Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Spike: or, Victoria College Review 1912

Capping Day

page 34

Capping Day

"Invest me with a graduate's gown
'Midst shouts of all beholders,
My head with ample square-cap crown,
And deck, with hood, my shoulders."

Capping day written on mortarboards

The Capping Ceremony.

This year, contrary to custom, the Capping Ceremony, instead of preceding, followed the Carnival, and was held in the morning instead of in the afternoon. Notwithstanding the latter arrangement, the Town Hall was well filled by a large audience of interested parents and friends, past-graduates' and under-graduates, the last-named displaying, now and again, a somewhat invalid wit. The proceedings were, as the papers said, "of a most orderly nature," the size of the great hall and the presence of a most distinguished visitor somewhat diminishing our levity.

The stage, hung with curtains and containing some of the scenery from the night before, appeared, to one sitting in the gallery, as a murky cave in whose background could barely be distinguished the familiar forms of the Professors and College Councillors; while towards the front, more in the light of day, sat His Excellence the Governor (Lord Islington), the Rt. Hon. Jas. Bryce, British Minister Plenipotentiary at Washington, U.S.A., and Dr. F. Fitchett, Vice-Chancellor of the University.

Dr. Fitchett, who presided, introduced into his ten minutes' speech some examples of statistics and a truly harrowing description of the financial poverty and architectural unloveliness of Victoria College, and ended by dwelling in hopeful prophecy on the future liberality of Parliament.

page 35

Lord Islington made one of his typically clever and tactful speeches, and was applauded vigorously by the gallery. The next speaker was the Rt. Hon. Jas. Bryce, for whose words we were all waiting m eager expectancy. He was introduced by His Excellency, who appealed to us to give our visitor "the most cordial of Victoria College welcomes, and then an attentive hearing," which we did. Mr. Bryce is a speaker who grips the attention of his audience at once, and keeps it till he brings to an end his finely flowing speech of lucid, thoughtful sentences. We reprint the following report of his speech from "The Dominion":—

Mr. Bryce thanked the gathering for the cordiality of the reception, "Let me," he went on, "thank my old friend, His Excellency the Governor, for the terms in which he referred to me; but his words, I think, were spoken more out of old acquaintanceship than in strict adherence to the truth. He said that I have made many speeches to University audience. I am almost ashamed to say how many. . . . However, having listened to many a weary speech in the House of Common I should be the last to delay you with a long address." Graduation at the University, continued Mr. Bryce, was not the end of education, but, rather the beginning of it, and the teaching obtained at the institution was to teach people how to teach them-selves, and thus make life one long process of education. A famous man of a former day had said: "I shall die always learning;." Learning ended only with life. They should cultivate a love of knowledge, and a love of truth. He remarked that the woman graduates were a leading feature of the New Zealand University, and one of those features which gave a peculiar charm to it. On Thursday, he said, he had had the privilege of being present at the opening ceremony of the New Zealand Parliament, and he had thought how close a connection there should be between the Parliament and the University. It should be of the greatest importance and value if the Parliament included University-educated members, who would bring to the House their full knowledge. He hoped that University men would offer themselves for service in public life, and fill honoured places in the Legislative Assembly. (Applause)

New Zealand had many difficult problems of University education before it, said Mr. Bryce. Some of these problems were peculiar to New Zealand. There was the peculiar difficulty of knowing how to reconcile the claims of the four cities for their four colleges. New Zealand had to spread its work, and its effort, and its money over the four institutions, while in England page 36 they had a proportionately smaller number of universities upon which to bestow their attention. New Zealand had produced men of high capacity, such a. Professor Ernest Rutherford and Professor R. C. McLaurin, who had been drawn away by the larger salaries and the somewhat larger field, which the other countries offered. It was hard that when a country possessed a man of exceptional gifts he was apt to be taken away from the land of his birth. The New Zealand University had also the difficulty of having an Examining Board which was not in such close connection as some would like to see it with the teaching work of the colleges. (Applause) He felt, therefore, that there was a great deal of difficult) in endeavouring to adjust university eaching to the peculiar needs of the Dominion. He was certain that the Government would endeavour to place University education upon the best possible footing. He hoped that public attention would not be diverted from the subject until a serious effort had been made to solve these problems of magnitude.

Mr. Bryce thought that he might be allowed to make three remarks, based on what he had seen at Home, in Canada, and in the United States, where the problems were sufficiently like New Zealand's to enable him to speak with some confidence. The first counsel he would give was that it seemed to him that New Zealand would be obliged to try to specialise work. The difficulties of concentrating on one centre were obvious in a country of the shape of New Zealand. One must admit the difficulty there would be in creating one great university out of the four colleges. But if that could not be done, it would be best to allot to each college some special held of activity in which it could extend and develop, so that, instead of four institutional] imperfectly developed, they would have four institutions each of which would be especially equipped in some particular direction. It was not necessary that a student should obtain all his education in one institution. In a country which stood second tc none in the higher education—he meant Germany—it had long been a practice for students to begin their education at one university, go on to another, and then even to a third, thus following on to the colleges which gave the highest education in the direction which the student desired.

For instance, They could have at (say) Otago the medical faculty, at Auckland mechanical and mining engineering, at Christchurch agriculture, and at Wellington law, political economy, and finance. It had very strongly been borne in upon him how important it was to have an agricultural college of the highest excellence. New Zealand had agricultural resource hardly equalled in any part of the Empire, and it was New Zea page 37 land's duly to develop those resources. There was no truth greater than the supreme importance of cultivating science for the purposes of agriculture, If a member of the Legislature were present, he would say to him that there was no service the Legislature could render greater than the making of the most liberal grants for the development of an agricultural college along wise lines of the greatest efficiency. This had lately been done in Canada and in the United States, and in many parts of those countries the productivity of land and the value of stock had been doubled in the last twenty years through the application of proper scientific methods. Supposing that one branch of science was allotted to each university they would be able to apply effort and money to produce the best possible result. New Zealanders should not suppose that because this country was far from the Old Countries, modern languages were not of importance. There was never a time when a knowledge of Spanish, French, and German was of greater importance to commercial men in every part of the Empire. The second counsel which Mr. Bryce said that he wished to give was that they should not forget the theoretical side of education while paying attention to the practical side. Upon the theoretical depended the practical. It was through the cultivation of the mind, and the development of its powers, that nations grew and advanced. And, lastly, it should not be forgotten that university education was a most important factor in public life. New Zealand had an immense number of' problems to solve, and was proud of trying to solve those problems which had puzzled the Old World. The university consisted of teachers, and the best possible teachers should be obtained. The only way they could gel and retain first-rate teachers was to pay high salaries. They were in clanger of losing their best men to Europe and Canada, as they had lost Professor Rutherford and Professor McLaurin. They had, on the other hand, the chance of getting young men out from Home. Me hoped that the Legislature would not scruple to give most liberal grants in order that the country might procure men of the highest attainment.

"I have only one more word," said Mr. Bryce. "I have now been a month in New Zealand. I have been received here with a kindness which I can never forget. I have admired the grandeur of your scenery, which combines the glories and the splendours of the mountains of Switzerland, the lovely colours of Scotland, and the landscape of the Norwegian fiords. I have never seen a country where the beautiful hues of mountain and sea blended in such exquisite perfection. I have admired the wonderful resources of this Dominion, with its rich soils, its climate, and its fruits. I have admired its resources in water page 38 power. I have admired, also, the wisdom with which your Government and your Legislature have endeavoured to set apart scenery for the enjoyment of the nation of the time to come. No one can fail to be struck with the marvellous future before your country, and this is enhanced when you remember that you have a population of the purest British stock, a population which had sprung from a population which contained a large number of men of the highest patriotism, public spirit, and intellectual capacity. Many of their descendants are still among you, and their memory you will always cherish and value. It is with a sense of gratitude that one comes to a country like this and sees how deep an attachment its people cherish for the Old Country. When I return I will venture to tell the people of the Old Country, and the people of Canada, how strong are the ties that bind you to them; and I tell you now how strong are the ties that bind them to you. As I have to leave New Zealand this afternoon to visit Australia, may 1 thank those who have been so kind to myself and my wife. May I say that the warmth of your reception will never be effaced from our memory. May 1 say I sincerely wish that all the prosperity which a beneficent Providence has showered upon this happy land may continue. I trust that a leading part in the life of this country may be the lot of University and College; and, I wish for the students. careers of honour and usefulness in the life of this great Dominion."

The right hon. gentleman resumed his seat amidst loud and prolonged applause.

Professor von Zedlitz then emerged from the dark background of the stage, and stigmatized the Government's timidity in the matter of financial aid for Victoria College. He was followed by Mr. Chas. Wilson, Chairman of the College Council, who pathetically called our attention just once more to our appallingly poverty-stricken condition.

The Vice-Chancellor then presented the degrees.

The Procession

On looking up our copy of The Spike for October, 1910, we find that the procession of that year was described as "a successful innovation." The description goes on: "For several weeks a band of enthusiasts devoted their time and their energy to the preparation of such a students' procession as those which for some years past have marked diploma day at our sister Colleges."

page 39

Our Procession can no longer be termed an innovation, but, unfortunately, the second part of the above description is not so applicable as of yore. A committee was as usual set up to make preliminary arrangements, but in spite of all their efforts they were met with such a half-hearted response that for a time they almost despaired. There was a general lack of enthusiasm, and an unwillingness to help in the work of preparation. There seems to be at College a large body of students who, for want of a better term, may be described as Pseudo-blasè. Their one cry is for something new. They certainly offer suggestions (many of them of a weird and wonderful kind), but should they be asked to carry out these self-same suggestions, they remember that they will unfortunately be detained at the office on Capping Day. They appear entirely oblivious to the fact that from a sordid monetary point of view this procession is one of the best advertisements our Students' Association can have, and by its means we are enabled to fill the Town Hall, and incidentally the coffers of the said Association.

So much for those who could, but did not, take part in the procession.

By an oversight on the part of Mr. Bates, the morning of Capping Day was wet; but an urgent telegram from our indefatigable Secretary cleared this up, and from twelve to two the ram was stopped. It was found convenient for all parties to avoid the steep descent from Salamanca, and so the start was made from St. Peter's Schoolroom. A motley assembly foregathered, and were duly subjected to the camera-men. By a quarter past twelve we were under way. As usual, two mounted policemen were sent (quite unnecessarily) to add an air of dignity, and these were joined by a diminutive Tod Sloan on Auckland's lost racehorse (a Corporation draught-horse). We missed our old friend the dragon—(superannuated, and at present residing in the recesses above "the hop-floor on the top-floor" of the gym.)—but the Maoris, the Band (Oh, that Band!), the Territorials, and the Passive Resisters, were all there. Auckland's burglar scare was depicted very movingly—the burglars being finally caught and "run in" at the Lambton Police Station. Home Rulers, charming damsels, suffragettes, page 40 governors, "wowsers," were all there. Captain Scott was seen making his historic dash for the Pole.

An eloquent address in favour of Home Rule was interrupted by a lady, presumably of Irish extraction, who climbed on the waggon and refused to descend until she had explained the true position of Home Rule in Ireland.

Brightest and best of the innovations were the ballet-girls in costumes reminiscent of Johnston Street. They ogled policemen, Members of Parliament, wharf labourers, and flappers quite indiscriminately.

The Procession wound its way through the main streets, arriving at the Post Office at one o'clock. Here the various tableaux became separated, and each tried to explain to a laughing crowd why it was there. Beneath one waggon our worthy Mayor was seen listening to a representation of himself presenting one William Cornish with the Freedom of the City for bravery in defying our country's laws.

The homeward route was of an unrehearsed nature—many hurrying away to get to work in the afternoon—others heading for Kirk's and dinner. One gay Lochinvar, with his lady-love mounted behind him, attempted to ride his horse into one of the leading hostelries, but was ejected by the management.

On the whole, though not so strong numerically as in previous years, the procession was a success, as was proved by the well-filled hall which greeted the raising of the curtain in the Town Hall in the evening.

The Carnival.

Owing to the occupation of the Concert Chamber, our Capping Carnival was held this year in the big Town Hall, which, contrary to many gloom) prognostications, was filled to overflowing. One serious drawback to our performance in the big Town Hall is the fact that the choruses sound pitifully weak, and that the majority of the performers in the extravaganza were inaudible to half the gallery, and to those sitting at the back and sides of the hall. However, despite tins drawback, the Carnival was a great success.

The first part of the programme consisted almost entirely of vocal items, the Glee Club singing two lullabies page 41 so realistically that many of the on-lookers could not conceal yawns. It is a pity that this excellent club does not choose songs of an exhilarating nature, more suitable than lullabies to the festive occasion.

About the farce which followed, rumour had been busy; so the reality was eagerly awaited. The play was smart rather than clever, and contained some very excellent hits; but the scenes did not fit moothly and easily into one another, and the ending was not so strongly dramatic as one of the previous scenes. Mr. Broad's cleverly caught Irving snarl, and Mr. Caddick's well-sustained and excellent imitation of "Naeyertz" were two important factors in the success of the piece. The sprightly devils looked refreshingly fiendish amid the gloomy scenery from Mrs. Hannah's clever brush.

After the concert was a dance, the most memorable feature of which was the appalling mêlèe in the corridor, while programmes were being distributed. The dance itself was very enjoyable, and seemed, as all good dances do, to come to an end too soon.

This year there was no Undergrad's Supper, but instead there was a very jolly afternoon tea for all students. On Friday evening, June 28th, a dinner was held in honour of the graduates, and it proved a most pleasant ending to the Carnival gaieties of 1912.