Page images

are to be gathered here are twined around fair as well as around manly brows. And I feel assured that all, while they enter with zest and real enjoyment into the several branches of study to which they are pleased to addict themselves, will only be taught by success to exhibit that modesty which is the natural accompaniment of all true knowledge. I will likewise venture to hope that the contemplation of the marvellous fertility of nature, and of its wonderful adaptation to the wants and uses of mankind, will strengthen their piety to look up from the gift to the All-powerful and All-wise Giver. Amongst all the wondrous additions to the civilization and knowledge of the times in which we live, I feel that perhaps the most general drawback to that civilization is to be found in the habits which prevail amongst large portions of our population of indulging immoderately in intoxicating drinks. You will not think that I mean this reproach to apply to any of those who would naturally frequent the classes of an institution like this; least of all, I am sure, can it apply to our fair competitors. Still I do feel that, in whatever degree the tastes and aspirations of the public can be directed to intellectual, to refining, to elevating pursuits and studies, just in the same degree will a counterbalancing check be provided against those degrading and brutalizing habits to which I have referred; and such I conceive to be the liberal, the elevating, and the ameliorating tendency of such an institution as this. One expression struck rather disagreeably, and it was the only thing that did so, on my ears, in the statement of the Director, when he told you that some of the medals could not be delivered last year in consequence of their not having been forwarded in sufficient time from London. Why should it be necessary to send to London for the medals which are to grace and adorn the possessors of Irish genius? Surely we ought not to allow it to be said, if you allow me to quote a line from the Roman poet"Excudit alii sperantia æræ."

Why should not Ireland cast her own medals as well as nurture her own successful prizemen? I feel assured that the students at large are sensible of the debt of gratitude which they owe, and which the country at large owes, to the enlightened Director of this institution, and to its staff of able and eminent professors, who, I have no doubt, will, on the other hand, find their best reward in witnessing the progress, the acquirements, and the carcers of such a band of disciples as that by which we are this night surrounded.



[JUNE 25TH, 1860.]


BEG leave to return my sincere thanks to you all for sanctioning the proposal which has been so kindly submitted to you. There is one point upon which, on this occasion, I am inclined to entertain a feeling almost akin to despair, that whereas it has become a sort of yearly duty of mine to offer some observation to you from this chair, I can entertain but very slight hopes of infusing any novelty or variety into them. I know the privilege is great, the pleasure is great, the honour is great, but the novelty is not forthcoming. In the first place, we almost all know why we are met together; the actual routine of the proceedings is familiar to most of us; and I am specially forbidden by the nature of these proceedings, by the very genius of the place, from making the slightest allusion to general politics or difference of religion. I am addressing an audience with far too good taste to put up with anything so vapid as general unmeaning compliments; and as for the particular subjects which form the materials of the competition for the respective prizes which have just been adjudged, it would be very soon discovered, not only by the eminent professors by whom I am more immediately surrounded, but by the more youthful candidates and prizebearers who now front me, how ill qualified I should be to bear any personal part in such a high and difficult disquisition. I can, then, only congratulate you all, which I do most sincerely, on the useful and lofty pursuits to which you have devoted your leisure hours-not too abundant, I know, as must be the case with many of you, for such a purpose —and on the very creditable degree of proficiency to which it has been proved by the proceedings of the evening you have attained. I am sure all the company must have seen with the same pleasure as myself, to select merely one of the competitors, that Miss Hester Harman has received the highest number of marks at the examination in two such arduous and interesting branches of study as botany and practical zoology; and she is surrounded by those who do not grudge, but who emulate her success. The company will have heard with much grati

fication of the very interesting and important additions which the zeal and diligence of the accomplished Director, Sir Robert Kane, have made within the year to the valuable collections in the galleries of this Museum; part of them, he has told us, is calculated to throw light on a manufacture which might have been this year, which very probably will be in future years, of great interest and importance to all classes in this country-the manufacture of paper-though I perhaps only heard with mitigated regret that Ireland is losing her pre-eminence in the production of rags. Special allusion has been made by Sir Robert Kane, in his interesting, luminous, and suggestive address, to the late increase in the production of the mines of the county of Wicklow. We learn from him that the vale of Ovoca, dear to song as

"the vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet,"

is now not only famous because nature has

"shed o'er the scene

Her purest of crystal, and brightest of green;"

that this valley has not only

"the soft magic of streamlet and rill;"

but, hold! am I justified in saying that it has

"something more exquisite still?”

For what is it that it has? Copper and sulphur. Now these do not seem at the first sound the most romantic or the most fragrant of articles; but I take courage, and I will maintain that there is something yet more exquisite than all the soft witchery of romance, or even all the ardent loveliness of nature, and that is honest, hearty, human industry, exercising the body, developing the intellect, bracing the energies, sustaining the family, benefiting the district, enriching the country. You will have remarked, too, how the short-sightedness or the selfishness of man appears to be overruled to promote the general onward progress of human civilization. You have heard how the late King of Naples, not actuated probably by a desire to promote the principle of free trade, perhaps not out of a feeling of any great partiality to this country, gave a monopoly of the exportation of sulphur to another nation; yet true it is that this temporary stoppage in the supply of the natural article has stimulated the working of the sulphur ore in

Wicklow, and the removal of that sulphur ore has opened the way to the more unencumbered working of the copper ore also. It is thus that, by the overruling of a gracious Providence, even the jealousies and mistakes of men and of nations are yet destined to work for the common good of the human family. It is most gratifying to me to see the large assemblies attracted, and the obvious interest elicited by these anniversaries. It is true that we are not enabled at present, in this our Irish capital, to offer the same stirring and animating spectacle which attracted the admiration of the metropolis of England on Saturday last; but yet, in a more limited space, and in a more quiet scene, here are our Dublin Volunteers. They have not been taken into the ranks by the prospect of pay or promotion, or any tangible reward, but they have been brought here together by the desire to slake their thirst at the pure fountain of knowledge, and to become thoroughly versed in those pursuits of peaceful industry and humanizing science which have for their unmixed end to augment the stock of human happiness, and to leave their humanizing impress upon the welfare and the character of the coming generation.



[OCTOBER 3RD, 1861.]


BELIEVE it is customary on these occasions for the Lord Lieutenant, after discharging the agreeable duty of delivering the prizes to the respective successful candidates, to say a few words-" of his own bat," if I may borrow an expression from a game which seems to have become a favourite with the citizens of Dublin—in acknowledging the vote of thanks with which the Director has kindly closed the proceedings. While I hope, however, that for this, and for other purposes, there will be no break in the continuity of Irish Viceroys, I must say, as Sir Robert Kane has already hinted to you, if you wish to obtain any variety in the observations which are thus periodically addressed to you, you must also secure some variety in the persons who fill that distinguished office. And while I thus happen to mention Irish Viceroys,

I must speak with concern and apprehension about the health of one of the most valued and beloved of the whole catalogue, my predecessor, the Earl of Eglinton, of whom very uneasy accounts have been received this day. While, however, I fill the same position, it will be always a great satisfaction to me to have the opportunity of listening to the full, able, and suggestive addresses-to which that of to-night forms no exception-which are delivered to you on these occasions by your distinguished Director, Sir Robert Kane, and at the same time of bearing my far less adequate testimony to the intrinsic merits of the pursuits which this institution encourages and promotes, and of the painstaking and laudable exertions of those who take part in them. I sincerely rejoice to collect that so much of progress and success has marked the latest annals of this Museum. I am sure we all must have listened with interest to the flourishing accounts which have been laid before us this night as to the mining prospects of Ireland. With respect to this new species of currency which has been placed in my hands, I certainly am glad to hear of any contrivance which has a tendency to diminish drunkenness amongst so valuable a portion of your population; and I suppose, after the very recent repeal of the paper duty two days ago, this mode of currency will become even cheaper. At all events, it holds out to our mining population the opportunity of complying with that line of the poet,

"To eye the mine without a wish for gold."

It is always a pleasing feature in the proceedings here, that whereas in almost every other quarter where we hear of classes and lectures and competitive examinations, the actors in these operations are almost exclusively of the sterner sex, while here, without any departure from the rigid rule of impartiality, the lists are entered, and the palm is, as we have seen, frequently carried off by gentler aspirants. And, indeed, it seems only fitting and becoming in a country where one illustrious lady fills the highest place in the realm, that all classes of our women should have the opportunity of showing that they can excel in the accomplishments and attainments which are consistent with the grace and modesty of the female character. Having thus casually alluded to our gracious Queen, whose arrival in our crowded thoroughfares all classes in this city had so much pleasure in witnessing, and receiving her, as they did, with so much delicacy and with so much fervour, I feel myself at liberty to take this first subsequent opportunity of mentioning-which I am fully authorized

« PreviousContinue »