chapter  2
18 Pages

L. L. Price THE POSITION AND PROSPECTS OF THE STUDY OF ECONOMIC HISTORY (Oxford, 1908)

AN ancient custom has placed the delivery of an Introductory Lecture among the early duties of the occupants of Professorial Chairs. The wide observance of this tradition would seem to testify to its advantage; and it needs but brief reflection to discover that the opportunity then opened to the lecturer is not likely to recur in so benign a shape. For on these rare and privileged occasions, the recognized representative of some branch of learning is allowed, and expected, to display his conception of the scope and meaning of the study with which he is associated. He can examine its relations to cognate varieties of speculation and research; and he may emphasize the reasons for which, in his opinion, it should be commended to the notice and pursuit of alert and zealous students. As the first holder of a new academic office, I have thought that I might be permitted to follow the example set in more exalted circles; and that the special circumstances would perhaps extenuate the criticism which might otherwise befall the individual. For the recent institution by the Delegates of the Common University Fund of a Lectureship in Economic History is, in a sense, a fresh departure; and, while the responsibility which rests with the earliest occupant of the position is enhanced thereby, it may not be unprofitable to consider the broad conditions under which this movement is begun.