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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, October 1918



"Quanti est sapere!" Ter.

Dear Spikessa,—Amidst the interesting and instructive studies set by Prof. Mac I have found the following derivations which might prove not unentertaining to some of your readers.—Yours ever,

Senate of course comes from senes, meaning old men (or women).

Chancellor has had a curious history. It comes from Lat. Cancer "a crab," which became the name of a kind of grating, e.g., of a chancel. Cancellarius meant the usher of a law-court whose station as ad cancellos, at the bar or grating which separated the public from the judges. From the same word comes the Fr. Chanceler, to waver to totter.

Professor is from profiterl, "to proclaim publicly," e.g., at Alexandra Hall. Lecture means reading. (I am indebted for this last to Prof. Adamson).

Free Discussions comes from dis-cutere, "to shake to pieces, to agitate" (freely). By the same token debate is from L. L. battere "to fight."

Hockey is probably from Fr. hoquet "a crook—not in the slang sense but the staff of some gentle shepherdess! In Mid. Eng. It meant a feast of hockey cake or sed cake.

Cricket is derived from criquet, a stick used as a mark in the kindred game of bowls, while tennis is from tamis "a sieve," in which the server bounced the ball before striking it, or more probably from Tenez, "Play" The origh of golf is a mystery. Some say it is an invention of the—

For the sake of the "divvies," parson is from persona "a mask," through which an actor "sounds" to hide his real identity. Students is from a Greek word, meaning haste or zeal; scholar is from schola "leisure." (We who have no scholarship appreciate the difference.)

The origin of Carnival is "carnem leavare," the putting away or removal of fiesh or food (on the eve of Ash Wednesday). We now put it away at other times.

* * * *

Dear Spike,—In the corner of a remote country there stands between the mountains and the sea a hillock, on which is built a bleak brick brick cottage. In this cottage hovers eternally the goddess self-complacency. She is garbed in jealous green and selfish gold; in her eyes is the smirk of precocity, in her heart a blustering confidence; her mouth is full of words, empty words.

Each of her pupils has heard tell of misery and suffering in the earth, of sordid commerce and tyrannic parliaments. Each reads a little pamphlet and plans anew the social fabric, to be worn of virtue and liberty. Each forgets that he or she knows nothing, is nobody. A pupil so ornates his plan, page 65 so fills his brain with its advantages that he hears others with impatience and casts them off as foolish. Clarissa writes as letter to the "Spike" complaining of a Stud. Ass. General meeting. She says the arguments against were nil. Did she listen or enquire?

The Free Discussions Club meets, it would seem, in the clouds of Utopia. A dozen come with a dozen solutions of the problem. All draw to a close and sit down, satisfied that they alone are right. Somehow no one is convinced or varies his opinions. If you debate you must advocate a change and all the world supports you. Contend that there is something good, something to be preserved in what exists and one will say, "Nice chap, Sparkeion. Pity he's so conservative."

The greatest feature of debates is their lack of humour—I mean of conscious humour. Coryphaeus reads epigrams and drama and retails their conceits. His speech is verbiose, exuberant, so much that none can understand him. It does not matter. The same thinks himself in love. Indeed he is—his passion centres round one Coryphaeus. Episcopos I proud of knowing both sides. Eh agrees with both; he gives them in his speech. A mind incapable of deciding is probably vacant. Silias so much fears misstatement that he says nothing save a few halting sentences. These are always incoherent. Scotus employs one fraction of his brain, his memory; learning, wit and intellect are crowed out.

The Christian Union alone is trying to make life better. Its Exec. Despises the vain activities of others and lives in the intellectual retirement of addresses and study circles. So doing, it makes itself ignored.

The Prof. Board writes in disapproval of certain notices. One suggests profanity, another is disrespectful to the Librarian. Yet these are preferable to the empty puerilities of the Scrawlers. A short time back the Debating Society read "The Earth," by J. B. Fagan. One genius added "Dickens," a second preferred ' What the," by," a third thought of exclamation marks.

These are some of the pupils of the goddess Self-Complacency. The worst I leave to the last. His name is


* * * *

Dear Spike,—When I bought your last number I thought I would write and say how charming your new cover looked. After inspection of your interior furnishings it struck me a lot more might be said.

Oh Spike! What a sombre, sober tone you have assumed! Why have you discarded the sparkle and snap which, in former days, set off even the most prosy editorial? Is it that all your contributors are "literary," and cultivate a "literary style," and eschew all things human and humorous; or is it the censorship? Alas, the probable trouble is that yours truly is not sufficiently "literary," so does not appreciate a polished "literary style" which is exercising itself in smothering a scarcity of ideas with superfluous verbosity (Deep breath, please!) Or perhaps I have never been sufficiently in love to feel the melting appeal in some of those love-lorn lilts which stick your pages together.

Anyhow, Spike, why not have a bit of a row? Why not discuss in the sacred editorial column something which even your humblest readers have sufficient interest in to want to contradict you? You think hard, and you will find students are interested in lots of things beside "Swot" and Greek Drama. You ask some of them, and you will find that some of your last contributors have caused many a mental iummy-ache and dislocated jaw.

Suppose you start row by publishing my little piece, and then snort at it?

Yours mournfully,