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in Inverness-shire, Esq. and Ronald Macdonell of Keappoch, in Lochaber, Esq. captain in the 87th regiment, commanded by Colonel Fraser, all concur in testifying that Mr Macpherson's collection consists of genuine Highland poems; known to them to be such, both from the general report of the country where they live, and from their own remembrance of the originals. Colonel Mackay asserts very positively, upon personal knowledge, that many of the poems published by Mr Macpherson are true and faithful translations. Mr Campbell declares that he has heard many of them, and Captain Macdonnel, that he has heard parts of every one of them recited in the original language.
James Grant of Rothiemurchus, Esq. and Alexander Grant of Delrachny, Esq. both in the shire of Inverness, desired to be named as vouchers for the poem of Fingal in particular. They remember to have heard it often in their younger days, and are positive that Mr Macpherson has given a just translation of it
Lauchlan Macpherson of Strathmashie, in Invernessshire, Esq. gives a very full and explicit testimony, from particular knowledge, in the following words : That in the year 1760, he accompanied Mr Macpherson during some part of his journey through the Highlands in search of the poems of Ossian ; that he assisted him in collecting them; that he took down from oral tradition, and transcribed from old manuscripts, by far the greatest part of those pieces Mr Macpherson has published ; that since the publication, he has carefully compared the translation with the copies of the originals in his hands; and that he finds it amazingly literal, even to such a degree as often to preserve the cadence of the Gaelic versification. He affirms, that among the manuscripts which were at that time in Mr Macpherson's possession, he saw one. Of as old a date as the year 1410,
Sir James Macdonald of Macdonald, in the island of Sky, Baronet, assured me, that afrer having made, at my desire, ail the enquiries he could in his part of the country, he entertained no doubt thai Mr Macpher
son's collection consisted entirely of authentic Highland poems; that he had lately heard several parts of them repeated in the original, in the island of Sky; with* some variations from the printed translation, such as might naturally be expected from the circumstances of oral tradition; and some parts, in particular the episode of Fainasollis, in the third book of Fingal, which agree literally with the translation ; and added, that he had heard recitations of other poems not translated by Mr Macpherson, but generally reputed to be of Ossian's composition, which were of the same spirit and strain with such as are translated, and which he esteemed not inferior to any of them in sublimity of description, dignity of sentiment, or any other of the beauties of poetry. This last particular must have great weight; as it is well known how much the judgment of Sir James Macdonald deserves to be relied upon, in every thing that relates to literature and taste.
The late reverend Mr Alexander Macfarlane, minister of Arrachar, in Dumbartonshire, who was remarkably eminent for his profound knowledge in Gaelic learning and antiquities, wrote to me soon after the publication of Mr Macpherson's work, terming it 2 masterly translation ; informing me, that he had often heard several of these poems in the original, and remarked many passages so particularly striking beyond any thing he had ever read in any human composition, that he never expected to see a strength of genius able to do them that justice in a translation, which Mr Macpherson has done.
Norman Macleod of Macleod, in the island of Sky, Esq. Walter Macfarlane of Macfarlane, in Dumbarton, shire, Esq. Mr Alexander Macmillan, deputy-keeper of his Majesty's signet, Mr Adam Fergusson, professor of.moral philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and many other gentlemen, natives of the Highland counties, whom I had occasion to converse with upon this subject, declare, that though they cannot row repeat from memory any of these poems in the original, yet from what they have heard in their youth, and fron
the impression of the subject still remaining on their minds, they firmly believe those which Mr Macpherson has published, to be the old poems of Ossian current in the country.
Desirous, however, to have this translation particularly compared with the oral traditions of any who had parts of the original distinctly on their memory, I applied to several clergymen to make enquiry in their respective parishes concerning such persons; and to compare what they rehearsed with the printed version, Accordingly, from the reverend Mr John Macpherson, minister of Slate, in Sky; Mr Neil Macleod, minister of Ross, in Mull; Mr Angus Macneil, minister of South Uist ; Mr Donald Macqueen, minister of Kilmuir, in Sky; and Mr Donald Macleod, minister of Glenelg ; I have had reports on this head, containing distinct and explicit testimonies to almost the whole epic poem of Fingal, from beginning to end, and to several also of the lesser poems, as rehearsed in the original, in their presence, by persons whose names and places of abode they mention, and compared by them. selves with the printed translation. They affirm, that in many places, what was rehearsed in their presence agreed literally and exactly with the translation. In some places they found variations from it, and varia. tions even among different rehearsers of the same poem in the original ; as words and stanzas omitted by some, which others repeated, and the order and connection in some places changed. But they remark, that those variations are on the whole not very material, and that Mr Macpherson seemed to them to follow the most just and authentic copy of the sense of his author. Some of these clergymen, particularly Mr Neil Macleod, can themselves repeat from memory, several passages of Fingal; the translation of which they assure me is exact. Mr Donald Macleod acquaints me, that it was in his house Mr Macpherson had the description of Cuthullin's horses and chariot, in the first book of Finga!. given him by Allan Macaskill, schoolmaster
parishioner of his, declares, that he has often seen and display read a great part of an ancient manuscript, once in the possession of the family of Clanronald, and afterwards carried to Ireland, containing many of these poems; in and that he rehearsed before him several passages out of Fingal, which agreed exactly with Mr Macpherson's translation; that Neil Macmurrich, whose predecessors had for many generations been bards to the family of Clanronald, declared also in his presence, that he had often seen and read the same old manuscript; that he himself gave to Mr Macpherson a manuscript con. taining some of the poems which are now translated and published, and rehearsed before Mr Macneil, in in the original, the whole of the poem entitled Darthula, with very little variation from the printed translation. I have received the same testimony concern ning this poem, Dar-thula, from Mr Macpherson, minister of Slate; and in a letter communicated to me from Lieutenant Duncan Macnicol, of the 88th regiment, inforining me of its being recited in the original, in their presence, from beginning to end: on which I lay the more stress, as any person of taste who turns to that poem, will see .that it is one of the most highly finished in the whole collection, and most distinguished for poetical and sentimental beauties; insomuch, that whatever genius could produce, Darthula must be judged fully equal to any performance contained in a Mr Macpherson's publication. I must add here, that though they who have compared the translation with what they have heard rchearsed of the original, bestow' high praises both upon Mr Macpherson's genius and his fidelity ; yet I find it to be their general opinion, that in many places he has not been able to attain the strength and sublimity of the original which he copied.
I have authority to say, in the name of LieutenantColonel Archibald Macpab, of the sath regiment, or regiment of Highland Volunteers commanded by Colonel Campbell, that he has undoubted evidence of Mr Macpherson's collection being genuine, both fom what he well remeinbers to have heard in his youth, and
from his having heard very lately a considerable part of the poem of Temora rehearsed in the original, which agreed exactly with the printed version.
By the reverend Mr Alexander Pope, minister of Reay, in the shire of Caithness, I am informed, that twenty-four years ago, he had begun to make a collection of some of the old poems current in his part of the country; on comparing which with Mr Macpherson's work, he found in his collection the poem entitled The Battle of Lora, some parts of Lathmon, and the aca count of the death of Oscar. From the above-mentioned Lieutenant Duncan Macnicol, testimonies have been also received to a great part of Fingal, to part of Temora, and Carric-thura, as well as to the whole of Dar-thula, as recited in his presence in the original, compared, and found to agree with the translation.
I myself read over the greatest part of the English version of the six books of Fingal, to Mr Kenneth Macpherson of Stornway, in the Island of Lewis, mer. chant, in presence of the reverend Mr Alexander Macauly, chaplain to the 88th regiment. In going along, Mr Macpherson vouched what was read to be well known to him in the original, both the descriptions and the sentiments. In some places, though he remembered the story, he did not remember the words of the original; in other places, he remembered and repeated the Gaelic lines themselves, which, being interpreted to me by Mr Macauly, were found, upon comparison, to agree often literally with the printed version, and sometimes with slight variations of a word or an epithet. This testimony carried to me, and must have carried to any other who had been present, the highest conviction ; being precisely a testimony of that nature which an Englishman well acquainted with Milton, or any favourite author, would give to a foreigner, who shewed him a version of this author into his own language, and want. ed to be satisfied from what the Englishman could recollect of the original, whether it was really a translation of Paradise Lost, or a spurious work under than title, which had been put into his hands.