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we find them in the circle of stones, and unheeded by the world. A total disregard for the order, and utter
abhorrence of the Druidical rites enfued. Under this
cloud of public hate, all that had any knowledge of the
religion of the Druids, became exitinét, and the nation
fell into the last degree of ignorance of their rites and
It is no matter of wonder then, that Fingal and his fon Offian make fo little, if any, mention of the Druids, who were the declared enemies to their fuccession in the fupreme magistracy. It is a fingular cafe, it muft be allowed, that there are no traces of religion în the poems adscribed to Offian ; as the poetical coinpositions of other nations are fo clofely connected with their my. thology. It is hard to account for it, to those who are not made acquainted with the manner of the old Scottiflı bards. That race of men carried their notions of martial hsnour to an extravagant pitch. Any aid given their heroes in battle , was thought to derogate from their fame; and the bards immediately transferred the
glory of the astion to him who had given that aid,
Had Offian brought down gods, as often as Hoiner has done, to asfift his heroes, this poem had not çonfiftęd
ed of eulogiums on his fiends, but of hymns to these fuperior beings. To this day, thofe that write in the Galic language, feldom mention religion in their profane poetry; and when they professedly write of religion, they never interlard with their compofitions, the aĉtions of their heroes. This custom alone, even though the religion of the Druids had not been previously exstinguished, may, in fome measure, account for Offian’s
filence concerning the religion of his own times.
To fay, that a nation is void of all religion, is the
fame thing as to fay, that it does not confift of people endued with reafon. The traditions of their fathers, and their own observations on the works of nature, together with that fuperstition which is inherent in the human frame, have, in all ages, raised in the minds of men fome idea of a fuperior being. — Hence it is, that in the darkest times, and amongst the most barbarous nations, the very populace themfelves had fome faint notion, at leaft, of a divinity. It would be doing injustice to Ostian, who upon no occafion fhews a narrow mind, to think, that he had not opened his conceptions to that prinitive and greatest of all truths. But let Offian's religion be what it will, it is certain he had no knowledge of Christianity, as there is not the » least
S leaft allufion to it, or any of its rites, in his poems: which absolutely fixes hin to an æra prior to the introduétion of that religion. The perfecution begun by Diocletian , in the year 3o3, is the most probable time, in which the first dawning of Christianity in the north of
The humane and mild cha
Britain can be fixed. raster of Constantius Chlorus, who commanded then ins Britain, induced the perfecuted Christians, to take refuge under him. Some of thein, through a zeal to propagate their tenets, or through fear, went beyond the pale
of the Roman empire, and fettled ainong the Caledo
nians; who were the more ready to hearken to their
doctrines, as the religion of the Druids had been explod
ed. fo long before. : Thefe inifiionaries , either through choice , or tO gwe more weight to the dostrine they advanced, took poffeffion of the cells and groves of the Druids; and it was from this retired life they had the name of Culdees (*), which in the language of the country fignified sequellered persons. It was with one cf the Caldees, that Offiau, in his extreme old age · is fuid, to have disputed concerning the christian religion. This dispute is still exstant, and is couched in verse, accord- ing
ing to the custom of the times. The extreme ignorance on the part of Offian, of the Christian tenets, fhews, that that religion had only been lately introduced; as ít is not easy to conceive, how one of the first rank could be totally unacquainted with a religion, that had been known for any time in the country. The dispute bears the genuine marks of antiquity. The obsolete phrase: and expressions peculiar to the times, prove it to be iio forgery. If Offian then lived at the introdustion of Chriítianity, as by all appearance he did , his epoch will be the latter end of the third, and beginning of the fourth century. What puts this point beyond dispute, is the
allufion in his poems to the history of the tines.
The exploits of Fingal against Caracul (*), the fon of the King of the World, are among the first brave astions of his youth. A complete poem, which relates
to this subjea, is printed in this coileaion.
In the year 21o the emperor Severus, after returndied. The Caledonians and Maiatæ, refuming courage from his indisposition, took arms, in order to recover the
ing from his expeditions against the Caledonians, , at York fell into the tedious illneß, of which he afterwards died.
(*) Carachilil, terri ble ey e. Carac - 'hella, t e r
r i b l e lo ok. Carac. challamh, a fort of up
p e r g a r m e n t.
posfeffions they had loft. The enraged emperor com
1ħanded his army to march into their country, and to
destroy it with fire and fword. His orders were but ill exsecuted, for his fon, Caracalla, was at the head of the army, and his thoughts were entirely taken up with the hopes of his father’s death, and with fchemes to fupplant his brother Geta. – He scarcely had entered the enemy's country, when news was brought him, that
Severus was dead. A fudden peace is patched up
with the Caledonians, and, as it appears from Dion Caffius, the country, they had loft to Severus, was re
ftored to them,
The Caracul of Fingal is no other than Caracalla, who, as the fon of Severus, the Emperor of Rome, whose dominions were extended almoft over the known world, was not without reafon called, in the poems of Offian, the Son of the King of the World. The space of time between 211, the year Severus died, and the beginning of the fourth century, is not fo great, but Offian the fon of Fingal, might have feen the Christians, whom the perfecution under Diocletian had driven be
yond the pale of the Roman empire, Ostian ,