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Notes taken from 'A Jerseyman at Oxford' Oxford University Press, 1941

p. 74 '... I remember that, when I was beginning to dip into Anthropology, [Benjamin Jowett] told me that he had wanted a long time ago--in 1850 I believe--to see a chair of Ethnology founded in Oxford.'

p. 84 'To Strachan-Davidson, too, I owe a passing hint that possibly determined the whole future course of my studies. Something which cropped up in a talk over an essay--I think it had to do with certain Roman gentile names that suggested a connection with animals and plants--caused him to advise me to read Andrew Lang's Custom and Myth; and this Balliol man, with his brilliant style, and world-sweeping theories which brought Greek mysteries into line with bull-roarers, or connected respectable patricians of Rome with totems, fired my imagination, so that I was henceforth an enthusiastic, if extremely ignorant, disciple of the school of Tylor. It so happened, too, that in working for the Hertford [Prize] I had dipped a little into Comparative Philology, incidentally acquiring the bare elements of Sanskrit, and Max Müller's linguistic "Key to all Mythologies," had at first seemed plausible enough, not to speak of his reconstruction of the cultural history of the Aryans, by etymological means that I dared not criticize. But when it came to a stand-up fight between Max Müller's words and Tylor's institutions as championed by Lang, I sided at once with the party using what was plainly the heavy artillery. The naturalist in me, hitherto latent at Oxford, was aroused, and protested that the mental habits of the human animal must depend on more than any mere tendency to misunderstand his own metaphors. ... But in some dim way I had become an anthropologist by anticipation; and I even remember starting an answer in Greats that was supposed to be about Lycurgus with the portentous sentence, "The Spartans were white Zulus". ...'

p. 115 'But, the moment the question of my Fellowship was settled [he had become a Fellow of Exeter College], I resolved to work for something more important, that would give me a chance of wedding such a literary manner as I could command to some really weighty matter. The Green Moral Philosophy Prize, open to Masters only and awarded once in three years ... the subject now announced, 'The Ethics of Savage Races", ticked my nascent appetite for anthropology; wherefore let a Balliol man once more enter the lists. So from 1890 to 1893 I read up the manners and customs of savage folk, paying attention chiefly to the first-hand evidence, and doing my best not to allow either the old light of Tylor or [p116] the new light of Frazer to dazzle my half-awakened eyes. I was killing to birds with one stone, because there was clearly room in the Greats course for a lecture on ethics in its evolutionary aspect; and this I was now qualifying myself to give, with something more than pure theory to offer to my audience. Further, my bent for natural history was all to the good, enabling me to recognize good observation when I came across it. I soon discovered, too, that savage life, being relatively undifferentiated in contrast to civilization with its diversity of special functions, must be studied as if all of one piece, so that ethics merged into morals, and morals covered also religion, law, government, and, in short, the social custom as a whole.

p. 117 'From that moment onwards I worried my way steadily through the intricate jungle of anthropological literature. As is almost inevitable in dealing with such a mass of facts, I adopted what is known as the "slip system", accumulating by the drawer-full extracts culled from a thousand sources, and docketed under innumerable headings, sub-headings, and cross-references, so as to be readily fitted to as many contexts. It is a method that pays only so long as one makes it a rigid rule to have read from cover to cover every work from which one's selections are drawn, and never to copy out the citations of somebody else without being at the trouble not only to seek out the source, but to study this in its full bearing.'

p. 117 'One immediate service done me by my prize essay was that it brought me into touch with Tylor. He had in fact been one of my examiners--the only one, I suspect, who could pronounce on its scientific value--and must have weighed it word for word; for he very kindly insisted on going over it with me to correct errors or, I hope more frequently, to demand fuller proofs. Thus began an alliance as close as the difference of age and upbringing would allow; and I fulfilled one of the chief obligations and ambitions of my life when years afterwards I was able, however perfunctorily, to write his life. [R.R. Marett, Tylor, Chapman and Hall 1936] Though he did not retire from his Oxford Chair until 1909, he had produced the last of his books as far back as 1881 and, when [p118] first I knew him, was engaged in preparing for the Press his Gifford lectures, delivered in Aberdeen in 1888. His memory was, I think, already troubling him; for somehow he could no longer attain to his own uncompromising standard of perfection. Indeed, in a small way I could henceforth help him with what he could not avoid printing. Thus I believe that the slight changes that he found it necessary to introduce into the fourth edition of Primitive Culture are entirely from my pen. But those Gifford Lectures ... never saw the light.'

p. 128 'Besides, as an anthropologist I had designs on these countries of ancient civilizations that related to a past of theirs more distant than the archaeology of the day normally took into account. Queer things were pointed out to me in Pausanias by Farnell, for which I could cite plausible parallels among utter savages; and though both of us realized the size of the cultural gap that lay between, I knew enough of British folk-lore to realize the force of an immemorial tradition, and meant, if I could get the chance, to hunt for survivals of primitive customs and beliefs among Arcadian peasants and suchlike.

[p. 156 and on Chapter on Anthropology]

p. 166 'But to satisfy my sense of the educational importance of anthropology, as well as, for personal reasons, to bring it closer into line with the rest of my academic work, something more was needed; and that the University alone [p. 167] could provide. Oxford must organize a School of Anthropology, not only on paper, but palpitating with actuality. For in name at any rate, if not in deed, we were abreast nay ahead, of the times in our recognition of the subject. After making Tylor a D.C.L. as far back as 1875 -- Primitive Culture having appeared only four years before-- we had appointed him Reader in Anthropology in 1884, and a titular Professor a dozen years later. Most conscientiously, too, had he lectured all this while, though very few had attended his courses--Sir Everard Im Thurn of Exeter being one of those few; and in view of the fact that Lady Tylor at least never failed to be there, a wicked story told how a passer-by heard from the hollow depths of the class-room a voice which said: "And so, my dear Anna, we observe ..." There was even to be discovered in the Examination Statutes a portentous syllabus of the ground to be covered by candidates who never put in an appearance; the reason being that our subtle administrators, perhaps with their tongues in their cheeks, had marked this off as a Second School, to be entered only after another Final Honour School had previously taken the edge off the average appetite ... So the Father of Anthropology remained without progeny to grace our nursery of of youth. [sic]

Late in 1904 I had mentioned in the public press a proposal to found a Diploma in Anthropology. [See Athenaeum 10th December 1904] Just then the new Rhodes Scholars were coming to us; and changes in the Indian Civil Service examination were announced that would allow candidates before competing to take their full time at the University, so that they might well study a subject so appropriate to their prospective occupation. ... [p. 168] The fact was that quite a number of us were behind the scheme, and were drilled into shape as a fighting force largely by the exertions of J.L. Myres ... Any tendency, however, that he might have to make Mediterranean civilization the centre of the anthropological picture was more than counterbalanced by Arthur Thomson's anatomy, and Henry Balfour's technology, not to mention my own interest in the social side of primitive culture; and indeed, by branches of research which might complain of receiving scant attention under a system of education dominated by .... "elephantine" examinations, we finally roped in an irresistible band of supporters. ...

Next year saw the creation of a Committee for Anthropology; [Footnote: The principal dates are: 1905; statute creating Committee for Anthropology, Trinity Term; first meeting of Committee (on which I served) 27th October, J.L. Myres appointed Secretary. 1906, first syllabus of lectures published, Hilary Term. 1907, I become Secretary, Michaelmas Term, 1908, Tylor retires, December. 1909, first examination, one candidate. 1910, second examination, three candidates, June; I am appointed Reader in Social Anthropology, October.] on which I served from the first; its immediate business being to arrange for a Diploma Course with due [p169] provision for the necessary teaching and examining. I need not recount details of the preliminary work involved. Are they not to be exhumed by the curious from the University archives? Myres was Secretary and General Whip during this incubation period; but by 1908 when the scheme had fairly hatched out I relieved him of his post, and, having been appointed on Tylor's proposal, held it uninterruptedly for the next twenty years. In the creation of a new School much more was involved than drawing up a programme. In particular, one had to find pupils. For, as Andrew Lang once said to me on a memorable occasion, when I walked back with him, after a dinner party, to Merton where he was staying: 'If I could have made a living out of it, I might have been a great anthropologist!" So, speaking in a most solemn way, and before I could protest that his services to anthropology had been immense, he disappeared into the lodge-door that the porter had just opened for him; and I fancy that I had been offered a glimpse of the real man, beneath an exterior for the most part singularly guarded and ironic.

Now, we could not promise the makings of an income to the gallant pioneers of both sexes who, almost one by one at first, but soon in larger numbers, though always as it were by driblets, and usually for some special reason, entered for the full Diploma Course; though there was always a penumbra of Greats-men, theologians, lawyers, and so forth, who found my classes in Social Anthropology able to throw a side-light on their main studies. As a matter of fact, however, when in later years I happened to ask for statistical purposes how many of our alumni had obtained teaching posts in anthropology, I found that about thirty had done so; and in view of the average value of their endowments, I concluded that they had not done so badly--indeed, better in particular cases than would probably have happened had they used some other string [1] [p. 170] to their bow. Such sordid considerations, however, are apt to weigh little with either teachers or learners of the best type at Oxford, though the British parent might be shocked at the news. ...

On the other hand, it would be tempting, but hardly in point here, to run through the names and careers of those who went on from Oxford to do important field-work or otherwise distinguish themselves in the sphere of pure anthropology. Thus, of our first half-dozen candidates for the Diploma, five--Miss Barbara Freire-Marreco (Mrs Aitken), of Lady Margaret Hall, the first to register as a student and the first to obtain the Diploma with Distinction, Sir Francis Knowles, Marius Barbeau, Diamond Jenness and Wilson D. Wallis have in various ways notably advanced the science; the remaining member of the class becoming a missionary. I would also insist on the usefulness of what may be distinguished as Applied Anthropology for such administrative and other officers as have to do with those native races within the Empire whose culture is of a simpler type. The Governor-General of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan led the way as far back as 1907 by asking us to supply special instruction of this kind to his probationers, and the Colonial Office has long made similar use of our services. As a matter of fact, too, the line that is drawn between the pure and applied branches of the subject tend to be somewhat imaginary, since some of the best scientific work is done by civil servants--I suppose out of official hours, yet so that, while [p. 171] knowledge is increased, the lot of the people under their charge is bettered by the sympathetic understanding with which they are treated. When I think of men like A.C. Hollis, R.S. Rattray, C.H. Meek--indeed, the full list of them would be endless--whose professional duties did not prevent them from becoming field-anthropologists of the first rank, I feel that our humble Diploma Course, though it may have to sow sparsely, has reaped abundantly.

As for my own part in the good work, I was appointed University Reader in Social Anthropology in 1910, [Footnotes: My inaugural lecture was entitled The Birth of Humility (Clarendon Press 1910)] and held the post continuously until 1936, with one year more as Acting Professor, which enabled me just to beat Tylor's record of twenty-six years. The old man, by the way, was delighted that I was chosen to carry on his work, and wrote to me from the West Country to which he had retired: "I am much pleased that you are taking the Readership. It is very satisfactory that the importance of the subject has at last come into view, and I may even add the hope that the whole science is going to establish itself to the benefit of Man at large." Andrew Lang wrote more briefly: "I hope that you will just make Anthropology hum!" My subject, covering all the institutions, with the associated beliefs, of mankind, was of a somewhat spacious ambit; but to a philosopher accustomed to tackle the Universe at large that was no drawback. Nay, when one concentrates on the simpler kind of society, it is really not hard to establish a correlation between its various functions; and, having done so, the student is in a far better position to perceive in it the more complex community how separate interests, say religion and fine art, or law and government, have intertwining roots. Meanwhile, the man preparing to do research in the field--and it was for him that on the [p. 172] whole we catered for more directly--must observe the social life of his savage hosts in all its variety, and as he happens to come across it. He cannot afford to ignore everything but the one aspect that takes his fancy; or he will be like the Baker in The Hunting of the Snark who could only bake bridecake. ...

My job as Organizing Secretary being essentially that of a proselytizer, I did everything I could to interest the wider public of the University, senior no less than junior, in our new venture. Thus in the Michaelmas Term of 1908 I arranged for a special course on Anthropology in its relation to the Classics [footnote: Anthropology and the classics ed by R.R. Marett Clarendon Press 1908...]; and the eminence of the six participants, Sir Arthur Evans, Andrew Lang, Gilbert Murray, Principal Jevons, J.L. Myres, and Warde Fowler, drew large audiences to the Schools. There could be no doubt about the popularity of the new subject. For the public continued to troop to the Schools in the Hilary Term following, when there was nothing better to regale them than six lectures delivered by me at the instance of the Common Fund. The first of these entitled "Bullroarers and High Gods" possibly intrigued the multitude by its title, and I tried to give them good value by whirling round an Australian implement which happily consented--since they are tricky things--to produce some truly awe-inspiring murmurations. Again, Carthailhac's lectures on Quaternary Art, of which I shall speak later, were, in May, 1910, one of the chief academic sensations of the year. ...

[p. 173] ... Yet, sweet as are the uses of advertisement, I was anxious not only to plant a seed in the collective mind, but to keep it constantly watered. So just before Christmas, in 1908, I called upon A.J. Montgomerie Bell, a Balliol man who had won the Gaisford Prize for Greek Verse in 1867, but had since taken to flint-hunting and made almost a "corner" in local finds, to suggest that he should help me to found an Oxford University Anthropological Society. He informed me to my surprise that Mr G.C. Robson, an undergraduate of New College, had come to him that very day to interest him in a field-club for archaeological research in the neighbourhood. Obviously the greater included the less, and presently we three met and decided to give reality to my dream of a Society concerning itself with General Anthropology, but likewise taking a special interest in the appropriate field-studies. So on 28th January, 1909, at a meeting in Exeter College, with over two dozen persons present and myself as Chairman, we duly constituted the Society; which numbered nearly a hundred members by the end of that term, and has flourished ever since. It was soon affiliated to the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Folklore Society, and from the first attracted wide attention, having no difficulty in persuading the great men of the day to come long distances to address it, as the minutes will show. Henry Balfour was elected as the first President, and in that capacity delivered the earliest lecture. I remember that the second, on 26th February, 1909, was delivered by Mr A. Radcliffe Brown, who more than a quarter of a century later was to occupy Oxford's first Chair of Social Anthropology, when my [p. 174] Readership in that subject came to an end. Having myself attended over three hundred meetings of the Society, and having spoken, I suppose, at nearly every one, I feel that, of such mana as I may possess, no small portion has gone to the making of a learned society which, whatever its other shortcomings, has never been wanting in liveliness.

I could, indeed, tell many tales of debates that shook the very walls of the Museum ... we thought Ray Lankester was going to brain Sollas, when the latter ventured to doubt whether [the rostrocarinate] was a genuine weapon of Man and could be employed as such. I wrote a poem about it at the time for the Oxford Magazine ...

For when Sollas had referred to "these scrapers that will not scrape, and borers that will not bore:, Lankester shouted out, "You, at any rate, are one of those borers that can bore".

p. 178 'With me anthropology has mostly stood for the library, and archaeology for the open air. It might, of course, have been the other way about. For to anthropologize in the field would have attracted me greatly, had my academic duties permitted it.'

p. 185 'Thus I brought back from France, after meeting so many archaeologists of the greatest eminence, a passionate desire that our Oxford School of Anthropology should in due course contribute its quota--as indeed it has done--to the advance party in this adventure [of prehistoric archaeology] ... As for my companion, Professor Sollas, he came home resolved to write a book worthy of all that he had witnessed. And this he did [Footnote: Ancient Hunters and their Modern Representatives Macmillan 1911] ... it was at my suggestion that he used various modern savages--Tasmanians, Australians, Bushmen, Eskimo--to illustrate the ways of these ancient prototypes. Thus was produced, thanks not only to his expert knowledge, more especially the geo-chronology, but also to his forcible and luminous style, what in my opinion at least is even to-day the clearest and most stimulating account of Palaeolothic man.'

p. 193 'We therefore arranged that we should spend the Easter vacation of 1913 at Gower---Sollas, Henry Balfour and I--so as to deal with its [the cave's] contents exhaustively.'

p. 220 '... throughout the [first world] war the Anthropological Society never missed a meeting, holding its regular dozen a year ... Nor did it lack distinguished Presidents, even if, one by one, J.L. Myres, D.G. Hogarth and Henry Balfour thereafter took the field in some martial capacity. Our women archaeologists, of whose achievements the Oxford School was particularly proud--Miss Freire Marreco, Mrs Routledge, Mrs Jenkinson, Mrs Holland, Miss Blackman, Miss Blackwood, Miss Rosalind Moss, Miss Czaplicka and others---were a great stand-by, and could always be counted on to produce a number of interesting papers. I seem to remember that we found it easiest to provide archaeological matter, having on the spot Sir Arthur Evans, Stephen Langdon, A.M. Blackman, Dr Farnell, Warde Fowler and others, while from outside Elliot Smith, Reginald Smith, Harold Peake, and Reid Moir were ready to respond to our invitation. As for the study of the savage, we could count, apart from the home contingent, which included philosophers like Schiller and J.A. Smith, on the assistance of Hartland, Haddon, Rivers, Seligman, W. Crooke, and Dr Gaster in the discussion of theoretical matters. Fresh observation from the field was naturally scarcer, though the Routledges ... returned from Easter Island ... in a blaze of glory; and I can also recollect a very striking paper from the Japanese official anthropologist of Formosa, Mr Ischii.'

p. 227 'Anthropology [post WW1], however, was going ahead by leaps and bounds, now that a new type of observer had taken the field in the shape of the man who had been trained beforehand for that specific purpose. To keep pace with the experts I must tackle monograph after monograph. The editor of the Times Literary Supplement was very kind in sending me many works of real importance; while I also wrote an "anthropological chronicle" for the London Mercury, which procured me any new books for which I had need, to the great advantage of my library.

p. 274-5 'Anthropology ... being a branch of natural science, thrives on new facts, and old interpretations must ever be reshaped to meet the latest evidence. So it is necessary to "keep up to this morning's news" in one's reading; and one's class is equally anxious to miss none of the fresh information accumulating day by day.'

p. 300 'With those who shared my anthropological and archaeological interests I was of course closely allied--with Arthur Thomson, for instance, and Henry Balfour, who might be described as my working partners, so that we were known as "the Triumvirate"; while J.L. Myres hovered as an inspiring influence in the background. Of the rest W.J. Sollas, though much older, was a true friend of whom I was very fond. Also A.H. Sayce, veteran as he was, always managed to see me when he came to Oxford ... Sir John Rhys in his day was very kind to me; and I was in close toucgh with P. Vinogradoff, F.L. Griffith, and S. Langdon. Or, again, anthropology involved consultation on many points with medical men, and I became great friends with Sir William Osler, a man after my own heart ...'

p. 322 'The reasons that led me from philosophy to anthropology were many. I wanted, in the first instance, to compare ideal ethics with actual morality in all its varieties and phases, so as to discover how far human nature could be reasonably expected to practise what the philosopher preaches. Again, there was latent in me unsatisfied yearnings for a natural history to be pursued in the wilder places of the earth ... It suited one of my turn of mind, however, to philosophize and anthropologize together, with a considerable overlap between the two interests. Yet I never had enough spare time for the more laborious type of research among books, much less for first-hand observation in the field. If I have done anything to advance the subject on its cultural side, it has been mainly, I would venture to suppose, by attending to its architectonic--to its framework of categories and their interconnections--a matter on which a philosopher, with his live of synthesis and his training in logic, ought to be able to shed some useful light. Even more conspicuously was it luck that my anthropology should come to include a limited amount of prehistorics.'


[1] Handwritten on bottom of page 168 by ?Beatrice Blackwood in edition in Balfour Library: Exams by Diploma 1908 Freire Marreco Dipl Knowles Dipl Harley Cert [NB Marett doesnt mention this year, his first year of examination is 1909??, Harley only got Certificate rather than Diploma, is that because it was his first year, so how come FM and FHSK had done more?? 1909 Harley Dipl 1910 Barbeau Dipl Wallis Dipl Jenness Dipl. Handwritten on bottom of page 169 by same hand 'This is from Secretary's book, Look up Examiner's book w. Registrar'

Transcribed by AP October 2012

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