« PreviousContinue »
a very pleasant reunion; the last time I had seen them was in the South. I also visited a number of the graves of the boys who were brought back, who fell out there, and in each case very fine memorials have been erected. I passed down by Dumfries, one of Robby Burns' old homes, and I didn't forget to visit the old hotel where Robby used to spend the evenings and too much of the money; I sat in the old chair, and so on. There was a very nice young girl-(Laughter)-appointed to take the party around. Finally she came to a window and said, “Here is some writing done with his own hand,” and on reading it I saw
Gin a body meet a body
Comin' through the grain,
The thing's a body's ain.
She saw I was interested, and she drew my attention to another line :
Gin a body meet a lassie
Comin' frae the farm,
It winna dae her harm.
I said, "Don't you, living in this land of Burns, ever feel like writing poetry?” She said, "No." I said, "Well, I do, and I think I'll try my hand.”
Gin a body meet a lassie
In this gran' old toon,
Need a lassie froon?
“How would that do?” “I guess it's all right,” she said. (Laughter.)
The other night I was telling the story, and just as I finished my good friend here whose inspirations and volitions and associations run the same line as mine do, said, “Well?" I said, "Well, what?" "Well, did you kiss her?" “Good gracious,” I said, “I thought she meant the poetry was all right.” (Laughter.)
We passed up to Ellisland where Robby composed that beautiful old song, "To Mary in Heaven." The Maxwelton braes are still occupied by a member of the Laurie family. All through the moors and mountains between Ayrshire and Dumfries you will find, even in those hills, monuments to the old convenanting times. Down in Ayrshire in the land of Burns and Bonnie Doon I need not dwell on the historic and poetical associations of the country. I passed up through Glasgow and on to Loch Lomond and by the Duke of Argyll's magnificent castle on Loch Fyne. I always like to remember Lochaber and those old Scotch scenes, and the soldiers who marched out to those wars of the 17th and 18th centuries; over five thousand marched out and less than eight hundred returned; and it is interesting to remember that those lads who fell, leaving widows and offspring, those widows and offspring were those who were brought to Canada and who are the progenitors of the great Scotch settlements in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, up the Ottawa valley and on through Glengarry, Lanark, Victoria and Bruce; these were the progenitors of the Scotch settlements to-day throughout the length and breadth of the Province of Ontario. In the old Lochaber district almost every mile has a monument to some General that fell in the last century in the maintenance of the honour of the British arms. The monuments of Camerons are found all through the Locheil district. Near Comrie I saw a splendid monument and asked who it commemorated, and was told General Sir David Baird. I asked my informant the story of David's mother. He said that was well known in the neighbourhood; when the news came that David was a prisoner with the Hindoos at the close of the 18th century, and the clergyman was delegated to inform David's mother that her son was prisoner and was chained to a native, in place of bemoaning David's fate she lifted up her eyes in reverence and said, “May the Lord have mercy on the poor native that is chained to our David.” It recalled an incident in my family history. My grandfather happened to be in the 67th Regiment at the siege of Seringapatan in 1798. The breaches were all made in the walls for the assault, and General David Baird was reviewing the troops opposite each such abrasure. Approaching this particular one he said, "Well, 67th, what will you do for me to-day?" And the Colonel said, “We will do ourselves the honour of following where you lead, Sir." General Baird said, “Then I will do myself the honour of leading the 67th in the assault,” and eight horses fell under Baird that day before he got through the breach. You find monuments all over the land commemorating scenes in history that have done much to uplift the spirit of imperialism the wide world over.
Suffice it to say money has been spent in taking these officers over to the mancuvres. I am proud of the expenditure; no better money has ever been spent; not an officer has returned that has not earned his money by good hard work half a dozen times over ;—not an officer but has profited by the learning, by the knowledge, by the inspiration that he has acquired on the trip. More than that, the inspiration which it has given to the boys who did not go, to perfect themselves, to make theinselves worthy of being chosen on another occasion, for no man was chosen on anything but the basis of his military fitness, no Grit nor Tory was considered, no orange nor green, French nor English; it was the man who had done good service in his part of the country. There were lots of other men who should have been brought, but one could not bring them all. The inspiration alone, which was given to the force throughout Canada, is sufficient to repay all the money that was expended on this trip. (Applause.) To their credit be it said that every officer who had a wife—I am sorry some of the Toronto fellows have not-every officer who had a wife who could possibly find it convenient to leave her family, brought her along. They did not come at the Government expense at all, they went at their husbands' expense. The experiment was so successful, that, as far as I am personally concerned, I will encourage, if not insist on every officer bringing his wife with him on any such future expedition. Not only did it lend tone to the organization, but the women have come home thoroughly imbued with the wonders of imperialism, and will be by no means the least in upholding the honour of the old British Empire should it ever be questioned in any part of the Dominion of Canada. (Applause.)
CITY OF TORONTO STREET RAILWAY
This was one of the most important matters before the citizens of Toronto during recent years. It excited great controversy, and became an issue of absorbing public interest.
The Executive of the Empire Club was fully justified, by the approval of the members, in the arrangements made for the exposition of alternative schemes by representative gentlemen, who could speak with authority and intimate knowledge of the subject.
On Thursday, Nov. 27, His Worship Mayor H. C. Hocken spoke on the “Proposed Street Railway Purchase," the title of the address indicating His Worship's solution of the problem. In a concise and cogent argument, supported by the reports of experts and reference to authoritative documents, the Mayor enabled the Members to understand his viewpoint, that the present transportation system should be bought up at once by the City and developed.
On Monday, Dec. ist, the Club was addressed by R. S. Gourlay, Esq., a Member of the Toronto Harbour Commission, whose theme was entitled "The Harbour Board's Plan for Solving the Toronto Railway Problem." The points in this alternative Scheme, with its suggestions of improved transportation, were exhibited with great clearness and ability as a practicable solution.
To both speakers the Empire Club tendered a sincere and appreciative vote of thanks, for their able and spirited contributions to one of the major issues in Toronto civic life.
“MY EXPERIENCE IN THE WORLD OF
This was the title of an Address delivered before the Empire Club on Wednesday, Dec. 3rd, by Rev. JOHN McNeill, of Cooke's Presbyterian Church, Toronto.
This world renowned preacher, who has held important church appointments in Glasgow, London and Liverpool, came to his Toronto charge early in the year.
He recited some of his experiences in Evangelistic labours which touched Australia, New Zealand. Tasmania, India, South Africa, Gibraltar, Malta and the United States. He defended the place and uses of the Evangelist in Church and City life; and vindicated naturalness in the clergy, justifying the use of humour in the highest of all work for human good.
Some vivid pictures of social and economic conditions in various parts of the Empire were amply sufficient to bring the speaker's topic well within the general range of Empire Club addresses.