A SPECIAL LUNCHEON GIVEN IN
HONOUR OF EARL JELLICOE, G.C.B.,
B.C.V.O., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., C.B.
3rd September, 1931
PRESIDENT STAPELLS introduced the guest, who spoke as follows: I acknowledge, with a great deal of pleasure, the introduction which your President has accorded me at this luncheon, and for the exceedingly kind invitation to be present with you today. I anticipated a small room with perhaps twenty-five or thirty people around the table, and that I might be called upon to say but a few words without any particular meaning. (Laughter). Now I find myself with this blessed machine (indicating the microphone) (laughter), which means that people outside this room will hear all the nonsense which falls from my lips. I tell you it frightens me (Laughter). I am here to speak on the subject of the Empire, because your interest lies in Empire movements, but first I wish to express my deep appreciation of the immense tribute paid to me by your Chairman, and your kind response to that tribute. Secondly I wish to say that it does warm the heart to see such a huge gathering of people interested in the Empire, even though it brings other feelings, such as fear, to my heart, in anticipating how you will receive what I have to say.
It is a pleasure to address an audience on Empire questions in Toronto, because a lady, Mrs. Fessenden, came from Ontario and did a great deal to get Empire Day started. I think the lady came from Hamilton, but she belonged to Ontario, (laughter)" and unquestionably she played an immense part in the celebration of Empire Day, which is now recognized in all British countries.
I believe what originally caused her to take this interest in the Empire Day Movement was that in the nineties in Canada, the Country, as a whole, was poor; nothing like it is now, with the immense buildings, the wonderful railways, and these huge cities. Canada in those days suffered from poverty and there appears to have been a general feeling that in order to share in the prosperity of their adjoining neighbour, Canada might dissolve from partnership with the British Empire and join with the United States. How little foundation there was for that feeling is seen in the Canada of today. (Applause). However, Mrs. Fessenden, perturbed by this feeling,, thought she would try to educate children in the great value of belonging to the British Empire, and so by her energy and determination she created a greater observance of Empire Day, which I believe has been celebrated in the schools of Canada since 1898, and is now celebrated in all British countries. Wherever you go on May 24th you find children saluting the flag, people making patriotic addresses, and a determination to see that the Empire shall never lose its greatness, and that the traditions of our forefathers shall never be disregarded. (Applause).
Unquestionably our children are brought up to the belief that British ideals have stood and always will stand for justice and freedom. (Applause). Under this flag (indicating) are those who are free, and they may be assured that justice will be meted out to them, at any time. It is highly desirable that our children should realize the ties which unite us,, especially the tie of common loyalty to the Crown in the person of His Majesty the King. (Applause). This is unquestionably the strongest tie that we could possibly have. Secondly, they must realize the ties of blood. In each Dominion one is told of the immense percentage of the population which is of British descent. In Australia I think it is something like ninety-seven percent.; in New Zealand it is about ninety-nine percent; and I am not sure, but I imagine Canada may claim one hundred and two per cent. (laughter); nevertheless the forefathers of the immense majority of the people of the Empire came from the Motherland, and therefore the ties of blood are strong.
What is needed is an interest in common ideals; in unity there is strength, and if each portion of the Empire is strong, if we are united, we can face the world, economically or in any other form which may be necessary. (Applause). The instinct of self-protection is one which should keep us together. In far away dominions-and I more particularly refer to Australia, and perhaps to New Zealand-self-protection is afforded by the British Fleet (applause), and our fellow citizens in those two great Dominions have realized this fact for a number of years, and have always helped in every possible way in maintaining a strong Navy. We belong to a great Empire, and if we are to be proud of it we should make ourselves worthy citizens; we should stand for justice and for freedom in the future as we have stood for it in the past; we should set the world an example, by our good living, honesty, and comradeship. We should not speak only of one portion of the Empire, but of the whole (applause); we should maintain comradeship between all the British people. The men who are here representing the British Empire Service League have given their best to the Empire, (applause) and we, who belong to it, are proud of the fact that we do represent those who have done so much and who are prepared to do so again. (Applause).
So far as Canada is concerned, it has played an immense part in Empire work. The Canadian people have fought and made sacrifices for a good cause, and I feel quite certain that you are ready to do so again. (Applause). Canada has such immense resources at her disposal, and such a large tract of territory, that one cannot fail to look upon her as perhaps potentially the greatest part of the British Empire. (Applause). Canada is in its youth at the present time. As she grows older she will become greater and stronger, and we in the Mother country will look to her to give us a lead in strengthening the Empire as a whole. We who are from England remember the great part played by Mr. Bennett, the Canadian Prime Minister, at the recent Imperial Conference, in his proposals for promoting mutual understanding and Empire welfare. (Applause). We are still hoping that the lead given by him will bear fruit. I realize that I am getting into a difficult subject, close to politics, and had better switch off to something else. (Laughter).
Great Britain is having serious trouble, and I can understand that people in the further parts of the Empire may be questioning whether or not England is down and out, and sometimes wondering if she will pull through. England has adopted in the present crisis the same cure which took her through the war successfully. (Applause). A national government has been formed and politics have been dropped for the moment. If representatives of all parties come together in a common cause, unquestionably the government's position is stronger, and there will be no further political differences until the important questions are settled; then we shall return to our various parties again. It is most reassuring that the three great political parties of England have formed this national government. (Applause). It may be perhaps a little disquietening to hear the resolution demanding the resignation of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and Mr. Snowden by the Trade Union Council, but I cannot believe that the general public are behind that sort of resolution. (Applause). When one gets to know the English people, when one discusses matters with the men on the street" one finds good sound common sense, and I believe that once we are brought through this trouble by the National Government, we shall come out on top and be as strong as you are in Canada. (Applause).
I think I have come to the end of my tether. I cannot snake speeches on the spur of the moment, and I have a number of others to make today. I shall probably have to repeat something of what I have said just now, and some of you may have to listen to me again, so I had better shut up. (Laughter). But I would like to say, before I sit down, that I am very proud to be addressing such a huge audience as this, although that pride is mixed, as I said at the beginning, with a great deal of regret at having to do it. I am very thankful to you for so kindly listening to me. (Prolonged applause).