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The Seventeenth Annual Assembly of the Society was held in the Music Hall, on Thursday evening, 11th July, 1889. There was a crowded and fashionable attendance, and the gathering was one of the most successful ever held under the auspices of the Society. The platform as usual presented a background of Highland weapons and armour, relieved by shrubs, heather, and tartans, amid which might here and there be seen stags' heads, and wild birds and animals; the whole harmonising into an exceedingly tasteful and appropriate picture.
Sir Henry C. Macandrew, Provost of Inverness and Chief of the Society, presided ; and he was supported on the platform by Major Rose of Kilravock ; Mr Reginald Macleod of Dunvegan ; Colonel W. Gostwyck Gard, late 91st Highlanders ; Captain Chisholm of Glassburn; Colonel Hector Mackenzie, Inverness ; Rev. Father Bisset, Fort-Augustus ; Rev. Mr Campbell, Glen-Urquhart; Rev. Mr Sinton, Dores; Rev. Mr Macdonald, Daviot; Rev. Mr Maclennan, Laggan ; Mr D. Fraser of Millburn; Lieutenant Colonel Alex. Macdonald, I.H.R V., Portree ; Mr Kennard, Tormore; Mr James Fraser, Mauld ; Mr Alex. Macpherson, banker, Kingussie ; Mr D. Cameron, Moniack ('astle ; Mr A. Macbain, M.A., Raining's School ; Mr Alex. Mackenzie, of the Scottish Highlander ; Bailie Stuart, Inverness ; Bailie Mackenzie, Silverwells ; Mr Colin Chisholm, Namur Cottage ; Mr R. Maclean, factor for Ardross ; ex-Bailie Mackay ; Mr H. V. Maccallum, Inverness ; Mr Duncan Mackintosh, Secretary of the Society; and others.
While the company were assembling, Pipe-Major Ronald Mackenzie, of the 3rd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, played a selection of Highland airs in the entrance lobby.
Shortly after eight o'clock the proceedings commenced by Mr Mackintosh, the Secretary, intimating apologies for absence from the following gentlemen :—The Mackintosh of Mackintosh ; Mr Duncan Forbes of Culloden ; Mr Lachlan Macdonald of Skaebost; Mr R. B. Finlay, M.P.; Mr C. Fraser-Mackintosh, M.P.; Mr R. C. Ferguson of Novar, M.P.; Mr Chas. Innes, solicitor; Rev. A. D. Mackenzie, Kilmorack ; Mr Wm. Mackenzie, Crofters Commission ; Mr A. D. Campbell of Kilmartin ; and others.
The Chief, who was cordially received, said he was very glad to be in his present position once again, and to open the seventeenth annual Assembly of the Gaelic Society of Inverness. He was glad to state that the Society was in a flourishing condition, active in the departments which the Society had set up for itself as the sphere of its work, and he was now in presence of an assembly which was quite as brilliant as any that had preceded it. They would see that each year the interest taken in their meeting increased ; the attractiveness of the programme kept pace with the interest taken in it, and he thought the managers of the Society had produced as interesting a programme for their entertainment as they could possibly have wished. As they were aware, the objects of the Society were to keep up the interest in the past history of their country, and the particular district of the country which was long peculiar and was to some extent yet peculiar, and which they looked back upon with so much pride. Last year it was announced that The Mackintosh of Mackintosh, who, unfortunately, was not able to be there that night-he believed very much owing to the continued illness of his wife—offered a prize of 10 guineas for an essay on the social history of the Highlands. That was a subject which peculiarly and particularly interested and occupied the attention of the Society. He regretted to say that in competition for the prize only one essay had been received. He believed the essay was worthy of the subject and well worthy of the prize that had been offered. He regretted, however, that more competitors had not come forward to offer contributions. Probably it was from the characteristic modesty of the Highlander -(laughter)—and that each man who might have wished to throw some light on the subject, thought that somebody else was more able to do so. He had no doubt the contents of the essay would be given to them by-and-bye in some shape or other. The subject was full of interest to all who loved their country, and who loved to look on what they grew from, and what they had come to. It was a subject which he had always taken a very peculiar interest in, and he felt that the more one read of what their ancestors were, the more one was inclined to be proud of belonging to the race. There was something connected with the simplicity and nobility of their manners, which could not fail to impress them. He had been lately interesting himself in a book which he had only heard of within a few weeks, although he was a somewhat diligent reader of catalogues for books containing anything relating to the past history of the Highlands. It was the journal of a man who was the pioneer of one of the influences which had more than any other tended to modify the state of the Highlands. It was the journal of Colonel Thornton, who came in 1784 to the district of Strathspey for the purpose of enjoying the scenery and sport. He fancied he was the first who came into the Highlands for this purpose. As he (Sir Henry) happened, while reading the book, to be living in the district in which Colonel Thornton had settled himself for the time, he had read the book with extreme interest. He was surprised to find that, being, as he was, a man living in the most fashionable society in London-moving in the very highest circles, for on his visit to Scotland he visited half-adozen ducal castles, and was on terms of intimacy with the great men of the country-he associated with the ordinary inhabitants of the district, and there was not a single remark to indicate that he felt himself associating with people who were not entirely his social equals. Alluding to the conditions of life in the Highlands, he points out what they would hardly have expected, that the climate was particularly agreeable and genial ; and that the Highland proprietor or Highland farmer had within the compass of his own domain everything that life required for its full enjoyment. As he had said, the main and most interesting part of the book was the silent and full acknowledgment of the courteous manners and high social and intellectual condition in which the farmers and the resident proprietors in Strathspey lived at that time. The book was also peculiarly interesting, because Col. Thornton came in contact with people who had been out in the Rebellion, and he was at the entertainment given by the Clan Macpherson on the restoration of the forfeited estates. In his concluding remarks, Sir Henry said he was glad to tell them that, in all the departments to which it had directed its attention, the Gaelic Society of Inverness had been diligent, and from the last volume of the Transactions and from the coming volumes, which they would see year after year, he had no doubt that in them a very valuable record of the history of the country would be preserved, and that the Society would leave its mark in that department of archæology and history to which it had devoted itself—(applause).
The Rev. Father Bisset, who was received with hearty cheers, delivered the following Gaelic address :-Fhir na Cathrach, mbnathan-uaisle, 'sa dhaoine-uaisle gu leir--Tha e na chleachdadh, aig gach Comunn Gailig, aig co-chruinneachadh mar so, beagan bhriathran a labhairt, ann an cainnt a Ghaidheil fhein. Tha 'n cleachdadh so ri mholadh gu mor, 's bu mhor an t-aobhar naire e mur bitheadh e air a chumail suas. Chur luchd-riaghlaidh a chochruinneachadh mhoir eireachdail, thoilichte so, mhor chomain ormsa, gun do chuir iad mu 'm choinneamh beagan bhriathran a labhairt nar lathair a nochd. Cha bu luaithe dh'aointich mi ri so dheanamh na ghabh mi 'n t-aithreachas, agus tha 'n t-aithreachas sin orm fhathast, agus innsidh mi dhiubh carson. Tha mi duilich bhi togail an uine ghoirid luachmhor a tha air a cuir a mach airson na Gailig a nochd, le na briathran tioram neobhlasda a bheir mise dhuibh an aite an oraid bhlasda, thorach, shomalta sin a gheibheadh sibh bho fhichead fear eile dheth 'n chomunn so, d'fhaodadh bhi 'n am aite-sa nochd. Ach mu 's e bhur toil e foighidinn bheag bhi agaibh, agus eisdeachd thoir dhomh, cuiridh mi uine bheag seachad a toir dhiubhsa, a Ghaidheil ghleusda ghasda, brosnachadh beag bhi fhathast, a bhith-ghabhas e, ni's Gaidhealiche agus ni's gaoliche air a Ghailig, agus air gach cleachdadh Gaidhealach a chumail suas. Cha bu luaithe chaidh ’n comunn so chuir air bonn, 'sa chaidh “Comunn Gailig Inbhirnis” thoir mar ainm air, na chaidh chuir an geill gu'n robh e'n run a chomuinn gach urra bhiubh dheanamh iomlan 'sa Ghailig- bardachd, ceol, seanachas, sgeulachd, leabhrichean, agus sgriobhannaibh 'sa Ghailig a thearnadh o dhearmad, coir is cliu nan Gaidheal a dhion, agus na Gaidheil a shoirbheachadh a ghna ge b'e ait am bi iad. Tha 'n seann-fhacal ag rath gun cuidich am Freasdal iadsa chuidicheas iad fhein ; ach. cha'n 'eil teagamh nach d'thug Comunn Gailig Inbhirnis misneach.d 'us cuideachadh do dh'iomadh Gaidheil og gu e fhein adhartachadh 's a thogail 's an t-saoghal. Tha obair luachmhor 'ga deanamh gach latha, air chul na chaidh dheanamh cheana, le coimpirean a Chomuinn so, sgaoileadh eolas air gnothuichean Gaidhleach 's a gleidheadh bardachd, sgeulachd, 'us scriobhannaibh Gailig 's na. Gaidhealtachd o' dhol air di chuimhne. Ach tha eagal orm gu'm beil moran fhathast ri dheanamh gus a chuid sin do run a Chomuinn a chuir an gniomh, tha sireadh gach aon de'n chomunn dheanamh. iomlan 'sa Ghailig. Far am beil an toil bithidh 'n gniomh, ach cha 'n 'eil an toil aig moran dheth na Gaidheal fhein suim a. ghabhail dheth 'n Ghailig leis a bheachd amaideach nach 'eil e gu. buanachd a cumail suas, nach 'eil i uasal ni's leoir, gu'm beil i gu luath a dol as, 's nach fhada bhitheas feum idir dhi. Tha cuid an