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The Spike or Victoria University College Review 1934

In Memoriam — Mortalitate relicta vivunt immortalitate induti

page 32

In Memoriam

Mortalitate relicta vivunt immortalitate induti

When, twenty-five years ago, Victoria College came into existence it was poor in material wealth, one of the poorest of all University institutions. But it had an immense wealth of the wisdom that is more than gold—of lofty ideal, clear view and earnest purpose. And when the time of testing came in the World War the men of the College were not found wanting. From the student that first registered on the books of the College fifteen years before to the men that could hardly convince the doctors, willing to be deceived, that they were old enough to enlist, a magnificent company went to fight for the land they loved and the ideals they owned. At once they sprang to arms, nobly they bore themselves, cheerfully they faced Death, grandly they died. We are tempted to wish that all could have come back. But in their death they have nobly en-dowed the college with a magnificent heritage, the glory and the pain of a realised ideal. As we look back upon the short history of the College, we see that there are things that might have been better done; but in the establishment of a noble tradition there has been nothing that leaves a feeling of regret. When they entered the doors of the College, ideals were in these men, their heritage and the result of their training. That their ideals became more clear, more ourposeful, in all ways better developed—this is the thing for which the College existed: this is the thing it achieved.

In the minds of none of our men that fought, of none that would gladly have fought but could not, was there ever the idea that war was a good thing—always an evil thing for which the best that could be said is that it furnishes a foil against which chivalry and greatness of soul stand out in clear relief. And that, of our men, there were many that stand out in brilliant light against the sulphurous background, all know that read their record: none know so well as we that know both the record and the men. Peace, peace in honour—and for us and ours there can be no peace without honour—this is the ultimate ideal of men that think. But peace has sometimes to be bought by war. The men that were willing to pay the price were here: the men that are willing to pay the price are here to-day; such men will always be here while the College stands. For we are sealed to that lofty object by the sacrifice of their lives that the men of the College have offered, that so many of them have made. They have pledged us to follow the course of Honour wherever it may lead us: pledged us to be worthy of the tradition they have set.

"Ye tell our England that of many a son
Deep agonies are suffered, high deeds done
Whereof is sparing memory, or none,
That hare eternity and deathless land
Beneath the starry threshold of our God:
And evermore in such she learns to read
The pledge of future deed."

To-day we think mainly of our dead. But of those that laid their lives upon the altar, and to whom the offering, in all its greatness and nobility, was returned we think many and many a day as well. These, with those that died, are the chief greatness and glory of the place, for they mark it as a place where men are cast in heroic mould.

Many, most of us, perhaps, confidently believe that the time will come when the Nations will recognise themselves as brother nations and will think of war as one of the inexplicable follies of the youthhood of the World. The blessed draught of forgetfulness that will make this possible is perhaps not for us; but we can help to prepare it for those that follow. But when that thrice-blessed time is come the deeds of those whose sacrifice we now commemorate will still be unforgotten. In our Islands the Maori and Pakeha live to-day at peace; and the chivalrous exploits of past wars are their common heritage. Of the bitterness and the abounding horror we do not speak or think. So, far off perhaps, is a time when there will remain in the minds of men, not the madness and the horror of the World War, but the greatness to which even in that lurid field the soul of man could rise. And in that surviving record of great and noble achievement the College will have its part.

—H. B. KIRK.

Editors' Note: This article is reprinted from the 1924 Silver Jubilee Number of The Spike which is now out of print.

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War Memorial Window, Victoria College Library.

War Memorial Window, Victoria College Library.

R. S. Odell Photo.

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Sir Robert Stout, P.C., K.C.M.G.,

Sir Robert Stout, P.C., K.C.M.G.,

The Founder of the College.

Copy by Eileen Deste.