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The Spike or Victoria College Review, June 1906

Debating Society

page 26

Debating Society

"You'd scarce expect one of my age,
To speak in public on the stage;
And if I chance to fall below
Demosthenes or Cicero,
Don't view me with a critic's eye,
But pass my imperfections by."


Graphic of scholar shouting

The 1906 session of the Society promises to be one of the most successful ever held. The attendance at the debates has been exceedingly good, and the standard of speaking has been well maintained. As an encouragement to new speakers, our Chairman (E. J. Fitzgibbon), has donated a prize of the value of £2 2s., to be awarded to the Freshman whose speaking improves most during the year.

The annual meeting held on the steps of the College was perhaps the most remarkable recorded in the history of the Society. It was certainly fitting that we should thus come and sit at the feet of our Alma Mater, but it was equally certain that those metaphorical feet were very cold seats. Some people did not bless the janitor.

The Debates.

The attendance at the first meeting constituted a record for an ordinary meeting of the Society. A triangular debate took place on the motion "That English music and verse appeals more to the national feeling than either Scotch or Irish." F. A. de la Mare, who opened the debate, admitted that he knew nothing about the subject; this probably accounted for the fact that he had not half finished what he wanted to say when the bell rang. Miss Smith made an eloquent speech in support of the music and song of "dear old Ireland." As showing the strong appeal made by Irish verse, Miss Millar mentioned the fact that Tom Moore received £6 for every line he wrote. V. B. Willis, in his usual concise, and rather page 27 restrained manner, corrected the errors made by previous speakers, while Gillanders, in a stirring speech, proved that "Annie Laurie" was a braw lassie. Though the supporters of Scotland did not possess the eloquence of the orators of Ireland, yet they had the advantage of numbers, and on being put to the meeting the motion was carried in their favour.

Mr. Joynt, who acted as judge for the Union Prize, in delivering his judgment made some remarks on the behaviour of some of the students, which it is to be hoped will take effect. A clever interjection is always appreciated by an audience, and a speaker should learn to be able to reply to such. It is, however, annoying, both to the speaker and the audience for the speech to be interrupted at the end of every sentence by a volley of pointless remarks. Mr. Joynt placed the first five speakers in the following order:—Miss. F. Smith, H. O'Leary, D. Smith, R. Mason, A. Mac Dougall.

At the second debate B. E. Murphy moved "That commercial enterprise tends to the conservation of peace between nations." R. Hill opposed the motion. A. C. Bretherton, by a little example taken from the game of marbles, proved that competition among nations caused strife. Murphy was at his best in his reply, He answered in a very effective manner the arguments of his opponents. It was thought by some that there was just a suspicion of sarcasm in his remarks. The meeting decided in favour of the motion. The judge, Mr. Black, placed the first five speakers in the following order :—B. E. Murphy, J. Mason, G. Gibb and R. Hill (equal), H. O'Leary.

The subject of the third debate was "That the advent of a distinct Labour Party into Home politics will be beneficial to the English people." W. Gillanders made a very effective speech in support of the motion. He was in earnest about the matter, and this added considerably to the weight which his words carried. The motion was opposed by A. C. Bretherton. H. E. Evans, who addressed the audience in what the judge described as an "indolent manner," made the best speech on the side of the opposition. Dr. Mackenzie, who supported the motion, supplemented his arguments by a frequent and effective use of gesticulation. The democratic section won the day, the motion being carried by a majority of twenty. The judge of the debate, Mr. F. M. B. Fisher, M.H.R., placed the speakers in the following order:—W. Gillanders, F. A. de la Mare, H. E. Evans. H. O'Leary, E. J. Fitzgibbon.