s, one gained double first-class honours, one a double first-class and a second, eleven first-class honours, one a second, and seven third-class. Out of 101 who have taken degrees at the University of New Zealand, 45 belong to Canterbury College. Out of the 36 who have taken the M.A. degree, 22 belong to it; and of who have taken first-class honours, 13 belong to it. Of the 46 senior and third year scholarships awarded by the University of New Zealand during the last six years, the period during which, present scholarship regulations have been in force, 30 have been awarded to students of Canterbury College. Of the ten Bowen prizes, eight have been gained by students trained in this College, whilst the only two mentioned as proxime accessit have been also of the Collage. Of the three Gilchrist scholarships that have been offered in New Zealand, two have been gained by students of Canterbury College.

The following graduates were then presented by Professor Bickerton to Professor von Haast, who handed them their diplomas, and declared them duly admitted to their degrees :—

Masters of Arts.

  • Robert Malcolm Laing
  • Arthur Jonathan Mayne.

Bachelors of Arts.

  • Miss Catherine Alexander
  • Henry Cross
  • G. M. Hutton
  • H. Percy Kime
  • I. Robert Lamb
  • J. T. W. Rowe
  • K. J. G. L. Scott
  • L. von Haast Henry Wilson,

Each graduate was warmly cheered on receiving the diploma, while the under-graduates sang "For he is a jolly good fellow," accompanying themselves on the unmusical instruments before mentioned.

Professor von Haast called on Mr F. Fitchett to address the assembly.

Mr Fitchett commenced by mildly "chaffing" the undergraduates on their performances on the tin whistle and their other pranks, which he assured them, were not to be compared with those indulged in by Otago undergraduates on similar occasions. He asked that they would not interrupt him oftener than once every five or ten minutes, a request which was certainly complied with, for beyond an occasional clatter of applause, and a few blasts of the tin trumpet, he met with no interruptions. Mr Fitchett then asked his hearers to look back for a few moments at the early difficulties of the College. On looking over a University calendar of 1875 he found that Canterbury College had in that year three students, Messrs Cotterill, Thornton and Wilkinson. In those days there was no building like the one they were at present assembled in. The Professors had to conduct their classes under the greatest difficulties. They had very few students, and had to hold their classes at all sorts of hours to suit their convenience, and had to teach them almost the elementary portions of the subjects. In spite of all some excellent work was done in those times. Things were very different now. There were institutions like the High Schools and Christ's College, which might well be styled the Harrow of New Zealand, affiliated to Canterbury College, and doing the general scholarship work, and all the early difficulties were gone. He would quote a few figures to show how the College stood among the Educational institutions of the Colony. Out of 61 B.A degrees conferred by the University of New Zealand, this College had taken 26, and Otago College 23; of 32 M.A.'s, 21 came from Canterbury College, and seven from Otago; of 7 LL.B.'s, three were from Canterbury College, and two from Otago; of 18 winners of first-class honours Canterbury College furnished 13, and Otago two; of six winners of second-class honours, three were from Canterbury College, and three from Otago; of ten who gained third-class honours, eight came from Canterbury College and two from Otago; so that out of a total of 34 honours takers 24 were from Canterbury College and seven from Otago. There had been altogether 49 senior and three-year scholarships, out of which this College had taken 33 and Otago 11. The Gilchrist Scholarship had been twice gained by Canterbury College, and the Bowen Prize had been taken eight, out of ten times by its students. He had not mentioned these facts to puff them up with an idea of their own superiority over the students of Otago and elsewhere. He believed that the results he had quoted were owing to the hardwork and the enthusiasm of the Professors—(applause)—who had inspired their students with their own energy. Mr Fitchett concluded by reminding his hearers that the higher the position occupied by the College, the greater was the responsibility devolving upon its students, who should work all the harder to uphold the [unclear: fame] and honour of the institution—an institution of which he himself, as an old manber, felt very proud, and of whose fair fame he was very jealous. (Loud applause.)

This concluded the proceedings.