BRITISH WOMEN'S WORK DURING
AN ADDRESS BY CYRIL MAUDE
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
February 20, 1919.
PRESIDENT STAPELLS: We are greatly indebted to Mr. Maude in a twofold sense today; first of all, for his kindness in coming to address our members; and then we are very grateful to him for his thoughtfulness in selecting a subject that enabled us to ask our ladies to join us. (Hear, hear and applause.) On behalf of the officers and executive of the Empire Club, ladies, I extend to you a cordial welcome, and desire to say that if we had not such a large membership and such inadequate accommodation we would have you with us on many occasions. Apart from that, I do not want to suggest that we are all "Grumpies" in the Empire Club t but frankly, there is a more happy expression on the faces of our members today than is usually, to be found there at our meetings. (Laughter.) I am reminded that at one time the toast to the ladies occupied a position at the end of the program, and was usually entrusted to a more or less irresponsible male person who made a few flippant remarks and ended up with a silly phrase or a quotation. (Laughter.) But today that is all changed, and it would be a courageous man who would approach the toast of the ladies with any idea but that they are on the pedestal and will remain there as long as the British Empire exists. (Applause.) Now,
Mr. Maude was born and educated in London, England. His dramatic triumphs of the past few years on two continents have marked him unquestionably as the leading English comedy actor of his time. During the war he devoted a large portion of his time and talents to patriotic work.
Mr. Maude is well known to Torontonians, and I need only remind you of his delightful "Grumpy," of his splendid piece of acting at the Princess this week, and also of the magnificent $4,000 contribution he made toward our Patriotic Fund in 1915. (Applause.) Of all the great actors who have visited Toronto I do not think there is one who occupies a warmer place in our affections than the great actor who is with us here today. (Applause.) Now, I was warned before I left home not to make a speech (Laughter.) so without further comment I will ask Mr. Cyril Maude to address you.
MR. CYRIL MAUDE was received with loud applause, the audience rising and giving three cheers and a tiger. He said: Mr. President, I thank you for the very kind words, and, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for the very kind way in which you have received them. To tell you the truth, I am an amateur at making speeches, though I have had to do nothing else through the south and west, and more lately in New York and Washington and Philadelphia, and only the other day I had an audience of ladies called the Daughters of the Revolution who greeted me by singing two verses of God Save the King. (Laughter.) I must confess' that when I have to make a speech at a luncheon or dinner I am reminded of a cartoon in London, of men sitting smoking and drinking and looking exceedingly happy, and one miserable little man toying with his bread crumbs, and under the picture were the words, "Find the man who has got to make a speech." (Laughter and applause. ) This occasion is doubly interesting to me because I was brought up to hard work, acting and managing a theatre in London, and before that I was brought up to hard work on a farm at Oakville (Laughter.) and that is interesting to me, when I think that I commenced my career by carrying milk to the station in the early morning, in what I might perhaps call the twilight of my life, and now, getting towards the close of my career, I am allowed to meet the creme de la creme of Toronto. (Great Laughter.) I have bright recollections of this country, owing to my cousin, who has attained prominence lately as the man who took Baghdad, having lived here for many years (Applause.) and I think of him with feelings of sadness not unmixed with humor when I remember that just before he died he cabled to me from Baghdad asking me to come back that way if I could. How I wish he could have come back this way through Canada from Baghdad to England, but such was not to be the case.
Now I know you will want me to get on to my subject, which I had been carefully avoiding for a little while. (Laughter.) When I realized what British women had done in the war, as I did the last time I went home, it made me only too anxious to go and spread the gospel as far as I possibly could; and when I reached Toronto I was made to feel very proud of the Empire by finding the kind of things that Canadian girls were doing for the war. For instance, at a luncheon party I met the young daughter of a famous lawyer here, who had been working at shorthand and typewriting, and she was going off to one of the militia officers to get a job, without mentioning the matter to her father. That seemed to me typical of the true Canadian spirit. At the same party I met another young girl who had been working for the last four years as a V.A.D., but she would not tell anything about herself, though she told of her comrades holding a corrugated iron over a poor wounded soldier, hoping to rescue him from death, with shrapnel scattering all around them. That seemed to me a rather fine thing. (Applause.
Then only last night I went to a wonderful ball at Government House, and three of the young ladies I had the honor of dancing with told me they were working at a wonderful school where they were learning massage and various ways in which to cure wounded soldiers of muscular troubles in their limbs; it seemed very wonderful to me.
You know, a contemporary of Oliver Cromwell yeas once asked to describe him, and the only description was that he was an ugly man with a wart on his nose. It seems to me that we Canadians and Australians and the British Empire are rather too much inclined to mention the wart on the nose, without the finer attributes, consequently we have allowed the Germans so very much power in getting ahead of us in the United States. The more we tell really of what the British Empire has done, the more useful, it seems to me, it would be just now, in the United States, which is full of German propaganda. (Applause.) Only ten weeks ago, in New York, millions of pamphlets were being distributed warning America against the terrible English danger, and at Ottawa one night the wife of a distinguished Englishman who had just visited New York showed me a pamphlet, one of a number of thousands, that had been scattered among the British soldiers just before they entered the war, warning them against the great American danger. So that is the way they are getting at it.
Now, woman, as you know, has proved the most wonderful nationalist, and it is the hope of everyone that both in America and England she is going to prove the most wonderful factor for everlasting peace. Speaking of the work that women have done in England, and the way in which the highest society ladies have taken their place in the ranks I may tell you a story which possibly you have not heard. A woman was scrubbing a floor, and a fiery old colonel wanted to get past her, but the bucket was in the way. He could have gone around it, but he did not want to, and he said, "Here, move that bucket." She did not take any notice of that, thinking his manner was too rude, and he said, "Move that bucket, damn it, don't you know I am a Colonel?" She said, "Damn it, do you know I am a duchess?" (Laughter.) Telling one funny story leads to another. Only the other day I heard of a lady who went to see Niagara, and she said, "Extraordinary! that reminds me that I left the kitchen tap on." (Laughter.) I heard of a mother of seven sons who had enlisted, and she became anxious because she thought her status as a mother was getting rather small, as she was not doing anything for the war, so she started doing something in the munitions, and she used to write each week to the sons, and one of them wrote saying he thought mother was killing more Germans than any one of the family. A friend of mine down in South Carolina was telling me that there was an old negro there-this was before the United States came into the war-and if he only said something. in praise of the Germans the old negro would get excited and speak up. So my friend said to the negro one day, "Joe, have you heard of this wonderful gun the Germans are going to have in a year from now? It is going to be able to throw a shell about 75 miles." The negro replied, "Huh, that's nothin' to what the Americans are going to have; they have got large guns, and you simply shoot and shoot, and all you need is the address." (Great laughter.),
In one factory in England where there had been a terrible explosion I found several women killed, and within four days a lot of the remaining female operators had volunteered for the work. They would stand unflinchingly while such painful operations were performed as removing particles of metal from the eye; but I never heard of what they would do in case a. mouse was let loose. (Laughter.) They worked through Sundays, and never was the Sabbath broken more splendidly. Lloyd George said just before the war ended, "I don't know what would have happened if it had not been for the women coming forward," and just before the end came he said, "I consider the women have saved the Allies' cause." (Applause.)
Before the war the optical glass industry was largely in the hands of Germans and Austrians, and the war meant a total closing of that market. A tank would be utterly blind without a periscope, so would a submarine, and range-finders and miroscopes were needed not only for war but for medical purposes, to fight diseases. Great Britain has restored that languishing trade, though the task was enormous. Even a special kind of ordinary glass used to be brought from Germany and Yontainbleau, but the new conditions made us look around, and we soon discovered that good old England had got the right kind of men for that work. (Applause.)
You have heard of the soldier of the allies having captured a German soldier, who, with biting sarcasm, accused the British soldier of fighting only for money, but the Britisher turned and asked the German, "What are you fighting for?" The German replied, "I fight for honor." Tommy replied, "You are like me--fighting for what you have got precious little of." (Great laughter.)
I had a very interesting conversation with Mrs. Pankhurst; she heard that I was going around .peaking about her sex-as it is only right that anyone called by the name of Maude should do (Laughter) and I complained that there were so many smart women just walking about and looking nice up and down Fifth Avenue, and she said, "Oh, don't you believe that; I have been a quiet hard-working woman in my time, and I have myself defended the ladies from the mounted police"-and then I thought of what splendid work the suffragettes had done during the war, and I think Mrs. Pankhurst is a splendid woman--and she said, "Don't you believe about all those smart women; nobody has worked harder than I have, and I love dressing up for a couple of hours for an afternoon and being on Broadway, and many of those smartest women you see in New York and the great cities are doing the best work." Then she told me how the women were being used to stop the strikes in England. When a meeting of the men is held, and they decide by a vast majority to have a strike, the next day a vast meeting of women is called, and by a bigger majority than the men have, they vote against it, and the strike is called off. (Loud applause.)
LADY HEARST expressed the hearty thanks of the club to Mr. Maude for his fine address.