Page:Great Speeches of the War.djvu/311

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[Speech at a public meeting organized by the Victoria League, and held in King George's Hall, London, Central Y.M.C.A., on January 26, 1915.]

My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen:—It is a special privilege to me to be permitted to take the chair on this occasion, for it gives me an opportunity of paying my tribute of esteem and admiration to the splendid, assiduous, and unending work of the Victoria League. Long before I held my present post I was aware of the League's beneficent activities, but during the four years and more that I have been at the Colonial Office, I have come to realize the special value of its services and to feel an abiding gratitude for their results. [Cheers.]

Year by year an ever-increasing stream set to these shores of those whom one might call, with official correctitude, "visitors from the Dominions," but who, often with affectionate modesty, style themselves "home-coming Colonials." [Hear, hear.] Many of them were born in the Dominions and have never been in England in their lives, but nevertheless they all talk of their visit to a strange land as "coming home." [Cheers.] It is the open-handed and warm-hearted welcome of the workers of the Victoria League which, in many cases, more than anything else made England a veritable home to those Dominion brothers and sisters whom we are so proud to see. It is that touch of Nature which made the Empire kin. [Hear, hear.]

We are met on this occasion to acknowledge with deep gratitude the debt we owe to every corner—even the remotest—of that Empire for the unexampled response to the needs of the Motherland. [Cheers.] There is no sacrifice of men, of money, of material which seemed too great for those of our blood who are wide flung throughout the world. And not of our blood or colour only. [Cheers.] There have been ill-informed, blind, misguided fools who thought that when England was at war India would be in mutiny. They were wrong. [Cheers,] But