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To prove beyond the power of contradic. tion, the disingenuity as well as the gross ignorance of Mr. Shaw, on a subject which he pretends to understand better than any man liv. ing, I will lay before the reader the following facts. Mr. Mackenzie has authorised me to say, “That Mr. Shaw had seen the manuscripts in “his custody before the publication of his pamph. *let, had looked at them, and turned over the “leaves; but at that time had read only a few "words up and down in different places, but "not one complete fentence , though requested "foto do by Mr. Mackenzie at that time, “That since the publication of his painphlet, "Mr. Shaw has again seen those - manuscripts, "and again read single words in different parts: "but upon being preffed by Mr. Mackenzie, in *presence of another gentleinan; to try to read "a few sentences , he applied himself to one "page of a manuscript in verse; and after por: "ing about a quarter of an hour , he' made out · éthree lines, which related , as read aloud by “Mr. Shaw himself, to Oscar the fon of Ollian. "Upon being asked, how these lines agreed with “the doctrine of his pamphlet? Mr. Shaw an"swered, That he believed', they were the "composition of the fifteenth century, and not of «Ossian.”
The disingenuity of Mr. Shaw, is as obvious, as it is unpardonable. The manuscripts left in the possession of Mr. Mackenzie, were not pla. ced in his hands, as containing any of the origi. nals of Ofian's poems. They were only ina tended to prove, that Mr. M‘Nicol had shown to the public, that there still exlift Gaelic manuscripts written many centuries ago, in con tradiction to Dr. Johnson, who precipitately avered, that there is not a manuscript in the Highlands a hundred years old. Vide M‘Nicols Remarks on Dr. Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides, p. 1303, et. feq. . . ,'.'
. We have seen above, that his ignorance of the Gaelic is such, that he does not know what these manuscripts contain. I do not choose to follow the example of our Inquirer, by holding forth names to the public. But I am at present possessed of letters, which I am ready to show, written by a gentleman of Ireland, who is no native of Scotland, and who, I believe, never was there, lamenting that Mr. Shaw could not make use of the valuable materials , put into his hands, in Dublin, to enable him to write his Gaelic Dictionary, because he could not read. one line of the Celtic chara&ter. This gentle,
man is at present universally acknowledged to be in the first rank of Celtic literati; and his name would be sufficient to establish whatever he asserted, were I at liberty to inake use of it: This I must decline, because it is too respectable to be written on the same page with, that of Mr. Shaw.
In p. 59. He says, that he is the only Scotch many who can decypher old manuscripts; and the reason assigned is, that he learned it in Ireland. I resided there as many years, as Mr. Shaw has done weeks; and yet I have seen many in Scotland, who can decypher them much better than I can. Mr. Shaw's words are these, “I believe, I may say it without vanity, I un"derstand the language ( Celtic) as well as any “man living," p. 43. The fame bigh strain of encomium is repeatedly pronounced on his own superior knowledge; - yet the truth at last comes out, and he acknowledges his ignorance. Says he, “I rumaged Trinity - college, had dif“ferent persons in pay, who understood the cha"racters and contractions,” &c. p. 60. Very mortifying! to be obliged to hire persons for information in a language, of which he had written a Grammar and a Dictionary, and which
(a few pages back) he himself knew as well as any inan living ! But it is an old observation, that a certain class of 'men require long memories..
· Before we finish the subject of inanuscripts, it is necessary to take notice of a passage, which Mr. Shaw has quoted from Dr. Johnson's Tour to the Hebrides : f'The editor has been heard "to say, that part of the poem has been resceived by him in the Saxon charaéter. He “has then found, by some peculiar fortune, an “'unwritten language, written in a character, “which the natives probably never befield.”
• Here Dr. Johnson betrays ignorance , incompatible with his high pretensions to letters. There is not a man in Great Britain 'or Ireland, at all conversant with old manuscripts, but knows, that the Saxons, Highlanders, and Irish, wrote their different languages in the self-fame character. Whether the Irish and Highlanders had them originally from the Saxons, or the Saxons from them, is a matter of no moment. They are undoubtedly the fame ; and came originally from the Romans, who were certainly the introducers of letters into Great Britain ;
from which they were transplanted, with the Christian religion, intò Ireland. St. Patrick, who was a Scotchman, is said to have been the first who introduced letters into Ireland; and if that was the case, it is probable, that the Irish; Scotch, and Saxons, received the Roman letters through the hands of the ancient Britons.
Mr. Shaw exclaims, "I have the honour to "mention the immortal Dr. Johnson as my
friend." Had the respect, which, throughout his pamphlet, he affects to pay the Doétor, been sincere, he would not, surely, have thus introduced bim, to make him ridiculous. Mr. Shaw knew very well, that the Doctor had written without book in the above paffage. But, in place of throwing á veil over the Doctor's weak ness, he brings him forward in á mánner, at , which Mr. Shaw himself could not help laugh- ; ing; and leaves it in the power of one, born after he had written voluines, to tell hiin, that he is neither immortal nor infallible.
Í truft, it has now appeared, that Mr. Shaw has imposed upon the public in liis representation of the Gaelic manuscripts and poetry. But as the ancient, and even modern, state of