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The Spike or Victoria University College Review, June 1927

Boys Who Have Become Famous — 1.—Mr. Arthur Fair, K.C

Boys Who Have Become Famous

1.—Mr. Arthur Fair, K.C.

Mr. Arthur Fair is New Zealand's reason for existence. At a very early age he determined to make this fair Dominion the land of his birth, a circumstance to which is surely due the proud position of the British Empire to-day. The information in our possession does not reveal whether Mr. Fair passed through the customary periods of infancy, childhood, and youth. If, during any phase of hie career, appearances may have lent colour to the opinion that he did suffer some such immaturity, we may be sure that in reality it was but an example of the versatility of the man. It is more reasonable to believe that the exemplary powers of judgment which distinguish Mr. Fair today were present in him from the very outset of his career.

In due course Victoria College was privileged to receive the patronage of this great man. How much the College is indebted to this patronage it were impossible to estimate. The discerning mind cannot escape the conviction that it was this unique student, with his steady hand and balanced brain, who made page 23 possible the transition of the infant institution to a maturity which may be described as triumphant. This conviction is reinforced by the spectacle of the readiness of Mr. Fair to impose a curb upon any recrudescence of the barbaric behaviour which must have gravely disedified him when it occurred among students contemporary with him. Many of the alumni gratefully attribute their chaste conservatism in public affairs to the reverence which the influence of Mr. Fair led them to yield to the utterances of wise, witty, and learned men at the annual capping ceremonies.

It is with some reluctance that we treat of the part our hero played during the period of the Great War. This reluctance is not due to a sense of any deficiency in the noble service rendered by him; far from it. But Homer nodded; Caesar slept; and captious criticism, the more malignant because of its recognition of the remarkable prestige of Mr. Fair, attributes the outbreak of the disorder in Europe in 1914 to inactivity on his part. One word from him, it is suggested, and the Kaiser would have slunk home abashed, or perhaps have confined his warlike proclivities within the walls of the library of some Prussian University. While we cannot resist a feeling of pity for the chagrin which the authors of this criticism must have experienced through their inability to penetrate the inscrutable designs of Mr. Fair, it is none the less impossible to restrain our indignation at their deplorable lack of confidence in the unfailing wisdom of this great man. If there is one sure principle to hold to in this disturbed age, surely it is that, whatever happens, Mr. Fair knows best. In the case of Europe, Mr. Fair's clear eye saw that the only cure for the militarism which distracted the nations lay in the salutary discipline of war. Indeed, it is this zeal for discipline, as we of Victoria College are well aware, that most reveals the genius of our hero. When the sword of justice had been sufficiently loosened upon earth (Kipling), Mr. Fair saw fit to restrain the hostilities, lest greater disorders should arise; and for this merciful act future generations of students, whom a long, protracted war would have deprived of ancestors, will call him blessed.

The most remarkable achievement of this remarkable career was yet to come. Lest it be thought that the change from Europe to New Zealand meant translation to a less important sphere, let it be remembered that the land hallowed by the choice of this great man became, by reason of that choice, the hub of the Universe. It was essential, therefore, that law and order should prevail within it. Most essential was it that in the hub of the hub, namely, here in Victoria College, "where once the feet of Arthur gravely trod" (Tennyson), the insidious forces of disruption should be suppressed. For years a tide of lawlessness had been swelling. Year after year, at the festival of capping, the most eloquent speakers of the land had poured out a devoted stream of wit and wisdom upon the altar of higher education—without avail, for irresponsible students, afflicted with the modern spirit of unrest, and amply supplied, beyond page 24 doubt, with Russian gold, refused the respectful silence which is the sign of loyalty in a student. The situation became a crisis; the crisis demanded a man; and the man came. With one bold, yet simple stroke of legal genius, Mr. Arthur Fair changed the venue of the proceedings, and the howling mob, drunk with capping spirit, shrank back in silence before the grim barricade of the Library Card. Thrilled by the event, the world awoke into action. The British authorities immediately raided Arcos House, the Australians opened Canberra, Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic, dreadnoughts sailed for Egypt, and the waters of the Mississippi receded. It may confidently be asserted that the history of the future will simply be a record of the repercussions of the brave voice which, in a time of turbulence, suddenly shouted, "Silence!"

Here we will close this all too inadequate account of the opening chapters of a tale of might. The earnest student should ponder them well and keep always in mind that—

"Lives of great men all remind usw
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints all over Victoria College."


The remaining chapters will be written in the histories of the future.