EMPIRE RELATIONS-PERSONAL AND
AN ADDRESS BY LIEUT. H. GLADSTONE HILL.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
Thursday, October ,28, 1926.
COL. ALEXANDER FRASER, Vice-President, introduced the speaker.
LIEUTENANT HILL was received with applause, and spoke as follows:
Mr. President and gentlemen, it is no mere platitude for me to say that I am delighted to be here today, and to see that one word so prominent here-" Empire." As one must get a proper perspective in order to appreciate a picture, so I feel that I can better appreciate the glory of the British Empire after having travelled approximately 60,000 miles in the last 12 months, having gone through New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Great Britain and part of Canada and the United States, with a mind that is ready to mop up all the impressions made upon it.
The New Zealanders may seem to be your poor relations, and you may not want to know them, but I am going to suggest that you have got to know us, whether you like it or not, because, as we are members of one family, it is essential to Imperial unity that we should know one another; and I am going to suggest that you know less of us than we do of you. I don't know that this is the fault of your educational system, but the information imparted to me in school enabled me to visualize where I was to go in Canada and the United States, so that I was very little out in my reckoning; therefore I think our educational system is sound.
I have been surprised to find that very few Canadians know much about New Zealand, and they care less. That is an attitude of mind that you will have to get away from. If a Club such as this is to be of any service at all it must be educational. You know, there is so much balderdash talked and written today that it is one of the finest things to come down to earth and realize who we are, what the Empire is, what part we are playing in the Empire, and so on. In order to understand the Empire as a whole you must know and appreciate its component parts, both the people and their country.
I propose to take you through the tour which I have been making, and it may be well to give you some information to kick-off with. I am director of the Australian National Band, which is composed of representatives of every state in our Commonwealth, and although we are without government or municipal assistance except their good-will, which is very nice but does not pay railway fares, they have sent us on this world-tour. Speaking as a New Zealander, I think it is the finest advertisement that Australia has ever had. We have been able to draw people, for over 7570 of the people appreciate band music, while 2070 think they do, and the remaining 570 go in for high-brow stuff. The band will pay Toronto a visit on Armistice Day; they have been entertaining various other clubs in Canada.
This tour is not a paying proposition to the members of the band, for there is not a man that will not reach home a jolly sight poorer than when he left; but from the Empire point of view the tour is a great success. We have been able to get the people who do not seem to realize that Australia is something else than a land populated by kangaroos. The Dean of Rochester University the other day said he had never realized what Australia was until he saw such fine, strapping fellows on the platform-I am not referring to myself.
Maori mythology says 4,000 years ago some Polynesian natives were driven by circumstances to make a canoe and migrate southward. They had seen the birds going south, and coming north at another season, and with their limited brain-power although I sometimes think that they had more brain capacity than some people of today-they realized that land was there, and so they went. The Maori tradition says that when one of the natives was fishing for food one day he found something that was hard to handle on his line, and it turned out to be the island of New Zealand. The Maori likes to give his information in a form that impresses the mind, and all his mythology is couched in such terms as those. However, the Maoris found New Zealand before Tasman or the English navigators.
It is quite true that New Zealand is small, but it is the richest country in the world, because of its climate. I was at one time secretary to the Managers Association of the butter and cheese factories in Auckland Province, and at that time we were exporting less than 500 tons per annum. Last year the production for exportation from that province alone was around 30,000 to 40,000 tons; this was the increase within 20 years. One company, with headquarters in my town, Hamilton, manufactures 20,000 tons of butter and 18,000 or 20,000 tons of cheese, besides milk products and butter-fat. New Zealand is a big competitor of Canada, and exports 55,000 tons of butter, and as many tons of cheese. It seems to me we will always be a competitor of Canada, but after visiting England and studying the situation there from every point of view I want to put this proposition to you quite plainly. England is our greatest customer, and always will be, as far as cheese is concerned, particularly; and I am satisfied that New Zealand and Canada are going to be the greatest producers for the British Empire; they will be the producing elements of the Empire. Australia will be such, but to a lesser extent, because it is subject to drought.
New Zealand has a system of government grading that has been the making of the dairy industry there. A government grade-note is an impartial document that is recognized the world over as of face value. I can take a bill of lading into any bank, and as long as it conforms to the numbers and quantities of the shipment I can draw cash for it. Under no other system in the world can there possibly be such a result. That system prevails in our meats; in grading of lambs it is very extensive and rigorous, with the result that on the English market New Zealand butter, cheese and meats have a very high standard. Unfortunately we do not control the product after it reaches the retailers in England, and that is the greatest problem facing New Zealand and Canada, and it will not be solved by the producers themselves.
I will give you an illustration of the difficulties we have to contend with in this respect. I went into a store in Nottingham and said I was a visitor from New Zealand, and asked to look at the tag on the Canterbury lamb. This lamb has a world-wide reputation because the feed which grows on the plain and the water that comes down from the mountain give the meat a delicious flavor, so that lambs are brought from outside and topped off in Canterbury, and when sold as Canterbury lambs they fetch a premium. On looking at this tag I found it was labelled " Gisborne "-which is about a thousand miles from Canterbury.
New Zealand is only on the fringe in the matter of production. By having number , one cows in each herd in the dominion she could increase production 50% by herd-testing, and feeding. It is true with cows as with humans, that we get as much out of life as we are prepared to put into it; and we cannot expect the Almighty to give us butter-fat if we do not give the cow something to chew and make it. It is very hard to knock these sentiments into the heads of the farmers, but the day has come in New Zealand where butter-fat production will be doubled; the herds are going to be decreased in size, and the farmers are going in for small holdings and intensive cultivation.
New Zealand has other features, among which are its fish, and on the north of the Island there is swordfishing. Perhaps some of you saw the sword-fish in the National Exhibition here, with a sword about two feet long. Those fish are very dangerous, and yet they are caught with a rod and line, weighing up to 900 pounds. We have seen launches where they have ripped the bottom right through. Some of the most wonderful scenery in the world is to be found on the south coast of New Zealand.
From Wellington, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia, is 1248 miles. As far as the Pacific is concerned, New Zealand and Australia are in a strategic position. I have observed that this Club has been giving some attention to our problems out there, but in other parts of Canada I found a great lack of knowledge, I might almost say ignorance, concerning the Pacific problems. Now, this has to be forced upon you, for the centre of gravity is undoubtedly shifting to the Pacific, and both Canada and the United States are interested on the Pacific Coast, and you folks at least will have to give more attention to that portion of the world.
Australia, by its policy of "White Australia," has simply thrown down the gauntlet to all the people who would like to populate that country at the expense of the British people-which means that Australia and the Empire must populate Australia in order logically to occupy it. It would be quite illogical to say that 7,000,000 people could occupy a country larger than the United States and nearly as large as the whole of Canada and call it occupation. It is for Great Britain and her statesmen and the Australian statesmen to recognize this, and arrange to meet this very great difficulty as far as immigration is concerned. After coming through South Africa and realizing some of the difficulties of the color problem I am satisfied that the "White Australia" policy is right. That is why I suggest to Canada that you watch your immigration, and keep your population white and clean. If you have the right people you can work with them, but if you have a hybrid population you do not know where you will be; I don't know, and I don't think you do.
Australia has the longest railway in the world from point to point, roughly 5,000 miles. Some of you railway men here may not like my comparing your railway fares with ours, but I am going to. From Adelaide I travelled for three days in a first-class sleeper, a compartment car, with all meals included, for $55; so you will understand the position. One of the railway difficulties that Australia has to contend with is the difference in gauge on various parts of the system, some being 4 ft. 8Y2 inches, some 5 ft. 8V2 inches, some sections 3 ft. 6, and these are intermingled. Experts have been consulted, and they have all recommended different things, so that nothing has been done. There is a stretch of 333 miles across the plain that is an absolutely straight line. The temperature was 107 degrees when I crossed that plain.
West Australia is the largest state in the Commonwealth; Queensland is next. To give you an idea of distances I may say that up here in Port Darwin there is a very large freezing plant closed now on account of labour trouble; but they used to buy the young stock around here-(pointing south on the map)-and trek them up to the coast; the animals would leave when six weeks old, and by the time they arrived at the Port they would be two and a half or three years old. I assure you that is quite correct. To my mind that is one of the finest methods of raising cattle at other people's expense.
Brisbane is the capital of Queensland, and a very important point comes in here. At the canefields, the Kanakas used to do all the work. It was decided to repatriate them, and since then the whites have done the work in a country where it 'vas considered impossible for whites to live.
The capital of New South Wales, Sydney, is the second city of the Empire, and one of the finest with one of the best harbours in the world, and with a population of a million and a half. There is a good deal of rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, I would not say like that between Montreal and Toronto, but I will say between Toronto and Montreal. Sydney would not agree to Melbourne being the capital for 25 years, so they have another capital, Canberra, which the Duke of York is going to open next May.
The railway line across the plain referred to was built more as a strategic line, but it has been paying its way, and they are finding that this section of country, where agriculture was considered impossible years ago, is being made wonderfully fertile by means of fertilizers and irrigation. The mines in this part-Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie--are known the world over.
During the 16 days' trip from Australia to South Africa our band played for five hours each day, practising, and this was quite a picnic for the 900 passengers. When we arrived at Durban we were met by the mayor, whose first words were, "Gentlemen, I wish you to understand that this is the most English-speaking portion of South Africa." I never saw a man more proud of being English. Johannesburg is not in that category; I am told they are changing its name to " Jewhannesburg."
At Durban I was struck with one thing, the lack of which in Canada I must comment on, for I have found an absolute lack of what I might call civic pride or interest in providing public halls. In Australia, New Zealand and South Africa the municipalities have many halls. In Durban they have a magnificent block of buildings that cost before the war £670,000. It is a very fine thing for a municipality to have a nice hall in which to entertain people when you want to do so.
In Durban the main talk was around the kaffir canteen and compound. There are three classes of colored people in Africa. There are the Indians who came over years ago from India under indentures, who have since worked out their indentures and have become a really very great power in financial and land matters and otherwise. The position is so acute that the Union Parliament of Africa and the Indian Government arranged for a round-table discussion for the repatriation of those Indians. That shows the wonderful state of the British Empire, when two peoples of absolutely diverse views can discuss problems of such vital interest to both countries. The Indians are intensely sensitive in regard to the treatment they are receiving in South Africa, yet they appreciate so much being a part of the British Empire that they are prepared to consider any means to bring their people home. That is one of the most wonderful tributes to the British Empire; yet I see that Dean Inge-that gloomy, dyspeptic dean-has been talking of the decadence of the British Empire. I really cannot find language to speak of him; but I think the limit has been reached when the Chicago Herald has got to take Dean Inge, a prelate of the English Church, to task for telling untruths about the British Empire. If the Dean could find something out of all the privileges and knowledge he has had of the British Empire, I suggest for his serious consideration that he should do so, because all that he is saying is not only hurtful, as far as the Empire is concerned, but is absolutely untrue.
Then there is in South Africa the kaffir and the colored problem the mulatto. The kaffir is the native of Africa. The mayor and the councillors took the conductor of the band and myself on a trip through all this district. They had absolutely prohibited the kaffir from getting intoxicating liquor. It was almost a penal offence for anybody to be found serving liquor to a kaffir. But the kaffir is no different from other people, and the moment you say, "You shan't," human nature backs up and says, " I shall." The kaffir had a right, as much as the other men, to get the beer, and the result was that the second situation was worse than the first; so the municipality decided that they would take control of this, and they established a canteen.
The kaffirs are all registered. You can do that with niggers, but you cannot do it with white people; of course I am not suggesting that you could register everybody here. The kaffirs have their identification discs, and they come down in a long queue, and the man at the desk recognizes them. He sees the kaffir's ticket with his number, and the kaffir puts his threepence on the counter and goes around and gets his mug of beer. This beer is manufactured by and under the control of the municipal health department. The kaffir sits down and has his dinner, and goes back to work. If he wants a second mug to take home he gets in again, but he loses his job or he doesn't get it. The profits derived from this go, in the first place, to build a hospital for kaffir women and supply all their hospital needs. I had the pleasure of going through the hospital, and it is a wonderful institution.
The result is two-fold. Now, I am speaking as a total abstainer; I have never touched liquor in my life. I found this point of view very emphatic-that the native is getting a fair deal. This is the basic principle of British control of the natives. British law and justice is the basis of the British Empire, and the fundamental principle on which the Empire stands. Go to any country in the world where the British are in control, and I say without any hesitation if you meet a foreigner who has been condemned to hang, he will not question it. He will say, " I just get my deserts." I have met Italians, Greeks, and other foreigners, and negroes, and if they have been ordered a lashing by a British magistrate they are satisfied that they have got justice.
In Africa the kaffirs were not satisfied that they were getting justice, because white men could get what they were prevented from getting. The kaffir does not mind being restricted; and my experience is that you cannot restrict what you cannot control. The authorities set out, in the first place, to control it; then they had a chance to restrict. The kaffir has been placed where he feels he is getting a fair deal, and instead of getting the horrid stuff and the rotten muck that was distributed there and throughout the world, the quality of the stuff is controlled, and the profits derived from it are going for the assistance of his own women-folk. The result is that the kaffir is a very happy man today. I pass that on just for your information.
I was in Cape Town when the Hertzog government tried to pass the Color-Bar Bill. That was opposed to the British idea of the protection of natives, and as such was the subject of the biggest demonstration of all the medical and legal fraternities and the various churches and denominations, headed by the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops. The Assembly turned down the Bill, which I knew would never have had the Royal assent.
I knew that General Hertzog would not be allowed to go to London on his own, and I see that from time to time South Africans and the papers are reminding the British people that he does not represent the South African Union. There is a good deal of controversy going on in, regard to Hertzog's ideals instead of Smuts'. However, it is my idea that it is the older element, the Dutch, that is responsible for the bitter feeling. I travelled two days and two nights with Dutchmen who had been in the Great War, and their feeling was that as soon as the old element passes out all this bitter hatred in South Africa will be an incident, and there will be good feeling between the races.
I had been away from London for 41 years; I took my family out to New Zealand when I was five years old. Many opportunities were given me by relatives, and I had the entree to many places. By courtesy of the C.P.R., with which every Canadian ought to be jolly well pleased as one of the finest and best managed concerns, I was enabled to meet a number of American bankers when I visited London. I am wondering whether Canada, by reason of the close proximity of the lesser, is overlooking and forgetting the fact that she is a component part of the greater.
Here comes a question of visualizing, and a question also of perspective. When I reached London I realized what a terribly small pebble I and our country was on the great imperial beach. I got some idea of the banking institutions there, and the wonderful control of the street traffic. Oh, dear me, I tell you I took my hat off many a time in London. If you will only realize, when you go there, that you are a child of the grand old couple at home, you will go away from there and your hat won't fit you.
Think of the situation. Britain had loaned France £60,000,000 sterling. It is estimated that she lost in Russia over £700,000,000 sterling through the failure of the Soviet regime to take over the debts of the Tsarist regime. She has carried Italy on her back; she has Czecho-Slovakia, Bulgaria and Rumania, Spain and her own Dominions. She financed the war in Germany. She has admitted and has paid her obligation to the United States of America; yet America, as her creditor nation, was paying her an appreciated value for her sovereign at that date. I tell you, gentlemen, history has no precedent for such a condition of affairs.
The hidden wealth of Britain today must be simply enormous; it absolutely beggars description, and it is not in times of post-war business, and after making money; it is recognized that it is in a time of dire need and distress that Britain is financing the world, with her own coal strike going on, which is costing her so many millions; yet her creditor nation is paying somewhere above par, and it makes me proud to be a member of that family.
In regard to motor traffic, there are no speed laws in London. I consider their system is the finest thing out. I have been a motor driver for twenty years, and I consider that the fixing of a speed limit is wrong, because what may be safe at one time is unsafe in other circumstances. I may go along King Street in this city at 4 o'clock in the morning at fifty miles an hour and be quite safe, and yet 25 miles later in the day may be very dangerous, though if I go at that speed I am within the law. London puts the onus on the driver, and that is the proper way to do it.
London's underground railways are absolutely wonderful, and her control of the street traffic is amazing. If they had the New York system in London they would block the traffic in five minutes. I never saw anything in my life like the system in Madison Avenue in New York. The controller presses a button and everything stops at once. It is just like a Gilbert and Sullivan opera when they put the sob-stuff on and the pirates go to pieces. At the intersection everything stops; it doesn't matter whether there is anything in the cross-streets.
It has been a great pleasure to be here this afternoon, and I am glad if anything I have said has enabled you to visualize to some extent our places in the Empire, and has impressed you, as I have been impressed, with the conviction that we have a heritage which we must maintain and fight for. Our forefathers have built strongly, and it is up to us to do everything we can for the maintenance and upbuilding of this grand British. Empire.
THE CHAIRMAN voiced the thanks of the Club to LIEUTENANT HILL for his address.