Watts: London, 1928.
We are met here to celebrate the memory of Moncure Daniel Conway. We are united by the fact that we do not adopt a merely negative attitude in the face of the collapse of Christianity. We have a task of salvage—a task in which Conway himself played an important part. But the main function of an Ethical Society should be constructive. If we Rationalists could conserve the Christian virtues while abandoning the equally Christian vices, we should have accomplished much. But we aspire to something more positive, a synthesis of a new ethic ; tentative, of course, for we lay claim to guidance by no holy spirit save our own consciences, but yet taking cognizance of facts, both in human nature and in the external world, which Christianity has ignored. Conway’s career as a prophet began with his realization of the evil of slavery, which St. Paul had condoned; and in later life he championed views on international and inter-racial relationships which earned him in his own day the title of crank, and in ours that of the forerunner of many ideas which have obtained very wide adhesion, if not, as yet, universal application.