The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1917
The tumult and the shouting dies
The Captains and the Kings depart
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
We are now arrived at a stage when even the pessimist hopes that he can see the end of the war, and our minds are necessarily turning towards the day, which we hope is not far distant, when peace will be once more restored to the nations. It is indeed at the present time that we are framing those national ideas and ideals which will guide the nation through that crisis in national life that will follow immediately after the war, and guide it either to a glorious or a sordid destiny. Well may we hope that to-day we are laying the foundation of a more healthy national life for the future. There are many influences now at work upon the though of the nation, but on the whole it would seem that our highest ideals are fast being obscured by urgent present necessities. For instance, we are apt to lose sight of any good cause for which we page 39 entered the war, in our concentration of effort to bring the war to such a conclusion that we can exact from Germany the extremest penalty.
Yet if now, with the tales of Gallipoli still fresh in our ears, we forget the ideals for which the finest and best from amongst us have given their all, how shall their glory be preserved through the ages ? undoubtedly it is our duty to do all that lies in our power to cherish and preserve their ideals. That some form of memorial is necessary to commemorate the fallen, all are agreed; but too often the purpose is conceived as a desire to reward the honoured dead rather than to immortalize the ideals which they cherished and fulfilled. Their honour will stand out I letters of gold in the brightest pages of the world's history and the glory of their deeds is a better reward than any poor tribute that we may pay. Yet if their honour is to be us individually more than a name, we must enshrine in our hearts their ideals and keep ever fresh the memory of their deads. A suitable memorial will in no small degree serve this purpose.
Our memorial therefore must assume that form which is best calculated to secure this end. Opinion may well differ as to the exact form the commemoration should take; but if we keep the right, purpose in view and give the matter that full consideration which it deserves we may hope to reach a satisfactory conclusion
By kind permission of the "Nelsonian" we print here part of a letter from Mr. H. D. Skinner, D.C.M whose mane is well known at Victoria College. The letter shows well what our true purpose is and should prove of use in our ultimate decision.
"Some time ago I suggested that a Memorial should take the form of a building designed for reading and quiet study. In succeeding months I have often thought about the form of the memorial and I have slowly come to the conclusion that it would be better if it were not utilitarian at all. This opinion has been confirmed by reading an article from the pen of Mr. Arthur C. Benson on the subject which appeared in the September number of the Cornhill Magazine. It is a piece of English full of dignity and grace and should be read by all who wish to form a sound judgment on the matter.
The intention of erecting a remembrance to those who page 40 have fallen should be to stir in the minds of future generations of school boys an emotion and an aspiration. To the creation of such an emotion new playing fields and new libraries would contribute little. Aspiration can only be around by beauty. Beauty of example those who have died have given us in full measure. In our memorial we must try to appeal to those of he future by beauty of working and design.
The graves of our school fellows we knew and loved, look down from the scrub of oak and holly on the Mediterranean and far away to the blue hills of Samothrace. Would it not be possible to erect to their memory a marble version of that Winged Victory of Samothrace which was carved more than two thousand years ago to commemorate a band of ancient heroes who fell fighting in the cause of freedom ? It might be set above and in the middle of a curving stone seat facing north, where boys might come and read and dream in the sunshine, and there might be lawns and beds of flowers about.
If it should be objected that such a memorial would contain nothing that would remind us of those whose graves are in France I suggest that we should ask M. Rodin to design a setting of Victory, and thus the greatest of modern sculptors would unite with the greatest of the ancients in honouring our dead."
Mr. Skinner here puts forward a constructive scheme, and his idea is one of which the school for which it was proposed may well be proud to put into execution, but it should be most useful to us also in deciding what form our war memorial should assume. The task is before us, too, of commemorating our dead. If we make it our purpose to build a memorial that will be a present inspiration not only to us in our own lives, but also to the men and women of future generations, our high purpose will be achieved. Then there will come at least some spark of good from the war. Then will our rich dead have died not in vain and posterity will know that it was not vainly said that—
"Honour has come back, as a king to earth
And paid his subjects with a royal wage;
And nobleness walks in our ways again;
And we have come into our heritage."
LI. K. W.