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thought upon interrogating themfelves; so that if they do not know what they tell to be true, they likewise do not distinctly perceive it to be false.
Mr. Boswell was very diligent in his enquiries; and the result of his investigations was, that the answer to the second question was commonly such as nullified the answer to the first.
We were a while told, that they had an old transla. tion of the scriptures ; and told it till it would appear obstinacy to enquire again. Yet by continued accumulation of questions we found, that the translation meant, if any meaning there were, was nothing else than the Irish Bible.
We heard of manuscripts that were, or that had been, in the hands of somebody's father, or grandfather ; but at last we had no reason to believe they were other than Irish. Martin mentions Irish, but never any Earse manuscripts, to be found in the islands in his time.
I suppose my opinion of the poems of Osian is already discovered. I believe they never existed in any other form than that which we have seen. The editor, or author, never could shew the original ; nor can it be shewn by any other ; to revenge reasonable incredulity, by refusing evidence, is a degree of info. lence, with which the world is not yet acquainted ; and stubborn audacity is the laft refuge of guilt. It would be easy to Thew it if he had it ; but whence. could it be had ? It is too long to be remembered, and the language formerly had nothing written. He has doubtlefs inserted names that circulate in popular stories, and may have translated some wandering
ballads, if any can be found; and the names, and some of the images, being recollected, make an inaccurate auditor imagine, by the help of Caledonian bigotry, that he has formerly heard the whole.
I asked a very learned minister in Sky, who had used all arts to make me believe the genuineness of the book, whether at last he believed it himself? but he would not answer. He wished me to be deceived, for the honour of his country ; but would not directly and, formally deceive me. Yet has this man's testimony been publickly produced, as of one that held Fingal to be the work of Olian.
It is said, that some men of integrity profess to have heard parts of it, but they all heard them when they were boys; and it was never said that any of them could recite fix lines. They remember names, and perhaps some proverbial sentiments; and having no distinct ideas, coin a resemblance without an original. The persuasion of the Scots, however, is far from universal; and in a question so capable of proof, why should doubt be suffered to continue? The editor has been heard to say, that part of the poem was received by him, in the Saxon character. He has then found, by some peculiar fortune, an unwritten language, written in a character which the natives probably never beheld.
I have yet supposed no imposture but in the publisher; yet I am far from certainty, that some translations have not been lately made, that may now be obtruded as parts of the original work. Credulity on one part is a strong temptation to deceit on the other, especially to deceit of which no personal injury is
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the consequence, and which flatters the author with his own ingenuity. The Scots have something to plead for their easy reception of an improbable fiction : they are seduced by their fondness for their supposed ancestors. A Scotchman must be a very sturdy moralist, who does not love Scotland better than truth; he will always love it better than enquiry: and if falsehood Aatters his vanity, will not be very diligent to detect it. Neither ought the English to be much influenced by Scotch authority ; for of the past and prefent state of the whole Earse nation, the Lowlanders are at least as ignorant as ourselves. To be ignorant is painful ; but it is dangerous to quiet our uneafiness by the delusive opiate of hafty persuafion.
But this is the age in which those who could not read, have been supposed to write; in which the giants of antiquated romance have been exhibited as realities. If we know little of the ancient Highlanders, let us not fill the vacuity with Ossian. If we have not searched the Magellanick regions, let us however forbear to people them with Patagons.
Having waited fome days at Armidel, we were fiata tered at last with a wind that promised to convey us to Mull. We went on board a boat that was taking in kelp, and left the isle of Sky behind us.
We were doomed to experience, like others, the danger of trusting to the wind, which blew against us, in a short time, with such violence, that we, being no seasoned sailors, were willing to call it a tempest. I was seafick, and lay down. Mr. Bofwell kept the deck. The master knew not well whither to go; and our difficulties inight perhaps have filled a very pathetick rage, had not Mr. Maclean of Col, who, with every other qualification which insular life requires, is a very active and skilful mariner, piloted us fafe into his own harbour. ance,
In the morning we found ourselves under the isle of Col, where we landed ; and passed the first day and night with captain Maclean, a gentleman who has lived some time in the East Indies, but having dethroned no Nabob, is not too rich to settle in his own country.
Next day the wind was fair, and we might have had an easy passage to Mull; but having, contrarily to our own intention, landed upon a new island, we would not leave it wholly unexamined. We therefore suffered the vessel to depart without us, and trusted the skies for an other wind.
Mr. Maclean of Col, having a very numerous family, has, for some time past, refided at Aberdeen, that he may superintend their education, and leaves the young gentleman, our friend, to govern his dominions, with the full power of a Highland chief. By the absence of the laird's family, our entertainment was made more difficult, because the house was in a great degree diffurnished; but young Cols kindness and activity fupplied all defects, and procured us more than sufficient accommodation.
Here I first mounted a little Highland steed ; and if there had been many spectators, should have been fomewhat alhamed of my figure in the march. The horses of the islands, as of other barren countries,
are very low: they are indeed musculous and strong, beyond what their size gives reason for expecting ; but a bulky man upon one of their backs makes a very disproportionate appearance.
From the habitation of captain Maclean we went to Grisipol, but called by the way on Mr. Hector Maclean, the minister of Col, whom we found in a hut, that is, a house of only one floor, but with windows and chimney, and not inelegantly furnished. Mr. Maclean has the reputation of great learning: he is seventy-seven years old, but not infirm, with a look of venerable dignity excelling what I remember in
any other man. His conversation was not unsuitable to his appear
I lost some of his good-will, by treating a heretical writer with more regard than, in his opinion, a héretick could deserve. I honoured his orthodoxy,and did not much censure his asperity. A man who has settled his opinions, does not love to have the tranquillity of his conviction disturbed ; and at seventyseven it is time to be in earnest.
Mention was made of the Earse translation of the New Testament, which has been lately publisbed, and of which the learned Mr. Macqueen of Sky spoke with commendation; but Mr. Maclean said, he did not use it, because he could make the text more intelligible to his auditors by an extemporary version. From this I inferred, that the language of the translation was not the language of the isle of Col.
He has no publick edifice for the exercise of his ministry; and can officiate to no greater number than a room can contain; and the room of a hut is not very large. This is all the opportunity of wor.