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The Evening Star. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1889., Issue 8013, 16 September 1889
The Evening Star. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1889.
The impending appointment of a pro-
fessor to fill the vacant The English Chair of English Language Chair. an( j Literature in the New
Zealand University is a matter of such grave importance to the public at large, as well as to that body itself, that the Press cannot be considered as going beyond its province in emphasising the necessity for a very full and careful consideration of the suitability of candidates. It is understood that a recommendation has been made by the Church Board to the Synod, with whom the final decision rests, that a certain candidate from Home, whose testimonials are of a high character, should receive the appointment. That the members of the Board have not overlooked the serious responsibilities resting upon them in making a selection may be accepted without question; and, so far as testimonials can assist them in forming a judgment, they, no doubt, feel themselves justified in favorably placing before the Synod the name of the candidate referred to. This being the case, we feel some delicacy in taking exception to the conclusion at which that body has arrived upon the material before it; but, having regard to the importance of the appointment, and keeping in view the danger of giving too great weight to testimonials, the insufficient character of that material may fairly be pointed out. Testimonials, hov> ever excellent, do not, in themselves, afford sufficient ground for forming a correct judgment in a matter of this kind. Though not essentially untrue, they may yet be misleading. Experience teaches that only the virtues of candidates are recorded in testimonials —their defects never. The best qualities of men, in many respects excellent, are only too often nullified by demerits difficult to specify, and which, as a matter of fact, never are specified in testimonials. There are few teaching bodies that have not had unpleasantly brought home to them, after some appointment has been made, how a distinguished scholastic career, and
the possession 'tf: great ability as evidenced by testimonials—may be associated with characteristics which, had they been known when the appointment was made, would have debarred the candidate from any chance of success. To go no fttrtkeb, the lack of teaching power arid energy, or a want of tact and liyntpathy in-the very difficult task of managing students, Would utterly unfit a candidate, however brilliant his college career raayhavebeen, froiVt safclsfactorilyfilling such a Chair as that of English Literature In the case under review, the candidate favored by the Board of Property is, we believe, not entirely unknown in Dunedin; and it would be well that the Synod should be satistied that inquiries have been made from those who can speak with some degree of personal knowledge as to his fitness for the high position to be filled in the University. It will be understood that there is no desire to speak disparagingly of any candidate for the Chair, nor to
Hint a fault and heait&to dislike. But it is cf paramount impdrtarice to the University and to the public at large that a wise and judicious appointment should be made, and therefore no trouble should be spared to investigate the qualifications of applicants before the final step is taken. T6 appoint anyone on documentary evidence alone is to take a leap in the dark. We learn that, in making their present recommendation, the Board attached great weight to a testimonial given to the favored candidate by Professor Massox, of Edinburgh University, who stated that for a time the former acted as his assistant. Now, it is understood that the duties of such an assistant do not in any way bring him into Uachiny relations with the University classes, but are limited to the marking of certain exercises set by the Professor. If this be so, as we are credibly informed it Is, it justifies the suggestion uiade as to the danger of laying too much stress upon testimonials. If the Board had no choice but to recommend a candidate from testimonials alone, the risk, great as it is, would have to be incurred. But such is not the case. In fact, it is to be regretted that the Board adopted the course of advertising for applicants at all. When that step was taken it was well known that a gentleman in our midst, in every way fitted for the position, was ready to accept it. Mr Wilson's testimonials are of th« highest character, and from the best judges as to his capacity in the community. His career has been a marked success, and it has been under the eyes of those with whom the appointment rests. Indeed, his peculiar fitness was immediately recognised by many of them, as well as by most of the authorities upon education, when first the Chair became vacant. Had it not been decided to advertise for applicants, there is Very little doubt but that he would have been appointed. Many of his former pupils have attained an a2C when they may bo allowed to pronounce judgment upon his qualities and qualifications. From these there is but one opinion, and that is entirely in his favor. By the community generally he is regarded as a man who would be eminently successful. His life has been spent in the study of subjects proper to the Chair. We are only expressing the opinion of a very large section of the public, and more especially of those who are interested in the cause of education, when we say that a general feeling of disappointment will prevail if the claims of one who has worked so long and so well for the community are passed over merely because he cannot produce testimonials of a like character with those offered by Home candidates. It is not possible for colonial candidates to do so, seeing that by the very fact of their laboring amongst ourselves they are far removed from the eminent literary circles to which Home candidates have access. But this should tell in their favor, because their work is always before us ; and unless we persist in seeing with other men's spectacles and fear to trust our own judgment, colonial candidates should, other things being equal, have the preference. Their best recommendation—their fitness being established —is their proved success in practical work. To reject them in the face of this, because they are debarred by circumstances from producing Home testimonials, is manifestly unfair. It would be a grievous calamity to the University were the risks pointed out to result in a mistake being made. And there is no reason why such risks should be incurred, when a gentleman so admirably fitted for the position is available—one who combines with high scholastic attainments every quality which the occupant of the Chair should possess, and whose teaching power is not only high, but eminently so. The mistake of advertising should not be followed up hy -what at best would be a dangerous experiment. Apart from its effect in this particular instance, the practical exclusion of colonial candidates from all chances of the higher prizes of their profession—which must ensue if so much weight is to be given to Home testimonials—cannot but have a permanently injurious influence. However much a teacher may distinguish himself—however successful he may be—he can have no hope of a University appointment, nor of promotion in a service which may fairly be regarded as identical with that in which he is already engaged. Such a result must be exceedingly discouraging, and cannot but tend to extinguish the best kind of zeal and enthusiasm. The evil is intensified when a Home candidate is selected by a body which must necessarily base its recommendation entirely upon testimonials. It is to be hoped that the Church Board and the Synod will give these considerations the weight that the importance of the subject demands. If it be eventually decided to exclude colonial candidates, and at all hazards to have a man from Home, the selection should at least be deferred for a year, and a commission appointed to select a professor for the vacant chair. A year's makeshift is nothing compared with the danger of appointing a stranger upon testimonials alone. But again, why should Mr Wilson, whom we know, and whose qualifications are
unquestionable, be passed over for any outsider 1 He has taught with acceptance at the Boys' High School, and has organised and raised the Girls' High School to a high state of educational efficiency, these 'Ate really Eminent services-, arid deserve recognition. He : ,has borne the. burden partly iii the Boys' School, where he was immensely liked by the pupils; and latterly in the (Jirls' School, where he is equally liked, while his responsibility is greater and his success more conspicuous. Surely he has some claim for advancement to a professorship. It is not only justice, but a privilege, to say to such a man: " Well done, good and faithful servant," you have been faithful to your trust in the school, go and do likewise in the University. There are, strange to say, some very eccentric people in the community who fear that if Mr WllsOn, be removed from the school to the University it will be next to impossible to find a man to equally efficiently fill the province of rector, and that therefore lie should remain where he is. They forget that their style of reasoning implies that the higher qualifications usually supposed to be essential in a university professor are more common than those required for conducting a secondary school. We grant that it would require very careful selection to secure the services of a teacher capable of continuing the work Mr Wilson has so ably performed. But there are now many in Otago alone who would be equal to the position; and it carries its own condemnation to say that the abler the man proves himself to be he shall, on that account, be refused promotion. And further, if it be needful to pursue this point, what would be apparent loss to the Girls' High School would be equally apparent gain to the University. This absurd idea, therefore, may be dismissed as of no importance, On this point we need say no more.
The San Francisco mail should arrive in Dunedin to-morrow afternoon.
John Hounson, maltster at Speight's brewery, fell from a plank on Saturday and fractured his left leg.
An appeal case—George Curtis v. Mary Daniels—will be heard by Mr Juatice Williams after the Chambers sitting on Friday. Mr John Henry Hancock, proposed by Mr J. H. Lambert and seconded by Mr Robert Ferausson, was the only candidate nominated to-day as councillor for Kensington Ward, Caversham, and was declared duly elected.
This morning's sitting of the City Police Court only occupied a few minutes. Three first offenders were convicted and discharged for drunkenness; and James Barr, who had been previously convicted some monthß ago, was similarly dealt with for the same offence. Messrs W. Hutchison and J. Hyman occupied the Bench. Our Wellington correspondent wires:- " The members of the Beo Culture Association will be pleased to learn that the Premier has promised Mr Ross that their request re the circulation of the ' Bee Journal' has been complied with and instructions given accordingly to the Postal Department."
Two or three cases were set down for hearing at the Supreme Court to-day, but all were adjourned to future days. Macdonald v. the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company is fixed for the 19th Inst., Tapper v. Tapper (special jury case) for the 24th, D'Albedyhll v. D'Albedyhll (case under the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act) for the 25th, and the Queen v. Brookß to follow the last-mentioned case.
Mr Bland Holt and his company finished their Dunedin season on Saturday night, and left for Christchurch by to-day's express. They afterwards play at Wellington and Auckland, and then leave for Brisbane and Adelaide, proceeding thence to Sandhurst and Ballarat. Twelve months hence we shall probably see Mr Holt back again. He will always be welcome, being in high esteem both in private life and in his public character.
The eighth anniversary services in connection with the Leith street Congregational Church were held yesterday, when there were large congregations at both morning and evening services. In the morning Professor Dunlop, D.D., was the preacher, taking his text from Luke, 18th chapter, verse 28: " Then Peter said Lo, we have left |all and followed Thee." In the evening the Rev. Dr Stuart was to have preached, but owing to the indisposition of the gentleman who was to take his place in Knox Church he was unable to be present, and the pastor of the church (the Rev. Mr Johnstone) took the service, preaching an eminently practical discourse from John, 13th chapter, verse 35: "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another."
A notice to members of Enterprise Lodge, U.A.0.D., appears in thiß insue. Members of Loyal Unity Lodge, 1.0.0. F., Court St. Andrew, A.O.«*\, and the Caledonian Bowling Club are direoted to a notice in this issue.
Mr W. Jinkina, the agent for Harry Rickards's Comedy Company, is a passenger by the Te Anau. and will arrive here to-morrow to arrange for the company's early appearance here. Mr W. Hughes accompanies him. Nineteen patients were admitted into the Dunedin Hospital during the past week, and twenty-six were discharged. William Pearson died. There are at present 104 patients in the institution, or eight less than at the beginning of last week.
An interesting ceremony took place in the saloon of the s.s. Takapuna this morning, when the present >tion by the stewards and cooks of a very handsome timepiece and address was made to Mr Thomas WaddoH, chief steward, on Ms leaving to join the Waihora. The presentation was made by Mr William Rutledge, the second steward, who, on behalf of his shipmates, expressed their regret at his (Mr WaddelPs) leaving the aKlp. A concert was given by the Green Island Presbyterian Church choir on Friday, the 13th inst., at the Volunteer Hall, Green Island, Dr Watt presiding as chairman. The choir (eonducted by Mr Hunter) rendered a very tasteful selection of sacred music in the first part and secular in the second part of the programme. The soloists were the Misses Mason (3), Stevenson, Loudon, Mrs Loudon, and Mr Dinwoodio; and a quartet, ' The village choristers,' given by Messrs Hunter, Dinwoodio, Steers, and Fastier, was rendered with much spirit. Miss Hooper acted as accompanist, assisted by Messrs Smith. A collection was taken up at the close, and the balance, after defraying the cost of the hall, will be banded ti the Green Island Presbyterian Church fund. At the annual meeting of the Dunedin Jewish congregation, held in the vestry rooms on the 15th inst., the following were unanimously re-elected: President, Mr D. E. Theornin; treasurer, Mr L. Mendelsohn; committee—Messrs I. Rothschild, M. Joel, S. Jacobs, and I. Isaacs, in conjunction with Messrs J. Hyman, M. Herman, I. Isaacs, and H. Benjamin, who retain office for another year. After the usual routine business, a massive pair of silver bells and breastplate for the scroll of the law were presented by Mr and Mrs L. Mendelsohn in commemoiation of celebrating their silver wedding. Mr J. Hyman also presented a very beautiful pair of silver bells for another scroll of the law, and Mrs D. B. Theornin a very handsome Sigon cover. On the motion of Mr B. Hallenstein, votes of thanks were recorded to the donors for their valuable gifts.
The Evening Star. MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 1889., Issue 8013, 16 September 1889
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