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«* National Library of Scotland ■■jin B000157358*. V POEMS OF OSSIAN, IN THE ORIGINAL GAELIC, WITH A LITERAL TRANSLATION INTO LATIN, BY THE LATE ...»

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“ Great many of the poems, translated by Mr. Macpherson, chiefly relate to Fingal’s exploits in Ireland, AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’S POEMS. 537 and upon the north and west coast of Scotland. The rapid progress which the Saxon language made in the low country, from the days of Malcolm Ceanmore, not only rooted out the Gaelic language in that part of the country, but has also with it, no doubt, occasioned the loss of many of Ossian’s poems; there are still, however, fragments in the same translation, where frequent mention is made of Fingal’s exploits upon the banks of Carron, in the county of Stirling.

“ Beneath the voice of her king, we moved to Crona (a small rivulet which discharged itself into the river Carron,) of the streams, Toscar, or"grassy Lutha, and Ossian young in fields. Three bards attended with songs. Three bossy shields were born before us, for we were to rear the stone in memory of the past. By Crona’s mossy course, Fingal had scattered his foes; we had rolled away the strangers like a troubled sea.” “ Herodian, Dio, and other writers make mention of the Emperor Severus having passed the two walls, and fought in person with the Caledonians and their leader, which very probably may have been Fingal, and perhaps the above poem relates to that part of the history. It cannot, however, be imagined, that Fingal, who at that time, anno 207, was chief of the Caledonians, could have remained inactive,when such a powerful army was at hand : and indeed it appeared that the invasion of Severus had such an effect upon the Caledonians, that they sent ambassadors to sue for peace, which was rejected. The consequence was, that a bloody engagement commenced, in which

538 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

the Caledonians proved victorious, and the emperor returned with the loss of many thousands of men.

“ The Romans again made another effort against the Caledonians, under their leader Caracalla. Fingal met them upon the banks of Carron, where a battle ensued, in which the Romans were again defeated with considerable loss.

“ Selma in Morven, which is said to have been Fingal's chief I'esidence, is only about sixty computed miles distant from Glen Almon, and Ossian, Fingal’s son, would, no doubt, continue to rouse the army after his father’s death, by his martial example and warlike song ; and probably chose to have his residence near the spot where there was the greatest danger: the Roman camp, the forts and tumuli nigh to Clach-Ossian, are evident proofs that this part of the country, was the scene of action, so early as the time when the Romans came into this part of the island.

“ Besides what is above related, it may not be improper here to take notice, that it is the opinion of several respectable clergymen and others, in the neighbourhood of Glen Almon, that the stone in question was known by the name of Clach-Ossian, beyond the memory of any living person; and indeed the names of places nigh the spot, will, in some instances, serve as further proofs; upon the other side of the Almon, and not far distant from the camp, is a small village named Fian-Theach, i. e. Fingal s thatch-house, or hall; and at the west end of Loch Fraochy, is a place named Dall-Chillin, or Fingal’s burial-place. Whether this was Fingal’s burial-place, AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 539 or not, shall be left to the determination of the Gaelic critics.

“ The many caves which we find in the Highlands, and which to this day, are said to be caves for the giants to reside in, are with them strong proofs for the authority of their fables, whereas it is evident, that those caves were places of safety, in ancient times, when pursued by their enemies, or probably for places of residence, as we find is the case in Iceland, and many other countries even to this period ;

where the inhabitants live in caves, or dens, under rocks and under ground, which are not only the most proper places for security from their enemies, but are likewise better adapted for their preservation from voracious animals, with which Scotland abounded, at a period so early as the days of Ossian.

This country being at that time over-run with woods, afforded shelter to wolves and bears, enemies to the human race, and they had no other place of safety for their residence, but either in their caves, or upon the tops of the hills. Hence it is, that there are few hills in the Highlands, but what have to this day, vestiges of castles and houses; and which, in conformity to the formerly received notion of giants’ caves, are called Giants' castles, or the Fians’ castles, which may be easily understood to be castles possessed in the Fingalian age, or age of giants, or mighty warriors.

I have farther learned, that when Ossian’s stone was moved, and the coffin containing his supposed remains discovered, it was intended, by the officer commanding the party of soldiers employed on the military road, to let the bones remain within the

540 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

stone sepulchre, in the same position in which they were found, until General Wade should come and see them, or his mind be known on the subject. But the people of the country, for several miles around, to the number of three or four score men, venerating the memory of the bard, rose with one consent, and carried away the bones, with bag-pipes playing, and other funeral rites, and deposited them, with much solemnity, within a circle of large stones, on the lofty summit of a rock, sequestered, and of difficult access, where they might never more be disturbed by mortal feet or hands, in the wild recesses of the western Glen Almon. One Christie, who is considered as the Cicerone and antiquarian of Glen Almon, and many other persons yet alive, attest the truth of this fact, and point out the second sepulchre of the son of Fingal.” The topographic scenes of Fingal and his warriors, might have been extended to a considerable length, had the limits of our plan permitted. There are many other interesting communications, from various districts of the Highlands, on this subject, inserted in Sir John Sinclair’s valuable work, entitled “ Statistical Account of Scotland,” which might have been, with equal propriety, selected. Much is still to be done, in this respect, by the learned clergy of Scotland, and by travellers, or other persons combining local knowledge with a spirit of research and »eal for preserving the antiquities of their country.





\ s/ r //? cy- fytjtsz/t t,t c t S/cw

–  –  –

It is fortunately in our power to lay before our readers a specimen of the music to which some parts of the poems of Ossian were formerly sung. It was transmitted to Sir John Sinclair by the Reverend John Cameron, minister of the parish of Halkirk, in the county of Caithness, who had learned it from a very old man in his parish many years ago, and who was accustomed to sing some of the poems of Ossian to that tune, with infinite delight and enthusiasm.

Every connoisseur in music will at once see, that the tune, from its simplicity, wildness, and peculiar structure, must be an ancient composition. The bass is added to it by Mr. Corri of Edinburgh.

There are many more of these tunes handed down with the poems, which are equally worthy of being laid before the public; hut the Committee deem it sufficient to insert in this work only one specimen.

[ 543 ] Brief Notices of Books which treat of the Celtic, Gaelic, Irish, and Welsh Languages, Antiquities, Manners, and Customs ; also of Gaelic and Irish MSS. still existing in Great Britain and Ireland.

Those having an asterick* prefixed are quoted in Sir John Sinclair’s Dissertation, Vol. I.—Those with this mark t are quoted in Mr.

M‘Arthur’s Notes to Cesarotti’s Dissertation, or in the Supplemental Observations; and when the two marks are prefixed, they indicate being quoted both in the Dissertation and Supplemental Observations.

Le Rosier Historial de France, contenant par maniere de chronique and par annees distinctes les faits et gestes des Franfois, des Anglois, des Ecossois, des Espagnols, et autres dignes de memoire, depuis Pharamond premier Roi de Franpois, jusqu’ en 1517. Paris 1522 in folio. A copy printed on vellum, with portraits, was in Mons.

Gaignat’s library at Paris before the Revolution.

* t The History of Scotland to the death of James I. in 17 books, by Hector Boethius. It was originally written in Latin, and the first edition was printed in folio at Paris, in 1526.—It was translated into the Scottish language by John Ballanden, Archdeacon of Murray, who died at Rome in 1550.—Another edition in Latin, with the 18th, and part of the 19th, book, was printed in folio at Sausan, in 1574.

This work was afterwards carried down to the end of the reign of James III. by J. Ferrerius, a native of Piedmont, and it was published in English by R. Holinshed, in his English Chronicles, Vol. 1.

London, 1577. The style of Boethius has been remarked “ to have all the purity of Caesar’s, and is so nervous, both in the reflection and (diction, that he seems to have absolutely entered into the gravity of Livy, and made it his own.” English and Welsh Dictionary, by Wm. Salesbury, was first privately presented to King Henry VIII, (the author’s kind patron) and afterwards printed, London, 1545.—4to.

544 BOOKS WHICH TREAT OF THE CELTIC

t Description of the Western Isles of Scotland, by Donald Monro, High Dean of the Isles. In this work there is an accurate account of the language, manners, and customs of the Highlanders, from observations made in the Dean’s tour through the Isles in 1549. This work is often quoted by George Buchannan and other writers ; and Bishop Nicolson, in his Scottish Historical Library, printed in 1736, quotes from the MS.—An edition of this work was published at Edinburgh in 1774.

f Ecclesiasticae Historiae Gentis Anglorum libri quinque, Beda AnglorumSaxone Authore. Ecclesiastical History of Britain, by Bede.

Antwerp, 1550.—Another edition was printed at Cologn in 1601. It was printed in folio with the Saxon version, attributed to King Alfred, with notes by Abraham Theloc, at Cambridge, in 1644, and at Paris, 1681, in 4to. with the notes of Francis Chifflet.—There was an edition published by G. Smith, at Cambridge, in 1722, with notes and dissertations. This author flourished in the middle of the 7th century, and Baylc observes, that there is scarce any thing in all antiquity worthy to be read which is not to be found in Bede, though he travelled not out of his own country; and that if he had flourished in the times of St. Augustine, Jerome, or Chrysostom, he would undoubtedly have equalled them, since even in the midst of a superstitious age, he wrote so many excellent treatises.

+ Scoti-chronicon, by John Fordun, the Father of Scottish History.

This author flourished in the 14th century. In his history there are some curious and valuable particulars, which have been quoted by subsequent historians, among which may be classed the Salutation of the Highland Bard, or Genealogist, at the coronation of Alex. III.

in 1249, cited by Skinner in his Ecclesiastical History, and noticed in p. 305, Supplemental Observations.—A MS. on vellum of this historian is in the library of the University of Edinburgh.

^ De Historia Gentis Scotorum, seu Historia Majoris Britannia:.

Jo. Major. Paris, 1521, 4to. This author was born at Haddington, in Scotland, in 1469, and went to study at Paris in 1493. In 1505 he was created Doctor in Divinity, and returned to Scotland in 1519, and taught theology for several years in the University of St. Andrews. In 1530 he was chosen Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews, where he afterwards became Provost, and is said to have died about 1547.

LANGUAGE, CUSTOMS, AND ANTIQUITIES. 545 Histoire memorabile des Expeditions faitespar lesGaulois, depuis le Deluge, tant en France qu’en Asie et autres parties du monde, le tout en bref et epitome, pour montrer arec quels moyens PEmpire des Infideles peut et doit par eux etre defait; par Guil. Postel. Paris, 1552, in 12mo. This work is very curious and scarce. It is divided into two parts : the first treats of the Gauls from the remotest periods;

the second part is an apology for the Gauls against their detractors, and contains an account of the ancient rites and usages of the Gaulish people.

* f The Palice of Honour, by Gawin Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld.

This is a most ingenious poem, under the similitude of a vision ; in which the author delineates the vanity of inconstancy of all worldly glory. Among other works of this author, we have a translation of Virgil’s rEneis into Scottish verse, every book having its particular prologue, printed in 1553, London, 4to. and reprinted atEJin. 1710, in folio. In 1515 Gawin Douglas was appointed Bishop of Dunkeld, and in 1522 died in London of the plague, and was buried in the Savoy.

De Prisca Celto-paidea Joan Piccardus, 1556, 4to.

* The poetical Works of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, Lion King at Arms in Scotland, under James V. containing the Dreme, or Marvellous Vision, the Complaynt, the Satyre of the Three Estates, and other poems. His works were first printed in 4to. and 12mo. in 1558, about one year after his death, and between that period and 1631 twelve English and Scottish editions were printed; among the subsequent editions, one was published by Mr. Pinkerton, and another by Mr. Sibbald. There has been recently printed a new edition of Lyndsay’s Works, with a Life of the Author, Prefatory Dissertations on the Chronology, and various editions of his poems.—Philological Enquiries respecting the Teutonic language of Scotland, &c.

and an appropriate Glossary, by George Chalmers, Esq. in 3 vols.

12mo. Lyndsay is much admired for the ease and elegance of his versification, and for his morals, satires, and general learning.

+ Chronica Anglite, Scotiae, et Hibcrniie.—The English, Scottish, and Irish Chronicles, containing an historical description of the Island of Britain, in 3 books, by Wm. Harrison. u The Historic of England, from the time it was first inhabited until the time it was last conquered,” by R. Holinshed. u The Description, Conquest, Inhabitation, and Troublesome Estate of Ireland,” by Richard Stanehurst. “ The vol. in. Nn

546 BOOKS WHICH TREAT OF THE CETLIC



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