The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, October 1904
The Spike .. or .. Victoria College Review
The Spike .. or .. Victoria College Review
The Editorial Committee contributions, either in prose or verse, on any subject of general interest, from students or officials connected with the College. All literary communications should be addressed to The Editor, Victoria College, Wellington.
Subscriptions are now due, and are payable to P. W. Robertson Financial Secretary, Victoria College.
In Forma Pauperis?
O you who bent the gaze of clear young eyes,
In ended terms when Fortune's face was kind,
Upon the page lit by the cloistered glow
Of the bright Lamp of Knowledge,—will not you
Pass on what shed a grace about your path
To other outstretched hands, before your own
Are folded past the power of giving aught?
O you who missed this fruit for which you reached,
And felt a want hands could not close;
But, turning, bowed the beauty of the bush,
And swung the plough upon the clearing-slope,
Until your fields are yellowing with Content,—
Will you not give a largess now you may,
Knowing the colour and the light you craved?
Sapientia Magis auro desideranda.
The laying of the Foundation Stone of its new building on Saturday, the 27th August, 1904, marks a turning point in the history of Victoria College. The sixth year of struggle is drawing to a close, and of the first generation of her students only a few slow-blossoming buds-of-promise remain-Six years ago a College Council, a Professorial Board, and a handful of Students "went into rooms," and each, in its own devious and circuitous way, has been struggling for six years to keep the bailiffs out and the smouldering fire of knowledge in. We do not propose, in this article, to follow the dark and page 8 tortuous intrigues of the Council, nor yet the subtle and mysterious methods of the Board; even the frank simplicity of the Students, so often "misunderstood," we will pass in silence. For the present we wish to call attention to the fact that something has been done, and for the future we would urge that something is left to do. The Stone laid on Foundation Day is the first milestone on our course; the starting-post lies close behind us; who knows the end has seen the Holy Grail.
What then has been attained ? We have a site above the smoke of the City, commanding the Harbour, upon which a Classic structure might well be reared. We have a College a-building, which, if it is not Classic, will be a worthy home for many generations of Students, a beacon to the sons and daughters of the Middle District who seek its Halls in ships. 'We have £25,000 of Government money to pay for an edifice which will require £50,000 to complete it. This is the material side of the present position.
It goes without saying that money must be obtained from some source or other and the Council has been forced to face the question, "From whose pocket shall it come ?" The answers given to this question have been various. The College Council replied by an appeal to the public of the Middle District, and the Students, who had been urging the matter for some years, replied in less than a week with two hundred pounds. The "Evening Post," in the spirit which animated the Otago papers two years ago, and which gave them the respect and esteem of thinking men to which a century of political pleading would have established but a doubtful claim, replied by articles calling upon the people in the name of Art, of Science, and of public expediency, to support an institution so essential to their wellbeing. The "New Zealand Times," in a leading article "in forma pauperis." give an answer which reads more like an attempt to fortify the position of magnates who can give and won't give than a serious attempt to meet the difficulties which Victoria College has to face. The answer of the public has not yet been made.
The position of the "New Zealand Times" is, however, worthy of more than passing notice. "The principle," says our contemporary, "of going round with the hat' to provide the means for carrying on the system of primary education is most unsound and objectionable. The Victoria College Council, we are sorry to see, has endorsed it, instead of making a request to the Government for the necessary funds. It is right and desirable that men of means should be encouraged to give volun page 9 tary contributions in aid of Education but it is a different matter when donations are solicited and people are pestered by canvassers for subscriptions. No one objects to being asked to assist the Hospital and Charitable Aid Boards, for it is well that feelings of sympathy and benevolence in individuals should not be altogether crushed out by State action." We print the last sentence and commend it to our readers for analysis. We have but little space to deal with the main contention.
We understand then that the "New Zealand Times" advocates a "request to the Government." It sounds like an easy solution of all difficulties until one considers that the Government has had very little else but "requests" from the Council during the last six years. It is granted on all sides that the Government has acted fairly generously in giving the grant of £25,000 for the Building—so generously indeed that Auckland is in arms—and while we cannot admit that our University Colleges are endowed as largely as public prudence itself demands, we must admit that any further grant for building Victoria College would raise a question in Otago, Canterbury, and Auckland, which, in the present state of public opinion, may well give the Colonial Treasurer pause. Rightly or wrongly, however, the Colonial Treasurer has paused. What are we to do ? The only suggestion thrown out by the "Times" is to "encourage" men of means "to give voluntary subscriptions." This may sound more polite than "canvass" but we hope the Directors of the "Times" Company will not stand on a matter of words. They know as well as we do what Auckland and Canterbury have realised from private benefactions, and what Otago obtained by "encouraging voluntary contributions."
The fact is that we either have to be content with unfinished rooms and inadequate accommodation, or by personal sacrifices show that we really appreciate the facts concerning progress in all departments of modern life which we are bound to admit are theoretically unassaible. When the public of the Middle District has shown that it is in earnest in this matter the College Council may approach the Government once more, not in fear and trembling, "in forma pauperis," but with independent step, confident that its "requests" are the demands of the largest University District of the Colony, a District which, while mindful of its rights, is not forgetful of its duties.
The claims which a University has upon a country have been ably and widely discussed during recent years. We have no space to cover the old ground in this article, but we would ask the people of New Zealand to read the history of American page 10 Progress, and seek, in the spirit of the founders of Harvard University, not only a glorious memorial, but the highest patriotism.
We cannot conclude better than by a passage from Professor Maclaurin's article on "American University," which, thought it appeared in our last number, should never fail to wake an echo in an Anglo-Saxon heart.
"After we had builded our houses," wrote a citizen of Boston, "provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient placed of worship, and settled the civil government, one of the next things wee longed for and looked after was to advance learning and to perpetuate it to posterity. As wee were thinking and consulting how to effect this great work, it pleased God to stir up the heart of one Mr Harvard (a godly gentlemen and a lover of learning, then living among us) to give the one-half of his estate (it being in all about £1,700) towards the erecting of a colledge, and all his library." The colony caught his spirit. Among the magistrates themselves £200 was subscribed, a part in books. All did something, even the indigent. One gave a number of sheep; another nine shillings' worth of cloth; one a pewter flagon; another a sugar spoon. "No rank, no class of men, was unrepresented. The college was of the people."
The Victoria College Building Fund
Immediately it was decided to open a Subscription List for the Building Fund the Students' Association opened its List. Within three or four days £200 had been promised. Contributions, in many cases, will be paid by instalments. The sum we know represents much self-denial and devotion, but it was promised with the most whole-hearted spontaneity and with the utmost unanimity. The Students have done well and we are proud to record it.page 11