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one another. Each society had its own regulus, who
either was, or, in the succession of a few generations,
was regarded as chief of their blood. The nature of
the country favored an institution of this sort. A few
valleys, divided from one another by extensive heaths
and impassable mountains, form the face of the High-
lands. In those valleys the chiefs fixed their residence.
Round them, and almost within sight of their dwellings,
were the habitations of their relations and dependarts.

The seats of the Highland chiefs were neither disa-
greeable nor inconvenient. Surrounded with moun-
tains and hanging woods, they were covered from the
inclemency of the weather. Near them generally ran

a pretty large river, which, discharging itself not far

off into an arm of the sea or extensive lake, swarmed
with variety of fish. The woods were stocked with
wild-fowl; and the heaths and mountains behind them
were the natural seat of the red-deer and roe. If we
make allowance for the backward state of agriculture,
the valleys were not unfertile; affording, if not all the
conveniences, at least the necessaries of life. Here the
chief lived, the supreme judge and lawgiver of his own
people ; but his sway was neither severe nor unjust.
As the populace regarded him as the chief of their
blood, so he, in return, considered them as members of
his family. His commands, therefore, though absolute
and decisive, partook more of the authority of a father
than of the rigor of a judge. Though the whole terri-
tory of the tribe was considered as the property of the
chief, yet his vassals made him no other consideration
for their lands than services, neither burdensome nor
frequent. As he seldom went from home, he was at no
expense. His table was supplied by his own herds
and what his numerous attendants killed in hunting.

In this rural kind of magnificence the Highland •

chiefs lived for many ages. At a distance from the

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seat of government, and secured by the inaccessibleness of their country, they were free and independent. As they had little communication with strangers, the customs of their ancestors remained among them, and their language retained its original purity. Naturally fond of military fame, and remarkably attached to the memory of their ancestors, they delighted in traditions and songs concerning the exploits of their nation, and especially of their own particular families. A succession of bards was retained in every clan to hand down the memorable actions of their forefathers. As Fingal and his chiefs were the most renowned names in tradition, the bards took care to place them in the genealogy of every great family. They became famous among the people, and an object of fiction and poetry to the bard. The bards erected their immediate patrons into heroes and celebrated them in their songs. As the circle of their knowledge was narrow, their ideas were confined in proportion. A few happy expressions, and the manners they represent, may please those who understand the language; their obscurity and inaccuracy would disgust in a translation. It was chiefly for this reason that I have rejected wholly the works of the bards in my publications. Ossian acted in a more extensive sphere, and his ideas ought to be more noble and universal ; neither gives he, I presume, so many of their peculiarities, which are only understood in a certain period or country. The other bards have their beauties, but not in this species of composition. Their rhymes, only calculated to kindle a martial spirit among the vulgar, afford very little pleasure to genuine taste. This observation only regards their poems of the heroic kind; in every inferior species of poetry they are more successful. They express the tender melancholy of desponding love with simplicity and nature So well adapted are the sounds of the words to the sentiments, that, even without any knowlege of the language, they pierce and dissolve the heart. Success- . ful love is expressed with peculiar tenderness and elegance. In all their compositions, except the heroic, which was solely calculated to animate the vulgar, they, gave us the genuine language of the heart, without any of those affected ornaments of phraseology, which, though intended to beautify sentiments, divest them of their natural force. The ideas, it is confessed, are too local to be admired in another language; to those who are acquainted with the manners they represent, and the scenes they describe, they must afford pleasure and satisfaction. It was the locality of their description and sentiment that, probably, has kept them in the obscurity of an almost lost language. The ideas of an unpolished period are so contrary to the present advanced state of society, that more than a common mediocrity of taste is required to relish them as they deserve. Those who alone are capable of transferring ancient poetry into a modern language, might be better employed in giving originals of their own, were it not for that wretched envy and meanness which affects to despise contemporary genius. My first publication was merely accidental; had I then met with less approbation my after pursuits would have been more profitable; at least, I might have continued to be stupid without being branded with dulness. These poems may furnish light to antiquaries, as well as some pleasure to the lovers of poetry. The first population of Ireland, its first kings, and several circumstances, which regard its connection of old with the south and north of Britain, are presented in several episodes. The subject and catastrophe of the poem are founded upon facts which regarded the first peopling of that country, and the contests between the two

British nations, who originally inhabited that island In a preceding part of this dissertation I have shown how superior the probability of this system is to the undigested fictions of the Irish bards, and the more re. cent and regular legends of both Irish and Scottish historians. I mean not to give offence to the abettors of the high antiquities of the two nations, though I have all along expressed my doubts concerning the veracity and abilities of those who deliver down their ancient history. For my own part, I prefer the ma-. tional fame arising from a few certain facts, to the legendary and uncertain annals of ages of remote and obscure antiquity. No kingdom now established in Europe can pretend to equal antiquity with that of the Scots, inconsiderable as it may appear in other respects, even according to my system; so that it is altogether needless to fix its origin a fictitious millenium before. Since the first publication of these poems, many insinuations have been made, and doubts arisen, concerning their authenticity. Whether these suspicions are suggested by prejudice, or are only the effects of malice, I neither know nor care. Those who have doubted my veracity have paid a compliment to my genius; and were even the allegation true, my self. denial might have atoned for my fault. Without vanity I say it, I think I could write tolerable poctry; and I assure my antagonists, that I should not translate what I could not imitate. As prejudice is the effect of ignorance, I am not surprised at its being general. An age that produces few marks of genius ought to be sparing of admiration. The truth is, the bulk of mankind have ever been led by reputation more than taste, in articles of literature. If all the Romans who admired Virgil understood his beauties, he would have scarce deserved to have come down to us through so many centuries. Unless genius

were in fashior, Homer himself might have written in
vain. He that wishes to come with weight on the su-
perficial, must skim the surface, in their own shallow
way. Were my aim to gain the many, I would write
a madrigal sooner than an heroic poem. Laberius
himself would be always sure of more followers tha
Sophocles.
Some who doubt the authenticity of this work, with
#. acuteness appropriate them to the Irish nation.
Though it is not easy to conceive how these poems can
belong to Ireland and to me at once, I shall examine
the subject without farther animadversion on the blun-
der.
Of all the nations descended from the ancient Cel-
tae, the Scots and Irish are the most similar in language,
customs, and manners. This argues a more intimate
connection between them than a remote descent from
the great Celtic stock. It is evident, in short, that, at
some period or other, they formed one society, were
subject to the same government, and were, in all re-
spects, one and the same people. How they became
ulvided, which the colony, or which the mother-nation,
1 have in another work amply discussed. The first
curcumstance that induced me to disregard the vulgarly-
received opinion of the Hibernian extraction of the
Scottish nation was my observations on their ancient
language. The dialect of the Celtic tongue, spoken
in the north of Scotland, is much more pure, more
agreeable to its mother-language, and more abounding
with primitives, than that now spoken, or even that
which has been written for some centuries back
amongst the most unmixed part of the lish nation.
A Scotchman, tolerably conversant in his own lan-
guage, understands an iii. composition from that de-
rivative analogy which it has to the Gaelic of North
Britain. An Irishman, on the other hand, without the

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