Lest We Forget Toynbee Hall and Canon Barnett, May 23, 1918

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Miss Addams, in welcoming the Federation, referred to the fact that the first national federation of settlement workers had met in Chicago, "almost before some of you were born," in the course of the World's Fair of 1893. At that time, twenty-five years ago, an organization was formed, with the expectation that periodic national meetings would be arranged. Now it has finally arrived and bids fair to be a permanent source of help.

Miss Addams said in part: I have chosen this somewhat sentimental title for my remarks because it is important that we should keep in mind some of the things which Mr. Barnett and Toynbee Hall stand for. I saw Mrs. Barnett, in 1915, and she was then living in the model village, an outgrowth of years of experience in East London, which she had established at Hampstead Heath. The enterprise represented a revolt from the wretched and congested housing of the city slum, an effort to give people some of the advantages and beauty which are gained only by space and greenery. There is a church on the common with a very beautiful spire which serves as a memorial to Canon Barnett and speaks, as he would, of the beauty of holiness.

At Oxford, too, which Canon Barnett loved so well, is a house dedicated to him. The college historians say that Barnett House with its living rooms, library and activities, forms a beginning similar to those out of which the present colleges which make up the University grew. Here working men come for short periods of study, and for intellectual fellowship and stimulus.

When I visited Barnett House, in 1915, Sidney Ball, a friend of Arnold Toynbee, who occupies Toynbee's rooms at Balliol, gathered a group of Toynbee's friends together and they talked about Toynbee and Canon Barnett in a deeply moving and personal way. Mrs. Barnett was there and expressed great concern that Canon Barnett's name should not be forgotten in America where the settlements have made most gain. Certainly the earliest settlement workers in America drew upon inspiration and help from Toynbee Hall. We talked about it a great deal thirty years ago when the name was new and strange and I recall that Mr. Dooley, apropos of one of my attempts to explain it, asked if it were a new kind of canned goods. I wish I might reproduce for you the impression made on me by these English forerunners. The best account of Arnold Toynbee is that published by his friend, Lord Milner, who is now a member of the Lloyd George Cabinet. It is curious and interesting, is it not, that Toynbee's closest friends, Milner, Grey and Cecil Rhodes, should have turned out to be great English Imperialists? [page 2]

While an enterprise in the nature of a settlement was projected before Arnold Toynbee died, the person directly responsible for giving the idea life was, as you all know, Mr. Barnett. The guiding desire of Canon Barnett was that the best things should be made common to all parts of the nation. He worked, not only for housing, education and better labor conditions, but above all for the spread of ideas and the democratization of beauty. The Whitechapel Library and the Art Gallery there are among the most characteristic things he did.

There is much of Canon Barnett's finest thought in the little volume which many of you have seen, called "Worship and Work." "Men are other than they seem," he writes. "The rich are not such as the poor think. The world seems cold while in every heart a fire of love is burning and the times wax evil while in everyone is a longing to be good." The English use blunt words like rich and poor which we rather avoid in this country but otherwise this little passage, I am sure, expresses our own innermost thought.

There is another paragraph entitled, "Adventurous Charity," which in its own way gives shape to our thought for ourselves. "In old days adventurous charity set out to educate the children, to care for the orphan, to relieve the sick, and now the community does all these things. There is room still for adventurous charity, to show the way in which hereafter the community may walk. England, it has been said, has been made by adventurers. One of the needs of modern days is adventurers, who, in every department, will dare to leave the safe and try the strange."

May I close with a few lines which express Canon Barnett's innate desire for adventure, at least they recall his unresting spirit?:

"Out of your cage, out of your cage
Take your soul on a pilgrimage
Peas in your shoes, an if you must
But out of your cage before you're dust."