OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS, HER MOTHER AND HER CHILDREN
AN ADDRESS BY MR. CHARLES RUPERT
Thursday, 15th April, 1937
THE PRESIDENT: Gentlemen: In view of the fact that our guest-speaker today is Chief Librarian of this City I am taking the liberty of calling on Mr. John MacBeth, K.C., who is Chairman of the Libraries and Finance Committee of the Toronto Public Library to introduce Mr. Sanderson. Mr. MacBeth. (Applause.)
MR. JOHN MACBETH: Mr. Chairman, Gentlemen of the Empire Club: I gladly welcome the opportunity of introducing the guest-speaker today. To most of us he is already well known. As a matter of fact, he has on a former occasion addressed this Club. To some of you he is known as the Chief Librarian of the City of Toronto, to others as President of the Rotary Club, to others as a speaker much in demand in this City and elsewhere and, to others still, as a good fellow with whom to spend an evening or an afternoon or a week-the longer the better. His companionship is of the inspirational type.
Charles R. Sanderson came to us from London. He had served there some seventeen years in the library during which time he was with the John Ryland Library in Manchester and, by the way, Manchester is the city where the first public library was established in the year 1853. He came to us, a graduate of the University of London, with a fine record of achievement both in library service and war service.
It is no small tribute to him that within a few days of the death of our late lamented Chief Librarian, Dr. Locke, who has been a guest-speaker at this Club on more than one occasion, he was, without any hesitancy at all on the part of the members of the Board, elected to fill the position thus made vacant. His qualities as an entertaining speaker most of you know; those who don't will be able to judge after what he has toy say this afternoon. The subject of his address is: "Our Lady of the Snows, Her Mother and Her Children," and I have much pleasure in introducing to you our friend, Mr. Charles R. Sanderson. (Applause.)
MR. CHARLES R. SANDERSON: Mr. President, Mr. MacBeth and Gentlemen: Long before I knew Canada first-hand I had learned a great deal about her. Not merely as a kid in stamp collecting days when one of the the most romantic stamps was that one with a map of the world, a huge part of it coloured red and perhaps, occasionally, printed in such a way that the red just overflowed a little and looked even more than it was; at a time when people spoke of the British Possessions, a term which is now never used, but which must have applied, I suppose to every part of the Commonwealth, when" to use a phrase of Kipling's, "There were nations where the flags were learning to fly," but later there came a change and Canada was spoken of, as Kipling puts it in his poem which we all know, "Our Lady of the Snows:"
"A nation, spoke to a nation, A Queen, the Lady of the Snows, A Queen spoke to the throne, 'Daughter am I in my mother's house, But mistress in my own'."
And at college one was taught the importance of Canada in the development of that thing which we know as the British Commonwealth of Nations. In the constitutional law development and relationships Canada has been all-important because there is no constitution in any part of the Commonwealth of Nations that has not looked to the Constitution of Canada for inspiration, for guidance and for background.
Then, Gentlemen, if in some ways England fails to know as much about Canada as we think she ought to know, I want to be daring enough to suggest to you that there are one or two things one should remember. A great many people in England think of Canada in terms of rolling fields of corn for a very short period of the year and as an ice-bound bountry for the major portion of the year. But if we remember that not today, but only a few years ago, there was a huge immigration, propaganda all over the Old County which pictured Canada almost entirely in terms of waving fields of corn, we have ourselves to blame if that propaganda went over so well that we are now regarded in those terms.
Then, too, I think we ought to remember that England for a generation or more, two generations, had been definitely interested in Russia. Russia was the romantic country, Russia was the unknown country, Russia was the uncertain thing, and it was known that Russia was an ice country. It was known there were big rivers in Russia that were frozen. It was known that the Baltic was frozen over, and it was known that the St. Lawrence, an equally big river, was frozen over. Therefore, there was a carryover in sentiment and if England does or did think of Canada in terms of corn and ice, it is partly due to our propaganda and partly due to their experience. Today, nickel, copper, gold, pulp, all sorts of things are changing the picture but the change comes slowly.
I think, too, Gentlemen, we should remember, if sometimes we feel that England tends to lean over backward in her reverence of tradition--she is proud of her tradition and justly so--she can always laugh at herself. She can laugh at the situations which come up as a result of that reliance on tradition. Read "The Spectator," the most conservative weekly journal in England arid see how "The Spectator" makes fun of English traditions and yet reverences it.
There is a story told of the United States airman, training for the war and living in one of the Oxford Colleges. He wrote home to his mother and he said, "Mother, they say this College is 300 years old. It must be, otherwise it couldn't have got as cold as it is."
But, on the other hand, Harvard and Yale are them selves building up traditions. I admit their plumbing is modernized and Oxford and Cambridge have not modernized theirs yet, but even Oxford and Cambridge can make fun of themselves. The only difference between Oxford and Cambridge is that the Oxford man walks in a room as if he owned it, and the Cambridge man walks in the same room as if he didn't give a darn who did. And, to a certain extent there is an appreciation of the humour of the situation and yet a definite faith in the traditions that are built up.
And, if occasionally an Englishman thinks that a Canadian speaks with a touch of an American accent--well, what about it? How much does it matter? They can laugh at themselves. Do we mind if they mistake the accent? What of it, If they think we have taken it over from the States and have a touch of it alone with central heating and ice consciousness, what about it? In the smaller towns of England, even today, if you want ice, and I will admit even in conservative England there are occasional needs for ice, if you want ice in a small town, where do you get it? You go dawn to the local fishmonger and you buy a copper's worth of ice. Central heating and ice consciousness are coming but they are coming slowly and actually, if you look at the Englishman's comments on accents, he doesn't distinguish between a man who has a German accent or a French accent or an Italian accent. He lumps the thing together and says he speaks with a foreign accent, and probably in most cases he doesn't realize the distinction between one accent and another. And I should like to ask, if some one living here had never been in close contact either with a Cockney or a group of Cocknies, or a group of people who came from New Zealand, would he distinguish between that slight touch of Cockney and, on the other hand, the particular accent which has its home in New Zealand? I guarantee, to many ears, those two accents sound exactly the same, yet tell a New Zealander he is talking like a Cockney, or tell a Cockney he is talking dike a New Zealander! So what does it matter? Aren't they really the trivial family differences that we can smile at, and as long .as we can smile at them we are safe, as long as we smile in the right way. We smile at our passports sometimes. We show the picture and grin at it and we forget that often that is what our friends think we look like.
But behind all this, Gentlemen, there is a common inheritance, .an inheritance of integrity. You remember a very few weeks ago one of the highest officials of the Air Ministry in England was dismissed, summarily dismissed, because it was believed he had been using his personal position for personal advantage. You remember Baldwin--I am not talking politics now, possibly twenty other men have done this thing-after the War was so definitely disturbed about the rise of the securities he held as a result of the war, that he determined he would not make one penny piece out of the war and he had them valued actuarially and he paid over to the British Government $625,000 and did it anonymously, anal, it wasn't known for nearly two years from what source the cheque had come. There is an integrity there.
I once had a friend who is an Austrian Jew. He once told me that a maxim in Vienna was that a person was as upright as a British Judge, and I thought it was one of the finest compliments to the British Commonwealth that any one could pay.
There is an integrity there. Our common democracy, our common allegiance to the Crown, and these, Gentlemen, belong to us equally with the Old Country. It represents that which is held by the Lady of the Snows with her mother and in that respect our Lady of the Snows says, "Daughter am I in my mother's house."
But, Gentlemen, we tend to think that everyone must feel the same about this. I think it is, perhaps one might dare to say, a common failing of all English-speaking peoples that we cannot understand why everybody does not look at democracy with exactly the same eyes as we do. We forget and, to quote Kipling again, sometimes we ought to say
For frantic boast and foolish word, Thy mercy on Thy people, Lord, Lest we forget.
We tend to speak in terms of. a story that a man named Mitchell told in a book he wrote a couple of years ago, called, "The Golden Rhinestone," a story of an attempt to get to Yukon down the MacKenzie Basin. He and a little group eventually got to the furthest extent of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Simpson and there was a flag-pole and flying at the top of the flag-pole was the Union Jack and underneath the Union Jack was the Hudson's Bay Company's flag. The Hudson's Bay flag was a white flag with the letters, H.B.C. in red. There they met some people from the States. These men from the States were disturbed at fix-ding the Union Jack flying up there and they said; "Why should it be there? What right has it to be there? That is all right but what is the other flag underneath? What is H.B.C.?" Then they had to explain that H.B.C., underneath the Union Jack meant "Here before Christ." (Laughter.)
Gentlemen, we tend to forget that other people have not had the experience that we have. We tend to forget that Germany, except for a few minutes, under the Weimar Constitution never had a democracy at all, had showed no signs of that. We forget that Germany was a maiden nation created by one man, created and made by Bismark, planned, constructed from the top as a result of three wars, deliberately fought and brought into being only forty-four years before the War began. Germany was still a child, Bismark still controlling her, and bringing her up in twenty years from a group of scattered states into one of the first nations of the world. I know other people contributed. I know that Kaiser Wilhelm contributed. I know he added to the difficulties. They tell a story: during the war a man was talking and arguing in the streets of Berlin and he used the phrase "that food of an Emperor," and a policeman went up to him and put his hand on his shoulder and said, "Come along, come along, you can't talk like that." The man said, "You didn't let me finish. I was talking about the Emperor of Japan." The policeman said, "O, no, you weren't. There is only one fool' of an Emperor. Come along."
(Laughter.) We forget, too, Gentlemen, that the oldest generation in Russia today grew up with eighty per cent of her population under serfdom, that they have never known, land possessed, except by the aristocrats, they have never known land possessed in any other way except communally. They have never known anything but famine and starvation and when they got a piece of land they were taxed in some cases up to ninety per cent of their incomes to pay for communally owned :land and when the Revolution came to Russia that was a casting off of the curse of private property and they, too, have never known democracy.
We have forgotten that Italy was made only forty-three years before the war began by Cavour and Garibaldi's Red Shirts, (can't we see the Black Shirts following now?) and Mazzini.
These countries are not like us. They have never known our experience. They haven't had our inheritance. They haven't grown up as we have grown up for generations under a democracy which perhaps sometimes, unfortunately, we take for granted. We have not had in our history the story of dictatorships. Why? We have never needed one. We have never needed one. I believe that democracy is safe in English-speaking nations, is safe in my generation. I believe it is so firmly rooted that they will not be change in my time but, Gentlemen, what about the time of the generation now growing up? It is not merely that we can kill people more swiftly today than ever and on a much bigger scale than ever, life itself is different. Those youngsters today are growing up in a life that doesn't merely consider vitamins but they are growing in a house where some one is on a diet. They are growing up in a house where people talk about repressions and inhibitions. It is a complex life but there is another side to it.
If we take the old countries as an example, immediately there is going to be a falling population. It is estimated that in thirty years time from now forty-five per cent of the population of England and Wales will be over sixty, and forty per cent of it will be under fifteen. The latest figures suggest at the moment in England and Wales a hundred women will leave eighty-five daughters. Therefore, if every daughter lives to grow up and herself become a mother, there is a shrinkage of fifteen per cent in the population in one generation. How much of that will show in the (lifetime of this younger generation that is going to have to face the world? What effect is that going to have on the continuance of western culture, on the continuance of the democracy that has been built up by English-speaking nations? They are facing big problems. This younger generation is going to have to find the answer to the conflict between the Nazi point of view and the Communistic point of view and it is either going to be fought out or it is going to be worked out. One hopes it is going to be worked out but it is in their hands more than it is in ours.
Sometimes when we come up against this younger generation--personally, I have great faith in them--I admit that at many times they seem puzzling. I admit many times their points of view when they present them are like the bathing costumes of recent years--you have to believe in them before you can see them. I admit, too, that they don' keep the rules all the time. Gentlemen, did we? Did we? We know we didn't. And when we get together don't we have quite a giggle oftentimes about the things we did when we didn't keep the rules? They can't keep the rules all the time. You remember the story of the man who got in the street car smoking a cigar and the conductor went to him and said, "You can't smoke here." The man said, "Who says I can't smoke here?" The conductor said, "Don't you see the notice: No smoking allowed." The man looked at the notice and he said, "Well, I can't keep all the rules. Look at the next one. It says: Wear Spirella Corsets." (Laughter.)
Don't let us be unduly disturbed because we don't keep all the rules that were kept two generations ago. I think it is likely that in this generation no real agreement is possible between the extremely divergent views represented by Facism or Nazism, on the one hand, or Communism, on the other, because of the differences of the background, but if we can only come to see one another's point of view, even if we can't get agreement we may get amity and it seems to me in the hope of that amity which the next generation may be able to build on as a firm foundation, it is vitally important that the Commonwealth of Nations should realize and recognize that the one thing that has to stand firm is this blood brotherhood that holds us together. Gentlemen, if we don't like a man or woman, if we don't like another person we can leave that person out of our lives. If that person becomes too troublesome law and the police will give us protection but we can't leave nations out of our lives. We have got to live with them and we can't put nations in pigeonholes. Pigeon-holes are good enough things for pigeons but they won't hold nations and I wonder if we are trying to make the younger generation see that it is still true that peace will be obtained only at the cost of eternal vigilance. Do we see that they know, either through us or through reading, something about the war scares of the past, something about the things that have been deliberately planned by the munitions-mongers? Do they know wars have been deliberately planned by statesmen for self-aggrandizement? Do they know war does not spring up over night, that there is an insidious thing called propaganda?
There is a book in our Reference Library, a book called "Falsehood in Wartime," written by a man called Ponsonby. It cost only twenty-five cents. It is not obtainable now but it is priceless. It just shows what propaganda can do, falsehood in wartime. Do your youngsters realize and remember that in the Crimean War English-speaking people fought on the side of the Turks and thousands of lives were given up fighting the Russians, and that in the last war thousands of lives were given up fighting with Russians against the Turks? How crazy it all is!
Do we teach them, too, that when they are disturbed about details in the present economic system that they are not irreparable? When a youngster comes to us with a story, as a man named Joad tell us, in a crystallized form he tells a story of a poor miner's cottage and the little girl comes in cold, there is no fire and the little girl says to her mother, "Mother, why isn't there any fire?" The mother says, "Because we have no coal." "But, Mother, why have we no coal?" "Because Father is out of work." "But, Mother, why is Father out of work," "Because there is too much coal."
Gentlemen, it is true. It is true and what is our answer when these youngsters come to us with a case like that? What can we say, except to try and explain to them that through the progress of so-called civilization, England can never again sell her coal in equal quantity as she did a quarter of a century ago unless there is some big chemical development, that the incoming of oil-driven engines, that the steady development of water-made electrical power has taken away for all time a great lump of that coal market and all that you can do is to help to tide over, but the solution that is sometimes offered means more chaos anal not less chaos. Do we help our youngsters to understand these fundamental's?
Sometimes we forget, too, that when we talk about tradition we lean back as if it were a chair on which we could sit. We forget that tradition is something that we are making today and that the very thing that we do now may become a tradition for the next generation and a pattern for their actions. And, Gentlemen, all that one can suggest is the fullest intercourse in thought. I, personally, have a fanatical belief in the value of a public library system in any country toward producing that. Here, in Toronto, we buy every English and American book that we think we can profitably use and no class of book has grown more rapidly in public use this last ten years than the books on economics, on social questions, on political questions. The pit is bottomless. We cannot keep up with the demand and the only way Gentlemen, to get away from propaganda is to make it possible for people to read both sides of a story. If we have faith, as we have, if we have faith in democracy we must go back to its very basis and believe that if both sides of a story can be told honestly the people will choose what is the right and what is best in the long run and in this city, Gentlemen, the money that you spend on your public library system gives you a protection for a continued sanity of thought.
One of the finest gestures of appreciation, I think, that the Toronto Public Library ever received was when a few -months ago Miss Nora Lewis, the daughter of the late Senator Lewis, handed over as a trust, two $1,000 bonds, the income to be spent on books that the library might be otherwise unable, financially, to buy.
In your Reference Library here you have the finest collection of Canadian the world. Isn't it meet and proper that the history of our Lady of the Snows should be kept in her own country and I would like to suggest to you, not merely from the point of view of Toronto but whoever may be listening, that some effort should be made individually to see that the current historical material is not let run to waste. You have no idea now how difficult it is to pick up valuable historical material, even so little as a hundred years odd and, Gentlemen, in this audience, there must be a consciousness today that documents, letters, correspondence of one sort or another, reports, unique materials, which a hundred years from now will make history, is just being allowed to run to waste and in whatever library you are interested, that material should be stored. If I may quote a hackneyed phrase, Thomas Carlyle once said that the true university of these days is a collection of books, and I wonder if we realize how true that is at this moment, for the vast majority of the population of any city, anywhere in the world. It is their only chance of continued education and if you look to the youngest generation, isn't that more true than ever? Only a trivial minority of them will ever see the inside of a university. Where are they to get their continued education then? It becomes pathetic when you think that they .are willing to read, willing to try and learn, and often the material that is necessary for that perfectly simple step is, lacking.
Gentlemen, we have a duty, a duty to try and see as far as we can that this younger generation is equipped. And you and I may have a pride in our democracy, we may believe that it is our protection for the freedom in which we believe. We may have a pride in our integrity, we may have a pride in our common allegiance to the Crown, a Crown which appeals both to our emotions and to our intelligence, it is a priceless heritage, but are we passing it on to the next generation? Will they inherit it with a recognition of what it can mean? Can we say, as Kipling said in "Our Lady of the Snows:"
Carry the word to my sisters,
To the Queens of the east and the south,
I have proven faith in the heritage
By more than word of mouth.
A nation spoke to a nation,
A throne sent word to a throne,
"Daughter am I in my Mother's house,
"But Mistress in my own."
The gates are mine to open,
The gates are mine to close,
But I abide by my Mother's house,
Said our Lady of the Snows.
(Prolonged applause.) THE PRESIDENT: Mr, Sanderson, may I thank you on behalf of this meeting and all others within the sound of your voice for this address today. A man of such experience as you have had not only personally, but in the gathering as you have of the ideas of others, is invaluable to this country--yes, invaluable to the whole of the British Empire and the whole of the world. The education of the masses is the solution to many of our difficulties, as you have pointed out and the answer which we might expect from you, of course, is BOOKS.
I want also to thank you for the final analysis you have given of some of the differences of the people of the different parts of the Empire. It is quite meet and proper that this should have been given in this forum of the Empire Club of Canada which stands for a United Empire. I thank you very much. (Applause.)