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The Calvinist International

Colin Kidd: Hugh Trevor-Roper

22 May 2008
The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 267 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 300 13686 9
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Europe’s Physician: The Various Life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 438 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 300 11263 7
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... footsteps of that other intellectual giant of the Protestant diaspora, the philological scholar Isaac Casaubon, Mayerne sought, and received, sanctuary at the court of the British philosopher-king James VI and I, where erudition was prized over orthodoxy – or indeed decorum. England was to be Mayerne’s de facto home for the rest of his life. The wars of religion had injected a crucial element of ...

Post-Cullodenism

Robert Crawford

3 October 1996
The Poems of Ossian and Related Works 
by James Macpherson, edited by Howard Gaskill.
Edinburgh, 573 pp., £16.95, January 1996, 0 7486 0707 2
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... The Romantic awakening dates from the production of Ossian,’ Ezra Pound wrote, and he was right. One of JamesMacpherson’s great contributions to literature was the use of the fragment. His first Ossianic work, the Fragments of Ancient Poetry, published in Edinburgh in 1760, uses in its title and as its form one of ...
14 November 1996
The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson 
edited by Vincenzo Merolle.
Pickering & Chatto, 257 pp., £135, October 1995, 1 85196 140 2
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... most consistently at the heart of Ferguson’s writings and political activities. The Militia Act of 1797 eventually granted Scotland this school of virtue and Ferguson promptly enrolled his son James (b. 1778) in the ballot as an ‘Example to my neighbour Farmers’; though ‘if College call him away I trust that money will procure a Substitute.’ Today it is the Scots alone who detect ...

Islas Malvinas

Frank Lentricchia

1 April 1999
... an armoured chief’ [Yes], derived perhaps from Gaelic moal-mhin, ‘smooth brow’ [Yes]. But Malvina from Scottish was the creation of a poet, who had claimed to discover an ancient Gaelic epic: JamesMacpherson, oh yes! he knew of Macpherson! 18th-century literary fraud, so gripped by the idea of an art rooted in folk culture, in local earth, that he invented it. The scandal of Macpherson’s ...

Speaking in Tongues

Robert Crawford

8 February 1996
The Poetry of Scotland: Gaelic, Scots and English 1380-1980 
edited and introduced by Roderick Watson.
Edinburgh, 752 pp., £19.95, May 1995, 0 7486 0607 6
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... will assist the uninitiated, who may feel that they have come a long way from the Latinate English of ‘the frost subdu’d, / Gradual, resolves into a weeping thaw’, though Johnson’s admired James Thomson, author of these lines, came close to being Fergusson’s contemporary. That sense of linguistic jolting and, not infrequently, of cross-linguistic connections lends Watson’s anthology its ...

Malvolio’s Story

Marilyn Butler

8 February 1996
Dirt and Deity: A Life of Robert Burns 
by Ian McIntyre.
HarperCollins, 461 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 00 215964 3
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... England. Allan Ramsay in the 1720s, Robert Fergusson in the 1770s are both educated poets, writing in the vernacular but connected with upper-class Jacobitism. The same is essentially true for JamesMacpherson, the collector and translator of Gaelic songs, who has been rescued in our time from the slur of being merely a forger. Adam Ferguson and Hugh Blair, two key figures in maintaining Edinburgh’s ...

Fine Women

Neil Rennie

6 July 1989
The Pacific since Magellan. Vol. III: Paradise Found and Lost 
by O.H.K. Spate.
Routledge, 410 pp., £40, January 1989, 0 415 02565 6
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Captain Bligh: The Man and his Mutinies 
by Gavin Kennedy.
Duckworth, 321 pp., £14.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2231 5
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The Sublime Savage: James Macpherson​ and the Poems of Ossian 
by Fiona Stafford.
Edinburgh, 208 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 85224 569 6
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... the Pacific – was plugged, in theory, by the great southern continent of Terra Australis, awaiting its Columbus. Within a few decades this continent had been exploded, mostly by its anti-Columbus, James Cook, and crumbled into a multitude of islands in a vast ocean, mapped, measured and ready for invasion by beachcombers, traders, whalers, missionaries, colonial administrators and, in their wake ...

Persons outside the Law

Catherine Hall: The Atlantic Family

19 July 2018
Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 
by Daniel Livesay.
North Carolina, 448 pp., £45, January 2018, 978 1 4696 3443 2
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... Around​ 1800 William Macpherson, the 16-year-old son and heir to the chief of Clan Macpherson, decided to try his hand at planting in the West Indies. The family had been Jacobites and urgently needed to repair their finances. His father, Allan, had failed to make a fortune in the East Indies ...

Maybe he made it up

Terry Eagleton: Faking It

6 June 2002
The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature 
by Nick Groom.
Picador, 351 pp., £20, April 2002, 9780330374323
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... unknown to Groom) as ‘anti-plagiarism’. This little-known genre conflates Groom’s forgery with his plagiarism. In 19th-century Ireland, authors like William Maginn, Francis Sylvester Mahony and James Clarence Mangan were in the habit of producing literary texts cunningly modelled on the work of some well-known author like Tennyson or Thomas Moore, which they then coolly claimed to be the lost ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford

20 April 1989
Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... a better tribute to his memory, and few would miss his diatribes against Leeds and its inhabitants’ ‘horrible accents’. Home is a place with a dialect and tradition. Sometimes writers, whether JamesMacpherson or T. S. Eliot, attempt to make up a tradition which stands in lieu of home. A tradition isn’t just an academic’s card index, it can also be a writer’s life-support-system; writing ...

A Spot of Firm Government

Terry Eagleton: Claude Rawson

23 August 2001
God, Gulliver and Genocide: Barbarism and the European Imagination 1492-1945 
by Claude Rawson.
Oxford, 401 pp., £25, June 2001, 0 19 818425 5
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... and Edmund Burke all made vital Irish contributions to this nouvelle vague of meekness, tendresse, womanliness, the glowing, melting sentiments, while David Hume, Adam Smith, Henry Mackenzie and JamesMacpherson weighed in from North of the border. The Irish were never just gorillas with gelignite. Those Irish historians who play down the anti-Irishness of the British for their own political ends ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings

19 November 2015
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... narrative. Scholars still debate how much of the resultant work was recorded from the poet-singers whose performances he sought, and how much was written by him. The obvious parallel is with JamesMacpherson, initially the editor of Fragments of Ancient Poetry Collected in the Highlands of Scotland and eventually the fabricator of Ossian’s epic poetry, which he ‘translated’ out of Gaelic into ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns

25 July 2002
Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... to Dunbar’s Lowland ear; a ‘brybour’ was a vagabond; a ‘baird’ was a limited sub-poet, not a ‘makar’. A century later in his how-to-be-a-king book, the Basilikon Doron, the versifying James VI of Scotland claimed that he had ‘not spared to play the bairde against all the estaitis of my kingdome’. When James boarded the English throne in 1603, his Scots had to be translated for ...

Barraclough’s Overview

C.B. Macpherson

19 June 1980
Turning-Points in World History 
by Geoffrey Barraclough.
Thames and Hudson, 96 pp., £4.50, November 1979, 0 500 25067 7
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... have been drawn to the currently much-debated question of structural changes within late 20th-century capitalism. A good deal of work has been done on this – by, for example, Jürgen Habermas, James O’Connor, Claus Offe and Alan Wolfe – which could have been brought into even the very brief summary view that Turning-Points affords, but it is not mentioned. Without it, the picture of the ...

Outside the text

Marilyn Butler

19 December 1985
The Beauty of Inflections: Literary Investigations in Historical Method and Theory 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 352 pp., £19.50, May 1985, 0 19 811730 2
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The Politics of Language: 1791-1819 
by Olivia Smith.
Oxford, 269 pp., £19.50, December 1984, 0 19 812817 7
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... by reading it. Her central objective is to represent late 18th-century theories of language and practices of writing in a political light. Her book develops the subject and historical method of James Boulton’s very good study of 1964, The Language of Politics; her cunning play with his title means that she sees the politics as much more pervasive. Even before the French Revolution, books ...

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