- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 22 May 1919, p. 287-290
- Cody, Hon. Dr. H.J., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- President Stapells asked Dr. Cody to propose the toast to the Empire.
The special fitness in proposing this toast this year. The name of Queen Victoria, inextricably linked up with great advance in the idea and practice of the Empire, and how that is so. The Empire's health, stature, and soul. Comparing the British Empire with Empires of the past. How the British Empire has not been made, but has grown. The stages of the overseas policy from the point of view of the heart of the Empire. The new Imperialism and what it stands for.
- Date of Original
- 22 May 1919
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- Full Text
- EMPIRE DAY
REMARKS BY HON. DR. H. J. CODY,
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
May 22, 1919.
PRESIDENT STAPELLS asked Dr. Cody to propose the toast to the Empire.
DR. CODY: Mr. Chairman, and Fellow Members of the Empire Club: There is a special fitness in proposing this toast this year. The name of Queen Victoria is inextricably linked up with great advance in the idea and practice of the Empire. It was in the reign of Queen Victoria that our Empire took great strides forward. There is something essentially fitting in linking her name with any celebration of the fact and meaning of the Empire. You will remember that it was one hundred years ago this Queen's Birthday that Queen Victoria was born. (Applause.) We have almost forgotten it in the rush of events. Let us not forget to commemorate the centenary of the birth of that great and wise queen under whose constitutional regime so many of the most difficult problems of imperial politics and colonial development were solved. I propose today therefore the health of the Empire. The Empire's health is good, the Empire's stature is growing, the Empire's soul is developing, the unity of the whole organism is steadily increasing. (Applause.) There is no Empire in the history of the world like our British Empire. (Applause.) Empires in the past have generally been noted for a strong centre that exploited the extremities. Our Empire is, more properly speaking, a world-wide commonwealth; the best title is perhaps that of the British Commonwealth. It has a heart, it has limbs. Sir Robert Borden's word across the sea the other day expresses the present ideal of Empire, "National equality within the one great Empire." (Applause.) We are not like any other empire that has ever been. When German constitutional historians before the war tried to classify the British Empire under previously existing forms of government, they were at a loss. They thought it was like an image, with possibly a head of gold, and breast of silver, and body of brass and feet of clay, and that whenever a test would come the whole. would topple over. That, thank God, was not the result, showing the German lack of perception and discrimination and their inability to grasp the true psychology of nations as well as individuals. Our British Empire is unique in its constitution. By a combination of unity with endless variety it is the very glorification of freedom. Moreover our British Empire has not been made; it has grown. The motives of its growth have been many. You may combine them as follows: partly the love of enterprise and adventure on the part of sea-going islanders, partly the desire for gain over the sea, partly the advance of political and religious liberty. The influence of religion has been tremendous in connection with the growth of the British Empire. There was the advance of Britain against the onslaught of Spain, that in its heart and essence was religious. There was the migration across the sea on the part of the Puritans. Added to those two great factors has been the missionary factor which has played its part, no inconsiderable part, in the development of the modern empire. Allied to it is the factor of philanthropy; such a part of the Empire is Sierra Leone, and other parts where once the slave trader rode rampant, that have been brought under the aegis of the flag, from the motive of philanthropy. Then there has been the further motive of the desire for a new home, under better material and religious and political conditions. Then there has been the growth necessary to national security. We have had at times to fight, we have had at times to annex territory for our essential national security. And then when a great body reaches a certain size there is always the necessity of going forward, especially when your body is close to primitive barbarism and the dissolution of native authority. Those
are the causes, good and bad; the motives are mixed, but the result of all those contributory motives is that the British Empire has grown.
What have been the stages of the overseas policy from the point of view of the heart of the Empire? There was a time when the idea obtained that colonies, overseas dominions, existed solely to be exploited by the Motherland. The party of that colonial policy of our fore-bears learned the lesson, and that is why today there is a Greater Britain, when the greater lands and domains of many of the other European powers have ceased to be. Then followed the policy of absolute neglect, the "cut-the-painter" period, when the British statesmen did not care whether the colonies set up for themselves or not. The curious thing is that that was a blessing in disguise, because some of the British statesmen, knowing or believing that the ultimate destiny of the overseas dominions was independence, answered the appeal for further self-government by saying in effect: Well, it is only a step on the way to separation, we might as well give it to them and keep the peace. And the result was contrary to all their expectations, that every kind of local autonomy meant a strengthening of the tie between the outlying portions and the central portion of the Empire. (Applause.)
Then there came the period, ushered in just at the end of Queen Victoria's reign, when we all began to understand that there was such a thing, such an entity as the Empire;'the South African War revealed it to us, and today there is a new Imperialism and a throbbing life and unity throughout the whole of the British Commonwealth.
Now, gentlemen, it is to the health of that new Imperialism, that glorious British Commonwealth, that I ask you to drink today; and what are its essential constituents? The new Imperialism stands for these factors: veneration for the noblest traditions of our Empire, traditions of justice, traditions of freedom, traditions of the honorable keeping of one's pledged word-(Hear, hear.) further, reverence for the ideals of the British Empire, and a recognition of our responsibility to the human race. We believe that this Empire stands for the highest and noblest things in the world; it stands for international friendship and confidence; it stands for commercial and political honor; it stands for the safeguarding of the' liberties and rights of smaller states; it stands for justice, it stands for mercy, it stands for human civilization, it stands for progressive remedial legislation, and not for Bolshevist revolution. (Applause.) It stands for the training of men in self-government, it stands for unity amid diversity, it stands for the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, and in these later years it has stood up as the champion against the assailant of international truth-keeping, brotherliness and peace.
What is the new Imperialism? This, that we all throughout the branches of one great tree recognize the oneness of our ideals, the oneness of our destiny, and that we are impelled by a passion to fulfill the possibilities of that Empire in the service of mankind.
I ask you to drink to the health of the British Empire. (Applause.)
The toast was responded to with enthusiasm, after which Mr. Frank Oldfield delighted the club with the singing of "Rule, Britannia," the whole gathering joining in the chorus.