The Spike or Victoria College Review October 1929
Plunket Medal Contest
Plunket Medal Contest.
The Debating Society held the twenty-third annual contest for the Plunket Medal on the 21st September in the Concert Chamber, Town Hall, the number of entrants being eight. The competition opened notably with a contest between the Chair and the College Orchestra, which at last successfully quelled the attempt of the Chairman to address the audience. Punctually, at twenty minutes past eight, the Chairman, Mr. C. A. L. Tread-well, was permitted to declare the course open.
The first speaker, Mr. G. Crossley, had an admittedly difficult subject which he handled well. An interesting address on Lenin was marred only by a certain amount of nervousness and lack of light and shade. The clearness of this speaker's delivery was most noticeable.
Miss C. S. Forde then dealt with an eminently respectable character, W. E. Gladstone. That she delivered such an excellent oration is more attributable to her own powers than the appeal of her subject. It appeared to us that true oratory was reached only by two speakers, she being one, and that she was unfortunate in not appealing more to the judges. Her subtle touches of humour were evidently quite unappreciated. Miss Forde is undoubtedly a very fine speaker.
Mr. T. Taylor shared with Miss Forde the distinction of attaining to the standard of oratory, when he spoke on Father Damien of Molokai. In this excellent subject, suitably treated, it was pleasing to note a complete absence of the use of the loud pedal. Mr. Taylor is the possessor of a good voice which he used with effect.
Mr. B. Vickerman took us to the Isthmus of Panama and introduced us to Sir Henry Morgan, the buccaneer. Unfortunately the speaker's voice and delivery did not match his subject, and it is doubtful if those not near the front seats could have heard much of the exploits of this hardy pirate.
Mr. H. R. Bannister showed an enthusiasm for Shelley, in a speech quite obviously not learnt by heart. It is difficult to interest an audience in the merely poetical.
Mr. W. J. Hall, who spoke on William Pitt the younger, had evidently prepared his speech too well, and his effort consequently carried no conviction. It was a good speech spoilt by the insidious inroads of the elocutionist into the art of natural speaking. Mr. Hall is the possessor of a pleasant voice which it is a pity to spoil in this way.
Mr. C. H. Arndt gave an interesting account of the early days and life of Abraham Lincoln, making the points of his speech with clarity and emphasis. It was an old tale well told.
Mr. A. D. Priestley is to be congratulated on his elocution-cum-acting. As he was the only speaker of the evening who had taken no part in the activities of the Society during the year, his speech on Robert E. Lee was all the more to be commended for its traces of careful preparation and coach page 18 ing. It complied with all the requirements, and Mr. Priestley will doubtless feel most gratified with its result.
While the Judges (the Hon. J. A. Hanan, M.L.C., Rev. J. R. Blanchard, B.A., and Mr. O. C. Mazengarb, M.A., L.L.M.) retired to elucidate the problem, Miss Reid contributed a delightful violin solo, and Miss Davies gave two songs. The orchestra played once more before the Judges returned. The Hon. Mr. Hanan gave a speech on the art of speaking during which some interjections from the gallery amused the audience. The Rev. Mr. Blanchard and Mr. O. C. Mazengarb also spoke shortly. The Chairman announced that Mr. Priestley had been placed first and Miss Forde second.
Finis coronat opus. We wonder.