AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE
RT. HON. LORD DESBOROUGH, K.C., V.O.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
Thursday, September 23, 1920
PRESIDENT HEWITT, in introducing the speaker. said
Lord Desborough, having played a very important part in connection with the war activities, is now as tireless as ever, as enthusiastic as ever, in the work that relates to peace, and is devoting himself earnestly to the task world today who have never learned how to play. They of restoration. (Applause) There are many men in the are workers, enthusiastic workers, but I do not know that they get as much joy out of life as they ought to get. His Lordship is not one of that class. While devoting himself thoroughly to work, he is a real sport. (Applause) I could quite safely defy anyone here to mention any legitimate sport in which his Lordship has not been interested and has not taken a prominent place. And he is a successful sport; .he gets there, as he does in everything else that he undertakes. It seems to me that when a man sees only one goal, and his life is devoted to the service of his Empire as Lord Desborough's has been, he is to be commended for doing all those things that best fit him for the great task that he is undertaking. T have no doubt that Lord Desborough will tell us today that that which best fits him for his work is the little play he gets in between times. In addition to his many other activities, of which you know so much, Lord Desborough is President of the Royal Life Saving Society, of which we have in Toronto a very prosperous and flourishing branch. I want his Lordship to know that we are interested in that Society. There are many things than could be said that would be very interesting to you with regard to Lord Desborough, but His Lordship is a very modest man. We want him to feel today that 'he is in the bosom of the family-(hear, hear) -and that we are not expecting him to make a formal address. Boys, he is going to talk to us for a few minutes about "Empire Sport," and no man in the Empire is as well able to talk upon that subject as is Lord Desborough; only I want you to understand at the beginning that it is work first and play afterwards. Now, he is going to talk about the sport part of the Empire. (Loud applause, the audience rising and giving three cheers)
RT. HON. LORD DESBOROUGH
My. Chairman and Gentlemen, -Your chairman has introduced me in the most flattering manner, and I am afraid that on this occasion it will be very difficult for me to live up to the reputation which he has given me. I have just come from a meeting where we have been discussing subjects of a very, very different character, and if I had to address you at the present moment on Bills of Lading, Reciprocity, Empire Banking, etc., I should certainly find it very much easier than to suddenly switch off to an entirely different subject. I have also, unfortunately, not had any opportunity of gathering together my scattered thoughts. Still, I may say this, that it gives me the most extraordinary pleasure to have this quickly-gathered opportunity of meeting so many splendid Canadian sportsmen and Toronto sportsmen who belong to this club.
The last time I was here I had somewhat more time. I was then on a yacht which started from New York and came in the mouth of the St. Lawrence and went right through your magnificent locks up to Port Arthur and Port George, where I made certain investments in land, which have not turned out-(laughter)-you are thinking I was going to say, as well as I expected; but they turned out, I may say, a great deal better. On my way through I was asked to address. Canadian Clubs, and I did the best I could. One of those Clubs was at Winnipeg, and before I began my oration I was told that they would not stand anything after two o'clock; they drew the line 'there; they put up with you as well as they could under the circumstances till two o'clock, but after two o'clock nothing would induce them to hear another word. Well, I carefully put my watch out; the last thing I wished to do was to offend the susceptibilities of my audience. I got on fairly well, not very remarkably, and I kept on looking at this watch, and to my horror I seemed to be going on a great deal more than I wished myself, and I found to my horror that my watch had stopped. (Laughter) I apologized most sincerely to the very kind audience, and told them what the reason was for my detaining them beyond the very holy hour. Well, on this occasion I have borrowed one watch from my friend, Mr. Marriott, on my right, and I have brought two watches of my own-(great laughter)-so I think that whatever happens I ought not to repeat my former mistake. (Laughter)
Friends of the Empire Club here, which is doing such a splendid work in this City-and I think Toronto is the most loyal city it has ever been my pleasure to be in (applause)-were kind enough to choose a subject for me, said they would be very pleased if I said a few words on the subject of "Empire Sports"not an address, for I have not had time to write out an address.
Well, I must say, as your Chairman has said, that I have had some experience of Empire Sport. The last Imperial sport in which I was engaged was as a member of the Committee-I was President at the time of the Marylebone Cricket Club, which is the Cricket Club in our Country-and we had the pleasant duty, which is going to be performed again this year, of sending out an eleven to Australia. I have to say that that eleven did very well, and brought back what is called the "ashes," though I have never quite known exactly what that meant.
However, they got on a great deal better than the Australians at that time considered at all possible, and they rather fancy themselves at cricket. One has had rather an experience, then, of what is required in sport of the highest kind. Oh, is this all going down? (Referring, amid laughter, to the presence of the official reporter)
PRESIDENT HEWITT: Your Lordship can take out anything you like.
LORD DESBOROUGH: : Now, this is where sport comes in, because you want not only to be proficient at your games, but you really want to have that true spirit of the sportsman, a consideration for others, which you can learn better, I believe, through the discipline of games than you can by any other means that I know of. (Applause,) In selecting the eleven sportsmen who were to go out to play against other sportsmen in Australia, which is a long way off, and who would have to be together for a very long time, it was not only proficiency with the bat and the ball which was necessary for the selection of that team, but it was that they should be known to be what I may call clubable people who would get on well together during the long months which the tour would occupy, and thus contribute to the success of their side through that spirit of co-operation and unselfishness which it is so very important to promote.
The Congress over which I have had the pleasure of presiding has as its motto, "'Unity in Commerce and Unity in Defence, "the motto for the leavening of the Empire. I think there ought to be added to that, for the same purpose, "Unity and Comradeship in Sport throughout the whole of our wide-flung Empire." (Applause)
I do not want to talk about the war; we all know what Canada and the rest of the Empire did in the war, but certainly where all were distinguished Canada distinguished herself preeminently in the contribution shoe made to the Flying Service of the Empire. (Hear, hear) Now, I had something to do with the encouragement of the Flying Service of the Empire. Two years before the war took place I did my best to impress upon the authorities the necessity of making more provision for flying. We started building airplanes, and the first airplane that was given was given to the Dominion of New Zealand. The idea of our Imperial Air Fleet Committee was to start the great Dominions flying, and the last of the three that I had the pleasure of presenting, or which were presented to me, was to the great Dominion of Canada. I heard of those airplanes the other day, and I believe the one which was given by Huddersfield, which is represented here by my friend Mr. Bruce, is now carrying out a survey in this great Dominion. What you want in flying, more than anything else, is team-work -, and the co-operation, the team-work, of the flying men who represented this great Dominion was most successfully carried out. Canada supplied such a large proportion of the flying men that this Dominion made a greater success than almost any other unit. I saw one of those machines yesterday. I do not know whether any of the Flying Corps are here -present, but Col. Bishop--(applause)-was a very good friend of mine in the Old Country, and I had the very great pleasure of presenting to him on one occasion a gold medallion which we had made, and which was exhibited in the Royal Academy, as the representative flying man of this Great Dominion. I only wish I had time and opportunity of renewing that acquaintance, and going to see the great flying airdrome at Borden. But what I want to impress on you is this, that in a great crisis of our history, certainly as regards the air, it was due largely to the spirit of co-operation which sport had taught that we were able, in conjunction with the Dominions, to obtain that supremacy in the air which did so much to win the war. (Hear, hear)
I had the opportunity, the day before yesterday, of seeing a very fine game of lacrosse at the University Stadium; and what strikes one about games now, more than anything else, is that the individual play is made so very much subordinate to the combination at the supreme moment in front of goal, at the time that goals can be got; and it is that system of co-operation which is teaching
us all so much, not only in games but in the business of the Empire, and I hope it will be the motto which we may all cultivate, as I say, not merely in games but also in the more serious business of life. (Hear, hear)
I have also had the opportunity and the pleasure of being just introduced to the President of the Toronto Argonauts. (Referring to Mr. Pat Mulqueen) I have seen them on many occasions, and I must say they were an example of splendid sportsmen. (Hear, hear, and applause) I remember that in 1912 they had a splendid crew which came out to Henley, and which afterwards went to the Olympic games at Stockholm. There were the Argonauts, the Leander and ' a crew representing Australia, and there was very little between those crews; some days there was about half a length, some days there was a length between those three, but unfortunately the Argonauts, when they got to Stockholm, had the great misfortune to be drawn against the winners in their very first heat, and according to my recollection, which I think is right, unfortunately on that occasion they did not win a single heat though they had come that long distance. But I do not wish to recall this particularly to your minds except for this reason, that I never saw an untoward event taken with so much unselfish good sportsmanship-(applause)-as was shown on that occasion by the Toronto Argonauts, who at Stockholm set an example in sportsmanship to all the nations who went to the Olympic games. (Hear, hear)
My friend here on my right knows something about the Olympic games, and I have seen him there. I am happy to think that (though there is very much to be said against the Olympic games, as they are very often carried out on much 'too big a scale, and sometimes carried out by nations who have not had that long experience in judging and conducting sports as have others) yet, or the whole, I certainly think they have done good in this respect, that they have increased the spirit of true sportsmanship among all the nations that have joined in those games. I have had a great deal to do with the Olympic games since they were started, and I have seen a very great change in the attitude towards those games. Men did not come there for the purpose of winning so many medals, but with the idea of competing good-humouredly against one another, and towards the end the losers were as ready to salute and congratulate the winners as were their own opponents. That, after all, is one of the great missions in sports.
The Royal Life Saving Society has been alluded to. I had the very great pleasure this morning of seeing a representative of the Royal Life Saving Society in this city. He asked me how we were getting on in the Old Country, and I told him we were getting on very well with the Royal Life Saving Society. It has now spread its branches all through the British Empire. In Australasia and New Zealand and in various other parts of the Empire it is flourishing to the last degree; and it rather amused me that on the last occasion we had a communication, from Iceland asking if they could translate our hand-book into their own language. There is a great comradeship in swimming and life saving, as indeed there is in those various other sports which we cultivate with so much success. My time has been so much taken up that I really have not had the opportunity of collecting my thoughts to present them to you in the way that they should be; but just before I started on the Saturday I think, there was about to take place in England almost the best athletic sports I have ever seen; that was the British Empire against the United States. The sports took place at the Queen's Club. They were conducted in a spirit of chivalry I have never seen equalled in any sports in the world. I should like to congratulate you on having produced a gentleman who made a world's record over hurdles-(applause)-and who followed that up by jumping over, six feet, and I think something like twenty-two feet long. What pleased me at those sports more than anything else was to see at the end of the high jump, which was a great disappointment to our American friends, the winner and loser going off arm-in-arm, and both congratulating and commisserating with each other. (Laughter and applause)
Now, Gentlemen, in order to keep well within the limits of my three watches I do not think I will detain you arty longer, except merely to say this: I do hope that this great Dominion will, in all the branches of sport, go on as it is doing at the present time, and cultivate not merely success in sports, but that true spirit of comradeship which we know is the foundation of cooperation in all branches of life. I thank you. (Loud applause)
PRESIDENT HEWITT: We have with us as a guest today Sir Joseph Flavelle. I am going to ask if he will kindly return the thanks of the club to His Lordship for his address and company with us today.
SIR JOSEPH FLAVELLE : Mr. Chairman, Lord Desborough and Gentlemen, I think the best thanks which can be given to the speaker is not only the presence of this company of business men and sportsmen, but the character of the hearing which His Lordship has had through the full time of his address. The position which he occupies in the Congress now completed tells us of his work as a leader in business circles. We know of him as a great public servant; and, strange as it may sometimes appear, having regard to his presence in the exclusive house of legislation, he is a very sound democrat. (Laughter and applause) Added to those excellencies, I am sure I speak for this company when I say that Lord Desborough has given us the note of co-operation and spirit in sport which in this day of splendid sporting spirit sets a standard that we may well seek to follow. (Applause) On behalf of the company present, Lord Desborough, I desire to express to you our grateful thanks for your goodness in speaking to us today. (Loud applause)