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ended with his life; for Fingal made an expedition into Ireland, and restored, after various viciffitudes of fortune, the family of Conar to the poffeffion of the kingdom. This war is the fubject of Temora ; the events, though certainly heightened and embellished by poetry, feem, notwithstanding, to have their foundation in true history.
OSSIAN has not only preferved the hiftory of the firft migration of the Caledonians into Ireland, he has alfo delivered fome important facts, concerning the first settlement of the Firbolg, or Belge of Britain, in that kingdom, under their leader Larthon, who was ancestor to Cairbar and Cathmor, who fucceffively mounted the Irish throne, after the death of Cormac, the son of Artho. I forbear, to transcribe the paffage, on account of its Book VII.length. It is the fong of Fonar, the bard; towards the latter end of the feventh book of TeAs the generations from Larthon to Cathmor, to whom the episode is addreffed, are not marked, as are those of the family of Conar, the first king of Ireland, we can form no judgment of the time of the fettlement of the Firbolg. It is, however, probable, it was fome time before the Caël, or Caledonians, fettled in Ulfter.-One important fact may be gathered from this hiftory of Offian, that the Irish had no king before the latter end of the first century. Fingal lived, it is certain, in the third century; fo Conar, the first monarch of the Irish, who was his grand-uncle, cannot be placed farther back than the close of the
first. The establishing of this fact, lays, at once, afide the pretended antiquities of the Scots and Irish, and cuts off the long lift of kings which the latter give us for a millennium before.
Or the affairs of Scotland, it is certain, nothing can be depended upon, prior to the reign of Fergus, the fon of Erc, who lived in the fifth century. The true hiftory of Ireland begins fomewhat later than that period. Sir James Ware, who was indefatigable in his refearches after the antiquities of antiq. Hyhis country, rejects, as mere fiction and idle romance, all that is related of the antient Irish, bee fore the time of St. Patrick, and the reign of Leogaire, It is from this confideration, that he begins his history at the introduction of christianity, remarking, that all that is delivered down, concerning the times of paganifm, were tales of late invention, ftrangely mixed with anachronisms and inconfift encies. Such being the opinion of Ware, who had collected with uncommon induftry and zeal, all the real and pretendedly antient manufcripts, concerning the history of his country, we may, on his authority, reject the improbable and felf-condemned tales of Keating and O'Flaherty. Credulous and puerile to the laft degree, they have difgraced the antiquities they meant to eftablish. It is to be wifhed, that fome able Irishman, who underftands the language and records of his country, may redeem, ere it is too late, the genuine antiquities of Ireland, from the hands of thefe idle fabulifts.
By comparing the history preserved by Offian with the legends of the Scots and Irish writers, and, by afterwards examining both by the test of the Roman authors, it is eafy to discover which is the moft probable. Probability is all that can be eftablished on the authority of tradition, ever dubious and uncertain. But when it favours the hypothefis laid down by cotemporary writers of undoubted veracity, and, as it were, finishes the figure of which they only drew the out-lines, it ought, in the judgment of fober reason, to be preferred to accounts framed in dark and distant periods, with little judgment, and upon no authority.
CONCERNING the period of more than a century, which intervenes between Fingal and the reign of Fergus, the fon of Erc or Arcath, tradition is dark and contradictory. Some trace up the family of Fergus to a fon of Fingal of that name, who makes a confiderable figure in Offian's poems. The three elder fons of Fingal, Offian, Fillan, and Ryno, dying without iffue, the fucceffion, of courfe, devolved upon Fergus, the fourth fon and his pofterity. This Fergus, fay fome traditions, was the father of Congal, whofe fon was Arcath, the father of Fergus, properly called the first king of Scots, as it was in his time the Caël, who poffeffed the western coaft of Scotland, began to be diftinguished, by foreigners, by the name of Scots. From thence forward, the Scots and Picts, as diftinct nations, became objects of attention to the hiftorians
hiftorians of other countries. The internal ftate of the two Caledonian kingdoms has always continued, and ever must remain, in obfcurity and fable.
It is in this epoch we must fix the beginning of the decay of that fpecies of heroifm, which fubfifted in the days of Offian. There are three stages in human fociety. The firft is the refult of confanguinity, and the natural affection of the members of a family to one another... The fecond begins when property is established, and men enter into affociations for mutual defence, against the invafions and injuftice of neighbours. Mankind fubmit, in the third, to certain laws and fubordinations of government, to which they trust the fafety of their perfons and property. As the first is form ed on nature, fo, of course, it is the most difinterested and noble. Men, in the laft, have leifure to cultivate the mind, and to reftore it, with reflection, to a primæval dignity of fentiment. The middle state is the region of compleat barbarifm and ignorance. About the beginning of the fifth century, the Scots and Picts were advanced into the second stage, and, confequently, into thofe circumfcribed fentiments, which always distinguish barbarity. The events which foon after happened did not at all contribute to enlarge their ideas, or mend their national character.
ABOUT the year 426, the Romans, on account of domeftic commotions, entirely forfook Britain,
finding it impoffible to defend fo diftant a frontier. The Picts and Scots, feizing this favourable opportunity, made incurfions into the deferted province. The Britons, enervated by the flavery of feveral centuries, and those vices, which are infeparable from an advanced ftate of civility, were not able to withstand the impetuous, though irregular attacks of a barbarous enemy. In the utmoft diftrefs, they applied to their old masters, the Romans, and (after the unfortunate state of the Empire could not fpare aid) to the Saxons, a nation equally barbarous and brave, with the enemies of whom they were fo much afraid. Though the bravery of the Saxons repelled the Caledonian nations for a time, yet the latter found means to extend themselves, confiderably, towards the South, It is, in this period, we must place the origin of the arts of civil life among the Scots. The feat of government was removed from the mountains to the plain and more fertile provinces of the South, to be near the common enemy, in cafe of sudden incursions. Inftead of roving through unfrequented wilds, in search of fubfiftance, by means of hunting, men applied to agriculture, and raifing of corn. This manner of life was the first means of changing the national character.-The next thing which contributed to it was their mixture with strangers.
In the countries which the Scots had conquered from the Britons, it is probable the most of the old inhabitants remained. Thefe incorporating