Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/26

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PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS.


It must be that our minds are thinking of one who ought to be in this place to-night. About twelve months ago, when I last met York Powell, some words that were said made a deep impression upon me. We were sitting in the combination-room of Christ's College, after dinner, and I happened to remark that the place seemed full of the memory of Robertson Smith, It is ten years since his death, and yet I could never enter the room but I recalled that inexhaustible flow of brilliant talk, those sallies of wit that used to set the table in a roar, the sharp tongue and generous heart of one, whose life was spent in noble endeavour and quiet deeds of kindness. "Yes," York Powell said, "I feel that too: it is the only kind of immortality worth having." He who spoke those words knows now what is behind the veil; but the immortality he wished for is his, I suppose no one who ever met him failed to carry away some intellectual or moral stimulus, some help or encouragement for his own studies or his own cares; no one could fail to know him for a grand master in the freemasonry of generous spirits, except a soul which knew not the sign. It is no enviable thing to stand in his place. I cannot pretend to give what he could have given us: my store is small, the time has been very short, I trust you will listen with something of his gentle tolerance.