Baker, James

Letter
Date:
August 20, 1944
To:
Mom and Dad
From:
Jim
Sept.20th, 1944

Dear Mom and Dad,

The greater part of this letter will be directed toward Mom, so I hope you don't mind Dad. I received your parcel mailed on August 7th and have mailed the one it contained to Stanley. Many thanks for the pencils and for everything else in it. Burt must have had a great wedding cake, this piece I have is certainly pretty good. But what I want to talk to you about is that peculiar piece of paper you enclosed with something called my ‘numeroscope' or some such high-faluting name. It has hit me ‘smack' between the eyes, coming so soon as it does after Sadie and I have broken off. You may recall it said that this would be a year of turmoil and upset for me and it certainly has up to now, in fact, it has followed pretty close to the general trend of my life so far in all particulars. It has also corroborated to a great extent what Mr. Simpson told me the last time I saw him. When Sadie and I broke up, I immediately ran up to London to see him, because I was feeling ‘blue' and I knew he would help me. We had a pretty straight talk for nearly 2 hours during the course of which he told me some things about myself that I never thought anyone but I knew about. I have never quite felt about any friend the way I have about Mr. Simpson or ‘Julian' as I now call him. It almost seems as though there was something of ‘Fate' in our meeting and the way our friendship has developed since then: with practically no effort upon my part at all. He has a ‘something' about him that supplies just exactly what I need and yet, I too seem to be able to give him something that he lacks, so that it is by no means a one-sided friendship as you would imagine. He is something in a man that I have heretofore found only in two other people - Mrs. Sayers and Mary Beverly: namely, complete harmony of spirit and tranquility of mind...I mean my mind and spirit when I am with them. Mr. Simpson also says the same as this article of yours, that I have great powers of both leadership and good locked-up within me, if only I will be true to myself and to my best ideals. And the part about my interest in Public Service was something that I thought I alone knew! It has been my secret ambition for many months now that when I had gained sufficient knowledge of human nature and current affairs to form a background and a solid platform for my ideals, that I would enter Public Service as either a Civil servant in the Diplomatic Branch or as a Member of Parliament. I would like to specialize in ‘Empire Affairs' for I am convinced that the future of the British Empire is inextricably linked up with the future of mankind and with the welfare of the whole human race. There is a spirit engendered in this tiny place that lives nowhere else that I have ever seen. It is a very hard thing to explain because one cannot point to a concrete example and say "That is it"! It is an indefinite thing and yet, I feel it very strongly. I came across one or two touches of it among men I talked to when I was visiting Tom Reid at Ottawa and when he took me out to lunch, but I have never felt it as strongly as I have here. I think almost one could call it ‘Public Interest' and genuine ‘Self-Sacrifice' as opposed to self-seeking and selfishness. There is here a genuine desire to do good for the rest of mankind and I - myself, believe that if only that spirit is allowed to grow and blossom as it should after this war is finally won, it will be for the ultimate good of mankind. There is that spirit too in the USA. - personified by FDR., but there it is killed and choked to death by the unwieldy system of Civil Government that persists in the States and by the machinations of the political-combines and by grafting, self-seeking politicians. Therefore, I believe that never will USA. lead the world in spirit as Britain has done and never will she be able to contribute an ideal that will be worth following. We hear a good deal about the ‘American way of life', how it makes everything so much easier for the people, how they have more leisure to enjoy themselves. Quite true, but how do they use their leisure? By going to the cinema and seeing a film - canned in Hollywood, that boosts their way of life, makes them believe it is the best in the world, convinces them their ideals and ideas are the standard by which the whole world should live and kills any questions that may arise as to the fallibility of this announcement by showing them grossly misleading pictures and asking them "Would you rather trade this for what you have, this dirt, degradation and hardship instead of your high standard of living and your luxury and ease?" Of course they say "No!" - it is only human to prefer luxury and ease to hardship, but you and I know that no idea worth having and no greatness ever came from luxury and ease. Just as "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" so hardship and self-sacrifice are the birth-place of greatness. Britain is going to suffer hardship for many years to come, she is going to suffer from a bankruptcy of worldly-goods and esteem, but never in all her history has her people had such keen physical and mental alertness, and her dividends in awakened realization of the magnitude of her potential contribution to the welfare of the rest of mankind has more than amply repaid her for the hardships and privations of five years, and for the loss of her foreign investments. I know that there is a spirit abroad here that has only been known on this earth once before and that was when Christ lived among men and preached his Holy Gospel to their unheeding ears. Men were deaf once, I pray to God they may not be so again. Therefore, I am linking up my destiny with that of the British Empire, for I am convinced that through her salvation lies the salvation of mankind. By the British Empire though, I do not mean the Churchillian Empire of exploitation and free enterprise, but rather the ‘Commonwealth of Nations' envisaged by Jan Christian Smuts. His ideals I am adopting for my own for in my opinion, he ranks among the 5 greatest men now living and among the first 20 that have ever lived.

We hear a lot over here about Canada's position in the world of the future and the ‘pros and cons' of her benefits and losses if she broke away from the British Empire and came under the political dominance of the US. I - for one, view this development with the gravest concern and I have noted with great misgiving the growth of this idea amongst Canadians, particularly those from the industrial east. It would be one of our greatest mistakes I am certain, and would also be one of the most cowardly things we could ever do. It is rather like taking the easy primrose path that leads ultimately to an easy luxurious garden where one dreams all day in a bath of pleasure but accomplishes nothing beyond the gratification of the sensual side of man's character, in preference to the hard path of stones that lead ultimately to the peaks of glory. I have nothing more definite to base this conception upon beyond my sense of well-being and my perception of a spiritual rejuvenation - but so strong is this feeling within me, that I will fight to the death any suggestion of either political or spiritual cleavage from the British Empire. Those are my political convictions at present and I think that no matter what the trend of politics is in the future, they will always be with me.

There is one side of my character though that that numeroscope seems to pass over entirely, and that is my great love to work with and for people. That - combined with my capacity for detail and hard work and my analytical mind, would point towards one being a Coordinator of ideas rather than an originator, though I know I have creative ability to compose poems, to think independently along personal lines and to write and speak fluently. I have often thought lately of studying for a degree in Law or Commerce when I go back to Canada because of the great help it would be later on to form a fitting and sound background for my political work. I wish I could find it in me to visit a psychiatrist and talk to him. I believe they have a series of tests to show one's abilities and assets (as well as deficits) and to help one in choosing a Vocation. I know what I want to do, I think I have outlined it pretty thoroughly up above: the thing now is to find the best path leading ultimately to that goal.

By the way - just by the way of answering my curiosity is the basis upon which this Numeroscope is made up? What numbers tend too show these traits of my character? Where did you obtain this and how did the person who drew it up form his or her opinions? Please answer these questions as completely as you can.

That part about my next birthday being the beginning of a new cycle of life for me is very interesting because it roughly coincides to the period when I expect to be back home and beginning civilian life again. That will definitely be a new cycle of life for me!

Well, I guess that's all for this time. Hope my ideas have not caused you any embarrassment. Life is just plodding along at present, so doesn't look too bright just now. I guess I'll soon forget my heartache though.

Love to all as always,

Jim



A Little Smile

1)
Once when Life's dark miseries
encompassed me about:
I saw a lovely, golden light
that never has gone out.

2)
A friend upon me smiled that day -
a smile serene and tender.
Gentle reader - smiles thus sent,
bring joy unto the sender.



My Ambition

1)
Oft - as alone I sit
I wonder what the three Fates knit,
What the future holds in store:
Will I be known for evermore?

2)
Or when I die, will I be
so soon forgotten: like a tree
shedding its dead leaves in the fall
in spring, remembers them not at all?

3)
I stand in awe of memorable men
I revere their honours and - like them
I would be remembered after death -
not like unto the fleeting breath

4)
Which is drawn and then exhaled
And another drawn ere the first hath paled.
I would that those who are to come
Should know that here at least was one
Who was ambitious.
I would remembered be... not sink forgotten to Eternity.


These Things He Loved

The blue wood smoke from winter fires
Curling upward through the frosty air
As - pail in hand, he trudged through crunching snow
Down to the barn in that half-light before
The winter's dawn. The rythmic jingling
Of harness chains, when the unhitching's done
And tired horses - aching to be gone
To pasture where they cool their sweaty sides
by rolling in the fragrant grass, stamped their feet
and nuzzled in the green-grown water trough.
The first faint tinkle of Bossie's bell
As home she led the herd in summer's dusk
Along the winding path from the dingle
Where grass grew greener, sweeter than elsewhere:
For that was where the brawly brook ran through.
The hurrying, bustling days of harvest time
When golden wheat stretched - first in singing waves
As far as eye could see and then, the fields
Were dotted o'er with stooks, and then - e're long,
The busy hum of threshers filled the air.
All those long harvest days: up e're the sun
Had thrown it's light upon the sleeping world
To work right through the blazing heat of noon
On through the dusk and if the moon were full,
Into the night: for threshing must be done
Before the sky turned grey and sent slowly down
The first fluttering flakes of fairy snow.
These things and hundreds more he loved.
They were his world and he - content to live
And let others live as they saw fit, was happy.
Where is he now? This happy boy who yet was not a boy?
He fast grew up and almost overnight
Became a man: for when one harvest came,
A blacker cloud o'ercast the autumn sky
And then a spectre - grimly purposeful,
Began to reap a harvest yet unripe.
A swath of men - brave men in pride of youth
Fell thick and fast before that flashing scythe,
And his was one of those whose life was reaped.

Down from the white-traced sky he fluttered
Like the blue wood-grouse he had so often shot
At home among the beech woods on the hill.
"Killed in Action" thus the cable read,
But letters later came and told the tale:
How his Squadron - out upon a fighter sweep
O'er war-torn France had found a flock of Huns
And - though out-numbered, they had dived straight in.
How- in the melee, he - to save another
Had sacrificed his life and fell in flames.
He gave his all that we at home might live
To see the things that he so deeply loved.
But we (in blindness) see not the things he saw:
We take them for our natural heritage
And rarely think of those who fought to keep
Them safe for us. Let us remember them:
That one and all the thousands more like him
Who day by day gave more to us by far
Than we could ever hope to give to them.
We cannot give our lives perhaps, but we
At least can give our bodies and our minds
To tasks the nation now demands of us.
Let's give ourselves as freely as they gave -
Let not the thought of ‘self' besmirch the soul:
They did not think of self: why then should we?

James Baker
Spring 1944




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