|Lamartine, by Henri Decaisne (Musée de Mâcon). |
Lamertine was at some literary din-
ner in London when the conversation turn-
ed upon Ossian. Some of those present asked
Lamertine his opinion as to whether or not
he thought Ossian’s poems genuine or as
the forgeries of MacPherson. The forgeries
of MacPherson said the great French
scholar Mr Mac Pherson was as capable
of forging the poems of Ossian as he
was of forging the hills and dales of the
Scottish Highlands. No! no! the impress
of the great original is as indelibly stamp
ed on the poems of Ossian as the impress
of the master hand of the Creator is
stamped on the mountains and
rivers of Strathspey.
James McGregor himself had a Lismore connection for he was admitted to the seminary there on the 19th April, 1808. He was for forty years at Ardkenneth in South Uist, along with, at the same time, the charge of Benbecula. He died on the 15th February, 1867. The man to whom the priest referred to in his anecdote was none other than Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869), a French romantic poet and who was, like many others, heavily influenced by Macphersons two ‘great’ works (Fingal and then Temora) that took the literary world by storm when they were first published in the 1760s. His remark from the above anecdote would have placed him well in the camp of Carmichael who was a believer rather than John Francis Campbell who (correctly) was a sceptic.
CW 113, fol. 14r.
Lamartine, by Henri Decaisne (Musée de Mâcon).