Page:Historical characteristics of the Celtic race.djvu/10

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HISTORICAL CHARACTERISTICS

OF

THE CELTIC RACE.


GENTLEMEN,—

You are met to-night as a Celtic Society, and that, too, as a Celtic Society in connection with the University—can it be justified? Has such an Association a right to exist, to make demands upon the students' time and attention, at a period when there is so much both to do and to know that needs to be done and to be known? It is a question not hastily to be answered, though some bold and crude spirits might at once volunteer an answer in the negative, consigning all things Gaelic, as they would all things Greek, to one limbo, a quiet euthanasia. To-night, I should wish to advance some reasons of a contrary kind, in arrest of judgment, in favour of preserving, even encouraging, an element which has some valuable qualities, with a special differentia, qualities both moral and intellectual, stripped of which the University and society would be undoubtedly poorer. For this purpose, I shall ask you to take a survey of some of the best attested traditions as to the Celtic race, its fortunes and historical position, that we may better appreciate its individuality and special character, and in doing so, I hope to be able to show cause for such a union or society as the present, in order that the honourable, and often noble, associations belonging to your race may be preserved, and also that you may be stirred, by way of remembrance, to investigate your own antiquities for yourselves. Those antiquities are most fruitful and important, and a great harvest awaits the young Gael who is fortunate enough to enter the field with the proper weapons for its reaping, a harvest that will add to our knowledge of the past, and so increase the general treasure of humanity.

The Celtic race, as we know, occupies the outlying promontories