James Macpherson

James McPherson

1736 (Ruthven, Scotland) – 1796 (Kingussie)

Macpherson’s considerable influence on Romanticist writers and others (not least in Germany) stemmed from his epic poem ‘Ossian’, now known to have been woven together from fictitious (purportedly 3rd-century) Gaelic fragments. Hume was initially a supporter, helping fund a trip to the Highlands, supposedly to seek more such fragments. Gray liked what he read and wrote to Macpherson; the language of the reply changed his opinion. Johnson, who met and corresponded with Macpherson, scathingly attacked his claimed authenticity; Macpherson threatened him with physical violence, but went quiet when Johnson went public.