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Hist. - English

Soth, 1-13-25 11022

INTRODUCTION

It may appear to many, that the endurance of the public has been long ago exhausted, by the disquisitions which have been offered concerning the æra of the poems ascribed to Ossian. To many persons, it has appeared to be a matter of little consequence whether these poems are to be considered as ancient or modern; whether they are to be regarded as the production of

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the Son of Fingal, or of a learned Scot of the eighteenth century.

Were this merely a question in which national vanity was concerned, it is admitted that it is a matter of little importance, whether this celebrated poetry is to be attributed to one of our countrymen, who lived in the third, or in the eighteenth, century. It is conceived, however, that the question involves much more important considerations : it is presumed, that the general history of literature, and even that of the human mind itself, are deeply interested in its investigation.

If, on the one hand, it be found, that the poems ascribed to Ossian were composed fifteen hundred years ago, in a language and dialect which are still understood and spoken in the High

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