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of Atha, upon this mounted the throne. His usurpa.
tory of Ireland begins somewhat later than that period. Sir James Ware, who was indefatigable in his re. searches after the antiquities of his country, rejects, as mere fiction and idle romance, all that is related of the ancient Irish before the time of St. Patrick, and the reign of Leogaire. It is from this consideration that he begins his history at the introduction of Christianity, remarking, that all that is delivered down concerning the times of paganism were tales of late invention, strangely mixed with anachronisms and inconsistencies. Such being the opinion of Ware, who had collected, with uncommon industry and zeal, all the real and pre: tendedly ancient manuscripts concerning the history of his country, we may, on his authority, reject the im. probable and self-condemned tales of Keating and O'Flaherty. Credulous and puerile to the last degree, they have disgraced the antiquities they meant to establish. It is to be wished that some able Irish man, who understands the language and records of his country, may redeem, ere too late, the genuine anti. quities of Ireland from the hands of these idle fabulists. By comparing the history in these poems with the legends of the Scots and Irish writers, and by after. ward examining both by the test of the Roman authors, it is easy to discover which is the most probable. Probability is all that can be established on the authority of tradition, ever dubious and uncertain. But when it favors the hypothesis laid down by contemporary writers of undoubted veracity, and, as it were, finishes the figure of which they only drew the outlines, it ought, in the judgment of sober reason, to be preferred to accounts framed in dark and distant periods, with ittle iudgment, and upon no authority. Concerning the period of more than a century which intervenes between Fingal and the reign of Fergus, the son of Erc or Arcath, tradition is dark ind contiadic.
tory. Some trace up the family of Fergus to a son of Fingal of that name, who makes a considerable figure in Ossian's Poems. The three elder sons of Fingal, Ossian, Fillan, and Ryno, dying without issue, the succession, of course, devolved upon Fergus, the fourth son, and his posterity. This Fergus, say some tradi. tions, was the father of Congal, whose son was Arcath, the father of Fergus, properly called the first king of Scots, as it was in his time the Cael, who possessed the western coast of Scotland, began to be distinguished by foreigners by the name of Scots. From thenceforward, the Scots and Picts, as distinct nations, became objects of attention to the historians of other countries. The internal state of the two Caledonian kingdoms has always continued, and ever must remain, in obscurity and fable. It is in this epoch we must fix the beginning of the decay of that species of heroism which subsisted in the days of Fingal. There are three stages in human so ciety. The first is the result of consanguinity, and the natural affection of the members of a family to one another. The second begins when property is established, and men enter into associations for mutual defence, against the invasions and injustice of neighbors. Mankind submit, in the third, to certain laws and subordinations of government, to which they trust the safety of their persons and property. As the first is formed on nature, so, of course, it is the most disinterested and noble. Men, in the last, have leisure to cultivate the mind, and to restore it, with reflection, to a primeval dignity of sentiment. The middle state is the region of complete barbarism and ignorance. About the beginning of the fifth century, the Scots and Picts were advanced into the second stage, and conse. quently, into those circumscribed sentiments which always distinguish barbarity. The events which soon
after happened did not at all contribute to enlarge their ideas, or mend their national character. About the year 426, the Romans, on account of domestic commotions, entirely forsook Britain, finding i impossible to defend so distant a frontier. The Picts and Scots, seizing this favorable opportunity, made in cursions into the deserted province. The Britons, enervated by the slavery of several centuries, and those vices which are inseparable from an advanced state of civility, were not able to withstand the impetuous, though irregular, attacks of a barbarous enemy In the utmost distress, they applied to their old masters, the Romans, and (after the unfortunate state of the empire could not spare aid) to the Saxons, a nation equally barbarous and brave with the enemies of whom they were so much afraid. Though the bravery of the Saxons repelled the Caledonian nations for a time, yet the latter found means to extend themselves considerably towards the south. It is in this period we must place the origin of the arts of civil life among the Scots. The seat of governmnnt was removed from the mountains to the plain and more fertile provinces of the south, to be near the common enemy in case of sudden incursions. Instead of roving through unfrequented wilds in search of subsistence by means of hunting, men applied to agriculture, and raising of corn. This manner of life was the first means of changing the national character. The next thing which contributed to it was their mixture with strangers. In the countries which the Scots had conquered from the Britons, it is probable that most of the old inhabitants remained. These incorporating with the conquerors, taught them agriculture and other arts which they themselves had received from the Romans. The Scots, however, in number as well as power, being ths most predominant, retained still their language, and as many of the customs of their ancestors as suited with the nature of the country they possessed. Even the union of the two Caledonian kingdoms did not much affect the national character. Being originally descended from the same stock, the manners of the Picts and Scots were as similar as the different natures of the countries they possessed permitted. What brought about a total change in the genius of the Scots nation was their wars and other transactions with the Saxons. Several counties in the south of Scotland were alternately possessed by the two nations. They were ceded, in the ninth age, to the Scots, and it is probable that most of the Saxon inhabitants remained in possession of their lands. During the several conquests and revolutions in England, many fled for refuge into Scotland, to avoid the oppression of foreigners, or the tyranny of domestic usurpers; insomuch, that the Saxon race formed, perhaps, near one half of the Scottish kingdom. The Saxon manners and language daily gained ground on the tongue and customs of the ancient Caledonians, till, at last, the latter were entirely relegated to the inhabitants of the mountains, who were still unmixed with strangers. It was after the accession of territory which the Scots received upon the retreat of the Romans from Britain, that the inhabitants of the Highlande were divided into clans. The king, when he kept his court in the mountains, was considered by the whole nation as the chief of their blood. The small number, as well as the presence of their prince, prevented those divisions which, afterward, sprung forth into so many separate tribes. When the seat of goverment was removed to the south, those who remained in the Highlands were, of course, neglected. They naturally formed themselves into small societies independent of