Box 13-030 THE TATLER, THE MONTREAL HERALD (WRITTEN BY [REV.] CALVIN MCQUESTEN)
Sep 6 1902
The Montreal Herald, Saturday, September 6, 1902
Within the Span of a Life
There is nothing, to my knowledge, that has yet been written which has brought out with such force and striking vividness the progress of Canada within the span of a single life as the story of the life of Lord Strathcona, which has just come from the pen of Mr. Beckles Willson. If we searched among that dimly discerned and hopelessly jumbled assortment of statements which we term our knowledge of Canadian history, some of us might discover a disconnected record to the effect that in the year 1837 there was no Dominion of Canada; that the country west of Ontario, now the provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia and the Northwest Territories, was under the control of the Hudson's Bay Company; that the only inhabitants of this western country, now sometimes termed the wheat granary of the world, were the officers of the company, the trappers and the Indians; that the only incorporated city in Ontario was Toronto, with a population of 18,000 souls; and that in Lower Canada, Quebec was a more important town than Montreal. But when we are informed that this condition of things existed when the man, whose venerable face and figure, as well as his philanthropy, are familiar to almost every man, woman and child in Montreal, arrived in Canada, as a boy of seventeen, it brings our mental vision into focus and gives the floating facts some definite location.
But Lord Strathcona's life is more than a doorpost on which to mark the growing stature of the country. His whole career from clerk in an icebound trading post in a remote corner of Labrador to millionaire and peer, with a seat in the Imperial House of Lords, and contributing attainments of the Empire's purposes, is typically characteristic of the rise of Canada from an insignificant and isolated colony to be a nation of wealth and position with a voice in the councils of the Empire and a hand in its achievements, as if his story had been a parable imaging for purposes of illustration.
The fact that people take most interest in the story of an individual when the incidents of that story are linked to national events, and that history is most readily appreciated when pictured from the standpoint of the individual, is proved beyond a doubt by the success of the historical novel. How much more fascinating, then, is the narrative of the career of a man and of a nation told in unison, not merely because of their contemporaneousness but because one could not be complete without the other. That such a leading role had been played in the drama of Canadian history during the past thirty-five years by Lord Strathcona will be recognized by every one who has read the story of the first Riel rebellion, of the building of the C.P.R., of the achievements of
Canadian soldiery in South Africa, and of a score of other enterprises scarcely less important.
Savings' Bank on Stock Market
How is it that there are so many millions of dollars lying in the savings banks and so many thousands of small speculators dabbling in the stock market? The prima facie answer to that question is usually that on account of good times a very considerable number of people are able to spare a little money over their living expenses and employ it each as his natural disposition prompts him, the security of the savings bank appealing to the cautious man and the possibilities of margin speculating to the daring one.
A second glance at the question asked, however, will make it clear that the good times tradition is at best but half an answer, since it accounts only for the possession and not for the manner of disposition of the superfluous shekels.
There is every reason to believe that among the years that are gone there were occasional fat and well-favored ones, when thrifty toilers might have had an opportunity to accumulate some bits of currency. And although the banker and the broker were not spread abroad in the land those days to the extent that they are now, there is no certain proof that the coin in question was invariably laid to rust in the toe of an old sock.
The explanation of the matter is, I believe, that a few years ago a man with a few thousand dollars in his pocket could embark in a small way in almost any line of business, with which he was acquainted, with reasonable hopes of manifolding his modest capital in a few years, whereas now the odds are rather in favor of his losing what little he had to start with. Those were the days of small things and careful economies. These are the days of great enterprises and daring ventures. To the young man with a few hundred dollars to invest there seems no safe way of ensuring a comfortable competence for his old age. To embark in business for himself seem to him to mean to risk being ground to powder between the big corporations. The odds in the game seem so unfair to him that he naturally hesitates before risking both his salaried position and his little fortune on one throw of the apparently load dice. Two courses remain. He has his choice of an assured pittance for the necessities of old age laid up in a savings bank, or the chance of a fortune on 'Change,' with the odds against him hidden in the delusion that this is a game of skill. The selection depends on the temperament of the individual.
A curious publication has recently appeared in England entitled "The Eagle and the Serpent: A Journal for Free Spirits and for Spirits Struggling to be Free." "The Eagle and the Serpent" is devoted to the propagation of envy, malice and all uncharitableness. The leading article is entitled "The Divinity of Hate," and contains these remarkable words:
"Violence is not necessary to hate. A calm hate is the most sincere and effectual hate. It is especially incumbent on Free Spirits, on all who desire to live their own life, to cultivate hatred of all impeding agencies, of all the parasites, which suck their life-blood or steal their time. As a literary inspirer, hate holds the record--it has wrought miracles of eloquence, poesy and song. A complete anthology of hate would include many, most, we believe, of the best inspirations of the poets and of the orators--of Shelley, of Byron, of Milton, of Mirabeau, of Danton, of Marat, of Phillips, of Ingersoll, of Aeschylus, of Heine, of Nietzsche, of Theognis. A few extracts will make clear our point. Consider the "Marseillaise."
This new periodical appears to be an entirely new departure in journalism. No lunatic asylum should be without it. There is an irresistible column of sayings, entitled "Flashes of Saving Penetration," to which the following editorial notice is appended: "People of brains are invited to contribute to this column. We can offer only the small reward of immortality, if immortality is desired, kindly mention it." Among the Flashes we notice the two following great thoughts:
"Benevolence is as purely selfish as greed. No one would do a benevolent action if he thought it would entail remorse."
"Origin of Optimism: The typical optimist sits in the British Museum, which was built by money stolen from the Spanish, and which the Spanish had stolen from the Aztecs, and piously exclaims: 'A good to one is a good to all.'"
What is called "freak insurance" in America is reported to have developed at a new point in Germany. The first "assassination policy" ever made out is said to have been granted on the life of Prince Henry of Prussia. The policy is for £180,000 payable only in the event of the Prince's death at the hands of an assassin, and, owing to the great popularity of the Prince, the German companies who took the risk think that they have decidedly the best of the bargain. The policy is interesting in view of its novelty, and for the reason that it covers a hazard seldom, if ever before, protected in quite the same way. Other policies of the same sort may have been written before, under pledge of secrecy, although so far as is known nothing like the present contract has ever been attempted by foreign underwriters.