The Spike or Victoria College Review October 1929
Letters To The Editor
Letters To The Editor
Another Appeal (Published by Arrangement.)
Dear Fellow Student,
—When you come to the University, you have reached the stage in your life when your education in its widest sense falls into your own hands. Where, hitherto, the influences that are to surround you in your daily life have been chosen for you, you must now choose for yourself. You study at the University to better fit yourself for your calling in life, the calling which is to earn for you your livelihood. You choose some from the many available means at hand for giving expression to the higher impulses within you. Music, outdoor sports and games of various kinds appeal to you, or you feel attracted to public-speaking, writing, art, and indoor amusements of which dancing is one of the most prominent. You do not and, indeed, cannot afford to neglect all of these means of expressing yourself.
You see to it that you have enough bodily exercise, so that you may be physically fit to carry on your life's work. You take your part in some or all of the social activities that belong to the social group of which you are a member, so that you can feel that you are an active and useful member of that group. In doing all these things you are living to the best of your ability, and, incidentally, preparing yourself for a still more useful life in a still larger group.
What is missing from this account of University life? Surely it is religion. You would not give up your home life or your University life, because you know that they are influences in your life that bring out the best that is in you. Can you afford to neglect the influence that religion can play in your life? Have you never thought that there are hundreds and thousands who, though several years younger than you, will never know what a home is like—let alone a University? Religion to these young men and women is something that they clutch at as a drowning man clutches at a straw. It becomes a guide to lead them to a higher and useful citizenship, lives that might so easily become dominated by vicious and destructive habits. I suggest to you that you will not always have with you the University; and, further, that you will not always have a home to shelter you from the evil aspects of the world. I suggest to you that, even while you do have these advantages, if you have not religion, you are missing something that can make you happier—make you feel ready to burst with the joy of living a life that seems really worth while. Until you have felt religion you cannot know what it is to be fully and truly alive. If you do not seek it, you are missing one of the best things that life has to offer you, one of the higher blessings that man has discovered in the long history of his development on earth.
"How am I to seek religion?" you say. "I do not like the idea of church. My friends might laugh at me when they see me going to church." Do you not know that religion has been recognised by men since the very page 31 earliest of records of them? Do you not know that religion is one of the highest cultural developments of the human race? Do you not know that religion has occupied the minds of some of our greatest thinkers from the beginning of higher thought? Do you not know that it has been the inspiration of men on whose memory time has set the hall-mark of true greatness? Can you be so blind as not to see that social life of to-day is as full as it ever was of opportunities for religion, which some seize and some let slip? Have you never heard of a bible-class, of a study-circle, of the Y.M.C.A., of the Wellington City Mission, which gives to children from the worst homes in Wellington the religious opportunities that the young men and women from some of the best homes seem to value so lightly?
In the last issue of "Spike" someone wrote an appeal to students to support the Students' Christian Movement, which forms one of the largest unions of young men and women in the world. I reiterate this appeal with emphasis on what the Movement has to give You and not so much on what you can do to help It. If it helps you, the work of the Movement! is done and its purpose fulfilled. But if the Movement does not appeal to you, seek Some field of religious activity. Do not think that this letter is written to make copy for "Spike," and do not read it through without thinking at the end what in it seems reasonable and what not. Be sure of one thing—that you do what You think is best and not what others think or do Merely Because They Think or do it.
"It is easy to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude."
[This correspondence is now closed.—Editor]
Foreign Language Quotations
It would seem that whenever well-intentioned people "get together" (in the words of the classics) to further some worth while enterprise, immediately do they "camouflage or distinguish themselves" behind fragments of the alphabet. N.U.S. as Mr. Cabot and others told us—S.C.M. on little booklets and notices—V.U.C.A.A.C. on strips of green ribbon parcelled out to the deserving. While deploring such back to childhood methods I suggest that a cause of some immediate importance be taken up and sponsored (like Mr. N.U.S.) by more of our energetic members of committees.
In various parts of our library are books written in unknown tongues. Let them remain there. They are safe, harmless. What I do object to is in reading a perfectly intelligible article in one of our magazines, in a book of essays or even crowning monstrosity, in a text book to be suddenly plunged into a welter of Greek, Latin, German or French. "This must be page 32 quoted in the original" and off he goes perhaps even without this warning and apology. Perhaps the author means that we stop to admire the beauties supposedly inherent in the classics, or that we acquire French technical words we knew not before nor wish to see again. Of what value can such perversity be? Any translation would be better than the one we may work out. Must we go to Freud for an explanation or haven't they translated his works properly?
Adding paragraphs 1 and 2 of this discourse, let me suggest that there be formed immediately a Society for the Suppression of Intellectual Cussedness. In short S.S.I.C., and that this society have as its objects:—
|1.||To persuade Professors R.B. and B.W. to form a department for the translation or suppression of such extracts or alternatively (as the best examination papers say).|
|2.||The provision of one of our intellectual language fiends as a ready reference to be stationed in the library at all times.|
—I am, etc.,
"The Old Clay Patch"
In an idle moment the other day, while searching for something of the Edgar Wallace touch to pass the time with, I came across my copy of "The Old Clay Patch," and I sat down and there and then read it through.
Apart from the excellence of the book as an anthology of College Verse, there is much in the book of a really fine order, and several of the pieces appearing over the initials of Seaforth Mackenzie could hold a place in any company.
I note that the first edition was brought out in 1910, and was followed by a later edition in 1920. Next year is 1930, and I wonder whether we shall see a third edition. I have perused the pages of "Spike" from 1926 onwards and there are not more than twenty poems there that deserve the immortality which is conferred on them by their inclusion in the "Old Clay Patch."
The fact is that the last five years have given us but little in the way of really good verse. The cream of the numbers of "Spike" for those years are very good, but very few.
This may be attributed, no doubt, to the fact that 1929 has seen the first Extravaganza for several years. The Extravaganza no doubt led to extensive verse-production in its bygone years, and "The Old Clay Patch" benefited in consequence.
Now that we have revived the Extravaganza, and with a record-breaking effort at that, we may look forward to seeing much more and much better verse written in the pages of "Spike."
Owing to the apathetic attitude which is shown by the students as a whole to the traditions of their College, the Executive have a considerable page 33 number of copies of the last edition of the "Old Clay Patch" still unsold. No doubt this is due also in no small measure to the fact that, apart from the Christian Union Handbook given to freshers at the commencement of the session, the Executive do not even mention, let alone advertise, the "Old Clay Patch" in any of the College organs. (It is mentioned in the Annual Balance-Sheet, but then no one reads, or is expected to read, that).
The result of this deplorable apathy will prove to be that no third edition of the work under discussion will be issued next year. It is time there are few pieces which have appeared in "Spike," which are entitled to inclusion, but the few which are of merit deserve to be preserved.
Furthermore, the verses written for the 1929 Extravaganza are almost as good as the Bab Ballads, and should certainly be given immortality.
I insist, Sir, that if the question of a third edition is discussed, that the question of whether it will pay will receive secondary consideration to the question of immortalizing the few outstanding literary efforts of the last five years.
—I am, etc.,
Mr. Bishop's Grievances
I use your columns in the redress of a great wrong. My grievance is is that the Executive of the Students' Association do not advertise sufficiently the date of the special general meetings which are held from time to time. Apart from a small notice on the board by the letter rack, and occasionally a chalked message on the blackboard, the students are left guessing.
The obvious retort is that they should watch the executive notice board, but when it is a question of watching the darn thing with a microscope the thing becomes absurd. In any case, the students have proved themselves so apathetic in the past that some thing far more arresting must be devised to catch their attention than a mere typed notice. The notices for the last election are a case in point.
I suggest that something like the advertisements for the Law Dance should be used. This will undoubtedly arrest the attention of the surging proletariat.
Another grievance is the shortness of the notice that is given of important meetings. Except in rare cases there is no reason why at least 10 days' notice cannot be given.
In passing I would also question the right of the Executive to issue a notice to the effect that notices on the general notice board must be initialled by one of the Executive. Is there any authority for this? and if so, any necessity? Is not the common sense and good judgment of those who put a notice up sufficient to ensure that nothing unreasonable or offensive is put on the board? In previous years this requirement has not been insisted on, and I for one, would like to know the reason for the passing of this rule, if it has been so passed.
The Executive are notoriously elusive, and I for one have neither the time nor the inclination to scour the College looking for an odd member of page 34 the Executive. The secretary I have never been able to find in the executive room yet, and the same applies largely to the other members. If they expect this rule to be adhered to, they should give every opportunity to those concerned, that it may be adhered to.
Lastly, I want to know who the lousy swine was who got down on the Hockey Club's notice board, and I hereby give notice that if I find out his name, only the fact of his having a wife and family of six will save him from summary evisceration at the hands of the Committee.
—I am, etc.,
H. J. Bishop.
[This letter has been ruthlessly watered down.—Editor.]
I wish to register a protest against the manner in which Students' Association meetings are conducted. I have attended all but one of the meetings of the Students' Association held this year, and without exception they have degenerated into gatherings almost as rowdy and disorderly as the present session of Parliament. (In case anyone should gain the wrong impression I may say that the meeting I did not attend was just as rowdy as the others.)
Now, Sir, surely there can be found in the College someone capable of controlling a meeting. I am referring now to the case at the last meeting when the chairman was absent, and the secretary took the chair.
My suggestion is that at each meeting the chairman be elected by the members present. Possibly the meetings may then be something other than a farce.
—I am, etc.,
H. J. Bishop.