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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, October 1902

Students We Have Met

page 23

Students We Have Met.

"Why would Homer never starve in the desert?" As Scylla's original conundrums are rarely anything but odious. I contented myself with shoving the blotting-paper missive into the inkpot, and reserving my reproof till the hour of nine. "It pains me, Scylla, to see a girl of your ability persist in regarding Homer with such unbecoming levity. That mixture of self-denial and quiet severity with which he confers the honour of sitting out a lecture, that gentle tone, so far removed from egotism, with which he suggests emendations, that true courtesy with which he attempts to prevent professors from feeling de trop, are qualities which unreservedly stamp Homer as the flower of the flock. Snubs are futile, and though administered fairly frequently, have, as you see, failed to penetrate the Homeric hide, or yet impress its owner with the smallest amount of respect for the barbed wire fence of 'exclusiveness' which hedges in `professahs of high degree.'

The vocal modulations, too, of which he is capable are various, Scylla, not to say curious. I have frequently paused at the foot of the stairs to listen to Homer expatiating above on the merits of the "Bow-wow theory" in loud and hearty tones, but at the debates he speaks gently, with that modesty which suggests he knows how good he really is. Indeed, it is difficult to realise as one listens to him softly disarming a dangerous opponent with delicate Homeric flattery that this gentle, velvety-pawed creature has at football a reputation which is simply profound—that he is warranted able to tackle a man in a manner that would under any other circumstances get him fourteen days' hard labour without option. His presence of mind is unique. I have seen him calmly analysing the ingredients of trifle whilst irate "correspondents" stood near passing remarks which brought to my ear the blush of shame

Once, and once only, have I seen Homer nonplussed. It was at a debate. He looked troubled. It had just dawned on him, he said, that, as he was neither a foreigner, dead, nor over sixty, there was the chance of serving his country, not on the noble plains of Miramar, as he fondly hoped, but—on a. jury. He had a presentiment, he continued with a miserable gulp, that the next week of his life would be spent. somehow or another within a Court. Only last night he dreamt he had miserably made away with two professors, a, lecturer and the caretaker. page 24 This looked serious, but I rose to the occasion. "Why. I have frequently, in my dreams,- said I, "murdered whole classes of inoffensive students and thought no more of it than I would of shooting the window-fiend of the Latin class. I know a student," I continued, "who is the soul of honour, the shining light of our Mutual Improvement Society, and he told me that though he had not yet brought himself to purchase a 'Spike. (such a good young man), he dreamt he had borrowed one from a lady student, kept it a month and returned it —a wiser and a better man ! I know a young lady, the very incarnation of conscientiousness, who dreamt that she had stolen some proofsheets of the said 'Spike' and sold them to the 'Christian Weekly' for an enormous sum."

All of which, I am happy to say, had the effect of so far restoring Homer Olymphi to his wonted composure that I had the satisfaction of seeing him depart—almost cheerfully—for his "diggings" in company with that friend of the afflicted—Decius d.l. Marius.

Chivalrous Decius ! Ever polite—punctiliously polite ! Scylla says he has been known to apologise to a complete stranger for not knowing him, but though I have only Scylla's word for that I must confess I have never noticed in him any - of those reckless and dare-devil qualities so common in editors. It is true that his normal appearance is somewhat calculated to inspire the unwary with feelings akin to fear, as, in addition to his elephantine dimensions, his unfathomable capacity for patriotism frequently leads him to indulge in peace celebrations to the extent of an injured orb or two. But all such trifling blemishes are forgotten in his smile. It is superb. Even when children and dogs take unwarrantable liberties with him he still smiles on—serenely in fact, he is one vast, substantial smile. In some unaccountable way he has smiled himself into the good graces of Scylla. Says Scylla, "For genuine wit, quaint humour and incomparable vivacity commend me to Decius Marius." I looked at Scylla. These effusive outbursts are unusual with her. "I mean it," she exclaimed. "I prophesy that one day he will rival the great H.P.R. himself, though I must confess he has not Yet acquired that peculiar dignity of air, that majesty of eye, the incomparable touch-me-notishness of walk which enables the great. H. to impart such a 'tone' to the most ordinary common Or garden debate."

Ficreat Decius ! This is praise indeed !

But who is this smart, "spoffish" 'student of the law' who simply overhelms us with his grandiloquent rhetoric? Aulus Quartus, no less—one of our choicest spirits, and possessing no page 25 small reliance on his own merits. He is not hampered with any of your unbecoming modesty in public, though whether in private he loves to blush unseen it is impossible to say, owing to an absence of eye-witnesses. In addition to contributing to the C.U. a most ingenious paper on "Absent-minded Beggars," he has from time to time been the author of propositions of such startling magnitude and interest that Scylla cenfidently asserts that when the College Council see the wisdom of endowing V.C. with a chair of "Umbugology," A. Quartus, Esq., will fill it nobly.

"Meanwhile," says Scylla', "a youth of his ability could easily make his living in a more honest manner."

But with all his rare abilities Aulus pales into insignificance before Augustus Hymytius,—ille Augustus Magnus, who glides into the debate with that compound air of conscious superiority and general blood-thirstiness which excites at once the admiration and terror of the juvenile and lady members. Shall I ever forget that sublime discourse on Art, that magnificent oratory, that oracular electricity, which, generated in the dynamo of "wounded dignity," led to such a never-to-be-forgotten battery? I always thought I was pretty tough, but I rose sadly—I won't deny suddenly—aften ten minutes of Augustian art, and sped homewards, realising, alas ! that the athletics which harden a hero's muscles assuredly petrify his heart. I met Scylla a few days afterwards. She said it was extremely foolish of me to have gone without hearing Apollo Scathius deliver his fiat on Fine Art. I looked at her with an intensity of gaze that would have jarred a mesmerist. I said, "Scylla, we are life-long friends; let us not now get estranged. I heard one discourse on 'Fine Art,' and I pride myself on being no glutton to long for another. Moreover, having in a moment of idleness been induced to peruse the result of Scathius' investigations concerning the present state of infant education and 'Xmas cards, presented by that worthy to the society of which I am an honourable member, I flatter myself, Scylla, that in escaping his discourse I distinctly had the pull over you."

Scylla played the Joker. She said, "You also missed Bonior," Alas! cruel Fates, and did I miss that oratory so lustrous with epigram, so instinct with the glow of intellectual power, that unrivalled speaker whose richness (not to say fidelity) of description precludes any attempt on the part of mere man to perpetrate a panegyric, though I shall never, no never, my noble Bonior, forget that—

page 26

"When Augustus from his pedestal of art
Strove to annihilate the photographic fiend,
Then Bonior saw and smiled,
And an interminable satire glowed
Throughout his lucid frame.
There rose within his soul
A wild unspeakable intelligence,
A fierce and dangerous light,
Which, through his eyes, in countless flashes shone
Intolerably bright.
Like to an infinite multitude of stars
Gemming the Arch of Heaven,
Or rather like the shining balls that come
Out of a Roman Candle."

Still, there are jealous students who say that Bonior is possessed of such a tropical imagination that it is necessary to put the truth back into a refrigerator after he has done with it; who sneer at Bonior's profound respect for the law when he demands that everything should be done in the most constitutional manner possible; there are actually students who fail to appreciate the inestimable value of Bonior's researches on the chemical constituents and molecular atomic weights of H2O. But "virtue ever hath its own reward." "Floreat Bonior" rest assured that on you we depend for the metaphor that meteorises, the smile that startles, and the voice that cheers but not inebriates.


Sketch of sun rising over the sea