WHAT little I shall say is about personal loyalty. It is due myself that I should explain that the greater part of this address was written more than two years ago, and especially for my own students, who frequently have to meet certain ethical problems in connection with their professional work. Within a few months there has appeared a book upon loyalty by a distinguished philosopher who deals with the subject in its broadest and best sense. I make haste, therefore, to say that I do not attempt to discuss the subject in any large sense. What I have to suggest is not spoken with the authority of the philosopher or with the philosopher's subtle reasoning. I can only give my personal impressions and views of the subject without regard to its philosophic bearings. I should add, however, that in Professor Boyce's lectures you will find ably dealt with the many problems that naturally arise in connection with this subject. And whether you agree with all he says or not, you will find his book one of the most helpful and inspiring that has ever been published in our country.
I must premise also that what I say is said in a spirit of perfect frankness and on general principles, and has no reference to any particular occasions, circumstance or persons. The subject seems to be especially worthy of your attention just now because the habit of loyalty is one that may be cultivated during your student life; it certainly will not spring into full-fledged development at some future time when it happens to be wanted.
I am often asked about points of practical professional ethics, and it is chiefly in connection with this phase of the subject that I have thought that it would probably interest you. Loyalty is going to be an important factor in the making of your character, and even, if you care to look at it in that light, an asset in your profession, or in your business.
Perhaps I lay a little more stress upon this point because I come of a people who habitually place a high estimate upon every phase of loyalty. We seem indeed to have exaggerated or distorted ideas of
- An address to the student body of Stanford University, September 9, 1908.
- "The Philosophy of Loyalty," by Josiah Royce, New York, 1908.