Page images
PDF
EPUB

published by Mr. Flill, the Baron de Harold, Miss Brookes, and others, that there might have been one or two other inferior poets, cotemporaries with Saint Patrick, and oven posterior to that period, who bore the name of Ossian ; or who chose to assume a name in the days of old so renowned in poetic lore?

The question, whether the Scots, derived from the Celtic origin, had first been established in Ireland, and migrated thence to the northwest coasts of Great Britain, has been (as noticed by Mr. Hume) disputed with as great zeal, and even acrimony, between the Scottish and Irish antiquaries, as if the honour of their respective countries were most deeply concerned in the decision. We need not therefore be sur-, prised, that the same zeal has been evinced by each nation in claiming Ossian as her native bard. Homer had contending nations and cities to claim the honour of his birth ; and many ages had elapsed before it was ascertained that he was a native of lovia.

- Neither need we be surprised that the bards and traditional preservers of ancient Gaelic songs in Scotland and Ireland, have ever been fond of ascribing them all to so divine a bard as Ossian, especially such poems as relate to the wars, in which he boue a part, and to the exploits of his own race. This may be the cause why there are so many ancient poems in both countries ascribed to Ossian, the son of Fingal. And it must be confessed there is some difficulty in separating the genuine from the spurious, so as to clear them from the mist of obscurity, in which they are cnveloped.

Note Y, referred to p. 329. As it may not be unacceptable to the reader, we shall give a brief explanation of the terms Morgante and Ricciardetto, alluded to in the Text, by the Abbé Cesarotti.

1. Morgante, or rather Il Morgante Maggiore, is an epic poem or romance, composed in the fifteenth century, by Luigi Pulci, a Florentine of noble descent. This poem is generally regarded as the prototype of the Orlando Furioso of Ariosto. The author appears to have lived on terms of intimacy with Lorenzo di Medici, who, in one of his poetical effusions titled La Caccia col Falcone, mentions him with great freedom and jocularity. This poem of Morgante, as observed by Mr. Roscoe, in his Life of Lorenzo di Medici, “ is the singular offspring of the way, ward genius of Pulci, and has been as immoderately commended by its ,

admirers as it has been unreasonably condemned and degraded by its opponents; and while some have not scrupled to prefer it to the productions of Ariosto and Tasso, others have decried it as vulgar, absurd, and profane.” It is said by Crescimbeni, that Pulci was accustomed to recite this poem at the table of Lorenzo, in the manner of the ancient rhapsodists.

2. Ricciardetto is the name of a burlesque poem in thirty cantos, written by Nicolas Fortiguerri, (under the feigned name of Niccolo Carteromaco), a learned Italian prelate, who fourished in the beginning of the last century. The author wished to prove to a party of wits and critics at Rome, how easy it is for a man of imagination to write in the style of Ariosto, whom some of them had preferred to Tasso. In this poem he gives full scope to his imagination; and its extravagance would be fatiguing beyond measure, were it not supported by the greatest ease of versification, and perpetual sallies of pleasantry and genius.

SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS

ON THE

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN'S POEMS.

BY JOHN M'ARTHUR, LL. D.

« PreviousContinue »