SCOTLAND'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EMPIRE.
An Address by the REV. DR. A. LOGAN GEGGIE, of Toronto, before the Empire Club of Canada, on March 24, 1910.
Mr. President and Gentlemen,
When I was asked some weeks ago to take part in this meeting the subject was given to me by your own representative. Looking at the Empire from the point of view of a Trinity of Nations, which to a very large extent make up the Empire, I understood you were to have addresses on the Contributions of England, Scotland and Ireland to the Empire; and, I suppose that the gentlemen who have the procuring of speakers for your luncheons in hand, thought of myself as perhaps being as true a type of Scotchman, of the ministerial profession at least, as could be found in Toronto-and one who is not particularly ashamed of his connection with that country. Of course, we all recognize that the Union Jack, the flag of the Empire of which we form a part, in the beginning was made up of three constituent elements; although I would like to introduce another into it, that of Wales. Now every man should contribute something to his day and generation; he should be a man of value, virility, vitality, and virtue, in the land in which he dwells.
It was given to Mr. Hincks the other day to speak on the contributions England had made to the Empire. You will allow me a few preliminary words concerning what Scotland has contributed to the Empire. I do not belong to the class of Scotchmen who find fault with time-honoured phrases such as "The English Army," and "The English Navy," nor do I belong to that class of Canadians who object to the people to the south of us calling themselves "Americans" as they were on the ground before us. I do not question the use of these terms, remembering that I use as best I can the English language. Remembering, however, the place of my country in the makeup of the Empire I do not question for one moment the pretentions of the people to the south of us, or object to the English speaking of the "English Army" and the "English Navy," any more than I object to them calling their bank "The Bank of England." But we people in Scotland are always trying to remind them that in the first place we gave them a King, and in the second place, the Unity of the Empire, and furthermore, we laid the foundation of the British Empire. If any man present today wishes to dispute my statement, after he has given the matter consideration in the light in which I view it, he will admit I have spoken an absolute truism. We do not need to care though it be called the "English Army" and the "English Navy," and the "English Nation," inasmuch as the foundation of the 'Empire was laid upon Scotland, and the Union Jack has the blue Banner of St. Andrew as a back-ground; although the foundations of such things are not seen by any except intelligent observers.
Each nation has contributed something to the Empire, and in considering what Scotland has contributed I am not going to discuss anything pertaining to the theological world--for I might be inclined to say something which would not be particularly appreciated by those of the Episcopalian persuasion here today. I might remind them of the fact that the two Archbishops of England are Scochmen. Nor am I going to enter into the discussion of things pertaining to the political or commercial world, other than to say that that great financial institution, the Bank of England, was founded by a Scotchman. And so I might wander on through the different phases of activity in the British Empire, and into the different departments of life, but I do not purpose touching on these; rather, I wish to speak to you on three or four characteristics of the Scotch together with their working out in the lives of men.
I wish first to give you an illustration of the difference between an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotchman. You go up to an Englishman and say, "John! what would you take to sit on the spire of St. James' Cathedral all night?" and as quick as wink he will reply--"I'll take five pounds;" you say to a Scotchman, "Sandy! what would you take and sit on the spire of St. James' Cathedral all night?" and Sandy will say in a slow, cautious way, "What'll ye gie me?" You say to an Irishman, "Pat! what will you take and sit on the spire of St. James' Cathedral all night?" and he looks at you in a kind of quizzical way and says:--"Shure and be jabbers I'll take a bad cold." The Englishman if he is not straightforward, blunt and honest has fallen from his race. The Irishman-leaving the Scotchman alone for the time being-sees things from his own viewpoint. The Scotchman is quiet and cautions. He has no objection to taking the five pounds, but would rather have fifty for the job.
One of the qualities of the Scotch that has done much in the building up of the British Empire is his caution; which may arise from different causes. Perhaps from the suspicious nature which he possesses. He does not feel sure and will not show his hand until he is sure of his man. Or from the cupidity of the man. Whatever the cause, it is here, a certain kind of reserve of manner and bearing. This he may have had accentuated from his dealings with the people of England to the south of him. Another quality of the Scotchman is his love of being right-and, his desire to keep the other fellow right also. Now I know you may put that down to their stubborn natures. You remember the Scotchman's prayer: "Oh, Lord, may we be aye richt, for Ye ken, whether we be richt or wrang, we be awfu' stubborn."
Yet after all, call it what you please, his one dominant characteristic, and that which I respect, is his desire to know things from the bottom tip, from north to south, from east to west, and know them through and through; and I believe we can trace much of the greatness of the British Empire back to this source, and that other characteristic of the Scotch race, the desire to be right. Of course, you know how this works out in controversy especially theological controversy for none can split hairs quite as skillfully as the Scotch on theological questions. However, they also know how to heal their differences, for whatever we have to say of their differences, it was Scotland that set the pace for the union of the Churches -now I am not thinking of the Episcopalian brethren for the moment, I am keeping them absolutely out of my mind. Now this is the kind of people the Scotch are-staunch of heart, thorough-going, and firm for what they consider right. It leads me to my next point, the high intelligence of the Scotch.
Some person has said that the Scotch people cultivated literature on oatmeal. There have been a great many theological controversies in Scotland, which goes to prove the fact that the Scotch intelligence is very high, for no one can engage in theological controversies without having a high degree of intelligence. It also indicates that they have a vision not generally possessed by people. Let a man get interested in religion and I tell you there is nothing that will so take possession of his intellectual powers, nothing that will so strengthen his vision of the things that are really worth while. And if there is anything true of the race I represent it is that they have been interested in theology, for the Scotch have been brought up on oatmeal and the Shorter Catechism! This leads me to another point, the love of the Scotch race for liberty and freedom.
The spirit of independence is ever found abounding in the heart of a Scotchman wherever you find him, I care not whether in the home-country or in the colonies; and I do not hark back to the days of Wallace, King Robert of Bruce, the days of the Covenanters, or to the movement which culminated in the Free Church of Scotland; I am thinking of the situation prevailing in my native land today. I would' like to take you with me in imagination to the City of Edinburgh and walk through the streets with me between the hours of 8 and 10 in the forenoon. You will see business men on the cars and on the streets all intently reading a newspaper. What is it? The Morning Scotsman. Edinburgh, with half a million of a population, has only one morning paper, while Toronto has half a dozen. As you look into that paper you will find it is a Conservative or Unionist paper, although Edinburgh is Liberal to the heart. Some years ago Lord Rosebery and a wealthy brewer, named McEwan, put their heads and pockets together and started the Morning Leader and determined they would put their paper on the breakfast tables of the business men of Edinburgh; but notwithstanding their planning and the wealth of these men, their paper died a natural death while the Morning Scotsman, in spite of the fact that it has become a Conservative Daily, still flourishes. Why? The people of Edinburgh valued the wealth and strength of the grey matter in the brain of Cooper, the Editor of the Scotsman, but more than that, they valued the wealth and strength of the grey matter in their own brains.
Although I am a Canadian of a little over 22 years, with four little, or big, children, born here, and love the land I live in, yet, in my humble judgment I want, to say there is no people so intellectually and politically emancipated on the face of the globe as the men of Great Britain are, and wherever I go I try to preach this, for it seems to me at least, that this is one of the finest qualities possessed by the men of the Empire of which we form a part. I want to say this, in passing, that on account of the superior educational advantages of the Scotch people, when they come out to Canada they do not generally come as hewers of wood and drawetrs of water to the Canadian people, but; they bring with them into our country, and impart to the life of the country that native shrewdness and that intellectual vision God has given them, and they do not remain long at the bottom of the ladder. They soon reach the top.
I might state another thing before I am through, that is, their thrift. And you who are not Scotch will say "Now you've got home." There is a story told of a Scotch miser who was thinking about death, and after securing a safe place for his money he went to John the Beadle and said to him: "John, where are you going to put me when I am dead and gone?" John led him to a vault, opened the door, and they went inside. The Scotch miser inspected the sides and walls very closely and said: "Do you know, John, I was thinking that's a very thick, strong roof, won't the Archangel have a hard job to get me out on the Resurrection day?" John looked at him and said "Aye! but the bottom may fall out." Another instance of the thrift of the Scotch is illustrated in the following story, and with this I will take my seat. An eccentric old gentleman before he died agreed to divide his wealth between an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotchman, with the understanding that each of them was to place ten pounds in the hands of the dead man when he was in his coffin. The Englishman put his ten pounds in the hand of the corpse, the Irishman did the same-and there it lay, twenty pounds of good English money-when along came the Scotchman with a cheque for thirty pounds drawn by himself which he placed in the dead man's hand and took out the change and walked away.
In moving a vote of thanks to Dr. Geggie, Dr. Sweeny Bishop of Toronto, said: I do not know why I should be asked to move a vote of thanks to this Scotchman unless it be that he is a direct descendant of an Irishman who was exiled from Ireland, and as such, of course, I am glad to encourage the sense of humour we have discovered in the Scotchman today. I think there is only one point the speaker has not touched in this humourous speach, which I think he should have mentioned, that is, the contribution Scotchmen have made to the "Modesty" of the world. Now we are equal. There is one thing I wish to say, that is, if either Peary or Cook reach the North Pole they will certainly find a Scotchman there. I have much pleasure, Mr. President, in moving a vote of thanks to Dr. Geggie for this interesting, humourous and instructive address. I did not have the pleasure of hearing Mr. Hincks upon the last occasion, but excellent as his address no doubt was, I think the address we have had today is quite an a par with anything the Club has heard for a long time. In seconding the vote of thanks the Rev. Dr. Griffith-Thomas of Wales said: "I did not know I was to do anything but take lunch at this Club this morning. If a man gets credit for having something to say and says it he is fortunate; if he has nothing to say and says it, he is entitled to still greater credit. I felt very much concerned over the telling of that last story as I was going to tell it myself. I only heard it when coming over on the Mauretania last week, but the way I heard it was, that it was the Englishman who made the cheque!