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THE GAELIC S0CIETY., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889
THE GAELIC SOCIETY.
The annual gathering of the members of theabove, held attheGarrisonHall lastnight, was extremely well attended. The chief of the society (the Rev. Ur Stuart) occupied the chair, and, after making a few introductory remarks, called upon the secretary (Mr William M‘Leod) to read the annual report, which stated, inter alia :— Your Committee have always encouraged the preaching of Gaelic sermons as a means of upholding the use of the language in out midst, and whenever practicable in the past Gaelic sermons were delivered directly under the auspices of the society. Early in the session the society received a severe blow in the death of their beloved and much-respected chief, the Hon. Ur Menzies, who had occupied the highest office at their disposal for some years. His heart always beat in unison with those of his fellow countrymen in the organisation of which he was chief, a) was evidenced by the kindly letters ho wrote the secretary from time to time, and by his thoughtfulness in giving a donation of valuable Gaelic books to the library. It is not too much to say that his loss to the society would have been irreparable but for the presence among them of another gentleman of kindred spirit whom the society has recently elected as hia successor viz., the Rev. Dr Stuart. It is also with extreme sorrow that your Committee have to record the death of Dr J. F. Gillies, who had been to long associated with them, and who was so highly esteemed by them. He was one of the first founders ■ f the society, and it was owing in no small degree to hia care that the society survived its inlancy. Since he relinquished it no one has been found with learning and leisure enough to resume it. He always took the keenest interest in every thing that pertained to the welfare of Highlanders either at Home or in the colony, and especially in tire crofter question. Oneof his last official actions in connection with the society was to interview Mr Downie Stewart, and through him the Government, anent the possibility of securing land on favorable terms for crofters to settle on in the event of its being thought advisable for them to emigrate ; but the result of the inquiries made was so discouraging that, on giving his report, be stated his own conviction that it would be very unwise to induce crofters to entertain ideas of bettering their condition by immigration in any great numbers to this country unless a guarantee could bo had from the Government to supply them with a reasonable quantity of land to settle upon, and material assistance for the first year or two of their occupancy. He further added that there was waste land enough in the vicinity of the so-called congested districts at Home to support, in comfort, ten times the population whose periodical destitution had so frequently called forth the sympathies of Highlanders and others all over the world. It is needless to say that these sentiments and facts found a response in the minds of a majority of those who have given any thought to the subject. Your I'ommittco, while never grudging to bo made the medium of benevolent assistanco to the deserving poor among their country folk, are pleased to report that the funds of the society have not been drawn upon for charitable purposes during the year.
Sir Robert Stout moved the adoption of the report. It seemed to him that as one grew older the recollections of one’s youth came back with stronger force, and a capital illustration of that was given in the case of the late Sir Donald M'Lean. During the closing days—during, he might say, the closing hours—of Sir Donald’s life lie did not think of what ho had done for New Zealand ; his mind did not recall the many struggles against the Maoris in the days gone by, it did not recall the political struggles through which he had passed, it did not recall the many privations he had suffered as a colonist—all these things seemed to be forgotten—but the speaker was told by one who was near him in his last hours that his mind was in the Highlands, and that he was speaking in his native tongue.—(Applause.) They must remember three things in connection with the Gaelic Society the land from which they hud come, the men it had produced, and the record of their own country. From a military point of view there were hundreds of heroes brought up in the Highland glen; and for poets, men acquainted with literature, men who had distinguished themselves in science, and men who had distinguished themselves in travels, they were behind no nation on tho earth.—(Applause. ) Day by day they saw that blood was telling, and that as the race went on its vitality and enthusiasm still existed. But there was a French proverb, Noblesse Oblii/e. If a race had this great renown it had great duties following in its train, and it was a question, he apprehended, that that society had to put to itself, and especially to its young people. How were they going to fare in this land ? With one hand the society pointed back to the past, and it said to its sons and daughters “See what a race you are sprung from ”; and he hoped that by pointing to the past it would spur the young people on to good work in the future. How could a race be great ? In the first place it ought to bo physically strong. But this was not enough. There must also be a struggle after moral strength and moral perfection—(Hear). The higher mission of the society after all was to try and make the children better than the fathers, to inspire them with a noble function in life, and to make them realise that they were not mere units in the country fighting for self, but that there was a great responsibility resting on them to maintain the name they got from their ancestors untarnished and undisgraced.— (Loud applause.) Mr J. F. M. Fraser seconded the motion, while Mr Duoald M'Laciilan and Mr J. M'Donalu (Palmerston) spoke to tho motion in Gaelic, after which the report was unanimously adopted.
A tediously long concert programme was then proceeded with, the first item being the playing of the * Caismiachd Shuithail ’ by eighteen pipers. Misses Blaney, M'Donald, Cameron, M'Fadyen, Morrison, Mesdames Chisholm and Lawrence, and Messrs A. Paterson, M'Fadyen, D. Munro, M'Kenzie contributed songs, the most enjoyable being Miss Blaney’s selections—- ‘ Flowers of the Forest’ and ‘Kate O’Shane’ —and * Robin Adair,’ by Miss Morrison. A pianoforte duet—a fantasia on Scottish airs—was excellently played by Misses J. L. Matheson and Edmond. The Gaelic songs were also evidently much appreciated by those present, judging by the amount of applause bestowed upon the performers. The dancing, however, seemed to rouse the audience to enthusiasm, and a triple Highland fling by Masters J. and D. M'Kechnie and Smith ; a scantreus and Highland fling by Mr J. D, S. Burt; and a Highland reel by four ladies and four gentlemen were greeted with prolonged applause. After * Auld lang syne ’ had been sung the hall was cleared
and dancing was proceeded with, the body of the hall being uncomfortably croavded. The grand march was a pretty spectacle, over 1.‘50 couples taking part. Good music was supplied by Messrs Vallis (piano), Dallas (cornet), and Haigh (violin). The catering, which was entrusted to Mr Meyers, was all that could be desired; while the M.C.s for the dance performed their duties in an able manner.
THE GAELIC S0CIETY., Issue 7976, 3 August 1889
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