Sir Conan Doyle. Empire League Luncheon

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Sir Conan Doyle. Empire League Luncheon is an article written by a journalist of The Argus (Melbourne, Australia) on 7 october 1920.

Sir Conan Doyle. Empire League Luncheon

The Argus (7 october 1920)

Views of "The Man in the Street."

About 100 people attended a luncheon given by the British Empire League in Victoria at Menzies' Hotel yesterday in honour of Sir Conan and Lady Doyle. Mr. Ryan, M.L.A., presided, and at the top table were seated the Federal Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), the Assistant Minister for Defence (Sir Granville Ryrie). the Assistant Minister for Lands (Mr. Mackinnon), the chancellor of the University (Sir John MacFarland), Sir Henry Weedon, Mr. H. D. McIntosh, M.L.C., of New South Wales, the Lady Mayoress (Mrs. J. B. Stein), and Mrs. L. H. Moss.

The Chairman said that they were glad to welcome Sir Conan Doyle as one of the big Britishers who had given them courage and hope in their hour of trial.

Sir Joseph Cook, in proposing the toast of the visitors, said that he knew Sir Conan a little, as he had spent a week with him on the Somme. Shells were hurtling over their heads, and if he described Sir Conan as a "dare-devil" he did not think he would be exaggerating. He (Sir Joseph) knew little about spiritualism, and he had so little time for studying it these days. (Laughter.) He felt certain, however, that Sir Conan Doyle knew what he was talking about, and that in everything he said he was perfectly sincere.

Mr. Mackinnon, M.L.A., and Sir John MacFarland supported the toast, while Mrs. Moss, on behalf of the women, welcomed Lady Doyle.

Sir Conan Doyle said that the welcome would be a pleasant memory which he and Lady Doyle would always carry. He was indeed glad to meet again Sir Joseph Cook, with whom he had shared the luxuries of the Australian battle-front. (Laughter.) The Empire had emerged from its terrible struggle, and had shown once more that it was the Empire which declined to fall. As we looked back upon the stupendous happenings, one or two things began to emerge from the haze. One was that the German perception that it was a war between the British Empire and Germany was correct. It was also a struggle between two systems of thought - whether the individual was made for the State or whether the State was made for the individual. The reason of the German failure was that the State might have every power, but it had no soul. The State crushed out the soul - the thing which belonged to the individual. Germany had everything, and yet she lost. Six years ago she loomed as a great black bank upon our horizon, to-day she could only be compared to one of those great broken images which were found in Egypt. What was the reason? It was that Germany had hit her soul, and the Empire, which had to some extent saved its soul, had been victorious. We had Bolshevism and such things now, but we could not have a great cyclone without a ground swell afterwards. His simple economics were that he would like to see no man have luxuries till every man had enough. (Applause.) Then there was poor old Ireland, which, according to the poet Watson, "we have --ed but never won." He could assure them that they were anxious to win her, but unfortunately there were two ladies in the house. The one was in the North and the other in the South, and they declined to recognise the presence of each other. He thought perhaps that it was a bad thing that in the 17th century Ulster was "planted" as she was. Generally immorality was bad politics. (Laughter.) Now, however, Ulster felt that she was just as completely there as was the South of Ireland. There was in England the most kindly feeling towards the Irish, even if that feeling was not reciprocated. (Laughter.) He apologised for touching a length upon such weighty subjects at a pleasant a luncheon. But they had to remember that he was the real ruler of the British Empire and the moulder of its destiny. He was the man in the street. (Laughter and applause.)