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The ghoft of Agandecca appears next to Fingal in a dream ; but seems to come for no other purpose than to disturb his fileep. The Poet had here a favourable opportunity of applying the fuperstition, of which he appears fo fond, and yet makes fo little use. It had been extremely poetical to have made the ghost of Agandecca intercede for her brother and countrymen, and to have implored for them the mercy of Fingal, by the love he had formerly professed.

At length the two heroes, Swaran and Fingal, meet in battle, and the same undiversified accidents happen to both. Their dark-brown fhields are cleft in twain; their steel fies broken from their helmets; and lastly, this dreadful preparation of death ends in a wrestling bout, which is described, like the former, with intolerable hyperbole, and concludes in favour of Fingal. Homer, in describing the contest between Ulysses and Ajax, in the games instituted at the funeral rites of Patroclus, has assigned the cause of the former's prevailing over the latter, and admirably preserved his character. [lliad, lib. 23. v. 725.] Here nothing is particularly mentioned to {pecify the cause of Fingal's fuperiority, or to distinguish his character; but, as in almoft all our Poet's defcriptions, every thing is general, confused, and indistinct. From this great defect in the work, we are induced to doubt its ever having been written, as supposed, by a person who was present in the actions described. Indeed we can hardly think it possible a bard who saw, and acted therein, could be so very imperfect in his representation of them. With respect to character and manners, he is in general not more indistinct in marking them than inconsistent in their preservation. That of Fingal has been represented, by the implicit admirers of this Poem, as strongly delineated, well preserved, amiable, and heroic. It must be owned he is made now and then to talk very speciously, and, in one part of the work, addresles his grandson Oscar in the following beautiful apostrophe. “O Oscar! bend the strong in arm, but spare the feeble hand. Be thou a stream of many tides against the foes of thy people, but like the gale that moves the grass to those who ask thine aid. So Trenmor lived; such Trathal was; and such has Fingal been. My arm was the support of the injured ; and the weak rested behind the lightning of my steel.” Could any one imagine so humane, so generous a personage, as he here seems to be, could be the same noble Fingal, who neglected the preservation of his mistress, that had blessed him with her charms, and risquéd her life for his safety? The same noble. Fingal who, after the defeat of Swarait, and taking him prisoner, which must na

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turally terminate the war) cruelly bids his sons make a general slaughter, 'left the enemy should save themselves by Aight? « Sons of the King of Morven, said the noble Fingal, guard the King of Lochlin.- But, Oscar, Fillan, and Ryno, ye children of the race, pursue the rest of Lochlin over the heath of Lena ; that no vessel may hereafter bound on the darkrolling waves of Inistore.”.

Very different was the heroism of the truly noble Piercy and Douglas, recorded in the famous song of Chevy-chase ; who, in order to save the harmless blood of their numerous attendants, agreed to decide the quarrel between themselves by single combat. And infinitely inferior, in every respect, must the character of Fingal appear in comparison with that of the amiable and heroic Hector in the Iliad a personage distinguished by every public and private virtue; one in whom, not only personal bravery, but filial duty, paternal tenderness, manly affection, zeal for justice, love to his country, and fiety to the Gods, were eminently conspicuous.

In regard to manners, the Piece is equally defective; it being impossible to form any consistent idea, from the Poem, of the religion of the people, or the times in which they lived.

Their religion cannot well be considered as that of the Druids"; 'the Metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls, being a doctrine inconsistent with their notions of ghosts. And though the latter be not altogether incompatible with the Christian system, yet the properties and powers attributed to such ghosts by the Poet, such as the consulting together concerning their friends, their revealing future events, affifting their countrymen, directing the storms and the like, are not very consistent with the earliest notions of Christianity. Again, there is too manifest an incongruity in the representation of things, which could hardly exist at the same time and place. Cuchullin's car and harness are adorned with gems, and yet he has nothing better to drink out of than a fhell * The echoing hall of Fingal is magnificently supported by white pillars, and yet not a chief in the army has a tent to cover him. There is frequent and pompous mention made of feasts, and yet they had not a common porridge-poe to dress their provisions. Such circumstances as these appear totally incompatible. Surely that art, which could frame and ornament a chariot and har

It is said, indeed, the Highlanders to this day drink out of shells. This we do not at all doubt ; but we imagine a charior studded with gems, is at the same time not to be found in all the Highlands, if indeed in any part of Europe,

ness ness with.gems, might have advanced to some degree of per, fection the most necessary articles of houshold furniture! The men who feasted in superb halls at home, would doubtless have contrived some means, to defend themselves from the inclemency of the weather when in the field, and have invented utensils to prepare their viands. Indeed we are apt to think the Translator is mistaken, in fixing the æra of the Poem, at the conclusion of the third century. He conceives the epoch determined, among other fimilar reasons, by the resemblance of the names Caros and Caranfius, Caracal and Caracalla ; a circumstance over-balanced, in our opinion, by more weighty considerations, than any depending on a mere similitude of James. And first, according to Ŭther, and all thofe who have studied the Irish antiquities, the Danes (or Scandinavians, as they are here termed) never visited Ireland till near five hundred years after the time laid down for their undertaking this expedition. Now we find, in the Irish history, that na war did Tublift, between the Danes and the Irish Kings, foon after the former had got footing in that kingdom; in the accounts of which the name of Fingal is mentioned, together with other circumstances that render it more probable that the fubject of the Poem was taken from the events of those times, than from so early an ærá as the Translator supposes. It appears, farther, from the Episode of Agandecca, that Fingal had been in Lochlin, whose fons, as they are called, had been

also engaged in frequent wars with the Irish and Scottish - Princes; a circumstance which, fuppofing Lochlin to mean

Scandinavia, finds no support from history at so early a period. It appears, however, that as the word Lochlin signifies, in the Celtic tongue, the sons of the sea, it may be very indefinitely applied. If we add to this, that in the Dissertation, prefixed to this Poem, Fingal is expressly called the King of Scotland, is it not strange that no mention is made in Anderson's Tables of such a Prince, about that time? => But whether or not there be any mistake about the time or parties of action, certain it is the manners of no age or people could þc so inconsistent as they are represented in the Poem. '

To come laftly to the artis, or diction, in which the great merit of this production consists, it is certain there are many pallages not inferior to any of the Mæonian or Mantuan bard. It were, however, needless to point out the particular inAtances of this excellence, since the Reader must be void of all sensibility not to have perceived this beauty and energy of style, even from the short extracts we have occasionally made

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from the work. One of the highest embellishments to Poetry
lies undoubtedly in the use and application of fimilies : in
these, as we have already observed, Offian is very redundant ;
most of them are striking, and many are applied with inimita-
ble beauty and propriety. In as many others he is as remark-,
ably defective. The impropriety and want of fimilitude we lo
often meet with, however, is even less displeasing than the
constant return of the same comparisons and modes of ex-
pression. Thus every battle is a storm, the heroes are flames,
winds, or torrents; almost all being compared to inanimate
objects. And though, in many, the fublimity is vaft and
striking, yet their frequent repetition is to the last degree fa-
tiguing and disgustful. On the whole, this Poem appears
deficient in all the superior parts of the Epopæia; its principal,
and indeed we may fay, its sole excellence, consisting in the
force of words, and in the glow of description. In the latter,
the powers of imagination are, on many occasions, admirably
exerted and carried to the highest pitch of perfection, par-
ticularly in what relates to inanimate subjects. As to senti-
mental or intellectual faculties, both the Poet's fancy and judge
ment appear generally poor and defective. The former ob-
jects are painted with truth and boldness; but then they are
always delineated in the same manner, and have little or no
variety of colouring : while, in drawing characters, the Poet
resembles those Painters, who can give no variety of features
to their figures, all appearing to belong to the same family,
or having the same unmeaning expression of countenance.
· As the production of an antient Scottish or Irish bard, this
work is undoubtedly an object of great curiosity, and worthy of
admiration; but, considered in the light of an Epic Poem, and
set in comparison with thofe of Homer and Virgil, it looks
like the statue of a dwarf beside the Colossal Apollo of Rhodes.

To the work entitled Fingal are annexed several other (smals ler) Poems*. Of these we intended to give fome account in our second article; which being, however, already arrived to a sufficient length, must be here concluded. We may posla bly consider the other pieces, at some future opportunity.

. . Among these, are the Fragments formerly published as a specie men of the Erfe Poetry; of which we gave an account in the Xxliid Volume of our Review, page 204.

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ACCOUNT

ACCOUNT of FOREIGN BOOKS.. Le Philosophe Payer. Ou Pensées de Pline ; avec un Commentaire

litteraire et moral. Par Mr. Formey. 12mo. 3 Tomes. · Leide, Chez Luzac. That is, The Heathen Philosopher : Or, The Thoughts of * Pliny, with a Commentary, literary and moral. By Mr.

Formey.

TN the Preface to this work, the Author tells us, that in the

| summer of the year 1756, he retired from Berlin, (where, being Professor of Philosophy, he ufually refides) to Charlottemberg, with a design to re-establish his health. Amongst the books he took with him, for his amusement in this recefs, were the Letters of Pliny, which afforded him such pleasure as to become his constant manual; and, as it appears, induced him, on an attentive examination, to take the resolution of publishing the Beauties of his favourite Writer, in the same manner as those of Cicero are selected by Olivet *, and of Seneca by Beaumelle. Not contented, however, with a mere imitation, but determined to improve on his models, he has added to the passages from Pliny, a Commentary of his own. In writing these reflections, he tells us, he has avoided an excess of refinement, and has written with the same ease, with which he should have conversed with a friend. This neglect of labour and study, proper as it might be to the Professor's situation, and necessary to restore the charms of health, will nevertheless but little recommend his work to the public. And we may venture to affirm that, though in Epistolary Writing it has been said we should write as we converse, in every other species we always write ill when we write as we talk. Indeed, though we applaud the Author for his attention to whatever can form and improve the manners of mankind, that impartiality which Criticism requires, obliges us to own that this work seems but ill calculated to amuse or instruct, and that it will probably procure its Author but little reputation. Mediocrity in Morality is as infipid as in Poetry; and, like verse of a certain character, may be written ftans pede in uno. To convey instruction after so much has been written, is now become the easiest of all kinds of writing. To give, however, to moral precepts the allurement of elegance and novelty, is a task not the least difficult to a Writer. Those whom a liberal education has

* A Translation of the Select Thoughts of Cicero, into English, was printed some years ago, in one volume, Duodccimo.

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