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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1924

The Silver Jubilee

page 10

The Silver Jubilee


Sic transit—so passeth the glory. The first twenty-five years have gone; we stand up, as it were, altering our studious pose, and stretch ourselves; we fall on our excellent fellows' necks, we beat the festive drum, we tintinabulate (in imagination) congratulatory bells, we blow genteelly but with spirit on our very own tin trumpet. And then we subside. Twenty-five more years are to slide past, past, processional, cheerful (let us hope!) years, before we can celebrate, with due ostentation, that great jubilee, the fiftieth, the solid, substantial one, the real dinkum affair. But in the meantime the first twenty-five have been good, and good the Easter which completed them. we give an inadequate sketch of what happened on that truly auspicious occasion.


For many weeks, nay, months beforehand, an energetic committee—we can hand these bouquets round now that it's all over—under the direction of Mr. G. F. Dixon, had been hard at work, writing and wiring all over New Zealand and to the further con-fines of the known habitable globe. The clans were gathering, the pibroch sounding (metaphorically), the fiery cross flew from glen to glen, stout cohorts of the faithful assembled in city, township, and smiling country village. New Zealand's greatest lawyers threw up the biggest briefs of their careers to be there; farmers, Giants of Commerce, down to the very humblest and poorest, like you and us, dear reader, girded up their loins and made ready against the appointed day. The Committee met, quarrelled, agreed again, differed amicably, swore secretly at one another, rang one another up, interviewed People, wrote to the Council, wrote to the Professorial Board, wrote to the Governor, to the Prime Minister, to the Minister of Education, to the Chief Justice, talked to parsons, printers, and catererers; quarrelled, swore again—did all these things and many more. Reader, pause, think, consider! with what pangs is a Great Event like this brought to the birth! For you these strong-hearted men and women laboured in the heat of the day—salute them!

Enough! The last letter had been written, the last telephone had been abused, the last reporter interviewed, the last bit of propaganda written, censored, approved, and published. Easter approached—the Great Day was at hand.

II.—The Unveiling.

Good Friday (April 18th) was the exact twenty-fifth anniversary of the first lecture given under the auspices of the newly-founded College. It was therefore adjudged a specially suitable occasion for the ceremony of unveiling the stained glass Memorial Window in the Library, which with the series of inscribed brass tablets and the stone let into the wall by the west entrance forms the permanent memorial of the part played by V.U.C. in the War. The Unveiling was carried out in a crowded Library by Sir Robert. Stout, the founder of the College, and chairman and member of the Council for many years. After the Unveiling, the list of the dead was read by the Registrar, the Last Post was sounded, and a laurel page 11 wreath was laid on the central memorial brass. The simple ceremony concluded with the singing of "O God our help in ages past."

The Window was made by Messrs. Smith and Smith, of Dunedin, to the designs of Mr. J. Ellis. It is in four panels, the middle ones being figures of Richard Coeur-de-Lion and a New Zealand soldier, the outside ones having coats-of-arms and various symbolical fragments placed at intervals. In our opinion, at least, the general effect is spoiled by the empty look of these outside panels, which leave the solid figures and masses of colour of the inside ones with very little support. It was hoped that it would be possible to reproduce the Window in colours in the Jubilee "Spike," but the hope unfortunately proved vain.

III.—The Luncheon.

Originally plans were laid both for a luncheon and a Jubilee dinner. Difficulties of catering at Easter, however, proved insurmountable, and it was found necessary to dispense with the dinner altogether, and to hold a luncheon only on Saturday, the 19th This was done in the Concert Chamber of the Town Hall, which was crowded out, to the extent that an overflow banquet had to be held on the landing outside. The chair was occupied by Sir Francis Bell, whose remarks, though understood to be highly complimentary to V.U.C., her past, present and future, were unfortunately in-audible to everyone but those sitting in his immediate vicinity. There were many other speeches—in fact, there were far too many toasts for the amount of liquid provided to drink them in—by Professor Brown (who received what is generally described as an ovation, with musical honours), Professor Boyd-Wilson, Mr. H. H. Ostler, Mr. D. S. Smith, Mr. G. G. G. Watson; but the honours were undoubtedly carried off by Mrs. Hannah, who replied for Absent. Friends perfectly, and by Mr. Martin-Smith, who maintained in the face of all the world and its officialdom, the right of a University to free thought and free speech. It is wonderful how one or two bright spots like these cheer one up in the midst of some hours of what is, after all, the Usual Thing on occasions of this type.

IV.—The Concert.

On this Saturday night was held what we are credibly informed was the greatest and most completely successful concert ever held in the Gym., or, for that matter, in Wellington (some include New Zealand). This was entirely an old-timers' affair, as accommodation was limited, and the rest of the world was supposed to be weltering in blood at the Tournament boxing finals at the Town Hall. The old songs were sung by the same old people, the old friendships were renewed with the old shake of the hand; the old jests were heard from the old jesters, and the old laughter from the old victims. To the Concert succeeded dancing. Altogether a splendid, noteworthy, and indubitably excellent affair.

V.—The Church Service.

On Kaster Sunday afternoon there was a procession in academic -costume (the first time in Wellington?), led by Professor Brown as Vice Chancellor of the University, and the Hon. C. J. Parr, as Minister of Education and Visitor to Victoria University College, from the Town Hall down Lambton Quay to St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral, where what was supposed to be a Jubilee Service was conducted by the Venerable Archdeacon Johnson. We believe many thanks are page 12 due to Mr. Johnson for acceding to the request of the Jubilee Committee and conducting this service at a very busy time; and so criticism of the business may seem ungracious. What follows, therefore, must be understood as being an entirely unofficial opinion, coming from a present student, who had nothing whatever to do with the arrangements, and, moreover, fully appreciates Archdeacon Johnson's kindness.

The service, as it turned out, was a sort of addendum to the usual Easter rejoicings, run on approved and orthodox Church of England lines. The choir of St. Paul's very kindly participated, and ran through a couple of psalms and an anthem in the usual in-coherent way. The hymns were Easter hymns. Practically the only portion of the service which bore any relation at all to the Jubilee was the reading "Let us now praise fainous men," and portion of the sermon. Now it must have seemed, to say the least, anomalous to a good many of those students, both past and present, who participated, probably on the understanding that the service would be very simple and undogmatic in form, to be confronted with what actually happened; especially in relation to the Jubilee of the freest and most undogmatic of institutions, a modern University. It has been suggested that any procession held in the future on like occasions might finish up at the University itself, an Alma Mater owning love and allegiance far more in these days than any church of a sect can do—a suggestion with which we are in cordial agreement. With this part of the celebrations, at least, we fancy a good many people must have been grievously disappointed. Of course we do not speak for everyone. Some were quite satisfied.

After the service adjournment was made to the main hall of the Girls' College, where the excellent Christian Union provided one of their inimitable social teas; a very successful, cheerful function, bar one plate of pikelets that had unfortunately missed the butter when it was shared out. A sad lack of vitamines, this. We believe, however, that on request to an indefatigable official, butter was immediately and courteously supplied. This may seem a small, 'almost trivial point, but it is on a succession of these little things that the tout ensemble, the happy effect of the social milieu, rests; therefore we mention the butter. Mr. Rishworth sang; everybody circulated, talked, ate, drank, got caught in everybody else's gown, and was generally and completely happy.

VI.—The Ball.

The Silver Jubilee Ball was run conjunctively with the Tournament Ball, and a very successful ball they were. The Town Hall was decorated, lights sparkled, likewise eyes; festive couples and reminiscences circulated; everything went off Just So. In fact, a Very Good Ball Indeed.

VII.—The Jubilee Spike.

And then there was the Spike! Writing in thine own pages, O Spike, is it fit to praise thee? Even as the general Jubilee Committee worked, so worked thy committee. What meetings? what momentous decisions! What discussions with printers! what acres of proofs! what overtime! what midnight vigils! But thou wert out on time, O Spike! Thou appeared'st, and light burst on humanity. V.U.C. history was laid bare. The prosateurs prosed, the poets performed in lengths long and short, the illustra page 13 tions were many and illuminating. There was a leading article on thee in the "Times," O Spike. And, to crown the triumph, thy edition of 750 proved too small, thou sold'st like Hot Cakes and art now out of print! Spike, what glory is here! What leafy crown is this! Did'st thou, on the moment when thou went'st out of print, think that life, after all, was worth living? These are the supreme moments, O Spike!


And yet, that is not all to say. There was the tennis that went on all the time, mighty champions competing; there was the photograph taken at the Tournament on Easter Monday; there was the private visiting, those delightful little unions over morning tea; there was the excitement and the bated breath over the strike at the end; there was the good grip of the hand as one more good thing of life drew to its finish, the last ring at the 'phone, the last cheery grin from old-time brother-in-arms. So it passes. The first quarter-century is over and done with, not entirely without glory, not without the heat and dust of the conflict. So it passes. A quarter-century more before the next milestone. Well, what says the poet?

"When the task is grey in the doing,
And heavy the load on the wain,
It heartens to see a yoke fellow
Brace shoulders that bunch to the strain;
To know the team's work is divided,
That taut is the leading-chain."

Let us get down to it.