War, and Other Essays

War, and Other Essays

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War, and Other Essays

War, and Other Essays

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Excerpt

In 1872, when the author of the essays here assembled was elected professor of political and social science in Yale College, he was, to use his own words, "a young and untried man." He was selected for his position, not as a specialist, but because he was what he was. Someone in those days must have been an excellent judge of men. "I have tried," Sumner wrote, in 1881, "to justify their [the Corporation's] confidence. I threw myself into the work of my department and of the college with all my might. I had no other interest or ambition." He could have repeated these words, with equal truth, at the end of his incumbency; for the prime interest in Sumner's professional career from his election to the day of his retirement, in June, 1909, was the scrupulously faithful discharge of his academic duties; and to this end he spent freely the powers of a sturdy frame and an eager mind. His teaching and the many administrative tasks that fell to him always occupied his attention to the subordination of what he might have preferred to do, or of what might have been to his personal interest to do. Of a consequence his writings and public utterances represented extra labor, out of hours. The only one of his books not written at the behest of a publisher, he once told me, was the Folkways. In addition to the engrossing activities which I have mentioned, there was yet another factor which held back systematic enterprises on the large scale; left to himself, Sumner's tendency was to wait on further acquisition and on organization of his knowledge rather than to hasten his output. This was particularly evident in respect to his purely sociological work. A dozen years ago a breezy young reporter is said to have asked him why he did not publish on sociology, and to have received the gruff rejoinder: "Because . . .

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