REV. DR. CODY.
Sir William, and Gentlemen, Members of the Empire Club, the best corrective for narrowness of outlook, for provincialism, is the realization of membership in a large institution. As Canadians we are members of a large commonwealth. We feel expansive in thought and in language as we think of Canada, and yet the Canadian whose outlook is limited even by the far-flung boundaries of Canada is not as great a Canadian as he ought to be. He will be a still greater Canadian as he realizes that he is a Briton, and a member of a world-wide community of nations.
The educated Britisher in the motherland has a world outlook. One of the all too frequent
Rev. H. J. Cody, D.D., LL.D., is a graduate of the University of Toronto with gold medal in classics and first-class honours in Mental and Moral Philosophy and Civil Polity. He is rector of St. Paul's Church, with which he has been connected continuously since 1894, and is a canon of St. Alban's Cathedral. He was Minister of Education in the Hearst Government. An outstanding figure in church life and work in Canada and, indeed, within the Empire, he is a fine organizer and an exceptionally gifted speaker, both scholarly and inspiring. Canon Cody is a great Canadian with an abiding faith in the future of his country and in the beneficent influence of the British Empire.
characteristics of any man living in any of the subdivisions of the Empire is that he may confine his outlook to his own part of the Empire. We do well, in Canada, to remember that we are at once Canadians and Britons-better Britons because Canadians, better Canadians because Britons.
There is nothing incompatible between representative government or democratic, institutions, and the great organization known as the British Empire. British Imperialism and representative democracy are complementary and not contradictory terms. Some have had a difficulty in using the term "British Empire." It is not a difficulty that I myself feel; but to some the term "Empire" carries the significance of tyranny, of conquest, of forceful domination. Some think that the term "Empire" is inconsistent with the term "Democracy." May I for a moment ask you to think again of the meaning of Democracy and of the meaning of Empire. The terms on their face may seem to be incompatible. Democracy is a word derived from the Greek; it means self-government, local autonomy, liberty. Empire is a term derived from the Latin language. It had originally military connotations; it included the ideas of conquest, subjugation, autocracy based on force, alien domination. And this seeming contradiction of terms, Gentlemen, is apparently confirmed by a cursory view of history. A mere glance at the past may seem to justify those who feel a difficulty in combining Democracy and Empire.
On the one hand, it is true, as an old Athenian demagogue called Cleon used to say, that direct democracies never succeeded in managing empires. The Athenian Democracy speedily lost its grip on the early Athenian Empire. On the other hand, have not the great Empires of the past been prevailingly, if not exclusively, anti-democratic? The great Empires of the East have always been despotisms. The Roman Empire, great in extent and in organization, rapidly shed all its democratic institutions and b4-came at last a military despotism. The modern empires of the two Napoleons were founded theoretically upon popular sovereignty, but they speedily developed into highly centralized autocracies of a militaristic character. The effort to democratize the first ended at St. Helena; and the pretence of liberalizing the second culminated at Sedan. The Russian Empire under the Czars was the very antithesis of democracy. The Austrian Empire as conceived by Metternich was opposed to any form of national self-determination; it was a tyranny. The German Empire as founded by Bismarck was painted to look like a democracy, but behind the painted front of the Reichstag was the bureaucratic tyranny that really controlled public policy.
So this cursory glance at the history of the past would seem to indicate that democracy and empire are contradictory terms. Is that true of the British democracy, and of the British Empire? Emphatically the answer is, No. The self-governing community of Britain has never been a direct democracy; that is to say, all the people have not directly taken part in making laws, in administering policies, and in handing out the decrees of justice. We have been a democracy that is representative. We have more or less chosen men who, in a degree, are experts, to make our laws, to carry out our policies, and to administer justice, and a representative democracy cannot be charged with inability to manage a far-flung empire. That on the one hand. On the other hand, the term Empire as used historically in the English language does not mean a tyranny, or alien domination, or subjugation by force. What I have to say here may to some be somewhat novel, and I therefore ask your special consideration of it. The word Empire is as old as any word in our political vocabulary, and it has a very special, I might almost say a distinctively English, sense. It was used by the mediaeval monarchs of England before the Norman conquest. It was used by Edgar, King of Wessex, to declare his independence of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on the Continent of Europe. He held sway only from the Thames to the English Channel, but he meant to declare that the claims of the alleged successor of the Caesars, the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in Europe, had no sway or domination over England: The term "Empire" was thus used in the ninth century by the English King to declare the independence of England from any external control.
Now come down the centuries to the sixteenth, to the days of King Henry the Eighth. There were stirring times then, and Henry the Eighth declared that the whole English commonwealth, on its religious side as well as on its civil side, was not to be under the sway of any foreign Prince, potentate or ecclesiastical power. In the preamble to the famous Act of Supremacy (24, Henry VIII) these words are found (I quote) :"Whereby in divers sundry old authentic histories and chronicles it is manifestly declared and expressed that the realm of England is an Empire." May I quote another legal authority? Blackstone in his Commentary, written in 1765, says: "The legislature uses Empire to assert that our King is sovereign and independent within his dominions."
In English history, then, the term Empire is, in brief form, a declaration of independence. It proclaims freedom from foreign jurisdiction, and not a claim to exercise jurisdiction over foreigners. It is the assertion of island autonomy, and not a pretension to world domination. It was used in respect of England herself, and had no reference at first to any overseas domains. It was the synonym of liberty, of self-determination, and not of conquest or of subjugation of others.'
The terms Democracy and Empire, in their strict sense, in their historic sense, are thus not contradictory terms; they are complementary terms; the one described autonomy within, the other described freedom from external jurisdiction and control. It is well to remember that the term Empire as used historically and legally in England connotes primarily independence, and not a claim to exercise force or domination over others.
The term "Empire" has not in the later years of the Empire's development degenerated from its ancient signification. It has not become a term of which anyone need feel ashamed. You need not be over-anxious to find a substitute for it; you need not hide it away under any other form of words. In the treaty with the Irish Free State the term is used, "that community of nations known as the British Empire." I suppose that particular term had to be devised to give as little offence as possible to those who were being dealt with; but for us who understand its meaning, and I trust are imbued with its spirit, no apology or explanation or substitute is needed. The British Empire is a term with a thousand years of sacred traditions. It is a term that does not stand for oppression or repression, but a term that does stand for independence and self-determination within our borders.
I shall now say a word about the growth and expansion of our Empire. It is a curious thing, but it is true, that the British Empire is an organism of comparatively modern growth. It has grown up in the last three hundred years. We sometimes speak of the "spacious days of great Elizabeth." Those days were spacious only in spiritual prospect and in intellectual outlook; for territorially no English sovereign from the Norman conquest to the present times reigned over so restricted a domain as did Queen Elizabeth; for in the year in which she began to reign, Calais--the last relic of the continental possessions of England in the Middle Ages--had been lost, (as you know, Queen Mary said that the name "Calais" would be found written on her heart after she was dead); and Virginia, the first of the overseas colonies, was not established until four years after Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, was dead.
The British Empire is thus comparatively modern; its development from insignificance and undesigned beginnings during the brief span of nine generations is one of the most striking phenomena in the course of human history. It has grown; it has not been created; it has been spontaneous; it has not been the result of far-seeing administrative organization. Like Topsy, in Uncle Tom's Cabin, it "growed." Nobody knows exactly why, or how, but it is here.
It is not a military state. It is composed of some seventy constituent members. Among these are representatives of every stage of political determination, from the tribal monarch to what might almost be called the collectivist republic. It did not begin until a certain stage had been reached in the development of the motherland; not until the dissensions of the Wars of the Roses had been healed; not until the religious crisis of the Reformation had been passed; not until the peril of Spanish conquest had been removed; not until what might be called "the lawless particularism" of mediaeval towns, guilds and fraternities had been enlarged into an ennobling devotion to "the commonwealth of this realm of England;" not until the end of the reign of that fortunate and well-served rather than great Queen Elizabeth; not until that period in English History were the English ready to undertake their task of expanding to the uttermost parts of the earth.
What were the motives that led our forebears to go here, there and everywhere, in the development and expansion of the Empire? There are, I think, seven or eight separate motives that may be suggested. The combination of these will largely account for the expansion of those little islands over the sea into a commonwealth of peoples and races occupying one-fourth of the world's surface and including one-quarter of the world's inhabitants. It is a miracle; how did it come to pass?
The first of those motives is the spirit of sea-going enterprise and adventure that is almost inborn in a mixed race of islanders. Our people are adventurers. They lived on the seaboard, and their innate spirit of adventure and enterprise led them over all the seas. The Empire did not begin to grow until the English were ready. I did not say "until England was ready." I made that distinction deliberately; because it was not due to any patronage on the part of the state that those Englishmen went abroad. Private enterprise and not administrative foresight took advantage of the opportunities for overseas adventure. Men went "on their own." Prince Henry of Portugal in his navigating enterprises had the support of his government. Christopher Columbus had Ferdinand and Isabella behind him. The French Sovereigns looked after development in India and in America. But the Englishman who went overseas went on his own resources and on his own initiative. It was a convenient thing for the government to disown him if he got into trouble. (Laughter) Sometimes it seems as though the home governments were cruel. On the other hand, the home government never interfered with him and he took wide liberties. Even in what was then a very delicate matter, the matter of religious 'belief, however oppressive the laws might be at home, when men went over the seas they acted largely on their own initiative; and so long as there was no political sedition the government at home winked its eyes at religious dissent. There were advantages as well as disadvantages in this first motive to Empire-individual enterprise.
The second motive is linked with it. I do not mean to say that all the pioneers of Empire were saints and angels, and bent on the highest conceivable enterprises from the purest conceivable motives. They went out to make money. They went out to trade. There were opportunities of doing business and gaining much; they went wherever there was money to be made, and sometimes, we are bound to admit, they were not over-scrupulous in their methods. It is an interesting thing to note in those days the extraordinary amalgam of Protestant fervor and piratical ferocity in the enterprises carried out at sea where Spanish galleons were the prize. (Laughter)
The third motive may be described as the defence of political and religious liberty. In those days, as in later days, it was felt that the best kind of defence is offence--strike the enemy first before he gets a chance to strike at you. That was the policy that inspired and guided Sir Francis Drake. Those great sea-dogs went far afield to defend the motherland in the name of civil and religious liberty, by taking a crack at Spain, Portugal, France, and anyone within sight. (Laughter) In 'this connection I have mentioned religious liberty; I make no apology for saying that it is utterly unscientific and unhistorical to leave out of any survey of English History the influence of religion upon the growth and development of the British Empire. Take religion out of English History and you would have a very desiccated skeleton left. Religion has been a force at almost every stage in the development of the Empire. The defence of religious liberty was one of the main factors that led to Imperial development at an early stage. At a later stage missionary enterprise has played no small part in the extension of the Empire, and has played that part not deliberately or consciously for the extension of trade areas or of political spheres of influence. When missionaries, for example, in the South Sea Islands or in parts of darkest Africa went on their strictly spiritual and religious mission, they found that presently traders entered, and that the best way of preventing the black people from being unjustly exploited by white men, was to put the whole district, white men included, under the protection of the British flag. Therefore missionaries and missionary societies have sometimes made representations to the Foreign Office in London, and have urged them to hoist the British flag over certain parts of the unclaimed world. The great Uganda district in the heart of Africa was taken over by the Home Government with the greatest reluctance, and only after the strongest pressure was brought to bear upon the authorities in England.
The fourth motive is akin to the third; it is the motive of philanthropy. I give two illustrations of it. You remember that Zachary Macaulay and all those labouring in the anti-slavery agitation wished to find some spot in Africa where free slaves might be organized under a government of their own and work out their own destiny. They established such a state in Sierra Leone. When the British Government sought to put down the pernicious slave trade in West Africa, they found that the Port of Lagos was the great centre of slavery enterprise. The only way to throttle the monster was to grip him by the neck at Lagos; so the British took possession of Lagos. It belonged to nobody in particular-nobody, at any rate, who was using it for any but devilish purposes. That led naturally to the Nigeria protectorate. Philanthropy was the motive for the expansion of the British domain over that part of Africa.
The fifth motive was the desire for a new home, what we call, the colonizing spirit, that has operated most widely in populating Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and a great part of South Africa. In the densely populated old country there are not so many opportunities, material conditions are perhaps unfavourable, men have not perhaps a fair chance for themselves or their families. In consequence men have determined to leave the Old Land, still cherishing loyal feelings to it, and to go overseas and hew out for themselves a new home in a broader field. That has been one of the greatest of all the Empire-extending motives; a peaceful motive, not a motive of conquest, not a military motive, but the motive of securing a better environment and a nobler chance for a family.
The sixth motive has been the necessity of national security. When the Empire reached a certain stage of development it had to defend itself. It is a curious thing, but it is eminently true, that behind all these wars with France in the eighteenth century there lay this unconscious motive-security for the motherland. The motherland could not be safely left dependent upon the mercies of other powers for natural and material resources. The Empire had to grow in order to make the motherland secure and independent; and while it is true that England made the Empire, it is equally true to say that the Empire made and served the motherland. When I use the term England I hope none of you will misinterpret it in the exclusive sense. I heard a story when I was overseas, to the effect that a very patriotic Highland sergeant who had found, during an advance, one of those German signs, "Gott strafe England," did not quite understand the significance of the words. He deemed them a reflection upon Scotland, and so he had "England" painted out and "Britain" substituted therefore. (Laughter) I use "England" in the broad and elastic sense.
There is still another motive, and that is the necessity of a great body, by its very momentum, going forward. May I illustrate that in two cases? I think this very largely explains our Imperial expansion in India. When Englishmen, Scotchmen and Irishmen went out to India, at first they went to trade, solely and strictly to trade. They had no purpose or idea whatsoever of establishing an Empire. They were there to do business. But it is very hard to do business during a "row;" extremely difficult when all around you is the din of contending forces. When you go out to do business in a neighbouring town and find the constituent elements at each other's throats you are almost compelled, in the interests of business, to keep the peace. So gradually England had to maintain peace in India. Civilization and peace could not safely live side by side with anarchy and internecine strife. Sometimes a sorely stricken native state would appeal to these justice-loving and order-keeping Englishmen--to step in and keep the peace. Thus the Indian Empire grew. I believe that sooner, perhaps rather than later, the best public opinion of intelligent India will recognize that her. safest pathway to the fullest measure of self-determination will be along the lines laid down by these same Englishmen. How did the Straits Settlement come into the Empire? The British did not want it and did not go out to conquer it; but there were pirates in all that region. Ships, whatever flag they flew, were in danger of being assailed by pirates. In Panang and the Malay Settlements there were nests of pirates, and the British, as police, had to step in and keep order in the district. Once they got in, it was not so easy to get out. We all more or less smile at this; but it is not so easy to retire if you have a heart and a conscience and a desire to do business. What about Egypt? England went there, not deliberately to take possession of Egypt. The British got in, and they could not get out. I believe that just at the earliest possible moment the British will give to the Egyptians the largest possible measure of self-determination. Britain has never feared to grant that as soon as it is safe and wise; for, remember, other interests than strictly Egyptian interests have to be taken into account. There are international interests, and the world is larger than the Nationalist party in Egypt.
There is one final factor in this growth of the Empire; it is something which has become operative since the Peace of Versailles. Into the Treaty of Versailles, as you know, there was injected a new element--the element of trusteeship, the power of a mandate, and certain parts of the world were handed over to members of the League of Nations by their mandate for the purposes of development and administration. To Britain have been given additional responsibilities, not of her own seeking and not without great cost to her exchequer, to keep the peace in and to develop Palestine, Mesopotamia and parts adjacent.
I have now summarized the motives that have led to the growth and expansion of this extraordinary Empire. Surely all that I have said emphasizes the point that the British Empire as we know it today is not the result of any administrative foresight, but is the result of a spontaneous growth, I would venture to say, under the guidance of the God of nations.
In the growth of the British Empire there are three stages. In the first stage the development was entirely peaceful, by migrations, by explorations, by private enterprises; but in that stage all the overseas colonies, such as they were, were regarded as estates to be worked for the benefit of the mother country. That was a mistake, a serious mistake. All the countries in Europe made the same mistake, but Britain perceived the mistake, learned the lesson, and avoided the mistake for the future. That is why Greater Britain of today overtops all .the other greater European empires of the present generation. The second stage of the British Empire was largely marked by wars-colonial wars between England and France. In regard to those wars it is fair to remember that they were all the by-products of European complications; that Britain never took the initiative in them, but was herself the first attacked; and that she never entered into one of them for the purpose of making a permanent conquest. Actually at the end of that stage, for some of the reasons I have mentioned, Britain found herself saddled with an enormous additional burden of territory. What were the general characteristics of this second period of the British Empire, extending to 1883? Britain had one stern lesson; the thirteen colonies were lost, and the unity of the English-speaking people was broken. It may be argued that this has been in the long run for the benefit of the race. There is something to be said, however, on the other side. But one result of the American Declaration of Independence was that the authorities at home began to be very chary of taking and keeping and holding possessions overseas. What was the good of them? They were a burden; they cost a great deal of money. What advantage accrued to the motherland? The disagreeable lesson, enforced at the time of American independence, remained in the subconscious mind of British statesmen until well on in the nineteenth century. There was, an attitude of aloofness and neglect, that was resented by the best citizens and statesmen of the overseas dominions. Read the records of the negotiations before the Canadian Confederation, and you will know that Sir John Macdonald and the fathers of Confederation were disappointed at the general attitude of the statesmen at home towards the overseas dominions. The political theory, widely held was that the ripe fruit will some day fall, and fall away from the parent stem; the child will grow so big that he will wish to go out of the old family and begin housekeeping for himself.
The third stage is the stage in which we began to live before the war, and in which we are living in greater measure since. Instead of the old theory of the ripe fruit, instead of the watchword, "Cut the painter and let the boat go!" the overseas dominions are recognized as great strong sons and daughters in the common family. When the great day of test and trial came, contrary to the forecast of all German constitutionalists and statesmen, instead of this far-flung, seemingly ramshackle, indefinite empire going to pieces it grew together. Who can define the British Empire? You might as well try to define light itself. Definitions are here practically of no avail. The Empire is not a logical creation; you cannot confine a definition of the Empire within any known moulds. It is a great living, growing thing, a great family. That is the present condition. In fact, as Sir Sidney Low the other day said, this transformation has taken place in a night. When Dominion representatives signed the treaty of peace, and were allowed to elect their delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations, the last step was taken in the development of these overseas dominions towards nationhood within the Empire. I cannot conceive how any further step can be taken, short of absolute independence, which no constituent part of the British Empire, India included, desires to take.
Lastly, what has been the spirit or genius that has guided the Empire beyond its knowing in all these marvellous stages of development? There are three or four distinctive characteristics of this genius.
First, the Britisher has always known how to combine, by an extraordinary tolerance, unity and diversity. There is no empire under the sun that is so diversified as ours in race, religion, political organization; and yet there is an underlying unity, a unity of ideal.
In the second place, the Britisher has been singularly gifted by God with the power of governance. British administrators in the uttermost parts of the earth have had a good training, by education, by heredity and environment in the art of governing.
In the third place, British administrators, wherever they have gone, have been well paid, and they have not had to enrich themselves at the expense of the subject peoples among whom they have lived.
In the fourth place, the British Empire has been marked essentially by a love of justice, by the reign of law. I remember reading not long ago, in the records of the police court, that an Italian in our city appealed to the magistrate for "British fair play." It is a glorious proverbial phrase.
In the fifth place, the genius of the British Empire has been marked by honour, by trustworthiness. An Englishman's word is as good as his bond. A missionary who worked for some years among the Arabs over the Jordan remarked that the Arabs were the most picturesque, facile and fertile liars on the face of the earth. (Laughter) But he added, if ever an Arab wishes to assure you that in the particular case in hand he is going to tell the truth, he always prefixes it by the phrase-"On the word of an Englishman what I say is true." (Laughter and applause) Long ago, King Edward First, the founder of our parliamentary institutions, took as his motto, "Serva pactum"--keep your pact. When you see his rough stone tomb in Westminster Abbey, pass it not by without reverence, for few tombs hold nobler dust. He represented the British ideal of honour, trustworthiness. In the Great War we spent our treasure and we poured out our blood that we might keep our pact.
Lastly is the British record for liberty. Equality and liberty are two watchwords of every democracy. The French prefer "Equality;" the British prefer "Liberty." In every generation the Englishman has felt that the supreme good of life is freedom for self-realization, freedom to choose his career, freedom to wander at will over this world, freedom to work, and sometimes freedom not to work, freedom to think, freedom to speak, freedom to write, and freedom to approach individually and with the least possible number of intermediaries the very throne of God Himself. How Britain has trusted the great alemble of freedom to change men's minds and hearts! And freedom is justified, like wisdom, of her children.
Gentlemen, will you allow me to repeat in this place a story I once told in moving a vote of thanks to a speaker at a meeting of the Empire Club. It is the best illustration I know of this characteristic of the British, their part in freedom. When I was overseas in 1918 I had the honour of being invited to a dinner at the Ritz Hotel by General Smuts. He was inviting a group of American journalists that they might learn from some of the men at the centre what were the real issues of the war. When the dinner was over one of the guests, Major-General Seeley, was asked to propose a vote of thanks to our host, and he spoke somewhat after this fashion: Gentlemen, I find myself in an extraordinary position to-night. Some years ago, in the war in South Africa, I commanded a squadron of cavalry. I captured a kopje and killed some Boers. I was reconnoitering the land on the other side of a river beyond this kopje. I stole down with a rifle, and a living Boer to guide me to the edge of the river. As I was looking out, the Boer who accompanied me and spoke English, said to me,--"Do you, Sir, happen to be a graduate of the University of Cambridge?" Seeley replied, "Yes, I have that honour." The Boer replied, "Well, the commander of the Boer commando over there is also a graduate of the University of Cambridge." He proceeded, "Do you happen by any chance to have been a member of Trinity College in the University of Cambridge?" "Why, yes," said Seeley, "I am a Trinity College man." "So is that Boer Commander." Once more he asked, "Do you happen to be a member of the Inner Temple?" (that great community of London lawyers) Seeley replied, "I am." "Well," said the Boer, "it is a strange thing, but that Boer Commander over there is also a member of the Inner Temple, and there he is!"-as a figure rode out. "I took my rifle, and I aimed as straight at that Boer Commander as I could, I fired, but I missed him; and by the accident of missing him on that occasion I now have the honour of proposing his health tonight!" Then Seeley added, "It fell to my lot as Colonial Secretary to bring in the bill that gave self-government to South Africa, whereby my friend General Smuts ultimately attained to high Cabinet rank."
Is there any other Empire under the sun where such an event could possibly have taken place? Old Britain stands for freedom, and the belief in freedom.
Among all human polities of which there are records, there are few whose history is more generally honorable than the history of the British Empire. There are few whose work in the world has been more largely for the benefit of mankind. There are few whose power and influence have been more widely exerted for the uplifting and safeguarding of the deepest interests of humanity. I believe none stands to Britain as a rival in this. That Empire has stood and still stands for peace, for freedom, for justice, for equality before the law, for health and wealth and religion and humanity. It has been the nursery of self-government among backward peoples. It has been the emancipator of the slave. It has been the guardian of the oppressed. If democracy has been possible in the world at large, it is mainly owing to the fact that the British Empire with its defensive fleets and armies has set a limit to the power of tyrants; and if the world is to be kept safe for democracy, the indispensable condition is this-that the British Empire and the United States of America. (which once formed part of it and still shares its traditions), shall remain firm friends inseparable forever. (Loud applause, while the audience rose and gave three cheers and a tiger.)
SIR WILLIAM HEARST voiced the thanks of the Club to Dr. Cody.