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I regret I cannot be present at your meetingnextweek, but hope it will go oft" with wonted success. If some reference culd be made in the form of recommending that a correct Gaelic census be obtained in the manner I have begun with the counties of Inverness, Ross, and Sutherland, I think it would be well. Just imagine the state of mind of those in strongly Highland districts who actually kept no note of the Gaelic returns! On the other hand, while many friends omitted infants and youns children, there were several staunch true men who tell me that not a soul who could lisp or squeal, if of Gaelic parentage, but was duly returned.
Mr John Mackay, Hereford, sent the following telegram in Gaelic :—
Pi'each air a' Chomunn! Slainte a's falanachd do na Gaidheil a's do 'n Cheann-fheadhnft urramach, nasal! Bithibh tapaidh! Bithibh dulneil!
Mr George J. Campbell, added the following postscript to his letter of apology:—
Could the Society not offer a prize for the best es«ay, contributed by either Highlanders or Lowlanders, on the best nieins of attaining the objects we have in view, the essays to l>e at the disposal of the Society for publication or otherwise I If so, I will be glad to eoutributea guinea to the "Prize Fund."
Loohiel was well received, and delivered a suitable address, which we are obliged to condense. After a few preliminary remarks apologising for his inability to speak Gaelic he proceeded :—To my great regret and shame I hardly understand a word of the noble tongue, the existence and the privilege of which we are met here this evening to rejoice in. (Applause.). I believe that it is only Highlanders who really know the fondness which Highlanders entertain for their mother tongue. 1 have often noticed the brightness of expression on a Highlandman's face when any one addresses him suddenly in his native tongue. He appears to become far more confidential in his intercourse, and I attribute very much of the suspiciousness in his nature which has been charged against him to his extreme disinclination to talk in any language besides that which he has imbibed with his mother's milk. Now having made this apology, I would say a word as to the intrinsic merits of the Gaelic tongue to all those whose business avocation* and duties in life compel them to reside in the Highlands. There are various posts, and important ones, which may be held in this part of the country, which require for their proper fulfilment a knowledge of the Gaelic language. There are Sheriffships which must be filled up; there are Procurator-Fiscalships which must be filled up. Those who follow the profession of teachers, and especially of public school teachers, to say nothing of ministers of religion—to all of these classes n knowledge of the Gaelic language is almost essential to a due and proper prosecution of their public duties. So that you see, putting sentiment on one side—though I don't think we Highlanders ought to put sentiment entirely on one side—putting s ntiment aside, you see that there are considerable material advantages to be derived from a thorough acquaintance with the language of this part of the country. (Applause.) I would now briefly allude to the position, to the future and past usefulness, an 1 the general prospects of the Society to which we all belong. With regard to its P' >sition, I think it appears to stand in a most satisfactory state. The roll of membership appears to be so full, that I may say it embraces every man of any importance iu the north, or at any rate neorly every man. Now, when I speak of men of importance, however distinguished, I do not do so in the ordinary sense in which the word is usi-d. In a community of Celts, those men alone are distinguished who have done something to serve the cause and forward the interests of Highlanders. (Applause.) Here. 1 believe I may say, peer and peasant, chieftain and clansman, are all equal, and are :.!1 to lie adjudged according to results, and those who have done most for the good of the Highlands will, not only in the present time, but in all future time be held to be tho-^ wl.o are most distinguished. But, at the name time, we must remember, and our worthy secretary must remember, that the more we increase our members the moie wo increase our power of doing good, and therefore I hope, when this meeting is over, that one result of it might be that many of us may encourage our friends to belong to tLis Society, and take a share in all the benefits it has conferred upon the Highlands, in consequence of, and since its existence. Well, now, the useftilness of the Society nay be found in the eight volumes of its transactions which I have been lately reading, and which, I can assure those who have not read them, form the most interesting and useful compendium of everything relating to Highland subjects. This Society and these transactions may be considered as the renaissance of Highland feeling, of Highland sentiment, of Highland language, and of Highland self-assertion—(applause) —and if these things are to do good, as I believe they will do good in the future, it will form a lasting satisfaction to those who started the Society, and showed the confidence they imssessed in their countrymen, that they themselves had the courage to embark in and cairy on so good a work. (Applause.) Now, out of these eight volumes it would seem rather invidious and take up too much time were I to dwell at any length upon any one subject. But, taking a general glance over the volumes, you tind there the most eloquent outbursts of the noblest sentiments, and you also find there thoughtful expression of philosophical, of ethnical, and I might even say, of philological truths. You find there a Gaelic array of legends and ancient traditions, mingled, I may perhaps say, with a not too flattering commentary upon the present condition of the Highlands. There you find Gaelic poetry, Gaelic prose, after-dinner speeches, and last, not least, you find the great Professor Blackie himself—(applause) —in his most vigorous and combative form. And, if I may be pardoned in theProfessor's absence (I would not venture to quote Greek in his presence), I would say, as we find Professor Blackie enthroned in these pages, may he prove to be a /sterna as aei—"a possession for ever.'' (Applause.) And, indeed, well may his name be associated with this Society, for it was under your auspices that, the greatest and most vigorous attempt upon the pockets of the philologist and upon the Highlander that has ever been known was made by the Professor, whom I believe many people consider as a modern, and a sort of very much improved Rob Roy. (Laughter and applause.) Now, gentlemen, although the Celtic Chair which has been established by the Professor may, to a certain extent, supersede the labours of the Society, yet it will only do so in one direction, for in another direction it will very greatly increase the influence of the Society by bringing it more into prominence, and by enabling it to found bursaries, establish scholarships, and in that way to do a vast deal of good which, without a central spot in which Celtic literature might be encouraged, and where a knowledge of these ancient and kindred languages might be acquired, would be likely to fail, as isolated efforts very often did fad, from not having a common centre in which to work. These bursaries were strongly recommended by Professor Blackie himself, and I hope that when the Chair is founded, this Society, and other kindred societies, will do what in them lies to carry out these things, for it must be remembered that the Chair is not a Gaelic Chair alone, but a Celtic Chair, and that assistance to Gaelic students will not come from the inside, but must come from the outside. Now, there is another matter which, I think, might very properly be taken up by this Society. I allude to the publication by those qualified, of course, to do so, of ancient Gaelic legends, accompanied with English translations. There was another subject which I think might be most usefully introduced in the transactions and doings of our Society, an 1 that was in reference to the old historical monuments, and the ruins of ancient castles which abound in the Highlands, and I confess that their history is to me almost a blank. It is very piovoking to see the ruins of a castle hundreds and hundreds of years old, and ask as to who built it, or whom it belonged to, who occupied it, what sieges it had undergone, what battles its possessors had witnessed, to be told that all these had been lost in the mists of antiquity. There is a castle in my vicinity, for instance, the Castle of Inverlochy. I have heard of the battle of Inverlochy, but I never heard of any authenticated account of the history of the Castle further back than the days of Cromwell. These things should be gone into for the benefit of the present generation and for those who may come after us. The joint secretary of the Society had collected some facts about the Castle of GlenUrquhart, and I wish that his example might be followed by those who may be easily found in this neighbourhood, and who are quite competent to the task. These transactions appear to me to possess a very superior interest. They are much to be preferred to papers written in newspapers, because few people file newspapers, and fewer still cut out extracts. Any one, however, who wishes to brush up his memory, or to obtain some important facts, may very easily lay hiB finger upon the page in these transactions. They are superior to books, for this double reason, that if you were to purchase Imoks on all Highland subjects now published, aud if you ever shifted your quarters, you would require a caravan to carry them away. (Laughter.) I hope that, when this meeting is over, we shall none of us consider that our duties thereby cease, but that we shall consider what good this Society and other kindred societies have lately done to Highlanders and to the Highland cause, instilling a patriotic feeling into the youth of the nation that you can only incite them to by pointing them to those deeds of prowess which we admire in our forefathers, and which we hope to emulate in ourselves. Not long since, this and other kindled societies carried their point in regard to the kilts in the tartan regiments. (Applause.) Let us not, therefore, consider that we are weak, because we are not weak; let us carry ourselves as men; let us stand shoulder to shoulder, and do all we can to perpetuate the love of our country, and let us bring to the front those good qualities of the Celt, and of so great and so noble a race as that of the Highlanders. (Loud applause.)