Page:Irisleabhar na Gaedhilge vol 1 no 1.djvu/17

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Roiṁ na daoiniḃ a ṡeas ins an m-beárna
mar ṡo.
Le coimeád beo
An ġlóir is binne,
Cuireaḋ i g-cló,
Ár leaḃairín:
A’s mar is cóir,
Cuiṁneoċaiḋ sinn-ne
Go bráṫ an glór
Mór, milis, mín.
Ná biḋeaḋ aon scoilt, no aon imreas le
A ġortóċaḋ ár g-cúis no a ṁillfeaḋ ár
Aċt Foiġid agus Carṫanaċt ċoiḋċe mar ḟál;
Is féidir leo duine no cuideaċt ṡáḃáil.
A’s coinniġ fós
Ó ḋearmad grána,
Plúirín a’s rós
Na d-teangan breáġ:
Má ṫámuid féin
Go díleas, dána,
Ní ṫiocfaiḋ leun
Uirre no cráḋ.

Saṁain, 1882.


By Rev. John James O’Carroll, S.J.


The works selected by the Intermediate Education Commissioners for examination in Celtic, in the first year of their Board’s existence, were all prose tales, and were discussed in several articles in the earlier numbers of the third and latest series of the Irish Ecclesiastical Record. But the volumes of the Ossianic Society from which those tales were taken contained poems too, and the poems seem to have a still greater claim upon attention than the tales in prose. They are poems of the kind which the reader would most naturally expect, and which, so far as extrinsic considerations go, would certainly have the greatest attraction for him—poems in which Ossian himself appears as the principal narrator. The Irish poems of this kind must not be supposed to have been unknown to James Macpherson. He even went so far as to pronounce literary criticism upon them; and our neglected Irish literature has been so little favoured with notice of any kind, that we are only too glad to have even Macpherson’s unfavourable judgment to lay before the reader, as an introduction to the Irish Ossianic poems. It is important from the outset to have a clear idea of the position which this famous man took up. He did not deny the existence in Ireland of many Ossianic poems, that is (to repeat once more what ought to be the definition of this term) poems in which Ossian, the son of Fionn, appears as the principal narrator. When David Hume, in his interesting and amusing letter to Dr. Blair proposing a test[1] to try Macpherson’s poetry, relates that “Bourke (sic), a very ingenious Irish gentleman,” “the author of a tract on the Sublime and Beautiful,” has told him how Mr. Bourke’s Irish country-men, on becoming acquainted with Mr. Macpherson’s publication of “Ossian,” exclaimed that “Ossian” was theirs, and that “Ossian” was old, and that they had known “Ossian” a long time; poor James Macpherson might have fairly answered that his “Ossian” was not exactly their old acquaintance, but in his opinion a far superior person. Neither did Macpherson maintain that his “Ossian” was commonly known in the Highlands of Scotland, in contradistinction to the more vulgar “Ossian” of the neighbouring island. When Shaw bore the remarkable testimony which we find quoted by our Ossianic Society—

  1. Hume has a reputation for logic, but he seems to have reasoned curiously about Macpherson. He represents him as certainly wrongheaded, and almost next-door to insane, for not choosing to submit to careful investigation when his veracity was impeached. And at the same time, to put the matter very mildly, Hume seems to think it at least quite possible that the impeachment was only too well-founded. Surely if that hypothesis was really the case, Macpherson would have had to be wrong-headed and next-door to insane, indeed, to be willing to consent to a careful investigation of his statements. To affect passion and indignation would then have been to follow the dictates of a cool and calculating temper.