- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 28 Apr 1921, p. 182-191
- Harvey, Sir John Martin, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Making the all-red route starting from the east of Canada and going right across the continent, and then crossing down to Australia, India, Africa, and New Zealand. Now possible because there is a chain of theatres stretched from one end of Canada to the other. Encouraging actors in England to make the journey. The success of the current tour. Asking ourselves how this Empire stands: firmer and wider than ever before. Looking back to see four separate efforts to destroy the Empire, each one followed by a period of expansion. Remembering the day in Plymouth when the first Canadian contingent arrived. A story about a certain body of frontiersmen, serving to show the loyalty and courage which emanates from some of the old Lion's "pups." Remaining vigilant to danger. The Canadian characteristic of living in the future. The speaker concludes with the recitation of "A Chant of Love For England."
- Date of Original
- 28 Apr 1921
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- THE SPIRIT AND COHESION OF THE EMPIRE
AN ADDRESS BY SIR JOHN MARTIN HARVEY
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
April 28, 1921
PRESIDENT MITCHELL: Gentlemen, There are many links of Empire. We who have lived through the past six or seven years know what these links are. We know that they are strong links of an immense chain which binds the different parts of the Empire together. One of the links is our common English language and our common English literature and our English drama. Today we have to speak to us one of the greatest living exponents of English drama. (Applause) Sir Martin Harvey comes from the Old Country to us. From the centre of culture and all English drama he comes to us not as a stranger; he has been before this Empire Club on a previous occasion, and I am sure you will welcome him as the speaker of today.SIR JOHN MARTIN HARVEY
My Lord, Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Empire Club,-First of all I have to thank you for giving me such a splendid and hearty welcome and I also want to thank
Sir John Martin Harvey was educated at King's College School, London, and studied drawing and painting at the Slade and at Heatherley's. He made his first appearance at Old Court Theatre, later joined one of Wyndham's companies, and was with Sir Henry Irving for many years. He has managed the Lyceum, Prince of Wales, Court, Royalty, and Apollo theatres. He has produced a number of Shakespear's plays with marked success and is a welcome guest to Canada because of what he is and the ideals he represents.
you for the very excellent lunch. (Laughter) That sounds very much like a shout of derision. I meant it that time, Gentlemen--(laughter)--because as I sat down for lunch with a Lord on my right, my rememberance was stirred to repeat to him a grace which I heard during the war. You know, we sometimes went pretty hungry on the other side during the war-I may say we didn't always sit down to such a splendid lunch as that of which we have just partaken. We didn't sit down to very much. With the exception of a white table-cloth an oasis of war-bread with a little margarine scraped on top of it, was coupled with a little weak tea. I may say that we were very thankful to get even the little we did get when we remembered the difficulties and dangers and privations which our men overseas were suffering, and we were glad to do our small share. This calls to my mind a grace I heard delivered by a Catholic priest, an old friend of mine; as he contemplated this vast oasis on the table he said, "Good Lord, Thou who didst multiply the loaves and fishes art surely able to do the same with fewer dishes. If they can our tummies fill 'twill be a blessed miracle." (Laughter) This seems to me something similar to the difficulty which I am in at present, as I have given no title for my address. I rather like to wait until the eleventh hour for inspiration to come from the circumstances and the surroundings, and on an occasion of this sort the grace which was just said has given me my start. Some years ago I remember being a guest at your Club in this hall, but there was not quite the same attendance as you have here today, but still there was a very distinguished attendance, and I was then able to tell you that we were here over in Canada to prove the possibility of an English company coming to Canada to travel from east to west and back again to the east entirely and solely on Canadian territory. (Applause) Perhaps some of you gentlemen may remember that occasion. That feat has now been accomplished, and I am very proud to tell you that we have succeeded beyond our wildest expectations. It was the idea then, seven years ago, to make an all-red route, starting from the east of Canada and going right across the continent, and then crossing down to Australia, India, Africa, and New Zealand.
That idea wasn't carried out at the time, because war intervened, but it is possible now, most distinctly, to make that all-red route, and it is a very proud privilege indeed to us that it is now possible to make the entire tour throughout the British Empire. That was not considered possible at that time as the war intervened but it is now more than possible because there is a chain of theatres stretched from one end of Canada to the other. When we go back to our old friends on the other side we are going to get as many of the best actors that we can persuade to come over (applause) and nothing but the very best talent will suffice. I may say that I have advised them very strongly to make the adventure, because in our experience during the last few months we have played right across to the coast and back again, the tour lasting for twenty-two weeks, and we have met with nothing but the most boundless hospitality on every side. We have met with the most wonderful audiences, and I think that we have been appreciated wherever we have gone. Our tour has undoubtedly been a great success, and we have played before some very critical audiences who approve nothing but the best. When I get back I am going to tell my colleagues that when they come over here, nothing but the best will do in Canada. (Applause) They must put their best leg forward, and also the best material which they can obtain, and I am sure if they do so they will have some of the best audiences in the world. Now Gentlemen, I see that I have made a start and still there is no name to my address. (Laughter)
I intend, Gentlemen, to speak on a far more serious subject. I don't flatter myself that I can say anything of the British Empire that will be of much value, but I hope that what I shall say you will consider worth listening to.
Let us come down to the root of the matter at once and ask ourselves how this Empire stands. I ventured to say in a lecture that I delivered in the early days of the war that I believed the Empire would emerge from it stronger than ever, and I am glad to say that events have proved the truth of that prediction, for history has again repeated itself. History has again repeated itself in this last attempt to smash the British Empire and she stands firmer and wider than ever before. You know, Gentlemen, there is some extraordinary tonic which the Anglo-Saxon needs to goad him to the exercise of his supreme energies, and the effort to smash him seems to give him that tonic. (Laughter) Looking back, Gentlemen, we see four separate efforts to destroy us and each one seems to have been followed by a period of expansion, and it must be a matter of very great annoyance to our enemies to face that fact. There was the effort, you remember, of Philip of Spain and his Armada, and shortly after began the colonization of India, followed by a charter which Queen Elizabeth gave to the East India Company. Then followed the great expansion of this Dominion, on which a charter was granted in 1617 to the Gentlemen Adventurers of Hudson Bay. Then followed the design of Napoleon, which came to such a disastrous end on the field of Waterloo, to be followed by vast expansion of Imperial vitality; and lastly we have seen during the last few years the dormant loyalty to our flag leaping into sudden life at the threat of the latest of our wouldbe-conquerors. Gentlemen, the situation is summed up by a most delicious story I heard the other day. A Tommy Atkins was philosophising on the subject. He said, "Yes, you keep on pulling the lion's tail, you go and give it a good old pull and you give it a good old tug and you give it a final twist, and while you are giving it the final twist she has a litter of pups" (laughter) and what a magnificent litter of pups, Gentlemen, from every quarter of the globe, from India, Australia, New Zealand, from Africa, from Canada, to mention only a few of the big places from which her sons flew to the help of the old mother country. Gentlemen, that day in Plymouth when the first Canadian contingent arrived was a sight which will never be forgotten. Those thirty transports which followed each other slowly and majestically across the Atlantic, escorted by British warships-that was surely the greatest and most inspiring spectacle that ever floated on the bosom of the ocean as it came to help in the defence of the Empire. Think of the great loyalty and highest gallantry which animated it.
I want to tell a story, it is a good story. It is about a certain body of frontiersmen, and serves to show the loyalty and courage which emanates from some of the old Lion's "pups". This little incident which I am going to tell you of had its inception at Moose Jaw. In the early days of the war a number of these frontiersmen offered their services to the war office, but as they were not recognized as a regular unit they were not accepted. They had done invaluable service under the leadership of Colonel Driscoll in the South African war as "Driscoll's Scouts". When they were told they were not wanted by the war office they said, "We will supply our own horses and equipment and if need be pay our own fares to England." Still their help was refused. God forgive the lack of vision of these short-sighted gentlemen in the war office. Here were some of the most able, handy and courageous men in the Empire volunteering their services and they were turned down. The frontiersmen, however, were determined to go over and they said, "Will you take us if we charter our own ship and go over to France?" The war office said, "No". Just about that time a company of the Princess Pats were passing through Moose jaw, and the frontiersmen of course crowded around them. They got around the railway officers and persuaded them to lend them an old coach which was run into a siding. Into that they crowded, and coupled it on to the end of the train containing the Princess Pats, and pulled out of the station to the cheers of the crowd. (Applause)
By hook or by crook they eventually got to Southampton, and there they stuck. The war office would not move and neither would the frontiersmen. (Laughter) Colonel Driscoll in the meantime was working the authorities for all he was worth endeavoring to get them to recognize these men who had come such a long distance to fight for the Empire. "Here I have", he said, "800 of the finest scouts in the British Empire and they won't let them fight!" At last he succeeded in his efforts and the frontiersmen were changed into the 25th Service Battalion of Royal Fusiliers and they were sent to fight the Germans in East Africa. Many of the bravest of these brave fellows were killed in the jungles of that distant land. It is perhaps one of the cruelest and one of the least well known episodes of that far-flung front of ours. It is terrible to contemplate that these brave men lost their lives in the wilds of East Africa. The lions and tigers of that vast forest smelled the carnage from a distance and devoured numbers of these poor fellows who were so badly wounded that they could not crawl to safety. This is one of the most terribly tragic episodes and one of the least heard of chapters in the story of this wonderful empire. Perhaps you will be surprised to know that I am very proud of being honorary lieutenant of the Legion of Frontiersmen. (Applause) I was made so by Colonel Driscoll, our old chief, for some recruiting I did during the war along with two other frontiersmen in my company, Mr. McCloud and Mr. Philips.
Now Gentlemen, I just wanted to tell you this little story in order to show you how that adventurous spirit which blazed the trail across this great Dominion of Canada is not dead or even stifled, for when the Empire is in danger the same spirit animates the men of today as it did of old in helping to keep the Union Jack unfurled and unstained upon the farthest frontiers of the Empire. (Applause)
But, Gentlemen, we have to be vigilant, for if the great danger of invasion from without is past for the time being, other dangers and greater dangers come from within, surrounding us, and seeking to sap the foundations upon which our empire is built. It is the usefulness of a society like this Empire Club that it reminds us of these dangers in order to bring them into the light of day and to expose them. It is unquestionably the British way to allow these people rope enough with which to hang themselves. It is a sound and excellent policy if it is not allowed to lull us into a false sense of security. (Applause) There is a danger that if we do not recognize and deal with these forces which are at work they may do incalculable harm. We do not want to curtail the liberties of the people but we want to bring these forces out into the open. (Applause) Fresh air and publicity are the best means to cure the ills of the body politic. Of course, Gentlemen, there are other forces at work-forces which are healthy and natural--and such forces have need for national expression--I almost said self-determination. (Laughter) That term, between ourselves, has been so prostituted of late as to have lost its honesty. (Applause) There is a need for national expression which is an entirely different thing and is not unfavourable to society. After all, our big family has now grown up, and hard it is for the little gray Mother to see it, just as hard as it is for a father to see his son grow up and break away from him to lead his own life. It is a hard moment for all fathers to see that. But it is a harder moment for all mothers to see their daughters break away and go out into the world. It is hard indeed for the little gray Mother to see this and to know that she has lost control of her children, but she must trust now that those practices and ideals that were taught them will not be forgotten, and that they will not forget their old mother. (Applause)
Go see her sometimes, Gentlemen, and you will be repaid very well for your time. Take your troubles to her, she has grown wise, and will take you into her bosom and do all she can for you. Remember, Gentlemen, that she is crushed under heavy burdens; and do not grudge her a ship or two. Do not break away from those ideals to which you have for so long clung tenaciously; cling to them as your forbears have done. Remember, Gentlemen, that you inherit qualities of which you ought to be and, I know, are proud. Do not forget, Gentlemen, that it was George Washington who warned those who were breaking away from the Empire at the time that they belonged to the best and bravest of the colonists. It was he who said that they were taking away with them the best blood and brains in the land.
Nothing has impressed me so much, Gentlemen--and I have travelled considerably over this dominion of yours--nothing has impressed me so much as the fact that Canada seems always to be living in the future. It is one of the most marked characteristics that I met with. It is not yesterday, that is past; it is not today even, it is tomorrow for which Canada lives. I remember an incident that occurred when I was living at Edmonton some time ago. I met a man, an old Scotchman, who had come to Canada just to see the country. He wanted to see what sort of a place it was. I may say that he had a very warm spot in his heart for the country from which he came, but he was so delighted with this place and with its institutions that he sent home for his family, he told his boys and girls to come out and settle down out here as soon as they could, which they did. I was in Regina some time ago and was touring around the city and I was shown the capital*, and do you know, Gentlemen, that the capital which they have built lies a couple of miles out of the town.! (Laughter) I enquired why the capital was so far away out of the town, and they said, "That is nothing; the capital will be in the middle of the town in a few years time." (Laughter)
Well, Gentlemen, you know that Americans will tell you that the nineteenth century belonged to the United States, but I say that the following centuries belong to Canada.
Before I sit down, Gentlemen, I should like to repeat to you a few lines I came across some time ago and which have expressed the feelings of the Americans for England. You know, Gentlemen, during the war the Germans brought out a Hymn of Hate which I don't remember and don't want to. It was soon followed by
another German hymn of hate for Poland, and you may be sure that the German Hymn of Hate for England also included Canada. The piece which I am going to recite to you is entitled:A CHANT OF LOVE FOR ENGLAND
"A song of hate is a song of hell; "Some there be that sing it well. "Let them sing it loud and long, "We lift our hearts in a loftier song: "We lift our hearts to Heaven above, "Singing the glory of her we love. ENGLAND! "Glory of thought and glory of deed, "Glory of Hampden and Runnymede; "Glory of ships that sought for goals, "Glory of swords and glory of souls! "Glory of songs mounting as birds, "Glory immortal of magical words; "Glory of Milton, glory of Nelson, "Tragical glory of Gordon and Scott; "Glory of Shelley, glory of Sidney, "Glory transcendant that perishes not, "Her's is the story, her's be the glory, ENGLAND! "Shatter her beauteous breast ye may; "The Spirit of England none can slay! "Dash the bomb on the dome of Paul's,- "Deem ye the fame of the Admiral falls? "Pry the stone from the chancel floor, "Dream ye that Shakespeare shall live no more? "Where is the giant shot that kills "Wordsworth walking the old green hills? "Trample the red rose on the ground, "Keats is Beauty while earth spins round! "Bind her, grind her, burn her with fire, "Cast her ashes into the sea, "She shall escape, she shall aspire, "She shall arise to make men free; "She shall arise in a sacred scorn, "Lighting the lives that are yet unborn; "Spiritual supernal, splendor eternal, ENGLAND! -Helen Gray Cone.
(At the conclusion of the above recitation Sir Martin Harvey was loudly applauded)
PROFESSOR M. HUTTON, in proposing a vote of thanks said,-A gentleman said to me just before this lunch that we are going to have today one of the greatest living exponents of drama, and one of the greatest living exponents of the greatest dramatist that ever lived-Shakespeare. "Somebody has got to move a vote of thanks; I want somebody to act as a foil to Shakespeare--you will do; I think you will do best. (Laughter) You have as much Latin and Greek as Shakespeare, and as little French, and less German-you will do best." I am glad to move a hearty vote of thanks to Sir Martin Harvey for his amusing, instructive and eloquent address. (Loud applause)