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generation to another, not perhaps in the purity of the originals, but subject to the variations and interpolations arising from the fancy of subsequent bards and transcribers. Mr. Macpherson is therefore entitled to great credit, for having with much industry collected, compared, and collated the several editions or copies; and it may be well supposed that he would have availed himself of that fair license granted to every collector and translator, by selecting the best editions, restoring passages omitted in some but preserved in others, and connecting the episodes and detached pieces so as to render his translations more worthy of the public eye.
We have noticed, in a former part, the Life of St. Columba, written by Adamnanus;* also the decisive proofs adduced in the Report of the Highland Society of the ancient Gaelic MSS. in their possession, of which some fac simile specimens are exhibited in the Report. In the Bodleian library, Oxford, there is an old manuscript in parchment of 292 pages, in large folio, containing, in Gaelic or Irish, several historical accounts of the ancient Irish Kings, Saints, &c. also an account of the Conquest of Great Britain by the Romans, of the Saxon Conquest and their Heptarchy, and an account of the Conversion of the Irish and English to Christianity, with other subjects. This book has here and there some Latin notes interspersed, which Mr. Lhuyd thinks may possibly contain hints of the doctrines of the druids. There is also an old vellum MS. of 140 pages, in the form of a music book, con
* See Notes N and W, to Cesarotti's Dissertation.
taining the works of St. Columba, in verse, with an account of his own life, his Exhortations to Princes, and his Prophecies.
Mr. Astle, in his examination of several Gaelic and Irish MSS. of remote periods, put into his hands, of which he has given fac similes, acknowledges that the Gaelic or Erse language of Scotland, and the Iberno-Gaelic, are nearly the same, and that their letters, or characters, are similar, which appears indeed on a comparison of the different fac similes exhibited. Mr. Astle has given, among others, the following specimens of different MSS. in the Gaelic tongue, which were procured from the Highlands of Scotland, and transmitted to him by some friends.†
The first and most ancient specimen of the Gaelic writing seen by Mr. Astle, and now in the possession of the Highland Society of Scotland, is taken from a fragment of a work entitled Emanuel, which, from the form of the letters, and from the nature of the vellum, he reasonably concludes may be as old as the ninth or tenth century.‡
This fragment throws much light on the state of.
• Mr. Astle's Origin and Progress of Writing, second edition, Plate XXII.
+ It is probable the friends alluded to by Mr. Astle, who furnished him with these MSS. were the Rev. Mr. M' Lagan, minister of Blair in Athol, and the Rev. Mr. Stuart, minister of Killin in Perthshire, as in p. 138, of Origin and Progress of Writing, he acknowledges being indebted to those gentlemen for the translations of his Gaelic specimens.
This MS. called Emanuel, is particularly noticed in the Report of the Highland Society, Appendix, p. 305 et seq. where a long extract is given, with a literal translation.
classical learning in Scotland in ancient times, as well as proves the care with which the Gaelic language was then cultivated; and, by comparing it with what is now spoken, it further proves, that the language has been transmitted in purity from one generation to another, down to the present day. We have also in these MSS. some interesting notices of ancient history, written on the authority of Greek and Roman authors; and of the arts, armour, manners, dress, superstition and usages of the Scots of the author's own time, who, from circumstances mentioned in his work, may be supposed to have composed it between the fifth and seventh centuries. In this MS. there is a chapter entitled Slogha Chesair an Inis Bhreatan, or Cesar's Expedition to the Island of Britain. But as this, and some of the other MSS. of which Mr. Astle has given fac similes to prove the age of the writing, may be deemed interesting to the Gaelic Scholar, the following specimens of a few lines, with translations, are given.
Mr. Astle's first specimen (Plate XXII.) is taken from Emanuel, and the reading of a few lines runs thus:
Nirsatimini Curio annso.
Iriasin don inntimmairece urgaile ro fas
Na Haffraici muinntiraibh nairigh
Ceadna Is amhlaidh
iaramh tàrla sin. 1. Airigh duairrighaibh
buadha agus leigion, &c.
Observe this, or nota bene,
Such dissentions grew up between the nobles of Africa, as had not happened before this time, i. e. certain noble of power and of learning who had often been victorious, &c.
The second specimen is taken from a MS. on vellum, in small quarto, containing annals of Ireland, and of some of the northern parts of Scotland, and seems to have been written in the thirteenth century. The following two lines to be read :
Ri ro gab astair righi for Eirinn feact naill iodhain Eo chaid feidlech Mac Finn Mac Roigeain ruaigh
There was formerly a king who reigned over Ireland, viz. Eochy Feileach, son of Finn son of Roigh ruagh.
The third specimen is taken from a moral or religious tract, which seems to have been written also in the thirteenth century, and is to be read :
A Thighearna cred he sud urt. Isi sud do pheanss agus pian i Marbhaidh dom hic asumhla ur in taisgeul, &c.
Lord, what is that from thee. That is the punish
ment appointed by thee, even punishment of death to the disobedient children of the gospel.
The fourth specimen is taken from a Treatise on Granmar, written in the latter end of the fifteenth century, and is to be read:
Deinimh deineamh fear deanuimh deinimh beas, &c.
Deanamh, deineamh, masculine; deainimh, feminine,
The fifth specimen is taken from a Glossary of the Irish Language, and is read:
Foghal foghail ort a luag foghal agus ag foghail an baille.
Foghail, plunder; foghail ort, thou art plundered,
The sixth specimen is taken from a MS. containing some poems in the Gaelic, written in the fifteenth century, and is read:
Cathal Mac Muirnuigh cecinit.