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13. Chapter XIII The First Imperial Press Conference

A romance of journalism—Edward Irving's grandson—Empire journalists in London—Lord Fisher—Lloyd George—Lord Rosebery—A classic speech—Lord Roberts's warning—Sir Edward Grey—Marconi and his fairyland.

I

THE story of the two newspapers that I edited and partly owned, the Kalgoorlie Miner and its weekly, the Western Argus, may well be described as a romance of journalism. The story is associated with the sensational rise and progress of Western Australia during the closing decade of the last century, when an un-inhabited and apparently worthless wilderness became in a few years dotted with thriving, prosperous towns, replete with the conveniences, comforts and luxuries of civilisation.

It was in September, 1892, that Arthur Bayley applied for a reward claim for discovering a payable reef at Coolgardie, and it was in June, 1893, that Paddy Hannan reported the discovery of gold near the site of the present town of Kalgoorlie. These and other sensational finds brought to the locality tens of thousands of enterprising spirits, and also caused capital to flow from London, Adelaide and elsewhere.

Newspapers were quickly started at Coolgardie. Later, many of the outback centres had their own journals to supply their readers with the world's news.




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Messrs. Mott Bros., printers, thought that Kalgoorlie ought to be able to support a paper. On November 24, 1894, they published the first issue of the Western Argus as a weekly. Pessimists predicted its early demise. The first issue had a leading article which stated: “We have been told that the paper won't pay or last. Our reply is that we are quite prepared to risk it, and that we have come to stay.”

For some months the new weekly did well. Then it began to struggle for existence. The alluvial was getting worked out. Mines from which much had been expected were not maintaining values at depth. The Great Boulder and adjoining shows were suspected of being merely wild cats.

At this time Coolgardie possessed a couple of daily papers. Amongst the journalists there was Mr. Sid Hocking, who, with his brother Percy, was the chief owner of one of the dailies and also a weekly journal. Sid Hocking had extensive experience as a journalist in South Australia and at Broken Hill. He went to Kalgoorlie to report for his papers on the mining prospects. A keen judge of mines, he readily recognised, after an underground inspection, the immense wealth of the Boulder group. Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie were but twenty-four miles apart, but in the days before the two were joined by a railway and before motor-cars or aeroplanes were known, that was a much greater distance than it is thought to be to-day. When he returned to Coolgardie he said to his brother, “Let us sell everything we have in Coolgardie and shift to Hannan's.” This was arranged. Those who knew them were unanimous in saying they were making the mistake of their lives.




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Mott Bros. eagerly agreed to sell to the Hocking brothers the Western Argus, together with the building, land and plant—the plant, consisting of a small hand press and old type, for £350. The sellers felt they had made a good deal. When the deal was completed they returned to the eastern states, happy at having got clear of a goldfield that they were convinced was rapidly petering out.

It was not long before the consistent and rich crushings from the Boulder mines convinced the world that an El Dorado had been found. The Western Argus grew in size, circulation and prosperity. In September, 1895, it became the proud parent of a daily—the Kalgoorlie Miner. The leading article in its first issue was prophetic. It stated: “Within a short time Kalgoorlie will have a population numbering many tens of thousands, and this paper will equal any daily published in the western part of the continent.” When that was written Kalgoorlie was a collection of hessian humpies and bag shanties, with trees growing in its roadways, which were ankle deep in dust. Yet in a few years the twin cities of Kalgoorlie and Boulder were centres of a population of some 80,000 people, and were probably more up to date then than any other cities of their size in the world. The Kalgoorlie Miner had progressed with its environment. Mr. Sid Hocking went to London and purchased the best linotypes and printing machines on the market, brought mechanics from London, and on the arrival of the new plant it was installed in commodious three-story stone and brick premises.

The newspaper property that had changed hands for £350 had grown in a couple of years into a concern that


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the purchasers would not have sold for £100,000. Our success prompted the starting of an opposition paper, the Daily Standard, a venture that had plenty of capital behind it. After a vigorous life of about twelve months it died a natural death, and the promoters are reputed to have lost heavily. Mr. Edward Irving had been brought from Melbourne to edit the new paper, and soon after its decease I was fortunate in securing his services as my second in command at the Kalgoorlie Miner office. A Balliol man, he was erudite, sound in his judgment, a wide reader and a student of literature, tolerant in his views and something of a Bohemian. His grandfather was the celebrated preacher, Edward Irving, first lover of Jane Welsh, afterwards Mrs. Thomas Carlyle. It was Irving who introduced Jane Welsh to Carlyle, and thereby hangs a romantic tale. It has been variously told, but it is certain that had they never met it would have been better for three people—Irving, Jane Welsh and Carlyle.

Irving was the founder, some speak of him as The Apostle, of the “Irvingite,” or Holy Catholic Apostolic, Church in 1832.

His passionate religious convictions and fervour so wore him out that in 1834 he died with all the external symptoms of old age, though only in his forty-second year.

The grandson and namesake did not take life so seriously. Pleasant, even-tempered, cultured and beloved by all who knew him, a true friend and loyal colleague, he was for more than a quarter of a century on our editorial staff, and died in harness when well over the allotted span.




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One after the other newspaper rivals of the Kalgoorlie Miner disappeared, and it eventually became the only morning daily paper of the goldfields.

When in the summer of 1909 the idea came to fruition of bringing together newspaper men of the Empire to confer in London on matters of common interest, Dr. (afterwards Sir) Winthrop Hackett, editor and part proprietor of the West Australian, Perth, and I were selected as delegates from Western Australia.

II

There is really not very much that newspaper men throughout the Empire have in common as newspaper men. The distribution of news by cablegram and wireless is certainly of universal concern to them, also the question of paper supply; but it is surprising the comparatively few subjects to be discussed affecting newspapers of the Empire generally when Empire newspaper men get together. Still, from other viewpoints, the first Imperial Press Conference was a wonderful success, as were also the second Conference held in Ottawa in 1920, the third in Melbourne in 1926, and other later Conferences. They were Empire gatherings of considerable Empire significance.

They were representative of the people who do much to create public opinion in every part of the Empire. In these democratic days Governments and Parliaments are but the creatures of public opinion, and those who form and guide public opinion are doing work of the greatest importance.

At the first Conference there were fifty-six overseas delegates in all, including men from Canada, India,


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the West Indies, Straits Settlements, Burma, Ceylon, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Most pressmen avoid public notoriety. They are of retiring dispositions and the overseas delegates were overwhelmed with the attentions they received, and the public and private hospitality extended to them. At their first meeting at the Waldorf Hotel, which was their headquarters, one of their duties was to draft a telegram to the late King Edward expressive of fervent loyalty and good wishes towards himself and his family. Promptly in reply came a telegram of thanks from the King, hoping that the delegates would enjoy their stay in England. Subsequently, at a garden party given to them at Marlborough House by the Prince and Princess of Wales, King Edward and the Queen asked to meet the delegates personally, and all of them with their wives were individually presented. Later the delegates were the guests of King Edward and the Queen at Windsor Castle.

The overseas delegates were shown all phases of English life. The Government gave them a banquet; the Lord Mayor entertained them at luncheon at the Mansion House. The Labour members of the Commons had afternoon tea for them on the terrace. There was a brilliant reception by the Marquis and Marchioness of Salisbury. A garden party was arranged by the Duke and Duchess of Wellington at Apsley House, where they had an opportunity of inspecting Waterloo relics. The Duchess of Sutherland received them at Stafford House, with its famous staircase and priceless works of art.

They visited numbers of country houses, including Hall Barn, the historic country mansion of Lord Burnham;


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Taplow Court, from whence Lord Desborough took them for a trip on the Thames; Sutton Place, Lord Northcliffe's beautiful Elizabethan country house, and Chatsworth.

They were invited to a military review at Aldershot and a naval review at Spithead.

They were taken for a motoring tour with visits to Coventry, Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon, Manchester, the Ship Canal and Sheffield.

A short stay in Scotland comprised visits to Glasgow, the Trossachs and Edinburgh.

A day was spent at Oxford University, where they had luncheon with the Chancellor, Lord Curzon.

The originator and organiser of the Conference, Mr. (now Sir) Harry Brittain, made certain that the delegates saw English life as it was in King Edward's time. Social gatherings, politics, industries and commerce were all included.

Perhaps the most impressive sight that the delegates witnessed was the naval review at Portsmouth. There were eighteen miles of battleships, cruisers, destroyers, scouts and submarines. They were the guests of the Admiralty, and were entertained on board the Dread-nought. Admiral Sir John Fisher was then the First Sea Lord.

When the special train that took the delegates from London reached Portsmouth, the s.s. Volcano was waiting to take them along the lines of the fleet. A quietly, almost shabbily, dressed elderly gentleman in civilian clothes, unnoticed by any of the delegates, unostentatiously boarded the steamer. As the Volcano went along the lines the delegates consulted copies of a plan that had been supplied to them showing the position


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of each vessel of the fleet and giving particulars of the names, tonnage, guns, etc. A member of the overseas party, the youthful daughter of one of the delegates, was reading aloud, and, for the benefit of those near, giving particulars of the ships she pointed out.

“Excuse me,” said the old gentleman, “you are reading the plan wrongly.”

He then gave the names of the ships passed, mentioned many details about them, referred to the careers of some of the vessels, and answered various questions about them.

“You seem to know a lot about the ships,” remarked the young lady.

“Oh,” he replied, “not so very much.”

“Indeed you do,” was the response.

“Well,” he answered with a strange smile, “I don't know as much about them as I'd like to, but I'm always trying to learn more.”

“And what have you to do with the ships?”

“I? Well—I happen to have charge of them. My name is Fisher.”

Opportunities were provided the delegates for meeting at private houses the leading statesmen and most of the notable people of England. Mr. Lloyd George was then Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was one of a party of three or four delegates invited to breakfast with him and his wife and family at his official residence in Downing Street opposite the Foreign Office, where the Conference was held. He explained that he wanted to meet some of the delegates, that he was so busy that he could find no other time than the morning,


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pointed out that they had only to cross the road to attend the Conference, and remarked that as he had so few chances of cultivating his family's acquaintance he made it a rule that at breakfast they should be always present, no matter what other guests attended.

It was a pleasant gathering, and the host was particularly desirous of knowing the feeling existing in the Dominions towards the Mother Country.

He was then the subject of fierce denunciations because of his taxation proposals. The quiet homeliness of himself and his family made the visitors feel as if they had known them all their lives.

At a small dinner at Lord Rosebery's London house half a dozen of us met the Duke of Argyll and Lord Northcliffe. Lord Rosebery showed some of his treasures. One that he specially prized was the original of Tenniel's great Punch cartoon “Dropping the Pilot.”

An interesting document in a frame was hanging on a wall. It was the round robin signed by the mutineers of the Nore in 1797. It was faded, stained and blotted. Most of the signatures were of uneducated men evidently unaccustomed to writing. Some signed by a cross as their mark. Several were those of sailors who were subsequently executed, including that of the ringleader, Richard Parker, who assumed the position of Rear-Admiral.

At one end of the dining-room was a large painting of George Washington—a painting for which he sat. Opposite to that portrait, at the other end of the room, was a life-sized portrait of the Lord North who was Prime Minister of England during the American War, so that the leaders of the American and British


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people during a period of peculiar difficulty and danger to both countries faced each other whilst men who came from all parts of the Empire enjoyed an excellent dinner. Lord Rosebery told us that when he was a Minister he was curious enough to look up some of the despatches sent from the American colonies prior to the revolution, and he found that several of them had never been opened. They were full of warnings of the impending trouble.

Most of the great political leaders addressed the Conference, which lasted some days. The one thing that struck us was that the Conservatives especially were impressed with the danger of a great European war caused by Germany's scheme for aggrandisement. Though not in so many words, yet the message that the Homeland gave to us to take back was, “Keep your eye on Germany.”

At the banquet given by the British Press to the Overseas delegates at White City, a feature of the evening was Lord Rosebery's great “Welcome Home” speech. It was perhaps his best effort as an orator.

A strange story went the rounds of London regarding the speech. It was said that the promoters of the Conference were specially desirous of getting the finest orator of the Empire to deliver a welcome address to the delegates. He complied, but later, as he thought over what he should say, he changed his mind and told them that on reconsideration he would rather not do it. They endeavoured to get him to again change


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his mind, but without avail. They were much concerned. Finally, the first Lord Burnham approached King Edward, and His Majesty was sufficiently interested to speak to Lord Rosebery on the matter. Lord Rosebery, feeling that it was a Royal command, tried to excel all his previous efforts. And he did. None who heard him can forget the attractive diction, the touches of humour, the charm and foresight of his utterances. Speaking of the tour arranged for the delegates he said:

“... throughout the country you will see those old manor houses where the squirearchy of Great Britain have lived for centuries, almost all of them inhabited long before the discovery of Australia and some even before the discovery of America—a civilisation, a country life, which I advise you to see on your present visit, because when you next come it may not be here for you to see it.”

How many of these old homes have disappeared since 1909 the English people well know!

Lord Rosebery put the ominous international position as it existed in 1909 in the plainest language. “There is a hush in Europe, a hush in which one might almost hear a leaf fall to the ground,” and yet, he added, “There never was in the history of the world so threatening and overpowering a preparation for war.” He went on to issue this significant warning:

“Take back to your young Dominions across the seas this message and this impression: that


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some personal duty and responsibility for national defence rests on every man and every citizen of this Empire. Yes, gentlemen, take that message back with you. Tell your people—if they can believe it—the deplorable way in which Europe is relapsing into militarism and the pressure that is put upon this little England to defend itself, its liberties and yours.”

Lord Roberts, then seventy-seven years old, was even more prophetic when addressing the Conference. I can see now the old warrior—short in stature but an erect, soldierly, well-proportioned and commanding figure. With his face keen and his eyes sharp and alert, he was the embodiment of mental and physical energy despite his wrinkled face and grey hairs. He stood up to address us, looking as if he had something definite and highly important to tell us. And he had. “A shot fired in the Balkan peninsula,” said he, “might produce an explosion which would change the fortunes of every remotest corner of the Empire.” These words were uttered five years before “a shot fired in the Balkan peninsula,” at Sarajevo, precipitated a war in which “every remotest corner of the Empire” was engaged for several anxious years in a life or death struggle to maintain their freedom. Unfortunately, whilst Lord Roberts had many admirers in those days, there were thousands who viewed him as a garrulous old nuisance. His constant urgings, “Be Prepared,” did not always fall on sympathetic ears.




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A notable utterance made at the Conference was that of Mr. Amery, then one of the British delegates, but afterwards Secretary of State for the Dominions. The discussion was on the question of Empire defence. Mr. W. T. Stead and others had ably put forward the case for those who were inclined to oppose heavy expenditure on defence on the ground that it tended to provoke war. Mr. Amery, in a short speech of wonderful power, rebutted these arguments. He referred to various conflicts of interest between the Empire and foreign countries, and went on to say, “Each time the clouds passed away, and they passed away because the statesmen of those countries, when they were brought face to face with the alternative of war, counted their ships and counted our ships—and they decided in favour of peace. During the years 1894 and 1904 we won half a dozen bloodless Trafalgars.”

There was no one who seemed to have a better conception of Germany's designs and Germany's strength than Mr. Amery. Some weeks after the Conference, at a dinner he gave to some of the visitors, he asked me what I thought of all I saw during my visit to England.

“It seems to many of us,” I replied, “that Britain is unnecessarily alarmed. After seeing the stupendous power of the fleet at Spithead it gave us the impression that it is invincible. Then we saw everywhere evidences of Britain's wonderful wealth and her marvellous industrial activity and the extent of her commerce. How can she really fear the result of a conflict with Germany? Britain evidently minimises her own strength and exaggerates Germany's in order


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to make assurance doubly sure by representing that a grave danger exists when really there is no danger.”

Mr. Amery pointed out that the truth was that the danger was far greater than represented. He went into details of Germany's military and naval strength, and expressed grave doubts as to the result of a conflict between the Empire and Germany. “If we do win,” he said, “then it will only be after a long, bitter and costly struggle.”

III

I was particularly impressed by Viscount Grey of Fallodon, then Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. My first meeting with him was accidental.

We were the guests at luncheon of the literary and journalistic members of the two Houses of the Imperial Parliament, and were received in Westminster Hall, that old, spacious and lofty chamber which is crowded with so many historical associations. It was where Warren Hastings was tried, and it was to it that Macaulay referred as “the great hall of William Rufus, the hall which resounded with acclamation at the inauguration of thirty kings, the hall which witnessed the just sentence of Bacon and the just absolution of Somers, the hall where the eloquence of Strafford for a moment awed and melted a victorious party inflamed with just resentment, the hall where Charles the First confronted the High Court of Justice with the placid courage which has half redeemed his fame.”

Care was taken that only members of both Houses who were associated with literature or journalism


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should be permitted to be hosts. Mr. Foster Fraser, referring to the luncheon, wrote:

“The writers of mere law books had to be excluded—there was no room for them. The Prime Minister was there, not as Prime Minister, but because, in his briefless barrister days, Mr. Asquith earned welcome guineas by writing newspaper articles on economics. And it was pleasant to look round the room and see the distinguished politicians who had served their apprenticeship to public life as writers of the Press—Lord Curzon, a prince among hard-working, go-anywhere-and-do-anything special correspondents; Lord Milner, once a writer for an evening journal; sitting in a corner, Winston Churchill, who had done his share of dramatic war correspondence; Sir Charles Dilke, busy editor; Sir Henry Norman; Mr. T. P. O'Connor; whilst amongst those who had written books were Sir Edward Grey, Lord Cromer, Mr. Haldane, Mr. Birrell, Mr. A. E. W. Mason. No lord or commoner had the privilege of being a host unless he could legitimately lay claim to being a writer.”

The luncheon was held, not in Westminster Hall, but in another part of the parliamentary buildings. It took place in the Harcourt Room, which is bright and overlooks the Thames. No seats were allotted. There were a number of small tables. The guests were asked to seat themselves where they wished, provided no two guests sat together. When I took my seat, I was joined by a member of the House of Commons, who, like


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myself, came from County Galway, Ireland—Mr. T. P. O'Connor. A few nights previously I had met him at a cheery evening at the Savage Club. Presently a gentleman, clean-shaven and sharp-featured, quietly sat down beside me. “T. P.,” who was known to everyone, and everyone liked him, promptly presented me to my neighbour—Sir Edward Grey—telling him that I was from Australia, and that I had been a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, and was then a member of the Western Australian Parliament.

Sir Edward treated me with old-time courtesy. He said he was glad to be sitting beside a delegate from Australia, a country about which he would like to know more than he did. We then talked about Australia. After the conversation had proceeded some time, he said: “Would you mind telling me what you think Australia would do if Britain were in death grips with a foreign power, or a combination of foreign powers?”

I told him that the casual visitor to Australia was liable to form an altogether wrong opinion of Australians, whose general attitude towards the world, including Britain and Britishers, was inclined to be somewhat critical. To know Australians' attitude towards the Old Country, it was necessary to be in Australia in war time. It was evidenced during the Sudan War, also whilst the Boer War lasted. There were fewer pro-Boers in Australia in proportion to the population than in England itself. The reverses sustained at the outset of the Boer War only made Australians more determined than ever to help to restore the Empire's prestige. I added that I felt certain


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that the greater the British difficulties in a war against foreigners, the more ready Australia would be to help.

Sir Edward looked pleased. Some people had told him that Australia was so far away that she would not trouble about European wars in any circumstances.

Then I ventured to mention how several practical, common-sense men, some of them members of Parliament, in Australia viewed the imperial policy. They wished to know why Britain went on at huge expenditure engaging in a warship-building competition with Germany. Why did Britain allow it to continue? They considered that the action of Germany in constructing an immense fleet was as provocative of war as the massing of troops on a land frontier in order to menace a neighbouring country. Britain could smash the German fleet, and Germany could not land troops in British territory. It was therefore felt that Britain was unwise to wait until Germany got stronger and had completed her war arrangements. People who took that view wondered why Britain did not say to Germany, “If you go on warship-building, and thus menace us, we will regard it as a hostile act, and take extreme measures.”

Sir Edward appeared interested. He listened patiently, and said that that viewpoint had not been overlooked. There were many who supported it, but he was strongly against it. In fact, it had been brought before the Cabinet, and the Cabinet favoured his opposition to it. Nothing could be done, in his opinion, in the way indicated to force Germany to limit her ship-building programme. The gist of what he said was as follows:




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“Germany has as much right as we have to build a fleet, and when war does come, if it comes, then we must be certain that Britain is in the right. Britain would not be right in saying that no other country ought to build a fleet as strong as her own. The next war will be decided by public opinion, and many nations will be drawn into it; and we do not want to antagonise the rest of the world. It is true that Germany's army would be helpless against Britain whilst Britain had command of the sea; but she would probably invade France, and a European conflagration would ensue, for which Britain would be blamed. When war comes, it will probably be world-wide, and, unless we be in the right, we cannot have the world on our side.”

How wise and far-seeing these words were was proved by subsequent events. When war did come five years later, and Germany having invaded and attacked, in violation of treaty obligations, a small, inoffensive country anxious to remain neutral, Sir Edward Grey, in his wonderful speech in the House of Commons immediately after the declaration of war, clearly showed that Britain came into it to maintain treaty obligations to Belgium and oppose a national outrage. He conclusively showed Britain to be in the right and Germany in the wrong.

It had been arranged that one of the New Zealand delegates, Mr. Gresley Lukin, was to respond at the luncheon to the toast of “The Guests.” At the last moment he sent word that he was too ill to attend. The committee appointed to select speakers came to


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me, and asked me to reply. I suggested Dr. Hackett, but he told us his health did not permit his speaking—he was in poor health at the time. In the course of my reply, the official report of the proceedings (page 44) represents me as saying, amongst other things:

“There was a change coming over the self-governing dominions and the spirit of Empire. They felt that they were slowly but surely tending towards a period of nations in alliance, and that the Empire of the future would be something grander and greater than it had been in the past, inasmuch as it would consist of something different from what it consisted of now; it would consist of a family of new nations that would be a strength and pride to the Motherland.”

Since then the Statute of Westminster has been passed. When I sat down, Sir Edward was good enough to say that he quite agreed with the remarks I had made. The following day, when he addressed the Press Conference, he indicated his views on various imperial problems, including naval expenditure and the relationship between Great Britain and the self-governing Dominions. He is reported (page 157 of “A Parliament of the Press”) as saying:

“You should know to-day how conscious we are at home that we have far too much at stake to allow our naval expenditure to fall behind, however great the burden, and you from beyond the seas have made it clear to us how great the resources of the Empire are. In upholding the Empire we are going more and more towards the ideal to which


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Mr. Kirwan referred in his speech yesterday—of a union of allies—of self-governing Dominions. If you could only have been present at the last Imperial Conference when the Prime Ministers of the self-governing Dominions were collected here in London, I think you would have realised how much the relation between self-governing Dominions and the Government at home approaches to that of allies already. If there be a difference I would say it is most noticeable in this—that the freedom of speech which takes place is greater than that which is ever permissible between allies. (Cheers.) That freedom of speech is not resented because we take it as evidence that the Prime Ministers of the self-governing Dominions, when they come to London, feel themselves to be at home.”

Viscount Grey of Fallodon was too shrewd a statesman not to recognise that hard-and-fast constitutional bonds are not the best means to keep the Empire together. He saw that unity is best promoted by fostering sentiment and common interests and—more than all—by freedom.

IV

One of the most attractive men who addressed the Conference was Signor Marconi. He dealt with the more extended use of wireless for newspaper purposes. In appearance he was boyish. As a fact, he was over thirty years of age, but he looked little more than twenty. We viewed him as what he is—a genius. We knew that when a youth, or little more, he had established wireless communication between England and


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France, and that in 1901 the first Marconi message was sent across the Atlantic from Cornwall to Newfoundland. Two years later the President of the United States sent a message by wireless to King Edward, and soon after The Times published the first radio news message. No wonder we were deeply interested in the handsome young man who talked with us rather than to us.

Though an Italian, yet, thanks no doubt to his Irish mother, Marconi spoke English perfectly and with quiet confidence. A hard-headed English journalist, since dead, was far from being convinced of the practical use of wireless. He asked Marconi:

“Is not transmission by wireless unreliable? Is not your very praiseworthy enthusiasm carrying you rather far? When you talk as you do about its popular use all over the world, is wireless really to be in the future anything but an interesting plaything?”

Marconi was not annoyed. He smiled as he quietly answered:

“I am certain that the day will come when people will sit in their homes and hear the world's most famous musicians from hundreds of miles distant. The most remote homesteads and the most lonely of islands will be kept by wireless in touch with world affairs.”

The journalist, who was a man of importance, remarked: “Then this world will be a fairyland.” Marconi made no reply, but the fairyland he predicted has come.




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One of the delegates, the Hon. Surendrenath Banerjee, who represented the Bengalee, was a most picturesque figure. He was a man of great learning, and a charming and effective speaker, proving himself an orator of a high order. He was supposed to have arrived in London with several private secretaries and a retinue of servants, but if these existed we saw none of them. Millions in Bengal worshipped him.

Warwick Castle was visited. The gardens, the lawns, the fine old castle itself looked glorious in the wonderful light of an English summer's day. We had luncheon in the historic hall where old armour, weapons and flags hung round. The earl made a delightfully appropriate speech.

Lady Warwick also welcomed the delegates, saying that there was no more suitable place for a common meeting ground than under the shadow of those old grey walls which had seen nearly every phase of the evolution of English history. In that hall, she reminded them, the barons held council in the early civil wars; there Warwick the Kingmaker developed his one-man policy; from the dungeons below, Piers Gaveston, the favourite of Edward the Second, was brought to trial by the barons and taken out to summary execution; and in later time Cromwell's Roundheads roamed the surrounding corridors.

The Glasgow University conferred the honorary degree of LL.D. on six of the overseas delegates when the delegates visited Glasgow. At the ceremony, after the degrees were conferred, the Lord Provost, Mr. McInnes Shaw, was evidently in doubt as to which of


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the six he should call on to respond, so he remarked that as the time was short he must call on the six doctors of laws to respond, not individually, but collectively.

The new LL.D.s promptly rose and began all to speak at once. They could be seen gesticulating violently, their lips were moving, each tried to shout down the others, and there was a babel of six voices, to the great amusement of everyone present, especially the undergraduates.

Some of the English pressmen did not love each other in 1909. I remember finding myself at a large public banquet sitting between two distinguished journalists, both now dead. The neighbour on my left whispered, “It is most unfortunate that you should have to sit beside that terrible bounder on your right. He is an appallingly conceited individual who never lets anyone talk but himself. I haven't spoken to him for years.”

Later, my right-hand neighbour, who was a knight, remarked in a low voice, “What a shame to put you beside such an awful old bore as that fellow on your left. Thank heaven we don't speak!”

Both were extremely talkative, so much so that the reason of their animosity was that neither evidently was prepared to hear the other talk.

The last gathering of the delegates' tour was a dinner at the Marine Gardens, Portobello, Edinburgh. After the toast of the delegates was honoured, I, as honorary secretary of the overseas delegates, was asked to reply.


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The speech as reported in the official account indicated the value of the Conference. Having said that this was the last occasion on which the delegates would be officially entertained, I am reported to have said:

“The results of the Imperial Press Conference would be far greater and more far-reaching than were anticipated by those who originated the Conference. The real results of the Conference would not be found in the minute books of the Conference. They would be greater in an indirect sense than they would be directly. The influence brought to bear on the overseas delegates could not fail to have great effects upon their writings in the future. Coming as they did from isolated parts of the Empire, it was an agreeable surprise to find that they had all been thinking imperially and thinking in much the same way. Whilst the spirit of nationalism was growing up very strongly in the Dominions, that spirit was not out of harmony with the true spirit of imperialism, an imperialism that was not associated with aggrandisement, but with the promotion of peace and the betterment of humanity.”
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