Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/231

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193
HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

know not where to find nor how to say it. It is related of the Egyptians, as a social custom, that the head of the house always left his seat and gave it to an honored guest. Following out the Egyptian symbolism of the Papyrus it would give me much pleasure to vacate this uneasy chair in favor of Dr. Holmes or Mr. Stedman, whose fertile fancies would flash ideas where others could find only prosy sentences.

But the word is still to be said: "These twenty times beginning I have come to the same point and stopped." You know the story of the Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, who, after many years spent with students, at length found himself in a great domed hall, called upon to address the most eminent astronomers of Europe. The roof of the hall was painted like the sky at night. The astronomers sat expectant, and Tycho Brahe stood before them silent. At length one old man said: "Why don't you begin, Tycho?" "I don't know where to begin for these." "Begin as if we were students," said another. Tycho raised his wand and pointed to a star. "That," he said, "is the third star in the claw of the Scorpion; this is Sirius; here is Arcturus, and yonder are the Pleiades." "O, that is tiresome," said the old man. "Well, then," said Tycho, "since you all know their places and names as well as I, let me introduce you, brethren, in one word—to the Stars!"

I stand here in the very blaze of the galaxy, "tangled in the silver braid" of the Pleiades. Tycho might have foreseen through these centuries the use I should make to-night of his general introduction.

The note we wished to strike at this dinner was one that mayor may not have been struck before;—its sounding is certainly not too common as it will be—namely, that sex is forgotten in literary distinction; that, if in no other profession, at least in literature and art, bright minds cease to be classed as men and women, and are seen only in the rich neutral light of authorship.

To-night we have with us several ladies whose names are nationally and internationally known and honored. We, who read their books, are delighted to have an opportunity of reading their faces, to thank them for coming to us, some from great distances, and to say to them how proud we are of their pure and honorable fame.

Another great Irish centenary, that of the birthday of Thomas Moore, was commemorated in Boston on the 29th of May, by a banquet at the Parker House, Oliver Wendell Holmes reading with genuine feeling a grand poem in memory of the Irish bard. Among the other guests distinguished in literature, were John T. Trowbridge, George Parsons Lathrop, Dr. Robert Dwyer Joyce, William Winter, Francis H. Underwood, William A. Hovey, and