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left me no other reason to regret my father, than that which nature dictates for a brave, worthy, and so near relation.
"Under Mr. Stuart, and in the sight of my grandfather, who lived near Edinburgh, I continued to pursue an excellent and classical education for near five years: in this time I obtained a competent knowledge of Latin and French; and I acquired a taste for reading, and a desire of general knowledge which has never left me. I was permitted to pay a visit to my mother, who had settled in Hampshire for the edu cation of her daughters; after which I was summoned to the University of St. Andrew's by my grandfather, who had taken a house in the neighbourhood. Here, for one year, I attended the lectures of Dr. Watson (author of the History of Philip the Second) on logic, rhetoric, and belles lettres, and those of Dr. Wilkie, author of the Epigoniad, on Natural Philosophy; I also read Italian. Next summer I again visited my mother; and was sent in the winter to University College, in Oxford. My tutor, Mr. George Strahan, zealously endea voured to supply my deficiency in Greek, and I made some progress; but approaching now to manhood, having got a tincture of more entertaining and pleasing knowledge, and a taste for the Latin, French, and English classics, I could never sufficiently labour again as a schoolboy, which I now and will for ever lament.
"I have no title to impose myself on my son as a learned man ; my reading has been general and diffuse; a scholar would very justly call it superficial; but if superficial knowledge has contributed so much to my happiness, how fondly should I recommend larger and more solid attainments to my future self!
"In the year 1771, a strange passion for emigrating to America seized many of the middling and poorer sort of Highlanders. The change of manners in their chieftains, since 1745, produced effects which were evidently the proximate cause of this unnatural dereliction of their own, and appetite for a foreign, country. The laws which deprived the Highlanders of their arms and garb would certainly have destroyed the feudal military powers of the chieftains; but the fond at
tachment of the people to their patriarchs would have yielded to no laws. They were themselves the destroyers of that pleasing influence. Sucked into the vortex of the nation, and allured to the capitals, they degenerated from patriarchs and chieftains to landlords; and they became as anxious for increase of rent as the new-made lairds— the novi homines — the mercantile purchasers of the Lowlands. Many tenants, whose fathers, for generations, had enjoyed their little spots, were removed for higher bidders. Those who agreed, at any price, for their ancient lares, were forced to pay an increased rent, without being taught any new method to increase their produce. In the Hebrides, especially, this change was gradual, but sudden, and sudden and baleful were its effects. The people, freed by the laws from the power of the chieftains, and loosened by the chieftains themselves from the bonds of affection, turned their eyes and their hearts to new scenes. America seemed to open its arms to receive every discontented Briton. To those possessed of very small sums of money, it offered large possessions of uncultivated but excellent land, in a preferable climate; to the poor, it held out high wages for labour; to all, it promised property and independence. Many artful emissaries, who had an interest in the transportation or settlement of emigrants, industriously displayed these temptations; and the desire of leaving their country, for the new land of promise, became furious and epidemic. Like all other popular furies, it infected not only those who had reason to complain of their situation or injuries, but those who were most favoured and most comfortably settled. In the beginning of 1772, my grandfather, who had always been a most beneficent and beloved chieftain, but whose necessities had lately induced him to raise his rents, became much alarmed by this new spirit which had reached his clan. Aged and infirm, he was unable to apply the remedy in person; he devolved the task on me; and gave me for an assistant our nearest male relation, Colonel Macleod, of Talisker. The duty imposed on us was difficult: the estate was loaded with debt, incumbered with a numerous issue from himself and my father, and
charged with some jointures. His tenants had lost, ir. that severe winter, above a third of their cattle, which constituted their substance; their spirits were soured by their losses, and the late augmentations of rent; and their ideas of America were inflamed by the strongest representations, and the example of their neighbouring clans. My friend and I were empowered to grant such deductions in the rents as might seem necessary and reasonable; but we found it terrible to decide between the justice to creditors, the necessities of an ancient family which we ourselves represented, and the claims and distresses of an impoverished tenantry. To God I owe, and I trust will ever pay, the most fervent thanks that this terrible task enabled us to lay the foundation of circumstances (though then unlooked for) that I hope will prove the means not only of the rescue, but of the aggrandisement of our family. I was young, and had the warmth of the liberal passions natural to that age; I called the people of the different districts of our estate together; I laid before them the situation of our family - its debts, its burthens, its distress; I acknowledged the hardships under which they laboured; I described and reminded them of the manner in which they and their ancestors had lived with mine; I combated their passion for America by a real account of the dangers and hardships they might encounter there; I besought them to love their young chieftain, and to renew with him the ancient manners; I promised to live among them; I threw myself upon them; I recalled to their remembrance an ancestor who had also found his estate in ruin, and whose memory was held in the highest veneration; I desired every district to point out some of their oldest and most respected men, to settle with me every claim; and I promised to do every thing for their relief which in reason I could. My worthy relation ably seconded me, and our labour was not in vain. We gave considerable abatements in the rents; few emigrated; and the clan conceived the most lively attachment to me, which they most effectually manifested, as will be seen in the course of these memoirs. When we were engaged in these affairs, my
grandfather died, and was buried at St. Andrew's. I returned to Hampshire, and easily prevailed with my excellent mother and sisters to repair, in performance of my promise, to my clan, to Dunvegan. In my first visit to Skye, Mr. Pennant arrived there; and he has kindly noticed in his Tour the exertions we then made.
"I remained at home with my family and clan till the end of 1774; but I confess that I consider this as the most gloomy period of my life. Educated in a liberal manner, fired with ambition, fond of society, I found myself in confinement in a remote corner of the world; without any hope of extinguishing the debts of my family, or of ever emerging from poverty and obscurity. A long life of painful economy seemed my only method to perform the duty I owed to my ancestors and posterity; and the burthen was so heavy, that only partial relief could be hoped even from that melancholy sacrifice. I had also the torment of seeing my mother and sisters, who were fitted for better scenes, immured with me; and their affectionate patience only added to my sufferings.
"In 1774 (1) Dr. Samuel Johnson, with his companion, Mr. Boswell, visited our dreary regions: it was my good fortune to be enabled to practise the virtue of hospitality on this occasion. The learned traveller spent a fortnight at Dunvegan; and indeed amply repaid our cares to please him by the most instructive and entertaining conversation. I procured for him the company of the most learned clergymen and sagacious inhabitants of the islands; and every other assistance within our power to the inquiries he wished to make.
"The nature of those inquiries, and the extraordinary character of Dr. Johnson, may make some account of them from me agreeable.
"His principal design was to find proofs of the inauthenticity of Ossian's poems; and in his inquiries it became very soon evident that he wished not to find them genuine. I was pre
(1) The reader will perhaps agree with the editor that this little error of date adds to the interest of these memoirs: it is an additional proof that they were not studied or corrected for the public eye. It must be remembered that Mr. Boswell's Tour was not published when this was written.-C.
sent in a part of his search; his decision is now well known ; and I will very freely relate what I know of them. Dr. M'Queen, a very learned minister in Skye, attended him ; and was the person whom he most questioned, and through whom he proposed his questions to others.
The first question he insisted on was whether any person had ever seen the Poems of Ossian in manuscript, as the translator had found them; how and where these manuscripts had been preserved? and whether faith was given to them by the Highlanders? I must avow that, from the answers given to these questions, he had no right to believe the manuscript genuine. In this he exulted much; and formed an unjust conclusion, that because the translator had been guilty of an imposition, the whole poems were impositions. Dr. M'Queen brought him, in my opinion, very full proofs of his error. He produced several gentlemen who had heard repeated in Erse long passages of these poems (1), which they averred did coincide with the translation; and he even procured a person who recited some lines himself. Had Dr. Johnson's time permitted, many proofs of the same nature would have been adduced; but he did not wish for them My opinion of this controversy is that the poems certainly did exist in detached pieces and fragments; that few of them had been committed to paper before the time of the translator; that he collected most of them from persons who could recite them, or parts of them; that he arranged and connected the parts, and perhaps made imitative additions for the sake of connection; that those additions cannot (2) be large or numerous; and that the found ation and genuine remains of the poems are sufficiently authentic for every purpose of taste or criticism. It might be wished, for the sake of squeamish critics, that the translator
(1) We readily forgive Macleod his desire to save as much as possible from the wreck of Ossian; and subsequent publications have certainly adduced some passages of Macpherson's version which have been found in the original Erse; but we can find in Boswell (who probably quotes all that Johnson knew) but one such passage, and that passage was accompa→ nied by two others; one of which was something like, and the other no thing like Macpherson's version.-C.
(2) Why not? All the evidence goes to show that they formed the bulk though, perhaps, not the spirit of the work.-C.