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words fail us to tell their devotion, their cheerfulness and courage, whilst in those at home, made in the same mould, the same driving power was the conviction that right must be done. Some will have it that our millions were only bribed to work by huge wages. Not so. Whatever the talk with a vast majority, a glowing patriotism born of this consciousness of right alone carried them through years of strenuous toil. We are far from a perfect race, but with every confidence I say it, we are the justest race the world has ever known. Hence our attitude to talk. The right shall prevail. Talk or no talk, in the end right shall be triumphant. This is the beacon of our policy. We cannot believe that in the end right can go under. So let man talk. If he makes wild points, false points, mad points, he will be answered, and in the end it will be his own case that he will damage. Nothing is more disastrous to a cause than the bad points of a foolish and intemperate friend. On the other hand, let him be speaking the truth, even if in wild and whirling words, and we would know it that right may be done. Undoubtedly it is not easy to determine what is right in many a case, especially when we differ on those fundamental principles on which right depends; but in the abstract, as a nation, as a whole, we do desire to do what is right and just. And in this spirit, proved in the terrible days of stress and war, is our assurance for the future. And as love of right was our guiding star when in death-grips with our foe, so that same love of right shall be the sheet-anchor of our safety in the days to be. The greater issues of mankind may be determined by blood and iron, but in the end the power of might has also to bow the knee to the greater power of justice and of right.
CHAPTER IV. (continued).
WORDS AND THEIR FUNCTION.
ANOTHER serious difficulty in the way of effective talk is the want of precision of meaning in the words used. Often as used they cease to be intelligible. The function of words is the exchange of thought between one mind and another. That thought may be exchanged it is essential that the word used shall connote the same notion in the mind of both user and hearer. When this is the case there is exchange of thought between two minds. But when otherwise the bark of a dog or the mew of a cat is as valuable a medium for thought transference. As far as thought transference is concerned a word with any meaning is a word with no meaning. Thus a word like 'capital' (which a House of Commons spent a valuable afternoon in war time wrangling over) is of no great value for exchange of ideas. In these cases the argument usually degenerates into squabbling as to whose use of the word is correct. And so imperfect a medium for exchange of thought is language that chop logic can always take exception to any statement by arguing as to the meaning of a word. For words to be effective they must be used only between those anxious to understand one another. It is hardly possible to make any statement in words that is not susceptible of more than one meaning. This it is which makes law writing so verbose, wearisome, tautological, and cumbersome generally. It is written, not for those anxious to
understand, but for those determined to misunderstand if a possible chance be given. So with most debates. One is speaking to people not anxious to find out what you really mean, but to find lapses which they can make capital of. The Germans have tried to give precision to words by compounding them. Whether they have made a success is doubtful. They have a great contempt for our monosyllabic language, but probably preciseness is more to be found in our system than in theirs. In the end every mental conception goes back to some notion of some fact appreciated by one of our five senses. Conceptions which do not so go back when reduced to simple language usually become nonsense pure and simple. Every science has technical terms, its words of art. These words are to express shortly ideas of which they are a succinct summary. Take the words “parallel lines," as used by Euclid. Challenged as to the meaning of “parallel," and it can be given in short, precise words with a meaning not in doubt. And so the grandest word used by every philosopher ought to be translatable into plain, simple, monosyllabic words which every one can understand. It is to avoid being cumbersome the big word is used and alone ought to be used. Undoubtedly those who plume themselves on their superiority because of the strangeness of the words they use are legion. To some, to use a word which no one else understands is the acme of intellectual supremacy. As a matter of fact the savage is more intelligent when he tries to impress his enemy with the terrors of his tom-tom or the horror of his cries. If words are not understood, why use them? They are more impressive when not understood, as one word artist frankly and cynically confessed. He knew his audience. One incident : it was the close of an election campaign. “And now," said the great man to his brother candidate, “now if we say nothing we are all right," and for more than an hour he and his brother candidate spoke vigorously and no doubt did say nothing.
It was at our last meeting you did me the honour to elect me as your President, and when I consider the roll of those who have preceded me in such office — including, among others, our illustrious fellow-citizen, William Roscoe himself—I find it difficult to put into words how deeply I appreciate the kindness you have done me.
And now, at the opening of this session, I know that first and foremost you would have me voice the deep gratitude we all feel to that Mighty Power which has brought us in safety through the terrible dangers of the past five years.
Far other might have been our meeting to-night. What might have been! And we shudder at the possibilities. But Providence, in its infinite goodness, has seen fit to bring us safely through the war, and though anxieties of peace still beset us they are restfulness to the anxieties we have now put aside. Victory ours, nothing really matters. Folly or wisdom may mean years of more or less unsettlement, but little else. A mighty world-change has taken place, is still taking place. The transition will be accomplished, but whether with creaking and groaning or in amity and peace is alone in the balance. The flood of life is moving forward, slowly, maybe, but irresistible as an Alpine glacier. Who the engineer to stay one of those ice Aoes as inch by inch it travels to the sea ? And who the magician to bid life's river change its course
* An address read before the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society at the opening of the one hundred and ninth Session, October, 1919.
in its passage through eternity? If he but round off a few snags, dynamite a few boulders, that it may run more smoothly, he will rank as the benefactor of his kind.
And had we gone under, again nothing would have mattered. Our tale told, we should have ceased to exist. The Incas of Peru, high lords of a proud and haughty race, rule half a world. To-day, draggled slaves of disaster, its people flee the light of the sun, and representative of the once god-like Montezuma we see a tramp or some beggar in rags. In their songssongs of unutterable pathos and sadness—do we alone find trace of this once mighty people of the past. And such the change of but some few hundred years. They could not thrive in subjection. Such their nature, such ours. Overwhelmed, and our proud AngloSaxon spirit had also been numbered with the things that have been.
And now to-night for a moment I would like to speculate on what the morrow may hold for us, and speculate a little further as to how far, if at all, the moulding of that morrow may be in our hands. Can we even bring that morrow nearer by one hour by any. thing we say or do? I know as individuals we seem conscious of a power to go our own whither, do our own will, and yet as years pass by do we not seem more and more as a child set to journey between two steep precipices. It can, as an irresponsible whim prompts it, now run a little up this side, now the other, but in the end to be returned to the course marked out for it by the iron hand of nature. Or another simile. In the Hartz Mountains or the watershed of the Danube, from many a hill wells a little streamlet. And it rushes along, so fussy and important, so free, so bright, so joyous, so sparkling, so individual and independent. And as it leaps from crag to crag in the very ecstasy of living, as it were, free agency personified, it is joined by many another like little rivulet and on they alimpour in torrent together until they join and become one with the mighty slow moving river,