- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Sep 1912, p. 21-28
- Long, Right Honourable Walter H., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Reference to two men who, when they lived, were working for the same object, struggling to lead their fellow-countrymen in the same direction: Lord Beaconsfield, better known as Benjamin Disraeli, and Sir John A. Macdonald. Ways in which both these men were Imperial statesmen. The inevitability that the plan and policy of each should differ materially: a brief look at each. The two great Imperial movements of the moment, indissolubly connected: Imperial trade and Imperial defence. The difficulties and problems of great magnitude to be solved; confidence that they can be. The great difference between our Empire and any other Empire which the world has ever known. The need for defence if you are to have great trade. A consideration of the history of the British Empire, centred in the navy and the permanency of the naval force. Reference to two great moments in the history of the British Empire as illustrative examples. The current and past position of the idea of Imperial preference. The speaker's recent return from a tour through the glorious West of Canada. Discussion that the speaker had with the people there, and what he discovered about their understanding of the naval question. The value of the navy to trade.
- Date of Original
- 26 Sep 1912
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
An Address by the RIGHT HONOURABLE WALTER H. Long, M.P., before the Empire Club of Canada, on September 26, 1912.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,-
I have to thank your Lordship for your kindly introduction of myself, and I have to thank you gentlemen for the warmth and the heartiness of your reception. I believe that his Lordship, in the few sentences in which he was good enough to commend me to you, said all that I could desire, all that any loyal citizen of this country could desire, to be said on his behalf, when he told you that l. had set before me as the object of the speech which I have been called upon to make, the presentment to my fellow-citizens in this part of the Empire of what I conceive to be the great Imperial issues with which we are now faced. Before I proceed to say a few words to you on this great and most engrossing topic, will you forgive me, if I remark in passing, with what profound regret I learned on my arrival in Toronto this morning of the death of a most distinguished Canadian statesman, the late Sir Richard Cartwright. The political views which the late statesman held were those to which I have been all my life entirely opposed, but friend and foe meet over his grave remembering that he set for himself a high standard of public and private life, that he succeeded beyond measure in attaining to that standard, and today we all feel that Canada and the Empire are the richer in that he lived and are the poorer in that he has died. (Hear, hear)
Gentlemen, the name of your Club inspires one with the desire to say something that shall help on the objects for which it has been created. It is one of those topics which brings to the lips such a plethora of words that it is difficult to confine one's self to any reasonable limit in discoursing upon the past, the present, and the future of the British Empire.
As I look back, a humble citizen, at the history of my country I cannot help believing that, in the momentous years which filled up the greater part of the reign of that illustrious sovereign Queen Victoria, there were two men in different parts of the Empire who, we realize now probably more even than we did when they lived, were working for the same object, were struggling to lead their fellow-countrymen in the same direction, two men whose whole lives were given to this work, and who hardly lived to see the full completion of their efforts. I mention these two names in no party or political sense. In the Mother Land, the man I am thinking of is the late Lord Beaconsfield, better known as Benjamin Disraeli. And why do I specially refer to him? It is for this reason, that when Imperial ideas, Imperial conceptions, and Imperial progress were not as popular as they are now, Disraeli gave his whole effort to teach his countrymen that they had a great Imperial future before them; and he might have enjoyed more of the sweets of office, might have been longer in political power, if he had consented to subordinate imperialism to domestic and, comparatively speaking, minor questions. (Hear, hear)
The second name that occurs to me is that of the late Sir John A. Macdonald. (Applause) Like Disraeli, Sir John A. Macdonald was a great Imperial statesman. He, in his way, was working for the same object and the same result that Disraeli was working for in Great Britain. Yet it was inevitable that the plan and policy of Sir John Macdonald should differ materially from the plan and policy of Mr. Disraeli. Mr. Disraeli saw the possibilities of an Empire centred in the Mother Land and surrounded by other growing nations which one day must be all powerful. He saw, with a clearer vision than other men of his time, the absolute necessity of making the Empire secure, and he spent many years of his life in elaborating a policy by which our great Empire of India should be placed in the position in which, largely thanks to his statesmanship, she is today, of comparatine immunity from outside attack. Sir John Macdonald had other work to do. Can those who read the luminous pages in which his life is written fail to realize that through that great and active mind there must have passed day by day and hour by hour vast Imperial conceptions to which he would have been very glad to give voice had he thought it right to do so. But he was a great enough statesman to see that, before the Dominion to which he was so loyal and devoted a servant could play her part properly in the great concourse of nations which make up the Empire, she must be complete in herself, and strong; and he laid well and truly the foundations of that magnificent prosperity in which you and the other citizens of the Empire rejoice today, and which enables Canada in this critical moment of our history to speak as a powerful nation prepared to take her part with the rest of the Empire and meet the enemy in the gate. (Applause)
I have striven to put before those whom I have had the honour to address the necessities of what I believe to be the two great Imperial movements of the moment. They are, in my humble opinion, indissolubly connected; they are bound up together so closely that the one cannot be approached or dealt with without approaching and dealing with the other. They are inter-dependent, and the wise solution of the problem which they present means the future permanent greatness of the Empire to which we belong. They are Imperial trade and Imperial defence. (Hear, hear)
Gentlemen, it is a common incident in public speaking for men to refer to the great empires of the past, and to ask whether the fate of our Empire is likely to be similar to the fate which overtook them. I am no pessimist. I realize that there are difficulties to be faced. I realize that there are problems of great magnitude to be solved, but I believe in my race; I believe in the people of the Empire to which I belong, and I have no fear that they will shirk the burden; I have no fear that they -will not find a solution for the difficulty. But there is this great difference between our Empire and any other Empire which the world has ever known. Other empires have depended on their outside possessions, upon that which came to them by conquest, and they have tried to keep it by the sword. We have adopted other methods, and we, therefore, are in a position today in which they never stood. The Empire of today is not an Empire of subjugated races in whose minds and hearts there rankles a feeling of dissatisfaction and of indignities suffered and injustices done. Our Empire is a collection of free self-governing communities, and the help they bring to the Mother Land is not the tribute which is commanded of them, but a free-will offering which they present with all their heart and both their hands. Your Government has been considering, in communication with the Government at home, the great question of Imperial defence as regards the navy. I have no doubt or fear myself that when your Government sees fit to make its announcement it will be one which will command the support of all loyal Canadians and the admiration of all people in other parts of the Empire, and will also awaken a sensation not altogether of satisfaction in the hearts and 'minds of those who are looking, at the present moment, with jealous eyes at the prosperity and greatness of the British Empire. (Applause)
Defence you must have if you are to have great trade. If you stop for one moment to consider the history of the British Empire, does it not all centre in the navy and the permanency of our naval forces? Two great moments alone will I refer to in the history of the British Empire. There was a time when Philip of Spain threatened the power of England, and what stopped him? The British Navy. There was a time when Napoleon threatened the very existence of England, and what stopped him? The power and supremacy of the British Navy. As it was then, so it must be today. Even though the conditions are somewhat altered, and may vary possibly in great degree today, still, now as then, we must depend upon the supremacy of our navy; and it is because we realize this great fact that we welcome as we do, heartily and thankfully, the co-operation of our great selfgoverning Dominions all over the world. I have said that this question, our supremacy at sea, is indissolubly bound up with Imperial trade,--Imperial trade which means that there shall be some preferential arrangement adopted between the Mother Country and her Overseas Dominions in order that each one may help the other, not only in self-defence and out of loyalty, but in self-protection, and in order that we may realize to the full the proud boast that the British Empire can not only defend herself, but that if need be she can feed herself and provide her people with all the necessaries that they require. (Applause)
Gentlemen, it is interesting to remember that but a short time ago this idea of Imperial preference held a very different position to that which it occupies now. I read the other day a most interesting article in the London Times from which I have extracted these very few words which, with your consent, I will read to you "Twenty years ago the advocates of Imperial preference were the sport of the press, and the jest of the platform. Today they speak with the authority of precedence and the significance of prophecy." Gentlemen, in these few pregnant words is told the whole story of the different position which Imperial trade occupies t-day to that which it occupied but a few years ago.
The President has reminded you that I have just returned from a tour through the glorious West of Canada, and I noticed in the newspapers, more than I have observed by conversation which I have been privileged to have with people of all classes whilst in the West, that it is believed in these western lands where the sea is remote and where ships are hardly understood by many of the residents, that the idea of the necessity for a great navy is misunderstood or is not appreciated. I confess-I cannot of course put my experience against the writers of these articles-but I confess that my experience pointed in a different direction. I discussed this question in the West with men of all classes, farmers who came in from the distant farms on which they are growing their corn and rearing their cattle, and I found no ignorance as to the navy, no doubt as to the needs of its supremacy. But none the less you and I, as practical men, know that we are often asked by those whose daily lives do not lead them into contact with navy matters, and whose lives are also so busy that they have not a moment in which to study these questions, what is the meaning and the value to us as farmers or traders of the maintenance of the Empire. I will only ask those who ever put this question to themselves to bear this in mind: Canada, thanks to the wisdom and public spirit of your statesmen and your merchants, has attained to a position of great power; she has a vast trade, a trade which is going to increase rapidly.
I am speaking, I doubt not, to many men who will laugh at a child in matters of this kind venturing to say a word upon them, but nevertheless I am going to ask this question and suggest that this is one of the questions that should be asked of those who wonder what is the value to them of a great navy. The question is this
What trade in the world, whether it be in corn or cattle, in steel or iron, can be carried on unless there be a sufficient and constant supply of money to feed the various channels which have to be fed in order that this trade may prosper and that the results of this trade may find their way into the markets of the world? You are developing in Canada not only your growing agricultural resources, but all through the Dominion you are discovering fresh, valuable possessions in mineral form; factories are springing up; and I doubt not that the time is very near when Canada will take her place among the other nations of the world in her great productive power, not only of agricultural and other articles which you now manufacture, but of many which hitherto have been unknown to your land. For all this, money must be available, and I ask any man of business, and I ask any farmer upon the distant prairie, to ask himself what would be the result upon his own individual earnings, upon his own individual prosperity, if he suddenly learned in the newspapers that there was a great European war in progress, and that Great Britain had not the power to protect her own people and to safeguard her own interests. That is what Empire means. That is the inalienable possession of every citizen of the Empire. If we realize that by trading the one with the other we can meet all our own needs and be independent of other lands, if we realize that these vast possessions of ours, this mighty growing trade that we possess, are all capable of destruction if our power of self-defence be not efficient and sufficient, then I think it will be admitted that I have not been guilty of mis-statement or exaggeration when I declare that these two great questions of Imperial defence and Imperial trade are closely knit together, are inter-dependent, are one. Every patriotic citizen will do his best to grapple with these questions and to understand them, and once they are understood, once they are fully comprehended, I, at least, have no doubt whatever as to the answer that my countrymen will make wherever they may be found in all parts of the inhabited world. (Applause)
Gentlemen, I know your excellent rule, and I am riot going to offend against it today. Indeed I think it is one of the best rules that I have ever come across in the many institutions with which I have been acquainted during my life. You entertain your guests, you give them an opportunity in circumstances encouraging and inspiring to express their views, and if by some blunder of phrase or stupidity of sentence they offend against your susceptibilities you may rend them in private afterwards, but you receive them with courtesy at the time, and let them remain forever in ignorance of the fact that they have offended. I do not think I can have said anything that would offend the susceptibilities of the tenderest-minded politician among you, (hear, hear) but do not let me be misunderstood. Do not think, I beg of you, that these last words of mine are intended to be an apology. I have no apology to make for the language that I have used. I say that any man who is unwilling to consider these problems, any man who is unwilling to bear his share of this great Imperial burden is one for whom in these days of stress and trial we can have no use. In the British Empire there is room for all; in the British Empire there is yet opportunity for great development and for increasing prosperity, but there is no room within it for those who would consume the honey while they are unwilling to do their share of the work in the hive. (Applause) We have got to be constant in our labour; we have got to be persistent and proud in the discharge of our Imperial duties. What happens today is of little moment in your life or mine. What you and I do today, say, think, or perform, will very soon pass into oblivion, but one thing will remain above all others, and the historian of the future will have to answer the question-these men succeeded to a mighty heritage, what did they do with it? This is the question that you and I some time, when we turn our faces to the wall, will have to answer to ourselves. It is the question which the historian will ask of us, and for our own peace of mind, for our own credit, let our answer be one of which we shall be proud and which the historian will record with pride and gratitude, meaning, as it will, that we not only succeeded to a mighty possession, but that we have been trustees faithful and true to the end. (Applause)