|A LEAGUE OF PEACE|
Principal and Students of St. Andrews: My first words must be words of thanks, very grateful thanks, to those who have so kindly re-elected me their rector without a contest. The honor is deeply appreciated, I assure you. There is one feature, at least, connected with your choice, upon which I may venture to congratulate you, and also the university—the continuance of the services of my able and zealous assessor, Dr. Ross of Dunfermline, which I learn are highly valued.
My young constituents, you are busily preparing to play your parts in the drama of life, resolved, I trust, to oppose and attack what is evil, to defend and strengthen what is good, and, if possible, to leave your part of the world a little better than you found it. You are already pondering over the career you will pursue, what problems you will study, upon what, and how, your powers can be most profitably exerted; and apart from the choice of a career I trust you ask yourselves what are the evils of this life, in which all our duties lie, which you should most strenuously endeavor to eradicate or at least to lessen,—what causes you will espouse, giving preference to these beyond all other public questions, for the student of St. Andrews is expected to devote both time and labor to his duties as a citizen, whatever his professional career. You will find the world much better than your forefathers did. There is profound satisfaction in this, that all grows better; but there is still one evil in our day, so far exceeding any other in extent and effect, that I venture to bring it to your notice.
Polygamy and slavery have been abolished by civilized nations. Duelling no longer exists where English is spoken. The right of private war and of privateering have passed away. Many other beneficent abolitions have been made in various fields; but there still remains the foulest blot that has ever disgraced the earth, the killing of civilized men by men like wild beasts as a permissible mode of settling international disputes, although in Rousseau's words, 'War is the foulest fiend ever vomited forth from the mouth of Hell.' As such, it has received from the earliest times, in each successive age till now, the fiercest denunciations of the holiest, wisest and best of men.
- A rectorial address delivered to the students in the University of St. Andrews. October 17, 1905.