4 JULY 1931, Page 21


[To the Editor of the SPEcrAroa.] Sin,—Professor Elliot Smith's denunciation of Sir Arthur Keith's Rectorial Address does not seem a very scientific document itself. If I have understood Sir Arthur Keith rightly, he is- no more an. advocate of war than his critics. But, he says, in effect, pious aspirations are worse than useless ; if

the world is to live without war, it must learn to remove or to control the causes of war. Otherwise, the pruning-hook will have its way with us, no mattes what we think about it. Amongst those causes are, according to Sir Arthur Keith, prejudices or instincts bred or born in us in the war-like ages through which mankind has lived.

This is, without question, a highly reasonable proposition. Whether or no Professor Elliot Smith is right in retorting that primitive man was an entirely genial creature, to whom any- thing more warlike than an occasional quarrel with a friend was unknown, I do not know. Have the anthropologists really put the noble savage on the map again ? Perhaps they have. But if that is so, and if Sir Arthur Keith has been guilty of making an unscientific thought father to an inhuman wish—which is what Professor Elliot Smith suggests—the an- thropologists have suspiciously the air of making their humane wishes father an extremely improbable thought. Evidences of geniality are nothing. Geniality and pugnacity are not mutually exclusive qualities. The most genial man may be the most pugnacious when he is thwarted. If the earliest man was genial towards his fellows, when he had undisputed possession of all the land he needed, that means no more than that he had no reason to fight. To rely on geruiality to keep the peace in a crowded world may be an unwise deduction. The fighting instincts showed themselves quickly enough when the world began to fill up. How could the earliest man have lived in a world of wild beasts without them ?

Professor Elliot Smith seems to have his prejudices too. The mingling of races, which Sir Arthur Keith conceives to be the only ultimate guarantee against war, may or may not take place, and may or may not bring about universal peace. But is it " scientific " to refer to it as "a monstrous miscegena- tion "—" as nasty as it is crazy"? Is not that the authentic voice of an irrational prejudice ? It is not the less a powerful factor in human history.—I am, Sir, &c.,