I am deeply interested in anything that pertains to Canadian progress, anything that has for its aim the building and strengthening of the national life and spirit. Candidly I can think of nothing more valuable to such a life and spirit than to have the students at our schools and colleges surrounded by influences which will foster the love and admiration which we all feel for our land and its promise. I am glad, therefore, that you are dealing in a new way with Canadian literature and are taking steps to form a library of Canadian books.
Looking back over the last fifty years, I think we can honestly feel proud of our advancement. We can form some idea of what Canada was in the forties from contemporary correspondence and memoirs, and, feeling that our present position is only transitional and that we must press on to something higher and brighter, we may, I think, be assured that we have passed through our darkest days. For us our forefathers won homes and it is now becoming more and more possible for us to enjoy a little of the sweetness of life. In this lies encouragement. We have not reached, we will not for many years reach, the highest level of our national life, and it is, therefore, possible for us, each one in his degree, to contribute something toward the attainment of that level. Our universities should become the very heart of a Canadian movement, a movement based on the truest patriotism, and having for its object the largest natural life. As we gain ground constantly with this idea all other things will be granted us: as we progress in national unity we will add flower after flower to our culture. Under such conditions we need not fear for the future of Canadian literature. As for the present, from a writer’s standpoint, I think the outlook not seriously discouraging. I find there is a class constantly growing which [page 36] is willing to think that there is something of worth in what our writers have done—a class which is ready to meet them cordially and furnish a reading public. The feeling is, I hope, gradually passing away and it rests finally with the writer to say how quickly and how surely it will pass; they must gain and keep the public confidence in Canadian letters. [page 37]