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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 3, No. 1. 1940

Professor Mackenzie

Professor Mackenzie.

In Hugh Mackenzie the College has lost one of its oldest and one of its most faithful friends. It is just forty years since he gave his inaugural lecture at Thorndon; and through all the intervening years the College and its members have always been very near to his heart. Indeed, it would be true to say, since he was not one to travel, that it was hardly ever out of his sight. For a time he lived away up on the heights of Karori, and rode down to Thorndon every day on a horse; but a great many years ago he settled in the house in Kelburn Parade that generations of English students have learned to know so well; and from that time he became, in the strict sense of the words, identified with the College as scarcely anyone else has been.

If we were going to be allowed only one word to describe him, we should probably most of us hit on the simple word 'friendly'; and indeed it is true that few men can have had such a number and such a variety of friends, few can have made them more easily, or kept them so long. All his life he loved to entertain and did so most generously. Unexhausted by the claims of a large and lively family, and helped by the best-loved of all professorial wives, he liked to gather colleagues and pupils about him; indeed his house almost daily was full of their voices. He was nothing if not a genial host, and in his company people tended to talk better than usual: he was indeed a bit like Falstaff - not only a wit, but the cause of wit in others.

He was not one of the great teachers of English literature, but he brought to his work not only a many-sided learning and great enthusiasm, but a singularly humane and generous spirit. He loved books, filled his study at College and a large part of his home with them, lent them freely, read them himself and loved to see them read by others. It was no accident that he introduced to the College, in his friend Mr. Donald Manson of Palmerston North, the library's first benefactor.

This is not the place to describe the details of his long life. It was, indeed, for the most part the uneventful life of a scholar; but, if it was uneventful in the strictly newspaper sense of the word, it was nevertheless very, rich in knowledge and humour and modesty and ripe good-nature and, when the historian College comes to cast up our accounts, he will surely set down the work of Hugh Mackenzie as one of our best possessions.