AN ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, THE RIGHT
HON. SIR ESME HOWARD, G.C.M.G., K.C.B.,
P.C., K.C.M.G., BRITISH AMBASSADOR
TO THE UNITED STATUS.
Before a joint meeting of the Empire Club of Canada,
Toronto, the Canadian Club of Toronto, and the
Rotary Club of Toronto, Toronto, Tuesday,
April 27, 1926.
PRESIDENT MCEACHREN, of the Canadian Club extended a cordial welcome to His Excellency and requested Col. Kirkpatrick, President of the Empire Club of Canada, to introduce him.
PRESIDENT KIRKPATRICK, Of the Empire Club, introduced SIR ESME HOWARD, who spoke as follows: Mr. President of the Canadian Club, President of the Empire Club, President of the Rotary Club, honored guests, and gentlemen, I feel really almost overwhelmed at this gathering which has met together in order to meet me here today. I cannot thank you enough for the welcome that you have given me, and I assure you that I shall always carry it away in my heart as one of the pleasantest recollections of my life. Before I begin a speech to such a distinguished gathering as this, I always have to tell them that I have not been born and bred in the way of a public speaker. All my life I have been taught to hold my tongue. But I have occasionally to perform in this way. I am rather fond of telling a story that Mr. Charles Schwab told me a long time ago, which suits me on these occasions particularly well. He has, on his estate in New Jersey, a very fine herd of Guernsey cows, and he told me that on one occasion an old farmer came up to him and said that he had a cow for sale. Mr. Schwab said, "Well, is she a pedigreed cow?" " No, I can't say she is a pedigreed cow." "Well," he said, "has she any Guernsey blood in her?" "No, I can't say she has that." "Well, anyway, is she a good milker?" " No, Mr. Schwab, I can't say she is a good milker, but anyway she is a kind, good-hearted cow, and she will give you all that she can." I throw myself on your mercy.
It is a real pleasure, I can assure you, to be here. , I have been wanting to come here for quite a time, and I have always had to put it off for one reason or another. Now I wish, if I may, to thank the three clubs who have so kindly joined together in order to welcome me on this occasion. I think that it is really most kind of them to have done so, not only because it is a very signal honor to myself as the representative of His Majesty across the border, but also because it enables me, if I may say so, to kill three birds with one speech. Gentlemen, I am always delighted to be in Canadian company, because I hope when I come here that I may hear the impressions and opinions of leading members of Canadian society on all kinds of subjects which naturally are of great interest to me in Washington. Unfortunately on this occasion you have asked me to give you my impressions and opinions about various questions, and unfortunately for you I have to do so. I should like to say this, that since I spent two years about twenty years ago under Lord Bryce at Washington, some of the pleasantest recollections I have were connected with the acquaintances which I made, and the friendships which I made with leading Canadian citizens who came down there in order to transact Canadian business; and also with the occasional trips which I have been able to make to this country. I have watched with really heartfelt joy the development of this country, as to the future of which I imagine no one can entertain any doubts whatever. You, I dare say, have your difficulties, just as we in England have our difficulties, and just as over the border our friends also have some difficulties, but I imagine that, all things considered, there could hardly be found in the world any country so little afflicted with dangers and difficult problems as Canada is. For that reason, I look to Canada to play a very great part in all questions affecting the Empire, and above all in the all-important question of maintaining Anglo-American relations on a sound, friendly and healthy footing-than which, I believe, there is really nothing more important for the welfare and prosperity of every member of this great commonwealth of nations which we call the British Empire, and also for the maintenance of the peace of the world.
Now, gentlemen, it seems to me that looking into the future, the three greatest international problems that there are, are, firstly, the evolution of the British Empire, secondly, our relations with the United States, and thirdly, the maintenance of peace in Europe. I do not know rightly which I should put first; but perhaps the peace of Europe is the most immediately urgent.
The evolution of the British Empire is taking place slowly and steadily. The structure has changed very much since I was a boy, and is always tending more and more to the recognition of equality in political rights for all partners under the Crown which is the symbol, and must remain the symbol of a closer bond than that which unites us to any other friendly people. What shape it will ultimately take it is impossible to foresee, and I doubt if it is wise to try, but we have just to continue, to go on building, with the materials that we have to hand, and we have to meet the wants of the moment, as the British constitution was built up stone by stone and brick by brick without hard and fast rules which may hamper and retard our general development. For this, constant intercommunication and conference is required; without frank and free communications between us, suspicions which are often and generally unfounded, are apt to arise even between the most friendly of partners; and such intimate discussions, I think, constitute the corner stone of a good understanding, and are the very stuff of harmony for the Commonwealth that we have before us. I think it is useless, gentlemen, here to think of talking of those who cannot feel any thrill of pride in the past of our Empire, or any hope in the future of this wonderful commonwealth of British nations. To me, I confess, it is always a source of wonder and of inspiration.
I feel that those who have pride in being citizens of such a Commonwealth should learn, as Mr. Chamberlain said once long ago, to think imperially. I do not think that he meant by that that we should swell ourselves out with vain pride at the idea of the size or the wealth or the number of the inhabitants, or the potential resources, or-to put it bluntly-in mere quantitative materialism of that kind, but I think he did mean that we should feel the advantages of being part of this great historical structure, that we should desire to know about the other different parts of it, and endeavor to make this great heritage of ours of use and of benefit, not only to ourselves and to each other, but also to the world at large. The interest in our Empire is a spur to education, and more complete knowledge of the problems, political and economic, of it, are really a liberal education in themselves. There is no part of the world that our interests do not touch, and a fairly good knowledge of imperial problems therefore implies an almost universal education. Before I was in Washington I was for some time Ambassador in Spain, and when I was there I frequently found myself called upon to handle questions that were of interest to Canada and to Newfoundland. At Washington, of course, the Canadian interests are second only to those of Great Britain, and those of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are all coming to the fore. As a British diplomat, therefore, I am daily compelled to interest myself in imperial problems, and from this can deduce the rapid advance that all the countries of the British Commonwealth are making both at home and abroad. These matters are really of surpassing interest, and I cannot but believe must be the same to all those who reflect upon them. The ideal of a free association of nations of the same speech, of the same laws, the same blood, the same political institutions, working together for the benefit of the world, is so splendid; there has never been anything, I believe, in the history of the world so splendid before. I have no hesitation in repeating, while keeping that before our eyes, Mr. Chamberlain's admonition to us that we try to think imperially, provided we do so in the proper spirit, without pride or self sufficiency, and with the object of being helpful to others as well as to ourselves. I believe that we shall find that is in itself a liberal education.
Now the second great question ahead of us is that of the relations of the British Empire and the United States. Here, fortunately, we are treading on ground which seems to me practically the surest and firmest of any in the whole domain of international relations. Any serious quarrel between the two great branches of the English speaking world, is, I believe and hope, unthinkable. We have lived in peace for well over a hundred years and there is no question of vital importance which divides or can divide us and we have, fortunately I think, reached that point of familiarity and friendship where we can speak very frankly to each other, when we have some divergence of opinion; without taking it amiss.
There is one possible source of trouble and that is, perhaps, economic competition. In the March number of Harper's Magazine there was an excellent article on this subject by Mr. Arnold Toynbee, entitled, "America, England and World Affairs." It is very stimulating to thought and I would recommend it to you without necessarily endorsing all its views. It seems to me that without doubt the struggle for markets in the future will grow increasingly acute and we shall need calm and patient statesmanship to deal with such questions for the very reason that when men begin to believe that their necessities of life, or even the luxuries they have become accustomed to regard as necessities, are in any way threatened or the cost of them increased owing to the competition of others, they are apt to get angry and the general atmosphere becomes very sultry. These economic causes of disturbances are rapidly becoming more widely felt if not always more wisely understood, and hence the necessity of keeping on the lookout for them and of keeping also a cool head in dealing with them.
And now, if I may say a few words more, to come to the last and most urgent problem, and the most important problem, which for the moment overshadows all the others, even that vital danger which Mr. Toynbee speaks about in the article already referred to, namely the Pacific-Asiatic danger, we have this problem-the urgent and immediate one of maintaining European peace. England, as Mr. Toynbee well observes, for the whole century from 1815 to 1914 thought that on the whole owing to her insular position, she could keep, herself out of European entanglements and remain in splendid isolation. The only European war in which she engaged during that time was the Crimean War and that was more Asiatic than European. But in 1914 we were inevitably drawn in and found to our surprise and concern that modern inventions had reduced the twenty-one miles of sea that separates us from the Continent to a mere ditch, and that from now on we must inevitably be more closely concerned with all European affairs.
Up to then the natural and only policy of England, ever since we became a power in the world, was to prevent any one power from dominating Europe, which would have meant the extinction of our own liberties. For this reason we fought with Spain in the 16th century, with France in the 17th, 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries and finally with Germany in the 20th century, as the strength of each threatened to dominate Europe. We fought for our own liberties no doubt in the first instance, but also for the liberty of other nations as well, and this is what is meant by the doctrine of the balance of power which has been so much abused by ignorant critics of history of late.
None of us wants to return to that order of things again. God forbid that we should, for it can ultimately only end in war, and European peace is and must be our main objective. But in order to assist in maintaining peace in Europe we must continue to be intimately connected with all its affairs. We cannot live so indifferent to these affairs as the inhabitants of this North American continent can, for some time to come anyway. For this reason we are practically compelled to support the League of Nations, which has become a vital necessity for us as a great instrument of public opinion for the maintenance of peace. If the League were to disappear tomorrow we should be compelled once again to join some European combination against any country which threatened to dominate the Continent by overwhelming military or economic strength and this would be most dangerous for us, most dangerous for peace and most dangerous for our relations with the United States. We should have to return to the old system of the balance of power which, while it served its purpose in former days by protecting the liberties of individual nations could never protect us from the scourge of war and would not do so in future.
Therefore, gentlemen, it appears to me that the League of Nations, simply regarded as an organ of public opinion by which the smaller nations have for the first time been able to make their voices heard on behalf of peace, is an essential and vital factor for peace since, if by any misfortune it were to break up and disappear we should inevitably fall back into the position in which we were before 1914, with this difference, that with every year that passes the engines of war become more and more destructive and the economic results of war more and more appalling.
I am far from discouraged at the late failure of the League to arrange for the entry of Germany into the Council of the League and so to put the coping stone on the Treaties of Locarno, On the contrary, after reading the speeches of the various statesmen connected with the Locarno Treaties and the Geneva meeting, after seeing how, after their return to their respective countries the principles of Locarno and the maintenance of the League were insisted upon and emphasized as necessary and vital to the interests of European peace, I am convinced that the idea of discussion of common matters of interest in the Areopagus of Geneva has definitely and finally taken hold of the imagination of the people and the belief in it, where formerly there was scepticism, has taken root in their hearts.
The will to have peace, the conviction of the necessity for co-operation by open discussion is growing, I believe, every day. The people mean to have it, the statesmen will be compelled to adopt it and see it through and not all the machinations of the militarist Junkers on the one side, or of red revolutionary Communists on the other, will be able to stem the rising tide in favour of peaceful settlement of disputes for which the League is the best instrument we have to hand.
There are, we must recognize, and will be immense difficulties to overcome. You cannot expect the European nations to change their whole mentality, acquired by centuries of inheritance and tradition, in a year or two, but things are moving in the right direction. A month or two ago, M. Briand, Prime Minister of France, speaking to the Chamber of his meeting the German delegates at Locarno, said: "I went, they came, and we spoke European together," and this phrase, gentlemen, was loudly applauded in the French Chamber. I felt we had indeed entered upon a new era. We have begun to talk European together.
Now you, gentlemen of the Rotary Club, who have been so good as to entertain me today with the Canadian Club and Empire Club, have adopted, I believe, the Golden Rule as your principle in life. It is a great ideal in private life, but we need to have it extended also to international affairs. If all nations are always bent on having their own way in international affairs there can be no peace. We must try to understand the point of view of others and be prepared to give up something of our own. Some sacrifice is always necessary to any fair and square deal. I hope that you Rotarians who are, I believe, growing in every country all over the world, will do your utmost to have the Golden Rule adopted in international politics and in private life. You can do much to help forward the progress of peace by working for this object. It is not Utopian. It is very practical politics for once the majority have this principle well fixed in their minds and have their hearts set on carrying it out we shall hear no more of wars and rumors of wars in any part of the world.
MR. DUNDAS (President of the Rotary Club) expressed to His Excellency the thanks of the meeting.