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have a merit that translations rarely possess. Were it not for the Roman imagery, tbat is fometimes injudiciously retained, no one, unacquainted with the originals, would fúspect that Hammond wrote not from his immediate feelings. To fay that • it would be hard to find in all his productions three stanzas that deserve to be remembered,' is certainly the height of prejudice. The Doclor forgets, that although at his time of life the subject of a love elegy may be totally uninteresting, it is not the case with every one, and we douðt not that at a cer. tain period there are those who read them with greater avi. dity than even “ LONDON," or "the VANITY OF HUMAN WISHES,"
Dr. Johnson is at a loss to tell why Hammond, or other writers, have thought the quatrain of ten syllables elegiac, Tle character of elegy, he adds, is gentleness and tenuity. So long as some of the most violent and impetuous of the passions are the subjects of elegy, so long will this be an imperfect and mistaken definition.
The next life that offers itself is that of Collins : a writer whose imperfections and peculiarities are lost in the blaze of genius. But hear what Dr. Johnson fays— His diction was often harh, unskilfully laboured, and injudiciously selected, He affected the obsolete when it was not worthy of revival; and he puts his words out of the common order, seeming to think, with some later candidates for fame, that not to write prose is certainly to write poetry. His lines commonly are of flow motion, clogged and impeded with clusters of consonants. As men are often esteemed who cannot be laved, so the poetry of Collins may sometimes extort praise when it gives little pleafure.
[To be continued.]
Stanhope shall come and grace bis rural friend,
And for her husbaod's patron cull the best.
Huc veniet Meffala meus, cui dulcia
Delia selectis detrahet arboribus:
ART. III. An Enquiry into the Authenticity of the Poems afcribed to
Offian. By W. Shaw, A. M. F. S. A. Author of the Galic
, 1.480.were entertained of their authenticity: and notwithstanding
Dr. Blair produced a number of strong and explicit teftimonies to support the credit both of the author and the translator, yet there were some sturdy" sceptics, who with little ceremony pronounced them to be forgeries, and hesitated not to declare publickly, that Osian and Macpherson were the fame.
This declaration received great support from the well-known deci. fion of a very eminent writer, who reasoning on the improbability of such poems having been preserved through so many ages by tradition only, boldly pronounced their preservation, imporfible.
What intrinfic beauties the poems of Ofian may possess, is no object of the present enquiry. Their merit, as compofitions, is however, with us, the principal reason for supposing them to be, in a great degree at least, the production of a « bard of modern times.” The belief of their being genuine hath been indeed declining of late very faft; and it is the design of the present pamphlet to destroy it entirely. To effect this, it was necessary to weaken the internal evidence, and totally to invalidate the testimonies adduced in favour of the authenticity of Olian by Dr. Blair. [Vid. the “ Appendix” to his elegant “ Dissertation."]
Mr. Shaw's knowledge of the Galic language is undoubtedly very great; and the proofs he hath afforded of it are incontera table. In this view he is peculiarly calculated to investigate the present subject with the accuracy and precision of the critic andscholar. What others have conjectured, he hath proved : and particular detection hath given credit to general suspicion. 'I profess myself, says this Author, to be an enquirer after truth.
... Truth bath always been dearer to me than my country; nor pall I ever support an ideal national bonour founded on an impofture, though it were to my hindrance. I can thew Dr. Johnson, that there is one Scotchman who loves truth better than his country, and that I am a furdy enough moralift to declare it, though it should mortify my Caledonian vanity. I think proper to speak in this clear and open manner, and prefix my name, because I know that some men imagine there is no moral turpitude in anonymously publishing one thing in a pamphlet, whilst they think and believe the contrary,'
When the authenticity of the poems of Offian was first called in question, the pretended original manuscript was said to
have been left, for the space of fix weeks, at Mr. Becket's hop, for the inspection of the curious. This MS. however never seen by any person, who was capable of reading it. If any MS., at all was left with the publisher, just by way of a blind to the credulous, Mr. Shaw conjectures that it might have been some Irish MS. * and this conjecture is strengthened by a very singular circumstance which will be related hereafter. At all events it could not be a MS. of the poems of Ollian : ' for it is very well known (says Mr. Shaw) that the Earse dialect of the Galic was never written nor printed, until Mr. Macfarlane, late minister of Killinver, Argyleshire, published in 1754, a translation of Baxter's Call to the Unconverted. Since his time there have been some songs and books of piety printed. This I can easily prove, because no Earse MS. ever or can be produced. And although che Pfalms of David, and Confession of Faith, have been translated into Galic, it is well known that it is neither the Earse spelling nor dialect; but written in the life Galic. It was first published in 1694, and was versified by the Synod of Argyle; but the best executed psalms are allowed to be done by the Romilh clergy of the North of Ireland.'
Mr. Shaw quotes a passage from Col. Valancey's Irish Grammar, to prove that Mr. Macpherson, inftead of translating from the Galic into English, hath on the contrary translated his own English into Galic. From this remarkable detection, Mr. Shaw shrewdly hints, that if ever Mr. Macpherson intends to publish a Galic version, he would do well to attend to the true orthography of the old Galic; especially if he wishes to continue the imposture.'
We must not pretend to pursue this Writer in his attempts to overthrow the credit of Ollian from internal evidence; nevertheless we cannot quit this part of the subject without presenting our Readers with the following very curious remark:
· The mythology of the Poems of Onian hath been raised entirely on the fuperftition of the second fight, heightened by poetry, and the stories of ghosts, apparitions, &c. &c. so common in the fifteenth century, which Mr. Macpherson so much affects to despise: but to which, however, he is indebted for all the materials he had.
The other great fpirits to which allusions sometimes are made, is nothing less nor more chan.the common Highland idea of the devil, who is believed to raise every storm, and go abroad with it. All these notions are still prevalent in the mountains, and a proper part of a mythology. In short, the whole machia
A manuscript was certainly left with Mr. Becket; who declares that several persons called to examine ii; and that he heard none deny iis authenticity,
nery is nothing but the superstition of the Highlands, poetically embellished.
· The Spirit of Loda is ingeniously translated from Ireland into a Scandinavian God, taken from a tale, called Muirarlach mor Laiahan. Mr. Macpherfon, not perhaps knowing that Laidhan was the Irith name of Leinsler, turns it to Loda, and calls it a part of Scandinavia. The tale makes Muirarlach a fort of monster, and sometimes a knight errant engaging a windmill, and then a giant ftriding from bill to hill across Erin. It afforded, however, to an author a good hint; and Mr. Macpherson accordingly conjured it to the Spirit of Loda. This tale is common in the Highlands to this day.'
The Author of this Enquiry, after having observed how easy it is to produce a poem with such Galic epithets, as blue-eyed; white bojom'd, dark-brown hair, &c. and having translated a Atanza of it into Earse, to impose the whole for an original of “ other times" on the credulous and ignorant reader, relates a very singular fact to strengthen his affertion, viz. that in this manner a collection was made up and published at Edinburgh, three years ago by Mir. Clarke, entitled The Caledonian Bards. It was reviewed in London, and adduced as an argument for the genuineness of Fingal. Mr. Clarke, when I charged him with it, confised that it was entirely made up! One of the poems of that collection is happily set off with the title of The Words of IVoe. The author told me, that all he had for the ground-work of it was a song called furram na truaidhe, composed on a late emigration of the Highlanders to America. In she same manner the rest of the collection was made up
After an examination of the internal evidence of the authenricity of the poems ascribed to Ollian, Mr. Shaw proceeds to the examination of external testimony ; on this head he is full, clear, and explicit.
Mr. Smith, the ingenious author of “Galic Antiquities" published last year, hath afured us, that “ Mr. Macpherson “ hath always been readiet to shew his originals to the best “ judges.” This affertion Mr. Shaw flaily denies : and then observes with respect to himself, that Mr. Macpherson had often promised him a light of those pretended originals, but never could be induced, after application to him at lix different times, to fulfil his promise. There was always some apology made ;-the MSS. were at his house in the country, or milaid; or the key was loft; or I thould see them fome other time. Why did he promise to thew them? And since he promised, why not shew them? Let the Public draw inferences. This is true. Let Mr. Macpherson contradict it if he can.'
* Mr. Clarke hath just published an Answer :o Mr. Shaw's Enquiry ;-which we have not yet perused.
Mr. Shaw informs us, that in the year 1778 he set out from London for the Highlands and Hebrides to collect materials for his Dictionary. Every where he made the most anxious enquiries about the poems of Ofian, and with infinite solicitude fought for fone of the originals, in order, if poffible, to remove the scepticism of his friend Dr. Johnson, respecting their au. thenticity, by attefled copies. But his enquiries were to no pure pose. He was mortified at his ill success, and he who glowed with ambition to convert Dr. Johnson, became himself an unbeliever !
. When I travelled, says Mr. Shaw, into the Highlands, I made it my bufiness to see as many as resided in the country of chole gentlemen whose names Dr. Blair hath made use of. Mr. Donald Macqueen, minister of Kilimuir in the Isle of Sky, is the first name who vouches for Mr. Macpherson's translation being “a literal one”, and “ that the original was re" peated by numbers in every part of the Highlands.” This is the learned minifter who chose to be filent when interrogated on this subject by Dr. Johnson; and although he gave his fignature to Dr. Blair, as a voucher for their authenticity, to my certain knowledge, he is not in poffeffion of a line of the originals; although long in search of them, he wilhed to procure me some, but knew not how......
• Mr. Donald Macleod, minister of Glenelg, I think, lodged Mr. Macpherson in his journey. He hath vouched also fur the authenticity ; yet though I challenged him to produce three lines of the original, he could not fhew one.
• Mr. Niel Macleod, one of the ministers of Mull, vouched, but could not, although defirous of it, favour me with one line. He sent for different people, who he thought were poffe fred of them, but they produced only the composicions of the fifteenth century.
• Mr. Macaulay, chaplain to the 88th regiment, is mentioned also as a voucher. He knows just as much of the poems as his above brethrea. I have conversed with Mr. Macaulay on the subject.'
The other testimonies in Dr. Blair's Appendix, are all quertioned; or directly confuced by our Author: and he boldly challenges the gentlemen whose names he mentions, to disprove bis affertions, or to make good their own.
Mr. Smith in his Defence of the Authenticity of Oslian, mentions “ Professor Macleod of Glasgow as a person who was allowed to compare some books of the original with the tranfJation :” and yet, fays Mr. Shaw, in a conversation with me in London, who promised to purchase any number of lines, not under fix, at the rate of two shillings and fixpence each word, he could neither repeat a fyllable, nor undertake to procure from