The Spike or Victoria College Review June 1914
"For ceremonies to the elder sort are a part of experience not to be missed, and to the younger a part of education."
The Presentation of the Graduates.
The year 1914 should be a memorable one in the history of Victoria College, as it marked the initiation of a ceremony unique in the annals of New Zealand University Colleges. As the Senate had decided to abolish the Capping Ceremony which had, in past years, been held under its control, it was decided to hold a presentation ceremony, to which the public of Wellington should be invited. This was not, as has been suggested, a flying in the face of the Senate's decision. It meets a long-felt want; for it is only by coming into close contact with the citizens of Wellington as a whole that we can expect to get them to realise what claims our University College has on the people of Wellington.
In spite of unfavourable weather, a large number of people assembled in the large Town Hall on Thursday, 26th May. Downstairs, the hall had been partially cleared to allow people to move about in the intervals; but what seats had been left were soon filled. Upstairs, a large portion of the seating accommodation was occupied.
At 8 o'clock the Hon. A. L. Herdman took the chair. On the platform with him were General Sir Ian Hamilton, the Right Hon. W. F. Massey (Prime Minister), the Hon. Jas. Allen, and other dignitaries of State and College.
Mr. Herdman introduced General Hamilton, who had come straight from the train to the Hall. The guest of the evening received a rousing welcome from the audi page 39 ence. We may be pardoned for printing the Dominion's account of his speech:—
Sir Ian Hamilton, when he rose to speak, was loudly applauded and cheered. He said that the subject he had chosen for his brief address was discipline, (Laughter.) The reasons which had moved him to do so were apparently quite obvious. (Renewed laughter.) "But," he continued, "I will enter a little more into detail regarding them, and I would say this: That until you become graduands you are subject to discipline; when you become graduands, for a few moments the reins of authority are thrown from your necks, but after that, when you go out into the hard world of life and business, you will find that that imagined freedom was unreal. You will find that discipline enters into all the relations of life and citizenship. You will find that the man who has not got discipline, if he fails to come into, contact with a Judge and jury, at any rate is perfectly certain to get it from his wife, (Laughter.) In fact, the man who is not disciplined is a public nuisance. To enter to-night, in a ten minutes' address, into the whole subject of discipline would be beyond my powers any way, so I confine myself to one narrow side of it—that of military discipline. "Military discipline is the main force of armies. It is a habit of thought, a habit of respect for authority. A question which one ought to consider in any powerful subject like discipline, is: What lies at the back of it? What lay at the back of the old discipline was fear. I could give you proofs of that from Roman history, from the times of Frederick the Great, or from comparatively recent records of the British Army, but I prefer to go further back still to the memoirs of a Chinaman who lived three hundred years before Christ." The story which General Hamilton went on to relate concerned a Chinese King, who married 365 wives and had great difficulty in maintaining discipline amongst them. The King called to his aid a philosopher who was a famed exponent of the discipline based on fear. This sage had the wives formed up in military array, with the principal wives in front, and instructed them how to go "right turn," "left turn," and right-about turn." When he ordered them to "right turn," the women laughed at him. On the first occasion the philosopher admitted that the instruction might be at fault, but when he had again explained the evolutions and was disobeyed a second time, he had the principal wives executed, with the result that perfect discipline was established, and the philosopher assured the King that if he ordered his wives to march through page 40 fire, ford rivers, or take fortified cities, they would obey unquestioningly. "That," said General Hamilton, "is a very good instance of the old discipline which came from fear. What changed that? What changed that so suddenly and wonderfully, that a great many people who are not soldiers have not yet appreciated properly what has happened? It was no great moral upheaval. It was a purely mechanical result of the mechanical effect of firearms. Modern firearms compel the extensions in attack to be so great that the officer cannot directly control his men. He can only control three or four of them at five or six paces interval under fire, and therefore some other moral force had to be sought than fear. Men had to be got to go on of their own accord, and what motives could be brought to bear on them to make them do that? The motives that were brought to bear on them—and the British officers were about the first to recognise them—were camaraderie, respect for the man who taught them and knew his trade better than they did, and affection. These are the factors which produce modern discipline. The officer giving the order does not do so now in his own person. Before he gives the order he reflects that he is merely the mouthpiece of the State. Speaking to this man and that gives him an aloofness; it keeps him from bringing the personal side of his character in, and the men are the first to feel that. On their part, the men recognise that the man who speaks to them is not so-and-so of such-and-such a town, but the authority set over them by their own State which they have placed in power, to be a vehicle of its wishes to them. That is the new discipline, and I put it to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the new discipline is a very fine thing. Just remember this in conclusion: these are principles. When you go out into the world you will find that your principles do not always fit in with the persons you will naturally meet. Never mind! Stick to your principles. The officer may find the man a silly fellow, who does not care a hang for the State, and sets himself to thwart his authority in every possible way. The man may find the officer an ass in authority, and an ass in authority, let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, is just a little worse than a bull in a china shop. Never mind! Stick to your principles, carry on, and you will win through well in the long run. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for having heard me so patiently." (Loud applause.)
Sir Ian was thanked for the honour he had done the College by attending the ceremony, and as he had to leave, he was given a hearty "send off" by the students, page 41 who, after singing two songs at the beginning of the evening, had congregated at the back of the Hall.
The graduates were then presented to the Prime Minter and the Hon. Mr. Herdman by the Chairman of the Professorial Board. We should like to suggest that next year the presentation be a little less hurried.
The Prime Minister, in a vigorous speech, congratulated the graduates (we cannot bring ourselves to use the dreadful word "graduand"—at least, not just yet) on their success; but he "hinted" broadly that he thought the proceedings to be a little too orderly. He went on to say that in the Minister for Education the country had "a man whose heart was in his work." The SPIKE hopes that the presence of Mr. Massey and four other members of the Cabinet is a sign that in the near future no one will be able to speak of our Alma Mater as the "Cinderella" of the University.
The Hon. Mr. Herdman, in a serious speech, urged upon all the necessity for a closer intimacy between the public of Wellington and the College, and earnestly put forward the claims of the College on public sympathy and support. His was the concluding speech of the evening.
For a short time the audience and students mingled, and talked about the few things that matter, and the thousand and one that do not, while the orchestra played.
We wish to express pleasure at the success of the ceremony, and our appreciation of the work of the Professorial Board and the College Council in connection therewith. Being essentially a Victoria College function, it was undoubtedly of more interest locally than any similar function could be. One of its merits was its brevity. There were no long speeches (which is as it should be), the official portion of the programme being over by nine o'clock.
The playing of the National Anthem concluded what the Dominion, in a delicious headline, called "a peaceful evening."
"You should make no noise in the streets."
"You may stay him."
"Nay, by'r lady, that I think he cannot."
The procession was held this year in decidedly trying circumstances. Rain had fallen heavily on the Thursday, and on the Friday it had rained until 12 o'clock. As at that hour there seemed to be some hopes of the weather breaking, students were hastily summoned to the rendezvous, there to don their coats of many colours and their "much fine raiment." Unfortunately, several of the premised "items" were missing, and the procession was consequently not quite up to standard.
In spite of the threatening rain-clouds, crowds of people had gathered in the streets to view the display. Some disappointment was expressed because the procession was not longer, but, on the other hand, most people expressed admiration of those who had braved the wintry weather—some in very decollete dresses.
A curiously-garbed figure walked in the front as crier, and behind him came the valious "items," mostly on lorries—a display of physical culture by some of Royd Garlick's "female" teachers, Holland in durancc-vile, the Haining Street Raid, a beauteous "Carnival Queen," with attendant pages. On one waggon we saw the husband and wife of the future; but we didn't envy the man. A warparty of Maori warriors made things lively for the spectators; while adown the main streets two gorgeously dressed couples "tangoed" with great deftness.
At the Post Office a large crowd had assembled; there a few speeches were made, including one by "General Sir Ian Hamilton."
The procession then wended its way homewards to prepare for the evening's entertainment.
"The play's the thing."
This year the time-honoured custom of dividing the Carnival programme into two parts was not followed, thepage break page 43
whole of the evening being devoted to the production of an extravaganza, more ambitious in its aim than any hitherto produced. The departure was justified by the well-merited success of the performance
Once more the large Town Hall was filled with an expectant audience—an audience which could sympathise with the student carnival spirit. The student Chorus first rendered (?) two capping songs, and then people settled themselves comfortably in their seats to view the extravanganza, "Boadicea."
While for the most part of a frankly farcical nature, the extravaganza had nevertheless an undercurrent of seriousness, critical of Britain's Colonising methods. It was probably due to this fact that the author decided on a rather melodramatic ending—an ending which, in our opinion, rather marred an otherwise excellent performance. The change from pure farce to deep tragedy was too sudden for the majority of the audience, which could scarcely be expected to take Boadicea's tragic death seriously.
Briefly, the story was as follows: Julius Caesar has landed in Britain, the people of which are awaiting instructions from their queen. In spite of the advice given her by the Chief Druid, Boadicea decides to attempt to conquer Caesar, not by giving battle to his forces, but by using her personal charm (!) to enslave him. Caesar, however, is proof against her wiles, and in the end rudely disillusions her by telling her bluntly that Britain is merely a Roman province, in fact has been so for three years, and that she is queen only in name. His former assurances of good will were merely diplomatic prevarications. The queen realises too late that the old Druid has been right, and the curtain falls as she is brought in to die after having been brutally flogged by the Roman soldiery. She was flogged. We saw the marks.
The brunt of the acting was borne by Messrs Leary, Rogers, and Broad. Mr. Leary, as the amorous Boadicea, was excellent. At times, however, his utterance became too rapid, and occasionally he spoke so low that his voice was audible only to the front rows. His "by-play" was very clever throughout, his interludes with Crassus being page 44 delightful. He was especially good in the "Maud Allen" dance, which the audience enthusiastically encored. Mr. Leary looked such a really delightful young hussy that one could not help wondering at Caesar. Mr. Rogers, as Crassus, "centurion and ragtime expert," was quite the hit of the evening. The character suitedits interpreter, who fairly revelled in the part. He proved that he could improvise, if necessary, and deserved the tribute of the green "floral bouquet" which was delicately thrown to him from the audience. Mr. Broad, as the Chief Druid, made more than any one else could have done out of a difficult and comparatively poor part. His voice carried well and his lines were all distinctly heard. He displayed histrionic talent of no mean order. Mr. Batten did fairly well as the prosy, rely-on-faith Pontifex; and Mr. Meldrum as Llewellan looked convincingly savage with his tremendous club; but he has not yet learned to modulate his voice. Mr. Ewart as Caesar was not sufficiently majestic, and his voice was not full and resonant enough. With the exception of the first three, the gestures of the actors were unconvincing and rather stilted.
It was unfortunate, but unavoidable, that the attention of the audience should have been drawn from the clever Bible-in-Schools' dialogue, by the laying of the table for the banquet.
One of the chief features of the performance was the chorus-singing which was really excellent. It was quite a change for an audience actually to hear the words of a chorus: the enunciation was so clear that the words could be easily heard well back in the circle. The combined singing was one of the things which helped to make the production a distinct success.
The "colouring" was beautiful. Possibly the best grouping was that of the banquet scene, with the Roman Soldiers in the background, though the final chorus with Romans and Britions coming forward alternately, was good. The m lung song of the Romans was also excellent.
Taken as a whole, the perform; went with a swinging spite of the fact that once the prompter's voice was page 45 heard floating gallery-wards. The men and women who took part in the extravaganza have every reason to feel proud of the success of their efforts. A special word of praise is due to those women who worked so hard in connection with the costumes—in particular to Misses Richmond and Hueston.
But one thing worries us. The office boy was disappointed. He complained. Yes, really he did. He said that the play was a fraud. He said that he agreed with the "Evening Post" reporter. The reporter was right, he said, in stating that an umbrella in the time of Caesar was "a gross anachronism." Moreover, he said, one or two other "what-do-you-call-'ems" had escaped the reporter's notice. Or was it that he did not know? For instance, Caesar was murdered nearly a hundred years before Boadicea reigned. Why didn't Mr. Leary learn history? Such "a gross anachronism" was "going too far." Further, the queen carried a suitcase and—. Here we mildly interrupted and tried to explain the word "extravaganza." But we could not pacify the lad, so we sent him to the "Post" to compare his indignant criticisms with those of his comrade of the press.
"Saltare est dulce puellis"
Reminiscences of a Third Form Boy.
On Thursday evening, after the Presentation Ceremony, the dance was held, and proved very delightful. The hall was quickly cleared, and the dancing had begun before the audience had gone. Supper arrangements were good; the music was good; but we had finally to desist.
The Dinner.Romeo: "A fair assembly. Whither should they come?" Servant: "Up—!" Romeo: "Whither?" Servant: "To Supper"
The Graduates' Dinner was held in the Hotel Cecil on Saturday evening, and in spite of the length of the page 46 toast list, etc., passed off more pleasantly, and with less boredom, than such evenings usually do.
As this year there was no dinner for undergraduates, morning tea was partaken of by a large number of students at "Kirk's" on Saturday. This was a happy little gathering, and being informal, it was quite successful.
Thus ended the Capping Carnival, 1914—one which is of great importance to us, and again to use Mr. Herdman's words, "a memorable one in the history of Victoria College."