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Gaul, does not expressly mention the bards, yet it is plain that, under the title of druids, he comprehends that whole college or order of which the bards, who, it is probable, were the disciples of the druids, undoubtedly made a part. It deserves remark, that, according to his account, the druidical institution first took rise in Britain, and passed from thence into Gaul; so that they who aspired to be thorough masters of that learning were wont to resort to Britain. He adds, too, that such as were to be initiated among the druids, were obliged to com. mit to their memory a great number of verses, insomuch that some einployed twenty years in this course of education, and that they did not think it lawful to record those poems in writing but sacredly handed them down by tradition from race to race.

So strong was the attachment of the Celtic nations to their poetry and bards, that, amidst all the changes of their government and man. ners, even long after the order of the druids was extinct, and the national religion altered, the barıls continued to flourish; not as a set of strolling songsters, like the Greek 'Aoidos, or Rhapsodists, in Homer's time, but as an order of men highly respected in the state, and supported by a public establishment.

We find them, ac. cording to the testimonies of Strabo and Dio. dorus, before the age of Augustus Cæsar ; and we find them remaining under the same name, and exercising the same functions as of old, in Ireland, and in the north of Scotland, almost down to our own times. It is well known, that in both these countries every regulus or chief had his own bard, who was considered as an officer of rank in his court ; and had lands assigned him, which descended to his family. Of the honour in which the bards were held,

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many instances occur in Ossian's Poems. On all important occasions they were the ambassadors between contending chiefs; and their persons were held sacred. • Cairbar feared to stretch his sword to the hards, though his soul was dark.

“ Loose the bards," said his bro. ther Cathmor, “they are the sons of other times. Their voice shall be heard in other ages, when the kings of Temora have failed.”

From all this, the Celtic tribes clearly appear to have been addicted in so high a degree to poetry, and to have made it so much their study from the earliest times, as may remove our won. der at meeting with a vein of higher poetical refinement among them, than was at first to have been expected among nations, whom we are accustomed to call barbarous. Barbarity, I must observe, is a very equivocal term ; it admits of many different forms and degrees; and though, in all of them, it excludes polished manners, it is, however, not inconsistent with generous sentiments and tender affections. What degrees of friendship, love, and heroism, may possibly be found to prevail in a rude state of society, no one can say. Astonishing instances of them we know, from history, have sometimes appeared ; and a few characters, distinguished by those high qualities, might lay a foundation for a set of manners being introduced into the songs of the bards, more refined, it is probable, and exalted, according to the usual poetical licence, than the real manners of the country.

In particular, with respect to heroism; the great employment of the Celtic bards was to delineate the characters, and sing the praises of heroes. So Lucan :

Vos quoque qui fortes animos, belloque peremptos,
Laudibus in longum vates diffunditis ævum
Plurima securi ludistis carmina bardi -Phars. l. 1.

Now when we consider a college or order of men, who, cultivating poetry throughout a long series of ages, had their imaginations continually employed on the ideas of heroism ; who had all the poems and panegyrics, which were compos. ed by their predecessors, handed down to them with care ; who rivalled and endeavoured to outstrip those who had gone before them, each in the celebration of his particular hero'; is it not natural to think, that at length the character of a hero would appear in their songs with the highest lustre, and be adorned with qualities truly noble ? Some of the qualities indeed which distinguish a Fingal, moderation, humanity, and clemency, would not probably be the first ideas of heroism occurring to a barbarous people : but no sooner had such ideas begun to dawn on the minds of poets, than, as the human mind easily opens to the native representations of human perfection, they would be seized and embraced; they would enter into their panegyrics; they would afford materials for succeeding bards to work upon and improve; they would contribute not a little to exalt the public manners. For such songs as these, familiar to the Celtic warriors from their childhood, and, throughout their whole life, both in war and in peace,

their principal entertainment, must have had a very considerable influence in propagating among them real manners, nearly approaching to the poetical ; and in forming even such a hero as Fingal. Especially when we consider, that among their limited objects of ambition, among the few advantages which, in a savage state, man could obtain over man, the chief was fame, and that immortality which they expected to receive from their virtues and exploits, in the songs of bards.

Having made these remarks on the Celtic poetry ana bards in general, I shall next consider

the particular advantages which Ossian possess. ed. He appears clearly to have lived in a period which enjoyed all the benefit I just now. mentioned of traditionary poetry. The exploits of Trathal, Trenmor, and the other ances. tors of Fingal, are spoken of as familiarly known. Ancient bards are frequently alluded to. In one remarkable passage Ossian describes himself as living in a sort of classical age, enlightened by the memorials of former times, which were con. veyed in the songs of bards; and points at a period of darkness and ignorance which lay beyond the reach of tradition. “His words,' says he, came only by halves to our ears ; they were dark as the tales of other times, before the light of the song arose.' Ossian himself appears to have been endowed by nature with an exquisite sensibility of heart ; prone to that tender melancholy which is so often an attendant on great genius : and susceptible equally of strong and of soft emotion. He was not only a professed bard, educated with care, as we may easily believe, to all the poetical art then known, and connected, as he shows us himself, in intimate friendship with the other contemporary bards, but a warrior also ; and the son of the most renowned hero and prince of his age. This formed a conjunction of circumstances uncommonly favourable towards exalting the imagination of a poet. He relates expeditions in which he bad been engaged ; he sings of battles in which he had fought and overcome ; he had beheld the most illustrious scenes which that age could exhibit both of heroism in war and magnificence

For however rude the magnificence of those times may seem to us, we must remember, that all ideas of magnificence are compara. tive; and that the age of Fingal was an æra of distinguished splendour in that part of the world.

ni peace.

Fingal reigned over a considerable territory; he was enriched with the spoils of the Roman province ; he was ennobled by his victories and great actions ; and was in all respects a personage of much higher dignity than any of the chieftains, or heads of clans, who lived in the same country, after a more extensive monarchy was established.

The manners of Ossian's age, so far as we can gather them from his writings, were abundantly favourable to a poetical genius. The two dispiriting vices, to which Longinus imputes the decline of poetry, covetousness and effeminacy, were as yet unknown.

The cares of men were few. They lived a roving indolent life ; hunting and war their principal employments; and their chief amusements, the music of hards and the feast of shells.' The great objects pursued by heroic spirits, was • to receive their fame;' that is, to become worthy of being celebrated in the songs

of bards ; and to have their name on the four gray stones.' To die unlamented by a bard, was deemed so great a misfortune, as even to disturb their ghosts in another state. They wander in thick mists beside the reedy lake; but never shall they rise, without the song, to the dwelling of winds.' After death, they ex. pected to follow employments of the same nature with those which had amused them on earth; to fly with their friends on clouds, to pursue airy deer, and to listen to their praise in the mouths of bards. In such times as these, in a country where poetry had been so long cultivated, and so highly honoured, is it any wonder that, among the race and succession of bards, one Homer should arise ; a man, who, endowed with a natural happy genius, favoured with peculiar advantages of birth and condition, and meeting, in the course of his life, with a

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