Connect that external to your old Mac, then restart.
Can you see that drive in your Apple System Profiler?
That will be in your Apple menu.
What is the capacity of that external?
A really large volume (more than about 190 GB, I think) will not boot an OS 9 system, and may not even be recognized, because the OS 9 system will not provide addressing for a volume larger than that....
That addressing issue for OS 9 may be your solution, which will be to partition your drive so you have a volume for use by OS 9 smaller than 190 GB.
Don't get confused about the OS 9 driver issue mentioned by ElDiabloConCaca. That's only needed if you will be booting that drive to OS 9, so using the drive for file storage will work, even without the OS 9 drivers installed. The volume just has to be smaller than 190 GB.