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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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