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A Chapter of Accidents.
are turning your back to it, sir! I left Dublin about two hours ago!" "that's mighty odd," said he; "when I came in on the Canal above there, the people at the lock-house desired me to turn this way-Sure it is a hard case that people will be leading a body astray." " Barney, you may depend on it that you have taken the wrong direction, and if you'll take my advice you will wheel about immediately," "Thank your honor," said Barney, "I'll do so, and I'm much obliged to you; I wish your honor a safe journey."-So saying he turned about and proceeded on very quickly, while I thought I might now slacken my pace as I had already passed the lock at which I intended to resume my station in the cabin, and was within view of the next. I looked behind me every instant expecting to see the boat and began to fear that some accident had happened; when I saw Barney running towards
"Why would a gentleman like you wish to put a poor man out of his road-isn't it a shame for you?" "What do you mean, Barney?" "What do I mean? I mean that it's a shame for a gentleman to be playing his tricks after this manner; couldn't you let me go on my journey, and not be misleading me?" "I told you that your back was turned to Dublin, and so it was-1 -for I left Dublin in the canal boat this morning, and am waiting every moment its arrival." "Arrah! sure your honour must be going astray yourself: for look at them trees-the people above there told me that them were the trees which are growing all along the side of the canal from this into Dublin."
Conviction of my mistake flashed on my mind-" Sure enough, Barney, I believe I must have turned the wrong way when I left the boat; is there any cabin near us at which we may enquire?" Barney, who saw one at a little distance, was off in an instant, and returned to me with the unpleasing and embarrassing information that he was right, and that the boat was at least three miles before me. What was I now to do? A young urchin was riding along the bank on a horse, which, like Rosinante of old, showed considerable bone and sinew, but was very sparingly provided with either hair or flesh. Having first ascertained that his charger was at least willing, if not able, to carry double, I bargained with him for a set down, and after enduring the consequent fatigue of about a three-hours' journey, I gained the boat and sat down to breakfast harrassed and as much out of humor as the harmless and unoffending ridicule of my companions would allow
A Chapter of Accidents.
me to be. Determined not again to run any risk, I remained quietly in the cabin, and reached Monasterevan without further accident; but to my surprise and grief, found that my purse had been shaken from my waistcoat pocket during my uneasy ride. I had, however, still enough to defray the expenses of one night's entertainment at the hotel; and in the morning was preparing to depart, when in my hurry I unluckily threw the teapot from the table, and broke off its spout. This seemed the climax of my misfortunes. I had not wherewithal to pay the damages, and I was a total stranger.
My plan to extricate myself was quickly formed and executed. James was ordered to go forward and not to halt until he should have gained the five-mile-stone, at which place I would meet him. I then adjusted the fragments of the teapot, so that the waiter could not at a cursory glance discern the accident-paid my bill at the door, and hurried on, nor dared to "cast one lingering look behind." Wishing to avoid the public road for fear of a pursuit, I enquired if there was any footpath across the country; and was told by a young woman, who smiled as she spoke, that if I accompanied her for about a quarter of a mile, she would direct me. Having done so, I was desired by her to leap two or three ditches which lay between the road and a thick wood to my right-to proceed straight onward through the plantation until I should meet a broad car-track, and, turning to the left, to pursue this, and it would bring me again to the road about five miles farther on. I followed her directions, and, after much fatigue encountered in pushing through brambles, I found the path and walked on until my patience was exhausted, and its broad and beaten tracks had become scarcely discernible in the dark and swampy turf. I was tired and almost alarmed at not meeting the high road again; but the path had been so winding that I knew not in what direction the road lay, and at length from a small eminence I saw the houses of Monasterevan lying before me, from which I thought I was distant at least five miles! This was beyond endurance. The woman, either through ignorance or intention, had misdirected me; and for the second time from the commencement of my journey, I found I had turned my back to my place of destination. I did not, however, waste much time in moralizing; but getting the necessary directions from a gaberlunzie man to whom I gave my last penny, I at length reached the five-mile-stone, and travelled without
The Authenticity of Ossian.
further accident to my home. On the following morning I sent James to redeem my fame at the Monasterevan hotel, and since have often amused my friends with my "chapter of accidents." I also made the following resolutions, to which I have since strenuously adhered-1. Never to send my servant before me, lest he may get drunk on the way.-2. Never to lose sight of my guide or conveyance, lest it should proceed without me.-3. Never to ride behind my groom, lest I should lose my purse.-4. Never to hurry from the breakfasttable, lest I should break the tea-pot.-5th and last, never to follow a young woman's direction; but if she points one way, assuredly to go the other.
A. B. C.
THE AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN.
MR. BURKE AND MR. HUGH CAMPBELL.
THE literature of antiquity, like ancient coin, is valuable in all ages, from the purity of the materials of which it is composed; and when its currency is no longer acknowledged, it is preserved in the cabinets of the curious for the admiration of those who are capable of understanding it. But as the genuineness of the one, so the authenticity of the other is questioned by the many, who have neither talent or taste to investigate the truth of assertions, which they have presumption enough to arraign. When an argument necessarily assumes a tedious and abstruse character, the sceptic generalizes his objections, and sets a sweeping denial against the possibility or probability of the entire, Such has been the course pursued by the opposers of Ossian-such has been the inequitable decision pronounced by these weak but specious reasoners, who have found their account in the credulity of supporters as incapable of research as themselves. Much has been said and done on the subject of our present notice, and public curiosity has been agitated from time to time with the various statements that were submitted by the various defenders of the Celtic poet. When Macpherson first opened the way to discussion, by the introduction of the subject, he increased its violence by the manner in which he replied to the questions of the intelligent; but neither his peevishness and obstinacy, nor the incorrectness of the poems he has given to the world, should influence the public
The Authenticity of Ossian.
in forming a decision as to the authenticity of the productions of Ossian. The whims of an individual, and the errors of a translation, are but fallible guides to the truth, and while less doubtful authority can be produced, Macpherson and his mistakes should be set aside altogether.
Were the authenticity of these poems established beyond dispute (and we think it may be done), what a valuable clue would they afford to the doubtful fables of our ancient origin! What an "important point d'appui to Irish history!"*
The main object of enquiry, therefore, is the authenticity of these poems; that is, whether they are merely the fictions of Macpherson's fancy (as some have warmly contended), or the original poems of Ossian, the son of Fingal. In reply to the first it may be sufficient to observe, that Macpherson himself contradicted it by the publication of the 7th canto of Temora in the original Gælic, as a specimen of those curious relics, with a promise of giving the remainder when his list of subscribers would be adequate to meet his purpose. Perhaps a query arises here which it may be well to answer-might not that 7th canto also have been a fabrication of Macpherson's?-Impossible. The Gælic scholar may at once discover what Mr. Burke has exposed-Macpherson's ignorance of that very MS. from which he professed to translate his fragments; and surely it throws a difficulty in the way of our belief, to suppose that any man could compose a work in a language with which he was but imperfectly acquainted. Every difference must be referred to this point. To those who have studied the character of Macpherson's genius, and entered with an unprejudiced mind into his literary pretensions, it is unnecessary to offer any further comment-they must be convinced that he was incapable of such compositions; but to readers who draw deductions from first impressions, and who have, perhaps, neither leisure nor inclination to pursue research beyond the simplest and least complicated of its mazes, it may be well to present such observations as have grown out of those proofs which have been laid before the public at different periods since the question was originally started. The second part of this enquiry resolves itself into a detail of a more tedious description; we will dismiss it with all possible brevity.
We have in our possession some curious remarks suggested by a comparison of Macpherson's translation with the original Galic poems, as they are preserved by the Highland Society, &c. We shall take an opportunity, when we enter more fully into the subject, of introducing them to our readers.
The Authenticity of Ossian.
There is a prevailing opinion among that cool and incredulous class of readers who weigh with caution every assertion that comes before them, and who never pronounce a final verdict until a lucid chain of incontrovertible evidence is produced-an opinion which may, perhaps, in some instances be justly founded, but which should not, therefore, govern every case-it is this, that the enthusiasm which induces men to search the records of antiquity, to examine the dull and uninteresting points of legendary lore, and to trace the traditionary histories of fiction and fact as they are mingled and confounded in those perishable annals-too often blinds and leads astrays; and that the more such men fall into error, the more obstinacy they assume, until at length this fanaticism overcomes their good sense, and they become brawlers and advocates of the incorrectness and fallacy of that which they are unable to render perspicuous. That this has been too often the case we will admit, but we consider the age of literary imposition (the term is not misapplied) to have past away; general readers have more intelligence than formerly, and the public mind is not so easily persuaded into belief; antiquarians who pursue wild means to obtain an uncertain end, have less supporters than in the days when such chimeras were novel and attractive. In applying those observations to the present subject, we allude particularly to Mr. Burke, who has attained a considerable character in the literary world by his English versification of Temora' and 'Dar-thula,' and to Mr. Hugh Campbell, who has awakened public attention by his efforts to prove the authenticity of Ossian. Of the former gentleman we can speak with decision- that he has avoided equally the extremes of zeal and scepticism-of the latter we have had little opportunity of judging for the final work by which his proceedings are to be scanned is not yet published. The localities of the poems are the points at issue between the rival commentators;-the following is a brief view of their opinions.
In the year 1818 a pamphlet appeared, entitled "Ossiana,” written by Mr. Hugh Campbell (whom we would be anxious to distinguish from THOMAS CAMPBELL, author of the "Pleasures of Hope,") whose object was to determine some of the scenes of the poems alluded to. Mr. C.'s enquiries appear to have been almost confined to the neighborhood of Belfast, or at least, not to have extended beyond the vicinity of the town of Antrim; he places the site of the royal palace of "Temora" at the village of Connor, and supposes the Nine