MacPherson, James

   Alleged translator of the Ossianic poems, s. of a small farmer at Ruthven, Inverness-shire, studied for the Church at Aberdeen and Edin., became teacher of the school in his native parish, and afterwards tutor in a gentleman's family. In 1758 he pub. The Highlander, an ambitious poem in 6 cantos, which, however, attracted no attention. But in the following year he submitted to John Home (q.v.), the author of Douglas, certain writings which he represented to be translations from ancient Gaelic poems. By the help of Home and some of his friends M. was enabled to pub. a considerable number of his Fragments of Poetry translated from the Gaelic and Erse Languages. These were received with profound and widely-spread interest, and gave rise to a controversy which can hardly yet be said to be settled. While some authorities received them with enthusiastic admiration, others immediately called their genuineness in question. In the first instance, however, a subscription was raised to enable M. to make a journey in search of further poetic remains, the result of which was the production in 1761 of Fingal, an epic in 6 books, and in 1763 of Temora, also an epic, in 8 books. The fame which these brought to their discoverer was great, and the sales enormous. In 1764 M. went as sec. to the Governor of Pensacola in Florida. Returning in 1766 he settled in London, became an energetic pamphleteer in support of the Government, and in 1780 entered Parliament, and was next year appointed to the lucrative post of Agent for the Nabob of Arcot. He retired in 1789, and bought an estate in his native parish, where he d. in 1796. Great doubt still rests upon the subject of the Ossianic poems: it is, however, generally admitted that M. took great liberties with the originals, even if they ever really existed in anything at all resembling the form given in the alleged translations. No manuscripts in the original have ever been forthcoming. Few, however, will deny that M. either discovered, or composed, a body of poetry unlike anything that has preceded it, of unequal merit, indeed, but containing many striking and beautiful passages, and which unquestionably contributed to break up the tyranny of the classical school and thus prepare the way for the romantic revival.

Short biographical dictionary of English literature . . 2011.

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  • Macpherson, James — (1736 1796)    Scottish poet who was born into a poor family from Ruthven, Inverness shire. He collected Gaelic manuscripts and transcribed orally transmitted Gaelic poems, published as Fragments of Ancient Poetry ... Translated from the Gallic… …   British and Irish poets

  • Macpherson, James — ▪ Scottish poet born October 27, 1736, Ruthven, Inverness, Scotland died February 17, 1796, Belville, Inverness       Scottish poet whose initiation of the Ossianic controversy has obscured his genuine contributions to Gaelic studies.… …   Universalium

  • Macpherson,James — Mac·pher·son (mək fûrʹsən), James. 1736 1796. Scottish poet who claimed to have translated the works of Ossian, a third century Gaelic poet and warrior. Although based on unauthenticated original texts, the translations influenced many writers. * …   Universalium

  • Macpherson, James — ► (1736 96) Poeta y escritor escocés. Autor de Fingal (1762) y Temora (1763), poemas épicos presentados como una traducción de los poemas de un supuesto poeta celta de los ss. II III llamado Ossian, cuando en realidad era obra suya …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • MACPHERSON, JAMES —    a Gaelic scholar, born in Ruthven, Inverness shire; identified with the publication of the poems of Ossian, the originals of which he professed to have discovered in the course of a tour through the Highlands, and about the authenticity of… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Macpherson — Macpherson, James …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • James Macpherson — James Macpherson, né le 27 octobre 1736 à Ruthven, mort le 17 février 1796 à Belleville House, est un poète écossais, connu comme le « traducteur » du cycle de poèmes d’Ossian …   Wikipédia en Français

  • James Macpherson — (* 27. Oktober 1736 in Ruthven, Highland; † 17. Februar 1796) war ein schottischer Schriftsteller und Politiker. Leben Macpherson studierte ab 1753 am …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • MACPHERSON (J.) — MACPHERSON JAMES (1736 1796) Né dans les Highlands d’Écosse, à Ruthven, James Macpherson fit d’abord ses études à King’s College à Aberdeen, puis partit en 1755 dans l’intention de se préparer aux études pastorales: il y renonça peu après et… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Macpherson — (James) (1736 1796) écrivain écossais. Il publia des poèmes épiques, Fingal (1762) et Temora (1763), qu il donnait comme des traductions des poèmes gaéliques d Ossian, barde écossais du IIIe s …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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