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Jun 14 1902


The Montreal Herald, Saturday, June 14, 1902

A Gift, Not A Bargain

At a time when the greatest intellects in the British Empire are occupied with the subject of inter-Imperial relations, it is out of the question for any ordinary individual to attempt to add any new idea to the common stock. There is one point, however, which I believe cannot be too strongly emphasized, and that is that any advantage that may pass from one part of the commonwealth to another may be in nature of a gift, and not of a bargain. Such a thing as free trade within the Empire is generally recognized as an utter impossibility under present conditions. A commercial agreement providing a quid pro quo even upon general lines is, I believe, equally impracticable; for the interests which would require to be considered are too vast, complicated, and variable to allow of any sort of a balance being either reached or maintained. To attempt to strike a bargain satisfactory to all concerned would only result in causing such friction and such exhibitions of mutual greed as would bring about our ears in a moment the house of cards, which we call the sentiment of "Imperialism."

The Magnet of Imperialism

It is self-evident that sentiment and not self-interest, is the backbone of the British Imperialist idea, even in matters of commerce. If it is not so, and if it is merely another phase of the "trust" mania, why do we not propose to take into our mutual benefit society every other country from whose co-operation we might hope to gain an advantage. Since national sentiment, then, is the magnet which draws us together, it is of the utmost importance that at the very outset we should recognize the limit of its influence. In a nutshell it is this: No part of the Empire is prepared to concede to any other an advantage which will involve a disadvantage to itself, any concession granted in the way of preference must be at the expense of an outside party, and not at the expense of the country granting it. This being so, there is little to be gained by compact, but much by conference. The Colonial Conference will afford a starting point, an opportunity for the various units to find out how they may help each other without hurting themselves. This should be followed up by correspondence between the different Governments, and the granting of preferences should be proceeded with by each independently, on the principle that one good turn deserves another, and that even a substantial expression of gratitude is but a lively sense of favors to come. By this method I believe that far more rapid and more satisfactory progress could be made than would come from any grasping policy attempting to exact a quid pro quo before any favor is granted.

The Preference for Young Preachers

One of the largest congregations of one of the strongest religious denominations in Montreal has just chosen as its pastor a young man who comes to it fresh from a theological seminary. Before the young man in question has so much as had time to prefix the conventional "Rev." to his name, he is called upon to assume the highest position which the Canadian branch of his church can offer him. It is true that he is a young man of more than ordinary ability, and yet one cannot help wondering that in the ministry of all professions, experience should so often not be looked upon as an absolute essential.

In other professions a man does not leap from the ground to the topmost rung of the ladder in a single leap. A large business does not engage as its legal advisor a member of the year's graduating class at the law school, no matter how brilliant may have been his career as a student or debater. Even in medicine, where recent scientific discoveries give to the young members of the profession a tremendous advantage and hospitals afford a field for varied and practical training, a few years of independent experience must intervene, and some proof of skill be given upon the persons of those who have not the wealth to be too particular, before the rich flock to consult even the gold medallist of his class.

Experience at a Discount

Yet in the ministry experience appears to be at a discount. Men and women seem actually to prefer to be instructed in the science of living by men who have neither had time to have the soundness of the principle taught them tested in their own experience, nor opportunity to see them worked out in the experience of others. They are, in fact, quite ready to accept theory for knowledge. I can understand to a certain extent the reason why a congregation should hesitate to take over a man who has passed the "dead line" of fifty, not because his preaching at the time is not up to the mark, but because they feel that in ten or fifteen years it must almost certainly show a falling off. But I cannot so easily understand why a man of thirty or less should be preferred to a man of forty. No matter how promising a young man may appear at the beginning of his career, I am convinced that it is practically impossible to predict how he will develop or fail to develop when deprived of the stimulus of rivalry which the classroom provides. On the other hand, a man who matures steadily between thirty and forty may be safely trusted to show riper scholarship and a broader and deeper knowledge of human nature at fifty than he did at forty; and, if physically sound, he will be a still better man at sixty. The man whom I consider to be the ablest preacher in Montreal, and who, if he did not belong to a denomination numerically weak, would, I believe, be the most popular preacher in Montreal, celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his entrance into the ministry a few weeks ago. He is a better preacher now than he was five years ago. Those who hear him regularly say that he is preaching better sermons today than he did twelve months ago. And I venture to say that if he lives and enjoys good health, he will be better still five or even ten years hence.

How Development is Checked

Yet when all is said and done, one is forced, however reluctantly, to confess that such a case is the exception rather than the rule. The minister's position is undoubtedly a very trying one. But there are two features of it, which seem to me to be responsible for undermining the effectiveness of his work and checking his development, which I believe could be avoided by consistent effort. One of them is temptation to allow the time which should be spent in study and in keeping abreast of the times to be frittered away in social engagements and to be encroached upon by unimportant pastoral demands. The gratifying of the social instincts of a friendly fellow may help to maintain a passing popularity; but the pastor who would achieve any lasting success must remember that his crowning vocation is not to prattle but to preach. The second stumbling block to which I referred is the tendency to professionalism. There is an unconscious inclination on the part of ninety-nine men out of a hundred not to treat a clergyman like a man, whether the attitude be prompted by a mistaken idea of respect or by a more of less mild feeling of contempt. Their clergymen on his part either does not perceive the halo which separates him from his fellow men, or else does not appreciate the importance of insisting upon its obliteration. His very seal for his calling is often the means of widening the gulf between pulpit and pew. And gradually their points of view become so widely separated that they seem to have nothing in common.

Safety of English Railroads

The Board of Trade returns of railway casualties in the United Kingdom during 1901 show that in the course of that year out of the millions and millions of passengers whirled along behind the iron horse not a single one met his death through an accident to a train. And it speaks eloquently for the arrangements of the companies, the care and skill of their servants, and the soundness or their material that this record, as it is, should be established at a time when services are fuller, speeds faster, and travelers more numerous than at any previous time since George Stephenson's great invention was put to general public use. It is true that there were mishaps, and that some persons were killed and many injured, but not one of the former was a passenger, and the number of the latter was about 400 short of the corresponding figure for 1900.


1 For more of Calvin's "Tatler" articles, search on Tatler.

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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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