- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 15 Sep 1910, p. 18-26
- Vaughan, Reverend Father Bernard, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The importance of Clubs and Associations such as the Empire Club. Owing our civilization to the societies formed by man. Reasons for men to associate. The main object of the Empire Club of Canada, to promote the welfare and the well-being of all parts of the whole living organism called the British Empire. Wanting the British Empire to hold her own. A description of the British Empire. The British Empire as what its individual members are; its future greatness dependent upon the members of its different dependencies, and upon the character of her federated citizens. How our Empire is measured. The Empire Club as educator. The grandest thing in life to let God have His way with you. Dangers for our Empire: inordinate love of riches and lack of religion. Some words on the Catholic Church.
- Date of Original
- 15 Sep 1910
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- Full Text
- EMPIRE CITIZENSHIP.
An Address delivered by the Reverend Father Bernard Vaughan before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, on Sept. 15.
Mr. President and Gentlemen:
I am deeply indebted to you in the first place (for having thought of asking me to address you this evening, and secondly, I am very deeply touched to find that in spite of many activities and many affairs which are in progress in this energizing city and which claim your attention, you have responded so generously and so handsomely to the invitation to meet me at this banquet, at which I have the honour to be your honoured guest.
Gentlemen, there are several aspects which I like very much in connection with this Empire Club, but first of all, let me remind you that it is a fine thing for Toronto to possess such a Club as this. You know that it is by means of a Club or of an Association that a man begins to realize himself. It is only when we associate with one another that we begin to understand ourselves, our shortcomings, our successes and our failures. Association, with our fellows gives us a finer education than can be gained on the benches of our schoolrooms. Our education never ceases; it begins in our mother's arms, and does not stop till our hands are folded in death. Without association man is stunted in his growth, his intellect is marred, his heart does not sympathize, his will seems to lose its cunning, and his power and his energy disappear. Competition in some form is necessary to success. This is fully recognized in business matters, and in cases where the margin of profit is fine, competition is often a fruitful stimulant. Thus association helps a man. We owe our civilization to the societies formed by man, and if we find in commercial life much that is of real worth, and in the realms of science and, of art much that is uplifting, much that broadens our views, and compels us to stretch forth our hands in sympathy and welcome with our fellows, it is, dear friends, because people have been brought together, because they have exchanged their views, because they have united their talents and, as in the case of man and wife, each completes and is completed by the other, so in clubs men also by means of association and intercourse are mutually improved and completed by interchange of thought and action.
Accordingly, we see that association is a fine thing. Some people may say, "I don't care for clubs, I much prefer the association of home and family." That is all very well, but for all that we need the association of other men and the mutual exchange of views. It is the living force which vitalizes us, and I feel to-night in speaking to you, an energy such as I rarely experience when alone with that very uninteresting person, myself. We want something more in this world, something of the fighting stuff, something that means not merely defence, but also something of suggestive or aggressive force. If we have a great truth to tell, some great problem, or principle to enunciate, let us lift it up and show it forth to the world. I am sure you feel yourselves indebted for the higher and fuller education of your mind-s and hearts and wills by your association with this vigourous, enterprising and energetic Empire Club.
Men may associate for all sorts of reasons. Some to collect postage stamps, and I have found by experience that many on this side of the ocean club together to procure autographs. Whatever the purpose of an association, the higher its object, the greater will be its force, its vital force, upon our whole being, upon our mental outlook, and upon that triple force of mind, heart and will, which go to form a "Triple Alliance" which cannot easily be broken when they are welded into one resultant power, character.
Now, gentlemen, you all realize that the main object of this Association is to promote the welfare and the well-being, not of one part, but of all parts of the whole living organism called the British Empire. You want to promote her highest interests, you want, no matter where you go, to see that the British flag is kept flying top-mast high and in a clean, crisp, sunny atmosphere. I feel that you are all pressing around the flag, in silence though you be. You are strong men of the strong Dominion, and with your help the flag shall float in every breeze, anal shall remain flying where all may see and honour it. It is a great source of comfort, consolation and encouragement to any man living in the Motherland to come out here and, see such fine vigourous action, such enterprise, such grand business qualities, such strong manhood, such a sense of beauty, such high uplifting ideals, as I have discovered in this Empire Club, at which I am your proud guest tonight.
We want the British Empire to hold her own, as our representative British poet has said in words which thrill my very soul: "Britons, hold your own." Gentlemen, we want the British Empire to hold her own always, no matter how other nations may stand forth, showing their growing strength and their development. It is our business in Canada to do our best, and not to wait and see what others are doing. It is our business, if we can, to set an example to the whole world, and to lift up worthy object lessons to all nations on this planet. We must have the highest aspirations, and we must regard it as a primary duty to keep our Empire from all things that might poison her blood, and bring her to decrepitude and decay. -Our Empire is not merely the greatest, but she is also the most flourishing that the world has yet seen. If we take her geographically, or politically, or commercially or financially, she almost appalls us by what she is, and by what she owns. But let us never forget the story of, the Empires of the past; let us never forget Phoenicia, or Carthage, or Athens, or Rome. Athens with her power over the mind, Rome with her supremacy over man's will. They fell into decreptitude and decay; they died of suicidal corruption.
A man is not what he says, or what he looks, a man is what he is, and we must never forget that our Empire will be what its individual members are, and that its future greatness will depend upon the members of its different dependencies, and upon the character of her federated citizens.
There is only one thing that can live in this world, and that is character, by which I mean life dominated by lofty and holy principles. Nothing else can stand the wear and tear to which a man is exposed in the fever, fret and fire of our modern workaday life. I am sure you will agree with me that it matters very little whether we share a man's views, or whether we like or dislike what he says. We have to find out whether he speaks straight, whether he is straight, whether he goes straight, whether his character is straight. If we (find him straight, we must listen to him though we may not agree with him. We must say "This man, because his life is straight, is needed for our Empire."
Gentlemen, I am sure that you and I have no finer mission in this world than to build up our own individual characters, and we can render no better service, can do nothing half so good for flag, for throne, and for country, as to show forth before all the world a straight, strong religious character. Like individuals, then, who are to be judged by their characters, so is our Empire to be measured, not by her acreage, nor by her financial state, not by her growing population, but by her character. Let her build up character, a character all her own, and let her be an influential, strong, and straight-going Empire, for God gives endurance to the straight and noble character. In this Dominion, of which the Mother Country is intensely proud, you have fine examples of Character. It was the ambition of my life to come out here to see Canada so beloved of the Mother Country, the Dominion which has shown us what children from the Old Land can be and can do, by reason of their loyalty and intense patriotism. Yes, in this granary, in this orchard, in this garden of the Empire, how fine are the flowers, show luscious the fruit, how beautiful the cereals! What a grand country, what sterling enterprise, what noble commerce you possess! Yet these all pale into insignificance beside the youth you have grown, and the manhood you have built up. We are all familiar with the characters of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, of Sir Charles Fitzpatrick, of Sir Thomas Shaughnessy, of Robert Laird Borden, and last, but not least, of Sir James Whitney. These Empirecitizens are all statesmen, men of honour, of prudence, of integrity, men who stand high above any local, parochial, or provincial spirit, men whose ambitions extend to the height, and to the depth, to the breadth and to the width of our ever-expanding world-wide Empire.
I think there is no finer educator than this Empire Club, because it takes out of you all smallness, narrowness and pettiness; it expands your views, it uplifts your minds, it strengthens your wills, it teaches your hearts to sympathize till you feel the heart of the Empire itself pulsating and beating through the organism of your Club. Gentlemen, so live your lives, so act together, be so clean in the discharge of business, so ambitious for good, so strong in your determination to uplift everything with which you come in contact, that our Empire shall through your strong wills hold her own before all the world. You know that there are dangers ahead, you know that our sympathies must not be satisfied with words, but must go forth and express themselves in service in its highest form, which is sacrifice! We have all of us still much to learn in order to train and educate ourselves, to help our Empire to hold her own against all the world. Let us not forget that the individual is the foundation of family life, and that family life is the foundation of oar national life. You and I should endeavour to make the best of ourselves; if our talents are two, let us make them four, if three, make them six, if five, turn out ten; if we have but one talent we must not bury it in a napkin, we must make the best of it, and let the world see how much we can accomplish with a single talent. We can at least show on which side we are; and when we see others slipping from the path of duty and citizenship, when we see them going under, littering the pathway of their lives with lost opportunities and broken vows, let us pity them, but let us never pride ourselves on being better than they, but on the contrary, let us exclaim
"By God's grace I will resist, lest I also fall." Any fool can be vicious, but it takes a hero to be virtuous.
Not long ago I heard of a great philosopher, who wisely said: "When once you get on the inclined plane, everything is greased for the occasion." It is an easy matter to slide down, but not so easy to climb up again. Keep on the broad platform of high principles, and set a determined face against everything that tends to put the nation on the down grade.
Beware of race suicide! Men speak freely today of things that would have astonished men of a generation ago. We are calmly told that there is no such thing as sin, and that there is no more harm in failing to reach J high moral plane than in falling, below a given physical standard. If such principles as these are to be upheld, the microbe of disintegration will soon eat its way into the heart of the Empire. When man and woman have joined hands at God's Altar and have pledged their troth to be loyal till death do them part, they must live up to the duties of their sacred calling. The sacramental state of life for man and woman, is not to unite before God to do God's work, and then to shake their puny fist in His face and say "Thy will may be increase and multiply, but we ignore Thee and defy Thy law." That is race suicide and I define it as sin which is constructive treason against the majesty of God.
I tell you, Gentlemen, the grandest thing in life is to let God have 'His way with you. The only rational attitude to take up before God is that of unconditional surrender, cap in hand, asking for orders and carrying them out, cost what it may. If our Empire is not to suffer like other nations, which are honey-combed with vice through this terrible iniquity, let each one of us uphold this doctrine of submission to the Divine Will, and give Gods a chance with our Empire. Some people say there is no place like home, is that the reason they so seldom go near it? We must build up our homes if we are to build up our Empire. Let us have a home where the mother is the sun, the hearth and the fire, let us have a home ruled by a woman who is the queen of the man's heart and the mistress 'of his house and the fond mother of precious children. If you do not care for your home, force yourself to cultivate a liking for it, make it the centre where to find that sympathy and happiness which you so much need, and where you may educate yourself and those around you to become worthy citizens of the world's greatest Empire.
Besides the dangers referred to, there are other dangers for our Empire. Inordinate love of riches is one of them. I like to see you prosperous; nothing would please me more than to hear that you were all millionaires. Yet in a sense I should pity you, because I find that as a rule, the millionaire is too dyspeptic to eat or to drink, too anxious to sleep; and he is too much afraid to meet his fellows lest they should want his money; he is solicitous about his ventures and his investments, because he thinks they might have been put out to '.better advantage. No man today has enough, if some one else has more. I think that the great object of getting riches is to have something more to give. Let us, too, as commercial men, remember that it is far better to give a living wage during our life time, than to sweat our people now and to build palaces for them after we have gone hence.
Another great danger to our Empire in the present day is lack of religion. How different is the state of religious life in the Old Country now, compared with what it was a couple of generations ago! I gladly recognize that we have amongst us men and women of a grand type, whose lives are influenced by religion, but let its judge a religion by the manner in which its members are practising it. A religion that does not enter into a man's life, that is put on the shelf with the Bible for the week, or put on only with the silk hat and frock coat each Sunday, is not the religion that is going to help a man to build up character. If our characters are to be clean, sweet, strong and sublime they must be inspired, influenced, and completed by religion. Do people go to church in London? In Mayfair, where I live, the hub of the Empire, the very wealthiest part of the whole Empire, the district where its most influential citizens are dwelling, churches are being pulled down to make way for flats, for mansions, for whatnot! I dare not tell you how small a percentage of people in England go to church. You would not expect to hear of very much church-going, when I tell you that the birth rate in a single generation has fallen from 35 to 23 per 1,000. You may be sure that religion is failing to fulfill its purpose, if it does not help a man to build up his character to wrestle with his passions, to fight against the spirit of worldliness, and if it does not teach him self-reverence, self-control, self-sacrifice before his fellows, and self-abasement before his Saviour. For myself, I want to have the best religion or none! It is not for me to tell others what form of religion they must accept; and if they find fault with me for not liking theirs, it simply means that they consider my judgment is wrong. As a matter of fact, I have very good taste in the matter of religion! It is certain that my religion has immeasurably helped me all my life through, and even now, when I am approaching the grave, I can declare that I have never been disappointed in my Mother the Church, though I may often have saddened her. My business this evening is not to advocate one form of religion more than another, but I do want you to live up to what you believe to be true. When men tell you that they are going to teach you a moral law, without teaching you about the Moral Law-Giver, ask them to keep their morality to themselves. They are trying to do this in France, and the result is Hell. I hope that French Catholics from Canada will go back to Christianize their motherland. Poor France, she is the eldest Daughter of the Church. She cannot get along without religious teachers to educate her children. She can be nothing but Catholic or Agnostic. She is such a splendid nation, she has such magnificent qualities, such a missionary spirit, such a tremendous sense of the fine arts, and such wondrous captivating powers that I would that, like the prodigal son, she might be brought back to feel the arms of the Saviour once more around her.
And now let me tell you in conclusion, how thankful I am to you for your patience and indulgence in listening to me; Let me say that, in my opinion, not only the oldest but the finest supernatural institution on earth, the greatest association that the world has seen, is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has lived for 2,000 years, she will not die, she cannot die. She is vigorous, youthful and energetic after twenty centuries of strenuous life. Let her do her work. You cannot have finer patriotism than that which is grown on Catholic soil, for the finest bloom flourishes on trees whose roots go deepest. Catholics are bound to be patriotic in the measure in which they are true to- their church. Gentlemen, we do not know what will be the future of our Empire, but we do know that if we are to be true to her, if we are to give her cause to be proud of us, we must so live our lives in the sight of our fellow-men that should the day ever come when the New Zealander shall stand on London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's, he may be forced to point across the ocean to this Dominion of Canada and to exclaim, "The flag is flying yonder still, Britons! Canada holds her own!" In King George and Queen Mary, we have sovereigns of character, and fine leaders of society. I have always admired them. They are true to one another, devoted to their home, fond of their children, and interested in every part of the Empire. The King knows his Empire better than any sovereign before him has done. He comes to us fresh as a sea breeze-our Dreadnought King. Let us be true to King,, to Country, to Empire! King George, we hail thee, King of England, Ruler of the Empire, and to-night we shall give a special meaning to the words we sing: "Long to reign over us, happy and glorious, God save the King!"
Gentlemen of the Empire Club, let your lives be dominated, inspired and actuated by lofty principles, and your characters will be an object lesson to all the world.