- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 3 Apr 1919, p. 216-222
- Thwing, Chas. F., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Canada and the country south of Canada as new nations, measured either by the centurial existence of our old British Empire, or by the length of existence of an Empire Republic like China. The speaker's belief that the great Imperial Republic of Canada and the great Republic south of the lakes are to endure. Reasons for that belief, with a brief discussion of each: the comparative equality in the distribution of wealth; the mobility or fluidity of public judgment and sentiment; the high ideal of administrative justice; the principle or the sentiment of the glory of the imperfect. Some concluding remarks about the League of Nations. The need for the perpetuation of the league between the different branches of the English-speaking race.
- Date of Original
- 3 Apr 1919
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
THE ENDURING GREATNESS OF
AN ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT CHAS. F. THWING,
D.D., LL.D., LITT.D., OF WESTERN RESERVE
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
Thursday, April 3, 1919.
PRESIDENT THWING: Gentlemen, I feel myself at home, for we have joined our hearts and voices in singing different hymns ("God Save the King" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee") each of them to the same tune. Be it also said I never put my feet on British soil without a thrill in my heart. For my only son wears the British uniform, and is a captain in the Coldstream Guards. (Applause.) This son of the -Puritan Pilgrims, who for a time was at Oxford in New College, was four years ago made a British citizen and then entered the war. (Applause.) I feel myself at home also because of the subject I have chosen. For Canada and the country south of Canada are newer nations, measured either by the centurial existence of our old British Empire, or by the length of existence of an Empire Republic like China. Both these
President Thwing is well-known as one of the outstanding authorities on education on the American Continent. Born at New Sharon, Maine, in 1853, he graduated from Harvard University in 1876, and became President of Adelbert College and Western Reserve University in 1890. He has travelled extensively, having visited China, Japan and India, studying colleges and universities. Among his well-known and widely read publications are:
"The Reading of Books." "Within College Walls." "College Administration." "History of Higher Education in America." "Education in the Far East." "College Training and The Business Man." "Letters from a Father to His Son Entering College."
nations on this side of the globe are among the newer creations of Providence and of humanity. Today, as citizens of humanity, and of this new English-speaking race, we thoughtful men become exceeding thoughtful and serious, and at times anxious regarding our future. You and I for the time being, and perhaps permanently, living under different administrations, yet having the same great visions and common elements, have a right and perhaps a duty to reflect upon such a fundamental consideration as the perpetuity of our Commonwealth. I believe this great Imperial Republic of Canada and this great Republic south of the lakes, are to endure. To the reasons for this belief I shall ask your attention.
The first reason that I give for my belief in the enduring greatness of newer nations is this-the comparative equality in the distribution of wealth. Wherever you find land distributed with a certain degree of equality you find in that equality of distribution a mighty force making for the peace of the hearts of men, and for their contentment with government. Land-hunger seems to be a passion of man. . He came into this world of the earth, and finally his ashes are to form a part of the earth also. Between the cradle and the grave this hunger is insistent. Where-ever you find, as you find in Russia, vast prairies given in their vastness to a few individual holders, and smaller parts-in some cases very small-given to a great number of people, under this instinct of land hunger you find actual or potential rebellion. And also where you find the wealth of the country personal, as in stocks and bonds and similar securities, locked and focalized in a few people, you find also that same spirit of rebelliousness. Wherever you find small holdings of land among many peoples, wherever you find the savings banks represented by hundreds of thousands or millions of holders, you find a force that has a stake for the perpetuity of that people and of their government. (Applause.)
A second reason for that belief lies in what I may call the mobility or fluidity of public judgment and sentiment. The government of a people that is stratified and solidified, upon receiving a blow from the exterior, is liable to go to pieces. Give and take is the proper method. The law of life represents the method also. The science of biology and not the science of physics is the proper metaphor and token. Mr. Emerson, I recall, once said near the close of his life that he was almost surprised 'to find himself living until this advanced age, for he said "In the earlier time I was the sickly member of the family." Mr. Emerson had a brother Charles who was regarded in the earlier years of as promising a mind as Ralph Waldo. Charles died years ago, this man of robust constitution. Emerson himself said, "I think that my very feebleness is the cause of my long life, for when the hard blow of disease struck my vigorous brother Charles he had not power to receive it, and fell, while I feebly bowed like the willow to the gust, and survived." I often think that one cause of that vast continent of Asia maintaining its essential existence for these numberless centuries has been,
"Its power to bow before the blast
And to keep bowed till the blast was past."
Alexander and all the conquerors have melted away on the sands of the great rivers and the rocks of the Himalayas.
The third reason for this belief lies in the method that I shall call a high ideal of administrative justice. Man has an instinct for justice both in demanding it for himself and in giving it to others. The child feels it. If a child thinks himself less loved by his parents than his brother or sister he feels himself wronged. If any citizen thinks himself treated less fairly than his neighbor he himself sows in his soul the seed of rebellion. This keen sense of equal justice is a force in the government of peoples. For us newer nations I believe that this sense is regnant. We sometimes say, south of the line, and I have heard it also in London, "Yes, Yes, the Englishman is a brute, but he is a just brute." (Laughter.) I have been in India, and I know very well that justice, not only by common repute but in the narrow way of observation, the justice of the government of India to manifold tribes and many languages by a hundred thousand Britishers is one of the marvels of the last century and of the present. The Anglo-Saxon is a just man. He is mistaken at times, of course; his intellect does not give a proper verdict on the evidence; but he tries to see facts first, and to reason upon them as God reasons. The nation my friends that administers its affairs with that high ideal of absolute justice has a good constitution for a lasting future. (Hear, hear, and applause.)
I also want to say that in the enduring greatness of a people, new or old indeed, I believe that a just and proper union of great leadership and of personal integrity is a highly promotive force. The English people, the English government, and the government of the United States of America have at times had great leadership. The great leadership is called out by great issues and momentous occasions. The greatest leadership that the republic to the south had was in the few years following the close of what is called the Revolutionary War, when Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson were in the saddle, and also in the generation of thirty years preceding the outbreak of the civil war. There was great leadership in that time, both on the Confederate and the Federal side. Sumner and Webster are names that will live as long as the stars shine or the Great Lakes reflect the morning sun. The names also of Calhoun and of Henry Clay are among the precious possessions of the re-united American Republic. It is not my right to speak of English history as I have a right possibly to speak of American, but I suppose you would all say that England never had greater men as prime ministers than Peel and Palmerston and Gladstone. Great leadership they gave in those critical years that preceded the birthtime of some of us. I ask myself whether in the republic of the south or in any state, imperial or democratic, there is equally great leadership today.
I said, did I not, that there must be a proper union of wise and worthy guidance with 'the integrity of the community? After all, the enduring power of a people rests back upon the character of the individual citizen. If he be unworthy, the consequent community is also unworthy; if he be a man of instructed vision, pure, high-minded, without visionariness; if he be a man of a heart of love and of sympathy with all men, the higher and the lower, the fallen and the great; if he be a man of a conscience, keen, alert, sensitive; if he be a man of a will, whose strength is great and whose guidance by the intellect is equally great, the whole communal body is consequently large of mind, pure of heart, keen of conscience and strong of will. When you unite a people of that character with great leaders, perpetuity is as thoroughly assured as any existence can be in this world of change. (Applause.) But if you have great leadership with a corrupt community, there is no escape over 'the Red Sea. Or if you have a pure and noble community without great leadership, the community flounders in the nearer depths of the Red Sea, the waters of the gulf that is not to be passed overwhelming them in lasting disgrace and death. (Applause.)
I rejoice, my friends, in this common brotherhood that you and I represent, that there is great leadership and a great character joined together in all the pleasant years 'that are ours, and in the future years that await our children.
There is a further element, I think, that ensures the enduring greatness of a newer nation, in what I may call the principle or the sentiment of the glory of the imperfect. The newer nation, because it is new, is imperfect, and greatness at once recognizes its imperfection. Under such a recognition, it is safe. Whenever it is given in either newness or maturity, to believe that it has touched the heights of wisdom, and attained unto worthy and perfected strength,-that its theories are sound and its practice wise and 'true and right,-there and then arises ground for doubt. My friends tell me there is a theory of the existence of God, that God is not, so to speak, a product with attributes unchanged and changeless, but rather a process going forth into all humanity, which represents what we may call the rest of infinite motion. Whether true or not in point of theology, there is, I think, a true phase of this conception in the realm of government. So long as we think that we are not perfect, but we are aiming at perfection; that present government is inadequate, but that we are seeking to find a less inadequate method and result; so long we are safe and assured of the future.
Canada is new. The United States is new. South of the line we feel ourselves exceedingly imperfect and inadequate; but judging by your papers that I have read this morning, at least some people in Canada also think they are a little imperfect. (Laughter.) So long as that can be our mood, so long we shall go forth conquering and to conquer, not with Prussian strength, but with Anglo-Saxon justice. (Applause.)
I am conscious, my friends and brothers, of the honor that I have enjoyed through your graciousness, through the happiness that is mine in standing again on British soil. As I close I want to say that I for one am, as a most humble individual, deeply troubled and dismayed by what is going on in Paris and what is going on in Russia and the Balkans. What may be the fate of the so-called League of Nations only Providence knows, and by some systems of theology even Providence does not know. But whatever may be that theology, let us hope for the best, and take counsel of the happiness of the result which God has in store for mankind. There is one League of Nations that must be perpetuated; it is the league between the different branches' of the English-speaking race. (Loud applause.)
I speak, my friends, as having some right to speak. I am a child of the Mayflower, of the Puritans, and my boy in this generation has gone back and become a British citizen. I want to say that as between these branches of 'this race, one in origin, there must be the closest co-operation and communion in mind, in sentiment, in heart, in feeling, in ideal, in service. For one is our destiny. (Applause.) If one fails and falls, the other will also fail and fall. United we can go forward, assured that under the Providence of God and with our sentiment of justice nothing can overwhelm us. We can go on and make this world worthy of its creation and preservation and destiny in the Divine Author of our human being.
I see yonder the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. Their folds are intertwined side by side. I have a friend who has a castle in Scotland, a man of Scottish birth but of American life and service. After years in America he went back to old Scotland and built a castle. He wanted to fling forth from the towers of his castle some ensign, some token, and he asked himself, "What shall it be? If I put up the Union Jack it won't be quite fair to the country overseas of my adoption. If I put up the Stars and Stripes it is not just to Scotland and to the British Empire." And so this friend., patriotic in double relationship, and canny as a Scotchman ever is, put up a standard that on the one side is the Union Jack and the other the Stars and Stripes. (Laughter and applause.) And I have seen that double flag, hung there listless, wrapping itself around its one standard, and you could not tell whether it was the Union Jack or the Stars and Stripes. (Laughter.) But I have seen also in the springtime a good stiff wind from the east blow upon that standard, and it made it stand out four-square as if it were adamant in that upper air, hard and solid as stone, proclaiming to all the world that when those two flags are united the world becomes the world not simply of our Anglo-Saxon race, but the world of God and of man. (Loud applause.)
The chairman expressed the hearty thanks of the club for the address, so lofty in its tone and so impressive in its character.