The Sublime Savage: A Study of James Macpherson and the Poems of Ossian

By Fiona J. Stafford | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Fragments of Ancient Poetry

If you have seen Stonehewer he has probably told you of my old Scotch (or rather Irish) Poetry. I am gone mad about them. they are said to be translations (literal & in prose) from the Erse- tongue, done by one Macpherson, a young Clergyman in the High-lands. he means to publish a Collection he has of these Specimens of antiquity, if it be antiquity: but what plagues me is, I can not come at any certainty on that head. I was so struck, so extasié with their infinite beauty, that I writ into Scotland to make a thousand enquiries . . . this Man is the very Demon of Poetry, or he has lighted on a treasure hid for ages.

Thomas Gray, Letter, 20 June 17601

Fragments of Ancient Poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Galic or Erse language was published in Edinburgh in June 1760. It was a flimsy production, containing a mere fifteen pieces of strange prose, most of which were untitled. The name of the translator remained a mystery and in the brief preface, the original poems were attributed to 'the Bards'. Despite its unassuming appearance, the pamphlet had an immediate success and by October a second edition was out. 2 By this time James Macpherson was well-known name in the literary circles of Edinburgh and, inspired by the enthusiastic response to his first translations, he had embarked on a far more ambitious project.

For Macpherson patrons, Fragments of Ancient Poetry was only a foretaste of the great epic poem which was to appear in December 1761. Although the brief volume of 1760 has often been dismissed as being merely an introduction to Fingal and Temora, it was in many ways a more successful collection of poetry than the rambling epics which followed. It is also important as the work which first attracted the attention of the reading public, colouring their expectations of the nature of ancient Gaelic poetry. Anyone trying to understand the impact of Macpherson Fragments should look at the original volume as a whole, considering not only the poetry but also the general presentation.

After Macpherson's initial introduction to the Edinburgh literati, the man who had the strongest influence on him was Hugh Blair. In

-96-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Sublime Savage: A Study of James Macpherson and the Poems of Ossian
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations viii
  • Prologue 1
  • Notes 4
  • Chapter One - Macpherson's Childhood in the Scottish Highlands 6
  • Notes 20
  • Chapter Two - Macpherson at the University of Aberdeen 1752-1755 24
  • Notes 37
  • Chapter Three - Macpherson's Early Poetry 40
  • Notes 58
  • Charter Four the Highlander 61
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter Five - The Death of Oscur 77
  • Notes 94
  • Chapter Six - Fragments of Ancient Poetry 96
  • Notes 111
  • Chapter Seven - The Highland Tours 113
  • Notes 129
  • Chapter Eight - Fingal 133
  • Notes 149
  • Chapter Nine - Macpherson's Vision of Celtic Scotland 151
  • Notes 160
  • Chapter Ten the Response to Ossian 163
  • Notes 178
  • Epilogue 181
  • Surviving Gaelic Manuscripts collected by James Macpherson 184
  • Index 188
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 194

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.