- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 26 Oct 1910, p. 64-69
- Phillipps-Wolley, Clive, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A joint luncheon of the British Empire League, The Canadian Defence League, and the Empire Club of Canada.
The speaker's brief that the corporate existence of the Empire is the British navy, and as Canada is an integral part of the Empire, the British navy is also the basis of her corporate existence. What it means for us to be Canadians, and to be English. What it means for us to be British. Making war in the interests of peace. Germany's expansion. Germany's desire for the colonies which Britain has. German military expenditure figures. Taking note that Germany is building their ships on borrowed money, and that they are of such known coal carrying capacity that they can only be operated on a near neighbour. The policy of the Germans, which should be plain to us. Costs of preparing for war and maintaining peace in contrast to the costs of war. The policy of Canada. Building up a Canadian Navy with Canadian capital and Canadian workmen.
- Date of Original
- 26 Oct 1910
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
- THE NAVY AND THE EMPIRE.
An Address by Mr. Clive Phillipps-Wolley, of Victoria, B.C., before a joint luncheon of the British Empire League, the Canadian Defence League, and the Empire Club of Canada--Mr. Castell Hopkins in the chair--at Toronto, Oct. 26th, 1910.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: After listening to the eloquent remarks of your Chairman, it seems hardly fair for me to tackle such a large crowd; 3s a matter of fact, I am but a solitary individual, having come some 3,000 miles from Western Canada to face a strange audience. I can only ask you, as Joshua asked his people, to hold up my hands. While in the West the spirit of commercialism is rampant, one is almost obliged to address people more in connection with business interests, and one is almost always sure to be asked what dollars are in view. I do not want to so address a Toronto audience. Toronto is a city of self-sacrifice, and I appeal to you on Imperial grounds. I do not rely on purely business interests, I appeal to your history, which is the history of the U.E. Loyalists, and that is the history of the greatest self-sacrifice, of a type that Britain needs today.
I want to find my brief, and I want to say here that I am not a fit person to plead this brief. Let me point out to you what my case is. This is it: That the corporate existence of the Empire is the British Navy, and as Canada is an integral part of the Empire, the British Navy is also the basis of her corporate existence. Without the British Navy there can be no Britain. If that for which the Navy League and similar organizations you have in Toronto, stands for is swept away, then the Empire must go with it. Now I want to ask you one or two straight questions. Who are you? If you tell me you are Canadians, I shall congratulate you on being citizens of a young nation, eight million strong; I shall congratulate you upon having the largest slice of white man's land left on the globe; I shall congratulate you upon having two hundred million dollars worth of trade afloat; but I shall deplore the fact that you have two huge sea-boards unprotected, and an enormous large frontier almost so. I shall remind you that you are not the owners of Canada, but that you are the possessors of a life interest-that this is your reward for being the trustees of those pioneers who won Canada for the British race.
Will you tell me you are English? Again I shall congratulate you. It is true Canada has a history of only 300 years, a history illuminated by the courage and industry of her pioneers-a history, gentlemen, sanctified by the self-sacrifice of the U.E. Loyalists. But in the Old Country, if you tell me you are English, I will say you are a people forty odd million strong, that you have the richest country in the world that you own, I think it is something .like sixteen hundred million pounds worth of trade. I think that is supposed to be the value (you see I am not using notes; but will vouch for the facts)-. Being the meek ones of the earth, you have possessed the earth, and while it is not true that all the best portion of the earth is British, yet it is not incorrect to say that three-fourths of it is. More than that, you have a history as to which the earth has no peer. More than that you have possessions that none of your rivals enjoy, and at present you are the object of the world's envy; you have a future, if you will hold together, Canada and Britain, such as the dreams of a poet could not realize or imagine. Your business of the past, the business which made your wealth, has been the business of the sea-rovers and vikings, you lived by the plunder of the world; as traders you amassed the wealth of the world; as sea-carriers you made your money in the past, as your brethren in the extreme West shall make their wealth in the future.
But to enjoy all this it must be, not that we are Canadians or English, but your answer to me must be-We are British. And if you be British, gentlemen, hold up your heads, for there is nothing on earth your peers. You shall not only control the wealth of the world, but you shall control the world itself. If Britain makes war, it should be in the only way that war should be made--to command peace. There are those who cry out against the military spirit, and there is no man in this company more thoroughly agrees with that than I do. War is a hideous thing but, as I have said, if Britain makes war it should be in the interests of peace. The seas of the world are safe only in our hand. They are not safe in the hand of a great military power. They are safe only in the hands of a trader nation, a naval power interested in maintaining peace. Only in their hands are the seas of the world safe. In the hundred years since Trafalgar, which gave England command of the seas, the other nations have recovered themselves, and the poorest of all, the bitter-poor, hungry land of Prussia grew, as only poor countries will grow. Like Scotland it produced great men. It had not the gold or the art of the world, but it produced one man-Bismarck-whose first great work was the re-organization of the army in 1862. In 1864 Prussia tackled Denmark, defeating her, and took Schleswig-Holstein. In 1866 she attacked Austria, and defeated her in six weeks, took Hesse, Warsaw and' another Province. And in 1870 she picked a quarrel with France, and defeated her, securing 200,000,000 francs as indemnity and Alsace and Lorraine. In 1870 Bismarck presented the world with a united Germany and an army of 4,000,000, the acknowledged mightiest of the earth. Germany had practically conquered the earth's armies and stood as absolute master of Europe, and as far as land-fighting went, of the whole world.
Now, what else was it that Germany still needed? She needed two things which Britain has. She wants Britain's trade and Britain's land. There is no room for German expansion-she wants the colonies which we only have. The Emperor declared that he needed the trident of the world in his mailed fist. He started the German Navy League, which is now a million and a quarter strong. , Emperor William also stated that a ruler had a right to break his word if it would benefit his people. In 1896 the Germans had four poor, badly constructed battleships, but in 1912, according to no less an authority than Sir Edward Grey, they will have the biggest fleet the world has ever seen. In 1900 they spent 3,500,000 pounds on their fleet. In1909 they spent 11,000,000 pounds, although in that same year they declared a deficit of 10,000,000 pounds. I wart you to notice this--they are building their ships on borrowed money. People do not borrow money to build ships except for an emergency-it is a poor investment as a rule. What is the emergency, you say; we shall see in a moment. Last year Germany had two slips capable of carrying Dreadnoughts, today she has 17 of them. Then, you know all about the long quays at Emden for the embarkation of invading troops. You have read the last few months that Germany has established the greatest naval base the world has at Wilhelmshaven. This is the greatest naval base, gentlemen, the world has ever seen, and it is only 350 miles from Sheerness.
I want to call your attention to one or two points in this: 1st. That Germany is building these ships on borrowed money. 2nd. They are of such known coal carrying capacity that they can only be operated on a near neighbour.
Will you tell us who this neighbour is? Is it the United States. That is not so far off, but whether she strikes at the United States or whether she strikes at England it makes little odds; for whatever our personal feeling may be in the matter, England will never stand by and see her eldest son licked, any more than, I believe, that son would see her beaten. She is not going to operate her Navy against France, because France is crushed, and at the present moment she is open to attack by the German land forces. She is not going to operate against Austria, because Austria has been coerced into Alliance. She is not going to operate against Japan, because Japan is busy watching Russia and cannot take her eyes off her. Who then? Three hundred and fifty miles from Sheerness-England is the only possible enemy. I have been told "Yes; but the Germans are a noble, upright people." Well, who said they are not, for are not we of German origin? I have only one thing to say against the German Emperor or President Roosevelt-perhaps the two greatest men in the world today. The one thing against them is that they are not Englishmen.
The policy of the Germans should be plain to us. Bismarck said: "The only natural and really healthy state is a thoroughly selfish state." Does that look as though Germany would not make war? Gentlemen, the facts are that Germany is loading her guns, and Britain is the only nation that has anything that Germany wants, and if we are not a nation of fools we will load ours also, which is the best way of preventing war. There is an agitation on foot in the Old Country at the present time to raise 100,000,000 pounds as a Navy fund. It seems a great sum, but our little South African war cost 300,000,000 pounds, and an unsuccessful war waged against Germany would mean not only the loss of money-all you possess.-but also the loss of dignity, a dignity you have been 300 years evolving; loss of the pride which alone keeps your heads up as they are today; and worse still, loss to the world of those principles of fair-play which Christ taught, and which Britain has exemplified. That principle of fairplay which has been so valuable to the men of England-the workingmen of England from the time of Alfred the Great to Edward the Beloved! It will cost us only one-third as much now to prepare for war, and thus maintain peace, than it would to have a little war in South Africa.
This is not a political game. I am no partisan. I suppose it is necessary to be so at times, but this is a case where no man should be for party, but all for the State. I can understand party politics being a very amusing game, and in its place a necessary institution, but when you come to those things which touch the vital issues of your national life, then I say to the gentlemen of the Parliament House--Hands off. This is the people's game. The party who would refuse to send soldiers or sailors to the help of England would be abolished and disappear like smoke before the wind if there was any question of danger. With all due deference to present company, I will say that politicians always remind me of an organ grinder's monkey. He is all well enough as an interlude, but if the organ begins to play "Home Sweet Home" or "Rule Britannia," and the monkey interfered with the music, it would be bad business for the monkey!
I must say something about the policy of our own country, for there is a great deal of misunderstanding, and many of our best well-wishers do not take a wise position in regard to it. I have been fortunate enough to have resolutions passed at every meeting I have held of this kind from the coast to Winnipeg, and I want to say that I think Sir Wilfred Laurier's policy is a satisfactory one as far as it goes, that is to say, a policy to introduce into this country not only shipbuilding, but the naval spirit. This is far better than the suggestion I saw in a French-Canadian paper recently, of putting down a lump sum and have done with it. Gentlemen, we never want to be done with it, we want to build up a Canadian Navy with Canadian capital and Canadian workmen. This is a magnificent policy, but I add this, that if we have proof or can prove that an emergency exists, then a policy which will give us a navy in 20 years is not sufficient for this nation. I would say add to Sir Wilfrid Laurier's policy--I say add to it--do not tally about a "tin-pot navy" (that is disloyal), but strengthen his hands, ask him to do a vast deal more. Shall we have the "Niobe" on the Atlantic and the "Rainbow" on the Pacific, and then, if war breaks out, ask New Zealand to take care of our fleet. When war breaks out, shall we crowd behind our little sister? or shall we take our place in the front ranks of Britain's battles?