"ST. GEORGE AND MERRIE ENGLAND"
Address by LEONARD W. BROCKINGTON, C.M.G., Q.C., LL.D.
Thursday, April 22nd, 1954
CHAIRMAN: The. President, Mr. A. E. M. Inwood.
MR. INWOOD: I am very sorry to inform you of the death of a Past President of our Club, Mr. John C. MacBeth, B.A., Q.C., who was President of this Club in the year 1942-43. I would ask you to join me in one minute's prayerful silence in honour of Mr. MacBeth.
Tomorrow, April 23rd, is the day in the year set aside to honour St. George the Patron Saint of England-it is only fitting that the Empire Club should, in its own small way, join in the tribute to England's Patron Saint. We are doing this today in two ways-one, in having invited Mr. Brockington to speak to us on this subject and secondly, in having invited the members of the St. George's Society of Toronto to attend this meeting and share with us the pleasure of listening to his words on a subject very near to our hearts.
This meeting today commences the celebrations for the St. George's Society who have their famous dinner tomorrow night at the Royal York Hotel at which Sir Archibald Nye, United Kingdom High Commissioner, will reply to the toast to St. George and Merrie England.
Our Guest Speaker today needs no introduction to this audience or the radio audience, for his charming voice conveying his brilliant thoughts has for many years come over the air waves into our homes, but too infrequently. 322
Mr. Brockington was born in Cardiff, Wales, was educated in the Old Country, where he graduated from the University of Wales with honours in Latin and Greek. He came to Canada in 1912. He is a member of the Bars of Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario and holds Honorary Degrees from seven universities. He is an Honorary Member of the Canadian Bar Association, an Honorary Member of the American Bar, The Bar of the City and State of New York, and the American Patent Law Association. He has been for the last eight years Rector of Queen's University.
Mr. Brockington was the First Chairman of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation after its formation in 1936 and subsequently became a special war-time assistant to the Prime Minister of Canada in 1940-41. This was followed by his appointment as advisor on Commonwealth Affairs to the British Minister of Information in 1942. Since 1942 he has been Counsel for Messrs. Gowling, MacTavish, Osborne & Henderson in Ottawa, as well being President and Director of J. Arthur Rank Organization of Canada Limited, better known to us as Odeon Theatres (Canada) Limited.
During the last war Mr. Brockington flew on operations with the RAF, was present at the landings on D-day and on several occasions visited the Canadian Armed Forces in the front lines in Europe.
To prove that he is still young at heart, he has within the last month visited the North Pole, and as he said, "Flew around the world twice in three minutes."
It gives me much pleasure to present to you Mr. Leonard W. Brockington, C.M.G., Q.C., B.A., L1.D., D.C.L., whose topic is "St. George and Merrie England."
MR. BROCKINGTON: While the Chairman with typical kindness was busy disguising me with undeserved praise, he well said that tomorrow is St. George's Day. The traditional gesture of good will on that day is a greeting to St. George and Merrie England. This famous Club, therefore, has with characteristic courtesy devoted this luncheon to England and the English. Perhaps, the first thing I should do in harmony with the occasion is to fall in with the English habit and talk about the weather. For a brilliant American philosopher once said that what governs the Englishman is his inner atmosphere, the weather in his soul. "He carries his English weather in his heart wherever he goes, and it becomes a cool spot in the desert, and a steady and sane oracle amongst all the deliriums of mankind."
Well, as I was about to say, it is a nice soft April morning. April, with its footfall of the flowery spring is a great month for England. If you ramble through English poetry, you will find more references to April and May than to any other months. "Oh! to be in England now that April's here!" said Robert Browning, taking, I think, good care that he stayed in Italy where it was warmer. And, after all, the Englishman with his love of nonsense can start his April by being a fool on 'All Fool's Day', and it is great fun to be a fool sometimes. English poets rejoice that April airs are about and ask April to laugh her girlish laughter. "Oh, white violet of a woman with the April in your eyes", says the Poet Laureate. It was in April when that wonderful group of fascinating English characters started their pilgrimage to Canterbury, which will last as long as our English speech survives. You remember how it begins-in its modernized version. "When the sweet showers of April fall and shoot
Down through the drought of March to pierce the root Bathing every vein in liquid power
From which there springs the engendering of the flower." St. George was born on April 23rd and so was Shakespeare, who died, it is said, on the same day. Apart from that, there is something English about April with its poetry, its laughter coming through its tears, its sunshine through the rain, its eternal ever renewed hope, that in spite of a winter of discontent, spring and summer will somehow muddle through. There is something of all that in the English character and the strange mixture of magic and poetry and matter of fact that makes its fabric and its fibre. I think the English with their charming and disarming habit of thinking and saying that all lovely things remind them of England have almost staked a claim to April with its glancing showers and its dancing daffodils as though they were the first to find it.
Now, on this April day, I want you to imagine that you are not in a North American Hotel like the Hotel de Gink where Alexander Woolcott said there were only two rules--no opium smoking in the elevator shaft and guests are requested to bury their own dead--or, even in this little ramshackle frontier saloon with the resounding English name of The Royal York. I want you to imagine, if you can, that you are in a little Inn in Warwickshire. Because Shakespeare was born in Warwickshire, and so were my father and my grandfather. They had therefore the superb privilege of being able to read Shakespeare in the original. I choose Warwickshire, also, because not far away is that great rolling Rampart known as Offa's Dyke, which built to keep the kinsmen of my mother from ravaging the lands of the kinsmen of my father, today is a long range of foothills covered with the reconciling mercy of the green grass. And I like to remember that the England of my father and the little Celtic land of my mother, and my own motherland, (always loyal to that union and often forgotten), were joined together over 400 years ago to begin the great brotherhood not only of Great Britain and the United Kingdom but of the Commonwealth as well.
Now, in this Inn, a pleasant company has just had lunch. It has been solid fare with Yorkshire pudding and Brussels sprouts and a snappy grace from the vicar. The landlord is probably asleep, and so is the dart board--the former untroubled by the pricking of his conscience -the latter resting from the slings and arrows of its outrageous fortune. Through the window comes occasionally from under the blossoms that hang on the bough a ripple of song from that wise English thrush, who sings each song twice over, "Lest you think he never could recapture the first fine careless rapture". Several red-faced gentlemen with more manliness than melody and more heartiness than harmony have already sung, "Oh, The Roast Beef of Old England", "John Peel", "Seventeen Come Sunday", and, for good measure, the latest importation from the United States, which may either be "The Honeysuckle and the Bee", or, "I would rather Play House with Mickey Mouse than go out with a Rat like You". The local blacksmith has just wobbled his way manfully through a song. I am not quite sure of the tune and no more was he. But these are the words:
St. George he was for England, And before he killed the dragon He drank a pint of English ale Out of an English flagon. For though he fast right readily In hair-shirt or in mail,
It isn't safe to give him cakes Unless you give him ale.
St. George he was for England, And right gallantly set free The lady left for dragon's meat And tied up to a tree;
But since he stood for England And knew what England means, Unless you give him bacon
You mustn't give him beans.
St. George he is for England,
And shall wear the shield he wore When we go out in armour
With the battle-cross before. But though he's jolly company And very pleased to dine, It isn't safe to give him nuts Unless you give him wine.
When the song is over a maundering garrulous gaffer from Wales, who is a sort of third-class Celtic bard, begins to talk to them. He has borrowed a Church Warden pipe and some tobacco, and somehow has got himself invited to the family party. That garrulous gentleman is I. And I may say that is quite in character for any St. George's Day. For I have never heard of a real Englishman speaking on that typical English celebration. After all, the Englishman is a man of few words.
In the last three decades, the only St. George's Day addresses delivered in England which I have seen were given by Rudyard Kipling, who was half Scottish, and Stanley Baldwin, his cousin, who was half Scottish and a quarter Welsh, and the son of an Iron Master with business in Glamorganshire. Mr. Baldwin, with his Celtic blood and his pipe and his pigs, his love of the countryside, and his eloquent contempt for eloquence, became the typical Englishman of his time. Tomorrow night, in this City, that gallant soldier, Sir Archibald Nye, an Irishman, will speak for England.
The last occasion on which I took part in the celebration of St. George's Day was in a famous Western City. The toast to the guests was acknowledged by a Frenchman, the toast to Shakespeare was given by a Scotsman, the toast to Canada was given by a gentleman with a resounding Highland Scots name, and I spoke for England. The English Chairman, confused, no doubt, by the Celtic rhetoric and the conviviality of the occasion, called on one speaker to repeat his toast. Discovering his error, the Chairman remarked somewhat unexpectedly, that "The English are the salt of the earth" and the subsequent proceedings interested him no more.
Another recent occasion, which I recall was the 250th Anniversary of what was said to be and I believe is the oldest St. George's Society in the world. It is a Society which remained in existence throughout the American War of Independence and has continued to this day. It is the St. George's Society of Charleston, South Carolina. During the 250 years of its history, nobody had ever made a speech at its celebrations. I was asked to talk to the members on the 250th Anniversary. As a result of my appearance, I can well believe that the next speech, if any, will be made on the 500th Anniversary. This Society met in a little country club which had originally been the vicarage of a church still standing on the other side of a little stream. The Church was built in 1680 or '90 and is known as St. James Goose Creek. It was the habit of the first vicar to place a trumpeter at the door of the Church on Sunday morning. If five or more people turned up, he blew a trumpet and the vicar took the service. If the trumpet did not sound on the other side, the vicar resumed his slumbers. On the occasion when I visited this fascinating club there were some sixty members of the Society present. We met at half past one and until half past three a number of subjects and vintages were intimately and extensively discussed. After the preparatory session, the Club adjourned to elect the officers for the next year.
There were two toasts on the programme--First, the King of England with all his Titles and Orders-Second, The President of the United States. If the company liked the President he was mentioned by name. On the occasion when I was the visitor, Harry was anonymous. I felt like quoting:
"George The Third
Ought never to have occurred One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder."
I began to speak at this luncheon meeting at 5.30 in the afternoon. As I was leaving the Club, a gentleman came up to me and said, "I am a member of this St. George's Society and my name is Connolly. I am also President of the St. Andrew's Society which is holding its 275th meeting next November. Will you come down and be a Scotsman?" I said that I would and I did.
Now this failure of the English to be vocal on the celebration of their National Day is typical of that strange race. In fact, it was recorded many years ago by the same Rudyard Kipling in a not very well known poem called "The Puzzler". This is what it says:
The Celt in all his variants from Builth to Bally-hoo
His mental processes are plain-one knows what he will do
And can logically predicate his finish from his start
But the English-ah! the English are quite a race apart.
Their psychology is bovine, their outlook crude and raw, They abandon vital matters to be tickled by a straw,
But the straw that they are tickled with, the chaff that they are fed with,
They turn into a weaver's beam to beat their foeman's head with.
For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State They arrive at their conclusions-largely inarticulate Being void of self-expression-they confide their views to none
But sometimes in a smoking room one learns why things were done.
Yes, sometimes in a smoking room through clouds of 'ers and "ums"
Obliquely and by inference illumination comes
In telegraphic sentences half nodded to their friends
They hint a matter's inwardness--and there the matter ends.
And while the Celt is talking from Valencia to Kirkwall The English, ah! The English don't say anything at all.
I think I would find them a polite audience to talk to. They would be quite undemonstrative if I insulted them, which I wouldn't do on their birthday. If they saw the joke, they would probably laugh because either they wouldn't believe what I said, or, if they did, they wouldn't care. After all, the worst things about the English have been said by Englishmen. If I praised them, they would not look particularly pleased as they have in their more communicative moments been known to claim most of the cardinal virtues, especially modesty.
In this troubled and turmoiled age in which we live it is the fashion to gird at England. England is mocked by Moscow, pin-pricked by Persia, goaded by Guatemala (as Sir Winston Churchill once said), maliciously and mendaciously maligned by Mc well by an alliterative Senator-and, yet, the whole free world has on balance more reason to be grateful to the English and the French than to any other races. And no proven virtues of justice, fair play, of moderation and of calm philosophic wisdom have such a dwelling place as the ancient land of England.
I think I would have a little fun with them of course to begin with. I would like to tell them that they are the most enigmatic and exasperating people in the world sometimes. They have a great love of beauty and a great toleration for ugliness. They have produced more good poets than any land and probably more pirates, many philosophers, many philanthropists, many stay-at-homes who hymn the glory of England, many wanderers, many mystics, many eccentrics, and, in the ancient days, many saints, many crusted conventionalists who would resist any change in any ancient thing, and, yet, some of the world's most original thinkers and some of the most courageous and inspired reformers. I would tell them that no land has as many lasting loves for endearing and enduring things, and, yet, there is no people in the world that can proudly say as, the English can, that it cherishes no hates.
I think I would like to have a little amusement with them in some of their pleasant contradictions. They call a 'private' school a 'public' school, and a 'public' bar a 'private' bar. Their language is a mixture of Anglo-Saxon, French, Greek, Latin, Celtic, Dutch and American. The English pronounce it or mispronounce it in twenty different ways and each accent is usually only partially intelligible to the other nineteen. The spelling which they have developed throughout the ages is the despair of all who learn their language. I might tell them the story of the Frenchman who fainted in Picadilly Circus when he looked at a sign on which was written, "Cavalcade! Pronounced success", or the despair of the French gentleman who said to his English hostess-"Pardonnez moi, Madame, I cockroach upon your time." She replied, "Not cockroach. Monsieur, encroach." The Frenchman shrugged his shoulders and said, "Ah, these English genders." Here the vicar would call out "Hear, Hear!"
I might remark that although they are in many respects the most nationalistic of all people, they took their Saint, St. George, from Greece, the motto of the Sovereign of England is written in French, the coat of arms of the Prince of Wales is an ostrich feather from Africa and his motto is German. Even the National Emblem is foreign. We, Canadians, took a Beaver from Canada, the Americans took an American Eagle-not the English, they took a Lion from the East and the Unicorn from nowhere except Fairyland.
I would like to speak to them about the Englishman's love of his native land. I wouldn't need to recall to them the beauties of their own country, the infinite riches in a little room--so great a variety of scenery in so tiny a space, the lasting individuality of every coloured county. They would know all about that themselves. For the unique and incommunicable beauty of the English landscape, its sights and sounds, constitute to most Englishmen the strongest of all the ties that bind them to their country
Green fields of England wheresoer Across this watery waste we fare One image in our hearts we bear Green fields of England everywhere!
And it was that great Englishman, Sir John Falstaff, who, (according to the most brilliant amendment of Shakespeare's text) on his deathbed had a nose "as sharp as a pen and babbled of green fields."
After wanderings and criticisms and grumblings and little disloyalties of the tongue all Englishmen come back to an England immovable and eternal.
Well over 90 percent of the people of England live in cities and in the ugly streets that have been the heritage of the first industrial revolution that the world knew. Just as the English countryside is made up of small fields so the English towns are made up of small houses. London today is by far the largest collection of small houses the world has ever seen and from those small houses came men who stood the heat of the desert as well as an Arab, the cold of Murmansk as well as a Russian, the fever of the jungle as well as any Jap. Little men who in the days of the world's tribulation wore England's glory like a common coat and matched the bravery of the brave of all the world, enduring to the end, dying in the last ditch because they knew that therein was entrenched, the last hopes of human freedom. And yet, in spite of his urban birth in a land where the greatest horsepower is heaped and crammed into so small a space, nearly every Englishman's feet are at home on the green sward and his hands are skilful in the rich earth.
May I, recalling my own boyhood memories, and, perhaps, to give comfort to some man or woman of England who is listening to my words, and on this day turns homeward for the healing of the heart, may I tell you some of the things which I remember:-the disorderly order and the orderly disorder of the miraculous countryside, the spring's harmony in the morning symphony of birds in an English garden, great sweeps of dappled sky, the snowfall of apple blossoms, avalanches of sheep falling down the little hills, the lingering Spring, the long twilight, the soft lights and the warm rain, the slow ripening of the fruits of the earth into sweet flavour and great sweetness, the waves of the cornlands rolling to the hills, the whir of pheasant wings and the murmur of wood pigeons, red roofs of houses glowing warm and red peeping through the great friendly trees, the lovely ivied Gothic churches standing like truth itself clear against the English heaven, the little fountains of song from the old orchard, bluebells standing like a skylit water in the azured wood, fields of marguerites and the belfries of nodding grasses, the gorse unprofitably gay, the rambling hedges tangled with honeysuckle and wild roses, the cloth of gold which we call a field of buttercups, the scent of violets and the peeping of pale primroses, the hollyhocks standing like life-guardsmen in the cottage gardens, the haunted streams lovely in their quiet and their flowing, those wistful English birds-the robin singing in the winter and the missel-thrush singing in the tempest, swans floating like billowy sailing ships on glassy waters, the blackbird with its boxwood flute, the robin and the wren, God's Cock and Hen, the chaffinch crying "pink! pink!" on the orchard bough, the skylark at heaven's gates singing, the grenfinch, (himself, his own enjoyment), and through the woodlands the wandering cuckoos calling and the bells of the great cathedrals and the mellow churches filling and flooding the hollows in the hills.
In the First Great War a lonely homesick English soldier wrote two little verses called 'Sportsmen in Paradise'. These were the words which his longing and his love set down in the notebook he carried in his trenchcoat
They left the fury of the fight, And they were very tired. The gates of Heaven were open quite, Unguarded and unwired
There was no sound of any gun The land was still and green; Wide hills lay silent in the sun, Blue valleys slept between.
They saw far off a little wood Stand up against the sky. Knee-deep in grass a great tree stood. Some lazy cows went by ...
There were some rooks sailed overhead, And once a church-bell pealed. "God! but it's England", someone said, "And there's a cricket-field!"
Now, gentlemen, that the make-believe is ended, I would like to say something to you, my fellow Canadians, about the character of the English and their achievements, for which the free world is grateful. Things, which, perhaps, I could not say to the English. All people of noble races take an intense pride in the landscape of their countryside. I have tried to tell you by inference, at least, of the love of the English for their own land, their strange reticences, and their shy love of beauty, of their love of order. On this continent there are men who seem to know all about the feudal system and think it is still in force in England. As a matter of fact, so many of the ancient barriers have been broken down. There may still be a few icicles with monocles but the great majority of the English people are easy friendly people who travel in third-class carriages.
I would say that they are about the fairest people in the world. After all, they taught the world to play games. In fact, they invented many of them and I think you will find amongst them more chivalry in victory and more courtesy in defeat than anywhere else in the world. I remember reading somewhere that Dean Inge once asked an overseas Rhodes scholar what impressed him most at the University of Oxford. The young man answered, "Here are 4,000 young men who would rather lose any game in the world than win it unfairly." I am not so sure that sort of chivalry hasn't cost England many lives.
I admire the capacity of the English for self-criticism. There are always brave English voices in Parliament and they have been raised throughout the ages when an injustice has been done and England has been wrong. And who can forget the magnificent plea of the great Earl of Chatham for the American Colonists and against the use of Indians in the American War of Independence, of the brave appeal of John Bright for peace in the Crimean War, of Macaulay's magnificent oration against the disabilities of the Jewish people, of English men pleading the cause of Ireland, and the Boers. I like to remember that it was the devotion of Englishmen to a great cause that first freed the slaves. I know something of their racial and religious tolerance, which is the hallmark of all civilized peoples. I remember once taking a script of a broadcast to the BBC in the dark days of the last war. In it I told how during the current week there had been only two candidates for the Presidency of the Oxford Union-one, a Jew, and the other, a coloured gentleman from Jamaica. During the same week there had been two candidates only for the Lord Mayoralty of London. They were both Jewish gentlemen. I mentioned these facts, for, it seemed to me, that in a world ridden and riven by hate, turmoiled by intolerance, these two things could not have happened in any other country but England. To my amazement, I was asked for the first time in my life to remove sentences from a script. I asked which and why. I was told that if I spoke the sentences about the Jews, every prominent Jewish citizen in Britain would telephone the BBC on the following Monday morning and complain that attention had been drawn to a set of facts as if they were an exception, when everyone in England accepted them as the rule. My answer was that the request to take the sentences out did the English more honour than the circumstances which made me include them. I took them out.
I like the individuality of the English. (They have often found comfort in the saying of their most mystic poet. It sums up the individualism of the ordinary Englishman--Damn braces, bless relaxes'). Somebody once said about them that every Englishman is an island. And certainly in no literature reflecting the life of a people does one find so infinite a variety of character and temperament as one does in the great panorama of men and women painted with such meticulous care by Shakespeare, by Dickens and by Chaucer. Leigh Hunt said of Dickens that his face had in it the life of fifty human beings. Let us remember that many of his characters still walk the streets of London.
Consider their love of order and their grand discipline, their obedience to the law, their grumblings perhaps, but their willing acceptance of the hard facts of war and privation.
I wonder if you remember these words written by the American authoress Alice Duer Miller
The English love their country with a love Steady, and simple, wordless, dignified; I think it sets their patriotism above
All others. We Americans have pride. We glory in our country's short romance.
We boast of it and love it. Frenchmen when The ultimate menace comes, will die for France Logically as they lived. But Englishmen
Will serve day after day, obey the law,
And do dull tasks that keep a nation strong. Once I remember in London how I saw
Pale shabby people standing in a long Line in the twilight and the misty rain To pay their tax. I then saw England plain.
I like their strange humour, which, as it were, takes the iron out of a man's soul and puts a pleasant irony in its place; that sense of humour "which turns the tears of life into a rainbow," the sense of humour that calls the filthiest trench Regent Street; that sends men into battle singing something remote like 'Tipperary', and while their passionate patriotism is unexcelled can still hide their feelings and make them sing
'Send out my mother, Send out my brother, But, for God's sake, don't send me.'
That lack of feeling is used to hide a deep sentiment. They may be always running away from ideas for they prefer concrete things to abstract nouns. They are always prophesying bad news for themselves, which seldom comes true. Beware of them when they do that. I know that one of their slogans is
'We don't mind fighting We don't mind working But we don't like to be messed about.'
They usually forget their grievances when grief comes. Joseph Conrad once said about them-they give to the joys and sorrows of life a smile that is not a grin and a sigh that is not a sob. They have always shown mercy for their enemy. Cardinal Newman once said about them, that although they had committed many sins and many iniquities, their repentances were always greater than their sins. They always prefer the good to the clever. Some think they are too stupid to understand unpleasant facts. I think they hide them in order to overcome them. You will remember the old countryman, of whom it was written, "Kester never said 'winter'. He always said ‘summer's sleeping'--he never said 'caterpillars', he always said, 'There's butterflies as is to be on my cabbages'. And there was never a bud small enough nor sad coloured enough but Kester did not see within the beginning of the blow." I remember, also, when I was in Coventry during the war, I was given a book about the overwhelming of that City and its Cathedral on the night when desecration passed by and consecration remained. At the end of the booklet after the telling of the story of the calamity that had fallen upon their English town, there was printed in gold letters,
'Oh ye fire and heat Bless ye the Lord Praise Him and magnify Him for ever.'
I like their capacity for nonsense. Englishmen, like Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, made popular that strange illogical logic of the topsy-turvy Limerick and Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It is always pleasant to find that although the English know how to stand on their feet they can also stand on their head.
Foreigners who analyze their character have placed as their chief quality the strength of their will and their ultimate stubborness in apparent defeat. In one of the earliest of the great Anglo-Saxon poems about the Battle of Malden, the old Chief rallying his followers, says,
'The will shall be harder The courage shall be keener The spirit shall grow great as our strength falls away.'
I like their insistence on free speech and on free expression of opinion. They may not always like to listen to reason for one of them once said, 'Don't talk to me about reason. Reason always means what someone else has got to say.'
Mr. Charles Dunning, who used to be our Minister of Finance, once told me that he was dining with the head of Scotland Yard. His host said that the day before some friends of his were driving through Hyde Park when a speaker was engaged in the violent abuse of all policemen in general and Scotland Yard in particular. They stopped their car to listen to the orator. After they had listened for a few minutes, a policeman came up to them, put his head in the window, and said, "Will you please turn off your engine, Sir, they can't hear what the gentleman is saying?"
I like their ability to ignore difficulties and blot out evil memories, recalling only what is pleasant and fair. I like their passion for truth,
'How happy is he born and taught Who serveth not another's will Whose armour is his honest thought And simple truth his utmost skill.'
During the war, I once asked a famous Englishman what single fact had impressed him most during the air raids in London. He told me that as far as he could find out (and he had made many inquiries), no taximan had ever disobeyed a traffic light while the bombs were falling. I sometimes read articles and hear people doubting the realism of the English in these present troubles and wondering whether they know what war is and have the courage to meet its onset. To those who doubt, I need only call to witness the men and women of London, of Coventry, of Hull, and of Plymouth. In their lives and deaths will be found the irrefutable answer.
Sir, we are the heirs and the beneficiaries of the Land we honour today. She gave this Continent her wonderful language moulded for the plain statement of simple truth, for all the lyric music of poetry and its epic glory, for the majestic march of noble prose. Without the songs of England, the prayers of England, the literature of England, the Bible of England, we would be poverty stricken indeed. Two Races have in the days that are gone--set their pattern on the world--the Romans and the English--both steadfast and magnanimous in the hour of victory, both renowned for their law and their discipline and their order. The majesty of English Law is the foundation of our Justice. Throughout the ages it was reformed and remoulded to meet the changing needs of mankind as a wider humanity became the pattern not only for herself but for nations destined to be more powerful than she.
Amongst those who speak her tongue, her poets and philosophers, her scientists, her original inventors, her painters, her musicians, have, in the main, been the greatest and the best. She taught Kings that they could not live by the sword, that the decisions of free men in Parliament should be the supreme earthly law and that every man should have his part in the making of the laws by which he lives. Ever since the ancient days of Greece and Rome, hers was the first great struggle against desnotism and hers the finding of religious tolerance and understanding by peaceful ways. She helped to teach the world that the voice of the minority should be heard and the will of the majority should govern.
Her own freedoms were won by wisdom and valour. Her sons were amongst the great adventurers and discoverers. The settlement of distant lands and their growth to freedom were preeminently of her making. With the glorious land of France, she has for centuries been a refuge for the persecuted and the enfranchiser of the human spirit. The only Civil War she has known for 300 years is the war of ideas and she is amongst the last lands where the blood of brothers will flow in civil strife.
In the days of her supremacy she kept the seas clear and the markets free. Her sons never feared to die in lonely places to prevent the wild fires spreading. When she was the paramount power, in the days that are gone for ever, the American, Santayana, said of the Englishman, "Never since the heroic days of Greece has the world had such a just and boyish Master. It will be a black day for the human race when scientific black guards, conspirators, churls and fanatics manage to supplant him."
In the war that has past no land did more to defend the sanctity and the temples of freedom than England. Since the war none has made greater and more willing sacrifices to extend the boundaries of human liberty. In the creation of free institutions, free governments and free nations, England has been the senior partner in their making. She will never be a sleeping partner in their maintenance.
What stands if Freedom falls? Who dies if England lives? If some of her old power and strength have seemed to wane, there will still remain for the fortification and defence of human liberty the English character and the unbreakable core of its resistance to tyranny and anarchy.
Today no small part of the hope of the world is enshrined in the divine patience which is England and that equally divine impatience which is the United States of America, in the spirit of the ages which is England's living heritage, in the spirit of the age which sends so vigorous a life surging through the United States of America. Let us be thankful for that unquenched hope.
Some 105 years ago, one of the greatest sons of America spoke to the people of England in the Free Trade Hall at Manchester. Exactly a hundred years ago to the day it was my privilege to read on the British radio his words again to a people hammered on the anvil of circumstance. May I send them as a message from this great and generous audience to those of English race who do not forget the land of ancient renown once warm with the love and quick with the toil of those whose memory they hold so dear. Thus spoke Emerson
"And so I feel in regard to this aged England, with the possessions, honours and trophies, and also with the infirmities of a thousand years gathering around her, irretrievably committed as she now is to many old customs which cannot be suddenly changed; pressed upon by the transitions of trade, and new and all incalculable modes, fabrics, arts, machines, and competing populations-I see her not dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she has seen dark days before--indeed, with a kind of instinct that she sees a little better in a cloudy day, and that in storm of battle and calamity she has a secret vigour and a pulse like a cannon. I see her in her old age, not decrepit, but young, and still daring to believe in her power of endurance and expansion. Seeing this, I say, All hail! mother of nations, mother of heroes, with strength still equal to the time; still wise to entertain and swift to execute the policy which the mind and heart of mankind requires in the present hour. So be it! So let it be!"
THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Mr. John Griffin immediate Past President of the Club.