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From the old dog : being the letters of the Hon. --- ---, ex prime minister to his nephew online

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elsewhere, be man's woman still, and remain faith-
ful to the instincts which have been graved into her
by so many centuries of time. If not if woman
votes and legislates as woman's woman there will
be some interesting developments for the next few
generations to watch. The overlordship of man is
not an essential condition of community existence
(though it seems to be an essential condition of pre-
sent civilised existence); among the bees and the
ants, for instance, the male is but a very poor crea-
ture: Humanity may start to work on bee-lines.

But there will need to be a wonderful change, not
in man's, but in woman's mind, before anything
that the franchise can give, that the full recogni-

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"FROM THE OLD DOG"

tion of sex-equality can give, will make her as
happy as she is, with her triumphant feminity, in
that land where man does the work that woman
may enjoy the pleasure.

Meanwhile, my political philosophy on the matter
was to give the dear creatures what they asked for
in the way of "rights," as soon as it was fairly plain
that they really wanted them.

By the way, I should certainly vote for that
Divorce Bill. It is useless for the secular law to
lean on a religious sentiment which does not exist.
If a law seeks to enforce an idea of sex morality
which is alien to the general sentiment of the com-
munity it will necessarily fail. And so long as the
law does not, in allowing freedom to all, force free-
dom on those who do not want it, there is no valid
reason for any complaint. The State's business is
not to interfere with anybody's religious convic-
tions, but it is its function to encourage happy and
fruitful marriages; and part of that encouragement
consists in providing for the rectification of the per-
centage of errors which necessarily occur in the
making of matches. In this regard it is worth
noting that it is mostly the childless marriage which
comes to the Divorce Court. Fruitful marriages
are more rarely sundered.

Those who profess to see in reasonable divorce
facilities a reversion from monogamy argue against
the facts. The general tendency in civilised coun-

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THE WOMAN QUESTION

tries is rather to strengthen the monogamic system.
Civilised man, following an indoor occupation, is
less ardent than his open-air forefathers. Civilised
woman tends through her different type of educa-
tion and for other reasons not easily discussed in
the other direction. The original sex disparity in
mankind which made polygamy a natural institu-
tion is rapidly being effaced by civilised life, and the
effect is to buttress monogamic institutions.

Another influence working in the same direction
is the increased complexity of life, which makes the
"charm" naturally attracting a man and a woman
a very much less simple matter than of old. The
primeval courtship, when a man looked over the
figure of a girl, saw it was good, and proposed to
her with a club, has vanished. Nowadays the
average civilised man demands in a woman whom
he wishes to make his mate a whole train of quali-
ties which appeal to him; and the woman, on her
part, is scarcely less exigent in her demands. The
result is a general rule of careful courtship, and of
stable marriages. Two people who have mated
after very careful mutual examination usually come
to the sensible conclusion even if they find their
marital life hardly up to the ideal they had formed
that, anyhow, they have probably done as well
as was possible, and that a change would most
likely be for the worse.

Which attitude represents, on the whole, the

133



"FROM THE OLD DOG."

truth. Marriage is rarely the perfect union sung
of by the poets, but in a civilised community it is
generally a fairly happy partnership of two people,
who have, by living together, acquired many
mutual tastes; who are bound together by their
children; and who find passion fading away very
comfortably into quiet affection. There is little
fear in civilised communities of any divorce facili-
ties leading to a general weakening of home life.
A proportion of the idle rich will always desecrate
and abuse marriage, as they do all other social in-
stitutions. A section of the desperate poor will,
from the other pole of society, adopt the same
anarchist attitude. But the great body of the
people in all civilised countries is becoming, through
education, increasingly ethical and increasingly
common-sensible, and, therefore, to an increasing
extent, monogamic. Divorce facilities will do
nothing to discourage that tendency. On the con-
trary, by giving relief to the victims of mistakes,
they will assist in establishing the stability of mar-
riage. A man or woman denied relief, and tied by
the law to an unhappy home, is apt to be driven to
desperation, and may become the means of destroy-
ing the happiness of other homes if not given a
second chance of an honest family life.

But this strays from politics and apes philosophy.

Quo, Jlfnsa, tendis ?

Your affectionate Uncle.

134



ON BEING LOCAL AND NARROW.



XVI.

ON BEING LOCAL AND NARROW.

SYDNEY, 3/2/-.

My Dear Jack: So Barsing told you that you
"really ought to travel, and see the Great Empire,"
for your mental improvement. Nonsense, dear boy,
nonsense. To hint in this 2Oth century that the
effects of travel may be harmful and not beneficial,
is to incur, I suppose, the reproach of an illiberal
mind, of a narrow view and of a parochial patriot-
ism. Yet many things which look disgustingly in-
tolerant at a first sight can be seen, in their true
lights, as of great value after a closer examination.
Perhaps "travel," in spite of its fetish position in
the minds of modern men, is not always a sure path
to knowledge and breadth of mind. There have
been great men who grew to noble estate fixed
within petty boundaries; there have been great
rulers and reformers who owed nothing to foreign
intercourse. On the other hand, there have been
many instances where the travelling of its rulers
has led to a nation limping pitifully in "tardy apish"

137



"FROM THE OLD DOG."

fashion in awkward imitation of some other land;
and individuals have come back from a grand tour
with no better intellectual broadening than a know-
ledge of the price of chickens in Rome and the rates
of 'bus fares in London.

The question, so far as Australia is concerned,
is practically as to the respective value of sturdi-
ness and of polish. The travelled Australian will
gain some polish. It is likely that in many
cases he will lose some sturdiness. The man who
hasn't a country of his own, only the beginnings
of a country, is not safe abroad. He has no great
national traditions of his own to stay him up, no
splendid history behind him, no very glittering
prospect before him. He is naturally tempted by
the glories of other lands, their riches and their
promises of great rewards, to forget the poor little
patch he came from and to become un-Australian;
that is, unless he is of the temper of a Cincinnatus,
and human steel of that sort is rare. Study the ave-
rage Australian politician before and after his first
visit to London, and the effects of "travel" are
usually apparent. Before, he is prone to speak of Aus-
tralia as the first consideration; afterwards after
he has figured in a Court suit, and grasped, or seen
close to his grasp, a title; after his mind has been
infected with the dazzling possibilities of the ad-
vancement to be won in richer fields he doesn't
seem to think so much of his own Commonwealth.

138



ON BEING LOCAL AND NARROW

National advancement only comes from an entire
self-devotion and a complete centralising of a
people's energies on its own affairs. Indeed it
may be said that national advancement needs what,
from a cosmopolitan point of view, may be called a
"narrow" outlook. The eyes must be in the boat.
Energy must be centred in the furrow that is before
the plough. The Australian who is to do any good
for Australia must be for Australia, and Australia
alone, all the time. It is ridiculous for the Aus-
tralian public man to prate of a "broad view,"
whilst he neglects Australia to seek distinction of
outside favour. Such an attitude is first cousin to
that of the man who neglects his own family while
attitudinising on platforms for the advancement of
humanity and the promotion of the millennium.

Australia cannot offer a very glittering field to the
public man as yet. Its domestic politics attract but
little attention in the outside world, though they
can promote the happiness of 5,000,000 of people.
It can hold out no prospect of great riches to its
servants, who must accept as part of the price of
faithful service the consciousness of duty rightly
done and a country nobly served. Only to the truly
great man, whose mind is not wholly sordid, whose
intellect is sufficiently great to lift him above the
garish mummery of courts and titles and barbaric
gauds, does Australia give a tempting enough pros-
pect. There are such men, whose love is for the

139



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

work and not the reward; and they are wanted in
Australia; and they need no training in Court cere-
monial, no familiarity with the pomp of Empire, to
fit them for their work. For them "travel" is un-
necessary, even though not harmful. But Aus-
tralia cannot at first hope to breed many such men,
cannot hope to have them always available for its
government. It must store its wine in weaker
vessels sometimes; and it is these pots that are
so liable to come back cracked from London. Left
in Australia, subject to none of the temptations of
the richer world outside, they might foljow the in-
spiriting example of greater minds, and follow the
path of Australian duty narrow though it be. With
a knowledge of broader, easier paths, leading to
more glittering rewards, they are apt to desert the
ideal of Australia.

When Australia has done something for itself,
when it has redeemed its credit and tilled some
small proportion of its soil and set up its factories,
and grown to nationhood, it will be time for its
public men to revise their attitude. At present there
is too much work at home, and Australia cannot,
without treachery to itself, give any thought or
effort to other tasks. That is the view which Aus-
tralian public men should take. It may be a dull,
gray 'view; there is no gleam in it of a parrot's
feather, or a ribbon, or a bit of coloured glass,
given with ridiculous solemnity by a ruling person-

140



ON BEING LOCAL AND NARROW

age. But it has an intrinsic nobility of its own,
and a virtue which can afford to incur the re-
proach of narrow-mindedness. To it the bacillus
of London is often fatal.

"Disgustingly local and narrow," eh? Perhaps I
don't mean it all; but this talk of the "necessity"
of going to London makes me wild. Do the Lon-
doners talk of the "necessity" of going to Australia?

In the old days we used to have a lot of that
sort of spirit. Then the Australian found little
encouragement in this, his country by birth or
adoption. "Australian" as an adjective applied to
men or goods in Australia, was long almost
synonymous with "second-class." Australian wine,
"colonial" beer, local furniture, home-made jam
were used as terms of inferiority, and gave indica-
tions of a wide current of anti-Australian thought.
The Australian youth of the richer classes could not
be taught on absolutely right lines in Australia. He
had to go to Eton and learn to leave the last button
of his vest loose, as if he had dressed in a hurry and
really couldn't bother; or to Harrow and find the
art of poising a pill-box straw hat on his head; and
then on to Oxford to acquire the Piccadilly drawl
and the languishing affectation of an accent of bore-
dom. The Australian girl wasn't quite the thing
until she had been to London and worn a shockingly
cold dress on a shockingly cold day before a royal
personage who hadn't gained enough common-sense

141



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

to allow his or her guests to be decently and warmly
clad at a "Drawing-room." The Australian politi-
cian looked for his highest earthly reward in Lon-
don, and sang his nunc dimitte when a tired clerk-
ling in Downing-street posted to him one of a batch
of decorations intended for nigger chiefs, "colonial"
politicians, and small English mayors. Whenever
a good Australian billet was open, there was a sug-
gestion that an Englishman should be imported to
fill it.

Now, thank goodness, that is fading away. But
it is still argued that you must go to London before
you can be really civilised. Well, I, for one, refuse
to see it.

Your affectionate Uncle.



142



ON THE FISCAL ISSUE.



XVII.

ON THE FISCAL ISSUE.

SYDNEY, 10/6/-.

My Dear Jack: No thanks, I'm not going to spoil
good note-paper with logic-chopping on the fiscal
issue. There is no fiscal issue. We are all Pro-
tectionists now.

Oh, yes, there are thousands of good arguments
for Freetrade. But the days have gone for the
deductive philosopher in economics. The gentle-
man who, by close Scotch reasoning (Scotch
reasoning is distinguishable by the fact that
it gives nothing away) from an imaginary
first principle, proves that it is best to
buy in the cheapest market and sell in the
dearest, has gone out of date. Nations now decide
their policies by facts, not fancies. All over the
civilised world a close inquiry is proceeding, by
practical inductive methods, into the causes of
national prosperity and of national decadence.
The actual facts of industry and commerce

145 K



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

are classified and traced back to their causes;
and there is no hesitation in groping out
after a benefit by a succession of empirical
methods, and choosing finally the one that proves
sound. It is the day of scientific tariffs, of bonuses
to industries, of retaliatory and preferential tariffs,
of constant effort by Government interference to
promote the growth of national undertakings.

The process of an inductive inquiry is never abso-
lutely complete. There is always another set of
facts being opened up, and suggesting further ex-
ploration and a fresh modification of methods of
treatment. But two general conclusions have been
arrived at which are likely to stand undisturbed:
That a country cannot be safe and prosperous with-
out a flourishing agricultural industry, and that
such an industry cannot flourish without the growth
by its side of manufacturing enterprises. The
inter-dependence of the two is as obvious as the
necessity of the two. To stand four-square, a
nation must not only have those two legs, but must
have them working in unison.

Britain is the standard example among civilised
nations of a country seeking to do without a great
agricultural industry.

Russia is an example, on the other side, of a
nation with an adequate agricultural industry, but
insufficient manufactures, and consequently a
miserable peasantry. The "great natural indus-

146



ON .THE FISCAL ISSUE



tries," after feeding the local population, must rely
on an export market for their surplus. There are
but a few great manufacturing towns in Russia to
give them customers, and, in the lack of those
centres, agricultural industry must confine itself
to the production of easily-exportable staples.
Small, "mixed" farming, producing fruit, poultry,
vegetables and cream for an adjacent city, is not
generally possible, for the cities are not there. Fur-
ther, there being few cities with great factories,
there is no outlet for the surplus labour bred by the
agricultural population. The plot of land which
keeps the farmer of this generation in comfort will
provide but a miserable pittance for the farmer's
three sons of the next generation. There are not
sufficient factories to absorb two of those, so an
increasing population remains on the land, and is
poor. It is calculated that the agricultural land of
Russia proper requires the labour of 12,000,000
adult men, but is divided among 18,000,000. The sur-
plus 6,000,000 add nothing to the productivity of
the land; they are, in a sense, parasites. Were
there in existence factories to absorb those
6,000,000, it would mean a vast increase in comfort
for the 12,000,000 left on the land, and another
great body of consumers to give a stimulus to
another band of agriculturists.

Without going further into that, I think there is
something new to be said on the sentimental side

147



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

of the fiscal issue. I get tired of the mildly fierce
wrangles about twopence-halfpenny issues involved
in the details of a tariff, eloquent debates as to
whether the country would be a few odd pence to
the good or to the bad if a particular duty were
increased or decreased, wonderful statistical cal-
culations as to the relative advantages of importing
certain articles or manufacturing them in the
country. I always feel inclined to stop the war
of figures with the remark that if, as the Free-
traders said, the country was bound to lose a little
on the Protectionist deal, and the issue was to keep
a shop and gain twopence-halfpenny, or to be a
self-contained nation and lose that amount, I was
for being a nation all the time.

It should be understood, as a first principle of
politics, that, quite apart from any issues of Free-
trade or Protection, Australia, being in an insular
position and liable at any time to be cut off from
communication with the outside world by a naval
war, should be able to feed herself, clothe herself,
and arm herself out of her own resources, from
her own factories. Even if the pursuit of this end
causes an economic loss, yet that should cause no
hesitation. The home-made rifle may cost 3 as
against the imported rifle's 2, yet even apart
from the fact that it is cheaper for a man to pay
himself 5 than to pay another man 2, it is clear
that Australia, as the only means to make sure that

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ON THE FISCAL ISSUE



she can get the rifle when she most needs it, should
pay the 3 without a murmur. The same remark
applies to the rifle's ammunition, and to agricul-
tural and mining machinery, and to railway engines
and rails, and to steel ships, and to a thousand
other things. Even if, by building a big reservoir,
a city makes its water-supply more costly than by
relying on roof-tanks and wells, the reservoir is
generally built to give surety of supply. And a
nation, to ensure a continuance of its existence as
a nation, must make certain of its supply of the
first necessaries of civilised life. That's the
National view of the fiscal issue.

I don't think there is need for any other view.

Your affectionate Uncle.



ON DEFENCE.



XVIII.

ON DEFENCE.

SYDNEY, 10/10/-.

My Dear Jack: The Defence question wanes a
little in importance, fortunately. The measures
now developing promise to meet the most urgent
needs of the moment. But there is still no excuse
for apathy, and I would like to see you always
make a "strong line" of Defence.

We in the past have neglected defence to an
abnormal extent. The Australian public has been
for generations taught to believe in its own want of
spirit and capacity. The deplorable lack of an
efficient savage removed from the early Australian
the necessity of learning the discipline of defence.
He came to a country where there was neither wild
man nor wild beast to make him carry a rifle. So
soon as he began to settle down to organised life,
the borrowing habit and the Foreign-trade habit
taught him sloth and dependence. He was urged
to rely on others to do for him what he should do
for himself, and conditions of life made the bad
advice easy of acceptance. In Australia in the
early days (and, to an extent still) money was

151



"FROM THE OLD DOG."

made with a fatal facility, and this helped the
growth of a lazy and disreputable system of de-
pending on outsiders for the means to build our
public works, for the factories to make our clothes
and our tools, and for the ships to defend our
shores. The Australian type did not exactly lose
its strenuousness. The stock was too good for
that. But its energies, lacking the call to devotion
to national aims, were perverted into the larrikinism
of the cities and the bushranging and the wild devil-
may-care nomadism of the bush; or were dissipated
abroad pioneering in South America, Africa, and
Asia. Thus the chief problem of defence was to
waken the dormant self-respect of Australia.

Then comes the money question. Rents are cheap
in a Fool's Paradise. But security has to be
bought with dear money. The thorough re-organi-
sation of defence on a sound system will call
for money much money. But for this lonely out-
post of the white man in the South Pacific every
pound wisely spent on defence is money put to
advantage.

The ultimate ideals you should aim at are:

That every physically fit man in the country
should be able to take his place in the defence ranks
either on land or sea in case of danger.

That the uniform should be the least that is
necessary to distinguish the soldier, when he is on
duty, from the citizen.

152



ON DEFENCE



That the warships and equipment should repre-
sent the last word of modern military science,
and should be manufactured exclusively in Aus-
tralia.

That the citizen-soldier called upon for the
minimum amount of training-service should be
taught to regard that service as a matter of citizen
duty, deserving no monetary reward, but that the
extra service required from non-commissioned and
commissioned officers, and specialised units, such
as engineers and gunners, should be fairly
recognised.

That promotion should be strictly by merit, with-
out reference to social rank.

That the necessary permanent staff should be
kept to the lowest degree possible consistent with
efficiency, but should be paid at such good rates
as to command the best of talent, and should have
the advantage of a fair pension system, so that
fairly early retirements might allow of quick pro-
motions.

Of course the logical corollary of universal ser-
vice in a democratic country is the abolition of class
distinctions in the army. If in England every voter
were a soldier, the system by which the army is
the playground of the wealthy young bloods would
have to fall; and that system is an essential of
present British social life. The British soldier is,
as to the ranker, a sort of helot, who must not

153



"FROM THE OLD DOG"

appear in uniform in respectable public-houses, but
can use his uniform as a bait to wheedle nurse-girls
into supplying him with beer-money (there is a
fixed tariff paid by the London servant-girls for
being allowed the honour of walking with a gaudy
soldier in public). The British soldier is, as to the
officer, largely the gilded youth filling in time by
being in the service, or a snob anxious to court
society from the vantage ground of a fashionable
regiment. That, withal, the British soldier (and
the British officer) is very good stuff when the
firing-line crackles in the fight, only shows that
a good brand of white men can show good in
spite of a deal of discouragement. In our Aus-
tralian army all class distinctions should go.

Be an optimist as to defence always a business-
like optimist. Of course, Australia can't have at
once a great navy and an army to equal France's
But she can do her best.

Australia, in any great war of Powers, would
expect England to be fighting its battles. In
spite of the Japanese alliance, which brought the
only real peril this continent has to face so much
nearer, Australia expects that still; just as, doubt-
less, England expects what help Australia can give
when Armageddon comes. But that Australia
must fall with England, if England falls, is no more
true than that America must so fall. And conceiv-
ably if the policy which inspired the Japanese

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ON DEFENCE



alliance is allowed to further dominate British
councils, and they become Asiatic rather than
European in their aims Australia may have to
stand apart from England, and still there would
be no reason to wholly despair. Australia with its
5,000,000 of people (who should have 5,000,000
more to keep them company within a decade) has
all the capacities for defence against any possible
enemy. If you don't believe that if you have not
the faith that Australia can, and will one day,
organise its national life to make for full security
you should not remain in the country, and build up
a family, and a home where you with your wife
and yours are at the mercy of some outsider's whim
as to whether you will one day be a slave to the
Asiatic.

Finally, Australia's defence duty is, first to keep


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Online LibraryFrank FoxFrom the old dog : being the letters of the Hon. --- ---, ex prime minister to his nephew → online text (page 7 of 8)