Imperialism
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 Nov 1906, p. 85-92


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Milligan, Rev. Dr. G.M., Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
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Imperialism and the balance of power. What is meant by the balance of power. The history of the concept of the balance of power. The instinct of man at first left to himself of isolation. Complexity as a mark of excellence, whether in the realm of Nature or in the realm of humanity. Seeking the cause, the great universal principle. Seeking in a true association among men broad, essential, intrinsically natural lines. Two kinds of combination: that of organization, and that which consists in an organism. Certain things for us to do: working for the unification of our great Empire. How to go about it. The issue of emigration. Being careful in respect to those we bring into our country. The development of the Empire. How to develop it. British statesmen and their difficult task. The speaker's belief in keeping the British Empire in closest unity in all its parts. Having information about Australia, South Africa, New Zealand. Cultivating that family feeling that ought to exist and doing all we can in every way. Training our children in British history and trying to inoculate them with the genius of British emancipation and liberty.
Date of Original:
22 Nov 1906
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English
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
IMPERIALISM.
Address by the Rev. Dr. G. M. Milligan, of Toronto, before the Empire Club of Canada, on November 22nd, 1906.

Mr. President and Gentlemen,--appreciate very much the invitation that came from this Club to me to address you. I suppose you like to hear various sides of life, and call upon men who are engaged in various pursuits in such a way that they are supposed to emphasize particular features of life more than men not in their callings would do. I suppose you like to have the merchant, and the lawyer, and the doctor, and various callings in life, to set before you the various elements that constitute the well-being of a nation, and among others, I suppose, the Minister ought to emphasize certain things very specially; and that we are apt, perhaps, in a young country with abounding material resources not to give the prominence to this that we might, until it may be too late. When invited, I pondered on what I should speak to you about, and finally I thought that the best thing I could do was to speak on the theme mentioned: "Imperialism and the Balance of Power." Union is strength when it is based on what is the nature of things. If it depends upon any external support it is necessarily artificial and doomed to a transient duration. The purposes of men in combining vary with varying conditions. Sometimes the purpose of combining is military, sometimes commercial, sometimes political, and sometimes a blend of all. The idea is, however, to secure a system of elements and relationships of a political, commercial or other kind, and having secured that system to strive to maintain it in as stable a condition of equilibrium as possible. That is what is meant by the balance of power.

It is no new thing, this balance of power, although some suppose it to be only two hundred years old. It got a great development in the 17th century, but in the nature of things when men gather together in communities, sooner or later they will feel called upon to make combinations of one sort or another. Varying situations compel men to exercise organizing ingenuity and enterprise. Ancient Corinth, for example, had a position of such maritime importance that she was forced to seek allies to protect her commercial interests and to secure her political influence and existence, and that is just an example of what is true in after times and the same purpose is what has animated men, whether it be on a large scale or on a small, in this matter of seeking organization for mutual goad and trying to make it as secure as possible, trying to secure as stable an equilibrium as possible and thus working for the balance of power for the good of these communities.

Our own age is a remarkable age in the genius of organization. Britain has been specially marked far this in the way of colonization. She seems to be of all; nations the one most calculated to colonize. Gad seems to have given different missions to different nations. He gave to the Greeks the mission of educating the world in art and in philosophy; to the Romans he gave the genius of jurisprudence; to the Hebrews, religion, and to Britain the genius for colonization. And it says a great deal for our nation that that is the case because it shows that she must have rich, broad, catholic elements as her basis before she could be the power she is among all kinds of nationalities and to enable them to live under that grand flag that I see you have here, and to feel that they are not humiliated, and not despotized over; but that they are able to maintain their autonomy in all that is reasonable; to be men and yet to be loyal Britons in a civilization where they have the security of law and the security of property.

The instinct of man at first left to himself is isolation. When men first met each other they did not look upon each other as brothers; they came down to the river bank (rivis, a river) and what did they call themselves? Brothers? No, rivals, showing that man instinctively distrusts man,--remarkable thing. The Greeks called everybody that spoke not their own tongue, " Glottis "-gibberish, and the Chinese had maps with all the details of their own empire and then outside deserts unknown. Man has not believed much in the improvability of the human species. General Sheridan said that he had met only one good Indian, and that was a dead Indian. Men have not been optimists in the matter of the improvableness of humanity. Even Plato said that "only Greeks should be free men. Serfdom is the fate of all other races but the Greeks. We only have the endowments." He judged by the present developments and by exceptional developments there. But the thoughts of men have widened with the process of the suns, and they have found that there are developments in other races than the Greeks, in which men will show an improvableness that proves that God's ways in endowing men have been higher than their ways. We are all prone to become egotistical. One advantage about a college education is that men blend together and come into attrition with their fellowmen, whereas, if a man gets his knowledge among people of narrower experience, he grows up, to believe in his own infallibility. During the time of the Peninsular War, one old Scotch woman said to another: " How is it that our soldiers always win the day?" " Oh, because our soldiers pray." "But, don't the French pray?" "They gibbering bodies pray? Wha would understand them if they did pray?" (Laughter.) Well, we laugh at that, and yet there is a great deal of that sticking to us all.

Whenever we see, gentlemen, any large variety of manifestations, you may be sure that 'at the core of it there is a rich and powerful cause. Complexity is a mark of excellence, whether it be in the realm of Nature, or in the realm of humanity. Whenever you see things living together in unity, and whenever you see multiformity of manifestation you will find at the centre of it there is some great sustaining power. That has always been the instinct of the scientist and the philosopher. Sir Isaac Newton saw the heavens above and things happening beneath and the thought struck his mind, "I wonder if there is any one force explanatory of this?" And, at once it struck him, "Yes, the falling of the apple," and so he got the conception that under great variety we are to seek unity and that

"The very law that moulds the tear
And bids it trickle from its source,
That law preserves the earth a sphere
And guides the planets in their course"

Thus we should always seek the cause, the great universal principle. The same is true in regard to man. Wherever you see a nation that can gather together a colonial empire such as Britain has, and develop a loyalty in these, and have the sway that she has in India, with all her faults there must be some grand, sound material, and some great element of power that we should do well to study more than we do. Wherever you are going to have a true association among men; you must seek that association in broad, essential, intrinsically natural lines.

There are two kinds of combination, gentlemen; there is the combination of organization and there is the combination which consists in an organism. The combination of organization is quite legitimate, but it is very temporary if it is only organization. It may be legitimate for certain purposes. Organization lives in the dry life of mere utilitarian purposes. A few of us may organize for some particular end--the transmission of goods to certain points--that is organization. The aim of organization is purely and simply utilitarian and, therefore, must have a temporary existence. An organism is that which consists of a body with many members pervaded by one life and pervaded in such delicate relations that if one member rejoices, all rejoice, and if one suffers, all suffer. That is an organism. And, an organism does not exist for an organization, for mere utilitarian ends. It exists for ultimate ends, for ends of righteousness, for ends of liberty, for ends of humanity-that is an organism. The home belongs to that; the church belongs to that; the state belongs to that. Take even the conception of a merchant. What is a merchant? A merchant is a man who gives himself -to the efficient development of the earth's resources and their equitable distribution-a very high calling. Do you think that that can be done on mere utilitarian principles? For a while; but I need not go and tell you men in this room that the very nerve of business is trust. So when one of our banks got into trouble all the other banks stepped in, because, if the people lose trust in one another everything is gone. The very nerve and power of all institutions in this world and the next is trust, and so you see it is not simply, gentlemen, far the next world that you and I are to become religious. It is for this world. You are merchants; I am a minister; another is a lawyer, but we are all ministers in our various spheres and, I hope, able ministers, of glorious privileges and glorious rights, if we are true to them.

Now, I have suggested what I wanted specially to get at. There are certain things for us to do. In the first place, we are to work for the unification of our great Empire: How are we to unify it? If you and I are in business and have little collisions, how are we to get unified. By doing right and being brotherly and square with one another. Very well, your motto is the advancement of the interests of Canada and a United Empire. There, you see; is solidarity, an 'organized corporate existence, and it is by the development of the best traditions and the best examples of British history; by taking them over in our own new conditions and malting them our guiding principles. In that way we are to develop the interest in Canada which will tend to the unifying of the empire, and it is a very short business. You cannot unify a nation or anything long unless it is based upon the principles of righteousness, humanity, and disinterested service. Then everything will go well. It is just as true as preaching (all preaching is not true, but this is): "Seek first the kingdom of Gad and His righteousness and all these things (the temporalities) will be added to them." Have you ever found a country where the people all desired to pay their debts, where the people were frugal, where there was no snobbishness; did you ever find a people like that other than prosperous? Is not that the kind of people that we are seeking to bring into this land?

And if I had time I should like to speak about this matter of emigration. We cannot be too careful in respect to those we bring into our country. I was in Detroit in the year 1869, and the Americans used to boast, "We will take in anything, we can assimilate anything." They know today that that is not true. People today are rushing at things as if they were the last of the race, that they must gather up everything so that there will be no fragments left. There is no need to gobble up all the forests, all the deer and so on. There are others to come, we are not the last of the species. We want to fill up the country with a people that have the genius of the British people. Brethren, the world has got to be a small place. Quantitatively, the ends of the earth are getting very much nearer, but the world is getting to be a bigger place every day qualitatively--a more complex world, a more intense world. The leaven that is leavening this world for good or for had is getting an intensity in our day that it never had before. It is the day of larger ideas; little Canadianisms and such things will not do now. The United States has felt the need of international relations and obligations, and we are now in connection with the greatest of nations in this respect, and she has a sea power that must give her transit over the sea. Rome had her great roads all focussing upon Rome; all radiating from Rome. The meaning of pontiff (from pontifex), is a bridge-maker, and the great poet that brings men together nearer and nearer is a pontiff. Everything that catholicizes men, that universalizes men, is a pontiff, and so this Canada of ours may be a great bridge-maker to Britain for the fast, some day and sooner than we know, and let us in our different spheres be a bridge-builder for that great Empire, to give her the right-of-way that she will sorely need.

And then another thought to this idea of unification of the empire is the development of the Empire--to develop this imperial unit as we call it-for it is only the beginning, how shall we develop it? Now, Mr. President, ideas, if they simply hang in the air as beautiful sentiments and interesting theories, will never affect anybody but children; ghosts affect only children. I believe that if .1n idea is to become a power it must become institutional. Our aim should be to keep up a British connection, no matter what happens. I am sorry that my friend, Professor Wrong, writes as he does to the "Spectator." I am sorry because he should not write those things, and his idea is wrong as well as his name, and in this case two wrongs do not make a right. (Laughter.) But, brethren, we must not talk when difficulties came up, of leaving Britain. You have heard of the old Scotch servant who was born in the manor house before his young master came. They had some little difficulty and the master said, " Well, we will have to part, Andrew." " Eh? and Mr. James, where are you going?" He had no idea himself of going anywhere else. Now that is our idea about Britain. Of course, there have been unfortunate things, but we have not been appreciative of this country ourselves. We could have had Alaska if we had been half awake, and if Mackenzie Bowell had had a bigger head on his shoulders we could have had Newfoundland. And if we make mistakes, what may we expect of men thousands of miles away and who have all those European complications to watch.

I tell you, British statesmen have no easy task. These Britishers have to look out. If the Conservatives are in power they have to look out for the Radicals; if the Radicals are in power they have to look out for the Conservatives. And yet, somehow or other, it is by that strange combination, that centrifugal combination that the planets are preserved in their orbits and the atmosphere is composed of nitrogen and oxygen in such a perfect blend (some Scotchmen know what that means.) They just get things about right in that good old country. It is a wonderful country. I never leave it but I come away an optimist. We must on no account let it enter cur heads that we are going to part. The world is a big place qualitatively today and it requires all people of the same political aims, of the same national genius, more and more to draw closer to each other as the years go on. I believe in keeping the British empire in closest unity in all its parts. There are some men who come away from the Old Country and stay away twenty years, but they get the old local newspaper which tells of the happenings in their little district. They have in reality never left it. Now, let us try to have information about Australia, about South Africa, about New Zealand, so that it will circulate all through the colonial ramifications. Let us know each other and understand each other and feel that it is our duty to cultivate that family feeling that ought to exist and to do all we can in every way.

Do the people sing here in their homes? What a great thing are the songs of the people. We used to sing when we were boys, "There is no luck about the house when the good man is away." I don't know that they would sing that in this day of women's rights! The father made them believe he was infallible. There were no divided councils: what father said was law. Now, that is a magnificent thing. A man came out to this country and they asked him something about fine pears. "Well, I was brought up in a country where the fine things were given to the father, and when I came out here the fine things were given to the children, so I am no judge." I presume that the Ten Commandments will have to hold on, and one of them is "Honour thy Parents." Let us devise all the means that we can to be a member of that great family. It will require, as I say, patience and faith-but take her all in all with all her faults, when you come to thinly of the authority of law: of the equitable treatment of men: when you think of all these qualities and of her past history, are you not proud of our connection with such a glorious empire? And so we shall go on from time to time, training our children in British history and trying to inoculate them with the genius of British emancipation and liberty.

"And let us be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate,
Still achieving, still pursuing;
Learn to labour end to wait."

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Imperialism


Imperialism and the balance of power. What is meant by the balance of power. The history of the concept of the balance of power. The instinct of man at first left to himself of isolation. Complexity as a mark of excellence, whether in the realm of Nature or in the realm of humanity. Seeking the cause, the great universal principle. Seeking in a true association among men broad, essential, intrinsically natural lines. Two kinds of combination: that of organization, and that which consists in an organism. Certain things for us to do: working for the unification of our great Empire. How to go about it. The issue of emigration. Being careful in respect to those we bring into our country. The development of the Empire. How to develop it. British statesmen and their difficult task. The speaker's belief in keeping the British Empire in closest unity in all its parts. Having information about Australia, South Africa, New Zealand. Cultivating that family feeling that ought to exist and doing all we can in every way. Training our children in British history and trying to inoculate them with the genius of British emancipation and liberty.