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25. Chapter XXV Voyaging Again

IN May, 1912, I visited Germany on the invitation of Consul-General Henoch, who was engaged upon an enterprise in which I took an active interest—that of founding a trade in frozen meat and other products to be shipped from Australia to Germany.

Herr Henoch was a gentleman whom I had much pleasure in meeting, especially as he was keen in his efforts to carry out the above scheme. His secretary, Herr Heineken, I also liked—most agreeable and obliging travelling companions they both were.

For the first time in my life I travelled in a foreign ship—the Kaiserin Augusta, from Plymouth to Bremen. It was very interesting to observe different groups of German families—mainly of Jewish descent—returning to visit the Fatherland after an obviously auriferous time in the United States. Some of the faces suggested far-off times and Eastern origin. Some of the passengers ran to a circumference which was beyond criticism—it was so like my own.

We met the two gentlemen I have named, and then proceeded to Hamburg—I suppose the only part of the German Empire which is said to be a republic. The importance of Hamburg as a seaport is of modern, indeed recent growth. It is a beautiful city when you get away from its business centres.


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I had never been in Germany before, and was anxious to see as much of its life as possible. Berlin and its suburbs had a new but substantial and prosperous look. I was struck with the robust strength of the people and the neat way in which their children were dressed. The men gave one the impression that if they had not yet “arrived” they were determined to do so soon.

The Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the late Herr Kiderlen-Waechter, was good enough to give a luncheon for me, and there I met Herr Zimmermann, then Under Secretary, now Foreign Minister, who could speak English, which was a great point in his favour with one who had lived long in a country where one language covers all.

I delivered in the Reichstag building an address on the trading relations between Germany and Australia. I was interested to learn that it was the first occasion on which a foreigner had enjoyed that privilege.

Whilst at Wiesbaden I was the recipient of what I then conceived to be a distinguished honour. I was summoned by the Kaiser to “a special audience” at Homburg Castle, where he was then in residence.

On the road I considered whether I should ask the Emperor for a message to Australia. I knew that such requests must not be made unless they were sure of an agreeable reception, and would not lead to undesirable results. I then reflected that I was the representative of a Labour Socialist Government, and that if His Majesty vouchsafed a gracious reply, it


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would assuredly be published. If it reached Germany his Socialist subjects might ask, “When is our Emperor going to send a gracious message to us?” I did not suggest it, therefore; and if my memory serves me, Australia did not enter into our conversation, which to me was full of interest, and embraced a number of other topics, lasting for three-quarters of an hour.

I ventured to say: “What a horrible thing it would be if the German bulldog and the British bulldog got their teeth into one another, allowing some inferior animal to climb over their mutilated remains?” The Emperor's hand flashed from beneath his military cloak, and he exclaimed, “Never! Never!”

My impression then was that the Kaiser looked upon war between Germany and Britain as inconceivable. It has since occurred to me that His Majesty may have scouted the idea that the German bulldog would, in the event suggested, reach the stage of “mutilated remains.”

After taking off 50 per cent. for the extra impression made by words flowing from Royal and Imperial lips, there remained with me a vivid impression of Kaiser Wilhelm's ability and up-to-dateness. That a little more than two years afterwards he would risk the rapidly growing power and wealth, and the future destinies of his House and Empire, in a war with France, Russia and Britain combined, would have seemed at that time the maddest possible conjecture.

When I visited Paris on my return journey I could not help contrasting the prospects of France with those of Germany: the widening gap in point of population, the comparative stagnation of French


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energy and the giant strides Germany was making in home industries and foreign trade; French ships and commerce dwindling, if not actually, relatively to the broad advance of Germany. Lovers of France might well be anxious. Only one thing could revive the fortunes of France: a great war. For it is in war now, as always, that the genius and the soul of France, her valour, and her patriotism, combine to restore her to eminence in the affairs of the world.

Lady Reid and I paid a visit to Canada and the United States. I left Liverpool in August, 1912, in the Laurentic for Quebec. My wife joined me later in that city.

My first engagement was an extremely interesting one. I acted as the representative of my Government at the dedication of a tower erected at Halifax to commemorate the opening of the Parliament of Nova Scotia more than 150 years before.

The Governor-General, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, opened the tower. There were several massive gifts from other lands, including one from Australia. These will form permanent adornments. The Governor-General was accompanied by the Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia.

I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. George Campbell, of Halifax, and greatly enjoyed their hospitality.

The chief attraction of the tour was the Toronto Exhibition. My wife, who had come across in the Royal George, reached Quebec in good time, and after visiting Montreal we went on to Toronto.

The Exhibition there was quite the largest I had seen in any of the Dominions, and it attracted in the


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short time it was open about 1,000,000 visitors. One of the most interesting features of the gathering was the presence of contingents of cadets from Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. The more one travels amongst the various communities of the British race at home and abroad the more one gets interested in the broad varieties of character and aims, accent, idiom, and social ways which distinguish one from the other. That might be equally true of other races if they had as many settlements abroad, but I doubt it. When I got to Canada and mixed with the people I got a new stock of such impressions. Although the daughter lands have still much to learn from the Mother Country, it would be well for the British people to know how much they would learn—if they tried—from the people of the Oversea Dominions. Already, in political vigour and initiative, the Colonials could teach their parents a tremendous lot. They had a clean slate to write upon, a footing of equality, and have had no solid social stratifications to break through. Youth, free from debt, and backed by immense resources, can make daring experiments without any serious risk of disaster. In the Mother Country, with her too many millions living from hand to mouth, changes are attended with greater risk, and opposed by stronger influences. But in spite of all these things—in spite of, or because of, new and tremendous rivalries—the strength of her enterprise, her finance, and her trade has made the pre-eminence of Great Britain more wonderful than ever.

It goes without saying that in literature, and philosophy, and the fine arts, the people of the


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Dominions are, with some few exceptions, in the apprentice stage. Speaking generally, the emigrants who laid the foundations of society in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and who built upon those foundations up to the present time, had not been bred in academies of any kind. It was just as well that they were not.

The problems to be faced in the pioneer stages of new countries are those which call most for manual labour and physical grit. They find their level not in the heavens above, but in the earth beneath. But in the case of Australia the discovery of gold, and in the case of Canada the nearness of that vast land of opportunity, attracted many splendid specimens of British manhood, who were capable of achieving almost everything that did not require a degree in classics. It must not be forgotten that although in Australia the early Colonists were not men of learning or leisure, their desire to give their children a good education was unmistakable. Before long, therefore, schools were established everywhere. Later on, avenues for the more gifted scholars were opened up, linking the Universities with every other grade of public instruction. There is no page of Australian history more stimulating.

Compare German, or American, or Colonial systems of education with that prevailing in England, and you cannot fail to observe how far behind the English system is. There were dreadful arrears to make up when Mr. Forster's Act of 1870 was passed. A very few years before that more than half of those who married were unable to sign their own names! Very


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considerable progress has been made since then, but the great masses of the finest race in the world are thrown out into the fighting lines of the battle of life with little more than the mechanical arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I don't know what would have happened but for the practical education they get after they go to work. I fear there are still more than a few in England who think a better education too much of a good thing for the masses! The prestige attached to birth is fading, but the prestige attached to a style of education which few can reach is almost as rampant as ever. The number of openings for professional men, for literary men, and for the Public Service at home, or in the dependencies, adding the number of men who have enough to live on without working at all, is far below one in a hundred. The ninety-nine in every hundred have no chance of making even a nodding acquaintance with those dead languages which so few of those who learn them ever write or speak. That matters little if they were only taught something else!

The range of “headings” in the annual reports of the nation's teaching has greatly increased in the right direction, but the actual results in the way of novelty are skeletons at the best. There are a good many symptoms that the War—that awful curse!—will galvanise British statesmen into some real effort to improve the education of the masses of the English people.

One of the differences between our people in the old land and their offspring in the new lands is also very much in evidence in Canada, as it is in the other


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Dominions. There is no “croaking” about Colonials'! Their pride in their part of the Empire, and their confidence in its future greatness are obvious always— too obvious sometimes!

In the Motherland, when things go wrong, too many say, “It's always so!” When things are neither better nor worse, they still say, “The country's going to the dogs.” When things really brighten up, “They are not half bad!”

The War has done one good thing for our race and Empire. It has shown how superficial the faults and failings of the British character are, and how true it is, in its inner soul, to the noblest traditions of the past, and how capable it is, in every rank of life, and every kind of calling, when called upon, to equal the bravery and cheerfulness of our fighting ancestors. The youngest generation has eclipsed the greatest of them all.

After leaving Toronto we visited Ottawa. This was my second visit, as I called there in 1897 on my road home from the Diamond Jubilee.

That use of the expression, “on my road home,” reminds me that when about to leave for England Australians say, “We are going home”; and when they are leaving England for Australia they still say, “We are going home.” The colonising genius and the loyalty of our race are revealed in that genuine double-barrelled feeling of affection for the land from which their fathers came and the land of their birth. It represents that union of affection which alone makes the British Empire possible and may make it immortal.




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The fierce conflicts over the selection of Ottawa as the federal capital of Canada were especially interesting to Australians like myself, who had to do with the selection of a federal capital for Australia. Queen Victoria had to choose Ottawa. The strong claims of each of the chief cities—Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, and Kingston—prevented a local choice by agreement. In our case the rival claims of Melbourne and Sydney had much to do with the decision for a country capital. When I persuaded the other Premiers in 1899 to give the capital to New South Wales, I could not resist Sir George Turner's “not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.”

During my stay in Ottawa I gave an address to the Canadian Club. The Prime Minister was away, but he was well represented by Mr. (afterwards the Right Hon. Sir George) Foster, his chief colleague. It would be difficult to get in any part of the Empire more able or estimable leaders than Sir Robert Borden, Sir George Foster, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Fortunate indeed is the Dominion that has such level-headed, reliable statesmen.

I was able to see a great gathering of supporters of the Prime Minister assembled to do him honour at the Hotel Laurier, which is, I think, the finest hotel in Canada.

I left Canada full of admiration for her immense resources, and with a very high opinion of her citizens, many of whom I came to know. Canada will develop rapidly and safely. There seems to be no limit to her possibilities.

New departures in trading policy after the War,


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not only within our Empire, but also within the Russian, French, and Italian Empires, may give Canada some important advantages over her neighbours. It is becoming more and more manifest also that she will receive large reinforcements, both in men and money, from the United States.

One can realise the strength of the pride Canadians feel in their country and themselves from a small circumstance. The Canadians are not at all annoyed when the United States and their inhabitants are called America and Americans. They rather welcome the terms as making the distinction between Canada and the United States more evident!

The change from England to Canada is far more obvious in many ways than the change from Canada to the United States. In England there are many dialects, but the descendants of the English in North America have only one accent in speaking our language, from the Arctic Circle to the Panama Canal, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific, except when one meets with the softer tones of the Southern States.

I found in Chicago one of the wonder spots of the modern world. In less than fifty years that city has made it plain that there is a third capital in the United States—Washington, New York, and Chicago —and that the last is going to be the greatest in population and wealth. In 1913 the result of that wonderful mosaic of different races seemed a strong argument for hastening the advent of “the Parliament of Man, the federation of the World.” The War has since shown how remote such dreams still are! The Jewish race is making for itself lands of promise in


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many quarters of the globe, but I really think that Chicago is going to be the new Jerusalem!

The people of the United States have Nature working harder for them than any other people have. Australia would be her equal in that respect if she had a river system like the American—or even one Mississippi!

We were most heartily welcomed in the Western capital. There we met two Australians—Dr. and Mrs. Cooke Adams—who had done much to “pave the way” for us. Dr. Adams volunteered in the kindest possible manner to “see me through” my visit to the United States.

The British Empire Association gave us a most enjoyable dinner and entertainment, which will linger long in my memory.

President W. K. Pattison, Toastmaster Samuel Insull, Mr. John Crerar (the President of the Illinois St. Andrew Society), and Mr. Cy. Warrnan, the Canadian poet, who recited his notable poem “Old Quebec,” helped to make the evening a delightful one.

The Americans are the happy possessors of an enormously big and rich area, and size and wealth stand for much in their eyes. I could always make them “sit up” when I referred to the country I stood for as “bigger than the United States.”

I reminded my audiences also that though the British Isles are small spots on the map, the British Empire is several times bigger and more populous than the Great Republic.

The luncheon given by the Press Club of Chicago


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was also about as bright and enjoyable a compliment as any man could wish for.

I visited an “Old People's Home” a few miles out of Chicago. It befriends only men and women of Scottish origin who are stranded in their old age. That does not happen often to my fellow countrymen abroad. We were received with a furious blast by a band of Scottish pipers. I was assured of a comfortable home in my old age in one spot at any rate. I must add that the musicians do not live on the premises!

Amongst the new centres of industry and population in the world Chicago is easily first, both for the rapidity and the solidity of its growth. In 1840 its population was 4,000. It is now far more than 2,000,000. The vast railroad system of the country finds its centre in Chicago, and the same might be said of water transport. The total tonnage of the vessels trading to and from that city is greater than that passing through the Suez Canal! Employers, by an ingenious subdivision of labour in the chief industry —meat packing—quickened the efficiency of labour to a wonderful degree. Nowhere have refrigerating processes worked greater marvels.

One afternoon I took a run in a tramcar, in order to see some of the outskirts of Chicago. I noticed that the conductor looked rather hard at me when collecting the fare. Shortly afterwards he returned and said, “Do you come from Australia?” I said, “Yes.” “Is your name Reid?” I said, “Yes.” “I thought I knew you,” said he. “Why,” I replied, “were you ever there?” “No; but I


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have a brother there, who sends me the Sydney Bulletin, and I saw the likeness at once!” I never felt more hurt!

Leaving quite a crowd of pleasant newly-made friends behind us, we went on to Niagara. As I stood watching, I felt an awe as profound as when I saw the falls on my previous visit. No one can say anything new about that stupendous wonder, although everybody seems to try. Its thunders perpetually acclaim the greatness of the two new nations to whom it equally belongs. You seldom get an impression of age in the United States or Canada. But the dripping of water upon stone which began the Falls of Niagara must have had quite a long life before Europe was of much account.

The manners of some of the hotel assistants there, especially in the telephone department, were hardly less primitive. I will give one instance. Our sitting-room telephone rang. My secretary answered the call. “Is Reid up there?” came through. Asked, “Do you mean Sir George Reid?” the only reply that came was, “Oh! shut up.”

Our next destination was Boston, where I was to represent Australia at an International Congress of Chambers of Commerce. We put up at the Plaza Hotel. In the assembly room of this new and fine hotel—not equal, of course, to the marble palace of the same name in New York—the Congress met.

An immense number of delegates, representing all nations, and every important part of the British Empire, attended.

My impression of such gatherings, in a number of


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which I have taken part, is that, admirable as the conception is, the results are often disappointing.

Among the delegates from the London Chamber of Commerce I had some good friends. I recollect particularly Mr. Faithfull Begg, the late Sir Edward Bingham, and the Hon. J. G. Jenkins, once or more than once Premier of South Australia, and now a most useful citizen of London.

There was an interesting piece of by-play behind the scenes, which I can now see was of deep significance. It arose from a suggestion that the Congress should pass a resolution in favour of a world-wide peace. Merchants are supposed to be men of peace. To my surprise, difficulties were raised, questions of order were put in the way. All these points and difficulties came from one quarter only—the German delegation! After much by-play a resolution was eventually proposed and carried.

The importance attached to the Congress was signalised by a banquet which the President of the United States, Mr. Taft, honoured with his presence. There were also some other distinguished Americans. Besides the President, whom one “takes to” at once, I met Mr. Robert Bacon and Mr. John Barrett, Director of the Pan-American Union. These two hon. gentlemen also greatly impressed me.

I had not intended to visit Washington, but Mr. Barrett easily persuaded me to do so, as “the only proper thing to do.”

After President Taft and President Wilson the leading American I met in Boston was Mr. Hayes Hammond. He is a singular combination of scientific and political aptitude.




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Mr. Taft's speech was like himself—tall, straight, and weighty. The occasion inspired him; the stress of the campaign for a new President made him solid.

The same night I met his antagonist, Dr. Woodrow Wilson, who had come to address the people of Boston.

At first sight the future President seemed more in frame as a man of learning than as one of the commanders-in-chief of an American political campaign. He seemed a sort of David up against two political Goliaths. Of course, in his triangular duel he had an advantage which was not offered to Midshipman Easy, because the triangle doubled his chance of victory.

I eagerly seized the chance of hearing Dr. Wilson's speech. His audience was a large one and intensely in earnest, but it had none of the liveliness to which I was accustomed in Australia—in fact, there was only one interjection!

I met here quite a different cast of mind and body from that of Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Taft. The intellectual resources of those two distinguished men are reinforced by splendid physique. One could easily imagine either, especially Mr. Roosevelt, taking the electors “by storm.” Dr. Wilson has to rely entirely upon the qualities of his mind, and these are all of the first class. In that campaign his cues were excellent. His attack on the Trusts and their monopolies glowed with indignation and was wonderfully impressive. He described the high ideals of the American democracy and the tyranny and greed of its mobilised millionaires in simple but thorough fashion. Time after


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time, he said, the nation had relied upon Republican promises and had been deceived. He declared that the eagerness with which his adversaries repeated their stale pledges when figured out amounted to nothing more than a deathbed repentance.

Before leaving Boston we were invited to meet the President and Mrs. Taft by Mr. and Mrs. Hayes Hammond. I found that both the President and my host knew a great deal about Australia, and hoped to visit it.

An afternoon with some of the students at Yale, and our meeting with Dr. Eliot, then President of that famous University, was one of the chief of our pleasant experiences in the quaint city of Boston.

From Boston we went to New York, and then to Washington.

Congress was not sitting. But a Senate Committee was; to inquire into political campaign funds. Whilst we were present Mr. Roosevelt “took the stand.” The questions put were all amiable ones—when the members of the Committee got a chance of putting in a word. The fact was that the witness took possession of the whole affair. His evidence consisted of a succession of speeches, fortified by documents, making a clear, connected, and persuasive vindication. Mr. Roosevelt's vivid methods of utterance and the tremendous force of his personality combined to make his appearance on the stand a triumphant success. There must have been an immense lot of money gifted to the politicians for campaign purposes, but it is always so difficult to get the right man in the witness box.




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Washington is the only big American city I know kept free from “sky-scrapers” and factory smoke. Everything is on a grand scale, but so new! The plan which makes all the principal avenues converge on the Capitol works out well.

It will take Canberra a long time to overtake Washington; but it will also take Washington a long time to acquire the fascination of the capitals which link up ancient associations with modern greatness. Still, youth is the best thing, especially when it has the certainty of a glorious future.

My visit to the United States happened when the proposal to give the ships of the Republic the freedom of the Panama Canal, whilst making the ships of other nations pay toll, was straining the good relations of our two countries.

The treaties between Britain and the States made it quite clear that all ships were to be treated alike, as in the case of the Suez Canal.

Shortly before the difference the United States had led the way in making arbitration in international disputes a leading principle of their foreign policy; but on this occasion they did not seem inclined to accept their own prescription.

As for the selection of a tribunal, I believe that we would have been prepared to accept the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States—the finest product of the American people and their Constitution.

That unfortified boundary line of several thousand miles between the United States and Canada is, I think, the grandest fact in the Western hemisphere.

Photograph facing p.314. On the hills at Balmoral. Queen Mary, Princess Mary, Lady Mary Trefusis, Prince Francis of Teek (sitting), Sir George Reid and the Hon. John Fortescue.






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When we observe the greatness of the United States at a distance many dark spots are visible. But when we get nearer, their “spots in the sun” disappear, because of the vigour and brightness of the power and promise which meet our eyes.

I had crossed the Atlantic in the Majestic in 1897, and in the Laurentic on my outward passage this time; but I had never been in a “floating palace” until I found myself on the Lusitania, now of tragic memory.

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