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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 inine, 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)
DUGALD STEWART. 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.
London, December 31, 1806.
Tue ORIGINAL EPISODE OF PAINEASOLLIS, as found among the late Mr. MACPHERSON'S Papers, referred
to p. 456, Supplemental Observations.
Muic mo mhic; 'se thuirt an righ,
LITERAL TRANSLATION, BY ALEXANDER
STEWART, A. M.
Son of my son ; thus said the king; Oscar, chief of our noble youth! I beheld the gleaming of thy sword Like the lightning of the mountains in the storm. The enemy fell beneath thy hand in the battle. Like wither'd leaves by the blast of winter, Adhere close to the fame of thy fathers, And cease not to be as they have been. When the victorious Trenmor lived, And Trathal, the father of mighty heroes, They fought all their battles with success, And obtained the praise of every contest. Thus their renown shall remain in song, And they shall be celebrated by bards to come. Oscar! do thou subdue the strong arm of battle; But always spare the feeble hand. Be as a rapid spring-tide stream in winter To resist the powerful enemies of the Feinni; But be like the gentle breeze of summer To those that are weak, and in distress. Such did Trenmor always live, And such has Trathal ever been, In their fair steps Comhal trod, And Fingal always supported the weak. In their cause would I stretch my hand, With cheerfulness would I go to receive them,