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for their insertion. Their principal object seems to have been, forcibly to illustrate that variety and versatility of talent which so remarkably distinguished the Scottish bard :
What bird in beauty, flight, or song
Can with the bard compare,
As ever child of air?
His plume, his note, his form, could Burns
For whim or pleasure change :
With transmigration strange :
The blackbird, oracle of Spring,
When flow'd his moral lay ;
Capriciously at play :
The humming-bird, from bloom to bloom,
Inhaling heavenly balm ;
The halcyon, in the calm :-
At witching time of night;
That carol'd to the light.
He was the wren amidst the grove,
When in his homely vein;
With thunder in his train:
The woodlark, in his mournful hours;
The goldfinch, in his mirth;
Enrapturing heaven and earth :
The swan, in majesty and grace,
Contemplative and still;
Could like his satire kill.
The linnet, in simplicity;
In tenderness, the dove;
The nightingale, in love.
Nor lent a charm to vice,
That bird of paradise !
Peace to the dead !-In Scotia's choir
Of minstrels, great and small,
The phenix of them all * !
* From the Cambridge Quarterly Review, No. 3, pp. 107,
The Muse! whate'er the Muse inspires,
It is a circumstance strongly corroborative of the genuineness and authenticity of the poems ascribed to Ossian by the Scottish antiquaries, and one which has hitherto not had its due consideration, that in the numerous Irish poems still extant in the Gaelic or Erse language, and attributed to Oisin or Ossian, whom the Irish are anxious to claim as a native of their island, the very peculiar, and I may say singular strain of sentiment and feeling which, considering the era and state of civilization in which the poems of Ossian are said to have been produced, so remarkably distinguishes both the per
sonal character and the works of the Scottish bard, should have been preserved with so much of its original raciness and vigour.
These Irish poems, instead of assuming to themselves the high antiquity which has been established for their Scottish brethren by Blair, and Graham, and Sinclair, not only make Oisin and St. Patrick, who flourished in the fifth century, contemporaries, but exhibit moreover very evident traces of having been composed not anterior to the ninth or tenth century. Now, as the literati of the sister island have altogether failed in their attempt to prove, either that Macpherson ever was in Ireland, or had any of his oral originals through an Irish channel ; and as the productions ascribed to the Caledonian Ossian claim not only a higher antiquity, but are entirely free from all the modern allusions and gross anachronisms which vitiate the pretensions of the Hibernian poet, it follows, as a result of the highest probability, that the minstrelsy of the Irish Oisin and his followers was founded on the prior inspiration of the bard of Morven; for it should be recollected, that at the period when Fingal and his son are recorded to have lived, the inhabitants of the northern parts of Ireland, and the western parts
of Scotland, not only spoke the same language, but were frequently either at war with each other, or united against a common enemy.
We find, indeed, both from the evidence arising from the Scottish poems themselves, and from the testimony of the Danish historian Suhm *, that
Speaking of Swaran's contest with a Norwegian prince of the name of Gram, the historian, whose work in Denmark is esteemed as of the highest authority, thus proceeds: “ Swaran was the son of Starno; he had carried on many wars in Ireland, where he had vanquished most of the heroes that opposed him, except Cuchullin, who, assisted by the Gaelic or Caledonian king, Fingal, not only defeated him, but even took him prisoner, but had the generosity to send him back again to his country;" a quotation which has drawn from sir John Sinclair the following inference and remark. “ The existence of Swaran, son of Starno, and his wars in Ireland, and his having been defeated by Fingal, as related by Ossian, are therefore authenticated by the historians of Denmark; and in their annals a number of particulars are stated regarding the manners of those times, which confirm many of the particulars mentioned by Ossian.” And he then adds," it is very satisfactory to have been the means of bringing forward a new, and at the same time so convincing a proof of the authenticity of these ancient poems; and hence indeed it appears, that the more the subject is investigated, the more clearly will that authenticity be established.”—Dissertation on the Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian, pp. lxiii.-Ixv. Ixvi.