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“ when thou spreadest thy golden locks on the face *** of the cloud in the east, or when thou trem66 blest in the west at the dusky doors of the 66 ocean. It is well, thou, like me, art at one “ season powerful, at another feeble; our years, “ descending from the sky, travel together to “ their end. Rejoice then, O Sun, while thou “ art strong in thy youth, thou mighty one! “ dark and unlovely is age, like the vain light of 66 the feeble moon, when she looks through a 66 cloud on the field; while the blue mists are on 66 the sides of the rocks, and the blast from the “ north on the plain, (beating) on the wounded “ traveller that faintly walks along."

“ From this literal translation we perceive, " that what is called the eastern style of poetry, “ belongs also to the Celtic poetry, and is not an “ ingredient introduced by Macpherson.* We find, that he, like all other translators, has 66 omitted several particularising circumstances “ which add greatly to the beauty of the original; " and that he has occasionally slurred over some “ passages which he found obscure. As this ad• dress (perhaps the most beautiful of Ossian's “ poems) is attested by respectable witnesses still

66 find,

* His translation of the above passage. 66 O thou that “ rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! whence are • thy beams, O Sun! thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth " in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky; is the moon, cold, and pale, sinks in the western wave. But 6 thou thyself movest alone : who can be a companion in thy “ course! the oaks of the mountains fall: the mountains them“ selves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again : 66 the moon herself is lost in heaven; but thou art for ever the

66 same;

alive, to have been in the mouths of the com

mon people long before the birth of Macpher“ son, Mr. Laing has on this occasion to find out “ some other imitator. From this striking in. “ stance, one may judge of the other imitations 66 which his ingenuity has discovered.


“ Would our limits permit, we might here ** entertain our readers with some curious speci“ mens of Mr. Laing's ingenuity in tracing imi

K 2

66 tations.

" same; rejoicing in the brightness of thy course. When the " world is dark with tempests; when thunder rolls, and light" ning flies; thou lookest in thy beauty, from the clouds, and “ laughest at the storm. But to Ossian, thou lookest in vain; !' for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair “ flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of "" the west. But thou art perhaps, like me, for a season, thy 66 years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds, " careless of the voice of the morning. Exult then, O Sun, in " the strength of thy youth! age is dark and unlovely; it is like 66 the glimmering light of the moon when it shines through 66 broken clouds, and the mist is on the hills; the blast of the 66 north is on the plain, the traveller shrinks in the midst of his “ journey."

“ tations. If not only an idea, but even a single “ word is similar, the whole passage is without " further ceremony pressed into the service. “ The following is one of our author's examples: “ Fingal thus addresses his chiefs; “ Gaul, take " thy terrible sword. Fergus, bend thy crooked bow. Throw, Fillan, thy lance to heaven.” In " the poem of Hardiknute, we have the follow“ ing lines.

“ Robin of Rothsay, bend thy bow,

" Thy arrow shoot sae liel;
“ Braed Thomas take ye but your lance,

" Ye need not weapon's mair,

“ In this example Mr. Laing affirms that the “ words of Hardiknute are almost literally repeated " by Fingal. If a direct and literal plagiarism “ is to be deduced from such a common expres“sion as bend thy bow, and the use of such a fa“ miliar word as lance, any author may be rea“ dily proved a direct imitator of any other: 66 nor should we find it difficult to shew, by this “ rule, that Mr. Laing's history was almost 66 wholly cribbed, not only from Hume, Robert" son, &c. but even from the Pilgrim's Progress, " and Jack the Giant Killer.

“ Mr. Laing's next source of detections, is

; ... “ from

" from an examination of the specimen of the 66 Gaelic originals published by Macpherson. “ Here we have one of the most curious attempts “ we remember to have met with in the annals “ of criticism. Mr. Laing takes upon him to “ decide peremptorily on the etymologies and “ structure of a language, with which he owns “ himself entirely unacquainted; and by the 66 decisions which his profound knowledge shall “ here lead him to form, he modestly requires “his reader to judge of the authenticity of poems 5 written in a language, of which he does not, • pretend to understand a single word.

“ No subject has been more fruitful of foolish “ theories and wild conjectures than the tracing " of etymologies. Every language possesses a 6 number of words, which both in sound and 66 sense resemble those of some other language. 6. The only rational account of this coincidence 5 is, that there was some original language from -66 which all the others took their rise; although “ they became afterwards wonderfully diversified 66 by various circumstances, in which the dif“ ferent tribes of mankind were placed. If this “ be the case, how shall we decide, particularly 66 in regard to the names and qualities of natural “ objects, which terms were derived from this

66 original

“ original language, and which were afterwards " adopted.

“ But whatever Mr. Laing's opinion may be on this subject, he allows, what it is impos66 sible he should deny, that the Celtic is fully 6 as ancient as any other language from which • it could be supposed to borrow any of its 66 terms. When this is the case, and when the “ different languages have, for a long series of “ years, been spoken by adjoining nations, no" thing can be more preposterous than an attempt " to shew, when any particular word was trans66 ferred from one language to the other. Some “ trifling occurrence, which no critical sagacity 66 can ever discover, may have caused a word to 66 be adopted almost as early in another language, 6 as in that to which it owed its origin. Allow“ ing all the words which our author produces, “ to have been originally either Roman or Teu6 tonic, as an intercourse subsisted between these 66 nations and the Celts, long before the days of “ Ossian: these words might, by innumerable 56 accidents, have been transferred from the for

mer languages to the latter, long before the pe66 riod of that poet.”

“ It is equally impossible, where languages

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