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SIR DAVID LEWIS MACPHERSON (1818–1896)

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 268 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR DAVID LEWIS MACPHERSON (1818–1896), Canadian financier and politician, was born at Castle Leathers, near Inverness, Scotland, on the r2th of September 1818. In 1835 he the so-called Ossianic poems were altogether modern in origin, and that Macpherson's authorities were practically non-existent. For a discussion of this question see CELT: Scottish Gaelic Literature. Much of Macpherson's matter is clearly his own, and he confounds the stories belonging to different cycles. But apart from the doubtful morality of his transactions he must still be regarded as one of the great Scottish writers. The varied sources of his work and its worthlessness as a transcript of actual Celtic poems do not alter the fact that he produced a work of art which by its deep appreciation of natural beauty and the melancholy tenderness of its treatment of the ancient legend did more than any single work to bring about the romantic movement in European, and especially in German, literature. It was speedily translated into many European languages, and Herder and Goethe (in his earlier period) were among its profound admirers. Cesarotti's Italian translation was one of Napoleon's favourite books. AL'T110RITIES.—For Macpherson's life, see The Life and Letters of James Macpherson . . . (1894, new ed., 1906), by T. Bailey Saunders, who has laboured to redeem his character from the suspicions generally current with English readers. The antiquity of the Ossianic poems was defended in the introduction by Archibald Clerk to his edition of the Poems of Ossian (187o). Materials for arriving at a decision by comparison with undoubtedly genuine fragments of the Ossianic legend are available in The Book of the Dean of Lismore, Gaelic verses, collected by J. McGregor, dean of Lismore, in the early 16th century (ed. T. McLauchlan, 1862) ; the Leabhar na Feinne (1871) of F. J. Campbell, who also discusses the subject in Popular Tales of the Western Highlands, iv. (1893). See also L. C. Stern, "Die ossianische Heldenlieder "in Zeilschrift fur vergleichende Litteratur-geschichte (1895; Eng. trans. by J. L. Robertson in Trans. Gael. Soc. of Inverness, xxii., 1897–1898) ; Sir J. Sinclair, A Dissertation on the Authenticity of the Poems of Ossian (18o6) ; Transactions of the Ossianic Society (Dublin, 1854–1861); Cours de litterature celtique, by Arbois de Jubainville, editor of the Revue celtique (1883, &c.); A. Nutt, Ossian and the Ossianic Literature (1899), with a valuable bibliographical appendix; J. S. Smart, James Macpherson: an Episode in Literature (1905). McPHERSON, JAMES BIRDSEYE (1828-1864), American soldier, was born at Sandusky, Ohio, on the 14th of November 1828. He entered West Point at the age of twenty-one, and graduated (1853) at the head of his class, which included Sheridan, Schofield and Hood. He was employed at the military academy as instructor of practical military engineering (1853). A year later he was sent to engineer duty at New York, and in 1857, after constructing Fort Delaware, he was sent as superintending engineer to San Francisco, becoming 1st lieutenant in 1858. He was promoted captain during the first year of the Civil War, and towards the close of 1861 became lieutenant-colonel and aide-de-camp to General Halleck, who in the spring of 1862 sent him to General Grant as chief engineer. He remained with Grant during the Shiloh campaign, and acted as engineer adviser to Halleck during the siege operations against Corinth in the summer of 1862. In October he distinguished himself in command of an infantry brigade at the battle of Corinth, and on the 8th of this month was made major-general of volunteers and commander of a division. In the second advance onVicksburg(1863)McPherson commanded the XVII. corps, fought at Port Gibson, Raymond and Jackson, and after the fall of Vicksburg was strongly recommended by Grant for the rank of brigadier-general in the regular army, to which he was promoted on the 1st of August 1863. He commanded at Vicksburg until the following spring. He was about to go on leave of absence in order to be married in Baltimore when he received his nomination to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, Grant's and Sherman's old army, which was to take part under Sherman's supreme command in the campaign against Atlanta (1864). This nomination was made by Sherman and entirely approved by Grant, who had the highest opinion of McPherson's military and personal qualities. He was in command of his army at the actions of Resaca, Dallas,Kenesaw Mountain and the battles about Atlanta. On the 22nd of July, when the Confederates under his old classmate Hood made a sudden and violent attack on the lines held by the Army of the Tennessee, McPherson rode up, in the woods, to the enemy's firing line and was killed. He was one of the most heroic figures of the American Civil War, and Grant is reported to have said whenhe heard of McPherson's death, " The country has lost one of its best soldiers, and I have lost my best friend."
End of Article: SIR DAVID LEWIS MACPHERSON (1818–1896)
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