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nion has indeed become very prevalent among the
men of letters in London ; and I can forefee, that
in a few years, the poems, if they continue to fland
on their prefent footing, will be thrown afide, and
will fall into final oblivion. It is in vain to fay that
their beauty will fupport them, independent of their
authenticity : No ; that beauty is not fo much to
the general tafle, as to infure you of this event ; and
if people be once difgufted with the idea of a for-
gery, they are thence apt to entertain a more difad-
vantageous notion of the excellency of the produc-
tion itfelf. The abfurd pride and caprice of Mac-
pherfon himfelf, who fcorns, as he pretends, to fa-
tisfy any body that doubts his veracity, has tended
much to confirm this general fcepticifm ; and I mufl
own, for my own part, that though I have had
many particular reafons to believe thefe poems ge-
nuine, more than it is pcHible for any Englifhman
of letters to have, yet I am not entirely without my
fcruples on that head. You think that the internal
proofs in favour of the poems are very convincing :
So they are ; but there are alfo internal reafons a-
gainft them, particularly from the manners, not-
withftanding all the art with which you have endea-
voured to throw a vernifh * on that circumftance ;
and the prefervation of fuch long and fuch connect-
ed poems, by oral tradition alone, during a courfe
of fourteen centuries, is fo much out of the ordi-
A 3 nary
* So in MS.

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