PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS. THE SCIENCE OF JEWISH HISTORY

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It is my agreeable duty to propose the adoption of the Report, and in doing so I will deliver all that I have to offer by way of Presidential Address. The Report, you must have observed, is painted in optimistic colours; but this optimisim is justified by the facts of the case. Much of our prosperity is clearly due to exceptional good fortune in our choice of Presidents in the past. It is usual for the new incumbent of a dignified post to express misgiving as to his own fitness for the position, the occu? pancy of which has been made difficult by the distinction and devotion of his predecessors. But I disclaim any such diffidence. My predecessors have not made the post difficult; they have made it easy. They have so firmly established the policy of the Society that a new-comer has nothing to do but to continue on the lines which his forerunners have so truly and so ineffaceably marked out. Further, my own responsibility is lessened by the fact that one of our most momentous undertakings, the founding and endowment of the Mocatta Library and Museum, still remains in Sir Isidore Spielmann's capable and willing hands, and thus his successor is relieved from what must havexbeen a formidable task to any one less gifted than Sir Isidore with the faculty for successfully organising artistic enterprises.Yet I cannot altogether flatter myself with the prospect of an easy tenure of the Presidentship. The Society does undoubtedly stand at the parting of the ways. In one sense this parting merely means that we are turning from promise to fulfilment. Among our earliest promises was a Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews. This promise occupied a prominent place in the original circular summoning the meeting which resulted in the formation of our Society. But such a Calendar is at once costly and technical. Its publication makes a strong demand on our funds, and a stronger demand on the forbearance of our members. The first volume is nearly ready j1 it will cost us something like ??250; yet it will not be found very entertaining reading. And the complete Calendar will fill another two or three similar volumes.

That we were in honour bound to redeem our promise and begin the issue of this work has already been indicated. But our motive and justification lie deeper even than honour; for by this publication we proclaim that as a Society we take our stand on the side of the new theory of history, which was one of the chief legacies left by the latter half of the nineteenth century. If you wish to read a brief and con? vincing statement of this new theory, you cannot do better than study the brilliant Inaugural Address delivered last year by Mr. J. B. Bury (one of our honorary members) when taking up the Regius Professorship of Modern History at Cambridge. He entitles his Address " The Science of History," and his

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