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a transcript of this speech, and a fac-simile of a few
If the information can be procured in time, it is
I have the honour to be, with sentiments of the
most humble servant,
The above letter was delivered early in the month of October, but from the shortness of Lord Lauderdale's stay in Paris, after it had been communicated, and the events which subsequently took place, we have been prevented from obtaining the information solicited. The following letter from Mr. Professor Stewart of Edinburgh, who accompanied Lord Lauderdale on the embassy, not only shews his attention to the inquiries of the Committee, but affords reasonable hopes that a communication from the Celtic Academy may be expected by the first favourable opportunity.
Edinburgh, 20th Dec. 1806.
I am sorry to have so little information to add on the subject of your letter, to what you
have already received from Lord Lauderdale. It may, however, be satisfactory for you to know, that the paper which was addressed to the Celtic Academy of Paris, by the Highland Society of London, was delivered by myself into the hands of Mr. Suard, one of the Secretaries of the National Institute, who promised to present it in person to the President of the learned body, whose correspondence you solicit, and to inform Lord Lauderdale of the result of the
application. The shortness of our stay in Paris after this conversation, prevented me from hearing any thing farther on the business; but I am perfectly confident that Mr. Suard would take the earliest opportunity of executing the commission intrusted to him, not only as he is a very old and intimate friend of mine, but as he was the first person who introduced the poems, whose authenticity you wish to establish, to the knowledge of his countrymen. His name cannot fail to be well known to yourself, as well as to many other Members of your Society, by his admirable translation of Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. and by the strong interest he has taken for more than forty years, in every thing that concerns the history or the literature of this island. I have the honour to be,
your most obedient servant, (Signed)
As the most conclusive evidence has been exhibited, that Ossian's poems had been collected from oral tradition, and from ancient manuscripts, by the late Rev. Mr. Farquharson about fifteen years prior to Mr. Macpherson's mission to the Highlands for the same purpose; and, as it is equally established, that Mr. Farquharson's collection was bound up in a large folio volume, and left at the Scottish College of Douay, at the commencement of the French Revolution, the prominent object the Committee had in view, in writing to the Celtic Academy at Paris, was to ascertain whether that collection still existed; because if in existence it would have been gratifying to have detailed the contents in this work; for, independent of every other proof, this of itself would have incontrovertibly established the authenticity of the originals translated by Mr. Macpherson.
Such is a summary of the evidence in support of the authenticity of Ossian's poems, which, with all deference, is submitted to the public. But the writer must observe, by way of apology for himself, that when he undertook the present investigation, and the task of translating Cesarotti's Dissertation, he was not aware of the difficulties he had to encounter, nor of the time and labour which such a work would require. To have done justice to so important a subject, any man with abilities superior to what the writer can pretend, ought to have had at least one year for the preparation of his manuscript, instead of a limited time of about three or four months. He
had however pledged himself to the Committee, and to perform his promise he has laboured incessantly, and exerted himself to the utmost. If by attempting too much, in a given period, he may have failed in some points, or in the hurry of writing, been led into repetition; he trusts the candid reader will make allowance for the difficulties in examining with precision, a mass of materials, so as to exhibit compendiously the various results arising from his researches after truth.
THE ORIGINAL EPISODE OF FAINEASOLLIS,
as found among the late MR. MACPHERSON's Papers, referred
to p. 456, Supplemental Observations.
Mhic mo mhic; 'se thuirt an righ,