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they were preserved. The Highlanders of Scotland have remained almost entirely exempt from foreign invasion and intermixture, since their first settlement. The rocks, mountains, and friths, which defend from hostile attack, tend likewise to keep the people that dwell among them in a state of seclusion from foreign visitors. Their manners continue unchanged during the lapse of ages: and their language is not contaminated by an admixture of other tongues. Hence traditionary legends may be handed down uncorrupted through many succeeding generations; and among a people naturally fond of heroic atchievements, it is not wonderful that a national poetry, which describes deeds of valour in captivating language, should have been religiously preserved. There was, besides, a distinct race of men, the Bards, whose chief business it was, to recite, on public occasions, these highly admired compositions ; and in the Highlands of Scotland t.he race pf the Bards is but very recently extinct.
The opponents of Ossian, indeed,and particularly Mr. Laing, have struggled tp produce internal evidence against the antiquity of his supposed poems. They have endeavoured to prove that many of the expressions and allusions are of a mor dern date, and betray a modern artist. But. they seem to be successfully answered by the defenders of the Gaelic bard. That a few novel expressions should occur in poems taken from the lips of a modern reciter, needs not excite our wonder: but if in the course of compositions of considerable length, no allusion to modern manners can be detected, no similitude borrowed from civilised life, no hint of a knowledge of the arts, customs, science, or religion of a more refined stage of society can be discerned, we have the strongest inducement to consider these compositions as genuine remains of antiquity. We present our readers with the following specimen of the manner in which Dr. Graham has refuted some of the objections alledged by Mr. Laing against the antiquity of Ossian's poetry.
« Under the head of " Manners and Customs," Mr L,aing (with what propriety is not very obvious) urges some strange topic? of detection, which it will not be difficult to refute.
'.He remarks, that the aspin, or trembling poplar, the crithean, or eran na crlth, of the Celts, so often mentioned in these Poems, is a foreign tree, and not a Dative of Scotland. Here it appear?, that the learned gendeman has chosen to occupy ground to which' he is a stranger. It. is a point sufficiently established amongst naturalists, that, the fia/iulus tremula, or aspin, is indigenous to Scotland; I can point it out, in the utmost profusion, in the Highlands, growing on the margin of lakes, and in the crevices of rocks. Were it worth while, on a point so undeniable, I could cite the authority of one of the first names in naturai
history, to whom I thewed it last season, growing in abundance on the shores of Loch-Ketturin, in Perthshire.
'With equal gratuitousness, the yew-tree, the iubhar, or iu'ar of the Highlanders, is asserted to be " certainly not indigenous." But it is certain, I must affirm, that the yew-tree has always been, and still is, a native of Scotland. Lightfoot, in his Flora Scotica, holds it to be such on the authority of Dr. Stuart of Luss, the first name, at this day, in the science of the plants of his native Highlands. There are innumerable places in Scotland, which still have their denomination from this tree, according to the ordinary use of giving names to places, from the species of trees with which they chiefly abound ;—thus, Glen-iu'ir, " the Glen of Yews;" Dunure, or Dun-iu'ir, " the Hill of Yews," &c. Giraldus Cambrensis * informs us, that the yew-tree grew in such abundance in Ireland, that the scarcity of bees, in that country, is, in part, to be ascribed to this cause. But, if it abounded in Ireland, how can it be denied to Scotland, so nearly of the same soil and climate? Notwithstanding the general attempts to extirpate it, on account of its noxious qualities, it still grows in some parts of Scotland.
'Of the legitimacy of Mr Laing's argument, drawn from the silence of Ossian concerning certain productions and animals which must have existed in Scotland, in his days, I entertain considerable doubt. The mention of the wild boar, it is observed, occurs inly once in Macpherson's translation. But what, I would ask, can be inferred from this circumstance? Might not the authenticity of the poems ascribed to Virgil be questioned, on the same ground, who, though his ten Eclogues relate exclusively to shepherds and flocks, and his Georgics to pastoral and agricultural economy, makes mention of the fox only once, in the whole compass of his poems ?f In the Seandana, a collection of Gaelic poems published by Dr. Smith, which, notwithstanding many inequalities, and innumerable interpolations, contains much poeiry, which is undoubtedly, ancient, and of very high merit, we meet with frequent mention of the wolf:J and the whole of the poem of Diarmid, in that collection, relates to the hunting of the wild boar.
'As to the charge of the absence of all sort of allusion to frost in, these Poems, without taking advantage of the observation of Tacitus, concerning the mildness of the climate,^ I must say, that it is totally unfounded. The opening of the eighth book of Temora furnishes a magnificent image, derived from frost; and, in Dr. Smith's Collection, we have innumerable allusions to the same object, though, even in his own translation, these are sometimes, according to his usual manner, mutilated and )ost. ||
* * Giraldus, Topographia Hibernise, par? i. c. 5.
f Virg. Eel. iii. v. 91.
% See Finnan and Lorma, and Conn, p, 252. It is singular, that Or. Smith apologizes (Gaelic Antiq. p. 210.) for the omission of all mention of the wolf, though it occurs in the poems given by himself.
§ Tac. Agr. c. 12. "Asfierltas frlgorum abest."
|| See Seandana, pages 73. 82. 8*. 103, &c. It is, indeed, very singular, that, exclusive of the simile derived from frost, in the eighth book of femora, now alluded to, the learned gentleman himself, in the course
With respect to the precise period when Ossian is believed to have flourished, much is doubtless left to conjecture. His admirers usually place him as tar back as the fourth or fifth century of the Christian sera; and- some even think it probable that he lived about the time of the Roman invasion of Scotland under Agricqla, as allusions are made in his poemSto the devastations committed in his country by an army of strangers. Some will have it that Fingal fought and conquered a division of the Roman forces ; but of this it is impossible to produce any satisfactory evidence. The unmixed paganism that runs through the poetry of Ossian proves it to be of a high antiquity, if it be at all genuine; for it is well known that the Northern Picts were convened to Christianity in the sixth century, by the labours of Cofumba, and. other Irish missionaries.
It has been made a question whether the Fingalians were inhabitants of Scotland or of I> eland; for, as we have stated, traditions respecting them, and even original poetry in which they are celebrated, are common to both countries. Our limits will not permit us to state at length the arguments by which we are induced to assign the honour of their permanent residence to Scotland, though they were doubtless occasional visitors of the neighbouring isle. The Highland poems concerning this race are more numerous, and have more the marks of a genuine antiquity, than those which have yet been found in Ireland. ,
Beside the Essay on Ossian, properly so called, Dr. Graham's volume contains the 7th book of Temora, as edited by Macpherson in Gaelic, with a new translation and notes; and two appendixes, one by Dr. Graham, the object of which is to prove that the order of the Druids existed in the northern districts, of Britain; the other by Professor Richardson of Glasgow, intitled "The Origin of Superstition, illustrated in the Mythology of the Poems of Ossian." This consists of two parts, the first containing general remarks on the proneness of mankind to believe in the separate existence of the soul after death. In the second part Mr. R. asserts the existence of a mythological scheme, in the poems of .Ossian ; a scheme arising, he thinks, from the unassisted and unbiassed efforts of the human
of his Dissertation, has cited two other, passages, alluding to the same phenomenon. The one is, Ossian's comparison of Swaran " to a rock of ice." 1 he other is his comparison of the heroes, upon a certain occasion, to " oaks with all their branches round them, when they echo to the stream of frost." All this shews a very strange in accuncy of criticism. That Mr. Laing should assert, that only "a single image, in Fingal, is derived from frost," whilst he himself has furnished two, may serve to shew what we are to expect in the sequel of hi* detection^.'
mind. He assumes that it did not owe its origin to the .traditional fragments of a Divine Revelation. This mythological scheme, which he says escaped, the notice of Dr. Blair, the abbe Cesarotti, and Mr. Macpherson himself, is ho other than the ghosts or shades of departed heroes, which the Gaelic bard occasionally invokes, and represents as hovering near their living desceudents, like the fleeting mist, as it curls before the wind. But surely the ghosts were well known to all 'hese gentlemen, long before the Professor thought fit to discover that they constitute a mythological scheme ,• we therefore cannot tiiink the discovery a proof of the Professor's acuteness, or a service to literature.
Art. VI. The Life and Writing] of the late Henry Tanner, of Exeter; published from his own MSS. by the Rev. Robert Hawker, D D. 8vo. pp.231, with a Portrait. Price 6s. bds Williams and Co. 1807.
A/JR. Tanner left, in indigent circumstances, a widow, past 80 years of age, and a daughter; and it was partly with a view to obtain for them some little pecuniary assistance, that Dr. Hawker was induced to publish these papers of their pious relative, restricting himself, in the office of editor, from introducing any thing of his own but a short advertisement, and here and there an explanatory notice.
The papers consist of Mr. Tanner's brief memoir of part of his own life, spiritual reflections made in a journey from Plymo utti to Exeter, and back again to Piymouth, and an extract, to the extent of seven months, from his diary. They are all equally written with a simplicity which fully discloses the characfer of the man: and it is a character which cannot be contemplated without great respect, by any one who knows how to value patience in suffering, habitual piety, and the twohanded diligence which can so prosecute both secular and religious labours as never to neglect either in the attention to the other, and as to prevent any incongruity in their being united, by maintaining the great principle of serving the. Divine Being equally in both.
These compositions afford, throughout, a very strong illustration of the positive advantage arising from sincere piety, to a man possessed of very few other sources of satisfaction, and attended by many causes of grief. The greater part of Mr. Tanner's life appears to have been spent in circumstances very little favourable to felicity; and one considerable portion of the earlier half of it was oppressed by one of the severest calamities which a goo I man can suffer, the obdurate progressive wickedness of the person at that time his nearest relative. He was relieved at length from the miserable connection, but in a manner which for a while subjected him to a still keener anguish than all that had been inflicted before.
* My poor unhappy, wretched wife, one morning, left our youngest child, then an infant at the breast, with the care of a neighbour, for a few minutes, as she said, promising to return very shortly. The whole day passed, and she came not. In the evening, on my return from labour, the neighbour brought me the child, informing me of the circumstance. I lifted
j my eyes to heavep, and cried out: Well! the Lord knows best, when it is enough. I took the babe, thanked my neighbour for her kindness, and went to my room, with a heavy heart. I put the child to rest, and betook myself to prayer, finding my soul more than usually drawn out, concerning my poor wandering partner, that the Lord would yet shew mercy to her, and grant me a suited conformity to his holy will.
* In the morning it became necessary, in order to follow my work, to provide a nurse for the child: so that requesting the kind neighbour to watch by my child, for a short space, I went forth in quest of some person, to take this charge. In crossing a lane called Howe's Lane, my wife was coming down, as I entered it. She first saw me, before that I saw her, and she turned back, and ran up Holy Cross Lane, opposite to it. The moment I saw her, I called to her, and pursued her; but she outran me, and as she passed the corner of that lane, and entered Comber's Lane, she turned herself round, lifted her hand, and said, " You need not run after me;" which were the last words 1 ever heard her speak; the last sight I ever had of her. 1 continued running, but saw her no more.
* About a fortnight after, one of her old companions in iniquity, came to inform me of the sad end which followed. It seemed from this woman's account, that she left Plymouth, in company with an old marine, just paid off, for Ireland. The account she gave of herself to this woman, at the Barbican stairs, on stepping into the boat, was truly distressing. She confessed that her life was truly miserable. She did not, she said, leave her husband and children, by way of seeking pleasure, ease, or comfort; these were gone for ever: but, that when she reflected on her situation, and looked back to her former state; when she thought of her husband's kind treatment and admonitions, and considered how she had prostituted herself to this abandoned life, she was ashamed to be seen, and cared not what became of herself.'
'It was some time after her departure, that I learnt the sad, and most distressing event, which terminated my poor wife's miserable life.'
.' It appeared from the tidings brought by one that escaped (though 1 never saw him) that while the ship, in which my wife fled, was crossing the channel to Ireland, a storm arose, and the ship foundered ; and the poor guilty sinful creature, my wife, among many others, perished in the waves.'
Mr. Tanner relates with the utmost ingenuousness the important change of his character, commenced on hearing a sermon of the pious and eloquent Whitfield, to which he resorted as a ringleader of blaspheming persecutors; with various particulars of his mode of life, his poverty, his distresses on account of his spiritual concerns, his lapses in religious character, and the train of circumstances which led him to become at length a preacher. No man, was evermore free from interested motives in assuming this office; for he preached regularly in one situation eighteen years without receiving