ON IRISH LEXICOGRAPHY.
occasionally a belated philologer emerges from the depths of a thorny linguistic forest with a proud shout of "Eureka" as he holds up to view his long-cherished whims.
Criticism is more severe now that definite progress has been made, and perhaps some of the charm has been taken away by the accumulation of positive knowledge. Still there is abundant scope for discovery; for even since the foundation of this Todd Professorship a rich treasure has been recovered from the depths of the long past: the resolute student has successfully wrestled with the stubborn sphinx. Last year I delivered a lecture in Trinity College on the nature of a law, to which at the time I gave the name of "Zimmer's Law," in honour of its discoverer. [I did not, and could not, know that there was in print at the time, though unpublished, the narrative of substantially the same investigation by M. Thurneysen, with whom, therefore, apparently, Professor Zimmer will have to share the honour of discovery.] The importance of this 'find' can hardly be overrated: the study has been renewed with fresh zeal, and I trust that a generous rivalry will animate the leaders of this study to further efforts and yet more successful issues.
In times not so long past there were in Ireland societies that vied with each other in publishing Irish texts, but they have yielded now, as it would seem, to the all-devouring exigencies or desires of the present; and the modern societies, in urging the study of Irish as a vernacular tongue, have not had the slightest result in the way of increasing the number of students willing to devote themselves to the requisite training for the further prosecution of their studies in the right direction.It is true something may be said also in their behalf; for, it may be asked, What facilities are afforded them for taking the right course? The Academy has indeed placed in the hands of the public the excellent facsimiles, far plainer to read than the original MSS.; but how is the Irish student to get at them, and how shall he procure for himself the key to unlock the wicket-gate at the entrance? That is a side in which the Academy is bound, I think, to give some help, and therefore, during my tenure of office as the Academy's Todd Professor, I shall endeavour not to leave out of sight the wants of the class whose sympathies and assistance I would seek to enlist. The field then is open, the labour is abundant. I propose to consider in this Paper,