The Spike: or, Victoria College Review War Memorial Number
Memorial Number of "Spike" — Editorial
Memorial Number of "Spike"
"We be of one blood, little brother, you and I."
—"The Jungle Book."
There is a custom among men we may not forget. There is a law we break only at a price. When the bugle sounds and we hear the call, we march gaily forward. But when the day is long and the quest weary it is to home and the home-coming that we turn for strength and cheer. In that glance backward to the things we love we see the whole story of ourselves and of our race; we see all that we represent in the scheme of things; and it is worth dying for. In that glance forward to the home-coming we see all that we hope of the future; the loving kindness of friend and comrade ; the reward of every toil; and it is worth living for. There is a custom among men to meet together when the trials are over and the danger past. It is more than a custom, it is a law, for there is that in us which says we must follow till the curtain falls, that no drama of human struggle is complete until brother has joined hands with brother.
It is most curious how slender and impalpable are the most golden of the threads which bind us one to another. A look, a touch, and the world will never be the same for us again. The sound of a voice and one moment may leave a lifetime's memory of regret or joy. A hot catch may be all we remember of many long summer days, but it holds together a vision of green turf, and sunshine, and of youth. A quick tackle in a hard game and not politics itself can make us quite forget that this man is for ever a brother. A night by winter's fireside, a passing jest, a quick retort, the just word, the generous concession, and we see into hearts which may not thereafter be alien. Close communion for a common cause, and for the rest of our lives, if need be, we shall forgive and forget because we must be true to that thing we dare not throw into the blue waters of forgetfulness. In such soil are the roots of life cast. In the aftertime the greatest joys are in remembering.page 6
Through all the chain of memories, one music sounds. Our friends are the like-minded ones, and we say, "We be of one blood, ye and I." We answer the same call. There is no human institution where these memories are more natural and more deeply rooted than at the University. When the great call comes, the great ideas are grasped and University men and women are found together. They are not necessarily the most intelligent as individuals, but together they do form a body which is capable of understanding an idea, of distinguishing the essential from the accidental There is probably no community of men and women more apt at translating ideas in terms of duty. So, when all classes and creeds of men were called to arms in 1914, there was no class which saw the issues more plainly, which counted the cost more deliberately, which was more ready to stand to the sacrifice. The University, more than any other of our institutions stands for peace, for its outlook is cosmopolitan and universal. But there are things dearer than peace, things which must be bought at a price. So the music of the war-drum as it passed was not a music we loved to hear, though it was a music we could not but follow.
Now, obeying the law, we gather together after the fight. Some returned from the tragic hills of Gallipoli, some from the deserts beyond Egypt. From Persia to the Balkans they come, and from the fields of France. Some, less fortunate, have remained at home, helping as they could. Of these are the women. But we be of one mind, one blond. 'The great days of triumph on the playing field have faded before the greater days when our training was put to the test. The great memories which surrounded "the Old Clay Patch" have faded before those greater memories which surround live years in which we set our faces with stead fastness towards an enemy whose appeal was to force and to the God of Battles. The appeal has met its fate, and those who are left from the slaughter still find that their lives are rooted in past times.
While we gather at the mother shrine there is one thought which will hold every one of us and our joy will be chastened with sorrow. Few indeed can look back without knowing that some roots of their lives have been torn up. The men with whom we lived in those old days—how old those days seem, avant la guerre—with whom we ran. and swam, and fielded, and followed up; with whom we discussed the victory and defeat, the chances of Easter and of November! They lie on many a battlefield of which they did not dream, and the memories we shared with them are saddened page 7 with bereavement. But they left our College and our University enriched with wider if less personal memories. We know of none of them who turned their backs. We know of many who brought great honour to our name. In war many are the victims of disaster we think should have been averted, but we know there is not one of the fallen who would complain. The game was played, the side has won. It was not theirs to finish the quest, but it was theirs to make the victory possible. There are some who would ask nothing of the world's remembrance, content with taking their place in the line. But there is no one of our men who would not value, if he could know, the loving kindness, the thankfulness, the pride, with which we remember that these were our friends, that by their stripes we are healed. Their voices are silent upon the hill, but Their fame shall long endure.
It would not be fitting here to tell the deeds of any single one where all have equal honour in our sight, equality of offering in the cause, equality in payment of the price asked. But we are all proud to claim brotherhood in blood with such as he who inspired the glorious tribute of an English comrade; we are all proud that it was of one of us that an Englishman wrote:—
Not where in grey surge of unnumbered miles
Rises the coronach of the Hebrides;
Not far away where molten sunlight smiles
On Southern Seas;
Not from the cloistered strife of academe,
Spent with its subtle warfare, bowed with years
Of honoured labour, did'st thou pass, supreme
Among thy peers:
But in the blasting hurricane of the fray,
Deaf to its roar, unheeding of its toll,
Humbly before the altar did'st thou lay
Thy splendid soul.
So thou art gone, but who that lives can mourn
The promise of thy manhood, who by fire
Tried and accepted, didst endure to scorn
The world's desire?
Rather we pray that we who hold the fort
May with an equal courage pace our beat,
Till, unashamed, we can at last report,