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ASCERTAINED AND TRACED
IN ULSTER ;
BY THE ANALOGY OF NAMES AND
PLACES MENTIONED IN OSSIAN'S POEMS.
BY HUGH Y. CAMPBELL, Esg. R.N. F.A.S.
AUTHOR OF “ THE COUNTESS OF CARRICK."
Though the plains of our battles are dark and silent, and our fame isin the four grey stones; yet the voice of Ossian has been heard, and the harp was strung in Selma.”. BÆRRATION.
In a work like this, purporting to be descriptive of only a small tract of country, frequently alluded to in various forms, by the poet, it is scarcely possible to avoid a sort of tautology while speaking of the different manners in which the scenes are noticed : at the same time to arrange the following citations and remarks under separate heads, would require more time than the author can well bestow on the subject : besides, he thinks that it would be no furtherance of his object, but on the contrary tend to divest them of a portion of their strength and argument. Were it possible to trace Fingal, and his son, with that precision that we can the hero of the Æneid from his setting out from Troy to his landing in Italy; then, indeed, we might insist upon order of time in the quotations; but every reader of Ossian's Poems is aware that their unison will by no means answer the purpose of such uniformity; for in one page the hero is bounding over the waves to Lochlin, and in the next, at the feast of shells in Morven, or in battles of the spear on Lena. The interim often unaccounted for.
It is now for me to add, that this work, trifling as it may seem, has cost me more exercise of intellect, than a work ten times larger has done, which is now before the Public.
London, May, 1819.
TO MY NOBLE FRIEND,
EARL OF BREADALBANE,
&c. &c. &c.
The following proofs of the existence of the Bard of our forefathers, which have so long been a desideratum in British literature, are respectfully inscribed by,
your Lordship’s most obedient,
and very humble Servant,
HUGH Y. CAMPBELL. London, Maij 26th, 1819.
As the celebrated Lord Kames, and Doctors Blair and Whittaker, have employed their time in attempting to ascertain the existence and æra of Ossian, and have by no means succeeded; so, in a collateral walk, I beg leave to lay some brief observations and remarks before the public; which, after a considerable portion of investigation, I have been enabled to make on the Battle Fields of Fingal in Ireland.
Although in the remarks I am often led to offer my opinion from analogy of names of places, &c. yet I will be answerable for the correctness of any observations I have made on the face of the country, during my brief tour, and in the following enquiry. I have only to regret, that the many similitudes and allusions, which I have quoted to strengthen my conjectures, are unarranged in due order of time. To answer my purpose, I was led to cite many in a desultory manner, as I met them in my progress through the books of Fingal, Death of Cuchullin, Temora, &c. the only ones in which any mention is made of Ireland.
After a lapse of sixteen hundred years, it is an acknowledged difficult task to come to any correct determination on the identical places mentioned by Ossian, as frequented by rude warriors, wholly unacquainted with the arts and sciences--at least, by people who have left but few conspicuous monuments of their battles and victories after them, farther than a few rough stones, often in the way of the plough ; and, consequently, liable to be removed at the will of the agriculturist.
Difficult, however, as the task may seem, I have several years considered it capable of being accomplished partly, if not wholly ; but from boyhood I have been unremittingly employed in the service of my country; hence my wishes to attempt the discovery of Fingal's Battle Fields have been hitherto thwarted, and the attempt consequently delayed.
In unison with my early established wish to know the fields of heroes, I lately proceeded to Ireland, and there commenced a laborious observation on the situation, and an enquiry into the names of the districts, of that part of Ulster, which lies opposite to the coast of Scotland; where I was so far fortunate as soon to discover what I considered a key to the wished for object; but this was not easily ascertained.
Every reader of history is acquainted with the actions of the protector, Cromwell, in Ulster, and his more than retaliation of the cruelties of the Papists on the Protestants. His laying Ulster waste, by killing, or driving the Catholics to the south and west of Ireland, and planting the north with colonies from England and Scotland, have almost effectually shut out from the enquirer after antiquities, a great portion of the traditional information which he might otherwise have obtained from the descendants of the Aborigines.
Now, as I found many of the best informed people in Ulster, wholly unacquainted with the original names of places in the neighbourhood of the then only imaginary scenes of Fingal's actions in that province ; and, as history is almost' silent on the battles fought by the invincible king of Morven, in favor of his kinsman of the race of Connor ; so we may conclude, that the analogy of the places mentioned by Ossian, and the similarity of a few names, aided by the locality and trifling remains of ancient magnificence and warfare, can only enable us to come to any reasonable conclusion on the identical fields of battles, fought by the kings of Erin, Lochlin and Morven.
I have farther to observe, that, as this work originated in mine own mind, and as in it I fearlessly oppose Rocks, Mountains, Rivers, Lakes, and Heaths to the vague and chimerical assertions brought forward by bigotted sticklers for and against the authenticity of Ossian; and as it has been matured by considerable trouble, expense and research, so I deny having received the slightest assistance from
work—the whole has emanated from mine' own industry, and the elegant description of the first of British Bards, whom I shall here, feebly, perhaps attempt to authenticate !
Having thus premised, I now proceed to offer my observations to the public; and to crave that indulgence which such an apparent outré proceeding requires.
'The trifling analogy of some parts of the Poem, alone show us that the Emperor Caracalla lived about this period; but I know of no Roman writer who notices any of the exploits sung by Ossian.