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A DISSERTATION' coiicirhJng'' tli6
modefty, which perhaps the prefent tranflatcr ought, in prudence,
to have followed, defpaired of making the compofitions of their
bards agreeable to an Englifli reader. The manner of thofe com-
pofitions is fo different from other poems, and the ideas fo confined
to the moft early ftate of fociety, that it was thought they had not
enough of variety to pleafe a polifhed age.
This was long the opinion of the tranflator of the following col-
lection ; and though he admired the poems, in the original, very
early, and gathered part of them from tradition for his own amufe-
ment, yet he never Had the fmalleft hopes of feeing them in an
EngliQi drefs. He was fenfible that the ftrength and manner of
both languages were very different, and that it was next to impof-
fible to tranflate the Galic poetry into any thing of tolerable Englifh
verfe ; a profe tranflation he could never think of, as it mufl necef-
farily fall fhort of the majefty of an original. It was a gentleman,
who has himfelf made a figure in the poetical world, that gave him
the firft hint concerning a literal profe tranflation. He tried it at
his defire, and the fpecimen was approved. Other gentlemen were
earneft in exhorting him to bring more to the light, and it is to
their uncommon zeal that the world owes the Galic poems, if they
have any merit.
It was at firft intended to make a general colleflion of all the an-
cient pieces of genius to be found in the Galic language ; but the
tranflator had his reafons for confining himfelf to the remains of the
works of Ofiian. The adlion of the poem that ftands the firft, was
not the greateft or moft celebrated of the exploits ofFingal. His
wars were very numerous, and each of them afforded a theme which
employed the genius of his fon. But, excepting the prefent poem, thofe
pieces are irrecoverably loft, and there only remain a few fragments
4 in

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