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Full text of "The secret of heroism : a memoir of Henry Albert Harper"

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THE SECRET 
OF HEROISM 

A Memoir of 
Henry Albert Harper 



By 
W. L. MACKENZIE KING 




New York Chicago Toronto 

Fleming H. Reve// Company 

London and Edinburgh 




Copyright, 1906, by 
FLEMING H. REVELL COMPANY 



JUL /. 




cr 

310 



New York: 158 Fifth Avenue 
Chicago: 80 Wabash Avenue 
Toronto: 27 Richmond Street, W. 
London: 21 Paternoster Square 
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street 



So 
flftotber 



O STRONG soul, by what shore 
Tarriest thou now ? For that force, 
Surely, has not been left vain ! 
Somewhere, surely, afar, 
In the sounding labour-house vast 
Of being, is practiced that strength, 
Zealous, beneficent, firm ! 

Matthew Arnold, "Rugby Chapel." 



CONTENTS 

To THE READER 9 

THE SECRET OF HEROISM . . . . 21 

THE INFLUENCE OF HOME .... 24 

COLLEGE AND AFTER .... 34 

THE DAY'S WORK ..... 46 

NATURE 55 

BOOKS 65 

THE LOVE OF OTHERS .... 78 
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS . . .105 

THE PURPOSE OF LIFE . . . . 135 

A LAST WORD 150 



TO THE READER 

THE erection by the Canadian public 
of a monument in the capital of the 
Dominion ; its unveiling by the rep- 
resentative of the Crown ; its acceptance, on 
behalf of the government, by the Prime 
Minister of Canada ; a gathering of thou- 
sands to do honour to the occasion, and 
this, to commemorate the heroism oi one 
not yet eight and twenty years of age, is a 
national tribute which may well cause us to 
pause and silently revere a people who in 
their hearts cherish so strong a love for the 
heroic, and build for their children such 
sacred traditions. 

It is now four years since Henry Albert 
Harper, in an endeavour to save the life of 
Miss Bessie Blair, a girl of rare and beauti- 
ful character, was drowned with her in the 
Ottawa River. On an afternoon in Decem- 
ber, 1901, he had joined, by chance, a party 
9 



io THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

of three, of which Miss Blair was a member. 
They were skating on the river, a little be- 
fore twilight, when Miss Blair and a gentle- 
man who accompanied her, came suddenly 
upon a wide space of open water near the 
mouth of the Gatineau. Before there was 
time to avoid it, they had skated into the 
opening, and were at the mercy of the cur- 
rent. Harper, who was following at a short 
distance with a friend of Miss Blair, witnessed 
the accident and went at once to their assist- 
ance. Having sent the young lady with 
whom he was skating to the shore for help, 
he himself lay prone upon the ice, close to 
the edge, and extending his walking stick, 
endeavoured to put it within reach of those 
in the water. Finding the distance too great, 
and hearing Miss Blair assuring her com- 
panion that she could swim alone, for each 
to make a single attempt lest they should go 
down together, and seeing also that he was 
striving in vain to save her, Harper regained 
his feet, pulled off his coat and gauntlets, and 
prepared to risk his life in an endeavour to 



TO THE READER n 

effect a rescue. In answer to entreaties not 
to make the venture, that it meant certain 
death, he exclaimed, " What else can I do ! " 
and plunged boldly into the icy current in 
the direction of Miss Blair. They perished 
together ; their bodies were found on the 
following morning, the one not far from the 
other. Miss Blair's companion had a mirac- 
ulous escape, otherwise no one would have 
known of the brave deed which has given 
Harper an enviable fame, and of the no less 
splendid courage of Miss Blair. She, as well 
as Harper, was prepared to give her life for 
another. 

At a largely attended public meeting, held 
in the city hall of Ottawa a day or two after 
the occurrence, and which was presided over 
by the mayor, resolutions were passed invit- 
ing the public to join in the erection of a 
monument to commemorate Harper's hero- 
ism. It was decided that the monument 
should be of bronze or stone, to be erected in 
the open air, and to take the form of a figure^ 
symbolical of heroism and nobility of char- 



12 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

acter, such as might be suggested by the 
figure of " Sir Galahad," in the famous paint- 
ing of that name by the late George Frederick 
Watts, R. A. The choice of a sculptor was 
to be determined by a public competition, 
unrestricted in any way. 

The character of Harper's act was sufficient 
in itself to suggest " Sir Galahad " as a sub- 
ject suitable for a memorial of this kind, but 
the choice had, in fact, a more intimate asso- 
ciation with Harper himself. Hanging on 
the wall above the desk in his study, and 
immediately before him whenever he sat 
down to work, was a carbon reproduction of 
Watts' painting. He had placed it there 
himself, and often, in speaking of it to others, 
had remarked, " There is my ideal knight ! " 

In the design and model submitted to the 
memorial committee by Mr. Ernest Wise 
Keyser, the best expression appeared to be 
given to the ideal which it was hoped might 
be embodied in the monument to be erected. 
Mr. Keyser is a young American sculptor, a 
citizen of Baltimore, Maryland, who had his 



TO THE READER 13 

studio in Paris at the time. Subsequent to 
the making of the award it was learned that 
he had been born on the same day of the same 
year on which Harper was born. He was 
commissioned to execute the work. A beau- 
tiful bronze "Sir Galahad," mounted on a 
massive granite base, deep carved in which 
are Sir Galahad's words in the Holy Grail, 
" If I lose myself 
I save my self y " 

the whole standing within the shadow of the 
stately pile which crowns Parliament Hill, 
marks the successful completion of the sculp- 
tor's task. 

The monument was unveiled by His Ex- 
cellency Earl Grey, Governor-General of 
Canada on the afternoon of Saturday, i8th 
November, 1905. A fitting impressiveness 
marked the unveiling ceremonies. Notwith- 
standing that so long a time had elapsed 
since the deed it commemorated, and that 
the approach of winter was already evident 
in the cold air and in the presence of snow 
upon the ground, three thousand or more of 



I 4 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

the citizens of Ottawa assembled in the open 
to do honour to the occasion. Mr. P. D. 
Ross, the chairman of the memorial com- 
mittee, presided, and the Right Honourable 
Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Prime Minister of 
Canada, accepted the monument on behalf 
of the government. The writer had the 
honour, on behalf of the memorial com- 
mittee, of presenting the monument to Sir 
Wilfrid. The eloquent tributes paid to the 
memory of Harper by the chairman of the 
committee, and by the distinguished repre- 
sentatives of the king and of the people at the 
unveiling, were regarded by those who heard 
them as a memorial not less splendid than 
the monument which occasioned the refer- 
ence. The chairman, Mr. Ross, gave ex- 
pression, in the following words, to the feel- 
ings which had prompted the public in the 
erection of the monument : 

"Harper lost his life. But in that sacrifice he 
left to the rest of us a great lesson and a great 
inspiration. Everjfellqw_ Canadiaji of Henry 
Harper was honoured by his death, and every 






TO THE READER 15 

man of the English-speaking race from which he 
sprang. It was an assurance that in this country 
there is present the old manly virtue, the true 
steel of our forefathers. And, far more than that, 
it was one argument more that our human nature 
has in it inspiration and strength from a higher 
than earthly source. 

" Had such a thing gone uncommemorated by 
us, his fellow citizens, it would have been a dis- 
grace to us. The absence of this memorial, or 
of some memorial, would have marked our blind- 
ness, our meanness. Harper did not need this 
monument. We did^ Such heroic fire as his 
commemorates itself. But we fellow Canadians 
of Henry Harper needed to show by practical 
action that we could see and reverence the no- 
bility of soul which sent him knowingly to his 
grim death." 

The Right Honourable Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 
in accepting the monument on behalf of the 
government, spoke as follows : 

" Let me say, sir, in accepting this monument, 
commemorating, as it does, an heroic death, that 
the government of Canada looks upon its accept- 
ance as an honour, and will consider it a labour 



16 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

of love to care for it. I enter heartily into the 
spirit which conceived the idea of this splendid 
testimonial to a glorious deed. Harper's act of 
heroism will ever be an example and a lesson to 
us all. The stranger to our city will pause as he 
passes this monument and wonder what deed 
called forth its erection. He will be told of the 
noble act of self-sacrifice- of a life given in an ef- 
fort to save another. The citizens of Ottawa will 
ever be proud to honour the memory of Harper, 
and to look, as the government shall look, upon 
this memorial as a national monument in every 
sense of the word." 

His Excellency the governor-general, said : 

" I would like to extend my congratulations on 
the notable addition of this monument to the in- 
terest, embellishment and idealism of this Federal 
city. Although I never knew Harper, I have 
learned enough about him to believe that I shall 
seldom pass this monument without being re- 
minded of the example which he has bequeathed 
as a precious legacy. His character and ability 
were such as would have enabled him, had he 
lived, to win in the wide and honourable service 
of the Crown that distinction which is within the 



TO THE READER 17 

reach of all whose greatest delight is to spend 
themselves, their fortunes and their lives in the 
service of their fellow countrymen and their King. 
He is gone, but who shall say that Canada and 
the world are not richer by his death ? His char- 
acter and his example live. I congratulate the 
sculptor on the skill with which this statue of Sir 
Galahad indicates those qualities of energy, fear- 
lessness and service of which young Harper was 
the incarnation ; and I hope this statue may be 
only the first of a set of noble companions which, 
in the course of time, will make this street the 
Via Sacra of the capital. 

" A few years ago I stood at the grave side of 
another young civil servant of the Crown in the 
Matoppos of Rhodesia, who, as he was carried to 
his last resting place mortally wounded, said: 
' Well, it is a grand thing to die for the expansion 
of the Empire ' that Empire which, in his mind, as 
in that of Harper, was synonymous with the cause 
of righteousness. Harper and Hervey, had they 
known each other, would have been bosom friends; 
they both believed in their idea. If they had 
lived they both wouloT have done great things. 
They have both died, and how would they have 
died better ? for their ideas will not die ; no, 



i8 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

neither in the Matoppos, nor on the banks of the 
Ottawa, nor in any other portion of the British 
empire, so long as we are loyal to their traditions 
and follow their example." 

The regimental band of the Governor-Gen- 
eral's Footguards, which had volunteered its 
services, played "The ^ajo^JLeaf " as the 
King's representative unveiled the monument ; 
at the same moment the sun came out from 
behind a cloud. The ceremonies were con- 
cluded with the national anthem. 

It was the writer's privilege to have been 
Harper's oldest and most intimate friend. It 
has seemed to him that he would be un- 
worthy of a friendship such as existed between 
them, were he unwilling to share with others 
some of the beauty of soul which he knew sd 
well, and of which Harper's heroic deed was 
but an expression. For personal reasons, he 
has, up to the present, hesitated to disclose 
aught that has been in his keeping. The 
generous appreciation by the public of a 
single act appears to him now to warrant a 
larger confidence. He has ventured, there- 




THE SIR GALAHAD MONUMENT AT OTTAWA 

erected by the public to commemorate the 
Heroism of Henry Albert Harper. 



TO THE READER 19 

fore, to allow those who will, to look in at the 
windows of the soul, and see, in its sacred 
chambers, the secret which was an abiding 
presence in a life whose heroism has already 
received from the nation a recognition so 
splendid and impressive. 

To those into whose hands this little vol- 
ume may come, the writer begs they forget 
not that it is but a collection of fragments 
gathered, after he had gone, from along the 
path on which he trod. It is not Harper's 
life, it is not even a worthy tribute to his 
character. What it may contain of thoughts 
and expressions of his own will be acceptable 
as " broken light upon the depth of the un- 
spoken " ; for the rest it will be well, if, as 
a labour of love, it has done no injustice to 
the memory of a friend. 

W. L. M. K. 

Ottawa, January, 1906. 



THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

THE quality of a man's love will de- 
termine the nature of his deeds; oc- a-, A 
casion may present the opportunity, 
but character alone will record the experience. 
To a life given over to the pursuit of the 
beautiful and true, the immortal hour only 
comes when conduct at last rises to the level 
of aim, and the ideal finds its fulfillment in \ fa , 
the realm of the actual. " Greater love hath \ 
no man than this, that a man lay down his 
life for his friends." 

Few lives have been nxpre jearnest or con- 
stant in the pursuit of an ultimate perfec- 
tion than was Henry Albert Harper's ; few 
have sought more conscientiously than he 
to live out existence under the guidance of 
lofty aspirations, and in the light of pure 
ideals. There was nothing exceptional, save 
the opportunity, in the chivalrous act which 

21 



22 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

cost him his life. It was a sublime expres- 
sion of the hidden beauty of his real character 
and soul. Day by day he had been seeking 
for years to gain that freedom which is the 
reward of obedience to the highest laws of 
life, and little by little he had been fashioning 
a character unfettered and untrammelled by 
human weaknesses and prejudices, and strong 
in the noblest qualities of heart and mind. 
Galahad cried, " If I lose myself, I save my- 
self! " In the same spirit, and with the same 
insight into truth, Harper sought to keep 
unbroken the vision of immortality which 
was his, to be faithful to an ideal of duty, 
which, by a seeming loss, he has made in- 
carnate for all time. 

By what path the heroic was attained in 
Harper's life may be traced from the pages 
of a diary, in which at intervals he recorded 
his thoughts, and from the words he has left 
in letters to his friends. Fragmentary as 
these are, an attempt has been made in the 
following pages to weave from them the story 
of his inner life, in the belief that its beauty 



THE SECRET OF HEROISM 23 

will bring courage and inspiration to many, 
and in the knowledge that there is something 
of inestimable worth in a recorded experience 
which reveals the endeavour of a human soul 
to know and attain the highest, and to realize 
its divine capacities amid the complexities of 
every-day life. 



THE INFLUENCE OF HOME 

HARPER was born in the village of 
Cookstown, Ontario, on December 
9, 1873, but most of his childhood 
was spent at Barrie, one of the most pictur- 
esque and beautifully situated of Canadian 
inland towns. The vine-clad lattice alone 
obstructed the beautiful view from the front 
veranda of his father's house across the waters 
of Kempenfeldt Bay, and it was to this home 
and its associations that he was wont to at- 
tribute all that was best in his _nature and 
dearest in his affections. It was there that 
the great joys and the great sorrows of his 
short life had centred. It was over this Barrie 
home that the skies were the brightest to 
him ; and it was there, too, that for a time 
the clouds had appeared to return after the 
rain. 

There are few pages anywhere which, in 
24 



THE INFLUENCE OF HOME 25 

simpler or more tender words, disclose a 
heart's love and sorrow, a life's greatest in- 
spiration and its greatest grief, than those 
which commence Harper's diary after it 
had remained closed for nearly three years. 
They constitute an expression of feeling so 
personal, a record so sacredly tender, that 
their publication can be justified only on 
the ground that they are among the few 
passages he has left which reveal the influ- 
ence of his home upon his life, an influence 
which, as the words themselves show, was 
the strongest and the sweetest he had known. 
Just a year before his death, Harper writes : jZc.c. I '9 

" For nearly three years this book has travelled 
around with me unopened three years in which 
I seem to have lived a lifetime. They have been 

filled with satisfaction enough in some ways, and 

xniu- 1-^-*^*** 
with pain enough, too. Seven months ago, when 

^KfVO^ I * ' ' 

the world seemed empty, I was inclined to throw 
myself upon these pages, but my feelings were 
too much my own, even for that, for, since Uast 
wrotejhere, I have gazed into the darkest^depths. 
"Though 'out in the world' in a measure, 



26 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

since I left home for college, the little home JTOiip 
in Barrie remained the centre of my world. The 
chief reward of success wasjhe jwell done ' from 
the kindest father and most loving mother who 
ever lived. They have gone. After a week's 
illness father died on April 6, 1900. Mother 
joined him on April i2th. During thirty-six 
years of married life they had been loyal and 
true to each other, and to their duty before God 
and man. For their children they sacrificed 
personal comfort and social pleasures. Loving 
sympathy always went out to meet us in joy or 
in pain. They passed away together into the 
hereafter with unflinching eye, and with a noble- 
ness and truth of heart which won them the re- 
spect of all good men and women who knew them 
in life. 

" I did not reach home until the morning of 
father's death, and when I saw that dear beloved 
face it wore the calmness and pallor of death. 
That room in which he lay is hallowed. To the 
last, they say, his carelessness of self was evident. 
A frank, straightforward man ; his life open as a 
book; his heart kind, with the true love of a 
Christian. He was not particularly demonstra- 
tive, but we all knew the breadth and depth of 



THE INFLUENCE OF HOME 27 

his affection and his sympathy. At the end, con- 
scious of it, he gazed before him towards the face 
of God, as one ready to appear before the judg- 
ment seat. A healthy, honest, wholesome man, 
he was to me father, brother and friend. 

" And my mother. How often has her cling- 
ing kiss muttered a prayer as I left home, and 
impressed a welcome as I returned. An heroic 
character, enriched by the depth of a mother's 
love, was hers. When I reached home on that 
cold, gray day in early spring, she lay there sorely 
stricken with the dread pneumonia which had 
taken my father, but patient, tender, unselfish as 
ever. To my broken attempt at encouragement, 
she replied : * Yes, I must try and live for you 
children. ' But, as life ebbed and she saw that it 
was not to be, that noble heart, ever resigned to 
the will of God, accepted the inevitable. It 
seemed that to join him who had gone was her 
dearest wish j without him life, as she lay there 
suffering, must have seemed cold, empty, cheer- 
less. But even this she seemed prepared to bear, 
so that she might keep a home open for her chil- 
dren, and endeavour to help them from falling 
from the path of duty. Then came the day when 
she was told that hope of recovery was gone. ' I 



28 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

knew it,' she said. Calling us around her, in a 
voice greatly weakened, she uttered her heart's 
wish in a simple sentence ' I want you all to be 
good, so that you may meet us There.' I am 
naturally rather disposed to be cold, I fear, but in 
that moment the depth of that mother's love 
came to me as never before, and the sublimity of 
her faith burst upon me. From that day dates 
a new epoch in my life. 

- 1 , 

"To the last her thoughts were of us. Faith- 
fully, unobtrusively, but unswervingly, she had 
throughout life worked and lived that we might 
know truth, and not stray from what she was wont 
to call 'the straight and narrow path.' 

" At four o'clock in the morning the end came. 
How cold the dawn of that morning ! Without a 
struggle her soul went to its God. How delicate 
the thread which binds us to eternity ! But a 
short time before she was there and knew all that 
was happening ; that she was going ; and, that 
we must fight the battle of life, with the snares 
and temptations with which we are beset by our 
human passions and weaknesses. Not a doubt 
seemed to enter into'tEafmind, which had held 
steadfastly to the eternal truth throughout a noble, 
fearless life. She had run her race, she had kept 



THE INFLUENCE OF HOME 29 

the faith. The sturdy integrity, inherited from 
her father, and a gentle, loving kindness, which 
probably came from the mother who died when 
she was yet a child, combined to make a character 
which by its sweetness, beauty and nobility, has 
woven itself into my life. Pray God that I may 
never be unworthy of her memory." 

And unworthy of so holy a memory Harper 
never was. While spared to him, the love 
and affection of his father and mother were 
his greatest inspiration, and his great reward ; 
taken from him, the remembrance of their 
example, and^beHef, in thejr_con^iuedLfc. 
istence, constituted an abiding presence, help- 
ing him ever to nobler conduct and aim. 

Yet, how irreparable this loss was, words 
cannot tell. Harper could never bring him- 
self to speak of it without the deepest emo- 
tion. What seemed hardest to him was that 
his father and mother should have been taken 
just when he had hoped to be able to make 
them fully conscious of his gratitude. 

In a letter written some months after, he 
says: 



30 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

" Great as is my pride in the noble lives of my 
beloved parents, and confident as I am that they 
will enjoy their reward unto all eternity, I find it 
impossible to get away from the sense of the emp- 
tiness of the world without them. Their lives 
were devoted to their children, and their children 
were devoted to them. A kinder father, and a 
more loving mother, never lived. To them we 
looked for congratulation upon any success which 
fell to our lot and for sympathy if our sky were 
dark. They never failed us. And at the mo- 
ment when we were all comfortably settled in our 
professions, and there was the prospect of a long 
peaceful life before them, they were taken away. 
Herein lies the chief bitterness of it all. But we 
have the lesson of their lives, and fond memories 
which we can ever cherish." 

Some time later, in acknowledging hospital- 
ity shown him during a brief visit in Toronto, 
he wrote on his return to Ottawa : 

" As I lay in my berth last night, looking out 
at the beautiful, silent, star sprinkled sky, a feel- 
ing settled upon me that the curtain had just 
fallen upon one of the happiest days of my life. 
The warmth of your welcome, and the kindly 



THE INFLUENCE OF HOME 31 

thoughtfulness of your every word and action, 
were appreciated by me the more, because I have 
learned what it is, both to have, and to be with- 
out, that most happy and most sacred of human 
associations, a home." 

There is less of intensity of grief, but 
hardly less of tenderness and delicacy of feel- 
ing, in his words of sympathy with a friend, 
which, containing an expression of his own 
belief, also reveal the continued influence of 
his home and its associations on his daily 
actions, even after these associations had 
vastly changed. In a letter written only a 
few months before his death, during a short 
visit to Barrie, the last which he spent amid 
the scenes of his youth, he says : 

"And furthermore, I know that you under- 
stand that when sorrow crosses your path, your 
sorrow is mine just as is your happiness. I know 
the wrenching of the heart-strings which comes 
when one who is close is taken away, and I feel 
deeply with you. I can only repeat to you the 
message which you sent to me when all that I 
held dearest on earth seemed to have passed out 



32 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

of it. There is no death. Life is eternal and 
makes towards perfection. When those whom we 
love pass, we are the more linked to that greater, 
larger, deeper spiritual life which is within us and 
about us, but which passes our human compre- 
hension. The very air in which I write is filled 
with a thousand associations which bring me into 
the closest sympathy with those who have passed 
through the Valley of the Shadow. Were you 
here to-night, I might make myself intelligible in 
a way which I cannot hope to in a letter. As I 
have been sitting here looking out over the bay 
with which I am so familiar, my boyhood and my 
youth have passed before me, and these, as well 
as the hopes and aspirations of early manhood, 
are so closely associated with the devoted lives 
which guarded and nourished all that was good in 
me, that I could not recognize myself, were I 
not convinced of their continued existence and 
their living interest in all that I cherish that is 
worthy. This afternoon I stood before the grate 
where, with you, I spent an hour which stands 
out as a milestone in my life, and to-night I thank 
God that we have been enabled to accomplish 
something of what we then contemplated, and 
that we have before us opportunity of usefulness 






THE INFLUENCE OF HOME 33 

beyond what we could have imagined as we stood 
there upon the threshold of life. The very at- 
mosphere of this dear old place is sacred to me 
through the associations which float through my 
mind as I breathe it. My visit here has been like 
a pause in a quiet and familiar eddy in the stream 
of life, and I feel that it has done me good. It 
has strengthened me in my resolutions, and has 
enabled me to see more clearly." 

It is rarely, if ever, that men, especially 
young men, stop to estimate the influences 
which are the most potent in their lives, and 
it is rarer still, in seeking this estimate, that 
they become conscious, with any true degree 
of proportion, of the extent to which home, 
as compared with other influences, has con- 
tributed to the result. It was not so with 
Harper. He honoured his father and his 
mother, and he was wont to attribute to what 
he inherited by birth, by training, and by ex- 
ample from them, all that made for what was 
worthiest and best in his life. 



COLLEGE AND AFTER 

COLLEGES and universities afford the 
opportunity for the attainment of a 
measure of self-knowledge, self-reli- 
ance and self-development, which in the 
home is often apt to come too slowly, and, 
learned at first hand with the world, is bought 
frequently at the price of an experience which 
dwarfs, if it does not altogether destroy, some 
of the finer fruits of those essential qualities 
of manhood. It is not what is gained in 
knowledge of books, but in knowledge of 



self, of limitations and powers and capacities ; 
in what is acquired of habits of self-discipline 
and application, of methods of thought and 

i research, that a college or university renders 
its truest service to its students ; as it is by 
the love of truth and learning which it instils, 

L rather than by the honours and degrees 
which it confers, that a university puts its 
34 






COLLEGE AND AFTER 35 

stamp upon the graduates it sends out into 
the world. 

It may be that for many men four years of 
undergraduate life are not sufficient to make 
a college impress deep, or, to appearances, 
lasting; but if in any measure it is real, that 
influence must tell, not only on the years im- 
mediately succeeding, but through the whole 
of life. The first fruits jof ajcollege education 
jre mqr^lik^ 

of mind towards the problems ojjife,_as these 
present themselves when academic halls are 
vacated, than in any immediate accomplish- 
ment. A consciousness of capacity without 
opportunity may be, and is too often, the first 
inheritance of many a man, whose intellect 
has been stimulated and whose zeal has been 
intensified by association with his fellows in 
the numerous relationships which under- 
graduate life affords, but who^finds in the 
world a less ordered 



arrangement Probably for most men, the 
years immediately following the attainment 
of their academic or professional degrees are 



36 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

the most critical, if not also the most painful, 
years of their lives. 

To this phase of post-graduate experience 
Harper's life was no exception, though un- 
dergraduate days were enjoyed by him to 
the full. In the summer of 1891, at the age 
of seventeen, he matriculated at the Univer- 
sity of Toronto, from the Barrie Collegiate 
Institute, and he graduated from the univer- 
sity in June, 1895. He was, during the last 
three years of his undergraduate course, an 
honour student in the department of Political 
Science, and the class lists show that in the 
work of this department, especially in the 
subjects of political economy and political 
philosophy^ be held a high place. His con- 
temporaries at the university will always re- 
member him as a man who entered in a whole- 
hearted way into what may be spoken of as 
the larger life of the university. He was a 
prominent member of the Literary and Scien- 
tific Society, and of his class society, and was 
always certain to be found an active partici- 
pant in those events or movements of general 






COLLEGE AND AFTER 37 

interest with which undergraduate life at a 
large university abounds. While he was 
fond of books and might have been termed, 
at least during the latter half of each year, a 
conscientious student, it is doubtful if he did 
not get quite as much as, or more, out of as- 
sociation with his fellows, and from sharing in 
the spontaneous life of the college, than he 
did from the lecture room. A characteristic 
which distinguished him was a readiness to 
carry on with enthusiasm whatever he under- 
took, and this, combined with a nature in- 
tensely loyal to cause or friend, made him a 
strong man among men, and one whose sup- 
port was sought because it could be_cqunted 
upon. On the whole his disposition was 
social rather than individual, and his interests 
were diversified rather than particular. He 
was saved from the possible inimical effects 
of such a nature by an earnestness of pur- 
pose whicji k^ responsibil- 

ities, while there can be little doubt that from 
it, in the broadening of his sympathies and in 
the understanding of men and their ways, he 



38 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

gained much which was of infinite service to 
him in after years. 

Measured by the standard of growth al- 
ready hinted at, Harper may be said to have 
left the university with a consciousness that 
he was fitted by talent and inclination for 
work in some branch of the so-called higher 
professions, that it was in connection with the 
general, rather than the more exclusive, in- 
terests of society that his energies would find 
their freest play, and that not by theories, but 
by men, he could hope to be permanently at- 
tracted. He had already learned that he was 
capable of serious and sustained effort, and 
likely to find in work a satisfactionjof his best 
desires ; and he must have known that in his 
nature were possibilities of the npblest_ex- 
V* pressions of disinterested action. It was nat- 
ural, therefore, that having made no definite 
choice of a future profession at the time of 
graduation, and having engaged temporarily 
in agency work which was not to his liking, 
and towards which from the start he had not 
entertained any serious intentions, he should 



COLLEGE AND AFTER 39 

have found much that tried his patience se- 
verely, and at times caused him to experience 
periods of the most genuine depression. 
Fruitless attempts to obtain a start in jour- 
nalism added for a while to his discourage- 
ments, so that the year and a half which fol- 
lowed graduation, though characterized by 
anything other than neglect or indifference, 
and, as a matter of fact, made the occasion of 
an opportunity for increased reading and the 
preparation of a thesis which secured him a 
Master's degree from the university, was 
nevertheless, so far as he could see at the 
time, to be remembered as of adversity rather 
than as of advance. In reality it was a testj 
ing time, and it served to pro ve_ the ..man. 

In the pages of the journal which Harper 
commenced shortly after graduation, it is 
possible to discern the attitude of mind which 
he had towards the problem of life, as he 
thus encountered it upon the threshold. Re- 
vealing as they do the qualities of inherent 
worth in him who wrote them, these pages 
are deserving of more than passing reference. 



40 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

Two characteristics they clearly disclose, a 
fearless integrity of heart and mind, and a dis- 
position to philosophize, underlying each of 
which is a constant purpose of self-improve- 
ment, and a more than accepted belief in a 
definite moral order, and the ultimate triumph 
of right. Unsconsciously he summed up the 
whole in the first paragraph he wrote : 

"I am writing this record of my thoughts and 
actions in order that I may be better able to un- 
derstand myself; to improve in that wherein I 
find myself wanting, and that some day I may be 
able to look back and find a rule of development 
or perhaps of life, with its assistance. I shall en- 
deavour to be at least honest with myself, and 
hope that the use of this book may help me 
occasionally, to sever myself mentally from the 
associations of the world and retire within my- 
self. My hope is that some day I may be able to 
become acquainted with my own individuality, 
and discover what is the first essential and object 
of my existence. 

"I have not as yet settled upon a course in 
life. Several weapon^ lie before me which might 
be of use in the conflict with the world, and with 



COLLEGE AND AFTER 41 

all of which I feel that I might soon familiarize , 
myself. Which will enable me to achieve the 
greatest success ? And by what standard shall I 
measure that success so as to discover whether it 
is real and after all worth striving for ? Shall it 
be law, the ministry, a business career, or journal- 
ism, or what ? At one time I lean in one direc- 
tion, and again in another. The result is an un- 

IIL r """"T) 

settled frame of mind which cannot be healthy, 
and which compels me to be constantly before 
the bar of my own judgment. I find that the old 
idea of ' individual aptitude ' means less than I 
formerly believed. One finds many specialized 
avocations before one, and it is a question of fash- 
ioning one's self to suit one of them. Whether it 
be that the chosen profession does not employ 
all one's faculties, or requires more than one pos- 
sesses, a certain amount of dissatisfaction is, I 
think, bound to result. It is necessary that a 
man be a philosopher, as well as a lawyer, 
or a carpenter, as the case may be, if he is to be 
happy. I flatter myself that I have a fair educa- 
tion (although I regret that I have not drawn from 
it as much as I might and should have), and some 
slight knowledge of men and their ways, but my 
choice is limited to those callings which do not 



42 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

require a considerable initial capital. At the 
moment my leanings are towards journalism as 
most likely to give me self-satisfaction, and to aid 
me in the study of mankind man." 

And again, 

"As to myself, during the past week or two, 
the spiritL_of ..unrest, to which I have referred as 
characteristic of my mind, has been intensified in 
proportion as I have withdrawn myself more and 
more from the insurance business. One thought 
is ever staring me in the face. It is the question 
which has been before me for so long. What are 
you going to_do? I shall certainly have to < make 
a break ' before long, since the state of affairs is 
preying upon my mind and upon my ambition 
and self-esteem. To-night we have some friends 
coming in, a minister from the country and his 
wife. They will probably ask me what am I 
going to do ? I am sick of that question." 

And on the first of January, 1897, 

"For over three months I have not made a 
single entry in this book, and this for the reason 
that I have had little that is hopeful or pleasant 






COLLEGE AND AFTER 43 

to write about. I have been in constant dread of 
the effect upon my mind of the forced inactivity 
to which I am subject, for the uncongenial work! 
at which I have been plodding away has been of 
little use as an intellectual training. At times, i 
encouraged by the appreciation which I have 
been able to give to some of the sublime thoughts 
of master-minds, or by the words of such friends 

as , I have been quite hopeful as to my 

future usefulness, but on both my thoughts and 
my humours, I can see the fatal traces of repeated 
disappointments. Of course the life that I have 
been living has not been without its advantages. 
Some of many too hastily conceived ideas have 
been swept away, and withal, sympathies have 
been aroused within me which might never have 
come to me under other circumstances. Further- 
more, the fact that the time when I must enter the 
struggle for existence on my own behalf has been 
postponed, has led me to think less and less of 
the mean dishonest methods which are so general 
ally adopted by some of our so-called successful! 
men and used as a means of reaching their petty 1 
successes. The fact that these opinions had been 
forced upon me, may, it is true, prevent me from 
ever being what the world considers a successful 



44 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

j man, but if the moral stamina is within me I hope 
they will enable me to realize the high ideal of 

^my existence. 

" But now as to the thoughts which the New 
Year brings with it. Last night as I listened to 
the tolling of the midnight bell at the Church of 
England, as it rang out the old year and rang in 
the new, the future was none too encouraging to 
me. It was with a feeling of bitterness that I 
took out a note-book and wrote the words, ' Jan- 
uary i, 1897, and still on the market.' But as I 
sit now and gaze into the future, I think I was a 
little unfair. I have been filling a position of use- 
fulness to a degree. I do not think I have lost 
in moral force, while I think I have gained in 
knowledge and love of my fellow men ; while the 
fact that I have been compelled to drop some 
ideas which I have held has proven to me both 
that my tendency is towards an honest desire for 
truth, and that I have still much to learn. I look 
forward to the coming year with hope, although I 
have still much of the bitter feeling which has 
been preying upon me all year, causing me many 
wakeful nights and forcing me to call out at times 
when the feeling was intensified, that, with Burke, 
mine was a case of * Nit or in adversum* 

"One thing more. Although for years my 
mind has had a decidedly sceptical tone in 



COLLEGE AND AFTER 45 

matters of religion, I feel that in the past year I 
have come more into sympathy with the work of 
our religious bodies. This is no doubt largely 
due to a sympathy with the ends which they have 
in view, but probably, also, in great measure to 
my growing beliefjn God, although my idea of 
the Deity is more correctly expressed in the words 
of Matthew Arnold than in some of the accepted 
creeds. For all these things I feel grateful, and 
my greatest hope as I sat in the church during the 
first moments of the New Year was my greatest 
hope as I write these words is, that I may have 
the inclination and the power to cut off from my 
life those things which tend to make it less beau- 
tiful, less good, and less useful, and that, if living 
when the bells toll in the New Year of 1898, I 
may be able to recognize in myself a better, a 
stronger and a purer man." 



Though it has been left to others to trace 
through the pages of his diary the rule of de- 
velopment and of life therein disclosed, it 
will hardly be said that the first hope ex- 
pressed was denied, and that Harper did not 
realize, even in the brief day he was allowed, 
"the first essential and object of his ex- 
istence." 



THE DAY'S WORK 

FOR some time before opportunity came 
to engage in journalism, Harper had 
quite made up his mind that this was 
the profession which he could follow with 
most satisfaction to himself, and greatest 
good to others, and he sought every means 
to secure a connection with a newspaper in 
one of the cities. " It would seem," he writes, 
after some months of searching, " that news- 
paper work is like most other things it is 
difficult to get a start at. My experience is 
that it is exceptionally so. I have accepted 
the disappointment philosophically, and I am 
trying to make a good use of my time until 
an opening presents itself, and I am keeping 
my eyes open for one." At last, in February 
of 1897, a temporary vacancy on the staff of 
the London Advertiser afforded an opening, 
and though he had promise of employment 
46 



THE DAY'S WORK 47 

for not more than a few weeks, and knew for 
a certainty that it could not extend beyond a 
month or two at the most, he gladly seized 
the opportunity. There was a chance, at 
least, to test the field and to prove himself. 
He accordingly left Barrie for London to be- 
gin as a reporter on the Advertiser, and from 
that time, for the remainder of his life, there 
were to be found no moments of " forced in- 
activity," or " comparative idleness," but the 
whole was one unbroken stretch of the most 
tireless putting forth of energy, the most con- 
tinuous and sustained activity and zeal. 

The weeks on the Advertiser were followed 
by a few months on the London News. In 
October, 1897, an opening came on the 
Toronto Mail and Empire, and Harper joined 
the staff of that journal. In London, his 
duties had been those of a general reporter ; 
in Toronto, they were at first the same, though 
with larger opportunities. His abilities, how- 
ever, caused him soon to be singled out for 
the larger and more special assignments, and 
in this way he was brought into active touch 



48 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

with two important branches of public affairs. 
As city hall reporter he had to do for a time 
with municipal politics and administration, 
and, as reporter of the proceedings of the 
Legislative Assembly of Ontario, he was 
brought into similar relationship with pro- 
vincial affairs. An appointment on the staff 
of the Montreal Herald in February, 1899, 
gave him the opportunity of still wider ex- 
perience and further advancement. He was 
part of the time the city editor of that daily, 
and part of the time its representative and 
correspondent at Ottawa. Both positions 
afforded him opportunity of a closer intimacy 
with the public affairs of the Dominion, and as, 
throughout his entire connection with the 
Herald, he was a contributor to its editorial 
columns, he had commenced to help at least 
to shape and direct public opinion in matters 
of national concern. 

After the establishment of the Department 
of Labour by the Dominion government in 
the summer of 1900, Harper, in November of 
that year, severed his connection with the 



THE DAY'S WORK 49 

Herald to accept the position of associate 
editor of the Labour Gazette. The depart- 
ment had just been created as a new depart- 
ment of the government, with the Gazette as 
its official journal. Its policy had still to be 
shaped ; its usefulness to be proved. It was 
in part the strong bond of friendship existing 
between Harper and his friend, the deputy 
minister of the department, in part the op- 
portunity of cooperation in a work under- 
taken primarily on behalf of the industrial 
classes of Canada, and which he believed 
might be made of the greatest service to the 
country as a whole, that caused him to ter- 
minate his then promising career in outside 
journalism, and to share with his friend the 
fortunes of the civil service in a work to 
which they were both prepared to devote their 
lives. In addition to being engaged on the 
Gazette, Harper actively cooperated in the 
management and administration of the affairs 
of the department, and acted as the deputy 
minister of the department when the latter 
was absent on official duties elsewhere. He 



50 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

was acting as deputy minister of labour at 
the time of his death. 

During the entire period he was engaged 
in journalism, Harper had not, with the ex- 
ception of a brief vacation of one or two 
weeks, which he devoted in part to work of 
another kind, a single break of any apprecia- 
ble duration in the round of continuous work. 
The time for vacation, with the exception 
mentioned, came, in every instance, just as a 
new affiliation was formed, and new duties, 
instead of a temporary respite from old ones, 
were taken on. It is doubtful, indeed, if so 
continuous a strain could have been so suc- 
cessfully borne, had it not been for the period 
of reflection which preceded it, the joy which 
he found in his work, and the purpose which 
he had at heart. 

"I start," he wrote, on February 20, a few 
days before his departure from Barrie to London, 
" under favourable auspices, and I intend to 
make my time tell for good so far as it is in my 
power. Perhaps after all it has been best for me, 
this year of comparative idleness. It has at least 



THE DAY'S WORK 51 

enabled me to form certain sober views of life, 
which might not have come until too late, had I 
been carried from the first on the crest of for- 
tune's wave." 

And upon his arrival at London : 

"On this, the evening before my first serious 
association with my chosen profession, let me 
register the resolution which I promised in a let- 
ter to dear old last Sunday. I hope and 

trust that I may hereafter be able to subdue what- 
ever weakness there is in my character, and there 
is much. I am starting here under favourable 
auspices. May I not betray the trust, and may 
I leave this community better for my influence 
during my sojourn in it ! " 

After little more than a month's experience 
he wrote again as follows : 

" I have had no cause to regret my choice of a 
profession. I begin to feel the tremendous power ^ 
wielded by the press in formulating public opin- I 
ion, and am in a position to build up, by reflec- J 
tion upon what it is, a conception of what a 
newspaper should be, all of which I trust will 



52 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

enable me, when the time comes, to do my share 
in furthering the highest interests of the State and 
mankind in general. I have come to see where 
the dangers which surround the young newspaper 
man lie, and am endeavouring to keep myself free 
from their influence." 

Leaving London in October, '97, he meas- 
ured his success and services in a few brief 
words : 

"My time here has not been lost, and, while I 
have fallen far short of what I might have done, 
still I think that I leave the city rather better 
than worse for my visit." 

Measuring development by the opportunity 
which anniversaries afford, he had, after a 
year's experience, reason to feel that progress 
had been made, while at the same time he 
was fully conscious of what remained to be 
done. 

' ' When I look at myself now and what I was 
on March i, 1897, when I went to London to 
serve my apprenticeship at daily newspaper 






THE DAY'S WORK 53 

work, I can scarcely recognize the same indi- 
vidual. Carelessness, thoughtlessness and love 
of pleasure, I see all along the line ; but I feel 
that I have gained more than I have lost, and 
I have learned that the only road to success is 

I have done 



much that I should not have done, I have omitted 
much, very much, that I ought to have done. I 
see it and shall try and do better." 

A year later, the same earnest spirit, re- 
alizing its limitations, its responsibilities and 
its opportunities, is revealed in a letter written 
from the press gallery of the House of Com- 
mons at Ottawa. It refers to his newly 
formed connection with the Herald, and is a 
true and characteristic self-estimate and con- 
fession. 

"Regarding the change it is one of great 
moment to me. Here at the very centre of the 
life of the Dominion, I see all about me means 
of acquiring the knowledge and exerting the in- 
fluence which should make my life a useful one, 
and that, I assure you again, is my chief aim. I 
am still a student, of course, and I am made 



54 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

conscious of the fact from the character of the 
men with whom I am associated, for they are all 
men of years, experience and force of character. 
I appreciate the fact that I am still in tutelage, 
and the training here I regard simply as prepara- 
tory to something else what that something else 
may be remains to be seen. 

' 'My own rule, latterly, has been to follow 
the course which promises to be best in the long 
run, for, while not neglecting the present, men of 
our years must remember that life is real, and 
that we must arm ourselves for the struggle on 
the hither side of thirty." 

Harper was, at the time, twenty-five years 
of age. 



NATURE 

" A AHAT in companionship with and 
close study of Nature, who * neither 
hastens nor rests' but unquestion- 
ingly conforms to the order laid down by 
the Creator, there lies a potent means of en- 
richment of character, and an important 
medium of culture, I am thoroughly con- 
vinced." From these words of Harper's 
diary we are enabled to gather with what 
degree of insight, and to what purpose, he 
sought the woods and the fields, and the 
freedom of " God's out of doors " whenever 
opportunity permitted. From his early boy- 
hood, few enjoyments brought him the same 
measure of delight as the afternoon excur- 
sions or camping expeditions which took him 
with other boys, or with his father, across the 
bay at Barrie, to explore the creeks and un- 
frequented spots away from the haunts of 
55 



56 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

men. When after graduation his temporary 
employment led him for a time into the bleak 
and rugged parts of Northern Ontario, he 
found an enjoyment and source of instruc- 
tion in this first hand contact with primitive 
conditions, which, to his feelings, was the one 
compensation in the pursuit of an otherwise 
uncongenial task. If a friend were visiting 
him at his home in the summer time he was 
not at rest till they were off together with 
horse or stick into the country, or out with 
canoe or boat on the waters of the bay; and 
if it were winter it was still to be out in the 
open, either on skates or in a sleigh, or for 
one of those long tramps through the snow 
so invigorating and health-giving at that 
season of the year. When his work per- 
mitted a choice being made between the 
country and the city, he chose the former 
as a place of residence, though early ris- 
ing and much journeying were necessitated 
thereby. 

The summer of 1901 was spent in this way 
at Kingsmere in the province of Quebec, a 



NATURE 57 

more beautiful spot than which there is not 
to be found along the whole range of the 
Laurentian hills. It is a distance by road of 
twelve miles from the capital, eight of which 
can be covered by rail. Harper's real sense 
of freedom began when, after a day's work 
in town, that eight miles of travelling was at 
an end, and the chance came for a four mile 
walk across fields, through the woods and 
along the country roads, or for a ride upon 
his wheel or by stage. Then came the even- 
ings with their glorious sunsets, and the 
walks and talks in the twilight, and then 
night with its unbroken panoply of star-lit 
sky. 

It is, perhaps, impossible to convey, save 
to those who have known the experience, any 
conception of what a constant association of 
this kind with Nature really means. It proves, 
to use Harper's own words, "how beauty, 
grandeur, sublimity and purity in God's 
world, find a ready response in the human 
heart unfettered." Yet it is this perception of 
God, this communion of soul between the 



58 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

creature and the Creator as He is revealed in 
Nature, that is the conscious or unconscious 
secret of all the refreshment and joy which 
comes from a contact of this kind. Some 
natures are more susceptible to this kind of 
revelation than others. Harper's nature was 
one that could share and did share it to the 
full. 

A few paragraphs from his diary may serve 
to show how real was the "response" of 
which he spoke between the world of nature 
and his own heart, and how sweetly sensitive 
to even the most delicate of impressions, his 
soul became when under this favouring in- 
fluence. 

Having climbed one Sunday morning to 
the top of the mountain at Kingsmere, to 
find after a hard week's work that rest which 
is the truest reward of toil, he gave himself 
up for a little to recording some of the enjoy- 
ments of the place and the hour. He writes : 

" Here I am having church all by myself in 
this majestically beautiful spot. It was a hot 



NATURE 59 

climb, for it is a sweltering morning, but I am 
amply repaid. I had a five minutes' conversation 
with a red squirrel on the way up the mountain. 
He was a little nervous at first, but became reas- 
sured, climbed down the tree trunk until he was 
ten feet from me, and looked me in the face 
steadily as I prattled away to him. The little 
fellow felt like myself, he could not imagine vi- 
cious intentions in such a place. A delightful 
breeze is making music in the tree-tops, a bird 
with a clear yet sympathetic note, I can't describe 
the note, and I don't know the name of the bird, 
is leading in a medley of wood sounds infinitely 
refreshing after a hard week's work. 

" The thought of the past week has caused me 
to look up for a moment to take another glance at 
the capital, which stands out clearly in the bright 
sunshine, though the lines of the buildings are 
softened by a blue white summer haze, sufficiently 

marked to give the effect of distance. If men 

\ "\ 

could only get to a mountain occasionally and 

^ v 
look down upon the world in which they live and 

move and have their being, there would be less 
dilettantism, less worship of forms, institutions, 
baubles and lath and plaster. The foot-hills, > 
when last I saw them from here, were rich in the 



60 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

full colour of maturity. To-day they are strong 
in the deep refreshing green of youth. They are 
happy. Everything about me is happy, and I 
thank God for it all." 

Recording the events of a day on a short 
trip taken in the spring of the year to the 
city of Quebec and points of interest in that 
vicinity, he writes : 



. 



This day was easily the best of our trip. In 
a few minutes we were away from civilization, 
and started our climb, with the assistance of two 
locomotives, up the mountains. At every turn 
some new beauty burst upon us. First, it was a 
cloud capped range of hills, then a quaint white- 
washed village, then a laughing mountain stream, 
then a tree-encircled, hill-girt lake, then a rush- 
ing river, then a quiet wood, then a deep shadowy 
valley, then a burst of sun on the new-leafed 
trees, until one felt one's self getting away forever 
- from the pettiness of the world. Shortly after 
midday we swung across the bridge at Grand' 
Mere, and had a capital view of the falls which 
have been turned to practical use by the Lauren- 
tide Pulp Company, and, about three o'clock, ar- 



NATURE 61 

rived at Shawenegan Falls, our objective point. 
We lunched at the Cascade Inn, a picturesque 
summer hotel on a hilltop, and, guided by a staff 
of engineers, visited the works of the Shawenegan 
Falls Power Company which I found extremely 
interesting. All this was as nothing, however, 
compared with the marvellous scene which burst 
upon us when we turned a spur of the hill and 
came out at the foot of the roaring, raging cata- 
ract. Down a steep, narrow, boulder-strewn 
gorge, rushed the mighty river, struggling, tum- 
bling, roaring, throwing itself into the air, and 
shooting forward in huge mountains of surging 
foam or clouds of sunlit spray. I could feel my 
breast heave in sympathy with the great struggle 
that was going forward, and my whole being 
kindle with the beauty and power of it all. No- 
where have I seen anything that can rival that 
magnificent spectacle. My nature seemed 
touched to its depths, and I found myself in im- 
mediate sympathy with the Indians who saw in 
these prodigious efforts of Nature, in the presence 
of which man's littleness is so apparent, the .mani- 
festations of the work of the Great Spirit. As 
we wound our way through the mountains one had 
a feeling that, once stripped of its forest wealth, 



62 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

this district would be a lonely wilderness so far as 
x practical utility was concerned. As I gazed into 
the raging torrent, I felt that it was worth a whole 
province of desolation to have that grand, sub- 
lime, soul purging sight. After gazing long and 
earnestly into the mighty maelstrom, I raised my 
eyes to the tree clad mountains around, rich in 
the fresh foliage of spring, and furrowed with 
deep shadowy glens. I felt that the world was 
indeed grand, beautiful, that no man could stand 
where I stood without feeling that he had a soul. 
"And as our train wound its way homeward 
towards a sublimely beautiful sunset, behind the 
glorious tumbled-together hills, the scene of love- 
liness was set in my mind and in my heart in deep 
rich tints of crimson and gold. That day was 
one of the happiest in my life. I cannot attempt 
to describe what I saw in words. All I can do is 
to record something of the impression. It was 
soul stirring." 

Later in the year Harper visited the Mari- 
time Provinces with members of the Canadian 
Press Association on their annual excursion. 
His account of the trip contains much that is 
full of interest, and something in the way of 



NATURE 63 

recorded observation which might surprise 
those who had had the same opportunities, or 
had visited simultaneously these places and 
participated in the same events. Two brief 
paragraphs may suffice to further illus- 
trate how he was wont to be influenced by 
scenes of great natural beauty, and in what 
regard, relative to other things, he was ac- 
customed to hold them. Speaking of the 
Montmorency Falls he says : 

i 
" At the Montmorency Falls we spent a very 

happy hour. We decided to scramble up the 
cliff side, instead of taking the steps. At the top 
we had a splendid view of the falls which im- 
pressed me differently from any I had seen. The 
volume of the river is not great, but it descends 
from a giddy height, throwing out a great cloud 
of white spray, peaceful and beautiful. To me 
the message it conveyed was of chastity andl 
purity, like a beautiful, faithful woman, who had \ 
gone through the world to a white age, unspotted 
and unstained. The great semicircular basin be- 
neath seemed wrought by Nature to give full 
effect to the beautiful work of the Creator." 



64 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

And referring to the evening of the same 
day, after returning to Quebec, he says : 

" After dinner and I gave up a trip to 

a summer theatre for a stroll on the terrace before 
the Chateau Frontenac. It was a night not soon 
to be forgotten. The moon's rays, softened by a 
faint film of the most delicate of clouds, fell, 
quietly about us, and, from the dancing waves 
far below, came the signal bells of steamers and 
the distant calls of boatmen. I can recall few 
nights to rival it. The world seemed more kind, 
and my own work in it more clear and possible, 
as we sat there and gazed into the quiet night, 
which wore an ethereal, fairy-land air about it, 
pure and inspiring. Most of our fellows were off 
' seeing ' the city, but none of them could have 
had half the pleasure that was ours. Few things 
in the world could have been more beautiful than 
that night out there on the terrace, under the 
frowning guns of the hard war citadel, and above 
the moon-bathed waters of the grand old St. Law- 
rence. I felt my heart throb as I thought that 
this noble river was the gateway to Canada, the 
land which gave me birth, and which I am learn- 
ing to love more and more dearly as years 
roll by." 



BOOKS 

IN books, as in nature, Harper found 
companionship and instruction, and the 
selection was as carefully made, and the 
appreciation of the beautiful and true as 
keen and delicate, in the one case as in the 
other. It was a distinguishing mark of his 
reading that he chose, for the most part, only 
such works as were likely to be productive 
of intellectual or moral growth ; he read little, 
however, for the sake of mere entertainment, 
and he was less inclined to seek recreation 
with a book than in other ways. 

At the university his reading was, for the 
most part, of the books prescribed by the 
college curriculum, with supplementary read- 
ing along the lines it suggested, and some 
slight addition of current fiction and standard 
works in poetry and prose. For a time, after 
entering upon journalism, he gave himself up 
so entirely to its demands that he may be 
65 






66 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

said to have dropped books altogether, and 
to have substituted for their reading a careful 
perusal of the daily press, and an occasional 
survey of current magazines and other peri- 
odicals. The habit thus formed remained 
constantly with him, and made him a care- 
ful observer of events, and well informed on 
the main issues and questions of the day. 
Though he had the mind of a student and a 
scholar, his habits, as has already been hinted, 
were not of the kind which students are pop- 
ularly supposed to have. His temperament 
was versatile,' his nature active, he was im- 
patient of too detailed or continuous research, 
and was more interested in living men and 
current affairs than in documentary records 
of any kind. Yet he was by no means blind 
to the fact, which unfortunately many public 
men are, that to be of real service to any 
cause, a man's intellectual as well as his 
physical powers must be stimulated and 
strengthened by sustenance of the proper 
sort, and that, except through inborn genius 
of the rarest kind, a man cannot be saved 



BOOKS 67 

from intellectual sterility, unless, to more 
than a limited degree, he familiarizes himself 
with the best thought of the strongest minds. 
The books with which Harper sought to 
become most familiar were the works of 
writers whose intellectual preeminence was 
undoubted, and whose main concern, though / 

they viewed it from many and frequently dif- 
ferent standpoints, was the problem of exist- 1> 
ence, the meaning and the ^duties of life. Of 
this class, Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Emerson, 
Tejnnyjson, and, among present day writers, 
Hamilton Wright Mabie, were the ones to 
whose works his spare hours were chiefly de- 
voted during his last years. It would be 
difficult to know from which of these authors 
he gained the most ; that he was strongly 
influenced by all is beyond question, though 
this influence was one rather of clearer defini- 
tion and understanding of his own beliefs and 
convictions, than of conversion to other and 
different views. Of what, as a teacher, litera- 
ture contributed, something may be gleaned 
from the pages containing his views on pres- 



68 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

ent day problems and matters of religion. 
In the present chapter it is of the companion- 
able enjoyment derived from this source, 
consciously sought and cultivated as a means 
to the enrichment of life, that it is desired to 
give a sympathetic appreciation. 

The winter of 1900-01 was made excep- 
tionally profitable through the opportunities 
of reading which many of its evenings and 
Sundays afforded. Harper and his friend 
had lodgings in common, and his diary is 
full of mention of the evenings they spent to- 
gether in company with books, from which 
each in turn read aloud to the other, and 
which were laid aside only that a deeper 
searching of the heart might follow, accom- 
panied by pledges of mutual loyalty and re- 
solve, long after the embers had burned out 
upon the hearth, and all things were in the 
sacred keeping of the night. Did not the 
personal references which these accounts con- 
tain preclude their publication, opportunity 
might be given of looking in upon the best 
that this world has to offer, the soul com- 



BOOKS 69 

munion of friend with friend. One or two 
passages relating to evenings not dissimilar, 
though spent with less intimate friends, will 
suggest, to those who read them, with what 
profit an evening might have been shared 
with him by those who knew and appreciated 
his genuine self aright, and what measure of 
inspiration in turn was accorded to him by 
the conversation and views of others, and by 
the writings of master minds. 

Of the chance happening in of a friend, he 
writes : 

"I had finished reading Matthew Arnold's 
criticism of Gray when L - came in and spent 
the evening with me. I read Gray's Elegy, The 
Bard and some other extracts, in order to make 
good Matthew Arnold's judgment. Then we 
talked of men of genius and their lives, and 
L - spoke of their unhappiness and want of 
appreciation. I took the ground that this unhap- 
piness was often more apparent than real j that 
the greatest happines^ jp 



souljajdsjactiqri which must come with the beau- 
tiful expression of a great truth; that no great 
work came by chance, but rather that the thought 



70 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

was first real and vital to the artist ; that however 
much, humanly, he might feel the want of appre- 
ciation and physical satisfaction, his pleasure 
must be ecstatic at finding an expression for his 
best self, his inner life. 

" These demand not that the things without them 
Yield them love, amusement, sympathy? 

" Just as theirs is the great happiness, so theirs 
is the great sorrow, for sorrow to be expressed in 
such form must first be appreciated, felt. 

" From this we drifted to Kipling and imperial- 
ism, my contribution being that Kipling was a 
great imperialist, that of those who were urging 
forward the British empire, he was one of the 
most enlightened, one of the most clear seeing ; 
that his anxiety for the empire's future was as 
much cosmopolitan as British, having faith in 
the Anglo-Saxon ideal. In support of this latter 
contention I cited the White Man's Burden, 
which I think was primarily designed for the 
American people. 

" Then to the woes of Ireland and her future. 
I expressed disgust with the methods of such men 

as , who are trying to fan the flame of 

hatred to England, a flame justly enough started 
by the long years of oppression,(but which must 



BOOKS 71 

be smothered if Ireland is to progress, for I 
can see only one way for her healthy develop- 
ment, as part of the British empire, jhe great 
civilizing and evangelizing^power of the world. 

" I read some of Moore's poems to illustrate 
my views of the beauty and richness of the Irish 
nature, and its possibilities when fairly treated. 
We closed our evening by reading a passage from 
Great Books as Life Teachers , in the chapter 
on Ruskiris Seven Lamps of Architecture, to 
show that true liberty consists in obedience to 
law true law. * Nature loves paradoxes, and 
this is her chiefest paradox he who stoops to 
wear the yoke of law becomes the child of lib- 
erty, while he who will be free from God's law, 
wears a ball and chain through all his years. 
Philosophy reaches its highest fruition in Christ's 
principle, " Love is the fulfillment of the law." ' " *> 

Of an evening spent with friends, he says 

"To-night we spent a pleasant evening, en- 
joying music and reading. Mrs. J , whose 

whole life seems to be poetry and music com- 
bined, rendered several brilliant selections on the 
piano, conveying to me a conception of beautiful 
thoughts playing about the crests of moonlit 



72 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

waves, after which R and I read several 

of Matthew Arnold's poems. I have grown to 
like Matthew Arnold more and more. His phi- 
losophy, the pursuit of perfection, of sweetness 
and light, and the sweeping away of viciousness, 
has always influenced me strongly since I first 
read Culture and Anarchy some years ago. But 
I find in him more and more the noble high 
minded man as I proceed. I read The Buried 
Life and Rugby Chapel among other things. 
The latter has always been a favourite of mine, 
pointing, as it does, a noble useful view of human 
duty, as in the lines 

" ' But thou would' st not alone 
Be saved, my father ! alone 
Conquer and come to thy goal t 
Leaving the rest in the wild' 

" The Buried Life seems to me one of the most 
beautiful, hopeful and inspiring poems I have 
ever read the thought that man's life and de- 
,/\ velopment goes on, and that his real life is real- 
ized despite the spoiling of himself which he does 
continuously in the meaningless follies of his daily 
round. 

"'Fate . . . 

Bade through the deep recesses of our breast 
The unregarded river of our life 
Pursue with indiscernible Jlow its way ; 



BOOKS 73 

And that we should not see 
The buried stream, and seem to be 
Eddying at large in blind uncertainty ', 
Though driving on with it eternally? 

"And then how 

... often, in the world's most crowded streets, 
But often, in the din of strife, 
There rises an unspeakable desire 
After the knowledge of our buried life? 

" The room where we sat before a grate fire 
seemed filled with the thought of the noble man 
who penned the poem, and the evening was a 
most enjoyable one." 

Harper's was a nature quick to respond 
to the beautiful and true wherever found, 
whether in prose or verse, in music or paint- 
ing, or in the actions of daily life. He was, 
moreover, intensely sympathetic, and what 
he read or saw always impressed, and some- 
times affected, him deeply. He would often 
rise from the reading of a beautiful poem, or 
the story of some heroic human effort, with 
eyes rilled and voice completely overcome, 
and then, as a means of gaining^ relief and at 
the same time of giving^ ^xpressipiijto his 
feelings, would pen in a single sentence or 



74 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

two the thought that was most in his mind at 
the time. 

Such little entries as the following are a 
characteristic feature of his diary, and reveal 
his sympathetic appreciation of what he read, 
and of the subject treated : 

" To-night I read the sad story of Keats' life. 
How sad it is to see so promising a man pass so 
soon ! How admirably he declared a great truth 
when he said, 

" < "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 1 " 

" To-night I read over again Lanier's A Ballad 
of Trees and the Master, which, I think, most 
beautiful. The poem appealed to me strongly as 
illustrating the subduing calm of the woods. Be- 
fore going to bed I read Ward's biography of 

f Lanier, a story of the heroic struggle of a soul 

L steeped in music and high purpose." 

"In the afternoon I read Matthew Arnold's 
Essay on Shelley, whose life was a strange mix- 
ture of genius and weakness. But for his poetry 
his weakness would have made him detestable. 
But for his weakness his poetical genius might 
have made him one of the most beautiful of all 
our authors. As he is, he is one of those strange 



BOOKS 75 

paradoxes who give rise to speculation as to the 
necessary qualities of genius. Much can be for- 
given in one who has created the ode, To a Sky- 
lark and The Sensitive Plant." 

"Matthew Arnold seems to me above all a 
critic, clear, impartial, appreciative, kindly, 
bravely severe, when this is necessary to do jus- 
tice. In what he says in these Essays on Criti- 
cism, one feels how sad it is that noble work is 
marred by a something wanting ; half results be- 
cause of the want of something, 'many are 
called, few chosen.' " 

" Next, of the features of the fortnight, was the 
completion of The Idylls of the King, from which 
I have drawn much healthy inspiration. We read 
Pelleas and Ettarre, The Last Tournament, 
Guinevere and The Passing of Arthur. At the 
close I was struck by the wonderful way in which 
the truth of the words, 

" // is the little rift within the lute. 

That by and by will make the music mute, 
And ever widening slowly silence all,'' 

was unfolded. Even that beautifully conceived 
court, with its noble King, its high ideals and its 
battle-tried knights, went to utter ruin through 
the example of one sin. Another thing which 



76 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

struck me was that Tennyson, like others, shows 
that the deadliest enemy is the Judas. The most 
cherished knight and beloved Queen poisoned the 
court by betraying friend and husband. But 
Tennyson holds out the beautiful hope of the 
thief upon the cross. Lancelot was allowed to 
die a holy man ; and Guinevere, by true repent- 
ance and goodly works, was able to purge her 
soul so as to be prepared for the reunion here- 
after. The gentle teaching of the poem is that 
we must be swayed by high resolves and noble 
motives. 

' We needs mzist love the highest when we see it, 
Not Lancelot, nor another.' 1 

"My admiration for the poem increased to- 
wards the close. The delicate portrayal of char- 
acter, and of utter pain and remorse in Guine- 
vere, and the beautiful imagery of The Passing 
of Arthur are sublime 

" From the great deep to the great deep he goes' " 

"To-day R and I read several chapters 

of Past and Present. Grand, bluff, sturdy old 
Carlyle is becoming a reality to me. In his chap- 
ters leading up to the selection of Samson as Ab- 
bot of St. Edmundsbury, he throws much light 
upon a really important view of public policy, 
how necessary it is to select the best as Governor, 



i 



BOOKS 77 

and how that best is to be recognized and se- 
lected. Carlyle I find to be healthy, wholesome 
and full of moral fibre." *** 



"Even to the outcry against the fleeting nature 
of our impressions of beauty, and, for a time, sat- 
isfying, comes an answer in the story of Shelley's 
Sensitive Plant. The author concludes the beau- 
tiful yet sad story by saying : 

" ' / dare not guess ; but in this life 
Of error, ignorance, and strife. 
Where nothing is, but all things seem, 
And we the shadows of the dream, 

" ' // is a modest creed, and yet 
Pleasant if one considers it, 
To own that death itself must be, 
Like all the rest, a mockery. 

" ' That garden sweet, that lady fair, 
And all sweet shapes and odours there, 
In truth have never past away : 
J Tis we, 'tis ours, are changed ; not they. 

" < For love, and beauty, and delight, 

There is no death nor change : their might 
Exceeds our organs, which endure 
No light, being themselves obscure? 

" If this be so, can we not increase and make 
more lasting our knowledge of these things by 
mastering ourselves and giving scope to the spir- 
itual side of us?" 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 

IN love for others human nature manifests 
its highest expression. It is the quality 
of soul by which, in his relations with his 
fellows, a man's capacity for service is de- 
termined ; it is the fount at which all the finer 
springs of action are fed. Generosity, mercy, 
pity, friendship, devotion, sacrifice, flow from 
this one source, which conscious effort may 
help to replenish, but which conscious or un- 
conscious borrowing can never exhaust. 

In his love for others lay the absorbing 
passion of Harper's life. It was a love which 
begot him the strongest and most enduring 
of friendships, and it was a love which car- 
ried his influence, and the sweet purpose of 
his life, away out beyond the circles of those 
with whom he was in daily association to 
where the tide of affection is wont to ebb, 
or, apparently, wastes itself in the reefs and 
shallows which abound. Man, woman, or 
78 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 79 

child, he felt their kinship to the race ; their 
lives were related to his life ; misfortune only 
heightened his sympathy, and failure his 
compassion. Day after day gave new ex- 
pression to the wealth of generous purpose 
in that great human heart of his. It dictated 
the fields into which he directed his activities ; 
it inspired his impulses, and was the sustain- 
ing power in his work. 

Nor was this, with Harper, a blind love, an 
unreasoned passion. On the contrary, what- 
ever its origin, it derived its strength from a' 
carefully thought out philosophy of life, a 
philosophy based on a belief in a divine order 
and purpose in the universe, and in the 
sanctity of individual lives. He had faith in 
both God and man, and he held that the will 
of the one could only be fulfilled as it was 
realized in the life of the other. This belief 
explains his efforts on behalf of individuals, 
it interprets the views he held on such ques- 
tions as those of social and political reform. 

He lovedjncie^be^useoithe belief he Jrad v 
in their natures. "After all," he writes, "it 






8o THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

is not the external appearance of a man, nor 
what he says or does, that ought to excite 
our admiration or distrust, but that inner 
personality, the individuality, the soul, which 
is ' the all and in all,' and of which appear- 
ances are but imperfect representations and 
expressions." He was not a man given to 
professions, or to the public performance of 
good deeds ; in fact, the being seen of men 
caused him to hesitate in the doing of much 
which a less sensitive nature would have al- 
lowed. He did not shrink, however, from 
manifesting a personal interest in lives which 
' seemed to demand it of him, or from reveal- 
ing his purpose to those whom he knew 
could appreciate it aright. 

One incident, among two or three which 
he has recorded, but one of a great many 
known only to those with whom the occasion 
was shared, is sufficient to illustrate how 
practical expression was given to this belief. 
It occurred within a short time after he had 
left the university, and before he had entered 
upon his journalistic career. 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 81 

" I was returning home one night after a social 
evening, when I saw a young man in the hands 
of a policeman. He was what some people would 
have called a 'bad boy,' kept rather doubtful 
company, and was under arrest for having raised 
a disturbance during a drunken row. Well, I 
managed to get the boy, who was about eighteen 
years of age, out of the cells on bail, and, in 
company with a fellow who had been ' painting 
the town ' with him, I undertook to take him 
home. I contrived, after some time, to get rid 
ofjiis 'pal,' and, as soon as the boy was sober 
enough, I undertook to find out whether he had 
a conscience. 

"After walking about the streets with him for 
a couple of hours in the beautiful moonlight, by 
the aid of a power which was certainly not my 
own, I discovered that he had; and the boy 
opened up his heart to me. I showed him the 
uselessness and folly of the life into which he was 
rapidly drifting, and, in a voice convulsed with 
sobs, he told me that what I said was true. My 
own eyes moistened as he confessed what a fool he 
was. He concluded by promising me in a voice 
and with a pressure of the hand which meant 
truth, that he would never touch a drop of liquor 



82 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

again. From the frank manner in which he 
meets my eyes when I now see him occasionally, 
I believe that he has thoroughly relformed. That 
night, as I went home, I knew that one prayer had 
not been in vain." 

For society as a whole, as for its individual 
members, his aim was a constant betterment. 

" There are so few men who couple the capac- 
ity for appreciating the troubles of struggling hu- 
manity with an earnest desire to remove them, 
that I can see in such a life a tremendous power 
for good, and, after all, is not that the highest 
ideal a man can hold before him ? " 

In this sentence, penned in reference to 
another, he wrote of himself more truly 
than he knew. His journals are full of 
passages which disclose his "capacity to 
appreciate," and his " earnest desire to re- 
nove," the obstacles which thwart the up- 
ward and onward progress of men engaged 
in the competitive rivalries of the world, and 
in the struggle for daily bread. Whether it 
was pursuing an uncongenial task in the 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 83 

wilds of Muskoka, or immersed in the cares 
and unrest of journalism, or busied in re- 
search for material from which to construct 
an article for the Labour Gazette, a human 
interest in the life and the lot of the mass of 
men was ever before him, and a purpose to 
understand and improve that lot his aim. 

"During the course of my stay here," he 
writes of Muskoka, in the winter of 1895, "I 
have had some chance to notice the type of 
inhabitants of this inhospitable district. First 
and foremost come the lumbermen, not the 
miners who live in the town, but the stout fellows 
in smock and jersey, with their pants shoved into 
stockings, which are in turn encased in stout rub- 
bers. Overcoats are scarce, they don't seem to 
be needed. Altogether, though these fellows lead 
a hard life, and are often coarse and dissipated, 
they have opinions of their own, and must be 
reckoned with by the rulers of the country. 

" Next comes the Muskoka farmer living in his 
shanty, for that is pretty much the rule, although 
there is, of course, an occasional farmhouse of 
more pretentious appearance, and drawing a bare 
livelihood by his constant toil with antiquated 



84 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

implements ; most of the hay (the chief product, 
since it requires little care,) being cut by the 
scythe on patches of land cleared by years of 
toil, and in most cases thickly strewn with rocks, 
the only satisfaction that they have in their pov- 
erty being that they are independent. 

"It is difficult to conceive of culture and re- 
finement under such circumstances. It may be 
well, however, to have one part of our popula- 
tion comparatively free from the two danger- 
ous influences of our time, riches and luxury on 
the one hand, and, on the other, embittered and 
ignorant combinations actuated by selfish inter- 
ests and swayed too largely by demagogues. 

"My sojourn here, though not pleasant and 
not profitable from a business point of view, has 
opened an extensive field of thought. Of my 
companions the most interesting was the lumber- 
man whose wife was sick, and who as a result was 
leaving the woods. I was quite interested by his 
ideas of human life, although they were not given 
in a scientific way. He was evidently a man of 
energy ; one who took life seriously and who had 
his share of troubles. It was pathetic to hear the 
way he spoke of how his wife's family usually 
died at about twenty-four years of age, how his 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 85 

wife was now at that age and was sick. In fact, 
there are worse places than the lumber woods for 
the study of man." 

In the spring of 1898 he was rejoiced at 
having the opportunity of conducting a more 
or less extended inquiry into the conditions 
of working men in the several trades. 

"The Mail" he writes, "intends, during the 
coming summer, to publish a series of articles 
concerning the conditions, social, moral and eco- 
nomic, governing each of the various trades, the 
facts to be gathered by personal observation and 
enquiry from journeymen, apprentices, employers 
and employees. The work is to be a feature of 
each day's paper, and, mirabile dictu, the entire 
charge of the matter, design and detail, has been 
handed over to me. I need not say that I am 
pleased. I have at once an opportunity of 
examining into the industrial and sociological 
conditions of the city and province, and possibly 
of doing good to my fellow men as the result of 
these observations. Incidentally, also, I have an 
opportunity of strengthening myself in my own 
profession, although that is a thing that one can 
do in journalism no matter what line of work one 



86 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

is pursuing. Roughly described, the aim of the 
series of sketches is to indicate to the parent what 
qualifications are required for, and what returns 
are to be expected from, the several vocations, in 
order that he may the better decide what to do 
with his boy or girl. I appreciate the responsi- 
bility which the work places upon me, and pray 
that I may be able to meet it." 

The articles which were written by Harper, 
then twenty-four years of age, and which ap- 
peared under the caption " What to do with 
your boy or girl," were continued in the 
Mail from day to day for several months, 
and attracted very considerable attention at 
the time. They disclose a remarkable ability 
to get at facts, and the strongest sympathy 
with the end in view, and constitute a not un- 
important contribution to the scanty literature 
which has thus far appeared, having to do 
with industrial and labour conditions in the 
Dominion. 

The human interest which made even the 
dry language of statutes to glow with ani- 
mation for him, is abundantly apparent from 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 87 

the following passages in reference to some 
of his work in the department of labour : 

" I spent most of the day in the Library of Par- 
liament, reading up the provincial acts concern- 
ing mining. The thing which impressed me, as I 
read, was the uninviting nature of the task of the 
miner, cut off from the light of day, hewing away 
in the bowels of the earth, exposed to the danger 
of cave-ins, explosions, and a living entombment, 
as the result of carelessness on the part of his em- 
ployers, or his associates, or the will of nature. 
How can such men, if they are crowded down 
almost to the margin of subsistence, develop a 
roseate view of life ! Ever facing almost terroriz- 
ing conditions, they must become brave, sturdy, 1 
self-reliant and earnest enough, but how can they 
fail to be out of sympathy with the shams, hy- 
pocrisies and dilettantisms of modern society ! " 

And again : 

"At the office, I have been much interested in 
working upon the article on the Fisheries of 
Canada, inasmuch as it has shown to me a sturdy 
class of men toiling under conditions of hardship 



88 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

and danger for what is comparatively a small re- 
turn. Doubtless the isolation of the fishing vil- 
lages, the system of part proprietorship, and the 
passion for a sea-faring life, account for the rela- 
tive immobility of the population. 

" I am becoming more and more convinced 
daily of the fact that this country is going through 
a transition stage which must influence it to the 

^ bottom. The use of machinery, the weakening 
of the artisan by removing the rewards of skill, 
the work and wages of girls, the prevalence of 
piece work and its results, the effects of pauper 
and convict labour, and a thousand other prob- 
lems are brought daily before my notice in terms 
of flesh and blood. 

"It is important to know and understand all 
sorts and conditions of men if society as a whole 

- is to be led towards what is better. Certainly 
the ' better class of people ' need leading as well 
as the others, for with them the opportunity 
offered by leisure is too often wasted in dilettant- 

"^ ism and folly." 

To " society," in the highly specialized 
meaning of that word, a reference may not 
be out of place. In its ambitions, its man- 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 89 



dates, Harger ^w_b^^t^Ml^h^madQ for 
the development of true manhood or woman- 
hood, while he saw much which aimed di- 
rectly at the destruction of both. There was 
never any one who enjoyed more the pleas- 
ure of good company, whose temperament, 
frank, hearty and mirthful, and whose man- 
ner, courteous and sincere, made him a more 
welcome guest wherever he went. It was no 
affectation, therefore, which caused Harper 
to feel as he did ; it was his belief in the true 
purpose of life. What to some, and to him- 
self, was a pastime, he saw, to others, was be- 
coming an end ; instead of developing, it was 
robbing, natures of their finer sensibilities. 
Many of its conventions were wholly artificial, 
some of its relationships altogether false. 
The following short sentences are sufficient 
to reveal this view : 

" Social engagements may, I think, be a healthy 
relaxation, if kept in their place, and if one does 
not forget to keep hold of one's self, and remem- 
bers the force of example. With many people 
here in Ottawa, I fear the social round is becom- 



90 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

ing an end in itself, and therefore a danger to 
themselves and others. 

' ' I am coming to the conclusion that if a man 
is to wield any influence worth while in this 
world, he has to cut this folly out of his life. The 
past fortnight has shown me how impossible it is 
for a man to do what the social world expects of 
him, and do justice to himself." 

Commenting on a wedding notice which 
appeared in a local paper, he writes : 

"So spoke the society editor this morning. 
The important thing, really, was the happy union 
for life of two loving hearts. Apparently what 
the public is supposed to be interested in, is the 
gown of white something or other. It may be 
salutary, as a means of developing an sesthetic 
taste generally, to have space in our public prints 
for such trifles. For my own part, I often think 
the world would be better and saner if the society 
editor had never been born." 

And of the "better part," in a personal let- 
v er to a friend : 

" If you will pardon me for making the remark, 
I was very pleased to see the lively interest your 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 91 

sisters take in the great work of improving the 
condition of the masses. It is one which is bound 
to widen their sympathies, and remove any possi- 
bility of their becoming enthralled by the chains of 
hollow conventionality, which, more than anything 
else, prevents the development of true woman- 
hood, under the conditions of our modern society. " 

How, according to his view, true woman- 
hood might be developed, may be gathered 
from a letter written by Harper to one of 
his sisters a short time before his death. It 
is one of many home letters which might be 
quoted, but it may be taken by itself as char- 
acteristic. In speaking of his love for others, 
its reproduction here may not be out of place : 



"Ottawa, Oct. 4th, 
" MY DEAR L - : 

" I am not writing to give you news, for there 
is little to give. I have been having a quiet 
happy little evening all by myself, and I thought 
I could not do better than let jou into the secret 
of my happiness. I think I have told you before 
that I am an admirer of the high-mindedness of 
Matthew_ Arnold, ' the apostle of sweetness and 



92 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

light.' Latterly, I have been taking a great deal 
of true pleasure from his poems, and one of the 
best of them, The Buried J^ife, I have just fin- 
ished reading, not for the first time, for they 
stand many readings; and I am sure you would 
find it hopeful and inspiring. I wish you would 
read Matthew Arnold's works, particularly some 
of the poems, such as Rugby Chapel, Dover 
Beach, Self Dependence and The Buried Life ; 
the last, most of all. There is a good deal of the 
stoicaJ^Greek about Matthew Arnold, but his is a 
beautiful, noble, pure mind whose example makes 
the pursuit of perfection meaningful, and beau- 
tiful to contemplate. There is much in his 
philosophy with which you doubtless will not 
agree, but there is a richness, beauty and purity, 
which you will find most inspiring. 

" And this brings me still to another question. 

Why should not you and E turn this winter 

to profit by spending a part of every day reading 
aloud to each other, choosing, preferably, such 
works as The Idylls of the King, Matthew Ar- 
nold's poems, or other writings of the great mas- 
ters in literature which take one away from the 
sordidness of life, and tend to develop the best 
that is in one. This, with an adulteration of fie- 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 93 

tion, would make the winter very profitable as 

well as very enjoyable to you both. When E "j 

can find time, he could read with you, and direct 
your reading course. My dear L , I am be- 
coming more and more convinced every day that 
the most important duty we ijhayje.is Jhejnpulding | 
of our character; for it is in the strength and I 
richness of our character that we obtain the title 
to self-respect, and are able to influence others. 
It is by bringing ourselves into closer contact 
with the highest thought that we are going to be 
enabled to obtain high-mindedness and purity 
ourselves. There is a world of truth in the state- 
ment, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they 
shall see God,' and these things of which I speak 
are some of the ways of attaining that purity of 
heart which makes life richer, deeper and hap- 
pier. 

" Longfellow, in his prose romance, Hyperion, 
has something of what I have in mind, when he 
says: 

" * It is the part of an indiscreet and trouble- 
some ambition to care too much about fame, 
about what the world says of us ; to be always 
looking into the faces of others for approval ; to 
be always anxious for the effect of what we do 



94 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

and say ; to be always shouting to hear the echo 
of our own voices. If you look about you, you 
will see men who are wearing life 



ish anxiety of fame, and the last we shall ever 
hear of them will be the funeral bell which tolls 
them to their early graves ! Unhappy men and 
unsuccessful ! because their purpose is, not to ac- 
complish well their task, but to clutch the "fan- 
tasy and trick of fame"; and they go to their 
graves with purposes unaccomplished, and wishes 
unfulfilled. Better for them, and for the world in 
their example, had they known how to wait ! 
Believe me, the talent of success is nothing more 
than doing what you can do well ; and doing well 
^whatever you do, without a thought of fame. 
If it comes at all, it will come because it is de- 
served, not because it is sought ajter. And, 
moreover, there will be no misgivings, no disap- 
pointment, no hasty, feverish, exhausting excite- 
ment. ' 

" This is rather a heavy quotation for a letter, 
but I wished you to catch the thought, you will 
find it in the chapter in Hyperion on Literary 
Fame. You will see the truth of it, if you allow 
your mind to dwell upon it for a moment. Long- 
fellow has no thought of discouraging ambition. 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 95 

Far from it. He simply wants to emphasize the 
folly of hoping for fame which is undeserved, and, 
as he points out, the way to deserve it is by doing 
well what is to be done. But as you are not fame 
hunting, it is not the fame part of it that I wish 
to dwell upon here, so much as the parallel 
thought, that it is the inner life, the inner strength - 
which comes from resolute effort and familiarity 
with the best thought, which tells, and which 
makes for true happiness. 

" I have often told you that your worst danger 
is your tendency to worry, a tendency which is 
based, I know, upon the depth of the interest 
which you take in those who are dear to you. 
What you must do is to prevent that tendency 
from casting a shadow over your life. I have a 

picture of you a copy which W enlarged 

from the little sunbeam of you, with a big white 
hat, you remember, in a gold frame over my 
desk. It is much admired, and I am proud to 
introduce it as my sister. As I look at it, I can 
see my dear little sister, bright, happy and de- 
voted, and now I don't want to think of her with 
any unnecessary cares. Now do be good, and 

you and E try and make the winter profitable 

to both of you. Take walks, get exercise in the 



96 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

open air, be cheerful, read, and generally try and 
make life happier by the means which you have 
at hand. I am neither scolding nor lecturing, 
and I have said nothing which you do not already 
know, but somehow to-night, you have been run- 
ning in my mind, and I wanted to tell you what 
I thought and wished, so that, in due course of 
time, you will look back to the winter of 1901 as 
one of the happiest chapters in your life. I am 
sorry that, when we were in Barrie, the shadow 
of memories and the pressure of many things 
must have made me seem selfish and not kind 
enough to my sisters, but I need not tell you, 

L , that your happiness is dear to me. 

"And now I must close. So good-night, my 
dear little sister. 

" With much love, 

" Ever your affectionate brother, 

"BERT." 

Just how characteristic this letter is of the 
interest taken by Harper in the welfare and 
happiness of those to whom he was united 
by the closest of ties, will be apparent from 
another letter, written many months previ- 
ous, to a brother in New York, after return- 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 97 

ing from a short visit to that city. It reveals 
the same earnest endeavour of a life to im- | 
part its own secret to the lives of others, and j. 
to establish a standard of happiness which 
could bring no deceptions. Its practical cqrri- 
mon sense. will make it no less commendable 
as an evidence of the truest affection. 
He writes : 

" Ottawa, Dec. 30, igoo. 
11 MY DEAR WILL : 

"Since returning to Ottawa there has been 
little happening that would be of interest to you. 
I have been busy enough, and have managed to 
control a tendency, fostered by the invitations of 
a number of kind people here, and my own dis- 
position, to be drawn into the social whirl. Itjs 
weak, andnife is earnest, so I have decided to do 
with as little of it as possible. No man who de- 
sires to make progress in this world, can hope to 
do so if he squanders his evenings. There are 
two ways in which a man may equip himself so \ 
that he may be in the van of progress : first, by < 
strengthening his own mind through a study of 
what is and has been in the minds of great men 
of thought, this, one can do from books ; sec- 



98 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

ondly, by pursuing positive original work along 
the special line to which he has devoted himself. 
These things I am attempting to do. The diffi- 
culty lies in selection. What we have to do is to 
get away from the semblances, and get at the reali- 
ties of life. 

" Of Carlyle's Hero Worship, I have already 
spoken to you. It is healthy and sturdy. I am now 
reading Carlyle's Past and Present, and do not 
know anything in literature more wholesome or 
worth reading. Do not neglect to read it. Men of 
the stamp of Carlyle, Emerson and Matthew Arnold 
go to the root of questions, and their books will 
do you one hundred times as much good as all 
the novels which are going the rounds. Every 
man owes it to himself to supply his mind with 
the best material available, and, although Carlyle 
may seem a little heavy in parts, where one may 
not have become familiar with the subject matter 
he refers to, you will find the influence of his 
sturdy personality upon your own views of life. 

" With regard to the second point, work along 
one's own special line, I am plodding along at 
work in the field of economics, and hope to be 
able to get out a book in the more or less near 
future. You know best what will be profitable 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 99 

for you. What I would suggest is, that you lose 
no opportunity of familiarizing yourself with the 
best writings on architecture; that you devote 
time and thought to studying architectural models 
of buildings as they are, and otherwise ; and, that 
you take every opportunity to attend lectures or 
discussions where architectural subjects are being 
considered. In this way you will find your inter- 
est in your work, and in life generally, as well as 
your usefulness to your employers, increasing at a 
surprising rate. I know how hard it is for a man 
living in a great, interesting place like New York, 
to do deliberate, consecutive work, and to keep 
control of himself and his time, but he must do 
this, if hejs going to get along. Life is real and 
earnest^ and a man who is going to hold up his 
end in dull times, and in the autumn of life, must 
take every opportunity to equip himself, and to 
save his dollars. A man need not be mean, he 
can go to things worth going to, he can dress 
decently, and hold up his end generally; but 
there are lots of things upon which money is often 
spent, which are absolute folly. Money is hard to 
make, and a man cannot justify himself in throw- 
ing it away. 

" I hope you will pardon all this which may 



ioo THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

appear like a lecture. It is not, I can assure you, 
dear old Will. It is simply a few conclusions 
which I have come to, and which I believe to be 
absolutely true. If they are, why should we not 
follow them ? I want us both to live fruitful and 
useful lives, and it is by such conscious, deliber- 
ate work as I have referred to, that we both can 
do it. Let us cut asunder what of empty, un- 
profitable conviviality, and the like, may have 
grown into our lives, and let us live so that when 
we are old men, if we are spared, we may 
look back upon our lives without regret, and feel 
that we have been worthy of the best that is in 
us, and of the trust which our dear parents placed 
in us. 

" My visit to New York was thoroughly profit- 
able ; it has given me much food for thought, and 
has enabled me to see some things more clearly 
than ever before. I cannot tell you of all the 
impressions New York brought, and has left upon 
me. I have never quite managed to shake off 
the attitude of mind of a student, and I find my- 
self constantly weaving my experiences in New 
York into my philosophy of life. The two events 
which seem to stand out most clearly are the visit 
to the Art Museum, and the concert at the Metro- 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 101 

politan. That was a glorious day, for it showed 
how men in the rush and flurry of business life 
have at hand the means of soul purifying and re- 
freshment in art and music, two great agencies 
which bring men's minds back from semblances 
to truth. Will you ever forget the music we 
heard ? The singing of Rossini's Stabat Mater 
was to me like wandering through a sea of dreams, 
beautiful yet sad. Greatest of all, I thought, 
was Nordica's Inflammatus y a soul-stirring song, 
splendidly set off by the orchestra and chorus, 
and which stirred the vast audience to its depths. 
It was the great victory of the evening. How 
strong must be the satisfaction of the possession 
of so magnificent a voice, both in the capacity to 
interpret such beautiful music, and in the ability 
to thrUljmd purge the human soul. For is it not 
the case that great music ever does this ? I know 
little of the technique of music, but for years I 
have felt its influence upon me for good. 

" Every hour of my visit was profitable, and I 
need not say that it would have been a blind, 
stupid ramble without your assistance. I know 
what it meant in sacrifice of time and hard-earned 
money to you. I would have liked to have con- 
trolled your generosity. However, I know the 



102 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

spirit which moved you, and I am deeply grateful 
to you. 

"And now, my dear brother Will, I trust that 
this New Year which ushers in a new century, 
will bring to you true happiness, and the accom- 
plishment of your most worthy ambitions. 
"Your affectionate brother, 

"BERT." 

It is not surprising to find in a remote cor- 
ner of the diary of a man whose feelings were 
so genuine, and sympathies so sincere, such 
mention as the following, of an evening spent 
with "The Woodcutters," a society he had 
helped to organize the year after he left the 
university, and the purposes of which will be 
sufficiently clear from the reference : 

"We went to old Thomas Mahoney's where 
we worked hard from about 8:30 to 11:00 p. M., 
sawing and splitting wood. The family con- 
sisted of Mrs. Mahoney, an old woman of about 
sixty or sixty-five, and her daughter. The 
daughter, who is half-witted, goes out washing 
and scrubbing, while the old lady has to saw 
and split all the wood necessary to keep their 
hovel warm, it being situated in an exposed place 



THE LOVE OF OTHERS 103 

on the edge of the common. The interior does 
not betoken wealth, but the old woman and her 
daughter seem to be not unhappy, this probably 
because of their having come from the Emerald 
Isle. I shall try and follow up the acquaintance "j 
with a view to discovering to what causes their 1 
poverty is due. This institution is a good one, 
for besides the hard work, it affords undoubtedly 
a good way of helping the deserving^poor, and 
gives one a splendid chance for economic study." 

Nor is the following entry less surprising, 
written, as it was, in part justification of him- 
self, lest_he_diouMjia^,erredin having aided 
finjmcjajjyj_^ 

boy who came to him for assistance, but into 
whose circumstances he had not, at the time, 
had opportunity of making a personal in- 
quiry. A file of correspondence with the 
Charity Organizations officer, and the super- 
intendent of The Institute for the Deaf and 
Dumb, reveals the care with which he subse- 
quently satisfied his conscience in this par- 
ticular case of one who belonged to "the 
dependent and neglected poor." 



104 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

"Whatever may be held regarding the unwis- 
dom of a paternal system with regard to society 
generally, and while my own best judgment in 
clines me to be individualistic, I have a strong 
sympathy with those who are robbed of the use 
of their senses, to whom so much of the beauty 
of God's world is as a sealed book. I felt this 
strongly as I dictated the letters which he could 
not hear. The bright intelligence on his face as 
he learned my intention, and indicated his ap- 
proval of some of my suggestions, was beautiful 
to see. I trust that he will not prove a disap- 
pointment, and that I shall not be deceived." 

Harper had the faith which led him at 
times to cast his bread upon the waters. 
Had he been asked why he did so, he would 
have replied, because he loved to. If ques- 
tioned further, he would, with Tennyson, 
have said : 

"That nothing walks with aimless feet; 
That not one life shall be destroy 'd, 
Or cast as rubbish to the void, 
When God hath made the pile complete." 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL 
IDEALS 

FEW men of his years have thought as 
deeply as Harper did, or had clearer 
perceptions, concerning conditions and 
forces which make for happiness and progress 
in social life, and the development of national 
greatness. Had he been spared he would 
have been an earnest and practical reformer ; 
silent as his voice is now, the words he once 
uttered are not without their value to our 
day and generation. He was a true patriot 
in sentiment and aspiration. 

Harper loved his country and its people, 
and in all that he undertook, which was of a 
public nature, he was animated by an enthu- 
siasm for the common good. Of the self-im- 
posed tasks he had undertaken in addition to 
his regular duties at the department of labour, 
and in each of which he had made some prog- 
ress, were treatises on " Labour Legislation in 
105 



I06THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

Canada," and the " Outlines of an Industrial 
History of the Dominion," Among his con- 
tributions to publications other than the La- 
bour Gazette, was a short essay on Colleges 
and Citizenship in a Christmas number of 
the Acta Victoriana of Victoria College, one 
or two articles in The Commonwealth on Can- 
adds Attitude Towards Labour, and an un- 
completed monograph, intended for publica- 
tion, on The Study of Political Economy in the 
High Schools. He was president of the Ot- 
tawa Social Science Club, secretary-treasurer 
of the Ottawa section of the University of 
Toronto Alumni Association, and an active 
member of the Ottawa Literary and Scientific 
Society. He was at the same time promoting 
the organization of a University Club, a plan 
of which he had carefully prepared, and the 
object of which was to bring the university 
men of the city into closer touch with each 
other, and make their influence more widely 
felt in the civic and social life of the com- 
munity. 

The background of all Harper's thinking 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 107 

on social and political problems was coloured 
by his belief in a moral order ; in the fore- 
front was ever the.indLYidualplQclaiming this 
order, and seeking to realize it in his own 
life. Institutions of whatever kind, whether 
national or religious, were to him of human 
creation. Their usefulness was in proportion 
to the degree to which they helped to give 
expression to the unseen purpose in the uni- 
verse. Nature and man^ alone, were divine. 
It followed logically from this that man's , 
work among his fellows in the world was to 
discover the moral order, reveal and main- 
tain it, so far as within him the power lay. 
Harmony with this order meant happiness, 
want of harmony, whether by the individual 
or the state, unhappiness. In this view, the 
individual is vastly superior to any institution 
he and his fellows may construct, superior as 
an end, and as a means to an end. If a set] 
of conditions exist which are counter to the \ 
moral order, or obstruct its fulfillment in the 
lives of men, these conditions should be 
changed, the individual should not be sacri- 



io8THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

freed to them. On the other hand, change 
may be, and ought to be accomplished more 
t by men than by institutions, and can only be 
1 accomplished in the degree to which beliefs be- 
I pome active, potent factors in individual lives. 
It is true that human knowledge is limited, 
and that the purpose of God is infinite, 
and so there may rightly be among men dif- 
ferences of opinion as to what, under any 
circumstances, are the ends to be sought, and 
the best means to attain those ends ; and hu- 
mility may well characterize all expressions 
of belief relative thereto ; but, to the extent 
of knowledge gained, the ground underfoot 
is firm, and humility will not excuse the want 
of assertion, where right reason is set at 
naught by wrongful conduct. Moreover, there 
is much on which men can be agreed, broken 
arcs visible to all, though the perfect round is 
seen by none. There are right and wrong, 
truth and falsehood, honesty and dishonesty, 
love and hate, purity and vice, honour and 
dishonour, and the difference between them 
is as apparent and real as the difference 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 109 

'twixt day and night, albeit, now and again, a 
twilight of uncertainty may render doubtful 
the confines of separation. Harper's ex- 
clusive insistence was only upon what in this 
way was acceptable to all ; and knowing that 
it was acceptable, he was sure the appeal 
would find a response in those to whom it 
was addressed. Whatever men might be in <"* 
seeking privately their own selfish ends, their 
belief in a moral order was apparent once, 
action became collective,;, the public had a 
conscience to which it was generally true, 
though men at times might seem to betray ^ 

their better selves ; and public opinion might 
be expected to guard for society as a whole 
a right for which individuals sometimes lost 
respect. How great, therefore, was the re- 
sponsibility upon those^ho. had the Capacity, 
or^ opportunity, to see that public opinion was 
rightly formed and directed, and that, in so- 
cial and political affairs, truth and right 
should be made to prevail ! 

This insistence upon the recognition of 
responsibility in those favoured by educa- 



no THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

tional training or opportunity, is well brought 
out in a paragraph or two in the short essay 
on Colleges and Citizenship. Referring to a 
quotation from Sir Alfred Milner's life of 
Arnold Toynbee, in which " the estrangement 
of the men of thought from the leaders of the 
people " is referred to as having constituted, 
in Toynbee's mind, the great danger of the 
democratic upheaval of the time, Harper 
writes : 

" People in Canada to-day are doubtless not so 
L anxious about democratic upheaval. Fortunately 
the aggravated conditions of an old world me- 
tropolis have not yet been developed. The task 
is easier ; the duty none the less imperative. It 
is more possible to secure the confidence of men 
who are not embittered by the pangs of slumdom. 
But because conditions here are not as distressing 
as they have been and are elsewhere, it is surely 
no less desirable, with a view to promoting indus- 
trial peace and healthy national development, 
1 that the men who have opportunity and capacity 
for the serious study of social and economic prob- 
lems, should not allow themselves to become 
fenced off by a wall of indifference of their own 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS in 



ild j 
ial / 



creation from those to whom the mass of the 
people look for direction, inspiration and sugges- 
tion. It is reasonable to expect that he who 
claims to be engaged in the pursuit of truth should 
not give countenance to what makes for social 
disorder and national decay. 

" Men are as much open to reason, as liable to 
accept truth, when they have been convinced of 
it, as when Arnold Toynbee studied, lectured and 
wrote. They are as prone to prefer what is gen- 
uine to what is pretense and dissimulation. 
Surely a peculiar obligation to see that men think 
rightly and act sanely, devolves upon those whose 
vantage ground should enable them to distinguish 
what is genuine. Sir Alfred Milner, having in 
mind the earnest friend of his undergraduate 
days, said six years ago to the members of Toyn- 
bee Hall : < I do not go so far as to say that 
what Oxford thinks to-day England will do to- 
morrow, but certainly any new movement of 
thought at the universities in these days rapidly 
finds its echo in the press and in public opinion.' 
Indeed, is there not fair ground for the belief 
that much of the virtue which has marked the 
conduct of Great Britain's High Commissioner 
at Cape Town, throughout the South Afri 



ii2 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

is due to association with the high-minded stu- 
dent, who, in the congenial atmosphere of Ox- 
ford, did not forget that he was a citizen ? " 
It was his belief in the importance of men 
recognizing their duties as citizens, and be- 
ing able to discharge these duties with in- 
telligence and for the common good, which 
led Harper to prepare a scheme for the teach- 
ing of Political Economy in the high schools. 
The merits of this plan he had summarized 
as follows : 

" Such a study would tend to remedy the great 
evil of democratic institutions, the susceptibility 
of the masses to the influence of demagogues, 
and their liability to misconstrue the relations of 
cause and effect because of ignorance. It would 
tend to promote mental development, especially 
in the direction of individual thought. It would 
tend to raise the standard of such studies in the 
universities, and this in time would react upon 
the high schools in the way of more competent 
teachers, and, in the end, create great possibili- 
ties for the prosecution of research in this all im- 
portant branch of knowledge in our country. It 
would tend to remedy social evils by giving the 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 113 

philanthropist and the public generally, some- 
thing like an accurate idea of the true state of so- 
ciety. It would react beneficially upon the gov- 
ernment, which, with a more critical observation, 
would be more careful in its actions." 

He modestly concludes, 

"I simply put forward a proposal which, I 
think, if carried out, would tend to modify the 
evils fostered by ignorance. I have to a great ex- 
tent taken it as an axiom that whatever tends to 
disseminate knowledge, to advance truth, and to 
develop the intellect, cannot be wrong, and should 
be accepted by all liberal minded men ; and this, 
I think, would be the result of the study of Po- 
litical Economy in our high schools. ' ' 

From the notes he had made, and from 
what is contained in the body of the article, 
it would appear that he had in mind a course 
on Civic Ethics, quite as much as on the Ele- 
ments of Economics, and that he would have 
liked, if possible, to have had a beginning 
made in the public schools. 

Scattered throughout his diary are such 
observations as the following : 






n 4 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

"I am becoming more and more convinced 
that the true rulers of the nation are outside of 
our parliaments and our law courts, and that the 
safety of society lies in informing those who form 
public opinion." 



" I feel more and more the necessity of em- 
phasizing the importance of the scientific study 
of economic and political problems in a country 
in which every man has the franchise, and is sup- 
posed to be in a position to express an intelligent 
opinion upon public questions, and particularly 
at a time when labour and kindred problems are 
prominent in the public mind." 



"A man who truly loves his country should 
be disposed to do his utmost to see it rightly 
governed." 



"The poor downtrodden have more to hope 
for from men who, having a specialized training 
in the operation of social forces, apply themselves 
to the proper remedy, than from all the windy, 
ultra-radical demagogues. ' ' 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 115 



"It is the alienation partly, no doubt, due to 
indolence of the men of thought from those 
from whom the mass of the people habitually re- 
ceive their inspiration, which accounts for much 
of the crass ignorance and purposeless passion of 
the people and their demagogues." 

"For myself, I have long deplored the foolish 
worship of this or that set of political machinery 
by apparently well intentioned men. In Matthew 
Arnold's Culture and Anarchy, there is a solu- 
tion for much of our distressing bluster_arid_blun- 
der. With confidence in the possibilities of man 
and a resolute endeavour to strive towards per- 
fection, to allow our best consciousness to play 
about our stock notions and our painful condi- 
tions of society, we should be able to see the real 
value of things, and ultimately to approach more 
nearly to right and truth. If our well-intentioned, 
but perhaps ' over-Hebraized ' ultra-socialists and 
ultra-individualists would have perfection more 
prominently in mind than the pet panacea they 
have ever before them, and would allow their best 
consciousness to play about their notions of so- 
ciety and its evils, there would be less of vicious- 
ness and ignorance in their propaganda." 



i 



n6THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

" The fallacy of political panaceas ! And the 
vital importance of improving the individual 
morally, and encouraging him to elevate his 
ideals ! What a splendid thing it would be if 
every labour agitator, every demagogue, every 
member of parliament, every professor, teacher 
and minister, and, in fact, every one who exerts 
an influence upon the public mind, could realize 
and act upon the truth which came to Alton 
Locke after his life of bitter trial : * My only 
ground was now the bare realities of life and 
duty. The problem of society self-sacrifice, the 
one solution.' " 

"We are too apt to regard social phenomena 
as if they are entities in themselves, instead of in- 
cidents in the development of society, a fact 
which a man who is amidst the strife of existing 
social and economic conditions should not lose 
sight of." 

"I am continually impressed with the wisdom 
of keeping a mind open to suggestion and im- 
pressions from the men one meets in the ordinary 
course of life, in fine, the importance of keeping 
an open mind. If one can accomplish this, even 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 117 

the din of ' the world's most crowded streets ' be- 
comes interesting and instructive, even beautiful, 
because of the opportunities of seeing truth and 
discovering the remedy for evils." 

"Justice and truth must prevail over tyranny 
and ignorance." 

The true mind is revealed in its unconscious 
moments, and it is, therefore, from passages 
like these, casually expressed, and constantly 
recurring in much that he wrote, which was 
of a private nature, that his real views and 
beliefs are to be gathered. One or two other 
passages in a similar vein will disclose these 
views more fully. 

During Christmas week of 1900 he visited 
New York for the first time. Of the many 
impressions made upon his mind, the con- 
trasts of wealth and poverty, and all that they 
implied, were to him more real than aught 
else. 

"What was particularly irritating to me," he 
writes in his journal, after returning from this trip, 



Ii8 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

" was the constant evidence of the gower of money 
rule in that throbbing metropolis. The story is 
written, even on the store signs on Broadway, that 
this, the greatest commercial city in America, is 
practically owned by monied persons, whose tastes 
and ambitions strike one as being essentially low, 

- mean and vulgar. I felt strongly a growing pride 
in British institutions and British character com- 

^ pared with what I saw about me. The ground 
taken by Mr. Mulock, on behalf of labour, came 
strongly before me. I felt that selfishness must 
be reckoned with in the solution of social problems. 
What is to be hoped is that strong men may fee- 
brought to see that right legislation is good poli- 

r*tics, that they may thus be persuaded to lend 
their aid to those who hope to avoid the growth 
in Canada of a corrupt system by which the 
power is in the hands of the octopus who owns 
the money bags, and who fattens on the blood of. 
the people whom he crowds under him. There is 
luxury and magnificence on Fifth Avenue, but I 
envied not the proud possessors of those costly 
mansions. I want naught but what my own 
ability and effort will bring me. I believe in 
making one's surroundings as beautiful as may 
be, but I feel that there is much waste and vulgar 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 119 

display in the way in which wealthy New York 
arrays herself. Her luxury is ponderous and" 
heavy and dull, when one remembers that much 
of it rests on the necks of the hundreds of thou- 
sands of toilers who gasp for breath in the narrow 
streets, from whom are withheld God's free gifts, 
the sunlight and the pure air." 

Elsewhere, he writes after a walk through 
the city streets : 

" On the way home I turned over in my mind ^ 
the question as to how wealthy men come to be 
so much appreciated in spite of the fact that it is 
only the lovable in man which is truly loved by 
right-minded men at all events, and I am satis- 
fled that, consciously or unconsciously, men come 
to compromise with their own sense of justice in 
their estimate of men, until a habit of thought 
and regard is fixed. What goes forward is some- 
thing like this : we do not love the man with"! 
the big house, but we would love to be the man \ 
with the big house. And since the man with the 
big house often has it in his power to get a bigger 
house than we have, we come to appreciate him. 
Many men do this until it comes to be usual to 
appreciate the man with the big house, and he i 



120 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

comes to be a large figure in the eyes of the 
world, however little we may love him and his 
methods. . This is particularly the case in a young 
nation like the United States which has, as yet, 
scarcely come to realize the really valuable things, 
an appreciation of which comes from genuine 
culture. 

"Again, whilst there is no great sin per se in 
being rich, I can see the truth in the old scriptural 
saying, ' It is easier for a camel to go through the 
eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into 
the kingdom of God.' When it is so hard for an 
earnest student to keep his mind rivetted upon the 
eternal realities of life, through which character 
building and true happiness come, how much 
harder must it be for the man whose circum- 
stances make the existing order, if not sufficient, 
yet comfortable, who has his vanity flattered by 
the things which he has been pursuing, and who 
has a vast web of houses and other possessions to 
shut him off from even an occasional view of the 
i realities. These facts, of course, only hold in 
their general application and tendencies. There 
have been, doubtless, splendid rich men. When 
these reach that state when, of their own free will, 
and of deliberate choice, they are prepared to go, 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 121 

sell all that they have, and give to the poor, then 
they have reached an attitude of mind and heart 
which enables them to distinguish between sem- 
blances and realities, to deliberately select the 
latter, and so realize the greatest happiness, the 
Kingdom of Heaven." 

His fine spirit is no less clearly revealed in 
the views which he held of the duties of the 
department of labour, and of the ideals he 
believed should govern and direct Jts_work. v 
The following extracts from letters to the one 
with whom he was associated, may serve to 
show with what purpose and to what end he 
had given himself to the work. The letters 
were written during the summer of 1901, 
while he was in charge of the department : 

" As I lay in a hammock last night at Kings- 
mere, and gazed into the deep blue moonlit vault 
df heaven, and ran over in my mind the progress 
already made by the department, and taxed my 
imagination to see its future, the one formidable 
obstacle which I saw ever before us was the diffi- 
culty of keeping firm to one's convictions in the 
face of growing clamours for things which one 



122 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

cannot approve,(yet which are uttered by people 
whom one cannot ignore. Nevertheless, I am 
- convinced that all will be well in the end. We 
will have the good will of the decent, fair-minded 
people, and that is all one should be much con- 
cerned about, after one has satisfied one's own 
sense of right and justice. I feel a deep sense of 
the gravity of our position, and I am determined 
that you shall command my best effort in your en- 
deavours to make the work of the department ef- 
fective, and to defeat unworthy attacks. I do not 
think that I am lacking either in faith in human 
nature or in the ultimate triumph of right, but I 
am coming to realize more, day by day, that it is 
a great man's work which we are called upon to 
perform. I have every confidence in our ability 
to weather the storms which we will undoubtedly 
be called upon to meet, and you can be assured 
'that you will find me ready to do my share. It 
behooves us both to steadfastly keep before us 
those things which are true, and, if we do, Na- 
J;ure, as Carlyle says, will be on our side. 

" The work on the Labour Gazette allows op- 
portunity for a careful and searching analysis of 
the industrial and social life of the Dominion. 
Already I can see the practical usefulness of the 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 123 

work. In addition to the obvious recognition of 
the claims of labour involved in the creation of 
the department, we have it in our power to pub^ 
lish information which should lead to a better 
understanding all round, as well as to further 
such movements as arbitration and conciliation 
which tend to promote indujiirial eace. 

" With the added responsibility there has come 
to me an increasing sense of the usefulness of the 
work which we are doing. I Jbelieye we can do 
much towards determining the direction of social 
progress. With a knowledge of fact, an absence 
ofsectarian prejudice, some understanding of the 
progress of human institutions, and of the motives 
which influence men, we should, if we can keep 
control of ourselves, and maintain high ideals as 
inspiration for the development of the best that is 
in us, be able to render a lasting service to this 
country." 

In this connection his views as to the rela- 
tion^ of the State and Labour, and of labour 
problems generally, may not be without in- 
terest. 

"I think," he writes, "we should discourage 
anything that tends to prevent Canadian workers 



124 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

from being good citizens, and enough means and 
leisure to avoid the brutalizing tendency of sup- 
pressed bitterness and poverty, is necessary to 
^ that end. I am inclined to believe that healthy, 
rational development will be best furthered by 
^restraining those influences which tend to lower 
; the level of citizenship, and the material well-being 
' of the mass of the workers in a country in which, 
as in Canada, the workers are an important ele- 
ment in the governing of the nation. Society 
must insist upon rules of fairness governing our 
industrial system, and upon frowning down the 
'mean man.' Let each individual have to him- 
self the reward of his energy, and of his legitimate 
effort, bu let him work in accordance witr^rules 
of fair play, and frown down, and banish, if need 
be, the 'mean man.' 

" There are those who have held that man has 
but one right, the right to live, if he can. Mod- 
ern British democracy does not stop there. That 
same sense of self-respect which prevents us con- 
sidering as tolerable a society which allows men 
and women, who are unable to provide for them- 
selves, to lie down on the street and die, forces 
us to insist that there shall be some rules for the 
regulation of industrial life, more particularly 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 125 



where the parties .m.-an. industrial contest are-of 
unequal strength. Most modern societies are 
prepared to admit that industry should be so con- 
ducted that men who are willing to work shall be 
allowed to work under as wholesome conditions 
as are reasonably possible, and that they shall be 
allowed such a return for their labour and so 
much leisure, as is necessary to ^health. For, to 
put it on no higher ground, no society, however 
hard hearted, can afford for long, when the rem- 
edy lies in its own hands, to countenance condi- 
tions which create in the hearts of reasonable 
men, that bitterness which tends to provoke social 
upheavals and revolutions. 

"Where the governing power is dependent 
upon the governed, no abstract theory of indi- 
vidual liberty or what not, will long prevent the 
State from taking cognizance of apparent and 
remediable injustice. Doctrinaire political phi- 
losophers, painters of Utopias, peddlars of polit- 
ical panaceas, still have their own little nostrums 
for society, but the law has been built up, as has 
seemed right or expedient to the law makers of 
the time, as a series of arbitrary rules based upon 
experience, and defining the terms upon which 
people may best live in each other's society. 




126 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

"The attitude taken by those who have fash- 
ioned British policy in industrial matters, recog- 
nizing the /principle that upon individual ability 
and individual energy rests national progress,^ 
allows to the individual the enjoyment of the 
fruits of his industry. But it insists that in the 
getting of it he must be governed by rules of fair 
play. [_The rule which underlies the various 
labour laws seems to be ' leave well enough alone, 
but get after the mean man.' "|A parent has a 
right to chastise his child, but that does not mean 
that he has a right to beat his child whenever he 
feels inclined, or allow him to be so worked as to 
start him in life a crippled, deformed, little crea- 
ture. LThe Factories Acts, perhaps the best known 
department of labour legislation, both in England 
and in Canada, have been created to correct 
abuses, which would not have arisen but for the 
practices of hard-hearted employers, j In order to 
thwart the mean man, who will consider neither 
the comfort nor the well-being of his employees, 
certain rules have been laid down, declaring how 
establishments, where abuses are likely to arise, 
shall be conducted. 

" The generally accepted rule nowadays is, that 
good done is sufficient justification of an act, in 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 127 

the absence of evidence that equal or greater 
evil will follow. Take as an illustration the in- 
spection of apples and pears, which does not fall 
within the scope of what is normally considered 
labour legislation. It was found that, left to 
themselves, some men who sold apples were so 
short-sighted as to fill the centre of the apple bar- 
rels with inferior fruit, straw, old boots, clothes, 
and other material which cost less than the hand- 
picked fruit of the Canadian orchards, and which 
could not be seen when covered up with rosy, 
sweet smelling Northern Spies. But the appetite 
of the British consumer does not extend to the 
contents of the refuse cart, and Canadian fruit 
growers as a whole suffered. Because some men 
are prepared to carry their meanness to the extent 
of counterfeiting, and of impairing the reputation 
o their countrymen, the Canadian parliament 
felt called upon, in the interest of common de- 
cency and the good of the apple trade, to require 
an inspection, which, while it will defeat the mean 
man, will involve the regulation of every honest 
Canadian shipper who is content to take his 
chances on the principle, ' caveat cmptor* 

" Here, then, is an illustration which may be ^ 
applied. Let every man stand upon his own feet, 



128 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

says the parliament at Westminster. Let every 
man choose and pursue his own aim in life, and 
have for himself the reward of his efforts. ;But ' 
where an abuse develops to such an extent that it 
becomes a menace to public safety, or an invasion 
of the rights of others, we are prepared to so leg- 
islate as to defeat the offender, whilst restricting 
individual enterprise to the least possible extent." 

And of the application of the same princi- 
ple of fair play to industrial disputes, he 
writes : 

"Partly because society feels that it cannot af- 
ford to see the machinery of production tied up 
and inactive, partly because of the effect upon 
consumers of increased inconvenience and in- 
creased prices as the result of that suspension, but 
largely, I think, because society demands that the 
men who work shall have fair treatment, because 
the great heart of society, stripped of its shams, 
its semblances, its dilettantisms, its hypocrisies 
and its follies, demands that justice and fair play 
shall rule between man and man, that they who 
are willing to work with, their hands shall have a 
fair return for their work, and shall be allowed 
to work under fair conditions, it has come to pass 



SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 129 

that, in British countries, there is an answer to the 
demand of labour for some kind of arbitrament 
other than the strong handj when the parties to 
an industrial dispute fail to agree. In New Zea- 
land the answer has come in compulsory arbitra- 
tion, which, at bottom, means, practically, the 
fixing of wages by the State. In Great Britain 
and Canada individualism will not go so far. 
Public opinion, for the time being at least, is sat- 
isfied with the creation of machinery for the opera- 
tion of voluntary conciliation. We hope that 
public opinion will, in most cases and in the long 
run, strike a true note. Under modern condi- 
tions, as Carlyle says, ' Democracy virtually ex- 
tant will insist upon becoming palpably extant.' 

"Inasmuch as many industrial disputes have 
their origin in misunderstaridings^ and in senti- . 
mental alienationsjrom the arbitrary disposition of 
one party or the other, the Acts in Great Britain 
and Canada, providing as they do for the appoint- 
ment of an unbksed mediator to bring the parties 
together, are calculated to sweep away all unes- 
sential entanglements, and make the way clear 
for a settlement by means of amicable compromise 
without taking away from' either of the parties 
the privilege, to which each claims a right, of using 



130 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

its strength to further its own legitimate individual 
ends. The existence of the machinery makes it 
difficult for either party in a serious dispute to re- 
fuse to employ it ; the prestige of the government 
behind the conciliator enables him to deal freely 
with each party, and to throw the full light of day 
upon the real condition of affairs. This done, 
the full strength of the system of voluntary con- 
ciliation comes into play. Public opinion will 
force a settlement which approximates to justice 
and fairness. The mean party, whether it be the 
employer or the labour organization, must inevi- 
tably give way to the extent of its meanness, and 
at the same time, the right of the individual to 
realize for himself the fullest fruits of his legiti- 
mate effort, at once the stimulus of the capitalist, 
and raison d'etre of the trade union, is preserved. 
The system, it is true, acknowledges, at once, the 
imperfection of trade union machinery, and the 
selfishness, even to the extent of meanness, of 
employers ; it goes further than the grasping and 
heartless employer would allow ; it falls short of 
what many unionists, especially among the social- 
ists in the organizations, would demand ; tmt it 
adequately represents the general attitude of the 
British public in matters of labour legislation 






SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 131 

generally, preserves the reward of individual ef- 
fort to the individual who makes the effort/but 
makes it impossible for the^mean, man. to profit by 
his meanness. Meanwhile, with the option, in 
case of disputes, of the arbitrament of public 
opinion, an employer is apt to give greater con- 
sideration to a proposal for the creation of a per- 
manent conciliation board, representative of him- 
self and his employees, to determine questions 
which may arise within his establishment. 

"Such a bringing together of the two classes 
jnjhejroducing scheme for the consideration. of 
their mutual interests, as well as their mutual dif- 
ferences, is calculated to promote a harmony 
which should make for the great aim of all, .the 
promotion of industrial peace. Granted the ex- 
istence of a fair rate of wages and fair conditions 
of work, the existence of conditions, which can, 
with little difficulty, merge into a modified form of 
industrial association <of partnership, ?md there is 
the vindication of the truth, that there is no neces- 
sary warfare between the parties to production." 

Lastly, of Democracy; its problems were 
to him mainly industrial ; a well_ in- 
formed public opinion was the one hope, a 



132 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

recognition of the duties of citizenship, the 
one necessity of the times. In obedience to 
a moral order lay the secret of happiness, for 
the heart of a people like the heart of man, 
was governed by truth. 

" If we are to have faith in democracy, we must 
believe that the people, when informed, will choose 
what is right in preference to what is base. If 
we can judge of the disposition of the press and 
the expressed opinions of prominent men who 
give thought to the matter, Canada has deliber- 
ately set her face towards the promotion of indus- 
trial peace, the stamping out of the mean man. 
Canadians seem disposed to declare witty Carlyle, 
that * cash payment is not the sole nexus of man 
with man. Deep, far deeper than supply and 
demand are laws, obligations as sacred as man's 
life itself. He that will not learn them, perpetual 
mutiny, contention, hatred, isolation, execration, 
will wait on his footsteps, till all men discern 
that the thing which he attains, however golden 
it look or be, is not success, but the want of 



" Working men axe not asking for favours. In 
their federations less and less is heard of technical 






SOCIAL AND POLITICAL IDEALS 133 

differences, and more of a desire to secure the 
good will of the general public by means of a 
cool, deliberate presentation of views upon public 
questions primarily affecting them. It is impossi- 
ble not to accept the general views of Mr. Henry 
Compton, that as working men acquire their full 
rights, their leaders will turn to the noble task of 
impressing upon them the duties of citizenship. 
Outside of parliaments and law courts, the destiny 
of the nation's workers and employers is being 
shaped by the consciousness of right in the minds > 
of the mass of the people." 

" I have confidence that public opinion will, in 
most cases and in the long run, strike a true note. 
I have faith in the saying, * the people may make 
mistakes, but the people never lie.' Show the^j 
people what it all means, and the people will do ] 
what is right. They are learning the insufficiency J 
ofpohtical catch wordsi They know that no po- 
litical pill, call it by ever so attractive a word, is 
a cure for all ills." 

" Whatever course we may pursue we must not ' 
forget that it is but a means to an end. Ma- 
chinery is good, so long as we remember that it 



i 3 4 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

is machinery. No system will, even for a short 
time, avoid industrial evils unless the people have 
respect for what is right and true and just. The 
present system has its omissions and its weak- 
nesses, but it keeps in mind some of the principles 
of public policy, which experience has shown to 
be sturdy, sane and wholesome. I think it is a 
stride in the right direction. If men will but be 
true to themselves, a new era is dawning upon 
us ; an era, which, if it will not be free of pain, 
hardship and suffering for many, will, while pre- 
serving a premium as a reward for the energetic, 
a punishment for the mean, leave the final judg- 
ment in industrial questions with public opinion, 
which, when informed, is ready to choose what 
is right in preference to what is base. The ulti- 
mate solution of industrial problems, now as never 
before, lies with the people at large, and all will . 
be well if citizens will but discharge the duties of 
'^ their citizenship." 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 

" T" TRUST I may do my duty before God 
and man and realize the best that is in 
me." These words are among the last 
in Harper's diary. Five years before, re- 
ferring to repeated disappointments and re- 
verses he had written : "I hope they will 
enable me to realize the high ideal of my 
existence." The same lofty purpose was 
expressed in the opening paragraph of his 
diary, already quoted. It reads : 

" I am writing this record of my thoughts 
and actions in order that I may be better able 
to understand myself; to improve in that 
wherein I find myself wanting, and that 
some day I may be able to look back and 
find a rule of development or perhaps of life, 
with its assistance. I shall endeavour to be 
at least honest with myself, and hope that 
the use of this book may help me occa- 
sionally, to sever myself mentally from the 



136 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

associations of the world and retire within 
myself. My hope is that some day I may be 
able to become acquainted with my own in- 
dividuality, and discover what is the first es- 
sential and object of my existence." 

If love for others was the ruling passion, 
the realization of a high ideal was the con- 

i^stant purpose of Harper's life. He deliber- 
ately, at an early age, looked in upon his life ; 
regarded it as a trust given him by the Cre- 
ator to mould and fashion at his will ; saw that 
it had capacities which he believed to be in- 
finite and divine ; and sought, by reflection 
and action, to unfold its meaning and to 
work out its end. " There is a dreamy under- 
current in my whole make-up, which I have 
never been able to understand, but which 
sometimes seems to me to be more real than 

"my waking life." Already the infinite mys- 
tery had become a great reality to him. His 
search was not in vain. Before its close, 

" He saw life clearly, 
And he saw it whole" 

Man found himself in a world surrounded 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 137 

by mortals like himself; two^ theories were 
possible, either all was chance, or there was 
design. If chance, there could be no ultimate 
meajMngjof things, no relation between the 
parts, either between the universe and man, 
or man and his fellows ; truth and right there 
might be, by arrangement, but they could 
not be absolute ; duty might exist, but under 
what law? 'No, the world, man, these 
clearly were to be accounted for in some 
more rational way. The only alternative was 
design. The finite mind, seeking to interpret 
the Infinite, had invented a language, whereby, / 
through the medium of words, it sought to 
give expression to its thoughts. A creator 
and an infinite purpose were essential to de- 
sign ; the creator, the finite mind conceived of 
as God, the infinite purpose, His will. To 
know God and to do His will became then 
the chief end of man. 

From a consciousness of the mystery of his 
own being and of the universe about him, 
the earliest perception of the infinite nature 
of each and of their relation, came to Harper 



i 3 8THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

in the discovery of what he was wont to call 
"the rule of law." In Nature he found it 
first. In Nature there was no chance, all was 
cause and effect ; there was constant change, 
kut no final destruction. "Immortal growth 
was the prophecy which Nature made for 
man." What the eye of the senses discov- 
ered in the physical world, the eye of the 
soul discerned to be true of the inner life. 
Character was not the child of Destiny, the 
shadow of Circumstance, it was the one 
immortal creation of which man was capable. 
" What a man sows, that shall he also reap." 
In character was the harvest of all that a 
man ever thought, or willed, or did. 

r And herein lay the greatness of life. An 
order in the universe, a capacity in man to 
discover and interpret ; Truth, the order ; the 
path, Right ; Reason, lighted by the lamp of 
Conscience, might lead man to the abode of 

.God. 

Without some satisfying of reason, Harper 
maintained there could be no true inspiration 
of soul ; for a belief to be vital, it was neces- 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 139 

sary that its significance should be grasped, 
and its meaning comprehended. It was^sec- 
ondary, therefore, what a ^ man believed, so_ 
long as he had a reason^ for the faith that was 
mjhiin, and was prepared to follow where an 
honest search might lead. In the end, the 
meaning of life would be clear. It was not 
against criticism or the critical spirit that he 
was prone to object, but against such divorced 
from an honest and sincere purpose. Honest 
criticism he believed was essential to clearer 
vision, and, reverently pursued, strengthened 
belief. 

It was die intellectual honesty, gf Matthew 
Arnold which attracted Harper so strongly, 
and gave the writings of that author so great 
an influence over his life. What he has 
written, in reference to his reading of Litera- 
ture and Dogma, is not without interest as 
showing the effect which this book had upon 
him, and as disclosing his own views in the 
matter of criticism and belief. 



"To-day," he writes, "I spent a good 
ing taking a look into Literature and Dogma, 



i 4 oTHE SECRET OF HEROISM 

which, so far as I have read, is in entire accord 
with Matthew Arnold's clear, critical method of 
examination. I was anxious to get at his main 
thesis, and read several chapters, as well as the 
conclusion, and think that as a result my own 
views regarding Christianity have been rather 
strengthened. A quibble always annoys me, but 
Matthew Arnold's criticism is of a different sort. 
For my own part, I am convinced that the critical 
spirit is not indicative of meanness, but rather of 
balance and honesty of mind, and is calculated 
to create, not blind prejudice, but wholesome con- 
( yiction. This is particularly the case where the 
critic has, as in the case of Matthew Arnold, 
imaginative power properly controlled, and a 
deep appreciation of love and beauty. ' ' 

And some days later : 

" To-night I read several chapters of Matthew 
Arnold's Literature and Dogma, which, with 
what I have already read of the work, cleared my 
mind as to the main purpose of the author, the 
placing of our conception of the value of the 
Bible and of Christianity on a more stable and 
permanent basis. I feel confident that this will 
be the effect upon my own mind, for I thoroughly 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 141 

hold that a belief to be vital must be jre.al to him 
who professes it. Indeed, the profession to others 
of what one believes, however important, is almost / 
inevitably vague, or, at least, liable to be misun- 
derstood. What is really important is for us to *") 
believe what we ourselves find believable and true r 
before the bar of our inmost conscience. I find 4 
myself reaching out with eagerness to the thought, 
which seems an old one to me, that God is in- 
timately associated with conscience ; that conduct 
is important, but that rules of conduct ^insti- 
tutionalized are apt to be external and wanting 
in vital force ; and that it was the emphasizing 
of the importance of the personal, inward con- 
dition, which was the xpal strenfifo andjasting 
service of the new dispensation. 

" I find my views clearing as time goes on. 
Latterly two thoughts have bfien, perhaps, more 
prominent than any others: ^he importance of 
constant choice in the matter of selection and re- 
jection, and a"~Tespect for the conception of the 
many sidedness of truth, which conception brings 
with it a toleration for the views^of^others^par- 
ticularly in the matter of religion. For given 
that religion is an inward personal matter, and 
that men are constituted so differently, their con- 



142 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

/ ceptions of the truth, itself single and indissoluble, 
if you will, must vary widely. Under such con- 
ditions the necessity of keeping in view the highest 
standard of life, as illustrated by Christ, becomes 
of the very greatest importance." 

In the character of Christ, Harper found 
the answer to the question, what is the pur- 
< pose of life ? That life appealed to him from 
every side. It was the manliest of lives. 
Conscious of its greatness, it could forbear to 
use its creative powers for selfish ends. It 
could be governed by a principle, where a 
multitude could not attract. Bigotry, pas- 
sion and prejudice only added force to its 
invectives ; ridicule and calumny, dignity to 
its assertion of right. In the presence of the 
strong, it could champion the cause of the 
weak ; the rich it could make to tremble at 
their neglect of the claims of the poor. In the 
midst of opposition, it could stand alone ; sur- 
rounded by temptation, it could remain pure. 

It was the manliest of lives. Chivalrous in 
its defense of woman, tender in its love for 
little children, loyal in its allegiance to friends. 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 143 

Uncompromising it was in its demands for 
truth, unsparing in its rebuke of evil, relent- 
less, almost violent, in its denunciations of 
hypocrisy. ^ Yet nowhere was such sym- 
pathy to be found; nowhere, greater com- 
passion ; nowhere, forgiveness more sincere. 

It was the manliest of lives, but it was 
also the simplest and the best. In vain one 
searched for an account of material posses- 
sions ; in vain one looked for an assertion of 
worldly place _or power ; but it was recorded 
that its cradle was a manger, its crown, a 
wreath of thorns. The mountains, the woods, 
the sea, the flowers, the stars, were so sought 
by, and so ministered to that life, as to be 
almost a part of it. Simple fisher-folk of 
Galilee, devoted but humble women in the 
town of Bethany, shared its companionship, 
the sorrowful and outcast, its love. 

And withal, it__Jiad a mission, higher, 
greater than the world had ever known. 
Clearly it saw into the mystery of the uni- 
verse, deeply it divined the meaning of the 
human soul. In words, as simple, as beauti- 



144 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

ful, as the flower, or the name which sug- 
gested the thought, it related the universe, ta 
man, and man to God. " Consider the lilies 
how they grow ! " all that Nature had to 
teach was there, selection and rejection, cause 
and effect, the unfailing operation of law, life 
v and death. " Our Father," obedience, love, 
trust, forgiveness, the brotherhood of man, 
man's sonship under God. 

Was it a matter of wonder then, that such 
a nature as Harper's should be captivated by 
such a life? Having founded his belief on 
reason, in the following after the perfect life 
of Christ, reason was soon outrun Jby ...that, 
which brought conviction of itself. Having 
learned something of the secret and the 
method of that life, Harper came soon to 
believe the words : 

" Ego sum via, verifas, vita. 
Sine via non itur, sine veritate non 
Cognoscitur, sine vita non vivitur" 

They came to be the controlling power in his 
life. 

Harper sought the realization of his belief 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 145 

in conduct His impurity, his weakness, he 
contrasted with the strength and beauty of 
the life of Christ, and daily sought with an 
earnest devotion to yield the allegiance due 
to the higher ideal. Without many profes- 
sions, he strove silently for the attainment of 
a character which would make him, among 
men, not unworthy of the ideal which he cher- 
ished in his heart. 

The following passages may help to make 
good the truth of these words : 



P revents foiiy- ft " 



is the main hope of a delirious world. It is the 
means of informing common sense. An ideal 
truly cherished is never lost, save to give place to 
a higher ideal. Ar^ ideal is not smashed by ex- 
perience of frailty ; but is rather thrown into 
greater relief. Ideals are dissipated only by the 
clearer view which comes with a widening hori- 
zon. Disappointment in persons will not make an 
idealist a cynic, unless he has no heart. 

"Unfortunately, all men are apt to reach out 
for the immediate thing which looms large before 
them. Some are worse than others. And it is *"' 



146 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

only by trying to see things in perspective, by the 
application of cojnmon sense .enlightened _by ideal- 
ism, that we can hope to be among the wiser. A 
constant regard for perfection, the constant cher- 
ishing of an intelligent idealism, will, I think, 
help a man ' in the midst of the crowd to keep 
with perfect sweetness the independence of soli- 
tude,' Emerson's measure of a great man." 

"On the place of churches in national and 
social life, I take the ground that the important 
thing for a man is his religion, what he actually 
believes regarding his relation to the universe, 
rather than his church affiliation. The first is in- 
dividual and real, the latter more or less artificial 
and a matter of expediency, a means of assisting 
him in making easier the spread of the views 
which he holds ; in fine, an institution, with an 
object doubtless, but none the less an institution, 
machinery. ' ' 



" This has been a good day, in that life and 
human duty have been very real to me in it. In 

the afternoon H , L and I walked out 

Bank Street to the canal, and, on the way back, I 
turned the conversation to the question of man's 
duty to himself and to others, taking the position 
that a man owed it to himself to make the most 
of himself, and that, if he ever earnestly started 






THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 147 

in on the task, he would find himself moved to see 
that his influence upon others was in the same 
direction, namely, towards perfection ; that i 
men were q^ 

rule of law in this sense, they must inevitably re- 
cast their entire views of life to their own advan- 
tage and that of society ; and that if the church, 
instead of saying do this, because this and that 
authority says it is right to do it, would appeal to 
a man's appreciation of what manhood means in 
this sense, there would be more Christlikeness 
among so-called professors of Christianity." 

"This, my birthday, has commenced most 
happily. As I lay last night on the couch in our 
comfortable little room, allowing my thoughts to 
run on into the future, and resolving to make this 
new year of my life one marked by real and sub- 
stantial progress, came to me about mid- 
night with a birthday present, which, it seems to 
me, could not be more in keeping with my pres- 
ent state of mind and resolutions. The present 
consisted of two splendid engravings of Hoff- 
man's Christ, the Child, and Christ, and the 
Rich Young Man. More and more, as time goes 
on, I am coming to realize that the virtues upon 
which the hopes of the world are based are to be 
found in that rich beautiful life of the Master. 



148 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

Humility, self-sacrifice and love, all that appeals 
to the noblest instincts of our nature, are to be ! 
found in the character of that perfect Man, who ; 
was * despised and afflicted, yet opened not His . 
mouth.' 

"Trammelled by a liberal share of human 
weakness, an unfortunate combination of high am- 
bition and a tendency to frivolity, I can only 
hope to come to realize gradually all that that life 
represents. When one considers the wide-spread 
influence which even a comparatively obscure 
personality yields in this world, the awful re- 
sponsibility which is attached to every act of voli- 
, tion, to every word and deed, is forced upon one. 
These and other weaknesses I must control, and 
my character I must seek to strengthen in order 
that my life shall not be useless, in order that I 
may realize dear mother's last wish, that we may 
meet ' There. ' I must try, with the help of God, to 
more and more conform thought and act to the 
model of the perfect life of Christ, a life that if 
men and States would imitate, there would be an 
end to viciousness and of man's inhumanity to 
man. To be brought face to face, daily, with 
Hoffman's beautiful representation should make 
strong resolutions stronger and more possible of 
realization. 

"It is a beautiful day, the first really cold day 



THE PURPOSE OF LIFE 149 

of the winter. Rarely do I remember a clearer 
air, a brighter sun. To me, it is as if God smiles 
His approval on my resolutions. Pray God, I 
may be able to live them out in practice. ' ' 

" I wrote to F to-night, and my heart 

went out strangely to him as I wrote. The 
thought which I wished most to convey to him, 
was the importance of combining nobility of mind 
with true humility in the sense in which Christ 
used the words; the truth in the simple but 
meaningful words of the beatitude, ' Blessed are 
the pure in heart for they shall see God ' ; and 
the necessity, with a view to the healthy upbuild- 
ing of a strong character, to ' Be just and fear 
not. ' The more I am brought into contact with 
the views of the world, the more I see the wealth 
of meaning in some of the scriptural sayings. If, 
as I trust, this expansion in the meaning of things 
goes on, life should be filled with more and more 
real happiness, especially if I am able to so mas-^ 
ter myself as to regulate my life in accord with 
the truth revealed to me." 

" To-night I feel that what the world wants is 
more of forbearance, less of viciousness, more of 
sweetness and light, more of the spirit of Jesus 
Christ." 



A LAST: WORD 

THE love, the truth and the beauty of 
Harper's nature have nowhere found 
better expression than in his last let- 
ters to his closest friend. His heart is revealed 
there, as, only in such a relationship, it is 
possible for hearts to reveal themselves. In 
the sanctuary of Friendship, everything is 
holy ; there abideth the love that " thinketh 
no evil," the confidence that is never be- 
trayed ; at its threshold, semblances disap- 
pear; having entered beneath its portals, 
there is no longer anything to con- 
ceal. 

The one to whom they were written was 
in British Columbia when these letters were 
received by him. He had been sent by the 
government to reconcile, if possible, the con- 
flicting claims of labour and capital, which 
150 



A LAST WORD 151 

at the time had assumed the proportions of a 
strike in one of the mining towns of that 
province. In his absence, the department of 
labour had come in for some criticism at the 
instance of the Canadian Manufacturers' As- 
sociation. Harper was anxious lest this 
should be a matter of concern to his friend, 
and hastened to reassure him. The letters are 
a true expression of himself. They reveal 
his standards, his belief in truth, his appre- 
ciation of beauty, his conception of duty, his 
trust in an overruling Providence, his deep 
concern for humanity, and his love for his 
friend. All these, in him, were as inseparable 
from each other as each was inseparable from 
his life. 

He writes: 

" Ottawa, Nov. 10, 1901. 
" MY DEAR REX : 

"I have been flying westward with you all 
week, weighing in my mind the chances of the 
success of your mission. It may be weak, this 
proneness to speculate upon the outcome of an 
issue in the future, but where one's feelings are so 



152 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

nearly concerned, one cannot but do it. Each 
time my thoughts have turned to the subject of 
your mission to the coast, my conclusion has been 
the same you must succeed. To-day the first 
breathing spell which I have had since you left 
as I walked home in the bright sunlight and the 
brisk air, the conclusion has become conviction.^ 
I do not attempt to disguise the difficulties which 
confront you. Indeed, perhaps, I rather magnify 
them. Two camps of organized self-interest con- 
front each other. Misunderstanding, bitterness 
and passion have much sway in each. But your 
strength lies in the fact that what you seek is fair- 
ness, truth and justice, as well as the promotion 
of industrial peace and the country's welfare. 
' Speak to his heart, ' says Emerson, ' and the man 
becomes suddenly virtuous.' My dear Rex, I 
assure you it is not the prejudice of a friendship, 
which makes me miss you more than I care to 
confess, that tells me that it is not the strong arm 
of a commission, nor yet the power of public 
opinion, that is your strongest weapon in this 
important crisis ; but the commanding influence 
of a high-minded manhood moved by noble im- 
pulses, and unalloyed by selfish motive. Success 
must crown your efforts. 



A LAST WORD 153 

"This week has been an instructive one in 
many ways. You have doubtless noticed the con- 
clusion of the Canadian Manufacturers' Associa- 
tion with regard to the Labour Gazette and the 
department's work generally. The decision, 
though not unexpected, is an evidence of how 
much must be done, before men, whose business 
principles are but a reflection of their personal in- 
terests as they conceive them, can be brought to 
see that right reason will not be satisfied by any 
industrial scheme which leaves out of account 
consideration for the well-being of the great mass 

of the people. Mr. , in a conversation 

which I had with him on Friday, assured me that 
we ought not to worry over the verdict of the 
Manufacturers' Association. ' For,' as he put it, 
' a department which stands for the recognition 
of the rights of working men cannot expect to be 
popular with selfish employers.' Speaking of the 
comparison made between the Canadian and 
United States Departments, I urged upon him the 
importance of the publication of a monthly Ga- 
zette as a means of making effective a policy 
which depends for its sanction upon public opin- 
ion. He agreed with me, and added, * They talk 
of a quarterly publication, doubtless they would 



154 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

be better satisfied still if there were no publication 
at all.' 

"Mr. 's opinion was not necessary to 

reassure me in the matter of the Manufacturers' 
Association's criticism. The judgment which is 
really important is that of one's own conscience. 
Mine tells me that, however imperfect our work 
may have been, however much there may be room 
for improvement, what we have done has not been 
inconsiderable, especially when the difficulties 
under which we have laboured are considered. I 
am confident that the broad lines of policy which 
we have followed are right, and that our work, as 
our knowledge of existing conditions increases, 
will be of more and more value to the working 
men of Canada and to the country generally. 

" I miss you very much in the office, but still 
more out of it. Indeed when you are away I 
realize how much we are together. However, 
Rex, I need not assure you that I am constantly 
with you in thought. Your life has grown into 
mine to such an extent that your hopes and aspi- 
rations are mine as well. Take care of yourself, 
my dear Rex, and whatever may be the outcome 
of your mission, I know that you will have done 
your duty. When you are in the mountains 



A LAST WORD 155 

think of one whose soul is also profoundly stirred 
by the message which great, glorious, beautiful 
Nature has for man. 

" With much love, 

"Ever yours affectionately, 

"BERT." 

" Ottawa, Nov. 13, 1901. 
" MY DEAR REX : 

" You must not take my official notes daily 
as a measure of my interest in your affairs here, 
your progress yonder, or your thoughtfulness in 
writing me such refreshing letters as those which 
you have written en route. And let me thank 
you for these letters, Rex. They take me with 
you as you go through that wiMly jjrand country, 

the very thought of which, ..makes the heart of a 

._ g * 

true Canadian bound with pride. The dating of 
your last, ' in the country of the foot-hills,' makes 
me think how eagerly you must be looking for- 
ward, as you wrote, to the prospect of the moun- 
tains. Perhaps you were fortunate enough to see 
them in the stern glory of a winter sunset. These 
things, like great pictures and noble thoughts, 
leave a permanent impress upon one's life, and I 
rejoice that the path of duty has led you through 
so much that is beautiful and sublime. 



156 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

"But hold, I am probably several chapters be- 
hind your present thought and work, for by now 
you will be wrapped up in the affairs of a mining 
town, interested in its mushroom growth, its 
throbbing, ill-digested life, and in the main object 
of your mission, the strike. 

" Perhaps it is this very mission of yours which 
has set my mind so strongly of late upon the 
question of man's duty. This afternoon, Harry, 
Laschinger and I took a long walk in the frosty 
air, for winter has gripped Ottawa hard, ice 
covers the ground, ponds are frozen and the sky 
is stern and gray, and I found myself driven to 
turn conversation along this line. Is it because 
the church has so far drifted from truth that it 
succeeds so little in making the life of Christ a 
reality among men ? I thoroughly hold that once 
convince a man of a truth, and that truth, even 
despite him, will become an active potent factor 
in his life. How are men to be convinced ? The 
church says do this, because authority says it is 
right so to do. But men do not do it. Why ? 
Because men do not come to vital conclusions 
upon the strength of authority, especially when 
they have their own opinions regarding the chan- 
nels through which the authority filters. Is it not 



A LAST WORD 157 

time that a different line should be followed ? 

TjiiLHEiB tc L5? r ^ t j^i c *? se i* * s "Sht tO-dO 
right ; because it is consonant with the law of 

their natures ; because only by so doing will they 
realize themselves. And here we come to the 
great beauty, justice and potency of the appeal to 
the rule of law. Show a man that it is only by \ 
putting forth his best efforts towards what his best I 
consciousness tells him to be right that he will *y 
make any progress satisfactory to his own nature, ( 
or in harmony with the eternal realities, and the I 
shackles of petty ambitions fall from him. He I 
becomes stronger and stronger. And in propor- 
tion as his own true strength increases, so will the 
appreciation of nature's laws and the character of 
Christ develop manly humility and a sense of 
duty to the world without him, a sense that his 
life is part of the lives of many others, as many 
as come within the almostunlimited sphere of his 
influence, and that he owes it to himself, as much 
as he owes it to them, that that influence shall 
alsjo tend in the direction of perfection, the sweep- 
ing away of bitterness, passion, prejudice and 
viciousness in whatever form. Once bring home 
to a man the sense of personal duty in terms of 
inflexible and yet infinitely just law law which, 



158 THE SECRET OF HEROISM 

properly followed, makes for progress, if dis- 
obeyed, for confusion, and you. have put him on 
his_feet with his face to his true goal in life. 
Herein, it seems to me, lies a reconciliation of 
the two injunctions : ' Bear ye one another's 
burdens,' and 'bear your own burden.' Do the 
latter, and you will find yourself doing the former, 
which is a good thing to do. 

"All of this is simple, Rex, even rudimentary, 
but to-night it has a strong hold upon me, and, as 
I have not you here to talk to, I am laying it 
before your sympathetic eye, that is if you have 
' patience for it. Out there where the country is 
) just finding itself, where standards are few and 
hastily put together, men are apt to emphasize 
the importance of the immediate thing, j Here in 
the East men try to get away from the truth by 
demanding ' of all the thousand nothings of the 
hour, their stupefying power.' ] Both sides of the 
continent have perplexities and heartaches for the 
well-wisher of mankind. But, however distressing 
may be the rash radicalism of British Columbia, 
I doubt if its position is not relatively better than 
that of the indifferent East. For where there is 
manly_ force and rude contact with nature in 
Carlyle's sense there is apt to be more of a re- 



A LAST WORD 159 

suit where an appeal is made, as it must be in 
both cases, to the manliness of men, the true- 
heartedness of true hearts. The main difference, 
it seems to me, lies in this, that British Columbia 
requires the curb, and the East the spur. Both 
need light. And the man who would give it to 
them must have their confidence, so much have 
men come to associate the truth and its exponent. 
Confidence requires trust and faith; and these, 
to be lasting, must be based upon strength and 
honesty in the individual who would be the guide. 
Hence it behooves every man who would be of 
lasting service to his country to see that he, too, 
is clean. 

" But I see I am going far afield again. I miss 
you, Rex, very much. The meaning of an indi- 
vidual is sometimes emphasized when the indi- 
vidual is absent from the associations which are 
eloquent of his individuality. The Canadian 
Manufacturers' Association to the contrary not- 
withstanding, your work is neither superficial nor 
ephemeral. It is of the very essence of a force 
which is calculated to prove a strong lever in 
regulating the labour movement, and indeed other 
movements as well, in Canada. It is my happi- 
ness to be associated with you in that work. I 



i6oTHE SECRET OF HEROISM 

think I comprehend its nature and its importance, 
immediate and even prospective, and I trust I 
may prove true to its demands and purpose. 

"But I must get down to my night's work, 
Rex. The house is singularly quiet, without any 
movement in the adjoining room, but that does 
not excuse the sacrifice of opportunity. 

" With best wishes and much love, 

" Affectionately yours, 

"BERT." 

And nothing, not even the loss of life it 
self, did excuse, with Harper, " the sacrifice 
of opportunity." 

" In the common round 
Of life's slow action, stumbling on the brink 
Of sudden opportunity, he chose 
The only noble, godlike, splendid way, 
And made his exit, as earth's great have gone, 
By that vast doorway looking out on death." 

Harper was drowned on the sixth of De- 
cember. Three days later, on the twenty- 
eighth anniversary of the day of his birth, 
they buried him on the crest of a hill over- 



ALASTWORD 161 

looking the village in which he was born. 
Thus does Destiny, linking the cradle with 
the grave, leave us to wonder over the mys- 
teries which she delights to weave. 



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