Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/20

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PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS.


War and Savagery.

A year ago, when we were met together, as now, to take periodic stock of our work, all seemed to be very well with the Society and with the world at large; the glass was steady and the sun shone; and, as honest reapers and harvesters are wont to do, we celebrated our rites festively. This year we are in no mood for festivity, and hardly in a mood for any scientific occupation. Our thoughts are fixed upon the War, It would be empty to pretend to ourselves that we care about anything else. Science, after all, is but a function of the Higher Life, and the Higher Life itself is in jeopardy.

Hence I have not sought to avoid the subject of war, but rather propose to make it my chief theme to-night. On the other hand, it behoves us to remember that science aims at a rigid impartiality of view. It may not, indeed, be humanly possible to divest ourselves wholly of prejudice. But those who foregather in the name of science must, at least, try to see things as they truly are". Thus in the hour of greatest stress we may have recourse to science as to some anodyne, because it teaches us to face facts and keep a cool head.

Moreover, it lies beyond our province to discuss, at any rate in a direct way, the rights and wrongs of the present struggle in Europe. Our peculiar concern is not with