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VI. SECTION MEETINGS.
The Section Meetings are designed for familiar discussion. Not more than one paper shall be read at any Section Meeting, and that paper shall be limited to fifteen minutes. If possible, papers shall be printed and distributed beforehand, that the entire meeting may be given to discussion. No afternoon meetings shall be inserted in the official programme.
In the debates of the Conference, speakers shall be limited to five minutes each, except by unanimous consent, and shall not be allowed to speak twice on any one subject until all others have had an opportunity to be heard.
These rules shall remain in force from year to year, unless amended; and all additions or amendments shall be submitted to the Executive Committee before being acted on by the Conference.
"THE MOTHER-STATE AND HER WEAKER
BY ALEXANDER JOHNSON.
The French diplomat who returned to Versailles, after negotiating a treaty of peace at which certain Canadian provinces had been ceded to Great Britain, told the result to the king by saying, "Your majesty has lost a few leagues of snow."
To-day the National Conference of Charities and Correction comes to one of the great cities which have grown so marvellously in this magnificent Dominion during the latter half of the century. We find a city so beautiful, a country so rich in all that makes for prosperity, a people so intelligent, virtuous, and publicspirited, that those who have not known the Canada of recent years must wonder as well as admire.
Since those old days when France and England 'were contending for a dominion which neither of them appreciated, how wonderful has been the history on both sides of the Atlantic! What might have been the result, had the British statesmen of 1776 been actuated by the wisdom and moderation of those of 1837, it is impossible to say. Probably the world has advanced more rapidly, and more of our race are made happy, because the Empire lost that part which is now the Great Republic. But, though separated politically, the ties that unite us are infinitely stronger than the things which hold us apart. We come to our brothers, separated only on most of our boundary by an arbitrary line. We find a self-government of free men, like ours in all but name; with similar customs, habits and traditions; alike in education; 'worshipping God in similar churches with identical creeds and forms; speaking the same
language and reading the same books; loyal to the same great leaders in literature, art, science and philosophy. You, too, are struggling with similar difficulties and evils: our well-known foes of crime, disease and degeneracy menace your welfare. Our criminals and tramps cross the border very easily. Yours come south for the winter and ours find health and wealth in your more bracing northern air when the summer heats prevail.
With such surroundings, we cannot and do not feel that we are abroad. We claim this fair Dominion as a sister State. Its people are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. Dear friends of Canada, we feel that we have come to our own people, not to strangers, one in religion, in liberty, in philanthropy, joining in ardent hope for the fulfilment of the prophecy of the homely Scottish poet, whom we on the south side of the ink-line on the map love as you do on the north,
"When man with man, the wide warld o'er,
Shall brithers be for a' that."
Dear friends of the National Conference, who meet to-day as we have met many times in cities far apart, is there anywhere a place of public meeting where men and women of such varied opinions, temperaments, positions and experiences, meet annually, and find such hearty, whole-souled friendship, such mutual respect, confidence and affection, as are found by us who meet in this National Conference? Carlyle tells us that the best material for a pair of friends is two persons with different opinions, but identical sentiments. I take it that here is the secret of this brotherhood in which we are knit. For, surely, nowhere can we find wider differences of opinion among thoughtful, intelligent people than we find here; and nowhere among so many people is there such unanimity of sentiment as we enjoy toward the many weak ones, our erring, suffering brothers and sisters, with whose errors, misfortunes and defects we are chiefly concerned.
If there were no other purpose in our annual gathering than, as the apostle says, "to provoke one another to love and good works, surely none of us "who have been there," and found noble and lasting stimulus, would refuse to say "and still would go." If all we gained by our hundreds of miles of travel and our absence from home at perhaps some sacrifice, were the heart-warming that comes
from meeting the friends of so many years, few of us would willingly stay away.
Let us consider a moment why we are here and what there is for us in this Conference. A bright newspaper man in my State attending his first Conference of Charities, put the object of the meeting in an epigram. He said it seemed to him that the purpose of the Conference was "to reduce the tuition fees in the school of experience." That tells a chief object of our meeting as well as it can be told in ten words: not so much to learn by the experience of others, that perhaps is not yet possible, for few of the propositions of charities and correction can be conclusively demonstrated, like the truths of chemistry or mathematics,- but to gain a point of view; to look at our own experience, which is still our best teacher, in the light of others' thoughts, to compare the lessons we have wholly or partly learned with those our friends have found valuable.
Another purpose has often been stated, especially when debating the place for our next meeting and that is what may be called the missionary effect of our Conference, that stimulating and tonic influence upon the whole work of charities and correction in the State and city we are to visit, which has been felt now in twenty-two States and twenty-three cities and which those of us who have had the privilege of acting as the hosts of the Conference have felt so deeply and prized so highly in our own home city and State.
But higher and greater than these is another, which, it seems to me, is the great purpose this Conference has to subserve,—to cultivate and diffuse through the length and breadth of this broad land a noble and right sentiment toward the host of people whose misfortunes have brought them within our knowledge. Will you say that this work has been done,- that we as members of the Conference have long since learned how to think of and how to feel toward the destitute, the defective and the delinquent? Let us pause before. we answer such a question. Is it not true that, as the years have gone by and brought us a wider experience, our point of view has changed and with it those emotions upon which our sentiments are based? and is it not still changing,— not only our point of view, but still more that of the great majority of our fellow-citizens in the commonwealths to which we belong? Is not the popular view of charity, of penology, of pauperism and dependency, changing with wonderful rapidity?
At various sessions of this Conference we have had presented to us word pictures of the hosts of those for whom we must care, whose errors we must correct, for whose failures we must atone, whose deficiencies we must supply, for whose sins we and ours must suffer. They have been described to us as the talus of society, the detritus, breaking down under the attrition of the heat and frost, the drought and the rain, which so constantly attack them, and falling to the foot of the cliff; as captive hosts marching in sad and weary ranks in the triumphal procession of strong, all-conquering material progress; as parasites, securing a living without exertion of their own by sucking the juices of active, self-maintaining organisms. We have heard of them as great and dangerous armies,—the army of criminals, the army of tramps, the army of paupers, of defectives, of dependants. Estimates of their total number have been made, reaching, when we include them all in one great category, into the millions, the criminals of all grades from the murderer to the misdemeanant, the paupers, tramps, prostitutes, mendicants, the insane, epileptic, idiotic, inebriate, the deaf and mute, the blind and diseased. For twenty-four years we have been meeting to think and talk about these people. They are the reason for our existence as a Conference. Their needs and their misdeeds cause more than half the burden of taxation in most of the States. It seems of immense importance to us, and those we represent, that our knowledge of them and their conditions shall be accurate and full, and that all we do for and about them shall be governed by right emotions.
It has been well said that humanity is best served when science and charity unite. Slowly through the recent years we have been gaining a great and unifying conception, which seems to give us a well-founded scientific basis for the work we represent here. The idea has been growing for many years, but only within one or two has the word been found around which it is to crystallize. The thought of the army of destitutes, defectives and delinquents, is fading away, and will soon become obsolete. An army means organization, discipline, the power of moving all its multitudinous units as a whole to a common end to which the motion of each part is subordinate. Not united strength which an army implies, but aggregated weakness, is the characteristic of these dismal hosts. We must regard them not as foes marching to war with us, but as our weaker