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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, October 1919

College Notes

page 18

College Notes.

Group of academics talking

At the end of last term Miss C. Braddock left for England, the Senate having awarded her a travelling scholarship which she will hold for three years at Oxford University, in pursuit of more advanced study in philosophy. Towards the end of the term Miss Braddock was appointed assistant to Professor Hunter, the position being held this term by Mr. I. L. G. Sutherland.

Miss O. R. Salmon and Miss D. B. Maclean were also, towards the end of last term appointed temporary assistants to Professor Kirk and Professor Mackenzie respectively.

Mr. Ward's illness has cast a gloom over all students. Those preparing to settle down to pre-examination reading have found it strangely hard to do so without the accustomed care and presence, and few people could be so truly missed as the Librarian. We hope that he will soon return to us and the Library.

Professor Marsden has resumed his position as Professor of Physics, his return from the front coinciding very happily with capping. During his absence he has turned his scientific knowledge to practical purposes in connection with the war, and has thereby rendered invaluable service to the nation. All students of every faculty are glad to welcome Professor Marsden back again.

We were also fortunate in having with us at the Capping Ceremony Dr. Jenness, a former student of Victoria College, and now a noted anthropologist. Dr. Jenness accompanied Stefansson's expedition to the far north, where he lived among the Eskimos studying their language and customs. During his stay, Dr. Jenness delivered to the W.E.A. an interesting and instructive account of the Eskimos as revealed during his life among them. Dr. Jenness has since left New Zealand, again to continue the work in which he was engaged previous to going to the front.

It has been decided to establish at Victoria College a Chair of Economics, this being made possible through the Macarthy Trust. The new professor, who is to be appointed, will enter upon his duties at the beginning of the 1920 session. During the past though Economics had not reached the dignity of an established chair, students were still enthusiastic. At present no student would miss even a few minutes of a lecture through lateness.

The future popularity of this subject, now that it has been raised to the same status as other subjects, should therefore be assured.

The Victoria College Council has resolved that there shall be a Principal of Victoria College. It is not quite clear what part the Principal will play. The Council is taking no further steps until this point has been decided; but some day we shall page 19 surely have a Principal, and there is the best authority for the creation of such an office. There are Principals at other Universities.

During the illness of the Librarian, temporary librarians—the choicest of the student body—have been appointed to carry on the work. Two were appointed—he was but an undergraduate, and an honours' student she. And these two, each in their allotted time, with diligence and determination, play the professional librarian, "holding demijohns of wisdom to the thirsty lips of men." But neither of them can translate a Greek quotation.

* * * *

The Plunket Medal Contest.

"Their untir'd lips a wordy torrent pour"

The 13th annual Plunket Medal Contest was held in the Concert Chamber of the Town Hall on the 13th of September.

His Excellency the Governor-General Lord Liverpool was present, and Captain Morice was in the chair.

The first contestant, Mr. J. McPhee, took Sir Julius Vogel as his subject. In opening, the speaker informed his audience that he had no hope of winning the contest, and it is true that as an effort in oratory his speech was not a very great success. Mr. McPhee did, however, deal with his hero in an interesting and original method. His style was fresh, and his manner free from the embarrassment which characterised some of the later speakers. Mr. McPhee holds his audience, and will probably develop into a convincing public speaker.

Mr. J. W. Davidson spoke on Eugene V. Debs. His speech was well thought out and carefully prepared. His language, however, would have been improved if it had been simpler, and he could with advantage have delivered his speech more deliberately and impressively. It seemed that the speaker had more enthusiasm for the life work of his hero than admiration for the hero himself. The speech was nevertheless a good one.

Mr. W. A. Sheat dealt with Mazzini. This speech was the most forcible and vigorous of the evening. The speaker showed some of the fervour of the orator. He forced his audience to listen. If he had paid more attention to his delivery he would probably have won the contest. Mr. Sheat has, however, the force of character, the enthusiasm and vigour necessary for an orator. He will win the Plunket Medal Competition if he will cultivate a smoother delivery and avoid several small defects and mannerisms.

Mr. C. G. Kirk delivered a speech on General Gordon. The speech was undoubtedly the best of the evening. The speaker's matter and arrangement were good. Mr. Kirk is a cultivated elocutionist, and it was because of this that he won the contest.

Mr. A. B. Croker spoke on Hannibal. His manner of speech was rather abrupt and jerky. The matter of the speech was good. In order to hold his audience Mr. Croker will have to display more sparkle and vivacity. There was such a monotony of tone in his voice that the audience was not held.

Mr. G. S. Troup delivered an exceedingly interesting essay on Sir Walter Raleigh. At times, however, he spoke rather too quickly. This speaker has a fervour in him which he probably has a difficulty in expressing. If he desires to arouse enthusiasm in others he will have to throw off his shyness and let page 20 his audience know how deeply he himself is feeling. An orator must not be afraid of making a fool of himself. He must to a certain extent lay bare his soul to the people. Mr. Troup will be an orator if he is determined to be. He must, however, conquer a certain shyness of spirit.

Abraham Lincoln was the hero of Mr. A. M. Cousins. This speaker has still a great deal to learn in the arts of oratory. He has still to conquer his nervousness. His effort on this occasion will, however, prove useful to him in future contests. One point Mr. Cousins may find it useful to remember, namely, that the English language is just as useful as the "Australian," and much pleasanter to the ear.

Mr. F. H. Haigh spoke on John Redmond. The speech was interesting. Mr. Haigh has a pleasant voice and a taking manner. He will make a capable speaker. His speech on this occasion was, however, scarcely an oratorical one.

The Judges, the Hon. G. M. Thomson, M.L.C., Mr. J. T. M. Hornsby, M.P., and the Rev. A. E. Hunt, placed the speakers in the following order:—

  • 1st—Mr. C. G. Kirk.
  • 2nd—Mr. W. A. Sheat
  • 3rd—Mr. J. W. Davidson.

Mr. J. T. M. Hornsby, M.P., in delivering the judgment made some criticisms on the form of the Punket Medal Contest. Judges on previous occasions made the same criticism, namely, that the speeches are merely recited essays. The judges are apparently unaware that it was Lord Plunket's wish that this form of competition was adopted. Quite apart, from this, there is a good deal to be said for an annual contest of this kind. A man may be a good debater and a convincing public speaker, yet he may be quite unable to touch people's feelings or arouse their enthusiasm. It is these two latter objects which those who compete for the Plunket Medal must keep specially in view. The Plunket Medal Contest does therefore seem to serve a useful purpose in the training of University speakers.

At the conclusion of Mr. Hornsby's remarks, His Excellency the Governor-General presented the medal to the winner.