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was in the Highlands, collecting the poems of Ossian, he employed himself four days and four nights at Portree, in taking down a variety of them from the recitation of the declarant's said brother. That his said brother had a Gaelic manuscript in quarto, and about an inch and quarter in thickness, regarding the Fingalians, which he gave to Mr. Macpherson, who carried it with him; since which time the declarant never heard of it.
The affidavit of Ewan Macpherson, late schoolmaster at Badenoch, made before two justices of the peace, 11th September, 1800,* gives evidence to his having accompanied Mr. Macpherson, about the year 1760, on part of his tour through the Highlands, in search of the poems of Ossian, and that, during three or four weeks, he was employed in taking down the poems of Ossian from the recitations of several individuals at different places, which he gave to Mr. Macpherson, who was seldom present when they were taken down. That on this excursion, Mr. Macpherson got from Macmhuirich, the representative of the celebrated bards of that name, a book of the size of a New Testament, and of the nature of a common-place book, which contained some genealogical accounts of families, together with some of the poems of Ossian. And that Mr. Macpherson obtained at the same time an order from Clanronald, sen. on a Lieut. Donald Macdonald, at Edinburgh, for a Gaelic folio manuscript belonging to the family which was called Leabhar Derg (red book), and contained, as the declarant heard Clanronald say,
See Appendix to Report of the Highland Society, p. 94.
and as himself believed, some of the poems of Ossian.
The late Mr. Alexander Morison, formerly captain in a provincial corps of loyalists in America, in answer to queries transmitted to him by the Committee of the Highland Society, respecting Ossian's and other ancient poems,* declares, that before leaving Sky, even from the first of his recollection, he heard repeated, and learnt many poems and songs respecting Fingal, Ossian, and other ancient heroes, many of which were afterwards collected, arranged, and translated by Mr. James Macpherson. t. That he gave the Rev. Mr. Mackinnon, of Glendarual, before he went last time to America, in the year 1780, Ossian's Address to the Sun in the original, which being transmitted by Lord Bannatyne to the Society, and presented, he identified. That he found the address among Mr. James Macpherson's papers, when he was transcribing fairly for him, from those original papers (either collected by himself, or transmitted by his Highland friends,) as it stood in the poem of Carthon, and afterwards translated and published.
As this part of Mr. Morison's evidence tends to throw light on the deficiency of some of the original passages of Carthon, more especially the want of the Address to the Sun in the originals now printed, it
proper to observe, that the Committee appointed to superintend this publication was
See Appendix to Report of the Highland Society, p. 175. + Mr. Morison died at Greenock, Feb. 1805, at the age of 84, or 85; and his answer to the queries of the Highland Society of Edinburgh bears date 7th January, 1801.
scrupulously exact to commit only to the press such originals as were found among Mr. Macpherson's papers, and transmitted by his executors. On the margin of a copy of the first edition of Mr. Macpherson's translation of Ossian, which had been left at his Highland residence, and found there by the Rev. Mr. Anderson, one of his executors, there is written in Mr. Macpherson's hand writing, “ Delidered all that could be found of Carthon to Mr. John Mackenzie ; * and in this poem, at the words, “ Have not I seen the fallen Balclutha,” there is marked ou the margiŋ, in Mr. Macpherson's hand, “ All before this given to Mr. Mackenzie.”+
The Address to the Sun in Carthon having been supposed by some of the opposers of the authenticity of Ossian's poems, to be a forgery of Mr. Macpherson's, in iinitation of the Address to the Sun in Milton, it may be proper, in addition to the evidence already adduced of its having been translated from the Gaelic original, to mention a fact which corroborates this testimony, and must remove the most sceptical doubts on this head. The Rev. Mr. Macdiarmid, minister of Weem in Perthshire, transmitted to the Committee of the Highland Society at Edinburgh, an original copy of Ossian's Address to the Sun in Carthon, with a translation by himself. A copy of the original Mr. Macdiarmid got, about 35
• Late Secretary to the Highland Society of London, and one of Mr. Macpherson's executors. + Report of the Highland Society, p. 83.
See Report of the Highland Society, for the transiation of the Address, p. 72, and Appendix, p. 185 for the original.
years ago, from an old man in Glenlyon, who had learnt to recite it with other ancient poems in his youth. By comparing this original with the one taken from among Mr. Macpherson's papers by the late Capt. Morison, which he gave to the Rev. Mr. Mackinnon, as above mentioned, and since identified by him, it will appear that they differ very little from each other; and that the Gaelic reader may compare the original with Mr. Macpherson's translation, we have given it at the end of these Observations, with a literal Latin and English translation.
Captain Morison, having assisted Mr. Macpherson in translating the originals, collected by him on his tour through the Highlands and Isles, declares, in his answer to the queries of the Society alluded to, that afterwards in London, he had access to Mr. Macpherson’s papers ; saw the several manuscripts, which he had translated, in different hand writings; some of them in his (Macpherson's) own hand, some not, as they were either collected by himself, or sent him by his friends in the Highlands; some of them taken from oral recitation, some from MSS. That he saw also many manuscripts in the old Gaelic character in Mr. Macpherson's possession, containing some of the poems translated, which MSS. they found some difficulty in reading. How old the MSS. were he could not say, but from the character and spelling they seemed very ancient. Captain Morison admits, that Mr. Macpherson had much merit in collecting, arranging, and translating, but that he
See Captain Morison's Answer to the Queries of the Highland Society, Appendix to the Report, p. 175.
was no great poet, nor thoroughly conversant in Gaelic literature; so far from composing such poems as were translated, declares that he assisted him often in understanding the meaning of many words, and suggested some improvements. With energetic bluntness, Captain Morison remarks, “ that Macpherson could as well compose the Prophecies of Isaiah, or create the island of Skye, as compose a poem like one of Ossian's.” In a similar strain of energetic conviction, he lately declared, at an advanced period of life, “ when the tomb opened to receive him, for his strength had failed,” that he as firmly believed in the authenticity of Ossian's poems, as in the existence of soul and body. *
Lachlan Macmurrich, or Mac Vuirich, in his declaration transmitted to the Highland Society, dated August 9, 1800,+ made before Donald Macdonald, of Balronald, James Macdonald, of Garyhelich, Ewan Macdonald, of Griminish, Alexander Maclean, of Hoster, Mr. Alexander Nicolson, minister of Benbecula, and Mr. Allan Macqueen, minister of NorthUist, has stated, that to the best of his knowledge he is the eighteenth in descent from Muireach, whose posterity had officiated as bards to the family of Clanronald. That he remembered well the works of Ossian written on parchment, were in the custody of his father, as received from his predecessors: that
* See Captain Morison's Answers to Queries, Appendix to Report of Highland Society, p. 175; and his Declaration, Appendix No. IV. Sir John Sinclair's Dissertation.
+ See Declaration in Gaelic, and Translation, Report of the Society, Appendix No. XVII.