- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 9 Dec 1909, p. 47-52
- Sweeny, Right Rev. J.F., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The Empire Club helping, as does the Canadian Club, in the creation, maintenance, and advancement of the Imperialistic idea in this Canada of ours. All that is contained in the single word, "Empire." The vast possessions of the Empire. Speaking of the unit, of the individual, of the isolated subject in relation to this vast aggregate which we call the Empire. One of the definitions of duty that man should reach out and touch every one of the circles within which he stands, and discharge the duties which these circles lay upon him, as a sober responsibility of his life. Ways in which an individual contributes to the quality, to the influence and the uplift of the Empire. What the individuals of a club such as the Empire Club can do for the maintenance, for the fostering, for the furthering of the thoughts and ideals which belong to such a Club as this one. Two or three suggestions from the speaker. Trying to teach this young Canada to think Imperially. The duty of such a Club as this to increase the Imperial sentiment in the country, and particularly amongst the young of the country. Offering prizes for these young people, for the very best essays upon Imperial themes and topics, etc. Ensuring that the Empire Club stands for something more than mere sentiment in the community; something that is practical, and something that will be stimulating where the individual subject of the Empire is concerned, and particularly where the youthful subject of this great Empire is involved.
- Date of Original
- 9 Dec 1909
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- THE SUBJECT AND THE EMPIRE.
An Address by the RIGHT REV. J. F. SWEENY, D.D., Lord Bishop of Toronto, before the Empire Club of Canada, on December 9, 1909.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
I esteem it a very great privilege and a very great honour, indeed, to have been invited to address you on this occasion. I am deeply sensible that in addressing bodies of men there is a great responsibility upon the one who speaks. I realize that upon many grounds, and chiefly, because of the office which I have the privilege of holding. I regard a Bishop as a man with a message, and because he is a man with a message, yes, many messages, responsibility begins with him in the selection of his message; it extends over the preparation of his message; and it covers the delivery of his message; and therefore, having such a variety of men, many men and many minds; present on this occasion I feel that my responsibility is indeed a very heavy one.
I suppose that your Empire Club helps, just as does the Canadian Club, of which I have the honour to be a member, in the creation, maintenance, and advancement of the Imperialistic idea in this Canada of ours. At the present time of British history, and the present time of crisis in the old Motherland, at the present time of growing development and prosperity, and our temptations to forget the great, illustrious, and noble heritage that comes from the Old Land, I cannot conceive of greater work than the Empire Club is called upon to do under the historical conditions of the present hour.
Empire Club! Do you know that when you stop to think of this phrase it fairly staggers one--just that very thought of all that is contained in the one single word, "Empire." How our fancy and our imagination run riot over the vast possessions of this great and mighty thing which we call the British Empire; over 12,000,000 of square miles; how it touches all climates and all soils under the sun; how it embraces representatives of almost every nation under heaven; how it takes in territory from the far north down to the sunny isles of the Pacific, and from the remotest Orient to the remotest Occident; how it embraces in its aggregate of population four hundred millions of souls of the family of men-a quarter of the entire family of mankind, and having in that aggregate representatives, as I have said to you, of red men in the North, of those that are black and swarthy in Africa, of those that are fair in Europe, and fair in this Canada of ours-all bound together by the strongest esprit-de-corps and uniting the peoples of this great Empire together in love and loyalty and attachment to the throne and person of Edward VII., Cod bless him!
Empire Club! Why, my dear friends and members of this Club, when one stops to think of the great and colossal statistics which this word stands for in the trade and commerce of the world, in the revenue, in the import and export, in the maintenance of standing army, in the provision for naval defence for the protection of trade routes and commerce, one is simply amazed to think of the tremendous amount of money, not in dollars, but in pounds, which it represents at the close of the year when the finances of this great Empire are totalled into the billions. Now, so great and so mighty a theme as this, I think, sometimes swamps the idea of the relation of the subject to the Empire, and there, when I was asked to choose a topic, a title, a theme, upon which to speak to you this afternoon, as I stood and faced the mighty figures of Empire presented to me in the Statesman's Year Boom for last year, I just felt that it might be a good thing for me, and perhaps for somebody else, if I were to speak of the unit, of the individual, of the isolated subject in relation to this vast aggregate which we call the Empire.
Now, man stands as a centre of concentric circles; for example, the domestic circle, the social circle, the business circle, the civic circle, the Provincial, and the Dominion, and in this instance, the great' outlying circle of the Empire. It seems to me that one of the definitions of duty is that man should reach out and touch every one of these circles, and discharge the duties which these circles lay upon him, as a sober responsibility of his life. You know perfectly well that there are a great many men that never get beyond the unit of the centre. They never get beyond their own self-centred life, the little narrow horizon of their own ego. Their pronouns are "I" and "my" and "me," and they wot not of any other. Their philosophy of life is that simplest of simple philosophy. It begins, it continues, it ends, with the philosophy of number one. They do not stretch out their hands to help those other concentric circles by which they are surrounded. I tell you, in truth, they are only one degree above the law of the jungle, above the law of the deep blue sea. Now, we expect more than that of men. We expect that they will reach out and touch all these concentric circles, and that finding upon the surface of them certain duties that have to be discharged, and obligations that belong to them, they will, in a manly fashion, in an unselfish fashion, stretch out and touch and discharge those duties, because they are duties that they owe to God, to themselves, and to their fellowmen. And so we pass over the circles of these different relationships, and come to speak of the relationship of the individual to this larger circle of the Empire.
Taking first of all the subject simply as a man, we look at him in the abstract as a man--a man with physical strength, a man with intellectual power, a man with moral perception, clean life, a clear conception of his duty. Gentlemen, does not such a man as that give of those qualities that are in him, contributing his quota to the tone and to the uplift of the Empire? Then, if you super-add certain thoughts and certain facts to this man, just as a man, as I have described him, if he is a business man, then the conscientiousness with which he discharges his business, the care and the thought and the thoroughness that he throws into it, these are all contributions that he makes to the tone, and the uplift, and the influence of the Empire. If he is a professional man, if he is a doctor, if he is a lawyer, if he is a parson, then the quality of the work, whether it be in the law office, whether it be by the bed-side of the sick and dying, whether it be in the pulpit preaching the everlasting Gospel, he is contributing of his very best to the tone, to the quality, to the influence and the uplift of this great mass of what we call the Empire. If he is a soldier brave, if -he is a sailor, if he belongs to His Majesty's forces on land or on sea, with that strong spirit of patriotism, with that strong sense of discharging his duty which rests upon every loyal British soldier and British sailor's heart, he will be contributing his quota of bravery and courage and pluck, and he will, in that measure, be lifting up the Empire before all the nations upon earth.
I take it, gentlemen, that that is one of the aims and objects of this Empire Club. Every man who belongs to this Club wants to see the Empire of which he is a part and a unit, wants to see the Empire which he loves so loyally, maintain its prestige and maintain its power and maintain its advance over not only the empires of the past, but all other possible empires of the present and of the future. And so I say that having such an Empire as we have, made up of units such as I have tried to describe them, as they ought to be in the ideal, and thank God, many of them are in actual life, I say we can notice that all other great world empires of the past, that of the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek, the Macedonian, and the Roman, all pale into insignificance before the greatness and prestige and power of our own beloved Empire. Now, what can the individuals of a Club, such as yours, do for the maintenance, for the fostering, for the furthering of the thoughts and ideals which belong to such a splendid Club as this? I think that they can do two or three things. I think that they must try and teach this young Canada of ours to think Imperially. That is one of the first things to do. We hear a great deal about Canadian national life. I am sure it is a very good thing, but we must never forget that the Canadian national life is only a phase, and only an aspect of the larger life of the Empire to which this great Canada belongs, and always must belong. We hear, I say, amongst the youth of our country, a great deal of this Canadian national patriotism. It is indeed a good thing, but I take it, that the duty of such a Club as this is to increase the Imperial sentiment in our country, and particularly amongst the youth of our country.
Gentlemen, I cannot see anything short of disintegration of this great Imperial bond, this great Imperial ideal and fact of history in the future, unless all these dependencies, and possessions, and colonies, and Dominions, and Commonwealths that belong to this family compact, are bound and welded together by the spirit, by the sentiment of Imperial thought. And, so I say, get out and talk amongst the youth of the country. Do not check them as they talk grandiloquently, and as they talk of the splendid possibilities of this Canada of ours. It is well that they should do so. It is well that they should realize the splendid inheritance that God has given to them, but never let them stop at that. Let them feel and let them believe and speak and think and act, that as to this Canadian nation, it is only a part, a very important part it is true, of the larger idea of the Empire. Circulate your literature; try and see if you cannot get into the schools of our country, something that is broad and grand, and elevating, concerning the origin, the present position, and the great and vast destiny of this Empire of which we are a part.
Can you not, too, as a Club, offer prizes for these young people, for the very best essays upon Imperial themes and topics; prizes for those who are learning the art of painting and drawing, for example, and the very best themes, some of the great crises of history of the past, which have contributed to the up-building, and the solidarity of the great Empire, at the present time. Try and see if this Empire Club cannot stand for something more than mere sentiment in the community; something that is practical, and something that will be stimulating where the individual subject of the Empire is concerned, and particularly where the youthful subject of this great Empire is involved. Yesterday there came into the Synod Office a very interesting book. It is called the Keystone of Empire. Possibly you have heard of it: no doubt some of you have read it. It concerns Francis Joseph, the great Emperor of Austria, and I am sure that when I get a few hours time I shall devour every page of that interesting book; but, alas, it is like a great many other books that reach me: they come, I simply have time to look at them, promise myself the pleasure of reading them; and then the great army of engagements comes along, and each one insists that I must give him my whole and undivided attention until he is disposed of, and therefore I do not know when I shall get at this Keystone o f Empire.
But, I want to say to you, gentlemen, Members of this Club, simply this: the keystone of any Empire, and above all, the keystone of our great and glorious Empire must be that righteousness which exalteth a nation, even as, if you read history aright in the past and cast your eyes upon the decaying and decadent nations of the present, you will find that it is sin which is a disgrace to any people, which is the secret of the downfall of the mighty peoples of the past. Let every single soul of this great Empire say to himself, "Civis Brittanicus sum;" of the greatest Empire that history has ever known and seen; of the greatest Empire upon which Almighty God has smiled and poured out his blessing in rich largeness; and let every one of us see that there is a great deal of the "noblesse oblige" in Imperial patriotism when we are worthy of this citizenship, of being a subject of so great an Empire. Let us be conscious, my brothers, of this one great truth, (and this is my clerical message to you) that it is as true today as it was true when it was said of the House of Eli; it is as true of the national and Imperial life of history, as of the individual; "they that honour Me I will honour, and those that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed."