Bonds of the British Empire
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 Aug 1926, p. 199-206
Winnington-Ingram, The Right Honourable Right Rev. Arthur F., Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
The invisible but unbreakable bonds of the British Empire. What those bonds are. The bond of common blood. Keeping Canada supplied with British stock. The Church Settlement Scheme. The common homeland. What the British flag stands for. Our common flag, indicating that we are both standing for the ideals that have made England so great. A common, if not uniform, religious bond. Striving to minimize the waste of money and energy in Christendom by healing divisions within it. Increasing trade within the Empire. The bond of common sacrifice, with example.
Date of Original
19 Aug 1926
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Full Text

BONDS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE AN ADDRESS By THE RT. HON. RT. REV. ARTHUR F. WINNINGTON-INGRAM, K.C.V.O., D.D., LL.D., LORD BISHOP OF LONDON. Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, Thursday, August 19, 1926.

The President introduced the speaker to the audience, which included many members of the Canadian Club.

THE BISHOP OF LONDON was received by the audience rising and cheering. He spoke as follows:

Mr. Chairman, and I must also add the President of the Canadian Club: Today I have to speak of a difficult question, in a way, and a serious question, in a way, and that is, the Bonds of the British Empire. You know that the British Empire is one of the most extraordinary things in this world. It is held together by invisible bonds which no one can see, but which no one can break. I am always very well received in New York, and you must not think I am poking fun at your neighbors across the invisible border, but when I was coming back with a millionaire to New York the last time and saw the Statue of Liberty, I said, "Hello, there is the Statue of Liberty!" He replied, "Yes, take a good look at it; it is all you will get over here." Well, now, I am sure that he was only joking; but at the same time, when you come to think of it, it is a very striking thing that we have absolutely got liberty; that our bond is nothing to bind; we do not have to lock our country and bind our states together and say, "You have got to join us." So far as I know, any one can leave the Empire tomorrow if they want to; but they don't want to go; that is the splendid part about it. Therefore, I say the British Empire is one of the most splendid things that exists in the world-because it covers the whole world. I am going around it, and I think I will find it covers the whole world, yet it is held together by one of those invisible bonds which nothing can break.

Now, let us think for a moment together, what are those wonderful bonds? We have almost come to take them for granted. The first one is the common blood. I went round this morning to my old friend Canon Cody's wonderful church of St. Paul's, of which I think all of Toronto is proud, whatever denomination they belong to, and the old verger-who came, I need not say, from Lancashire-said that when the first service was held at the opening of the war he never saw such a sight as when " Rule Britannia" was struck up at the close of the service. The call of the blood came right from end to end. The British ancestor may have been the man's grandfather or great grandfather, but it was the call of the blood that went through Canada from end to end when the Empire was in danger; so that with all the people I meet I find the blood when I go down skin-deep, and people tell me, "Well, my father came from so-and-so." Sir John Aird tried to persuade me yesterday that he was a Frenchman-but when you go a little further you find the Irish brogue coming out.

The first thing which really binds us all together in this wonderful common tie is the common blood which really flows through our veins. It is this invisible, wonderful thing; and there is nothing so wonderful as the call of the blood; and we know that there are men today working on prairie farms that are as truly answering to the call of the blood as they did when the war came. Therefore, in regard to the Empire Settlement Plan of which I will speak, I am very anxious to keep Canada supplied with British stock. We came over in a ship with hundreds of people who were coming to settle in Canada, but who did not understand a word that I said. I found this out when a baby was to be baptized. I happen to be Bishop of the High Seas; every baby born on the High Seas is reported to my diocese and registered in the Old Parish Church of Stepney, in East London; and every baby that is buried on the High Seas is registered in that Stepney Church. Well, as Bishop of the High Seas I felt bound to baptize that baby, but they did not understand one word of the service until I took the baby in my arms, then they understood what was going on; but all those foreigners were coming out to Canada. I do not quarrel with that for the moment, for you must fill up these vacant places somehow; but do not let these foreigners out-number our people.

I am going to speak tomorrow at Convocation Hall on the whole scheme called " The Church Settlement Scheme," and therefore I am not going to inflict it on you today.

But I want to say this, that we have 14,000 parishes in England where we gather the people, and we cover the whole ground; there is a parson in every parish. I quite admit that they are not all parsons of the right sort-I must be quite honest at my part of the table; but the great majority of those parish priests throughout England are hard-working, praise-worthy men, and none more so than the country clergy. Now, we want to put this vast organization, the whole thing, at the disposal of the Government of the day, so that in every place there may be a man who can say to Mrs. Jones, or whoever it is, "Your boy has got no work here; he is a good fellow; why don't you let him go out to Canada?" If there is any objection made, that parson will answer it and he will put that boy in touch with our headquarters; and we send out £ 1000 a year to the organization here, as well as to Australia and New Zealand, to promote and perfect the organization. I am going to Australia and New Zealand when I have gone to China and Japan. Now, we want to have this organization perfected, so that from end to end of Great Britain we may send out to you praiseworthy, picked young men and young women. All we ask of you in Canada is to give them a hearty welcome. Do not let us hear of boys in distress. Do not let them say, " We went to Canada and we got no work; there was no organization." That is rotten, bad business. The work can be done perfectly well by Canada and Great Britain joining hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder to work this matter out.

What we want are five expert business men on this side and have five expert business men on the other side. Do not let us have any politics mixed up in it at all. Let us have the thing done, and have all those men understand the matter, because migration is flagging; it is not being managed as it ought to be. We have a million and a half in Great Britain, and there is so much friction, so much difficulty, that we are not getting them out into the great sister nations as we ought to be.

Now I must not say more on that point. After the bond of the common blood there comes that strange and imaginary influence that we call the common homeland. Of course I found out on my first visit here that if there was one loyal country in this world it was the Dominion of Canada. I was speaking at a luncheon, and when I mentioned the name of the King, before I could finish my sentence the whole audience were on their hind legs and singing "God Save the King." Therefore I am not pleading for loyalty in Canada, because I believe there is no more loyal Dominion in the whole Empire than the Dominion of Canada. But do we all realize what the flag stands for? We believe that we really are standing for wonderful things in the history of the world. We are standing for liberty, for justice, for the white purity of home life. Those are the things which have made the old country great, and those are the things that are going to make this young country great. We have a common flag, which means we are standing for the ideals that have made England so great.

That is why I fight this unpopular battle at home against the increase of divorce. We do not want divorce so common as it is in some parts of the American continent. We want to keep the purity of home life, and we are fighting for that. I mentioned liberty. At home you will sometimes see my portrait in Punch. I do not mind it a bit; in fact, I rather like it, even when being attacked as narrow-minded. What I am standing for, my brothers, is those principles of justice, mercy and purity which I believe form the foundation and strength of our land. Therefore we have a common flag.

Then we also have a common, if not uniform, religious bond, and we must make the most of it in spite of our differences. I have often spoken of the harm done by the divisions of Christendom. I will quote you a sight I saw in Nova Scotia more than once; in a little town of a thousand people four little churches-or big churches, they were-all exactly alike. You could not tell the Anglican from the Presbyterian, the Presbyterian from the Wesleyan, or the Wesleyan from the Congregationalist. They were all in a row, built by the same architect, and one was big enough for a whole town. Well, I looked upon that as a wicked waste of money and energy, and a cause of friction. We should strive intelligently to minimize such waste of money and energy in Christendom, and we are doing our best to heal such divisions.

However, things have happened. For two years we have had conferences at Lambeth House with the Wesleyans; they were nearest to us in doctrine, so we started with the Wesleyans, hoping they would take up again with the Anglicans. As often happens, the tail threw over the head; but the conference had this effect, that when the Church of England brought to the House of Commons what is called the Enabling Bill-which, as you have seen, has been of enormous benefit to us for five years-the head of the Wesleyans, Sir John Roundell, wrote to me and said, "You may wonder why in the House of Commons we do not pass your bill. The fact is, we found such a brotherly spirit at Lambeth House these two years that we were not capable of passing anything really good enough for the Church of England." Now, that is what I consider to be the right spirit. We do not want to do away with any principles; we do not want to take any short-cut, or upset people by really asking them to give up principles; but I believe we ought to have and to foster the spirit of love, mutual respect, and harmony together. So we may talk of a common religion as one of the great invisible bonds which bind this great Empire together.

I find no difficulty, myself, in the least. I have been for twenty-five years Bishop of London, and for five and twenty years I have been elected by every denomination, including the Roman Catholics, as Chairman of Public Morality in London, and also by the County Council when they put in any chairman at all. That shows what you can do if you work together with mutual respect. You can hold the common religion together in a common bond that nothing will break.

Then we go on to the other bonds, which, when you look at them, are more or less invisible, and yet tremendously strong. For instance, as you go about you see the family life on which we have all been brought up and fostered. We find that very strong in anew country; and when you put together this common religion and this common call of the blood, you get what will still bind us together, that is, a common interest. You know all this very well, but I am going along to Australia, and will say these things there. It is all very well for Australia to speak about the "white Australia"; but where would Australia be but for the British Fleet?

I went around the British fleet at the time of the war; and this will bring me to my last point-the common sacrifice. I stood with Admiral Beatty and Admiral Jellicoe, and saw three hundred great battleships, at the time of the war. Do we realize the great strength of our sea-power? The British fleet is one of the finest bonds which anybody can have. I met there people from Canada, from Australia, from New Zealand; and we all met together on Admiral Jellicoe's flagship. Maybe some of you have been there. The more I see of it the more I feel that it is a common interest which binds these great sister nations together. I do not mind saying that I am one of those who think that we ought to trade much more within the Empire than we do. I do not want any connection with politics in what I am saying today, but personally I think there ought to be much more preference in the British Empire, that we may help one another more in our common interest. This I feel perfectly certain of, that if we are really to progress, both the Old Country and the great daughter nations, it is the common interest which binds us together in these tremendous bonds.

Lastly, I come to the common sacrifice. Now, I am not for a moment going to speak as if the War were the main or only sacrifice that we have seen. What about those Imperial Loyalists who came out and fought up here, and really started Canada? What about the sacrifices, the hardships, with which they wrung a hard living out of the soil? I think this Empire has really been bound together by sacrifice. My heart goes out to them when I see those people migrating to Winnipeg, to Edmonton, to the Coast, ready to carve their living out of the land. We cannot get on without the farmers, and we should look upon these brave people who are making great sacrifices in this new land, almost as great as were made by the soldiers in the War, with the greatest honour and respect.

I had the great privilege of addressing the Canadian soldiers when they were only a few miles from the Germans, and I often think what a splendid haul the Germans could have got with a bomb, with the Bishop of London, and 10,000 Canadians as a target. But within three weeks 5,000 of those men had fallen, killed or wounded; 22 of those young officers were killed. I shook hands with every one of the 22 in the little service, for I took the service at the grave and also the memorial services in St. Paul's Cathedral, and paid honour to their great sacrifice.

But do not let us forget, if we were bound together in the old days by this tie, this common bond of sacrifice, we are bound more closely together now. There our boys are lying in the same soil; they died in the same cause; and if ever there was a danger in the old days which I do not think there was--of Canada slipping

away from Great Britain, there is the red cord of sacrifice now which nothing can break.

I spoke of the threefold cord that would never be broken. I have a five-fold cord now; and if you think out what this means, these five universal, and great, and enormously strong cords which bind the British Empire together, let us keep them strong; let us have no misrepresentations in our political disputes to weaken them for a moment; and if we carry on our Empire in that spirit of self-sacrifice and service the British Empire shall be in the future, as I believe, an even greater boon to mankind than ever it has in the past.

Mr. GEORGE H. SEDGWICK, President of the Canadian Club, voiced the appreciation of the united clubs.

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Bonds of the British Empire

The invisible but unbreakable bonds of the British Empire. What those bonds are. The bond of common blood. Keeping Canada supplied with British stock. The Church Settlement Scheme. The common homeland. What the British flag stands for. Our common flag, indicating that we are both standing for the ideals that have made England so great. A common, if not uniform, religious bond. Striving to minimize the waste of money and energy in Christendom by healing divisions within it. Increasing trade within the Empire. The bond of common sacrifice, with example.