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xvi INTRODUCTION
and increase the above-mentioned impetus was, and is, a main
object of this work.
The foregoing is not written by way of apology. A subject which
is not only so captivating a science, but also the most humanising
of all sciences, or at least closely akin thereto, requires none ; as
from an intimate relationship with our lower fellow-creatures we
are supplied with many of our finest associations of tenderness,
and thus advanced in the scale of humanity and civilisation, their
society seems to temper man's natural injustice, and tone down
his innate ferocity or inhumanity to his fellow-men.
In undertaking the compilation and issuing of such a work, I
am fully alive to the possibility of some people saving that it can
only be characterised as misdirected philanthropy and misapj)lied
industry. With all due deference to individual opinions, this does
not trouble me. I have felt, like many others before me, that the
dry bones of Celtic indifference need more awakening, and if I am
to be of any use in assisting to do so, I must have strong convic-
tions, and not only have, but })ut them into pi'actice. In this
"process of wakening" every true Celt at least should enter
apjiearance and take a hand, showing that he or she has practical
convictions ; it is demanded from them, and though the effect of
want of immediate success may be depressing and dispiriting,
patience must be exei'cised and profound faith. If the work is
good, as I strongly consider it to be, it is bound to bear good fruit
sooner or later ; this has been well evidenced, even indeed within
the last fifty jears.
My department in such a work may be characterised or
described as belonging to a species of the Celtic natural historian,
to whose work there is no limit, whose functions are to hoard or
collect material for a more comprehensive and special work or
works on the respective subjects, to follow, it is hoped, some day ;
and this rather than the seeking to assist or guide people having
more intimate acquaintance with, and knowledge of, the various
subjects themselves. In the very numerous works on natural
history, even in English, that is already done ad infinitum, but I
take the liberty of stating that my idea of the painfully systematical
arrangement or arrangements is, that it is not only to a great
extent useless, but injurious in its would-be precision. These at
least are my convictions. To deal here with the science of natural
history would be ridiculous and out of place, if not injurious and
presumptuous. Such research being far removed from the oi'dinary
business of life precludes it being looked at even, much less engag-
ing the notice of the average man or woman of the world, though
from being so closely akin to our own existence, and so connected
with our animal wants, natural history should claim and receive
the attention at least of even the most indifferent, ignorant, or
careless, while appealing to the most cultivated and refined. In
support of the statement that natural history is akin to our own

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