- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 30 Mar 1905, p. 268-276
- Osborne, Henry C., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The subject of patriotism in general and, more particularly, Canadian patriotism. Ways in which patriotism is distinctly a product of geographical conditions, and how it is developed. Love of race, or loyalty as another quality which is closely related to patriotism. Patriotism as the conjunction of these two qualities. The moral qualities of a great and permanent people assured where race and soil combine to evoke both. Patriotism thus defined as the most lofty and elevated of all social sentiments. Canada as the offspring of two great countries, with the best qualities of both to be found among our own people. The importance of race. Taking this sentiment of patriotism for granted. The special character of Canadian patriotism. The need for discussion of Canadian patriotism, and why it is needed. Finding expression for the history of our possession of our country. Our loyalty of race; a delicate subject because of our two races. The speaker's belief about the destiny of Canada to perpetuate the British race and to testify to the principles upon which the British Empire is founded. The question as to what is to be the national, dominant, patriotism of Canada. Wishing Canada to take a more prominent position in the British Empire.
- Date of Original
- 30 Mar 1905
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- Full Text
- CANADIAN PATRIOTISM.
Address by Mr. Henry C. Osborne, on Thursday, March 30th 1905.
With your permission, I will speak very briefly upon the subject of patriotism in general and, more particularly, Canadian patriotism. It is, in the first place, to be observed that patriotism is distinctly a product of geographical conditions. In man it is an inherent instinct to stay in the country of one's birth, and from that is developed a love of the land, which is commonly patriotism. It is even noted that this instinct is most strongly developed among dwellers in mountainous or rugged countries, where man comes in more intimate contact with Mother Earth. The peaks piercing the clouds and ascending heavenward seem to inspire a reverential love in the inhabitants which finds expression in high-minded patriotism, in lofty love of country. On rugged coasts we find the same fervent devotion, the same unselfish love of country, even to the sacrifice of life itself. In fertile plains where life is easier, where wealth is readily produced from the soil, and where the cornucopia--is upturned to pour out the treasures of the material world into the laps of all the inhabitants of a productive land, we find that patriotism is a tamer thing. Just as men seem to lose some of the virile qualities which obtain among the inhabitants of rougher countries, so patriotism itself loses something of its wild and picturesque abandon.
There is, however, another quality which is closely related to patriotism, but which is not of geographical, but racial origin; that is, love of race, or loyalty. The conjunction of these two qualities makes what we commonly describe as patriotism; and where race and soil combine to evoke both, the moral qualities of a great and permanent people are assured. Patriotism thus defined is the most lofty and elevated of all social sentiments. I do not believe that love of the land is sufficient. Political solidarity is one thing. We have on our own continent two great countries of mixed races, of many different peoples, living happily and prosperously together under a constitution, or machinery of government, which provides for all an equal opportunity of gaining and enjoying prosperity, and such happiness as this world can afford. At the same time, to a permanently great people, racial solidarity is as great a necessity as love of country. As Mercury sprang full-armed from the head of Jove, so from the great peoples of the world these immense new nations spring.
Canada is the offspring of two great countries, France and England, and I like to think that the best qualities of both those countries are to be found among our own people. However, I consider that love of race is an absolute essential to real patriotism in the fullest sense, and that the truest pariots are those who love not only their land, but who are proud of the fact that they are English or French, or whatever their nationality may, happen to be. "Race," said Disraeli, "is the key of history. In the structure, the decay, and the development of the various families of men, the vicissitudes of.history find their main solution: all is race."
Now, this sentiment of patriotism, in the larger sense in which I have defined it, is something which, like the devotion of wives, or perhaps more accurately, the devotion of husbands, is taken for granted." My country may always be right but, right or wrong, my country," is the simple tenet of most English-speaking people. And while patriotism is often the subject of oratory, the theme of poetry, glorified in song and story, it is never discussed. It is quite natural this should be so. Things that are very intimate we are never very fond of discussing. At the same time, it is a fact that things which we are never called upon to discuss, or to defend, we very seldom pause to consider. But abstract matters have a way of sometimes taking concrete form, pushing themselves to the front, and insistently demanding analysis and definition. I think this is the case today with Canadian patriotism. Our forefathers lived all their lives as subjects of the French King, or the English King; no academic discussions of their country's destiny, no perplexing questions of proper allegiance, disturbed the serenity of their national lives.
In Canada it has always been different. Social considerations, racial considerations, and above all, geographical considerations, have combined to give our patriotism a special character. Therefore, I think that there is not only justification for discussing at this time Canadian patriotism, but a positive need that we should so discuss it, to ascertain of what it consists and, more important, of what it should consist. Now, in the first place, I believe we have in full measure the patriotism that attaches to the land. Indeed, if there is one thing of which we are proud, it is that we have a great country. We are never tired of talking about our boundless acres and, as the swelling pride of human nature does not proceed on logical grounds, we take immense pride in these vast tracts that we have not, as yet, developed, but which are the free gift of a beneficent Creator. We are proud of our majestic rivers and lofty mountains and wonderful scenery and salubrious climate, although as I said before, they would be more justly a subject of pride if we had done a little more towards their development.
A subject which might find expression among us more often than it does at the present is the history of our possession of our country. We owe this country to the valour and achievements of British soldiers and sailors during a warfare lasting nearly one hundred years. The price that was paid for Canada was paid not only at Quebec and Louisburg, but at Oudenarde, Blenheim, and Ramilies and other battles of the War of the Spanish Succession; a war in which the pretensions of Philip of Anjou to the throne of Spain were merely an incident; a war which was prosecuted mainly to decide the question of supremacy in the New World. Similarly, in the War of the Austrian Succession, when Maria Theresa received such chivalrous support from the English people, the real issue was colonial and commercial supremacy. The theatre of war even extended to the plains of India where Clive was winning his place among the immortals.
It may, I think, be conceded that there is a strong Canadian patriotism which attaches to the land. How is it about loyalty of race? This subject is one of some delicacy because in Canada we have two Races. Here in Ontario we are all English but we have not to go many miles before we find ourselves among people principally French; therefore the question of racial loyalty is in a somewhat equivocal position. There is at this time no Canadian race; possibly there never can be a Canadian race; just as there is no American race. The United States is a great and powerful republic, assimilating in a wonderful manner men of all nationalities and all creeds and all colours, but if by some miracle, the governmental machinery of the United States were to be blown to atoms tomorrow that great mass of people would naturally dissolve into its constituent elements; so many Englishmen, Irishmen, Germans, Chinamen or negroes. I say that not in any disrespectful spirit, but because I think there cannot be, in a country composed entirely of mixed races, the same intense race loyalty which, in conjunction with love of land, makes the truest, the highest, the most enduring and binding patriotism.
Could English-Canadian people consent to any policy of action or inaction which would deprive them of their birthright as full members of the British race? Among the English loyalty to their race is, perhaps, their deepest sentiment. I do not think it would satisfy us to be members of the British race in an indirect or merely historical sense. It seems, therefore, that the conjunction of these two factors in true patriotism is of the first importance to the Canadian Imperialist. Gentlemen, here is a country covering three and three-quarter million square miles, and yonder are three little islands covering, possibly, one hundred and twenty-five thousand square miles. Yet the importance of those two countries in the councils of the world is in inverse ratio to their territorial extent. And why? Because it takes more than acreage to make a nation. In three hundred years the British Empire has spread over one-quarter of the globe. It embraces a widely diversified population, and the fundamental principle, the prime factor, in upbuilding the British Empire has been the Anglo-Saxon character and the race qualities which belong to the Anglo-Saxon. Great Britain has been the greatest civilizing and colonizing power that the world has ever seen.
Last week in Toronto a number of our citizens of the legal profession were privileged to hear an address by the Solicitor-General, the Hon. Mr. Lemieux. I quote these words: "England has been in the world the nurse of liberty; she has understood better than any other nation' the art of government. The British Empire is founded upon the eternal principles of liberty." That is true, gentlemen. Strong to rule she has always been strong to let go when the machinery of government could be safely entrusted in the hands of others; and, in consequence, working unceasingly on the raw material of the world, she has produced unceasingly and increasingly, crops of free men; and now, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, the fairest jewel, as it is said, in the girdle of nations which compose the British Empire, the Dominion of Canada, shining with resplendent lustre, has attracted the attention of the world; and our fertile plains are now the goal towards which thousands of thrifty and hardy settlers are directing their course. To what process do we intend that the raw material of this country shall be subjected?
I believe that the destiny of Canada is to perpetuate the British race and to testify to the principles upon which the British Empire is founded. I really do not look forward with any great degree of satisfaction to Canada as in some sense an independent nation, at the best a polyglot nation of all the different peoples of the world, without the same ideals, without the same traditions, and without a continuous history. If the patriotism of Canada does not finally include the two necessary ingredients, I am strongly of the opinion that the Imperial mission, as we view it, will not be fulfilled. Canada within the British Empire, a nation within the British Empire, would inspire the highest patriotism. Love of land; why not? Indeed, the round world over where is there a land of greater beauty? Our northern climate produces not only abundant crops but men capable of controlling the destinies of the world. If rugged mountains are a desideratum to inspire us to loyalty, have we not rugged mountains and majestic rivers and placid lakes and broad plains and sounding seas and everything else that could inspire a man to feel the true poetic fervour when he utters the words, "My Country"?
There remains the other factor. Is the British race satisfactory for our loyalty? It needs no panegyric from me, but I remember a few years ago when Great Britain was in that position described as "splendid isolation," a member of the Senate of the United States said on the floor of that august body: "When I saw those little islands surrounded by the inviolate sea, standing alone and undismayed before a world in arms, I thanked God I belonged to that race." (Applause.) In war and peace, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, the record has been an honourable one. The country that produced Nelson and Wellington produced also Pitt and Disraeli, and Clive and Cecil Rhodes. But again I am reminded that there are two races in Canada and that it is a very difficult question. I am well aware that it is not Clive and Cecil Rhodes whose images fill the mental horizon of our French-fellow citizens, but the devout and intrepid Champlain, the strong and courageous Vrontenac, the romantic and adventurous La Salle, whose ill-fated voyage to Cathay is not unsuitably commemorated by the restless waters of the Lachine Rapids.
Many of the historic figures in the history of Canada belong to the French nationality. Therefore, this racial solidarity or racial unity cannot be expected to appeal to our fellow subjects in the same way as to us. I am sorry it is the case, but is it not the fortune of war, the throw of the dice from the box of Fortune? The question for us is, what is to be the national, dominant, patriotism of Canada? I admire our French-fellow subjects, but I believe that it is necessary, if Canada is to be amongst the great peoples of the world, that she must be a British Canada, must be more and more impressed with the qualities of the British race. Then we shall have both of the essential factors in our national patriotism. Then we shall be in very truth a part of a great people; then this young giant will assume the burden that has been borne so long by the little land across the water; then the British race will be perpetuated, rejuvenated and strengthened anew, and Britain's rule will be founded again in the broad acres of Canada. This is a British country, and I do not think it is necessary to apologize for saying so, nor is it necessary to apologize for wishing it to take a more prominent position in the British Empire.
The Quebec Act did not succeed in making this anything but a British country, and I do not believe that anything will, if we only do our duty. Our French fellow countrymen themselves are perfectly satisfied as British subjects, even though they may not be able to enter into the full appreciation of the grand ideal of a British Canada with the same feeling that we do. Under British rule, they have been eminently happy, eminently contented, eminently prosperous. Sixty years after the rule of Louis XV. was succeeded by that of George III., Papineau, the French-Canadian orator, uttered these words: "From that day the reign of law succeeds to that of violence; from that day the treasure, the navies and armies of Great Britain are mustered to afford us an invincible protection against external danger." Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the commencement of British rule in Canada, namely, in the year 1905, within a week from today, the Solicitor-General to whom I have referred, spoke in Toronto as follows: "If you ask me as a French-Canadian why I am deeply attached to Great Britain, it is because I find in her institutions and under her flag all the protection which I need. It is because she has been in the world the nurse of liberty. She has understood better than any other nation the art of government."
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen, I respect the gentleman who uttered those words and I respect the idea which he expressed in that connection, that the unity of the two races in Canada does not necessarily mean assimilation; but as an English-Canadian and as, I trust, a practical Imperialist, I am most anxious to see British character impressed more and more deeply, year by year, upon this country. I wish the country to be dedicated to the perpetuation of British ideals, the British system of government, British standards of honour, of justice, of truth, and of liberty; and if that is an ideal towards which we ought to strive, then it is an ideal for which we ought to be able and willing to make some sacrifices. Our present attitude on the Imperial question is to me extremely distasteful. They say that the hypocrite is never completely successful in his hypocrisy till he succeeds in deceiving himself, and I believe that we are deceiving ourselves in' the Imperial question. We are allowing it to be complicated with all sorts of ideas, yet the question is not so complex. Do we wish to be, and continue to be, a nation within the British Empire, or do we not? If we do why do we not frankly say so? Why do we not boldly ask for such increase in our constitutional powers as we consider necessary? Why do we not bravely demand such representation as we consider fair and why do we not freely say that we will undertake our share of the burdens instead of approving of these ideas in private and allowing our minds to be confused with all sorts of questions about treaty-making powers, about taxation without representation, about the invasion of local autonomy, and other questions of that sort?
These questions are very important and I do not believe that in the promotion of one principle we should abandon another principle which is equally good, or better. Representation without taxation is certainly a false system of procedure, but there never has been, as far as I know, a clear-cut statement made by any public man in Canada that, if we are given the representation which we consider necessary, we will do our part in every way as members of the British Empire. Have we a man strong enough to say that? The real trouble lies in the fact that, while we have many men ready and anxious to be first in all Imperial movements and some notable men who are determined to be last in such movements, our public men are "in the middle." The men who are in the middle are sometimes safe men. They are sometimes cowardly men, but they are never men who can successfully inspire the people to carry out a great purpose. The Scripture says, "The last shall be first and the first shall be last," but there is no mention made of "the man in the middle."