THE remarkable record of the late Sidney H. Ray as a student of the languages of the Pacific, which Dr. A. C. Haddon reviews in his obituary notice (see NATUEE of January 28, p. 149) is an outstanding achievement of scholarship in adverse circumstances, which has few, if any, parallels in either field investigation or academic study. Not only was Ray compelled to make the work for which he was peculiarly fitted by genius and temperament the secondary consideration of his scanty leisure, but also he laboured in an unmapped field, in which the difficulties would have taxed the energies and powers of concentration even of a student freed from all other preoccupations. The tragedy of Ray's career, however, lay not so much in the conditions in which his studies were pursued, as in the fact, as he himself would have been the first to contend, that through lack of more adequate leisure so much of the unique linguistic knowledge he had acquired, and still more his reasoned conclusions and inferences from that knowledge, have been lost to science and the world. Many years ago, both the Bible Society and Ray's employers, the London County Council, expressed amazed admiration at his vast erudition, but even though the former was afterwards able to make use of his assistance, both bodies expressed regret that they could not offer him the opportunity needed for the development of his powers. When a unique capacity for the advancement of knowledge such as that possessed by S. H. Ray is brought to light, it is surely the duty of the community to see to it that it is not wasted, as undoubtedly it was to a great degree hi this instance.
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The late Mr. S. H. Ray. Nature 143, 193 (1939). https://doi.org/10.1038/143193c0