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were merely accidental. The publication, which foon after followed, was fo well received, that I was obliged to promise to my friends a larger collection. In a journey through the Highlands and ifles, and, by the affiftance of correspondents, fince I left that country, all the genuine remains of the works of Offian have come to my hands. In the preceding volume compleat poems were only giv Unfinished and imperfect poems were pur pofely omitted; even fome pieces were rejected, on account of their length, and others, that they might not break in upon that thread of connection, which fubfifts in the leffer compofitions, fubjoined to Fingal. That the comparative merit of pieces was not regarded, in the selection, will readily ap pear to those who fhall read, attentively, the prefent collection.-It is animated with the fame fpirit of poetry, and the fame ftrength of fentiment is fuftained throughout.
THE opening of the poem of Temora made its appearance in the firft collection of Offian's works. The fecond book, and feveral other epifodes, have only fallen into my hands lately. The story of the poem, with which I had been long acquainted, enabled me to reduce the broken members of the piece into the order in which they now appear. For the ease of the reader, I have divided it myself into books, as I had done before with the poem of Fingal. As to the merit of the poem I fhall not anticipate the judgment of the public. My impartiality might be fufpected, in my accounts of a work
a work, which, in fome measure, is become my own. If the poem of Fingal met with the applaufe of perfons of genuine tafte, I fhould alfo hope, that Temora will not displease them,
BUT what renders Temora infinitely more valuable than Fingal, is the light it throws on the hiftory of the times. The first population of Ireland, its first kings, and several circumftances, which regard its connection of old with the south and north of Britain, are prefented to us, in feveral epifodes. The fubject and catastrophe of the poem are founded upon facts, which regarded the firft peopling of that country, and the contests between the two British nations, which originally inhabited it. In a preceding part of this differtation, I have fhewn how fuperior the probability of Offian's traditions is to the undigested fictions of the Irish bards, and the more recent and regular legends of both Irish and Scottish hiftorians. I mean not to give offence to the abettors of the high antiquities of the two nations, though I have all along expreffed my doubts, concerning the veracity and abilities of those who deliver down their antient hiftory. For my own part, I prefer the national fame, arifing from a few certain facts, to the legendary and uncertain annals of ages of remote and obfcure antiquity. No kingdom now established in Europe, can pretend to equal antiquity with that of the Scots, even according to my system, so that it is altogether needless to fix their origin a fictitious millennium before.
SINCE the publication of (the poems contained in the first volume, many infinuations have been made, and doubts arifen, concerning their authenticity. I fhall, probably, hear more of the fame kind after the prefent poems fhall make their appearance. Whether these fufpicions are suggested by prejudice, or are only the effects of ignorance of facts, I shall not pretend to determine. To me they give no concern, as I have it always in my power to remove them. An incredulity of this kind is natural to perfons, who confine all merit to their own age and country. These are generally the weakest, as well as the most ignorant, of the people. Indolently confined to a place, their ideas are narrow and circumfcribed.-It is ridiculous enough to fee fuch people as these are, branding their ancestors, with the despicable appellation of barbarians. Sober reafon can easily difcern, where the title ought to be fixed with more propriety.
As prejudice is always the effect of ignorance, the knowing, the men of true taste, despise and difmifs it. If the poetry is good, and the characters natural and striking, to them it is a matter of indifference, whether the heroes were born in the little village of Angles in Juteland, or natives of the barren heaths of Caledonia. That honour which nations derive from ancestors, worthy, or repowned, is merely ideal. It may buoy up the minds of individuals, but it contributes very little to their importance in the eyes of others.-But of
all those prejudices which are incident to narrow minds, that which measures the merit of performances by the vulgar opinion, concerning the country which produced them, is certainly the most ridiculous. Ridiculous, however, as it is, few have the courage to reject it; and, I am thoroughly convinced, that a few quaint lines of a Roman or Greek epigrammatift, if dug out of the ruins of Herculaneum, would meet with more cordial and univerfal applause, than all the most beautiful and natural rhapsodies of all the Celtic bards and Scandinavian Scalders that ever exifted.
WHILE fome doubt the authenticity of the compofitions of Offian, others ftrenuously endeavour to appropriate them to the Irish nation. Though the whole tenor of the poems fufficiently contradict fo abfurd an opinion, it may not be improper, for the fatisfaction of fome, to examine the narrow foundation, on which this extraordinary claim is built.
QF all the nations defcended from the antient Celta, the Scots and Irish are the most fimilar in language, cuftoms, and manners. This This argues a more intimate connection between them, than a remote descent from the great Celtic ftock. It is evident, in short, that, at fome one period or other, they formed one fociety, were fubject to the fame government, and were, in all refpects, one and the fame people. How they became divided, which the colony, or which the mother nation, does not fall now to be difcuffed. The first circumstance that
înduced me to difregard the vulgarly-received opinion of the Hibernian extraction of the Scottish nation, was my obfervations on their antient lanThat dialect of the Celtic tongue, spoken guage. in the north of Scotland, is much more pure, more agreeable to its mother language, and more abounding with primitives, than that now spoken, or even that which has been writ for fome centuries back, amongst the most unmixed part of the Irish nation. A Scotchman, tolerably converfant in his own language, understands an Irish compofition, from that derivative analogy which it has to the Galic of North-Britain. An Irishman, on the other hand, without the aid of study, can never underftand a compofition in the Galic tongue.-This affords a proof, that the Scotch Galic is the moft original, and, confequently, the language of a more antient and unmixed people. The Irifh, however backward they may be to allow any thing to the prejudice of their antiquity, feem inadvertently to acknowledge it, by the very appellation they give to the dialect they speak.-They call their own language Caëlic Eirinach, i. e. Caledonian Irish, when, on the contrary, they call the dialect of North-Britain a Chaëlic or the Caledonian tongue, emphatically. A circumstance of this nature tends more to decide which is the most antient nation, than the united teftimonies of a whole legion of ignorant bards and fenachies, who, perhaps, never dreamed of bringing the Scots from Spain to Ireland, till fome one of them, more learned than the reft, discovered, that the Romans called the first