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'Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian' title page

Peter M'Naughton1861

National Library of Scotland

National Library of Scotland
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Title page of a lecture by Peter M'Naughton on the epic cycle of poems known as the Ossianic poems. The Scottish poet James Macpherson had published the poem in 1762 under the claim that he had gathered early manuscripts and translated them from Scottish Gaelic into English. According to Macpherson, Ossian was not only the narrative voice of the tales but also their author.

Many historians and other scholars disputed this version of events — instead believing that a large part (or even the entire collected works) of the Ossianic poems were a fabrication by Macpherson himself. This lecture is one that speaks to Macpherson's defence, finding that: 'I have examined the poems in every possible light, with a view to eliminate the truth regarding them, whatever it might be, but the more I searched for proofs of their spuriousness, the more was I confronted with evidences to the contrary, which cannot be overturned.'

[Shelfmark Oss.319(3)]

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