dish of meat is too good for any but anglers, or very honest men."—Isaac
"The charm of Mr.
Mackintosh is 'Mr. Mackintosh.' He is himself,—that is the secret of his
grip, his success, and his power. He has no platform nor public style, but
likes a chat with people, and by hints, by bits, by illustrations, the
whole thing lives and laughs at you wherever you are."
This appreciation by an ex-president of the United
Methodist Church, who is himself something of a platform wizard, admirably
sets forth the impression made everywhere by Mr. Mackintosh as a speaker.
He was not a platform orator nor did he profess to be, he would often
describe himself as a conversationalist and as such he was brilliant, with
a racy style full of human kindness. He was endowed with a keen sense of
humour—proof of a well balanced mind.
He made a liberal use of good stories and striking
incidents to drive home the truths he wished to teach. These were
invariably of a homely character, and his most effective illustrations
were born of the day's experiences.
Though his manner of speech was so unconventional, it
is doubtful if he ever fulfilled any public engagement of which he
received notice, without making some kind of preparation. There are busy
public men who speak out of a full mind and a ripe experience by the happy
art of 'thinking on their feet,' and Mr. Mackintosh was
quite equal to this when the demand was made upon him.
He left behind him a mass of notes
on all kinds of subjects, the raw material of addresses delivered on
different occasions to all sorts and conditions of men. Practically every
phase of public life, and of church and Sunday school work is covered,
besides such subjects as temperance, sport, business, &c. Few people
were able to resist the kind of introduction in which he frequently
indulged. When paying a return visit he would sometimes admit his
inability to remember what he had said on the last occasion, and he would
then put his audience in a good humour at once, by adding, "People will be
saying when I am announced to speak, 'Mr. Mackintosh is here! God help usI'
If he felt uncertain how long he
ought to speak, he would refer to an incident which occurred at "Queen's
Road." It was at a Women's Missionary Auxiliary Meeting, and he was the
last speaker. To his question, "How long shall I speak?" the ladies, whose
preparations for tea were not complete, replied, "Till the kettle boils."
He therefore kept the meeting entertained until a lady, with flushed,
smiling face, peeping from behind a door, announced that "tea was ready."
Often afterwards, when presiding at public meetings, he would set himself
to speak "Till the kettle boils," adding that the other speakers must
"keep it boiling."
At a Young People's Service in the same church, over
which Mr. Mackintosh presided, he said that his mother, who was a very
effective Sunday school teacher, advised the girls in her class to use
every opportunity they had to brighten their homes, even if it were only
to purchase a penny-worth of flowers and put them on the table. The
following week one of the girls told her that she had bought the flowers
and put them on the table before her father came in to dinner.
"And what did father say?" asked
"He said," replied the girl, "Tak' 'em away and put
some tommy (food) on."
Mr. Mackintosh with his usual
kindly judgment, added—
"I am sure, notwithstanding this
apparent rebuff, that the father really appreciated the action."
He then declared that his duty as
chairman was simply to put the flowers on the table, and the speakers who
followed would provide the 'tommy.'
To illustrate the difficulty of
his position on another occasion, he told the audience of a little girl
who had been reproved by her auntie, and was in her father's black books,
and who, said to her mother—
"Mother, when I grow up, shall I
have to marry a man like father?"
"And if I don't marry a man like
father, shall I be an old maid like auntie?"
"I am in a fix."
He made much effective use of an
incident that occurred at "Queen's Road" during the early period of the
war. On entering the school one Sunday morning, he was accosted by a
boy-scout in full uniform, who inflated his chest, saluted, and standing
erect asked proudly, "What has England to fear with such as us about?"
His gentle humour played about
life's most trying experiences and softened their effect. At the wedding
of his second son, Douglas, he referred to the time when the bridegroom
lay a prisoner of war in Germany.
"People came to 'Greystones,'"
said he, "to tell me how easy it was to dispense with a leg. Even his
fiancée told little fibs, almost going the length of saying that she
preferred an artificial foot to a real one. When I am gouty, I almost wish
I had one myself."
The following specimen of neat satire is from an
election address during the progress of the Halifax Municipal Elections:
How to keep down the rates
"Continue to pay the same weekly
wage as before to tramway men and to roadmen.
Tell the teachers we appreciate
their services very highly, but we cannot afford to increase their salary
to meet the high cost of living.
"Say to the policemen, 'Continue
to protect our lives and property, but you must try and make the old wage
The real question is: 'Is the money wisely and
They have low rates in some parts of the U.S A., and
what they get for them are swamps, fires and mosquitoes.
"Good business men are prudent
men, not prone to adopt schemes of reckless expenditure for doubtful
"A question every councillor should put to himself
is, 'What would I do if the business were mine?' His reply might then be
very definite. 'But since it is not mine, I'll be careful and go slow.'
It was frequently stated that
probably he opened more bazaars than any other of his fellow townsmen.
There is much significance in his pertinent remark, made in one of his
"Some say I make a hobby of bazaar opening. Some make
a hobby of refusing."
He had an ingenious way of replying to objections
against bazaars, especially to the complaint that they injure trade:
"Do shopkeepers object?" he asked,
"I notice that one hundred and five of them advertise in your handbook.
Half the goods on your stalls have come from the shops. The other half
also as to the materials from which they are made, and in addition such
things as thread, needles, pins and thimbles, have come from them. The
goods on the refreshment stall, too, are from the shops, or the
ingredients are. The ladies' dresses—some of which I can see are new—have
been furnished by the dress-makers. The tickets, bills, posters, and
advertising have found work for someone. No! I do not think the tradesman
objects to bazaars."
Addressing young people at a temperance meeting, he
"When I was in the Juvenile Choir, there was no
electric light in Halifax, there were no motor cars, no electric trams, no
wireless telegraphy. When you grow up there will, perhaps, be no warsI"
Apothegms for Sunday school
teachers. Teachers, say to yourselves a dozen times,
"When I was a
boy, I Couldn't sit still, Hated dry sermons, Did not hate my
teacher, Was neither good nor bad, But just middling."
"Get your lesson up before you
read the 'Sunday School Chronicle!"
"Don't take offence!I Don't give
it! Don't expect praise! Don't be disappointed if you don't get it!"
"Talk interestingly or don't talk
"If you feel cross with a boy, pat him on the back."
"Cultivate a pleasant manner; you
have no right to be grumpy."
"Don't boss around! There are
plenty of people as good as you in the world!"
"Don't feel sorry for yourself."
"Make the best of everything!
Think the best of everybodyI"
He urged the scholars to,
"Be cheerful! Smile when you can
and others will smile upon you."
To show the narrow margin between
gloom and gladness he would draw two circles on the black-board. The
circles represented two faces. Two dots in each did duty for eyes, a third
dot served as a nose, a curve with the ends up would stand for a smile,
another curve with the ends down would represent a frown, thus :-
When the opportunity presented
itself he gave good advice to scholars' parents :-
"Parents, keep an eye on your boys
and girls,—it will pay you! Fathers, keep to the school after you are
married! Mothers, see to it!
"The Sunday school," said he, "is
still the safest place I know of outside home. You never met a man who
traced his downfall to the Sunday school."
"Boys and girls," he emphatically
declared, "must be protected against the evils of drink. White ants in
Africa, armed with gimlets, pincers and saws, used to eat our wooden
cases. Now we send our goods in cases that are tin-lined."
He was greatly impressed by the
silent revolution effected simply by the growing up of Band of Hope boys
"When I was a boy," he stated on one occasion, "the
evils of intemperance were so apparent, that I thought that one had but to
mention reform, even to the point of prohibition, to see its instant
adoption. I learnt later that reforms come slowly. Temperance reforms take
as long to effect as it takes to turn Band of Hope children into men and
women. But as surely as these boys and girls grow up, so surely are
temperance reforms going to be accomplished.
"What has brought about the
changes we know of in the drinking customs of our country? The Band of
Hope boy of twenty years ago is now a man. He is not taking intoxicants at
all. He has become a citizen and is setting a new fashion.
"Years ago the non-drinking man
was a curiosity. The teetotal commercial was a good butt for a joke. Hotel
and restaurant proprietors resented his principles. His custom was not
"How different it is to-day ! Look around at
lunch-time where commercials congregate. Three out of four will have
temperance drinks before them.
When visiting, it is no longer
necessary to apologise for not taking wine nor spirits. The host rather
apologises for not recognising the fact.
"Temperance principles have
considerable commercial value in these days. A man is not now regarded
with suspicion because of them. Other things being equal they count in his
"England will gradually sober up if the Band of Hope
societies are maintained."
"I love old folks and little
children," he would say; "others can look after themselves. I confess that
I would rather help to save a boy than rescue the drunkard, though both
are good work. I am all for keeping the boy and girl straight. Give us the
children up to thirteen years of age and 1 believe ninety per cent, of
them will be safe against a drink spoiled life."
To the objection that Band of Hope
children are too young to understand the subjects brought before them, he
replied :-" I wish I hated wrong to-day as 1 did when I was a young lad.
The charge of ' childishness '
brought against Band of Hope meetings, called forth this response :-
It's only a Band of Hope
entertainment, 'grown-ups' say,—a recitation, a song, a dialogue, an
address I How childish? That is the 'grownups ' point of view. The child
says, 'Do it again.' It is the child we must serve. Go back to your simple
work. There is a place for the grand concert and the gifted artiste, but
your Band of 1-lope meeting is very, very important to this England of
ours. Only let it have the Band of Hope flavour, so that no one can ever
attend it and be in doubt as to what it is."
The church to his mind fills a
very practical place.
Recently the minister of my Church said, 'Suppose
every church-building in the land were suddenly removed, would they be
missed? What would you put in their place? There would be some splendid
sites. You could build on them many things; picture palaces, dancing
halls, billiard saloons, art-galleries, technical schools. Would these be
a satisfactory exchange?
"He thought not; and so do I.
People ask, What has the Church done for the nation?' I .am always
surprised to hear such a question, for any observant person can see for
himself. In all sorts of spheres I find men in responsible positions who
have got their training in the Church and Sunday schools. I find them in
Brotherhoods, Temperance Societies, in civic office as Mayor or
Councillors, on the Magistrates' Bench, and in Labour Organisations. I
could take all the time of this meeting and then not exhaust the
ramifications of church and school training. The Church has been a great
clearing house and has furnished innumerable servants to the British
Empire, who are at work now, in church and out, doing the Master's work as
they see it."
"The Church owes you nothing?" was his declaration to
even the most devoted workers, You are the gainer by what you have done."
He attributed to the training he
received whilst serving in office in the church and Sunday school, his
ability in after years to write good business letters, or to draft telling
advertisements; and that knowledge of human nature, which qualified him to
be a leader of men; and that patience and tact which he showed in dealing
with reluctant, or angry people.
"Don't let business or recreation
intrude on the Sabbath Day. Let that day find you in the old corner of
your pew. Stand by your minister Keep alive your enthusiasm for God's
house, and the old blessings will be yours at the end. Don't let us enjoy
the good things that have come to us through association with the church
and school, and then in the prime of life, selfishly refuse to provide
them for others. If we do this we shall miss the crowning blessing. We are
reminded that congregations are not what they were. Why is this? Is it not
because our own people do not attend regularly? And what paltry excuses
they make? ' The work of the week has been so exhausting that we want to
rest on this day.' I know of no rest so helpful as attendance at God's
house. The quiet of the church; the pleasant word with friends; home to
dinner; at night again to church, now with fewer children in attendance;
indeed a quiet resting place."
Amongst Mr. Mackintosh's papers
there is an outline of an address on "The goodness and severity of God"
which well illustrates his direct and homely method of address.
"The goodness of God enjoyed by
some persons implies the severity of God if His goodness is abused.
"If we offend against God's laws
we must pay the penalty. But God's goodness is shown through it all. He
forgives if we seek His forgiveness with a sincere heart, and He continues
His friendship all the time we are paying the penalty.
"While I was struggling with this
subject a gentleman came into the office and told me that an officer, who
had been a prisoner of war and had occupied the next bed to my son was
coming to see me.
"The goodness and severity of God at once!
"If men will fight they must
suffer I When they are suffering God says, 'I will surround them with kind
people, doctors and nurses. They shall have letters full of tenderness
from friends. I will improve their characters. I will give them such a
love of home, of parents and friends, as they have never known before.'
"Even when men fight in a good
cause they cannot escape suffering. It is the penalty to the world for not
having arranged a better way of settling quarrels amongst nations.
I don't believe the doctrine held
by some, that God takes away a child because one loves it too much. If we
neglect our children, or others for whom we are responsible, and they get
pneumonia, let us not blame God, even if we were at a prayer-meeting when
the mischief was done. God's laws cannot be altered to suit the
convenience of any.
"When, I did wrong as a boy I did not fear the
punishment much, for I had a very gentle mother ; but until I knew I was
forgiven I was miserable. If the punishment was 'Evening in the house,'
instead of games with my boy friends (a big enough punishment in those
days), I was not content until mother smiled at me. That smile was
enough!I She was friends again.
What did anything else matter?
If we can see God smiling on us,
what 'a compensation it is for suffering and anxiety; I remember looking
at mother from time to time to see if there was the least appearance of a
smile. I tried to coax it. I showed her pictures and things likely to
provoke it, and when at last it came, it was like the burst of sunshine
after a sharp shower that reveals the bow in the sky. The joy that sprang
from the fact that mother forgave me almost overpowered me. What promise I
made never to offend her again. What a beast I felt I had been to hurt
her. Am I romancing? Not a bit of it I After half a life-time, I can
remember every sensation I passed through.
People are apt to think that the
severity of God is not admirable, but it is. This world would be a more
topsy-turvy place than it is but. for that.
"Both the goodness and the
severity of God should be kept in mind, and in our teaching we should show
the children how both influence our lives. It is pleasanter to talk of
God's smile than of his frown, but we can ignore neither in putting our
message before others.
I would give three-fourths of the teaching- time to
the goodness of God and one fourth only to the severity of God. You would
never save me by telling me of the awful things that would happen to me if
I did not do this, that, or the other. But when you say that 'God gave His
Son to die for me,' I am interested at once. I respond. It would be base
ingratitude not to do so."
In conclusion here are two
characteristic utterances suggestive of the approaching end ;--
"What is the use of being a
hundred, if your influence for good is gone?
This world seems a very real place
at present. It is not so real as the one we are going to! There are more
people dead than alive! BUT ARE THEY DEAD?"
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