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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, October 1902

Debating Society

page 13

Debating Society


The Victoria College Debating Society it can 'vim so be fairly said, has had a most successful session. The great feature of this year, and that which may be considered of the greatest importance in so young a body, is the number of new speakers who have ventured to rise and address the chair. All encouragement has been given to develop this "latent talent," and the result has been the, most successful session since the inception of the Society. While welcoming these new orators, we must regret that many of the older and more experienced in the forensic art have for the most part withdrawn the sunshine of their presence. We hope their absence is but temporary.

Our President, Professor McLaurin, to whom the thanks of the Society are due for many kindnesses, too numerous to mention, delivered his lecture on "Debating Societies" the first night of this term. His lecture was greatly appreciated by those fortunate enough to be present, though the weather seemed to have granted a "dormiat" to many who should have braved the elements. Judging from the amount of thanks and criticism that the lecture brought forth, it was in no way lost on the small but select audience. At the conclusion Mr. Richmond took the opportunity of referring to the departure from Wellington of Mr. D. K. Logan, who, as Secretary of the Society, has done so much to make this year's meetings successful. All recognized the great loss the Society and the College generally were sustaining.

The Literary Prize Competition and Parliamentary Night brought together one of the largest audiences of the year. The subject chosen for the Competition was, "A description of Scenery in New Zealand," and the Rev. Mr. Sprott, who very kindly acted as Judge of the Essays, awarded the prize to Mr. G. F. Dixon for a very interesting account of Rotorua, "A Region of Strange Contrasts." In accordance with the rules of the Society this was read by the winner, and, though long, was listened to throughout with great interest.

Mr. H. P. Richmcnd was then unanimously elected Speaker, a position he filled with great ability and dignity, and page 14 Parliament was opened with the due formalities. The Hon. (for the time being) H. H. Ostler as Premier, supported by a Ministry consisting of the Hons. F. A. de la Mare and T. Seddon moved the reading of the Estimates. All of these, including a vote for establishing a respectable boarding-house in Murphy Street, and a grant for lighting the Reclaimed Land (the Premier's constituency) were passed without comment, except the estimated grant of £1000 for the rendering more efficient of Hansard alias The Spike. This called forth strong criticism. But the Opposition, following recent precedents, seemed to be leaderless as lost sheep upon the mountains, and, viewed from the Government benches, furnished a sorry spectacle. This was by no means so from their own point of view. Mr. A. G. Quartley, the real leader of the Opposition, though his modesty would not allow him to accept that honour, then moved to reduce the grant by £999 19s. 11 ¾d. Animated discussion followed, in which both Government and Opposition proved themselves masters of the noble art of mud throwing. Proceedings were somewhat interrupted by the Sergeant-at-Arms persisting in keeping his feet, on the mace (the College broom), and his perseverance at last led the House to take the extreme step of ejecting him. The speeches became more stormy, but the necessity of tying the Speaker to the Chair while the motion was discussed was happily avoided. The Ministry, not deigning to answer the charges and recriminations heaped on them so prolifically, caused the question to be put and won the day, thus retaining the confidence of the House, though only by the narrowest of majorities.

The debate on the Antagonism of Commerce to Art was without doubt the most successful of the Session, and we must congratulate the speakers who took part in the discussion on the general excellence and high level, of their speeches. Miss F. Smith, who contended successfully that modern development of commerce had helped art, in the opinion of all who heard her, made the speech of the year. Mr. Henderson, the mover, and Rev. Mr. Scotter also made telling speeches on the other side.

The last two debates have been very well fought out, but the audience has been decidedly less than usual. Mr. Buddle moved "That the present system of Trial by Jury should be superseded by a Tribunal of Judges." Mr. Toogood opposed—the debate was lost by 9 to 7. The last debate up to the date of publishing "That the Trust development in the United States is the precursor to a new and brilliant progressive movement in the organization of Society," led by Miss Taylor in the absence of Mr. Fitzherbert, whom we regret to hear has left Wellington, and opposed by Mr. H. H. Ostler, was one of decided interest. But the attendance still showed a large falling off in numbers page 15 and we would impress on students that they should endeavour, as much as lies in their power, to foster the club by their attendance. It is decidedly disheartening for speakers to deliver carefully prepared speeches to empty benches. There are still two debates to come off this term. Would students please remember them, and invite their friends.