The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, October 1918
The Plunket Medal Contest
The Plunket Medal Contest
"Boanerges the sons of thunder"
The Twelfth Annual Contest for the Plunket Medal was held in the Gymnasium on Saturday, the 14th September. In spite of an unusually astute Debating Society Committee having made a charge for admission in order to boost up the failing revenue, the attendance was good. Mr. R. D. Thomson, M.A., half-filled the chair and faithfully discharged the chairman's duty of breaking in the audience before the orators commenced. The Society had on hand a nice line of assorted and variegated judges—Dr. Gibb, Minister Hanan and Honourable Rigg.page 44
The speeches were well up to the standard of those of recent contest, and probably exceeded it in that there were no painfully weak competitors.
Mr. A. B. Croker was the first speaker. He imparted to his audience a mass of probably correct but certainly wearisome details of the life of Lord Roberts. Mr. Croker has a strong voice and a confident manner, and it is a pity he did not present a character sketch instead of a memorised biography of his hero. He should also pay more attention to the art of elocution.
Brother Egbert spoke next, and paid his tribute to Damien of Molakai, the Missionary to the Lepers. This speaker has a splendid voice and a good delivery, but does not appreciate the value of light and shade in a speech. The greatest fault we had to find with his speech was that there was too much leprosy and too little Damien in it. Like several other competition Brother Egbert was somewhat disconcerted by the unnecessarily peremptory ringing of the Chairman's bell in the middle of a peroration.
Mr. K. W. Whitehouse seemed ill at ease in extolling David Livingstone. He too gave us too many dates and details and finally made the fatal mistake of dealing with the sentimental side of his hero's character. The reception of this by the audience temporarily knocked Mr. Whitehouse off his perch, but he recovered in time to make a strong ending to a weak speech. Makalolo: Ulalala: pom: pom: pom!!!
Mr. C. G. Kirk made the most of the gallant career of Captain Scott. Mr. Kirk's matter was excellent and his delivery good. He has kill enough also to disguise the great amount of rehearsal which must have been put into his speech. This speaker was the only one of the evening who made anything like an adequate use of gesture. He has a slight tendency to be artificial, and he put too many climaxes into a ten minutes' speech. We should have thought, however, that his performance would have given the judges greater difficulty than their spokesman said they had in celecting the winner.
Mr. W. A. Sheat spoke on Sir Eric Geddes. This speaker has much to learn in public speaking but displayed an ability to think on his feet, which was refreshing amid a torrent of memorised cloquence. He should avoid a delivery which resembles a high-speed engine intermittently back firing. More will be heard of Mr. Sheat as a College speaker if he sticks to it.
Mr. P. Martin-Smith delivered a very forceful eulogy of Lord Haldane. Although probably the greater part of the audience disagreed with the speaker's viewpoint, nevertheless his earnestness held the attention of his audience form start to finish. His voice is strong and resonant, but he is inclined to use its full strength too much. He should also pay more attention to the enunciation of his words, and should avoid a tendency to sway about like a sailor in a storm. His performance was especially meritorious in that he is a first year student.
We couldn't catch the name of Mr. W. E. Leicester's hero, but a glance at the programme proved him to be Richelieu. The text of the speech was admirable, the words were well-chosen, and the arrangement good. In spite of a far too rapid delivery, every (English) word was clearly and correctly pronounced. Had Mr. Leciester used a little more dramatic art, he could not have failed to secure a higher place then the judge gave him.
While the judge were perpetrating their judgment, the audience was entertained with musical items which we are credibly informedpage break page 45
were good. The judges placed Mr. Martin-Smith first, Mr. Kirk second and Mr. Leicester third. After Minister Joe had lamented at length the lack of orators in and out of Parliament he handed over the medal to the winner, and the audience departed without being asked once more to implore the Almighty to save the King.
(N.B.—All writs for libel will be handed to the Librarian for safe custody.)
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