chapter  IX
OSSIAN,
Pages 33

I n 1760 appeared the first installment of MaePherson’s “ Ossian.” * Among those who received it with the greatest curiosity and delight was Gray, who had recently been helping Mason with criticisms on his “ Caractacus,” published in 1759. From a letter to Walpole (June, 1760) it would seem that the latter had sent Gray two manuscript bits of the as yet unprinted “ Fragments,” communicated to Walpole by Sir David Dalrymple, who furnished Scotch ballads to Percy. “ I am so charmed,” wrote Gray, “ with the two specimens of Erse poetry, that I cannot help giving you the trouble to inquire a little farther about them; and should wish to see a few lines of the original, that I may form some slight idea of the language, the measures and the rhythm. Is there anything known of the author or authors; and of what antiquity are they supposed to be? Is there any more to be had of equal beauty, or at all approaching it?”