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his being called in Offian's poems, the King of Ships. The ivindiHg
Cariin is that fmall river retaining ftill the name of Carron, and runs
in the neighbourhood of Agricola's wall, which Caraufius repaired
to obftrudl the incurfions of the Caledonians. Several other pafTages
in the poems allude to the wars of the Romans j but the two juft
mentioned clearly fix the epoch of Fingal to the third century >
and this account agrees exactly with the Irifh hiftories, which place
the death of Fingal, the fon of Comhal, in the year 283, and that
of Ofcar and their own celebrated Cairbre, in the year 296.
Some people may imagine, that the allufions to the Roman hif-
tory might have been induftrioufly inferted into the poems, to give
them the appearance of antiquity. This fraud muft then have beea
committed at leaft three ages ago, as the pafTages in which the
allufions are made, are alluded to often in the compofitions of
thofe times.
Every one knows what a cloud of ignorance and barbarifm
overfpread the north of Europe three hundred years ago. The
minds of men, addided to fuperftition, contradled a narrownefs that
deftroyed genius. Accordingly we find the compofitions of thofe
times trivial and puerile to the lafl degree. But let it be allowed,
that, amidft all the untoward circumftances of the age, a genius
might arife, it is not eafy to determine what could induce him to give
the honour of his compofitions to an age fo remote. We find no
fa<fl: that he has advanced, to favour any defigns which could be
entertained by any man who lived in the fifteenth century. But
fhould we fuppofe a poet, through humour, or for reafons which
cannot be feen at this diftance of time, would afcrlbe his own com-
pofitions to OfTian, it is next to impoflible, that he could impofc
b upon

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