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Ì»0EM3 OÌF OSSlAtt. Ì9
general, and indeed the only practicable mode of
fcoUecling ancient Highland poetry, let the ikill and
iuduftry of the collector be what they may.
On examining into the poems, or fragments of
poems, whiah the Committee has procured, and
which indeed are common in the Highlands, it har,
been uniformly found, that many different editions
or copies (if that phrafe may be allowed to fuk re-
citation as well as writing) of poems, bearing the
fame, or nearly the fame title, exift and are preferv-
ed, whether in memory or in manufcript ; by a care-
ful and well informed collection of which, the mofl
perfect piece may be found. This is the common
and legitimate method of obtaining what it is fair to
denominate authentic copies of all genuine tradition-
ary poetry, and mud neceffarily be followed with
regard to compofitions which had never been fixed
by publication, but floated either in various and often
incorrect written copies, or much more frequently
in the oral recitation of fenachies or bards, or of
ftill more illiterate perfons, who repeated, for the
amufement of others, w r hat they had liftened to
merely for their own. The Committee has receiv-
ed feveral copies of various poems, of more or lefs
merit, which, though known and recited under fi-
milar titles, differ confiderably in detail, in words,
lines or paffages; probably as the memory of the re-
citer was more or lefs accurate, or fometim ;s as his
underftanding of the ancient language, or his com-
prehenfion of the figures or imagery it conveyed,
tvas more or lefs perfect.
B 2 This

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