- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 1 Dec 1910, p. 110-116
- Hawkes, Arthur, Speaker
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- Item Type
- Remarks on the English habit of dropping "g's" and adding "h's" in their speech. Something in this country that we have got that England has not, and a few things that England has got that she might well get rid of. Showing the Old Country that we can raise better men here than she can send us. Considerations about the political situation in England about which we are all too apt to be blind, and reasons for it. Evidence of partisanship in "The Globe." The infallible sign of the Britisher who has become a real Canadian. The increasing influence of the Labour members of the House of Commons. The nature of the British Constitution which allows the expansion of labour and encourages the man who works with his hands to feel that he is also a citizen of the great Empire. Progress in the social conditions of the people. What the immigrant finds when he comes to us here. Looking forward to the day when in that Old Country, and here, the words of the great Puritan, Milton, [quoted] will be splendidly true.
- Date of Original
- 1 Dec 1910
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- Full Text
- EMPIRE AND DEMOCRACY.
An Address delivered by Mr. Arthur Hawkes before the Empire Club-of Canada, Toronto, on Dec. 1, 1910,
Mr. President, my Lord Bishop, and Gentlemen
Two or three years ago I was outside the front of my house looking at some flowers, and a bearded little man came up the walk and said, "Beg pawdon, sir, do you want any gardening done?" "No." "Well, you have a garden here, don't you? Do you want anything done to it?" he said. I said, "Yes, w.: have a garden, but my wife and I make a. hobby of looking after these few flowers. Are you a gardener, too?" "Yes, sir, but I will do anything you like; any odd jobs about the 'ouse. Perhaps you want something done in the fall? Well, I can come any time you like and do am, jobs you've got." "Do you live around here?" "Yes, I live on Hoak." "Live on what?" "Hi live on Hoak avenue, across there. My name's Hunt, Half red Hunt." I said, "Yes, well, I will send for you. You are from England, I suppose, aren't you?" "Yes, sir, 'ow did you know that?" That man came to Canada five years ago, and when he had been here a year and a half he went home and then came back again, because he found his second home better than the first.
The Englishman who drops his h's and adds them where they should not be, generally does it because of ignorance, but the ignorant Englishman is not the only one who does some despite to the English language. I remember when I was a very young reporter I heard a great English noble-a Liberal at that-going through a speech in which he was continually dropping his g's and never stopping to pick them up. This is an affectation of the Englishman. I want to mention how the members of the peerage drop their g's, because in a few weeks we shall have returned to us George Tate Blackstock and Colonel Denison's brigade, and they will give us to life and to the manner born examples of how to drop the g's. Oh, yes! the Prime Minister drops his g's; this is an acquired habit with him. I used to hear Mr. Asquith when he did not drop his g's, and now he does; he may soon drop his majority. But you find, as a rule, that the Englishman in this country can only open his mouth to put his foot in it. It sounds ridiculous.
There is something in this country that we have got that England has not, and we are minus a few things that England has got that she might well get rid of. Those of us who do know England, therefore, very seldom speak about it, and when I talk about knowing England, I mean England, not Pall Mall, not the Privy Council, but rural England, the average man, the average woman and the average child. There are a lot of people who come to this country and they think they know it when they have been to lunch at the Toronto Club, and been here and to Vancouver in Sir Thomas Shaughnessy's or Dan Mann's private car. They do not know anything about the country. We think we are a mighty clever lot of people in this city, but we are not Canada. The man who is making Canada is the fellow who is coming down from the other side of the Saskatchewan with a yoke of cattle and a load of wheat, getting off his waggon to keen himself warm! wondering if the frozen ground will break his waggon axle; not those of us who are sitting up nights figuring out how much toll we can take off the load of wheat before it reaches Liverpool.
If there are Englishmen here who think they know England, they will agree with me that often enough when one of them goes back to some village, one who left it years ago for Canada or the United States, people who knew him before he went away marvel at the change in him. There is an intelligence and quality about him he never had in the Old Land. They do not quite know how it is, but we know it is because he has got some things that Canada has got and he has get rid of some things that he took to Canada. Did you ever meet an ex-faun labourer on the prairie whose accent tells you where he came from, even if he mixes it with a little Ottawa slang? You will find that this man a few years ago was perhaps eking out a miserable existence in Devonshire. You will find that he has got a homestead of 160 acres, partly under crop, and an illimitable future before him. Did you ever consider that where that man came from he bore the badge of servility which no man need bear in this great country. But if this country has got any great contribution to make in the future of the Empire (and I am an Imperialist through and through and through) it is going to be made because we can show the Old Country that we can raise better men here than she can send us, and it is being done every day.
I had the great advantage this summer of travelling all the way between Bristol and the Rockies with a delegation of Bristol men. They were greatly impressed by the country. They were even impressed by the congestion of traffic at the corner of King and Yonge streets, Toronto, but they said with one consent that the thing that impressed them the most was the quality of the people, the quality of the people coming out of the factories, the wage-earners. They had been in our crowd at the Exhibition and they said there was not a city of five times the size of Toronto in the Old Country that could produce a crowd in any way that would compare in mind, body or estate with the people who come to the Toronto Exhibition. I say just so far as the Old Country can bring the people up to that level, just so far is it going to be a great delight for us to remain in partnership with it and see the Empire flourish and grow like a green bay tree.
And if I am right there are some considerations about the political situation in England about which I think we are all too apt to be blind occasionally; partly because of the natural limitations of human nature and partly because of our newspapers. They think we are Imperialists, but they are like the Irishman a few years ago whose two wives had preceded him to a better land, and when asked about directions for his own funeral, said, "Bury me betwixt the two of them, but let my head lean a little towards Bridget." I think we have a little of this in the election reports in The Globe, and I think equally unmistakeable evidence of partisanship in some of the other newspapers. I am rather sorry for this, because, as I have said before, if we have any contribution to make to the solidarity of the Empire it has got to be on somewhat different lines from what they are operating on in England
And in that regard I would venture the advice (though there are two fools in the world-the one who gives advice and the one who takes it) not to be afraid of innovations that are proposed to be made in England. What is the case against the British mind and British man and British manufacturer in this country? It is this, that he thinks that everything should conform to his standard, whereas we know if he wants to succeed here, either as a citizen or as a seller of goods, he must adapt his methods to the conditions as he finds them. Do not accept partisan statements; investigate the conditions for yourselves. May I give you what I consider to be the infallible sign-the sign infallible-of the Britisher who has become a real Canadian. It is that he finds as he goes along a curious but wonderful detachment from the political controversies and partycries of the Old Land. That detachment enables him-if he has any intelligence at all-to discriminate between the things, as I have said, which England has, which we have not, and the things which we have that England has not, but ought to have.
My brother wrote to me about three years ago and asked me, "What do you think about the Jarrow bye-election," and I said, "What do you think about Charlie Hymen leaving the Cabinet?" My sympathies are with both parties in England because I recognize what a vehement partisan is apt to forget, that whether a man is a Liberal, Tory, Radical or Socialist, our Empire produces men that cannot help but love their country. I will not be a party to writing down any man in the Empire a traitor until he takes arms against the Empire. Why? Because, when I consider the whole course of our history, whether political, social, or any other mere machinery that we use, I know perfectly well that the man who has the courage to stand up and be in the minority today is apt to prove to be in the majority next year. They viewed things around the British Empire as going to the everlasting bow-wows because the Reform Bill was going to be passed in 1832. I remember when a great many of our friends in Great Britain thought we were on the edge of destruction because the agricultural labourer was going to have a vote, but after he got a vote the Tory party remained in power seventeen years out of twenty following that measure.
(After a few observations on the Suffragette question, the speaker referred to the increasing influence of the Labour members of the House of Commons.)
Mr. President and gentlemen, the prosperity, the political prosperity, that is enjoyed by Great Britain and by us here, is the result of the British basis of legislation, the calling to the councils of the King those whose judgment has been proved of value to their country by the masses of the people. There is no going back on that question-not at all. Shall we mourn for the decay of the British House of Commons because the representatives of the toilers are therein, and go back to what arc called the more glorious days of Gladstone? What were the more glorious days? Within living memory, representatives of boroughs were bought and sold even as the cure of souls was bought and sold in the market place--the days when classical quotations flourished in the House of Commons--those were the days when corruption was most rife. When the elder Pitt became Prime Minister he did so on the understanding that the Duke of Newcastle would have charge of the Secret Service-the corruption fund.
There is, I believe, a well authenticated instance on record of a Prime Minister who entered the House of Commons one night with his particular friend in the Cabinet, and was thus addressed by his friend: "Billy, I can't see the Speaker." "Can't you," said the Prime Minister, "I can see two!" Do you want to go back to those days? I will venture, Mr. President, to bring a witness as to assertions made about Labour representatives in the House of Commons. On the 14th of July, 1909, during the sitting of the British House of Commons, a certain nobleman-a real earl-charged a Labour member with being drunk, and a hub-bub arose and the Labour member resented it, and said he was not drunk. A withdrawal was called for, and during the delay the Labour member got very excited and called the man who had accused him of being drunk, "a liar." The Chairman asked for a withdrawal of that; the Labour member was angry and would not withdraw it, and the Chairman told him to leave the House. He left the House. Next day the Prime Minister moved that the incident be expunged from the records of the House. Mr. Asquith said: "A noble lord opposite made a most offensive and injurious imputation on the character and conduct of another honourable member. It must be taken that that imputation was wholly without foundation in fact, as the noble lord himself at a later stage the same night not only withdrew it, but apologized for having made it."
Mr. Arthur Balfour, ex-Prime Minister, seconded the resolution to have the record of this incident expunged from the journal of the House, and said: "The right hon. gentleman has based his motion upon a most legitimate desire which he and the rest of the House have for making it absolutely clear, in the most explicit and formal way, that the charge originally levelled against the honourable member concerned, by my noble friend, is absolutely without foundation in fact. I was present all through the unfortunate episode, and everyone must deeply deplore that an unfounded charge should have been made. I desire to say that, in my opinion, the honourable gentlemen below the gangway (the Labour members) have frequently, and indeed generally, not merely obeyed the orders of the House, but have set an example which might well be followed in other parts of the House, an example of listening without interruption to arguments and appeals from which they profoundly dissent."
Mr. President, my object in taking this ground, which I knew would not be very palatable to some of my friends, is this, to show that while in other countries there have been violations, extreme measures, by those who have come up from what may honourably be called lower social conditions, yet, in the Mother of Parliaments, in the country where poverty is an appalling burden upon the people; where their physique is not what it used to be; in a country, the condition of which may well bleed the heart of any native-born Canadian who goes and explores the worst side of it; the Labour party-extreme, if you like, in their views-won that tribute from the greatest of aristocrats in the House of Commons.
The very nature of the British Constitution allows the expansion of labour and encourages the man who works with his hands to feel that he is also a citizen of the great Empire; and when this man comes to us here, what do we find? We do not find that he hasp any revilings against the country he has left-not at all. We find that he feels he has escaped from harder conditions of life, and come into a more genial life, full of hope and promise. And it is our blessed privilege in this country to have growing up amongst us men of this stamp-men who feel that the Old Country belongs to them, and that this country belongs to them--a feeling which cannot help but prove beneficial to our mutual relations.
I am not one of those afraid of new innovations-who think there is a danger of the traditions and customs of the past being overthrown. Countries like ours do not go headlong to the devil. Every now and then we are told there is danger, but all along there has been progress in the social conditions of the people, and when the immigrant comes to us here he finds that some of the things which have been to his disadvantage in the Old Land do not exist here. He feels that he has got a share in this great, big, new and wide country. It is in that there lies some hope for those who are left behind him and for that country to which he has come. Mr. President, I venture to look forward to the day when in that Old Country, and here, the words of the great Puritan, Milton, will be splendidly true (and it is the only piece of poetry I know)
"Methinks I see in my mind, a noble and puissant nation, rousing herself like a strong man after sleep, and shaking her invincible locks; methinks I see her as an eagle mewing her mighty youth and kindling her undazzled eyes at the full mid-day beam."