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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, June 1913

The Debate

page 17

The Debate.

"That it is desirable that New Zealand should federate with Australia for the purposes of defence by land and sea."

Canterbury took the affirmative in the first debate, and were opposed by Victoria College. In the second debate, Auckland and Otago took the affirmative and the negative respectively. The judges were His Honor Mr. Justice Chapman, Sir John Findlay, K.C.M.G., K.C., and the Rev. Farther Kennedy.

This practical political question was this year submitted to the College representatives for the testing of themselves and the edification of the Nation.

The speeches generally showed an abundance of reading on the subject, but the information so liberally scattered abroad lacked, in many cases, penetrative effect because of the absence of authority behind it. Statements by College debaters prefaced by the words "I believe" carry, now as of yore, curiously little weight. Especially in political disputation, concerned as it is with the ever-varying conditions of bodies politic, it is necessary for speakers to refer to competent authorities for the facts upon which they base their arguments.

The method of arrangement in individual speeches was generally bad, but it is fair to say that Hunt (O.U.), Watson (V.C.), and Phillips (A.U.C.) were quite lucid in the order of their deliverance. Most of the speakers made an attempt to anticipate or combat the arguments of their opponents, and in this respect the debate reached a high standard.

The manner of delivery of the speeches rudely disturbed the consciousness of the discriminating editor of "The Triad." His telepathic communications were as follows:—

"Bad deportment was rampant. The Canterbury speakers glued a hand into a pocket, and were followed in their nasty habit by the first speakers for V.C. and A.U.C. Carrington (C.C.) hobbled incessantly, and deigned only on occasions to notice his audience. Faulty voice production was fife, as a pest is or an epidemic. It is positively certain that with the possible exception to Treadwell (V.C.), all page 18 the speakers were distorting and mutilating their vocal chords. Galling indeed to a sensitive ear, or indeed even to that of a schoolmaster, was the pronunciation by some of these College students of the King's English; so also were their colloquialisms and their false emphases. Gray (C.C.) was the only speaker who could be excepted from this criticism, and his voice lacked resonance. Treadwell (V.C.) provided his audience with "heah" (hear); Carrington (C.C.) with "ackchilly" (actually), "Canad-or-India" (Canada or India), and with such irreverent little phrases as "It's like this," and "before I end up." McLeaver (A.U.C.) regaled the gathering with "gerreatest" (greatest), "rrecognise" (recognize), and "rreciprrocity" (reciprocity), in quick succession. Hunt (O.U.) followed him with reference to the "fuchuar" (future), to "danejure" (danger), to "Austrailyer" (Australia), and to the "sa-un" (sun). Philips (A.U.C.) was suffering from a bad cold and a closed throat, and the whole of his speech was indistinct, and muffled. Watson's voice was not successful in escaping freely from the depth of his throat. Adams (O.U.) allowed his voice to sink in the wrong place continually, and reminded me of the awful feeling I have when a ship sinks from under me in the hollow of a great wave." . . .

The emanations here became so vigorous that they ceased to be intelligible. Nevertheless, Mr. Baeyertz, our unfeigned thanks for these crumbs of your genius!

The O.U. and V.C. teams were strongest in combined treatment, and of these two the division of the subject matter adopted by V.C. seemed the better.

A general survey of the debate convinced us that the Otago representatives well deserved to win, but that the best individual debating speech was made by Watson (V.C.). He never made a freer or more convincing speech in his life in public.

The interruptions which came from the massed students deserve severe condemnation. The inability of some speakers to make their voices carry to the back of the hall doubtless conduced to the volume of the noise made, but this in its turn seriously hampered most speakers and detracted unfairly from their efforts to represent worthily their College. An accurate parallel would be the "barrack" of a tennis representative playing page 19 a difficult shot or the obstruction of a runner. Offensive references to a man's nationality were in evidence also, and these are at any time in the worst of taste. It was not thus in the earlier tournaments, and it will be a good thing if the Tournament Committee takes steps to prevent the manners of former days from vanishing from our midst.