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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, September, 1922


page 39


Eheu, fugaces, Postume, Postume,
Labuntur anni, nec pietas moram,
Rugis et instanti senectae,
Affiret indomitaeque morti.

How the fleet years glide by. It seems but yesterday that "The Spike" was born, and here she is, a discreet and docorous young lady, not only with her hair up, so to speak, but having reached her majority. I was her first editor, but that was a mistake. There were many with better literary qualifications—indeed a galaxy of talent—including the genius who first came to light in "The Spike"—Seaforth MacKenzie; and I am forced to admit that the literary standard Improved when the editorship passed into more competent hands. I can only take credit for the more modest part of contriving that the venture should pay its way, and the evergreen de la Mare, who was Assistant Editor, and I collected enough for advertisements in an hour to render the finances sure. We levied toll on our unpaid tailors and mercers, and it was their money which paid for the printing of the "good stuff." Why we came to choose the name by which our baby was christened other than any other has quite slipped my memory, but I remember the many hostile criticisms on its first number. We were told to sharpen our point—and indeed on looking over the first few numbers which lie bound on my shelves, I fear it was blunt enough. My friend, Mr. A. H. Johnstone (now one of the leading barristers in Auckland), called a meeting of students to protest against the crudity of the first number; and no doubt the spikiness of the criticisms that were uttered at that meeting were well merited. But the thing went from the start, and has never looked back. When the College commenced, there were a number of men and women well above the average University age, who had "felt the want hands cannot close upon," and had almost missed their chance of University education. They all helped, and that made the thing go.

I remember one first class joke I played on my two friends, de la Mare and A. J. Johnstone, in an early number of "The Spike." One of the most brilliant students the College has produced was Miss Smith. She it was who made the brilliant sketches at the head of each article which are reproduced to this day. I got her to make for me a sketch of Johnstone in tartan and kilts blowing the bagpipes of defiance at the gates of the College Council—at that time not so much in touch or sympathy with the aims of the students as it has since become. She cleverly cut Johnstone's face from a photograph and put the sketch all round it. I showed the sketch to de la Mare, one of the Assistant Editors, and suggested that we publish it without consulting Johnstone, the other sub-editor. De la Mare was delighted with the idea, and stipulated that he should he there to see Johnstone's face. At the same time page 40 Miss Smith did for me a sketch of de la Mare listening at a telephone, the face also being a neatly cut out photograph. I showed this to Johnstone only, and he stipulated that he should he there to see how de la Mare took it. With some trouble I got the proofs through without either of them suspecting, and when the number came out they were both called together to enjoy the joke at the expense of the other. Their faces were both worth study when they discovered their own caricatures.

Our College has been blessed from the very start in having the good fortune to have professors of great independence of mind; men who have not only held strong convictions in their ideals, but have always been ready to fight for them if necessary. This has tended to leaven the whole mass, and "The Spike" has consistently reflected that attitude of independence and fearlessness. I notice that every now and then it annoys the politicians, at least that kind of politician who apparently thinks that loyalty and patriotism can he inculcated by Act of Parliament. When I see that class of politician complaining in the House that the convictions of the present day students are "as red as a ruddy rose," to use Mr. Punch's expression, because those students have discovered and proclaim the fact that patriotism is of the heart, and not a matter of lip service, I feel glad to think that the old place must he still sound at the core, and that it is still fulfilling one of its highest functions—to turn out men and women who know their duties to the State, and also their rights—and knowing, dare proclaim.

H. H. Ostler.