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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

X. The Literary Influence of the Middle Ages

§ 13. Macpherson’s Literary Talent

Macpherson’s literary talent was considerable, and is not limited to his ancient epic poems. Reference will be made elsewhere to his History of Great Britain, from the Restoration in 1660 to the Accession of the House of Hannover (1775). In 1773, he had published a prose translation of the Iliad, which was not highly appreciated. But it is interesting as an experiment in rhythm and as an attempt to free Homer from English literary conventions. Macpherson died in 1796, in his native Badenoch, in the house which he had built for himself and named “Belleville”; he was buried in Westminster abbey, at his own request. A Gaelic text, incomplete, was published from his papers in 1807. Klopstock, Herder and Goethe took this publication seriously and tried to discover in it the laws of Caledonian verse. In 1805, Malcolm Laing brought out an edition of Ossian (and of Macpherson’s own poems), in which the debts of Macpherson were exposed, with some exaggeration. Scott’s article on Laing in The Edinburgh Review (1805) reaches most of the conclusions that have been proved by later critical research.