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LECTURES AUD LITERATURE.
The Language and Literature of Ireland. PART 1. '•* BY T. O’NEILL RUSSELL. We have thought that, perhaps, an essay or dissertation on the above subject might be interesting, not only to our coun trymen, but to others of kindred races ; even to many Ameri cans it might be a subject of interest; and surely, in a country like this, where so many millions of the Celtic race are scat tered broadcast over its surface, from the snows of Canada to the tropical shores of the Gulf of Mexico, there must be many who love the traditions, as well as the language, of their fore fathers, and who, amid the ever increasing “ gloom of their country,” still hope that the time is not far distant when full justice will be done to Celtic literature, and some steps taken to preserve, not only their country from ruin, but their lan guage, their music, and every relic of the hallowed past, from oblivion and decay. We do not mean to weary the reader with anything like a Celtic grammar, or with a list of seemingly unpronounceable names of old Saints or Kings, but will endeavor to make the subject light, and at the same time interesting. We will begin by saying that the proper name for the Irish lan guage is Gaelic. It never was, perhaps, peculiarly the language of Ireland ; it was spoken in Scotland from a very remote period ; and, even allowing that the original language of Scot land was not Gaelic, we are forced to believe that, long before Rome or Athens were founded, the Gaelic language, or a speech so closely allied to it as to be to all intents and purposes iden tical, was the sole speech of the whole of Western Europe, and of a considerable portion of Western Asia. The simi larity between names of places on the Continent of Europe, and those of places in Ireland and Scotland, is truly astonish ing ; aud, to a person interested in such matters, would form a most delightful study. Indeed, it seems to us something of a marvel, after all Max Miiller and the other eminent philologists have said on the subject, that so little interest should be taken by the learned in the matter of Celtic language and literature ; but we suppose the reason is to be found in the political mis fortunes of the race. Greece might have produced a Socrates, and Rome a Cicero, but if neither had produced an Alexander nor a Caesar, and if political power had not kept pace with the advance of literature, sages and poets might have written and sung, but posterity would have neither read nor listened. It can be nothing, we repeat, but the political powerlessness of the Gaelic race that has caused their language to be so neg lected. If that language possessed no attraction save that of having given names to at least threc-fourtbs of all the rivers, mountains, towns, plains, lakes, and promontories in Great Britain and Ireland, one would have supposed that, in such countries, where almost every means of mental exercise is so eagerly grasped at, the study of the language through whose medium alone the meanings of all those names could be known, would form, to at least a portion of the literary world, a sub ject of interest and study. Such is not, unfortunately, the fact; and the cockney, as he journeys through the glorious scenery of Scotland and Ireland, simply says, “Aw! how pwetty,” as some scene of intense beauty or wildness bursts on his gaze; or, “ Aw ! how howable,” as he hears, in the sono rous language of the Gael, the name of the grand scene, the sight of which would have quickened the pulse and excited the imagination of any other mortal; but he, most likely, in stead of asking the meaning of the name he has just heard, inquires languidly about beer ! If Culloden had been cele brated as a victory instead of a defeat, and if Sarsfield had been known as a conqueror instead of an exile, no cockney would dare to ask for beer while gazing on Loch Cornisk, or shrug his shoulders when told that the great mountain before him was called Slieve Donard. It is not only in Great Britain and Ireland that the nomen clature is of a Celtic nature. There is hardly a river in France, the name of which cannot be translated through the medium of the Celtic. As we are not writing a grammar, but merely an essay, we cannot well give the names of all these rivers, &c., in their naked Gaelic original. It will suffice to say that the names Seine, Rhone, Garonne, Soane, aud scores of others, have all in them, and are built upon, the Celtic root, an signi fying water, or upon another signifying river, spelled in mod ern Gaelic atnhuin, and pronounced anon or owen. To make a study like this still more interesting, it will be found in nine cases out of ten that the peculiarities, or sped tl qualities, of things having Gaelic names, are exactly expressed. Thus the name Garonne means the rough or rapid river; Rhone means the red or discolored river ; Loire the rapid or swift water; Thames the smooth or still water. More interesting still is the fact that not only rivers and towns, but even whole countries, away in the far East, are found to possess pure 'Celtic name-’, which, when translated, give an exact idea of their peculiari ties or qualities. Thus the name Italy is made up of two Celtic words, which, without hardly straining the modern spelling, give an exact idea of the principal quality of the country. These words are, in their correct Gaelic dress, 1th and talamh— the first signifying corn, and the latter signifying land, pro nounced as nearly as possible as the name is pronounced to day, and of course meaning the Land of Corn or Corn Land— a most appropriate name. Examples similar to the foregoing might be quoted ad infinitum. We might go still farther east, and take the names of the most eminent ancient cities, and we shall find them to be purely Celtic. Tadmor, Tyre, Sidon, Palmyra, and Baalbec, would seem to an untutored Connaught man names of towns that ought to be in Mayo or Connemara, so entirely Celtic are they. Let us take Palmyra ns an exam ple. It is made up of two words that exist precisely in the same form in the modern Irish language, and are Pal, signify ing a palace or cofirt, and muire, meaning pleasure or enjoy ment. Thus we have the palace of pleasure, or pleasure court— a most appropriate name for Palmyra in its palmy days, we may be certain. To come nearer home, the Gaelic name for Scotland is Albain* formed from the roots a/,p, a lump or pro tuberance, but more generally meaning a mountain, and lain— pronounced in this instance without the t, because immediately preceded by a consonant—signifying a region or country. Thus we have fully expressed the exact characteristic of Scotland, the land of mountains. The English, acting in accordance with their natural habit of taking what does not belong to them, have appropriated this name for their own country, but Eng land was never known by the name of Albion to the ancients. Britain is the only name we ever find applied to England by the Romans, or by ancient writers of every nationality. We trust that the foregoing remarks will be sufficient to show those of our readers who have never had either the time or desire to study the subject, that the old and, we are sorry to say, fast-fading language of Erin is amongst the very oldest, and was once amongst the most widely spread, tongues of the earth. From the Indus to the Shannon it is stereotyped for ever on hill, river, and valley. It is more than probable, for it is nearly certain, that the men who first raised cities on the plains of Asia Minor, by the still waters of the Mediterranean, and under the burning sun of Africa, belonged to the Celtic race, and spoke the language of the Gael. They called some of these cities Carthage, Cairo, Kars, Carnac—in every one of which we can trace the Celtic root Cathar, pronounced Kafir, signifying seat or city. In hundreds of other names of obscure places in the East we find the Celtic root, upon which the name is formed, and we are carried back in imagination to pre-his toric times before the many polished languages of antiquity existed, and when a great Gaelic mother tongue overspread vast regions of the earth. Many may think that this groping into the dark, unillumed regions of the past, as nothing more than loss of time ; that the endeavor to decipher the rude le gend traced on the ruder pillar-stone or monolith is mere waste of labor. They tell us there is more in the smallest steani engine than in all the mammoth pyramids of the Pharaohs, or all the colossal temples of Carnac. Perhaps there is ; but what mere machines would we soon become if we turned our attention solely to the things practical. We think none the less, but rather the more, of the wondrous inventions of the present, when we look upon them side by side with the rude implements of the past. We feel more delight in gazing at a modern steamsLip, when we compare it with the frail or un shapely canoe disentombed from the morass where it had lain for centuries. The study of the old and the imperfect does not necessarily estrange us from what is modern and complete, but rather makes us the more thankful for them. There is too much of the practical, and too little of the poetic, in modern life, especially in America. People can be too unsentimental, as well as too sentimental, and may easily fall into the error of thinking too little of the past. To sustain national aspira tions, not only a love, but a deep reverence for the past, is ab solutely necessary. Was it not the Greece of antiquity that gave life to the Greece of to-day? Men will never know how many modern martyrs have been made by the stories of Ther mopylae and Marathon. Even in America, young as it is, Washington has become the parent of many martyrs. We pity the people that have no heroes or history. Dark and dreary as the history of Ireland has been for centuries, stars of intense brightness are seen at intervals. It is because we have not loved their light enough that we are not free to-day. The Irishman who takes no interest in the language of Hugh O’Neill and Sarsfield must not feel offended when foreigners call him an Englishman, and deride his ideas of a distinct nationality. The dimness, the imperfect light about ancient Irish subjects, has been a prime obstacle in the wav of Irish regeneration. This dimness is solely the result of fire and sword. The Danes, the Norman, and the Puritan followers of Cromwell, loved to sack colleges and to burn books. They knew, like the modern con querors of India and China, that every vestige they left of the refinement or civilization of their victims would be a witness against them to all time. Enough, however, was spared to testify against them, and the people of Ireland can be made all the more patriotic and noble by the study of everything con nected with their country aud their race. [to he continued in our next.] * Some maintain that the true nominative of this word is Alba, and that Albain is merely its genitive form. -- Distinguished Alliance.—The following “ marriage” has been inserted in a Durham paper, without the slightest suspi cion being aroused by its date : “ At Burton, 1st instant, the Count, de la Terriere, of Howlton Hall, near Barking, to Tabitha Falicia, youngest daughter of Mr. Thomas Pussey Catt, form erly of Catterick Bridge, Yorkshire.” Nothing like Toddy.—Juvenile Scotchman loquitur.— “ Jolly day we had last week at MeFoggarty’s wedding ! Capital champagne he gave us, and we did it justice. I can tell you.” Scotia Senix (who prefers whiskey) in reply—u Eh—h, man, it’s a’ vera weel weddings at ye-er time o’ life. Gie me a gude solid funeral.” SPIRIT OP THE PRESS. England Preparing for Invasion, From London Times of April 20. An old Irish chieftain, when taunted with the defencelessness of his country, replied that he preferred a castle of bones to a castle of stones, meaning that he would rather trust to the strong arms of his followers than rely upon blocks of brute masonry for protection. There is something to be said for each of these defences, and most, perhaps, for that which Irish men preferred. Bones are better than stones if there are but enough of them ; it is when men are lacking that fortifications become useful. Sixty years ago we in this country placed our reliance chiefly upon men, and when an invasion was expected we enrolled vast armies of Militia and Volunteers for the pro tection of the kingdom. Not that we altogether neglected the resource of fortification, for we dug the Hythe Canal at a fa bulous cost, and we built Martello Towers all along our coasts. But it was generally understood that, if any enemy ever landed, the issue must be tried in the open field, and fought out through a hard campaign. It is curious at the present time to read the calculations and arrangements which were made at the beginning of the century with reference to the prospect of an invasion. The Government of that day did not blink the question. They relied in the first place, as we rely still, upon the protection of the Fleet. They hardly believed that any enemy could suc ceed in crossing the Channel and effecting a landing, but they took measures, nevertheless, against this not impossible con tingency. In the event of actual invasion, the Court and the archives were to be at once removed to Worchester as a place of comparative security, and then our armies were to take the field, and fight out the war. It was not expected to be a short war, nor was any particular operation looked upon as de cisive. Perhaps Bonaparte might take London, perhaps not; but, whatever he did, he would have to fight, not only once, but over and over again, all the way from the Thames to the Trent and from the Trent to the Tyne. For the rest, and for the upshot of the war, wo relied upon our invincible resolu tion and patriotism. In the present day all these things, except the national spirit, are totally changed. It is no longer imagined that an invader would dream of subjugating the country bit by bit, like William the Conqueror. If any enemy were ever to land, he would make at once either for London or Portsmouth, and after fight ing one decisive battle would, in the event of victory, dictate his terms of peace. With Portsmouth in an enemy’s hands, our naval power, it is thought, would be gone ; with London occupied by an invader, the whole elaborate machinery and organization of the State would at once collapse. How far these calculations are accurate or complete we do not propose to inquire. We can only say that this is the conception of modem warfare. A Koniggratz in the Channel, a landing in Sussex or Hampshire, a great battle in Surrey, followed by the occupation of Portsmouth or London, and then a capitulation, the whole being over in ten days or a fortnight—this, suppos ing things to go against England, is the modern idea of the campaign, and tlie object, therefore, of modern strategists is to provide against such a catastrophe. We want to make our selves safe for a fortnight. If we can do that, it is believed that we should be safe altogether, so strangely has the aspect of the question changed. We have this week published two interesting Reports, the purport of which is to show that our object will soon be at least half attained. Portsmouth will be sale for a fortnight; probably, indeed, for a much longer time. The fortifications of that arsenal are not, indeed, yet complete, but much has been done, and when the whole design has been accomplished the works may be regarded as almost impregnable. Nor is Ports mouth the only place to be thus protected. All our Arsenals and Dockyards will be secured in a similar manner, and, if we may measure performance by expenditure, half at least of the whole work has been already done. The total estimated cost was as nearly as possible 7,000,0002.; the total expenditure up to the beginning of this year has been as nearly as possible 3,500,0Uu2. This,however, is irrespective of armament, which will cost nearly 2,000,0002. more. But then the economy of men will be very great. For all these works and all these defences some 20,000 infantry aud 10,000 artillerymen are expected to suffice—a force which our present establishments ought easily to furnish. We have 30,000 Artillery belonging to the Regular Army, besides 31 regiments of Militia Artillery, and nearly 30, 000 Artillery Volunteers. We are not, therefore, undertaking too much, or building more forts than we can garrison. On the contrary, the very object of these defences is to enable a small force to do the work of a large one. If our great Dock yards were to be protected by moveable troops only, prodigious armies must be kept in the field. It used to be argued with some show of reason that fortifica tions were useless, inasmuch as an enemy would simp:y leave them alone. If, for instance, we succeeded in rendering a cer tain part of our coast absolutely inaccessible to an invader, that would be a fair warning to him to give that place a wide berth, and effect his landing elsewhere. We could never at tempt to fortify the whole circuit of the island, and unless we did so the enemy would simply select the points where defences were lacking. But this reasoning, though sound enough in itself, has no application to the system of fortifications which has been now adopted. If these defences do turn an enemy aside, they will answer exactly the purpose for which they are designed. Our very object is to make Portsmouth Plymouth, and Chatham uninviting points for uttack. According to the modern theory of the subject, an enemy must needs attack such points or none, so that it they can be rendered impregnable even lor a comparatively short time there would be nothing for an iuvader to win. An enemy, to be successful, must seize a vital point within a few days of his first landing, and, therefore, the theory of national defence consists in so protecting all vital poims that such a seizure may be impossible. Yet, according to this view, there would be a very weak point in our armour still. We only said that our objects would soon be half at tained. Though we have fortified our Dockyards, we have not fortified London, and the unwelcome conclusion of our Report will doubtless have been remarked—that exactly in proportion as we render Portsmouth impregnable will the efforts of an enemy be concentrated on the metropolis itself. An invader might take his choice between Loudon and Portsmouth ; if we put Portsmouth out of his reach, he must needs fall upon Lon don. Complimentary.—Mrs. Ritenour, a Lafayette (Ind.) woman, recently divorced, publishes a card about her husband, in which she calls him a “a perambulating dunghill.”