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The Authenticity of Ossian,
mile Water to be the Lubar of Ossian, referring the scene of action of the poem of “ Temora” to the banks of that river. He does not appear to have come forward again until the presentation of a petition to the House of Commons a few months back, in which he complains of the illiberality of the Highland Society, who had not sufficiently remunerated him for his labors. We learn that he has obtained his majesty's patronage, and that he will shortly publish a royal edition of the poems of Ossian-we suppose a reprint of Macpherson's translation-to which he designs prefixing a dissertation on their authenticityMr. C.'s prospectus holds out many promises—upon these we will not offer an opinion, but from our recollection of his “Ossiana,” we fear he is one of those sanguine writers who suffer probabilities to steal on their minds as proofs--who watch the appearance and seize it as the reality–who, self-confident of the excellence of their positions, seldom possess the spirit of investigation which can alone ultimately lead to conviction. The ardor of an antiquarian must be sometimes damped by disappointment, and we do not mention the following circumstance as reflecting on Mr. C.'s discernment, but as bearing in some measure upon his former statements. A report having found its way into several of the public prints, that a MS. copy of the poems of Ossian, written by a friar about three centuries ago, had been discovered amidst the ruins of the old abbey of Connor in the north of Ireland, Mr. C. was induced to visit the place a second time; his journey, however, was not attended by a fortunate result, as he found that no such MS. was in existence.
We glean from Mr. Burke's notes to his translations an account of the scenery of Ossian altogether different in some places from Mr. C.'s. Mr. Burke fixes the scene of the poems of " Temora," “ Fingal,” and “ Dar-thula,” in the barony of Inishowen, a few miles north of Derry; at the same time, he considers the scene of that poem called the “ Death of Cuthullin” to lie near the town of Antrim; and supposes the Nine-mile Water to be the Lara and not the Lubar of Ossian.* He endeavors to defend the poems from the opposition which they have met, and denies that they were either Macpherson's or founded by him on traditions which he had gathered in the Highlands, or that he modified and adapted to his own views the numerous Irish poems respecting Ossian, &c. that are
In the “ Topographia Hibernica" we find Moilena to be situated in Inishowen, near Lough Foyle;--The Lubar of Ossian flowed through the plain of Moilena.
The Authenticity of Ossian.
known to have been ages in existence. Mr. Burke is entirely of opinion that Macpherson's merit is that of having given a slovenly and imperfect translation, the errors of which he appears fully competent to detect. In reference to the Irish poems that are extant on the same subject, he remarks that they are rather confirmatory of his assertion than otherwise ; and that, considering the immediate connection which Ossian declares to have subsisted between Ireland and him, such a resemblance could not be surprising, as it was to be expected that desultory relics of his works would find their way into the compositions of after bards; but Mr. Burke will not grant them to be of the same historical authority, or to possess the same internal evidences of originality. He compares the mythology of Ossian with that of the Druids, and concludes by drawing a strong presumption that they both proceeded from the same source.
Although those gentlemen agree as to the authenticity of the poems, they differ materially in the manner of proving it. When advocates of the same side of a question urge contrary prooss it is difficult to judge-for
Who shall decide when doctors disagree? We may remark, however, that Mr. Campbell's labors have not been unrewarded, while Mr. Burke unaided by the support of power, and without any stimulus beyond the gratification of his taste, has devoted considerable attention to this subject. As our space will not permit us to enter into this topic consistently with our intentions, we will defer further disquisition to a future number, and proceed to offer a few extracts from Mr. Burke's poems- of - Temora" and “ Dar-thula.”
“ Temora," an Epic Poem, in seven cantos, is a beautiful specimen of those fragments of Celtic tradition; it is versified in the heroic measure, the construction of which Mr. Burke seems to have studied to advantage. We give the following passages, not as selected but as being accidentally open at this moment.*
They move amid the song: their arms inclin'd,
• We should, perhaps, apologize to Mr. B. for not having extracted those passages which may seem on perusal to be best executed-bat we have taken the above indiscriminately, as it is not our design to offer any critical remarks upon his work.
The authenticity of Ossian.
On Mora stands the king, in armour bright;
Now horror strides along the blood-stain'd field.
“ Dar-thula,” published last year by Mr. B. is, perhaps, a better executed Poem. It is in alternate measure, which he says he chose“ as presenting a greater freedom than the heroic couplet; and as corresponding better with the general strain of those poems, which is, for the most part, elegiac."
VOL. 1.-NO. VI.
The Authenticity of Ossian.
The following address to the Moon opens the poem:
DAUGHTER of heaven, lovely is thy reign!
In silent majesty thou dost ascend!
And through the limpid sky thy course attend.
Their dark-brown sides they brighten with thy beams.
Blithe through their valleys wind the burnish'd streams.
What light in heav'n is like thy gentle ray!-
Asham'd, they turn their sparkling eyes away!
When darkness o'er thy lovely visage grows ?
To pensive sbades, and, lonely, vent thy woes?
Who with thee cheer'd the gloomy night, no more?
Doth oft retire, in silence to deplore.
Shalt darkly leave thy blue path in the sky!
Will, then, exulting, lift their heads on high.
Look from thy gates in heav'n, thou beam divine !
That night's fair daughter un-obscurd may shine:
And ocean roll ils silver waves in light.
Their lofty heads the nightly billows rear,
The troubled ocean rolls its angry pride,
Their bounding vessel o'er the surgy tide.
Sad in the darkness of their gloomy course,
In echoing war, against the traitor's force.
In cloudy night her beauty's orient beams!
In dusky wreaths her flowing robe wide streams.-
Like the fair spirit of heav'n doth she appear ;
From gloomy Cairbar's love she now doth fly,
Of woody Etha. But the winds deny
Thy wistful eyes are turned to the shore:-
Nor that his climbing wave's loud-echoing roar.-
The lofty towers of thy foe arise!
To Tura's hay the bounding vessel flies.-
When from their course my noble heroes veer'd?
Pursuing swift the thistle's wandering beard !
Of Nathos, 'till the hills of Etha rose !
Beheld the chief returning from his foes !
Mr. Burke we believe, is preparing a corrected edition of all the poems—at least we hope so ;-should our space permit us, we will continue next month the observations we have promised in this paper.
I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee,
THERE is perhaps scarcely any part of the christian world in which civilization has done less towards the extirpation of ridiculous and superstitious traditions than in the islets of the British seas; and particularly in the isle of Man we discover a credulity which can embody the nursery tales of children into a regular system of belief, that it would be worse than