Excerpt from Oxford and the Rural Problem: Being the First Sidney Ball Memorial Lecyure December 1, 1920
I was one of those who, for too short a time, had the inspiring friendship of Sidney Ball. We were brought together by his interest in my Irish work, and I valued his sympathy with my efforts the more because his own extra-academic work was on the urban side of things. From my reading of his heart and mind I think I can interpret the wishes of those in charge of the memorial lectures I have the honour to inaugurate to-day. Their aim will be the promotion of an intimate and mutually helpful relationship between the thought of the University Sidney Ball adorned and the working life of the community he lived to serve.
With this aim in mind I have chosen for my subject a national problem of the first importance which, after long and dangerous neglect, has been made clamant for solution by the greatest war in history. I shall present it as it appears to those who are seeking to build up rural life from within and need the help of those who are engaged in the systematic, scientific study of the problem at Oxford. As the practical experience from which I draw will be chiefly Irish and I am about to assign the leadership of thought upon the problem to this University, I must anticipate a natural suspicion that I thus treat the subject because I am an Oxford man whose work lies in Ireland and am speaking to an Oxford audience. The impression would be confirmed by the circumstances of my life. If I may slightly change a well-known couplet of Dryden -
'Twas Athens did my ruder years engage,
But Thebes has chosen all my riper age.'
Happily I can assure you that both Oxford and Ireland come into the picture because they belong there.
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