Skip to main content

‹‹‹ prev (37)

(39) next ›››

This advantage of collation of various editions
(the Committee ufès the term merely in the fenfe
above mentioned) of the fame poems, muff have
been very great at a period 30 or 40 years back,
when, as has been before Mated, copies were much
more' frequent, and when the number of perfons
who could recite the tales and poetry, and who
could write the language of the Highlands, was very
much greater than at the prefent time.
The above quoted paffage from Dr Carfwell fuffi-
ciently fpeaks the delight which the Highlanders
themfelves experienced from their ancient tradition-
ary tales and poems. That the poems themfelves
did not make their way into other more cultivated
parts of Great Britain or of Europe, may perhaps
be accounted for from the ftate of thofe diftricis of
Scotland where they were chiefly known, and in-
deed it may be faid of Scotland in general, till a very 1
recent period. Men were occupied in purfuits of a
kind very unfavourable to the cultivation of letters,
and by the few who did cultivate them, a language
•.vhich was conlidered as the barbarous dialect of a
barbarous people would not be chofen for the fub-
ject of their fludies, or for the labour of tranflation.
While the Church was the guide, and almoft the
fele depofitary of letters, me made it a point of re-
ligious duty to difcourage (it would appear with but
indifferent fuccefs) the perufal or the hearing of thofe
poems among the Highlanders, but me had it much
more in her power to prevent their becoming a part
of the literature of the country. It appears, ac-

Images and transcriptions on this page, including medium image downloads, may be used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence unless otherwise stated. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence