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dern authors; which he would persuade us Macpherson had in view in composing the poems attributed to Ossian. Many of the most obvious, it is true, have been pointed out by Dr. Blair and others, not for the invidious purposes Mr. Laing has in view, but as curious instances of men embellishing their narrations with images arising from the same objects. The surprise will, however, be in a great measure removed, if we suppose, that the Highland bard might very possibly have received some assistance from the writings of the Greek and Roman poets. I do not pretend, or think, he himself ever read their works, but some notion of them might have been communicated to him from the information of others. The Greeks, as well as the Phænicians, we are informed, had an early intercourse with Great Britain and Ireland. It has been already shewn, that the natives of these countries had arrived at a higher degree of learning, at that early period, than is generally supposed. The Druids possessed the Greek letters, and probably knew that language. Abaris, who was sent ambassador to
Athens, spoke it in great purity; and so might many more, though that celebrated character is only recorded. If so, they could not be entirely ignorant of Grecian poetry:
• No doubt can be entertained with regard to that of the Romans. For, if from their frequent intercourse with the Celts, the wits of that nation admired their bards, it is next to an impossibility these should not know the poetical compositions of the Italians. What puts the matter beyond contradiction is, that a full century before Ossian was born, Agricola, while stationed in Britain, erected temples, theatres, and stately buildings; caused the sons of the nobility to learn the Latin language; be instructed in the liberal arts; and brought them, by degrees, to imitate the Roman modes of dress and living. So that in a short time they assumed the polished manners of their conquerors, and even vied with them in pomp and refinements.
Supposing then Ossian himself had no access to the Latin poets, it is possible, nay probable, he was acquainted with the compositions of the Celtic bards, who had an opportunity of knowing and being improved by their writings. We are certain that the inhabitants of Britain assisted the Gauls against Cæsar; when, for so doing, that general invaded this island, Eder, who then reigned in Scotland, is said to have assisted his neighbours against the common enemy. Now it is impossible that men, who held so close an intercourse, could be ignorant of each other's poetical productions; and if they were not, a genius like Ossian, would not fail of profiting by such communication.
access * Isaiah, chap. xxxi. 4.
But even without such helps, there is nothing strange or impossible in two writers using similar comparisons in their descriptions. Thus, “ like as the lion grow“ leth, even the young lion, over his prey: " though the whole company of shepherds “ be called together against him: at their 66 voice he will not be terrified, nor at their 6 tumult will he be humbled."*
Bishop Lowth, whose translation I here use, observes, this comparison is exactly in the spirit and manner, and very nearly approaching to the expression of Homer.
“ As the bold lion, mountain-bred, now “ long famished, with courage and with “ hunger stung, attempts the thronged “ fold: him nought appalls, though dogs " and armed shepherds stand in guard col“ lected; he nathless undaunted springs “ o'er the high fence, and rends the trems bling prey."
The learned bishop brings a number of similar instances where the prophet resembles the Greek and Latin poets. I mention this, because Mr. Laing pretends, there is no semblance whatever between the sacred and profane writers of antiquity.
In the beginning of the sixth book of Fingal, Ossian thus addresses an old deceased friend. “ Be thy soul blest, O Car56 ril, in the midst of thy eddying winds. " O that thou would'st come to my hall, " when I am alone by night! I hear often " thy light hand on my harp ; when it " hangs on the distant wall, and the feeble " sound touches my ear, why dost not thou “ speak to me in any grief, and tell when “ I shall behold my friends?”
Did Kotzebue bear this passage in mind, when raving of his dead wife, he exclaims, " When I am thus alone, my Frederica “ seems with me. I talk to her as though "" she were present, and pour out to her all “ my heart. Ah! perhaps she may be “ really present!—Perhaps she hovers “ about me as my guardian angel! Ah, “ why does she not appear for one mo" ment, to give assurance to her existence!”
Fingal asks, “ Whose fame is in that “ dark-green tomb ! Four stones, with their 66 heads of moss, stand there, and mark " the narrow house of death."—He is answered, “ Silent is Lamderg in this tomb, “ and Ullin, king of swords.”.
In like manner, in one of the Welsh