Notes on the Authenticity of Ossian's Poems

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author, 1868 - 76 pages
 

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Page 47 - MR. JAMES MACPHERSON, I received your foolish and impudent letter. Any violence offered me I shall do my best to repel; and what I cannot do for myself, the law shall do for me. I hope I shall never be deterred from detecting what I think a cheat, by the menaces of a ruffian.
Page 43 - The Scots have something to plead for their easy reception of an improbable fiction : they are seduced by their fondness for their supposed ancestors. A Scotchman must be a very sturdy SECOND SIGHT 177 moralist, who does not love Scotland better than truth : he will always love it better than inquiry ; and if falsehood flatters his vanity, will not be very diligent to detect it.
Page 10 - I inquired the success of his journey, and he produced several volumes, small octavo, or rather large duodecimo, in the Gaelic language and characters, being the poems of Ossian and other ancient bards. "I remember perfectly...
Page 39 - I assisted him in collecting them ; and took down from oral tradition, and transcribed from old manuscripts, by far the greatest part of those pieces he has published. Since the publication, I have carefully compared the translation with the copies of the originals in my hands, and find it amazingly literal, even in such a degree as to preserve, in some measure, the cadence of the Gaelic versification.
Page 57 - Though the taste, which defines genius by the points of the compass, is a subject fit for mirth in itself, it is often a serious matter in the sale of a work. When rivers define the limits of abilities, as well as the boundaries of countries, a writer may measure his success by the latitude under which he was born.
Page 43 - I believe they never existed in any other form than that which we have seen. The editor, or author, never could shew the original; nor can it be shewn by any other; to revenge reasonable incredulity, by refusing evidence, is a degree of insolence, with which the world is not yet acquainted ; and stubborn audacity is the last refuge of guilt.
Page 43 - He has doubtless inserted names that circulate in popular stories, and may have translated some wandering ballads, if any can be found ; and the names, and some of the images being recollected, make an inaccurate auditor imagine, by the help of Caledonian bigotry, that he has formerly heard the whole.
Page 56 - Author may have improved his language, in the eleven years, that the following Poems have been in the hands of the Public. Errors in diction might have been committed at twenty-four, which the experience of a riper age may remove ; and some exuberances in imagery may be restrained, with advantage, by a degree of judgment acquired in the progress of time. Impressed with this opinion, he ran over the whole with attention and accuracy; and, he hopes, he has brought the work to a state of correctness,...
Page 15 - ... have been lucky enough to lay my hands on a pretty complete poem, and truly epic, concerning Fingal, The antiquity of it is easily ascertained, and it is not only superior to any thing in that language, but reckoned not inferior to the more polite performances of other nations in that way. I have some thoughts of publishing the original, if it will not clog the work too much.
Page 15 - I am favoured with your last letter, enclosing four poems, for which I am much obliged to you. I beg you send me what more you can conveniently...

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