Citation
The poems of Ossian

Material Information

Title:
The poems of Ossian
Creator:
MacPherson, James
Place of Publication:
Boston, MA
Publisher:
Phillips, Sampson
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
492 p. ; 19 cm.

Record Information

Source Institution:
Auraria Library
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of copyright holder or Creator or Publisher as appropriate]. Permission granted to University of Colorado Denver to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

Auraria Membership

Aggregations:
Auraria Library
Literature Collections

Downloads

This item has the following downloads:


Full Text
/

Grey, at hie mossy cave, is "beat the aged form of Clonmal.


Within, the Car is seen the Chief:ihe strong,* armed Scm of the Sword —he wields the spear .

FMOJULFS, SABOPS OUT, & CO.


THE
POEMS OF OSSIAN;
TRANSLATED BY
JAMES MACPHERSON, ESQ.
TO WHICH ARE PREFIXED
A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE AND DISSERTATION
AERA AND POEMS OF OSSIAN.
BOSTON:
PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, AND COMPANY.
1856.


CONTENTS.
Phge.
A Preliminary Discourse,............................... 5
Preface................................................. 38
A Dissertation concerning* the ^Era of Ossian............ 44
A Dissertation concerning the Poems of Ossian........... 57
Dr. Blair’s Unheal Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian... 88
Cath-loda, in thcvti Duans...............................* 189
Comala................................................... 203
Carric-thura............................................. 209
Carthon.........................................«........ 222
Oina-morul........ 235
Colna-dona.............................-.............. 239
Oithona............. .................................... 243
Croma............... .................................... 249 .
Calthon and Colmal, .................................. 254
The War of Caros......................................... 261
Cathlin of Clutha...........................r............. 269
Sul-malla of Lumon.....................••••«.•........... 275
The War of Inis-thona....................................280
The Songs of Selma..............................285
Fingal, in six Books..................................... 293
Lathmon............................................... 358
Dar-thula................................................ 369
The Death of Cuthullin.................................... 383
The Battle of Lora....................................... 391
Temora, in eight Books.................*••••••............ 399
Conlath and Cuthona....**................................. 479
Berrathon.............................................•'••• 483


A
PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
As Swift has, with some reason, affirmed that all sublunary happiness consists in being well deceived, il may possibly be the creed of many, that it had been wise, if after Dr. Blair’s ingenious and elegant disserta-tion on “ the venerable Ossian,” all doubts respecting what we have been taught to call his works had forever ceased: since there appears cause to believe, that numbers who listened with delight to “ the voice of Cona,” would have been happy, if, seeing their own good, they had been content with these poems accompanied by Dr. Blair’s judgment, and sought to know no more. There are men, however, whose ardent love of truth rises, on all occasions, paramount to every other consideration; and though the first step in search of it should dissolve the charm, and turn a fruitful Eden into a barren wild, they would pursue it.. For these, and for the idly curious in literary problems, added to the wish of making this new edition of “ The Pot ms of Ossian” as well-informed as the hour would allow, we have here thought it proper to insert some account of a renewal of the controversy relating to the genuineness of this rich treasure of poetical excellence.
1*


O A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
Nearly half a century has elapsed since the publication of the poems ascribed by Mr. Macpherson to Ossian, which poems he then professed to have collected in the original Gaelic, during a tour through the Western Highlands and isles; but a doubt of their authenticity nevertheless obtained, and, from their first appearance to this day, has continued in various degrees to agitate the literary world. In the present year, “ A Report,”* springing from an inquiry instituted for the purpose of leaving, with regard to this matter, “ no hinge or loop to hang a doubt on,” has been laid before the public. As the committee, in this investigation, followed, in a great measure, that line of conduct chalked out by David Hume to Dr. Blair, we shall, previously to stating their precise mode of proceeding, make several large and interesting extracts from the historian’s two letters on this subject.
“ I live in a place,” he writes, “ where I have the pleasure of frequently hearing justice done to your dissertation, but never heard it mentioned in a company, where some one person or other did not express his doubts with regard to the authenticity of the poems which are its subject; and I often hear them totally rejected with disdain and indignation, as a palpable and most impudent forgery. This opinion has, indeed, become very prevalent among the men of letters in London; and I can foresee, that in a few years, the poems, if they continue to stand on their present footing, will be thrown aside, and will fall into final obliv-ion.
* “ A Report of the committee of the Highland Society of Scotland, appointed to inquire into the nature and authenticity of the Poems of Ossian. Drawn up, according to the directions of the committee, by Henry Mackenzie, Esq., its convener, or chairman With a copious appendix, containing some of the principal doca ments on which the report is founded Edinburgh, 1805.” 8 vo 00 343


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 7
“ The absurd pride and caprice of Macpherson himself, who scorns, as he pretends, to satisfy anybody that doubts his veracity, has tended much to confirm this general skepticism; and 1 must own, for my part, that though I have had many particular reasons to believe these poems genuine, more than it is possible for any Englishman of letters to have, yet I am not entirely without my scruples on that head. You think, that the internal proofs in favor of the poems are very convincing ; so they are; but there are also internal reasons against them, particularly from the manners, notwithstanding all the art with which you have endeavored to throw a vernish* on that circumstance; and the preservation of such long and such connected poems, by oral tradition alone, during a course of fourteen centuries, is so much out of the ordinary course of human affairs, that it requires the strongest reasons to make us believe it. My present purpose, therefore, is to apply to you in the name of all the men of letters of this, and, 1 rnay say, of all other countries, to establish this capital point, and to give us proofs that these poems are, I do not say, so ancient as the age of Severus, but that they were not forged within these five years by James Macpherson. These proofs must not be arguments, but testimonies j people’s ears are fortified against the former; the latter may yet find their way, before the poems are consigned to total oblivion. Now the testimonies may, in my opinion, be of two kinds. Macpherson pretends there is an ancient manuscript of part of Fingal in the family, I think, of Clanronald. Get that tact ascertained by more than one person of credit; let these persons be acquainted with the Gaelic; let them compare the original and the translation; and le* them testify the fidelity of the latter.
* So in MS.


8
A PRELIMINARY riSCOURSE.
“ But the chief point in which it will be necessary for you to exert yourself, will be, to get positive testimony from many different hands that such poems are vulgarly recited in the Highlands, and have there long been the entertainment of the people. This testimony must be as particular as it is positive. It will not be sufficient that a Highland gentleman or clergyman say or write to you that he has heard such poems; nobody questions that there are traditional poems of that part of the country, where the names of Ossian and Fingal, and Oscar and Gaul, are mentioned in every stanza. The only doubt is, whether these poems have any farther resemblance to the poems published by Macpher-son. I was told by Bourke,* a very ingenious Irish gentleman, the author of a tract on the sublime and oeautiful, that on the first publication of Macpherson’s book, all the Irish cried out, ‘We know all those poems. We have always heard them from our infancy.’ But when he asked more particular questions, he could never' learn that any one ever heard or could repeat the original of any one paragraph of the pretended translation. This generality, then, must be carefully guarded against, as being of no authority.
“Your connections among your brethren of the clergy may be of great use to you. You may easily learn the names of all ministers of that country who understand the language of it. You may write to them, expressing the doubts that have arisen, and desiring them to send for such of the bards as remain, and make them rehearse their ancient poems. Let the clergymen then have the translation in their hands, and let them write back to you, and inform you, that they heard such a one, (naming him,) living in such a place, rehearse the original of such a passage, from
* So in MS


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 9
such a page to such a page of the English translation, which appeared exact and faithful. If you give to the public a sufficient number of such testimonials, you may prevail. But I venture to foretel to you, that nothing less will serve the purpose ; nothing less wil so much as command the attention of the public.
“ Becket tells me, that he is to give us a new editior of your dissertation, accompanied with some remai-ks oh Temora. Here is a favorable opportunity for you to execute this purpose. You have a just and laudable zeal for the Credit of these poems. They are, if genuine, one of the greatest curiosities, in all respects, that ever was discovered in the commonwealth of letters; and the child is, in a manner, become yours by adoption, as Macpherson has totally abandoned all care of it. These motives call upon you to exert yourself: and I think it were suitable to your candor, and most satisfactory also to the reader, to publish all the answers to all the letters you write, even though some of those letters should make somewhat against your own opinion in this affair. We shall always be the more assured, that no arguments are strained beyond their proper force, and no contrary arguments suppressed, where such an entire communication is made to us. Becket joins me heartily in that application; and he owns to me, that the believers in the authenticity of the poems diminish every day among the men of sense and reflection. Nothing less than what I propose can throw the balance on the other side.”
Lisle street, Leicester .Fields,
19 The second letter contains less matter of importance ; but what there is that is relevant deserves not to be omitted.
“Iam very glad,” he writes on the 6th of October,


10 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
1763, “you have undertaken the task which I used tha freedom to recommend to you. Nothing less than what you propose will serve the purpose. You must expect no assistance from Macpherson, who flew into a passion when I told him of the letter I had wrote to you. But you must not mind so strange and hetero-elite a mortal, than whom I have scarce ever known a man more perverse and unamiable. He will probably depart for Florida with Governor Johnstone, and I would advise him to travel among the Chickasaws or Cherokees, in order to tame and civilize him.
$ $ $ :{« 9|C
“ Since writing the above, I have been in company with Mrs. Montague, a lady of great distinction in this place, and a zealous partisan of Ossian. I told her of your intention, and even used the freedom to read your letter to her. She was extremely pleased with your project; and the rather, as the Due de Nivernois, she said, had talked to her much on that subject last winter ; and desired, if possible, to get collected some proofs of the authenticity of these poems, which he proposed to lay before the Academie de Belles Lettres at Paris. You see, then, that you are upon a great stage in this inquiry, and that many people have their eyes upon you. This is a new motive for rendering your proofs as complete as possible. I cannot conceive any objection which a man, even of the gravest character, could have to your publication of his letters, which will only attest a plain fact known to him. Such scruples, if they occur, you must endeavor to remove, for on this trial of yours will the judgment of the nublic finally depend.” * * *
Without being acquainted with Hume’s advice to


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 11
Dr. Blah the committee, composed of chosen persons, and assisted by the best Celtic scholars, adopted, as it will be seen, a very similar manner of acting.
It conceived the purpose of its nomination to be, to employ the influence of the society, and the extensive communication which it possesses with every part of the Highlands, in collecting what materials or information it was still practicable to collect, regarding the authenticity and nature of the poems ascribed to Os. sian, and particularly of that celebrated collection published by Mr. James Macpherson.
For the purpose above mentioned, the committee, soon after its appointment, circulated the following set of queries, through such parts of the Highlands and Islands, and among such persons resident there, as seemed most likely to afford the information required.
QUERIES.
1. Have you ever heard repeated, or sung, any of the poems ascribed to Ossian, translated and published by Mr. Macpherson ? By whom have you heard them so repeated, and at what time or times ? Did you ever commit any of them to writing? or can you remember them so well as now to set them down ? In either of these cases, be so good to send the Gaelic origina'. to the committee.
2. The same answer is requested concerning any other ancient poems of the same kind, and relating to the same traditionary persons or stories with those in Mr. Macpherson’s collection.
3. Are any of the persons from whom you heard any such poems now alive ? or are there, in your part of the country, any persons who remember and can repeat or recite such poems ? If there are, be so good as to examine them as to the manner of their getting


IS
A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
or learning such compositions; and set down, as accu rately as possible, such as they can now repeat or recite ; and transmit such their account, and such compositions as thjy repeat, to the committee.
4. If there are, in your neighborhood, any persons from whom Mr. Macpherson received any poems, inquire particularly what the poems were which he so received, the manner in which he received them, and how he wrote them down; show those persons, if you have an opportunity, his translation of such poems, and desire them to say, if the translation is exact and literal; or, if it differs, in what it differs from the poems, as they repeated them to Mr. Macpherson, and can now recollect them.
5. Be so good to procure every information you conveniently can, with regard to the traditionary belief, in the country in which you live, concerning the history of Fingal and his followers, and that of Ossian and his poems; particularly those stories and poems published by Mr. Macpherson, and the heroes mentioned in them. Transmit any such account, and any proverbial or traditionary expression in the original Gaelic, relating to the subject, to the committee.
6 In all the above inquiries, or any that may occur to in elucidation of this subject, he is re-
quested by the committee to make the inquiry, and to take down the answers, with as much impartiality and precision as possible, in the same manner as if it were a legal question, and the proof to be investigated with a legal strictness.—See the “ Report.”
It is presumed as undisputed, that a traditionary history of a great hero or chief, called Fion, Fion rut Gael, or, as it is modernized, Fingal, exists, and has immemorially existed, in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and that certain poems or ballads containing


A FRELIMINAEY DISCOURSE. 14
the exploits of him and his associate heroes, were tho favorite lore of the natives of those districts. The general belief of the existence of such heroic personages, and the great poet Ossian, the son of Fingal, by whom their exploits were sung, is as universal in the Highlands, as the belief of any ancient fact whatsoever. It is recorded in proverbs, which pass through all ranks and conditions of men, Ossian dall, blind Ossian,* is a person as well known as strong Sampson, or wise Solomon. The very boys in their sports cry out for fair play, Cothram na feme, the equal combat of the Fingalians. Ossian, an deigh nam fann, Ossian, the last of his race, is proverbial, to signify a man who has had the misfortune to survive his kindred; and servants returning from a fair or wedding, were in use to describe the beauty of young women they had seen there, by the words, Tha i cho boidheach reh Agandecca, nighean ant sneachda, She is as beautiful as Agandecca. the daughter of the Snow.f
All this will be readily conceded, and Mr. Macpher-son’s being at one period an “ indifferent proficient in the Gaelic language,” may seem an argument of some weight against his having himself composed these Os-sianic Poems. Of his inaccuracy in the Gaelic, a ludicrous instance is related in the declaration of Mr. Evan Macpherson, at Knock, in Sleat, Sept. 11, 1800. He declares that he, 8 Colonel Macleod, of Talisker, and the late Mr. Maclean of Coll, embarked with Mr. Macpherson for Uist on the same pursuit: that they landed at Lochmaddy, and proceeded across the Muir to Benbecula, the seat of the younger Clanronald: that on their way thither they fell in with a man whom they afterwards ascertained to have been Mac Codrum,
* TviftXos y' ’0/ 2


14 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
Jic poet: that Mr. Macpherson asked him the question A bheil dad agad air an Flieinn ? by which he meant * to inquire, whether or not he knew any of the poems of Ussian relative to the Fingalians : but that the term in which the question was asked, strictly imported whether or not the Fingalians owed him any thing; and that Mac Codrum, being a man of humor, took advantage of the incorrectness or inelegance of the Gaelic in which the question was put, and answered, that really if they had owed him any thing, the bonds and obligations were lost, and he believed any attempt to recover them at that time of day would be unavailing. Which sally of Mac Codrum’s wit sqpmed to have hurt Mr. Macpherson, who cut short the conversation, and proceeded on towards Benbecula. And the declarant being asked whether or not the late Mr. James Macpherson was capable of composing such poems as those of Ossian, declares most explicitly and positively that he is certain Mr. Macpherson was as unequal to such compositions as the declarant himself, who could no more make them than take wings and flj.” P. 96.
We would here observe, that the sufficiency of a man’s knowledge of such a language as the Gaelic, for all the purposes of composition, is not to be questioned, because he does not speak* it accurately or elegantly, much less is it to be quibbled into suspicion by the pleasantry of a double entendre. But we hold it pru. dent, and it shall be our endeavor in this place, to give
* We doubt not that Mr. Professor Poison cold, if he pleased, forge a short poem in Greek, and ascribing it, for instance, to Theocritus, maintain its authenticity with considerable force and probability ; and yet were it possible for him to speak to the simplest shepherd of ancient Greece, he would quickly afford as good reason, as Mr. Macpherson, to be suspected of being an “ indifferent proficient'’ in the languages


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
15
no decided opinion on the main subject of dispute. For us the contention shall still remain sub judice.
To the queries circulated through such parts of the Highlands as the committee imagined most likely to afford information in reply to them, they received many answers, most of which were conceived in nearly similar terms; that the persons themselves had never doubted of the existence of such poems as Mr. Mac-pherson had translated; that they had heard many of >hem repeated in their youth: that listening to them was the favorite amusement of Highlanders, in the hours of leisure and idleness ; but that since the rebellion in 1745, the manners of the people had undergone a change so unfavorable to the recitation of these poems, that it was now an amusement scarcely known, and that very few persons remained alive who were able to recite them. That many of the poems which they had formerly heard were similar in subject and story, as well as in the names of the heroes mentioned in them, to those translated by Mr. Macpherson: that his translation seemed, to such as had read it, a very able one ; but that it did not by any means come up to the force or energy of the original to such as had read it; for his book was by no means universally possessed, or read among- the Highlanders, even accustomed to reading, who conceived that his translation could add but little to their amusement, and not at all to their conviction, in a matter which they had never doubted. A few of the committee’s correspondents sent them such ancient poems as they possessed in writing, from having formerly taken them down from the oral recitation of the old Highlanders who were in use to re. cite them, or as they now took them down from some person, whom a very advanced period of life, or a par-tic ular connection with some reciter of the old school,


16 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE,
enabled still to retain them in his memory;* but. those, the committee's correspondents said, were generally less perfect, and more corrupted, than the poems which they had formerly heard, or which might have been obtained at an earlier period.f
Several collections came to them by presents, as well as by purchase, and in these are numerous ‘"shreds and patches,” that bear a strong resemblance, to the materials of which “ Ossian’s Poems” are composed. These are of various degrees of consequence. One of them we are the more tempted to give, for the same reason as the committee was the more solicitous to procure it, because it was one which some of the opposers of the authenticity of Ossian had quoted as evidently spurious, betraying the most convincing marks of its being a close imitation of the address to the sun in Milton.
“ I got,” says Mr. Mac Diarmid,i “ the copy of these poems” (Ossian’s address to the sun in Cartlion, and a similar address in Carrickthura) “ about thirty years ago, from an old man in Glenlyon. I took it, and several other fragments, now, I fear, irrecoverably lost, from the man’s mouth. He had learnt them in his youth from people in the same glen, which must have been long before Macpherson was born.”
■* The Rev. Mr. Smith, who has published translations of many Gaelic poems, accompanied by the originals, assures us, that “near himself, in the parish of Klimnver, lived a person named M'Pheal, whom he has heard, for weeks together, from five till ten o’clock at night, rehearse ancient poems, and many of them Ossian’s. Two others, called M‘Dugal and M‘Neil, could entertain their hearers in the same manner for a whole winter season. It was from persons of this description, undoubtedly, that Macpherson recovered a great part of the works of Ossian. A. Macdonald’s Prelim. Disc. p. 76.
â– f See Report.
X Date, April 9,1801, p. 71.


A PRELIMITART DISCOURSE.
17
LITERAL TRANSLATION OF OSSLJl’s ADIRESS TO THE SUN IN CARTHON.
“ 0! thou who travellest above, round as the full-orbed lard shield of the mighty! whence is thy brightness without frown, thy light that is lasting, O sun ? Thou coir.est forth in thy powerful beauty, and the stars hide their course; the moon, without strength, goes from the sky, hiding herself under a wave in the west. Thou art in thy journey alone ; who is so bold as to come nigh thee 1 The oak falleth from the high mountain ; the rock and the precipice fall under old age ; the ocean ebbeth and floweth, the moon is lost above in the sky; but thou alone forever in victory, in the rejoicing of thy own light. When the storn darkeneth around the world, with fierce thunder, and piercing lightnings, thou lookest in thy beauty from the noise, smiling in the troubled sky! To me is thy light in vain, as I can never see thy countenance ; though thy yellow golden locks are spread on the face of the clouds in the east; or when thou trern-blest in the west, at thy dusky doors in the ocean. Perhaps thou and myself are at one time mighty, at another feeble, our years sliding down from the skies, quickly travelling together to their end. Rejoice then, O sun! while thou art strong, O king! in thy youth. Dark and unpleasant is old age, like the vain and feeble light of the moon, while she looks through a cloud on the field, and her gray mist on the sides of the rocks; a blast from the north on the plain, a traveller in distress, and he slow.”
The comparison may be made, by lurning to the end of Mr. Macpherson’s version of “ Varlhon,” beginning “ O thou that rollest above.”
Bi it it must not be concealed, that after all the exer-2*


!
18 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
tions of the committee, it has not been able to obtain any one poem, the same in title and tenor with the poems published by him. We therefore feel that the reader of “ Ossian’s Poems,” until grounds more rela tive be produced, will often, in the perusal of Mr. Mac-pherson’s translations, be induced* with some show of justice, to exclaim with him, when he looked over the manuscript copies found in Clanronald’s family, “ D—n the scoundrel, it is he himself that now speaks, and not Ossian
To this sentiment the committee has the candor to incline, as it will appear by their summing up. After producing or pointing to a large body of mixed evidence, and taking for granted the existence, at some period, of an abundance of Ossianic poetry, it comes to the question, “ How far that collection of such poetry, published by Mr. James Macpherson, is genuine ?” To answer this query decisively, is, as they confess, difficult. This, however, is the ingenious manner in which they treat it.
“ The committee is possessed of no documents, to show how much of his collection Mr. Macpherson obtained in the form in which he has given it to the world. The poems and fragments of poems which the committee has been able to procure, contain, as will appear from the article in the Appendix (No. 15) already mentioned, often the substance, and sometimes almost the literal expression (the ipsissima verba) of passages given by Mr. Macpherson, in the poems of which he has published the translations. But the committee has not been able to obtain any one poem the same in title or tenor with the poems published bv him. It is inclined to believe, that he was in use to supply chasms, and to give connection, by inserting passages
Report, p. 44.


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 1W
which he did not find, and to add what he conceived to be dignity and delicacy to the original composition, Dy striking out passages, by softening incidents, by refining the language—in short, by changing what he considered as too simple or too rude for a modern ear, and elevating what, in his opinion, was below the standard of good poetry. To what degree, however, he exercised these liberties, it is impossible for the committee to determine. The advantages he possessed, which the committee began its inquiries too late to enjoy, of collecting from the oral recitation of a num. ber of persons, now no more, a very great number of the same poems on the same subjects, and then collating those different copies, or editions, if they may be so called, rejecting what was spurious or corrupted in one copy, and adopting from another, something more genuine and excellent in its place, afforded him an opportunity of putting together what might fairly enough be called an original whole, of much more beauty, and with much fewer blemishes, than the committee believe it now possible for any person, or combination of persons, to obtain.” P. 152—3.
Some Scotch critics, who should not be ignorant of the strongholds and fastnesses of the advocates for the authenticity of these poems, appear so convinced of their insufficiency, that they pronounce the question put to rest forever. But we greatly distrust that any literary question, possessing a single inch of debateable ground to stand upon, will be suffered to enjoy much rest in an age like the present. There are as many minds as men, and of wranglers there is no end. Behold another and “ another yet,” and in our imagination, he
“ bears a glass,
Which shows us many more.”
The first of these is Mr. Laing, who has recently


20
A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
published the “Poems of Ossian, &c., containing (Vie Poetical Works of James Macpherson, Esq., in Prose and Rhyme: with notes and illustrations. In 2 vols. 8 vo. Edinburgh, 1805.” In these “ notes and illustrations,” we foresee, that Ossian is likely to share the fate of Shakspeare : that is, ultimately to be loaded arid oppressed by heavy commentators, until his immortal spirit groan beneath vast heaps of perishable matter. The object of Mr. Laiug’s commentary, after having elsewhere* endeavored to show that the poems are spurious, and of no historical authority, “ is,” says he, “ not merely to exhibit parallel passages, much less instances of a fortuitous resemblance of ideas, but to produce the precise originals from which the similes and images are indisputably derived.And these he pretends to find in Holy Writ, and in the classical pjets, both of ancient and modern times. Mr. Lairur, however, is one of those detectors of plagiarisms, and discoverers of coincidences, whose exquisite peuetar-fion and acuteness can find any thing anywhere. Dr. Johnson, who was shut against conviction with respect l,o Ossian, even when he affected to seek the truth in the heart of the Hebrides, may yet be made useful to the Ossianitss in canvassing the merits of this redoubted stickler on the side of opposition. “ Among the innumerable practices,” says the Rambler, j; “ by which interest or envy have taught those who live upon literary fame to disturb each other at their airy banquets, one of the most common is the charge of plagiarism. When the excellence of a new composition can no onger be contested, and malice is compelled to give
* In his C-itical and Historical Dissertation on me Antiquity of
Ossian’s Poems, f Prerace, p. v t No. 143.


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 2J
way tc the unanimity of applause, there is yet this one expedient to be tried, by which the author may be degraded, though his work be reverenced; and the excellence which we cannot obscure, may be set at such a distance as not to overpower our fainter lustre. This accusation is dangerous, because, even when it is false, it may be sometimes urged with probability.” How far this just sentence applies to Mr. Laing, it does not become us, nor is it our business, now to declare : but we must say, that nothing can be more disingenuous or groundless than his frequent charges of plagiarism of the following description ; because, in the War of Caros, we meet with these words, “It is like the field, when darkness covers the hills around, and the shadow grows slowly on the plain of the sun,” we are to believe, according to Mr. Laing, that the idea was stolen from Virgil’s
Majoresqiie cadunt altis de montibus umbra.
For see, yon sunny hills the shade extend.—Dryden.
As well might we credit that no one ever beheld a natural phenomenon except the Mantuan bard.* The book of nature is open to all, and in her pages there are no new readings. “ Many subjects,” it is well said by Johnson, “ fall under the consideration of an author, which, being limited by nature, can admit only of slight and accidental diversities. All definitions of the same thing must be nearly the same; and descriptions, which are definitions of a more lax and fanciful kind, must always have, in some degree, that resemblance to each other, which they all have to their ob. ject.”
* This is not so good, because not so amusing in its absurdity, as an attempt formerly .made^ to prove the iEneid Earse, from “ Arma Virumque cano,” and “ Airm’s am fear canam,” having the same meaning, and nearly the same sound.


22 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
It is true, however, if we were fully able to admit that Macpherson could not have obtained these ideas where he professes to have found them, Mr. Laing has produced many instances of such remarkable coinci-deuce as would make it probable that Macpherson frequently translates, not the Gaelic, but the poetical loro of antiquity. Still this is a battery that can only be brought to play on particular points; and then with great uncertainty. The mode of attack used by Mr. Knight, couid it have been carried on to any extent, would have proved much more effectual. We shall give the instance alluded to. In his “ Analytical Enquiry into the Principles of Taste, 1805,” he makes these remarks :
“ The untutored, but uncorrupted feelings of all unpolished nations, have regulated their fictions upon the same principles, even when most rudely exhibited. In relating the actions of their gods and deceased heroes, they are licentiously extravagant: for their falsehood could amuse, because it could not be detected; but in describing the common appearances of nature, and all those objects and effects which are exposed to habitual observation, their bards are scrupulously exact; so that an extravagant hyperbole, in a matter of this kind, is sufficient to mark as counterfeit any composition attributed to them. In the early stages of society, men are as acute and accurate in practical observation as they are limited and deficient in speculative science; and in proportion as they are ready to give up their imaginations to delusion, they are jealously tenacious of the evidence of their senses. James Macpherson, in the person of his blind bard, could say, with applause in the eighteenth century, ! Thus have I seen in Cona ; but Gona I behold no more: thus have I seen two dark hills removed from their place by the strength of the mountain stream. They turn from side to side, and


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 28
their tall oaks meet one another on high. Then they fall together with all their rocks and trees.’
But had a blind bard, or any other bard, presumed to utter such a rhapsody of bombast in the hall of shells, amid the savage warriors to whom Ossian is supposed to nave sung, he would have needed all the influence ot royal birth, attributed to that fabulous per sonage, to restrain the audience from throwing their shells at his head, and hooting him out of their company as an impudent liar. They must have been sufficiently acquainted with the rivulets of Cona or Glen-Coe to know that he had seen nothing of the kind ; and have known enough of mountain torrents in general to know that no such effects are ever produced by them, and would, therefore, have indignantly re jected such a barefaced attempt to impose on their credulity.”
The best defence that can be set up in this case will, perhaps, be to repeat, “ It is he himself that now speaks, and not Ossian.”
Mr. Laing had scarcely thrown down the gauntlet, when Mr. Archibald M'Donald* appeared
“Ready, aye, ready,f for the field.
The opinion of the color of his opposition, whether it be that of truth or error, will depend on the eye that contemplates it. Those who delight to feast with Mr. Laing on the limbs of a mangled poet, will think the latter unanswered; while those| who continue to in-
* “ Some of Ossiall’s lesser Poems, rendered into verse, with a Preliminary Discourse, in answer to Mr. Laing’s Critical and Historical Dissertation on the Antiquity of Ossian’s Poems, 8 vo. p 284. Liverpool, 1805.”
f Thirlestane’s motto. See Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel, j A professor in the university of Edinburgh, the amiable and learned Dr. Gregory, is on the side of the believers in Ossian. His judgment is a tower of strength- See the preface, p. vi. to xii. and


24
A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
dulge the animating thought, “ that Fingal lived, and that Ossian sung,” will entertain a different sentiment. After successfully combating several old positions,* Mr. M‘Donald terminates his discussion of the point at issue with these words :
“ He (Mr. Laing) declares, ‘if a single poem of Ossian in MS. of an older date than the present century (1700,) be procured and lodged in a public library, J (Laing) shall return among the first to our national ci eed.’
“ This is reducing the point at issue to a narrow compass. Had the proposal been made at the outset, it would have saved both him and me a good deal of trouble: not that in regard to ancient Gaelic manuscripts I could give any more satisfactory account than has been done in the course of this discourse. There the reader will see, that though some of the poems are confessedly procured from oral tradition, yei several gentlemen of veracity attest to have seen, among Macpherson’s papers, several MSS. of a much older date than Mr. Laing requires to be convinced. Though not more credulous than my neighbors, I cannot resist facts so well attested; there are no stronger for believing the best-established human transactions.
“ I understand the originals are in the press, and expected daily to make their appearance. When they do, the public will not be carried away by conjectures, but be able to judge on solid grounds. Till then, let the discussion be at rest.” P. 193-4.
p. 146, of his Comparative View of the State and Facuities of Man with those of the Animal World.
_ * Such as the silence of Ossian in respect to relig:on ; his omission of wolves and bears, &c. See also in the Literary Journal, August, 1804, a powerful encounter of many of Mr. Lainu’s other arguments in his Dissertation against the authenticity of these poems. His ignorance of the Gaelic, and the consequent futility ol his etymological remarks, are there ably exposed.


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 25
It is curious to remark, and, in this place, not unworthy of our notice, that whilst the controversy is imminent in the decision, whether these poems are to be ascribed to a Highland bard long since gone “ to the halls of his fathers,” or to a Lowland muse of the last century, it is in the serious meditation of some controversialist to step in and place the disputed wreath on the brows of Hibernia. There is no doubt that Ireland was, in ancient times, so much connected with the adjacent coast of Scotland, that they might almost be considered as one country, having a community of manners and of language, as well as the closest political connection. Their poetical language is nearly, or rather altogether the same. These coinciding circumstances, therefore, independent of all other ground, afford to ingenuity, in the present state of the question, a sufficient basis for the erection of an hypothetical superstructure of a very imposing nature.
In a small volume published at Dusseldorf in 1787, by Edmond, Baron de Harold, an Irishman, of endless titles,* we are presented with what are called, “ Poems of Ossian lately discovered.
“ I am interested,” says the baron in his preface, *• “ in no polemical dispute or party, and give these poems such as they are found in the mouths of the people ; and do not pretend to ascertain what was the native country of Ossian. I honor and revere equally a
* “ Colonel-commander of the regiment of Konigsfield, gentleman of the bedchamber of his most serene highness the Elector Palatine, member of the German Society of Manheim, of the K oyal Ar tiquarian Society of London, and of the Academy of Dusseldorf.”
t In some lines in these poems we find_ the lyre of Ossian called “ the old Hibernian lyre.” The idea is not new. See Burke’s Observation in Hume’s first Letter to Dr. Blair. Also, the collections by Miss Brooke and Mr. Kennedy. Compare the story of Conloch with that of Carthon in Macphersoa.
3


26
A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
bard of his exalted talents, were he born in Ireland or in Scotland. It is certain that the Scotch and Irisn were united at some early period. That they proceed from the same origin is indisputable; nay, I believe that it is proved beyond any possibility of negating it, that the Scotch derive their origin from the Irish. This truth has been brought in question but of late days; and all ancient tradition, and the general con-sent of the Scotch nation, and of their oldest historians, agree to confirm the certitude of this assertion. If any man still doubts of it, he will find, in Macgeoge-han’s History of Ireland, an entire conviction, established by elaborate discussion, and most incontrovertible proofs pp. v. vi.
We shall not stay to quarrel about “ Sir Archy’s great grandmother,”* or to contend that Fingal, the Irish giant,f did not one day go “ over from Carrick-
* See Macklin’s Love A-la-mode.
t“ Selma is not at all known in Scotland. When I asked, and particularly those who were possessed of any poetry, songs, or tales, who Fion was I (for he is not known by the name of Fingal by any ;) I was answered, that he was an Irishman, if a man; for they sometimes thought him a giant, and that he lived in Ireland, and sometimes came over to hunt in the Highlands.
“ Like a true Scotchman, in order to make his composition more acceptable to his countrymen, Mr. Macpherson changes the name of Fion Mae Cumhal, the Irishman, into Fingal; which, indeed, sounds much better, and sets him up a Scotch king over the ideal kingdom of Morven in the west of Scotland. It had been a better argument for the authenticity, if he had allowed him to be an Irishman, and made Morven an Irish kingdom, as well as Ireland the scene of his battles, but as he must weed make the hero of an epic poem a great character, it was too great honor for any other countiy but Scotland to have given birth to so considerable a personage. All the authentic histories of Ireland give a full account of Fingal or Fion Mac Cumhal’s actions, and any one who will take the trouble to look at Dr. Keating’s, or any other history of that country, will find the matter related as above, whereas, in the Chronicon Scotorum, from which the li^t of the Scotch kings is taken, and the pretended MSS. they so much boast of to be seen in the Hebrides, there is not one syllable said of such a name as Fingal.”—An Enquiry into the Authenticity of the Pot ms of Os-


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
27
tergus, and people all Scotland with his own hands,” and make these sons of the north “ illegitimatebut we may observe, that from the inclination of the baron’s opinion, added to the internal evidence of his poems, there appears at least as much reason to believe their author to have been a native of Ireland as of Scotland. The success with which Macpherson’s endeavors had been rewarded, induced the baron to inquire whether any more of this kind of poetry could be obtained. His search, he confesses, would have proved fruitless, had he expected to find complete pieces; “ for, certainly,” says he, “ none speh exist. But,” he adds, “ in seeking with assiduity and care, I found, by the help of my friends, several fragments of old traditionary songs, which were very sublime, and particularly remarkable for their simplicity and elegance.” Q. iv.
“From these fragments,” continues Baron de Harold, “ I have composed the following poems. They are all founded on tradition; but the dress they now appear in is mine. It will appear singular to some, that Ossian, at times, especially in the songs of Comfort, seems rather to he an Hibernian than a Scotchman, and that some of these poems formally contradict passages of great importance in those handed to the public by Mr. Macpherson, especially that very remarkable one of Evir-allen, where the description of her marriage with Ossian is essentially different in all its parts from that given in former poems.” P. v.
sian, l>y VV. Shaw, A. M., F. S. A., author of the Gaelic Dictionarj and Grammar. London, 1781.
Mr. Shaw crowns his want of faith in Macpherson’s Ossian witn this piece of information. “ A gentleman promised to ornament a scalloped shell with silver, if 1 should bnng him one from the Highlands, anil to swear that it was the identical shell out of which Fingal used to drink.”—A gentleman!


2R A FEELlMmAE DISCOURSE.
We refer the reader to the opening of the fourth book of Fingal, which treats of Ossian’s courtship of Evir-allen. The Evir-allen of Baron de Harold is in these words:
EVIR-ALLEN:
A POEM.
Thou fairest of the maids of Morven, young beam of streamy Lutha, come to the help of the aged, come to the help of the distressed. Thy soul is open to pity. Friendship glows in thy tender breast. Ah come and sooth away my wo. Thy words are music to my soul.
Bring me my once-loved harp. It hangs long neglected in my hall. The stream of years has borne me away in its course, and rolled away all my bliss. Dim and faded are my eyes ; thin-strewed with hairs my head. Weak is that nervous arm, once the terror of foes. Scarce can I grasp my staff, the prop of my trembling limbs.
Lead me to yonder craggy steep. The murmur of the falling streams ; the whistling winds rushing through the woods of my hills ; the welcome rays of the bounteous sun, will soon awake the voice of song in my breast. The thoughts of former years glide over my soul like swift-shooting meteors o’er Aidven’s gloomy vales.
Come, ye friends of my youth, ye soft-sounding voices of Cona, bend from your gold-tinged clouds, and join me in my song. A mighty blaze is kindled in my soul. I hear a powerful voice. It says, “ Seize thy beam of glory, O bard ! for thou shalt soon depart. Soon shall the light of song be faded. Soon thy tuneful


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
29
voici forgotten.”—“Yes, I obey, 0 powerful voice, for thou art pleasing to mine ear.”
O Evir-allcn! thou boast of Erin’s maids, thy thoughts come streaming on my soul. Hear, O Malvina ! a tale of my youth, the actions of my former days.
Peace reigned over Morven’s hills. The shell of jcy resounded in our halls. Round the blaze of the oak sported in festive dance the maids of Morven. They shone like the radiant bow of heaven, when the fiery rays of the setting sun brightens its varied sides. They wooed me to their love, but my heart was silent, cold, Indifference, like a brazen shield, covered my frozen heart.
Fingal saw, he smiled, and mildly spoke: My son, the down of youth grows on thy cheek. Thy arm has wielded the spear of war. Foes have felt thy force Morven’s maids are fair, but fairer are the daughters of Erin. Go to that happy isle ; to Branno’s grass covered fields. The daughter of my friend deserves thy love. Majestic beauty flows around her as a robe, and innocence, as a precious veil, heightens her youth, ful charms. Go, take thy arms, and win the lovely fair.
Straight I obeyed. A chosen band followed my steps. We mounted the dark-bosomed ship of the king, spread its white sails to the winds, and ploughed through the foam of ocean. Pleasant shone the fineeyed Ull-Erin.* With joyal songs we cut the liquid way. The moon, regent of the silent night, gleamed majestic in the blue vault of heaven, and seemed pleased to bathe her side in the trembling wave. My soul was full of my father’s words. A thousand thoughts divided my wavering mind.
Soon as the early beam of morn appeared we saw
The guiding star to Ireland.
a*


30
A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
the green-skirted sides of Erin advancing in the bosom of the sea. White broke the tumbling surges on the coast.
Deep in Larmor’s woody bay we drove our keel to the shore, and gained the lofty beach. I inquired after the generous Branno. A son of Erin led us to his halls, to the banks of the sounding Lego. He said. “ Many warlike youths are assembled to gain the dark-haired maid, the beauteous Evir-allen. Branno will [five her to the brave. The conqueror shall bear away the fair. Erin’s chiefs dispute the maid, for she is destined for the strong in arms.”
Those words inflamed my breast, and roused courage in my heart. I clad my limbs in steel. I grasped a shining spear in my hand. Branno saw our approach. He sent the gray-haired Snivan to invite us to his feast, and know the intent of our course. He came with the solemn steps of age, and gravely spoke the words of the chief.
“ Whence are these arms of steel ? If friends ye come, Branno invites you to his halls ; for this day the lovely Evir-allen shall bless the warrior’s arms whose lance shall shine victorious in the combat of valor.”
“ O venerable bard !” I said, “ peace guides my steps to Branno. My arm is young, and few are my deeds in war, but valor inflames my soul; I am of the race of the brave.”
The bard departed. We followed the steps of age, and soon arrived to Branno’s halls.
The hero came to meet us. Manly serenity adorned his brow. His open front showed the kindness of his heart. “Welcome,” he said, “ye sons of strangers ; welcome to Branno’s friendly halls ; partake his shell of joy. Share in the combat of spears. Not unworthy is the prize of v»’or the lovely dark-haired


A FUEL [MINARY DISCOURSE. 31
maid of Erin ; but strong must be that warrio: s hand that conquers Erin’s chiefs ; matchless his strength in fight.”
“ Chief,” I replied, “ the light of my father’s deeds blazes in my soul. Though young, I seek my beam of glory foremost in the ranks of foes. Warrior, I can fall, but I shall fall with renown.”
“ Happy is thy father, O generous youth! more happy the maid of thy love. Thy glory shall surround her with praise ; thy valor raise her charms. O were my Evir-allen thy spouse, my years would pass away in joy. Pleased I would descend into the grave : contented see the end of my days.”
The feast was spread : stately and slow came Evir-allen. A snow-white veil covered her blushing face. Her large blue eyes were bent on earth. Dignity flowed round her graceful steps. A shining tear fell glittering on her cheek. She appeared lovely as the mountain flower when the ruddy beams of the rising sun gleam on its dew-covered sides. Decent she sate. High beat my fluttering heart. Swift through my veins flew my thrilling blood. An unusual weight oppressed my breast. I stood, darkened in my place. The image of the maid wandered over my troubled soul.
The sprightly harp’s melodious voice arose from the string of the bards. My soul melted away in the sounds, for my heart, like a stream, flowed gently away in song. Murmurs soon broke upon our joy. Half-unsheathed daggers gleamed. Many a voice was heard abrupt. “ Shall the son of the strangers be preferred ? Soon shall he be rolled away, like mis'- by the rushing breath of the tempest.” Sedate I rose, for 1 despised the boaster’s threats. The fair one’s eye followed my departure. I heard a smothered sigh burst from her breast.


32
A PRELIMINARY DISCGJRSE.
The horn’s harsh sound summoned us to the doubtful strife of spears. Lothmar, fierce hunter of the woody Galmal, first opposed his might. He vainly insulted my youth, but my sword cleft his brazen shield, and cut his ashen lance in twain. Straight 1 with held my descending blade. Lothmar retired confused
Then rose the red-haired strength of Sulin. Fierce rolled his deep-sunk eye. His shaggy brows stood erect. His face was contracted with scorn. Thrice his spear pierced my luckier. Thrice his sword struct on my helm. Swift flashes gleamed from our circling blades. The pride of my rage arose. Furious I rushed on the chief, and stretched his bulk on the plain. Groaning he fell to earth. Lego’s shores re-echoed from his fall.
Then advanced Cormac, graceful in glittering arms. No fairer youth was seen on Erin’s grassy hills. His age was equal to mine ; his port majestic; his stature tall and slender, like the young shooting poplar in Lu-tha’s streamy vales; but sorrow sate upon his brow ; languor reigned on his cheek. My heart inclined to the youth. My sword oft avoided to wound; often sought to save his days : but he rushed eager on death. He fell. Blood gushed from his panting breast. Tears flowed streaming from mine eyes. I stretched forth my hand to the chief. I proffered gentle words of peace. Faintly he seized my hand. “ Stranger,” he said, “I willingly die, for my days were oppressed with wo. Evir-allen rejected my love. She slighted my tender suit. Thou alone deservest the maid, for pity reigns in thy soul, and thou art generous and brave. Tell her, I forgive her scorn. Tell her, I descend with joy into the grave; but raise the stone of my praise. Let the maid throw a flower on my tomb, and mingle one tear with my dust; this is my sole request This si e can grant to mv shade.”


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
33
I would have spoken, but broken sighs issuing from my breast, interrupted my faltering words. I threw my spear aside. 1 clasped the youth in my arms: but, alas ! his soul was already departed to the cloudy mansions of his fathers.
Then thrice I raised my voice, and called the chiefs to combat. Thrice I brandished my spear, and wielded my glittering sword. No warrior appeared. They dreaded the force of my arm, and yielded the blue-eyed maid.
Three days I remained in Branno’s halls. On the fourth he led me to the chambers of the fair. She came forth attended by her maids, graceful in lovely majesty, like the moon, when all the stars confess her sway, and retire respectful and abashed. I laid my sword at her feet. Words of love flowed faltering from my tongue. Gently she gave her hand. Joy seized my enraptured soul. Branno was touched at the sight. He closed me in his aged arms.
“ O wert thou,” said he, “ the son of my friend, the son of the mighty Fingal, then were my happiness complete !”
“ I am, I am the son of thy friend,” I replied, “ Os-sian, the son of Fingal;” then sunk upon his aged breast. Our flowing tears mingled together. We remained long clasped in each other’s arms.
Such was my youth, O Malvina! but alas ! I am now forlorn. Darkness covers my soul. Yet the light of song beams at times on my mind. It solaces awhile my wo. Bards, prepare my tomb. Lay me by the fair Evir-allen. When the revolving years bring back the mild season of spring to our hills, sing the praise of Cona’s bard, of Ossian, the friend of the distressed.
The difference, in many material circumstances, between these two descriptions of, as it would seem, the


34 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
same thing, must be very apparent. “ I will submit,” says the baron, “ the solution of this problem to the public.” We shall follow his example.
The Honorable Henry Grattan, to whom the baron dedicates his work, has said, that the poems which it contains are calculated to inspire “ valor, wisdom, and virtue.” It is true, that they are adorned with numerous beauties both of poetry and morality. They are still farther distinguished and illumined by noble allusions to the Omnipotent, which cannot fail to strike the reader as a particular in which they remarkably vary from those of Mr. Macpherson. “ In his,” says our author, “ there is no mention of the Divinity. In these, the chief characteristic is the many solemn descriptions of the Almighty Being, which give a degree of elevation to them unattainable by any other method. It is worthy of observation how the bard gains in sublimity by his magnificent display of the power, bounty, eternity, and justice of God: and every reader must rejoice to find the venerable old warrior occupied in descriptions so worthy his great and comprehensive genius, and to see him freed from the imputation of atheism, with which he had been branded by many sagacious and impartial men.” P. vi.
We could willingly transcribe more of these poems, but we have already quoted enough to show the style of them, and can spare space for no additions. “ La-mor, a poem,” is, the baron thinks, of. a more ancient date than that of Ossian, and “ the model, perhaps, of his compositions.” Another, called “ Sitric,” king of Dublin, which throws some light on the history of those times, he places in the ninth century. What faith, however, is to be put in the genuineness of the “ Frag *
* If Mr. Laing should choose to take the trouble of passing them •hrough his alembic, they may easily be disposed of. For instance,
' Larnel, or the Song of despair


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
33
merits,”* which Baron de Harold assures us furnished him with the ground-work of these poems, we leave it to others to ascertain. Our investigation is confined .vithin far narrower limits.
It has, without doubt, been observed that in noticing what has transpired on this subject since our last edition, we have carefully avoided any dogmatism on the question collectedly; and having simply displayed a torch to show the paths which lead to the labyrinth, those who wish to venture more deeply into its intricacies, may, when they please, pursue them.
We must acknowledge, before we depart, that we cannot see without indignation, or rather pity, the belief of some persons that these poems are the offspring of Macpherson’s genius, so operating on their minds as to turn their admiration of the ancient poet into contempt of the modern. W e ourselves love antiquity, not merely however, on account of its antiquity, but because it deserves to be loved. No : we honestly own with Quintilian, in quibusdam antiquorum, vix risum, in quibus-dam autem vix somnum tenere.* The songs of other times, when they are, as they frequently are, supremely beautiful, merit every praise, but we must not therefore despise all novelty. In the days of the Theban bard, it would seem to have been otherwise, for he ap-
“The dreary night-owl screams in the solitary retreat of his mouldering ivy-cpvered tower,” p. 163. Taken from the Persian poet quoted by Gibbon:
“ The owl hath sung her watch-song in the towers of Afrasiab ”
“All nature is consonant to the horrors of my mind.” Larnel, p. 168. Evidently from the rhythmas of the Portuguese poet. One in despair, calls the desolation of nature
“----lugar conforme a mej cuidado.”
Obras de Camoens, t. iii. p. 115
Mr. Laing may pronounce this learned, but it is at any rate aa foolish as it is learned.
* Quintilian or Tacitus de Oratoribus.


36 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE.
pears to give the preference to old wine, but new songs—
atvei tie ira\aiov
Htv btvovy avOea ti' ifxvctv
vewTcpiuv.—Pind. Ol. Od. ix
With respect to age in wine we are tolerably agreed, but we differ widely in regard to novelty in verse. Though warranted in some measure, yet all inordinate prepossessions should be moderated, and it would be well if we were occasionally to reflect on this question, if the ancients had been so inimicable to novelty as we are, what would now be old ?*
We shall not presume to affirm that these poems were originally produced by Macpherson, but admitting it, for the sake of argument, it would then, perhaps, be just to ascribe all the mystery that has hung about them to the often ungenerous dislike of novelty, or, it may be more truly, the efforts of contemporaries, which influences the present day. This might have stimulated him to seek in the garb of “ th’ olden time,” that respect which is sometimes despitefully denied to drapery of a later date. Such a motive doubtlessly swayed the designs both of Chatterton and Ireland, whose names we cannot mention together without Dryden’s comment on Spenser and Flecknoe, “ that is, from the top to the bottom of all poetry.” In ushering into the world the hapless, but beautiful muse of Chatterton, as well as the contemptible compositions of Ireland, it was alike thought necessary, to secure public attention, to have recourse to “ quaint Inglis,” or an antique dress. And to the eternal disgrace of prejudice, the latter, merely in consequence of their disguise, found men blind enough to advocate their claims to that admiration which, on theiy eyes being opened,
* See Horace.


A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 37
they could no longer see, and from the support of which they shrunk abashed.
But we desist. It is useless to draw conclusions, as it is vain to reason with certain people who act unreasonably, since, if they were, in these particular cases, capable of reason, they would need no reasoning with. By some, the poems here published will be esteemed in proportion as the argument for their antiquity prevails ; but with regard to the general reader, and the unaffected lovers of “ heaven-descended poesy,’’ let the question take either way, still
The harp in Selma was not idly strung,
And long shall last the themes our poet sung.
BerraBum.
Feb. I 1806.


PREFACE.
Without increasing bis genius, the author may have improved his language, in the eleven years that tho following poems have been in the hands of the public. Errors in diction might have been committed at twenty-four, which the experience of a riper age may remove; and some exuberances in imagery may be restrained with advantage, by a degree of judgment acquired in the progress of time. Impressed with this opinion, he ran over the whole with attention and accuracy; and he hopes he has brought the work to a state of correctness which will preclude all future improvements.
The eagerness with which these poems have been received abroad, is a recompense for the coldness with which a few have affected to treat them at home. All the polite nations of Europe have transferred them into their respective languages ; and they speak of him who brought them to light, in terms that might flatter the vanity of one fond of fame. In a convenient indifference for a literary reputation, the author hears praise without being elevated, and ribaldry without being depressed. He has frequently seen the first bestowed too precipitately; and the latter is so faithless to its purpose, that it is often the only index to merit in the present age.
Though the taste which defines genius by the points of the compass, is a subject fit for mirth in itself, it is


PREFACE.
39
ofttn a serious matter in the sale of Ihe work. When rivers define the limits of abilities, as well as the boundaries of countries, a writer may measure his success by the latitude under which he was born. It was to avoid a part of this inconvenience, that the author is said by some, who speak without any authority, to nave ascribed his own productions to another name. If this was the case, he was but young in the art of deception. When he placed the poet in antiquity, the translator should have been born on this side of the Tweed.
These observations regard only the frivolous in matters of literature ; these, however, form a majority of every age and nation. In this country men of genuine taste abound ; but their still voice is drowned in the clamors of a multitude, who judge by fashion of poetry, as of dress. The truth is, to judge aright, requires almost as much genius as to write well; and good critics are as rare as great poets. Though two hundred thousand Romans stood up when Virgil came'into the theatre, Variusonly could correct the vEneid. He that obtains fame must receive it through mere fashion; and gratify his vanity with the applause of men, of whose judgment he cannot approve.
The following poems, it must be confessed, are more calculated to please persons of exquisite feelings of heart, than those who receive all their impressions by the ear. The novelty of cadence, in what is called a prose version, though not destitute of harmony, will not, to common readers, supply the absence of the frequent returns of rhyme. This was the opinion of the vvritcr himself, though he yielded to the judgment of others, in a mode, which presented freedom and dignity of expression, instead of fetters, which cramp the thought, whilst the harmony of language is preserved. His intention was to publish inverse.—The making of


40
PREFACE.
poetry, like any other handicraft, may be learned by industry; and he had served his apprenticeship, though in secret, to the Muses.
It is, however, doubtful, whether the harmony which these poems might derive from rhyme, even in much better hands than those of the translator, could atone for the simplicity and energy which they would lose. The determination of this point shall be left to the readers of this preface. The following is the begin, ning of a poem, translated from the Norse to the Gaelic language ; and, from the latter, transferred into English. The verse took little more time to the writer than the prose ; and he himself is doubtful (if he has succeeded in either) which of them is the most literal version.
FRAGMENT OF A NORTHERN TALE.
Where Harold, with golden hair, spread o’er Loeh-linn* * his high commands ; where, with justice, he ruled the tribes, who sunk, subdued, beneath his sword; abrupt rises Gormalf in snow ! the tempests roll dark on his sides, but calm, above, his vast forehead appears. White-issuing from the skirt of his storms, the troubled torrents pour down his sides. Joining, as they roar along, they bear the Torno, in foam, to the main.
Gray on the bank, and far from men, half-covered, by ancient pines, from the wind, a lonely pile exalts its head, long shaken by the storms of the north. To this fled Sigurd, fierce in fight, from Harold the leader of armies, when fate had brightened his spear with renown : when he conquered in that rude field, where Lulan’s warriors fell in blood, or rose in terror on the waves of the main. Darkly sat the gray-haired chief;
* The Gaelic name of Scandinavia, or Scandinia
* The mountains of Sevo


PREFACE.
41
yet sorrow dwelt not in his soul. But when the war-rior thought on the past, his proud heart heaved against his side : forth flew his sword from its place : he wounded Harold in all the winds.
One daughter, and only one, but bright in form and mild of soul, the last beam of the setting line, remained to Sigurd of all his race. His son, in Lulan’s battle slain, beheld not his father’s flight from his foes. Nor finished seemed the ancient line! The splendid beauty of bright-eyed Fithon covered still the fallen king with renown. Her arm was white like Gormal’s snow ; her bosom whiter than the foam of the main, when roll the waves beneath the wrath of the winds. Like two stars were her radiant eyes, like two stars that rise on the deep, when dark tumult embroils the night. Pleasant are their beams aloft, as stately they ascend the skies.
Nor Odin forgot, in aught, the maid. Her form scarce equalled her lofty mind. Awe moved around her stately steps. Heroes loved—but shrunk away in their fears. Yet, midst the pride of all her charms, her heart was soft and her soul was kind. She saw the mournful with tearful eyes. Transient darkness arose in her breast. Her joy was in the chase. Each morning, when doubtful light wandered dimly on Lulan’s waves, she roused the resounding woods to Gor-mal’s head of snow. Nor moved the maid alone, &c.
The same versified.
Where fair-hair’d Harold, o’er Scandinia reign’d, And held with justice what his valor gain’d,
Sevo, in snow, his rugged forehead rears,
And, o’er the warfare of his storms, appears Abrupt and vast.—White wandering down his side A thousand torrents, gleaming as they glide,
Unite below, and, pouring through the plain,
Hurry the troubled Torno to the main.
4*


42
PREFACE.
Gray, on the bank, remote from human kind,
By aged pines half-shelterd from the wind,
A homely mansion rose, of antique form,
For ages batter’d by the polar storm.
To this, fierce Sigurd fled from Norway’s lord,
When fortune settled on the warrior’s sword,
In that rude field, where Suecia’s chiefs were slain,
Or forc’d to wander o’er the Bothnic main.
Dark was his life, yet undisturb’d wilh woes,
But when the memory of defeat arose,
His proud heart struck his side ; he grasp’d the spear, And wounded Harold in the vacant air.
One daughter only, but of form divine,
The last fair beam of the departing line,
Remain’d of Sigurd’s race. His warlike son Fell in the shock which overturn’d the throne.
Nor desolate the house ! Fionia’s charms Sustain’d the glory which the}’ lost in arms.
White was her arm as Sevo’s .ofty snow,
Her bosom fairer than the waves below When heaving to the winds. Her radiant eyes Like two bright stars, exulting as they rise,
O’er the dark tumult of a stormy night,
And gladd’ning heaven with their majestic light.
In nought is Odin to the maid unkind,
Her form scarce equals her exalted mind;
Awe leads her sacred steps where’er they move,
And mankind worship where they dare not love.
But mix’d with softness was the virgin’s pride,
Her heart had feeling, which her eyes denied;
Her bright tears started at another’s woes,
While transient darkness on her soul arose.
The chase she lov’d ; when morn with doubtful beam Came dimly wand’ring o’er the Bothnic stream,
On Sevo’s sounding sides she bent the bow,
And rous’d his forests to his head of snow.
Nor moved the maid alone, &c.


PREFACE.
43
One of the chief improvements, in this edition, is the care taken in arranging the poems in the order of time; so as to form a kit.d of regular history of the age to which they relate. The writer has now resigned them forever to their fate. That they have been well received by the public appears from an extensive sale; that they shall continue to be well received, he may venture to prophesy, without the gift of that inspiration to which poets lay claim. Through the medium of version upon version, they retain, in foreign languages, their native character of simplicity and energy, ticn uine poetry, like gold, loses little, when properly trans fused; but when a composition cannot bear the test of a literal version, it is a counterfeit which ought not to pass current. The operation must, however, be per formed with skilful hands. A translator who cannot equal his original, is incapable of expressing its beauties.
London,
Aug. 15,1773.
,1


A
DISSERTATION
THE .ERA OF OSSIAN.
Inquiries into the antiquities of nations afford moie pleasure than any real advantage to mankind. The ingenious may form systems of history on probabilities and a few facts ; but, at a great distance of time, their accounts must be vague and uncertain. The infancy of states and kingdoms is as destitute of great events, as of the means of transmitting them to posterity. The arts of polished life, by which alone facts can be preserved with certainty, are the production of a well-formed community. It is then historians begin to write, and public transactions to be worthy remem brance. The actions of former times are left in ob scurity, or magnified by uncertain traditions. Hencp it is that we find so much of the marvellous in the or* gin of every nation ; posterity being always ready te believe any thing, however fabulous, that reflects hono* on their ancestors.
The Greeks and Romans were remarkable for this weakness. They swallowed the most absurd fables concerning the high antiquities of their respective nations. Good historians, however, rose very early


f â– 
DISSERTATION, ETC. 45
nrnongst them and transmitted, with lustre, their great actions to posterity. It is to them that they owe that unrivalled fame they now enjoy; while the great actions of other nations are involved in fables, or lost in obscurity. The Celtic nations afford a striking instance of this kind. They, though once the masters of Europe, from the mouth of the river Oby, in Russia, to Cape Finisterre, the western point of Gallicia, in Spain, are very little mentioned in history. They trusted their fame to tradition and the songs of their bards, which, by the vicissitude of human affairs, are long since lost. Their ancient language is the only monument that remains of them; and the traces of it being found in places so widely distant from each other, serves only to show the extent of their ancient power, but throws very little light on their history.
Of all the Celtic nations, that which possessed old Gaul is the most renowned : not perhaps on account of worth superior to the rest, but for their wars with a people who had historians to transmit the fame of their enemies, as well as their own, to posterity. Britain was first peopled by them, according to the testimony of the best authors; its situation in respect to Gaul makes the opinion probable; but what puts it beyond all dispute, is, that the same customs and language prevailed among the inhabitants of both in the days of Julius Caesar.
The colony from Gaul possessed themselves, at first, of that part of Britain which was next to their own country; and spreading northward by degrees, as they increased in numbers, peopled the whole island. Some adventurers passing over from those parts of Britain that are within sight of Ireland, were the founders of the Irish nation : which is a more probable story than the idle fables of Milesian and Gallician colonies. Diodorus Siculus mentions it as a thing well known in


46 * DISSERTATION ON
his time, that the inhabitants of Ireland were originally Britons; and his testimony is unquestionable, when we consider that, for many ages, the language and customs of both nations were the same.
Tacitus was of opinion that the ancient Caledonians were of German extract; but even the ancient Germans themselves were Gauls. The present Germans, properly so called, were not the same with the ancient Celtse. The manners and customs of the two nations were similar \ but their language different. The Ger mans are the genuine descendants of the ancient Scan dinavians, who crossed, at an early period, the Baltic. The Celtse, anciently, sent many colonies into Germany, all of whom retained their own laws, language, and customs, till they were dissipated, in the Roman empire ; and it is of them, if any colonies came from Germany into Scotland, that the ancient Caledonians were descended.
But whether the ancient Caledonians were a colony of the Celtic Germans, or the same with the Gauls that first possessed themselves of Britain, is a matter of no moment at this distance of time. Whatever their origin was, we find them very numerous in the time of Julius Agricola, which is a presumption that they were long before settled in the countiy. The form of their government was a mixture of aristocracy and monarchy, as it was in all the countries where the Druid3 bore the chief sway. This order of men seems to have been formed on the same principles with the Dac-tyli, Idae, and Curetes of the ancients. Their pretended intercourse with heaven, their magic and divination, were the same. The knowledge of the Druids in natu. ral causes, and the properties of certain things, the fruits of the experiments of ages, gained them a mighty reputation among the people. The esteem of the populace soon inci eased into a veneration for the or-


THE JERA OF OSSIAN, 47
der; which these cunning and ambitious priests took cave to improve, to such a degree, that they, in a manner, engrossed the management of civil, as well as religious matters. It is generally allowed, that they did not abuse this extraordinary power ; the preserving the character of sanctity was so essential to their influence, that they never broke out into violence or oppression. The chiefs were allowed to execute the laws, but the legislative power was entirely in the hands of the Druids. It was by their authority that the tribes were united, in times of the greatest danger, under one head. This temporary king, or Vergobre-tus, was chosen by them, and generally laid down his office at the end of the war. These priests enjoyed long this extraordinary privilege among the Celtic nations who lay beyond the pale of the Roman emp're. It was in the beginning of the second century that their power among the Caledonians began to decline. The traditions concerning Trathal and Cormac, ancestors to Fingal, are full of the particulars of the fall of the Druids: a singular fate it must be owned, of priests who had once established their superstition.
The continual wars of the Caledonians against the Romans, hindered the bettor sort from initiating themselves, as the custom formerly was, into the order of the Druids. The precepts of their religion were confined to a few, and were not much attended to by a people inured to war. The Vergobretus, or chief magistrate, was chosen without the concurrence of the hierarchy, or continued in his office against their will. Continual power strengthened his interest among the tribes, and enabled him to send down, as hereditary to his posterity, the office he had only received himself by election.
On occasion of a new war against the “ king of the world,” as tradition emphatically calls the Roman cm-


48
DISSERTATION ON
peror, the Druids, to vindicate the honor of the order, began to resume their ancient privilege of choosing the Vergobretus. Garmal, the son of Tarno, being deputed by them, came to the grandfather of the celebrated Fingal, who was then Vergobretus, and commanded him, in the name of the whole order, to lay down his office. Upon his refusal, a civil war commenced, which soon ended in almost the total extinction of the religious order of the Druids. A few that remained, retired to the dark recesses of their groves, and the caves they had formerly used for their meditations. It is then we find them in the circle of stones, and unheeded by the world. A total disregard for the older, and utter abhorrence of the Druidical rites ensued. Under this cloud of public hate, all that had any knowledge of the religion of the Druids became ex-tinct, and the nation fell into the last degree of ignorance of their rites and ceremonies.
It is no matter of wonder, then, that Fingal and his son Ossian disliked the Druids, who were the declared enemies to their succession in the supreme magistracy. It is a singular case, it must be allowed, that there are no traces of religion in the poems ascribed to Ossian, as the poetical compositions of other nations are so closely connected with their mythology. But gods are not necessary, when the poet has genius. It is hard to account for it to those who are not made acquainted with the manner of the old Scottish bards. That race of men carried their notions of martial honor to an extravagant pitch. Any aid given their heroes in battle, was thought to derogate from their fame; and the bards immediately transferred the glory of the action to him who had given that aid.
Had the poet brought down gods, as often as Homei has done, to assist his heroes, his work had not con. sisted of eulogiums on men, but of hymns to superioj


THE JERA OF OSSIAN. 49
beings. Those who write in the Gaelic language seldom mention religion in their profane poetry; and when they professedly write of religion, they never mix, with their compositions, the actions of their heroes. This custom alone, even though the religion of the Druids had not been been previously extinguished, may, in some measure, excuse the author’s silence concerning the religion of ancient times.
To allege that a nation is void of all religion, betrays ignorance of the history of mankind. The traditions of their fathers, and their own observations on the works of nature, together with that superstition which is inherent in the human frame, have, in all ages, raised in the minds of men some idea of a superior being. Hence it is, that in the darkest times, and amongst the most barbarous nations, the very populace themselves had some faint notion, at least, of a divinity. The Indians, who worship no God, believe that he exists. It would be doing injustice to the author of these poems, to think that he had not opened his conceptions to that primitive and greatest of all truths. But let his religion be what it will, it is certain that he has not alluded to Christianity or any of its rites, in his poems ; which ought to fix his opinions, at least, to an era prior to that religion. Conjectures, on this subject, must supply the place of proof. The persecution begun by Dioolesian, in the year 303, is the most probable time in which the first dawning of Christianity in the north of Britain can be fixed. The humane and mild character of Constantius Chlorus, who commanded then in Britain, induced the persecuted Christians to take refuge under him. Some of tfysm, through a zeal to propagate their tenets, or through fear, went beyond the pale of the Roman empire, and settled among the Caledonians ; who were ready to hearken to their doctrines, if the religion of the Druids was exploded long befo’ e.
5


50
DISSERTATION ON
These missionaries, either through choice, or to give more weight to the doctrine they advanced, took possession of the cells and groves of the Druids; and i*. was from this retired life they had the name of Guldens, which, in the language of the country, signified “ the sequestered persons.” It was with one of the Culdees that Ossian, in his extreme old age, is said to have disputed concerning the Christian religion. This dispute they say, is extant, and is couched in verse, according to the custom of the times- The extreme ignorance on the part of Ossian of the Christian tenets, shows that that religion had only lately been introduced, as it is not easy to conceive how one of the first rank could be totally unacquainted with a religion that had been known for any time in the country. The dispute bears the genuine marks of antiquity. The obsolete phrases and expressions, peculiar to the time, prove it to be no forgery. If Ossian, then, lived at the introduction of Christianity, as by all appearance he did, his epoch will be the latter end of the third, and beginning of the fourth century. Tradition here steps in with a kind of proof.
The exploits of Fingal against Caracul, the son of the “ king of the world,” are among the first brave actions of his youth. A complete poem, which relates to this subject, is printed in this collection.
In the year 210, the Emperor Severus, after return ing from his expedition against the Caledonians a-York, fell into the tedious illness of which he after ward died. The Caledonians and Maiatse, resuming courage from his indisposition, took arms in order tu recover the possessions they had lost. The enrageo emperor commanded his army to march into their country, and to destroy it with fire and sword. His orders were but ill executed ; for his son Caracalla was at the head of the army, and his thoughts were entirely


THE .ERA OF OSSIAN.
51
t, up with tlie hopes of his father’s death, and wi'h schemes to supplant his brother Geta. He scarcely haa entered into the enemy’s country, when news was ,rought him that Severus was dead. A sudden peace is patched up with the Caledonians, and, as it appears r”om Dion Cassius, the country they had lost to Severus •vas restored to them.
The Caracul of Fingal is no other than Caracalla, who as the son of Severus, the emperor of Rome, whose dominions were extended almost over the known world, was not without reason called the “ son of the king of the world.” The space of time between 211, the year Severus died, and the beginning of the fourth century is not so great, but Ossian, the son of Fingal, might have seen the Christians whom the persecution under Dioclesian had driven beyond the pale of the Roman empire.
In one of the many lamentations of the death of Os-car, a battle which he fought against Caros, king of ships, on the banks of the winding Carun, is mentioned among his great actions. It is more than probable, that the Caros mentioned here, is the same with the noted usurper Carausius, who assumed the purple in the year 287, and seizing on Britain, defeated the Em-neror Maximinian Herculius in several naval engagements, which gives propriety to his being called the “ king of ships.” “ The winding Carun,” is that small river retaining still the name of Carron, and runs in the neighborhood of Agricola’s wall, which Carausius repaired, to obstruct the incursions of the Caledonians. Several other passages in traditions allude to the wars of the Romans; but the two just mentioned clearly fix the epocha of Fingal to the third century; and this account agrees exactly with the Irish histories, which olace the death of Fingal, the son of Comhul, in


52
DISSERTATION ON
the year 283, and that of Oscar and their own celebrated Cairbre, in the year 296.
Some people may imagine, that the allusions to the Roman history might have been derived by tradition, from learned men, more than from ancient poems. This must then have happened at least three hundred years ago, as these allusions are mentioned often in the compositions of those times.
Every one knows what a cloud of ignorance and barbarism overspread the north of Europe three hundred years ago. The minds of men, addicted to superstition, contracted a narrowness that destroyed genius. Accordingly we find the compositions of those times trivial and puerile to the last degree. But, let it be allowed, that, amidst all the untoward circumstances of the age, a genius might arise ; it is not easy to determine what could induce him to allude to the Roman times. We find no fact to favor any designs which could be entertained by any man who lived in the fifteenth century.
The strongest objection to the antiquity of the poems now given to the public under the name of Ossian, is the improbability of their being handed down by tradition through so many centuries. Ages of barbarism, some will say, could not produce poems abounding with the disinterested and generous sentiments so conspicuous in the compositions of Ossian; and could these ages produce them, it is impossible but they must be lost, or altogether corrupted, in a long succession of barbarous generations. .
Those objections naturally suggest themselves to men unacquainted with the ancient state of the northern parts of Britain. The bards, who were an inferior order of the Druids, did not share their bad fortune. They were spared by the victorious king, as it was through their means only he could hope for immortality


THE MRA OF 0SSIAN.
53
to his fame They attended him in the camp, and contributed to establish his power by their songs. His great actions were magnified, and the populace, who had no ability to examine into his character narrowly, were dazzled with his fame in the rhymes of the bards. In the mean time, men assumed sentiments that *>re rarely to be met with in an age of barbarism. The bards, who were originally the disciples of the Druids, hid their minds opened, and their ideas enlarged, by being initiated into the learning of that celebrated order. They could form a perfect hero in their own minds, and ascribe that character to their prince. The inferior chiefs made this ideal character the model of their conduct; and, by degrees, brought their minds to that generous spirit which breathes in all the poetry of the times. The prince, flattered by his bards, and rivalled by his own heroes, who imitated his character as described in the eulogies of his poets, endeavored to excel his people in merit, as he was above them in station. This emulation continuing, formed at last the general character of the nation, happily compounded of what is noble in barbarity, and virtuous and generous in a polished people.
When virtue in peace, and bravery in war, are the characteristics of a nation, their actions become interesting, and their fame worthy of immortality. A generous spirit is warmed with noble actions, and becomes ambitious of perpetuating them. This is the true source of that divine inspiration, to which the poets of all ages pretended. When they found their themes inadequate to the warmth of their imaginations, they varnished them over with fables supplied with their own fancy, or furnished by absurd traditions. These fables, however ridiculous, had their abettors; posterity either implicitly believed them, or through a vanity natural to mankind, pretended that they did. They loved to


54
DISSERTATION ON
place the found* b of their families in the days of fable, when poetry, without the fear of contradiction, could give what character she pleased of her heroes. It is to this vanity that we owe the preservation of what remain of the more ancient poems. Their poetical merit made their heroes famous in a country where heroism was much esteemed and admired. The posterity of these heroes, or those who pretended to be descended from them, heard with pleasure the eulo-giums of their ancestors ; bards were employed to repeat the poems, and to record the connection of their patrons with chiefs so renowned. Every chief, in process of time, had a bard in his family, and the office became at last hereditary. By the succession of these bards, the poems concerning the ancestors of the family were handed down from generation to generation ; they were repeated to the whole clan on solemn occasions, and always alluded to in the new compositions of the bards. This custom came down to near our own times; and after the bards were discontinued, a great number in a clan retained by memory, or committed to writing, their compositions, and founded the antiquity of their families on the authority of their poems.
The use of letters was not known in the north of Europe till long after the institution of the bards: the records of the families of their patrons, their own, and more ancient poems, were handed down by tradition. Their poetical compositions were admirably contrived for that purpose. They were adapted to music; and the most perfect harmony was observed. Each verse was so connected with those which preceded or followed it, that if one line had been remembered in a stanza, it was almost impossible to forget the rest. The cadences followed so natural a gradation, and the words were so adapted to the common turn of the voice, after it is


THE jERA OF OSSIAN.
55
raised to a certain key, that it was almost impossible, from a similarity of sound, to substitute one word for another. This excellence is peculiar to the Celtic tongue, and is perhaps to be met with in no other language. Nor does this choice of words clog the sense, or weaken the expression. The numerous flexions of consonants, and variation in declension, make the language very copious.
The descendants of the Celtse, who inhabited Britain and its isles, were not singular in this method of preserving the most precious monuments of their nation. The ancient laws of the Greeks were couched in verse, and handed down by tradition. The Spartans, through a long habit, became so fond of this custom, that they would never allow their laws to be committed to writing. The actions of great men, and eulogiums of kings and heroes, were preserved in the same manner-. All the historical monuments of the old Germans were comprehended in their ancient songs; which were either hymns to their gods, or elegies in praise of their heroes, and were intended to perpetuate the great events in their nation, which were carefully interwoven with them. This species of composition was not committed to writing, but delivered by oral tradition. The care they took to have the poems taught to their children, the uninterrupted custom of repeating them upon certain occasions, and the happy measure of the verse, served to preserve them for a long time uncorrupted. This oral chronicle of the Germans was not forgot in the eighth century; and it probably would have remained to this day, had not learning, which thinks every thing that is not committed to writing, fabulous, been introduced. It was from poetical traditions that Garcilasso composed his account of the Incas of Peru. The Peruvians had lost all other monuments of their history, and it was from ancient poems, which his mo-


56
DISSERTATION, ETC.
ther, a princess of the blood of the Incas, taught him in his youth, that he collected the materials of his history, [f other nations, then, that had often been overrun by enemies, and hath sent abroad and received colonies, could for many ages preserve, by oral tradition, their laws and histories uncorrupted, it is much more probable that the ancient Scots, a people so free of intermixture with foreigners, and so strongly attached to the memory of their ancestors, had the works of their bards handed down with great purity.
What is advanced in this short dissertation, it must be confessed, is mere conjecture. Beyond the reach of records is settled a gloom which no ingenuity can penetrate. The manners described in these poems suit the ancient Celtic times, and no other period that is known in history. We must, therefore, place the heroes far back in antiquity ; and it matters little, who were their contemporaries in other parts of the world. If we have placed Fingal in his proper period, we do honor to the manners of barbarous times. He exercised every manly virtue in Caledonia, while Heliogabalus disgraced human nature at Rome.


I
t
A
DISSERTATION
CONCERNING THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
The history of those nations who originally possessed the north of Europe, is less known than their manners. Destitute of the use of letters, they themselves had not the means of transmitting their great actions to remote posterity. Foreign writers saw them only at a distance, and described them as they found them. The vanity of the Romans induced them to consider the nations beyond the pale of their empire as barbarians ; and, consequently, their history unworthy of being investigated. Their manners and singular character were matters of curiosity, as they committed them to record. Some men otherwise of great merit, among ourselves, give into confined ideas on this subject. Having early imbibed their idea of exalted manners from the Greek and Roman writers, they scarcely ever afterward have the fortitude to allow any dignity of character to any nation destitute of the use of letters.
Without derogating from the fame of Greece and Rome, we may consider antiquity beyond the pale of their empire worthy of some attention. The nobler


58
DISSERTATION ON
passions of the mind nevei shoot forth mors, free and unrestrained than in the times we call barbarous, That irregular manner of life, and those manly pursuits, from which barbarity take''- it name, are highly favorable to a strength of mind unknown in polished times. In advanced society, the characters of men are more uniform and disguised. The human passions lie in some degree concealed behind forms and artificial manners; and the powers of the soul, without an opportu. nity of exerting them, lose their vigor. The times oi regular government, and polished manners, are therefore to be wished for by the feeble and weak in mind. An unsettled state, and those convulsions which attend it, is the proper field for an exalted character, and the exertion of great parts. Merit there rises always superior; no fortuitous event can raise the timid and mean into power. To those who look upon antiquity in this light, it is an agreeable prospect; and they alone can have real pleasuie in tracing nations to their source. The establishment of the Celtic states, in the north of Europe, is beyond the reach of written annals. The traditions and songs to which they trusted their history, were lost, or altogether corrupted, in their revolutions and migrations, which were so frequent and universal, that no kingdom in Europe is now possessed by its original inhabitant s. Societies were formed, and kingdoms erected, from a mixture of nations, who, in process of time, lost all knowledge of their own origin. If tradition could be depended upon, it is only among a people, from all time, free from intermixture with foreigners. We are to look for these among tiie mountains and inaccessible parts of a country: places, on account of their barrenness, uninviting to an enemy, or whose natural strength enabled the natives to repel invasions. Such are the inhabitants of the mountains of Scotland. We. accordingly find that they differ


THE TOEMS OF OSSIAN.
5&
materially from those who possess the low and more fertile parts of the kingdom. ,Their language is pure and original, and their manners are those of an ancient and unmixed race of men. Conscious of their own antiquity, they long despised others, as a new anil mixed people. As they lived in a country only fit for pasture, they were free from that toil and business which engross the attention of a commercial people. Their amusement consisted in hearing or repeating their songs and traditions, and these entirely turned on the antiquity of their nation, and the exploits of their forefathers. It is no wonder, therefore, that there are more remains among them, than among any other people in Europe. Traditions, however, concerning remote periods are only to be regarded, in so far as they coincide with contemporary writers of undoubted credit and veracity.
No writers began their accounts for a more early period than the historians of the Scots nation. Without records, or even tradition itself, they gave a long list of ancient kings, and a detail of their transactions, with a scrupulous exactness. One might naturally suppose, that when they had no authentic annals, they should, at least, have recourse to the traditions of their country, and have reduced them into a regular system of history. Of both they seem to have been equally destitute. Born in the low country, and strangers to the ancient language of their nation, they contented themselves with copying from one another, and retailing the same fictions in a new color and dress.
John Fordun was the first who collected those fragments of the Scots history which had escaped the brutal policy of Edward I., and reduced them into order. His accounts, in so far as they concerned recent transactions, deserved credit: beyond a certain period, they were fabulous and unsatisfactory. Some time be-


60
DISSERTATION ON
fore Fordun wrote, the king of England, in a letter to the pope, had run ujf the antiquity of his nation to a very remote sera. Fordun, possessed of all the national prejudice of the age, was unwilling that his country should yield, in point of antiquity, to a people then its rivals and enemies. Destitute of annals in Scotland, he had recourse to Ireland, which, according to the vulgar error of the times, was reckoned the first habitation of the Scots. He found there, that the Irish bards had carried their pretensions to antiquity as high, if not beyond any nation in Europe. It was from them he took those improbable fictions which form the first part of his history.
The writers that succeeded Fordun implicitly followed his system, though they sometimes varied from him in their relations of particular transactions and the order of succession of their kings. As they had no new lights, and were equally with him unacquainted with the traditions of their country, their histories contain little information concerning the origin of the Scots. Even Buchanan himself, except the elegance and vigor of his style, has very little to recommend him. Blinded with political prejudices, he seemed more anxious to turn the fictions of his predecessors to his own purposes, than to detect their misrepresentations, or investigate truth amidst the darkness which they had thrown round it. It therefore appears, that little can be collected from their own historians concerning the first migrations of the Scots into Britain.
That this island was peopled from Gaul admits of no doubt. Whether colonies came afterward from the north of Europe, is a matter of mere speculation. When South Britain yielded to the power of the Romans, the unconquered nations to the nrrth of the province were distinguished by the name of Caledonians From their very name, it appears that they


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
61
were of tnose Gauls who possessed themselves originally of Britain. It is compounded of two Celtic words, Cad signifying Celts, or Gauls, and Dun oi Don, a hill; so that Caeldon, or Caledonians, is as much as to say, the “ Celts of the hill country.” The Highlanders, to this day, call themselves Cael, and their language Caelic, or Galic, and their country Caeldock, which the Romans softened into Caledonia. This, of itself, is sufficient to demonstrate that they are the genuine descendants of the ancient Caledonians, and not a pretended colony of Scots, who settled first in the north, in the third or fourth century.
From the double meaning of the word Cael, which signifies “ strangers,” as well as Gauls, or Celts, some have imagined, that the ancestors of the Caledonians were of a different race from the rest of the Britons, and that they received their name upon that account. This opinion, say they, is supported by Tacitus, who, from several circumstances, concludes that the Caledonians were of German extraction. A discussion of a point so intricate, at this distance of time, could neither be satisfactory nor important.
Towards the latter end of the third, and beginning of the fourth century, we find the Scots in the ncrth. Porphirius makes the first mention of them about that time. As the Scots were not heard of before that period, most writers supposed them to have been a colony, newly come to Britain, and that the Piets were the only genuine descendants of the ancient Caledoni ans. This mistake is easily removed. The Caledonians, in process of time, became naturally divided into two distinct nations, as possessing parts of the country entirely different in their nature and soil. The wet-tern coast of Scotland is hilly and barren; towards the east, the country is plain, and fit for tillage. The inhabitants of the mountains, a roving and uncontrolled
6


62
DISSERTATION ON
race of men, lived by feeding of cattle, and what they killed in hunting. Their employment did not fix them to one place. They removed from one heath to another, as suited best with their convenience or inclination. They were not, therefore, improperly called, l y their neighbors, Scuite, or “the wandering nation;'’ which is evidently the origin of the Roman name of Scoti.
On the other hand, the Caledonians, who possessed the east coast of Scotland, as this division of the country was plain and fertile, applied themselves to agriculture, and raising of corn. It was from this that the Galic name of the Piets proceeded; for they are called in that language, Cruithnich, i. e. “ the wheat or corn eaters.” As the Piets lived in a country so different in its nature from that possessed by the Scots so their national character suffered a material change. Unobstructed by mountains or lakes, their communication with one another was free and frequent. Society, therefore, became sooner established among them than among the Scots, and, consequently, they were much sooner governed by civil magistrates and laws. This, at last, produced so great a difference in the manners of the two nations, that they began to forget their common origin, and almost continual quarrels and animosities subsisted between them. These animosities, aftei some ages, ended in the subversion of the Pictish king dom, but not in the total extirpation of the nation ac cording to most of the Scots writers, who seem to think it more for the honor of their countrymen to annihilate than reduce a rival people under their obedience. It is certain, however, that the very name of the Piets was lost, and that those that remained were so completely incorporated with their conquerors, that they soon lost all memory of their own origin.
The end of the Pictish government is placed so near


THE TOEMS OF OSSIAN. 63
tnat period to which authentic annals reach, that it is matter of wonder that we have no monuments of their language or history remaining. This favors the system I have laid down. Had they originally been of a different race from the Scots, their language of course would be different; The contrary is the case. The names of places in the Pictish dominions, and the very names of their kings, which are handed down to us, ' are of Galic original, which is a convincing proof that the two nations were, of old, one and the same, and only divided into two governments by the effect which their situation had upon the genius of the people.
The name of Piets is said to have been given by the Romans to the Caledonians who possessed the east coast of Scotland from their painting their bodies. The story is silly, and the argument absurd. But let us revere antiquity in her very follies. This circumstance made some imagine, that the Piets were of British extract, and a different race of men from the Scots. That more of the Britons, who fled northward from the tyranny of the Romans, settled in the low country of Scotland, than among the Scots of the mountains, may be easily imagined, from the very nature of the country. It was they who introduced painting among the Piets. From this circumstance, affirm some antiquaries, proceeded the name of the latter, to distinguish them from the Scots, who never had that art among them, and from the Britons, who discontinued it after the Roman conquest.
The Caledonians, most certainly, acquired a considerable knowledge in navigation by their living on a coast intersected with many arms of the sea, and in islands, divided one from another by wide and dangerous firths. It is, therefore, highly probable, that they very early found their way to the north of Ireland, which is within sight of their own country. That Ire-


04
DISSERTATION ON
land was first peopled from Britain, is, at length, a mat. ter that admits of no doubt. The vicinity of the two islands ; the exact correspondence of the ancient inhabitants of both, in point of manners and language, are sufficient proofs, even if we had not the testimonies of authors of undoubted veracity to confirm it. The abettors of the most romantic systems of Irish antiquities allow it; but they place the colony from Britain in an improbable and remote sera. I shall easily admit that the colony of the Firbolg, confessedly the Belgse ot Bntain, settled in the south of Ireland, before the Cael, or Caledonians discovered the north ; but it is not at all likely that the migration of the Firbolg to Ireland happened many centuries before the Christian sera.
The poem of Temora throws considerable light on this subject. The accounts given in it agree so well with what the ancients have delivered concerning the first population and inhabitants of Ireland, that every unbiased person will confess them more probable than the legends handed down, by tradition, in that country. It appears that, in the days of Trathal, grandfather to Fin-gal, Ireland was possessed by two nations ; the Firbo'g or Belgse of Britain, who inhabited the south, and the Cael, who passed over from Caledonia and the Hebrides to Ulster. The two nations, as is usual among an unpolished and lately settled people, were divided into small dynasties, subject to petty kings or chiefs, independent of one another. In this situation, it is probable, they continued long, without any material revolution in the state of the island, until Crothar, lord of Atha, a country in Connaught, the most potent chief of the Firbolg, carried away Conlama, the daughter of Cathmin, a chief of the Cael, who possessed Ulster.
Conlama had been betrothed, some time before, to Turloch, a chief of their own nation. Turloch re-


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
65
scnted the affront offered him by Crothar, made an irruption into Connaught, and killed Cormul, the brother of Crothar, who came to oppose his progress. Crothar himself then took arms, and either killed or expelled Turloch. The war, upon this, became general between the two nations, and the Cael were reduced to the last extremity. In this situation, they applied for aid to Trathal, king of Morven, who sent his brother Conar, already famous for his great exploits, to their relief. Conar, upon his arrival in Ulster, was chosen king by the unanimous consent of the Caledonian tribes who possessed that country. The war was renewed with vigor and success; but the Firbolg appear to have been rather repelled than subdued. In succeeding reigns, we learn, from episodes in the same poem, that the chiefs of Atha made several efforts to become monarchs of Ireland, and to expel the race of Conar.
To Conar succeeded his son Cormac, who appears to have reigned long. In his latter days he seems to have been driven to the last extremity by an insurrection of the Firbolg, who supported the pretensions of the chiefs of Atha to the Irish throne. Fingal, who was then very young, came to the aid of Cormac, totally defeated Colculla, chief of Atha, and re-established Cormac in the sole possession of all Ireland. It was then he fell in love with, and took to wife, Ros-crana, the daughter of Cormac, who was the mother of Ossian.
Cormac was succeeded in the Irish throne by his son Cairbre; Cairbre by Artho, his son, who was the father of that Cormac, in whose minority the Invasion of Swaran happened, which is the subject of the poem of Fingal. The family of Atha, who had not relinquished their pretensions to the Irish throne, reoelled in the minority of Cormac, defeated his adherents, and murdered him in the palace of Temora. Cairbar, lord 6*


60
DISSERTATION ON
of Atha, upon this mounted the thro no. His usurpation soon ended with his life ; for Fingal made an expedition into Ireland, and restored, after various vicissitudes of fortune, the family of Conar to the possession of the kingdom. This war is the subject of Temora ; the events, though certainly heightened and embellished by poetry, seem, notwithstanding, to have their foundation in true history.
Temora contains not only the history of the first mi gration of the Caledonians into Ireland; it also pre-serves some important facts concerning the first settlement of the Firbolg, or Belgai of Britain, in that kingdom, under their leader Larthon, who was ancestor to Cairbar and Cathmor, who successively mounted the Irish throne, after the death of Cormac, the son of Artho. I forbear to transcribe the passage on account of its length. It is the song of Fonar, the bard; towards the latter end of the seventh book of Temora. As the generations from Larthon to Cathmor, to whom the episode is addressed, are not marked, as are those of the family of Conar, the first king of Ireland, we can form no judgment of the time of the settlement of the Firbolg. It is, however, probable it was some time before the Cael, or Caledonians, settled in Ulster. One important fact may be gathered from this history, that the Irish had no king before the latter end of the first century. Fingal lived, it is supposed, in the third century ; so Conar, the first monarch of the Irish, who was his grand-uncle, cannot be placed farther back than the close of the first. To establish this fact, is to lay, at once, aside the pretended antiquities of the Scots and Irish, and to get quit of the long list of kings which the latter give us for a millenium before.
Of the affairs of Scotland, it is certain, nothing can be depended upon prior to the reign of Fergus, the son of Ere, who lived in the fifth century. The true his-


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
G1
tory of Ireland begins somewhat later than that period. Sir James Ware, who was indefatigable in his re searches after the antiquities of his country, rejects, as mere fiction and idle romance, all that is related of the ancient Irish before the time of St. Patrick, and the reign of Leogaire. It is from this consideration tha1 he begins his history at the introduction of Christianity, remarking, that all that is delivered down concerning the times of paganism were tales of late invention, strangely mixed with anachronisms and inconsistencies. Such being the opinion of Ware, who had collected, with uncommon industry and zeal, all the real and pre-tendedly ancient manuscripts concerning the history of his country, we may, on his authority, reject the improbable and self-condemned tales of Keating and O’Flaherty. Credulous and puerile to the last degree, they have disgraced the antiquities they meant to establish. It is to be wished that some able Irishman, who understands the language and records of his country, may redeem, ere too late, the genuine antiquities of Ireland from the hands of these idle fabulists.
By comparing the history in these poems with the legends of the Scots and Irish writers, and by afterward examining both by the test of the Roman authors, it is easy to discover which is the most probable. Probability is all that can be established on the authority of tradition, ever dubious and uncertain. But when it favors the hypothesis laid down by contemporary writers of undoubted veracity, and, as it were, finishes the figure of which they only drew the outlines, it ought, in the judgment of sober reason, to be preferred to accounts framed in dark and distant periods, with .ittle judgment, and upon no authority.
Concerning the period of more than a century which intervenes between Fingal and the reign of Fergus, the son of Ere or Arcath, tradition is dark r.nd contiadic-


68
DISSERTATION ON
tory. Some trace up the family of Fergus to a son of Fingal of that name, who makes a considerable figure in Ossian’s Poems. The three elder sons of Fingal, Ossian, Fillan, and Ryno, dying without issue, the succession, of course, devolved upon Fergus, the fourth son, and his posterity. This Fergus, say some traditions, was the father of Congal, whose son was Arcath, the father of Fergus, properly called the first king of Scots, as it was in his time the Cael, who possessed the western coast of Scotland, began to be distinguished by foreigners by the name of Scots. From thenceforward, the Scots and Piets, as distinct nations, became objects of attention to the historians of other countries. The internal state of the two Caledonian kingdoms has always continued, and ever must remain, in obscurity and fable.
It is in this epoch we must fix the beginning of the decay of that species of heroism which subsisted in the days of Fingal. There are three stages in human society. The first is the result of consanguinity, and the natural affection of the members of a family to one another. The second begins when property is established, and men enter into associations for mutual defence, against the invasions and injustice of neighbors. Mankind submit, in the third, to certain laws and subordinations of government, to which they trust the safety of their persons and property. As the first i3 formed on nature, so, of course, it is the most disinterested and noble. Men, in the last, have leisure to cultivate the mind, and to restore it, with reflection, to a primeval dignity of sentiment. The middle state is the region of complete barbarism and ignorance. About the beginning of the fifth century, the Scots and Piets were advanced into the second stage, and consequently, into those circumscribed sentiments which always distinguish barbarity. The events which soon


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
69
after happened did not at all contribute to enlarge their ideas, or mend their national character.
About the year 426, the Romans, on account of domestic commotions, entirely forsook Britain, finding it impossible to defend so distant a frontier. The Piets and Scots, seizing this favorable opportunity, made in cursions into the deserted province. The Britons, enervated by the slavery of several centuries, and those vices which are inseparable from an advanced state of civility, were not able to withstand the impetuous, though irregular, attacks of a barbarous enemy. In the utmost distress, they applied to their old masters, the Romans, and (after the unfortunate state of the empire could not spare aid) to the Saxons, a nation equally barbarous and brave with the enemies of whom they were so much afraid. Though the bravery of the Saxons repelled the Caledonian nations for a time, yet the latter found means to extend themselves considerably towards the south. It is in this period we must place the origin of the arts of civil life among the Scots. The seat of governmnnt was removed from the mountains to the plain and more fertile provinces of the south, to be near the common enemy in case of sudden incursions. Instead of roving through unfrequented wilds in search of subsistence by means of hunting, men applied to agriculture, and raising of corn. This manner of life was the first means of changing the national character. The next thing which contributed to it was their mixture with strangers.
In the countries which the Scots had conquered from the Britons, it is probable that most of the o! 1 inhabitants remained. These incorporating ivith the conquerors, taught them agriculture and other arts which they themselves had received from the Romans. The Scots, however, in number as well as power, being the


70
DISSERTATION ON
most predominant, retained still their language, and as many of the customs of their ancestors as suited with the nature of the country they possessed. Even the union of the two Caledonian ldngdoms did not much affect the national character. Being originally descended from the same stock, the manners of the Piets and Scots were as similar as the different natures of the countries they possessed permitted.
What brought about a total change in the genius of the Scots nation was their wars and other transactions with the Saxons. Several counties in the south of Scotland were alternately possessed by the two nations. They were ceded, in the ninth age, to the Scots, and it is probable that most of'the Saxon inhabitants remained in possession of their lands. During the several conquests and revolutions in England, many fled for refuge into Scotland, to avoid the oppression of foreigners, or the tyranny of domestic usurpers; insomuch, that the Saxon race formed, perhaps, near one half of the Scottish kingdom. The Saxon manners and language daily gained ground on the tongue and customs of the ancient Caledonians, till, at last, the latter were entirely relegated to the inhabitants of the mountains, who were still unmixed with strangers.
It was after the accession of territory which the’ Scots received upon tne retreat of the Romans from Britain, that the inhabitants of the Highlands were divided into clans. The king, when he kept his court in the mountains, was considered by the whole nation as the chief of their blood. The small number, as well as the presence of their prince, prevented those divisions which, afterward, sprung forth into so many separate tribes'. When the seat of government was removed to the south, those who remained in the Highlands were, of course, neglected. They naturally formed themselves into small societies independent of


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
71
one another. Each society had its own regulus, who either was, or, in the succession of a few generations, was regarded as chief of their blood. The nature of the country favored an institution of this sort. A few val eys, divided from one another by extensive heaths and impassable mountains, form the face of the Highlands. In those valleys the chiefs fixed their residence. Round them, and almost within sight of their dwellings, were the habitations of their relations and dependants.
The seats of the Highland chiefs were neither disagreeable nor inconvenient. Surrounded with mountains and hanging woods, they were covered from the inclemency of the weather. Near them generally ran a pretty large river, which, discharging itself not far off into an arm of the sea or extensive lake, swarmed with variety of fish. The woods were stocked with wild-fowl; and the heaths and mountains behind them were the natural seat of the red-deer and roe. If we make allowance for the backward state of agriculture, the valleys were not unfertile; affording, if not all the conveniences, at least the necessaries of life. Here the chief lived, the supreme judge and lawgiver of his own people ; but his sway was neither severe nor unjust. As the populace regarded him as the chief of their blood, so he, in return, considered them as members of his family. His commands, therefore, though absolute and decisive, partook more of the authority of a father than of the rigor of a judge. Though the whole territory of the tribe was considered as the property of the chief, yet his vassals made him no other consideration for their lands than services, neither burdensome nor frequent. As he seldom went from home, he was at no expense. His table was supplied by his own herds and what his numerous attendants killed in hunting.
In this rural kind of magnificence the Highland chiefs lived for many ages. At a distance from the


72
DISSERTATION ON
seat of government, and secured by the inaccessibleness of their country, they were free and independent. As they had little communication with strangers, the customs of their ancestors remained among them, and their language retained its original purity. Naturally fond of military fame, and remarkably attached to the memory of their ancestors, they delighted in traditions and songs concerning the exploits of their nation, and especially of their own particular families. A succession of bards was retained in every clan to hand down the memorable actions of their forefathers. As Fin-gal and his chiefs were the most renowned names in tradition, the bards took care to place them in the genealogy of every great family. They became famous among the people, and an object of fiction and poetry to the bard.
The bards erected their immediate patrons into heroes and celebrated them in their songs. As the circle of their knowledge was narrow, their ideas were confined in proportion. A few happy expressions, and the manners they represent, may please those who understand the language ; their obscurity and inaccuracy would disgust in a translation. It was chiefly for this reason that I have rejected wholly the works of the bards in my publications. Ossian acted in a more extensive sphere, and his ideas ought to be more noble and universal; neither gives he, I presume, so many of their peculiarities, which are only understood in a certain period or country. The other bards have their beauties, but not in this species of composition. Their rhymes, only calculated to kindle a martial spirit among the vulgar, afford very little pleasure to genuine taste. This observation only regards their poems of the heroic kind; in every inferior species of poetry they are more successful. They express the tender melancholy of desponding love with simplicity and na-


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN
73
ture So well adapted are the sounds of the words to the sentiments, that, even without any knowlege of the language, they pierce and dissolve the heart. Successful love is expressed with peculiar tenderness and elegance. In all their compositions, except the heroic, which was solely calculated to animate the vulgar, they gave us the genuine language of the heart, without any of those affected ornaments of phraseology, which, though intended to beautify sentiments, divest them of their natural force. The ideas, it is confessed, are too local to be admired in another language ; to those who are acquainted with the manners they represent, and the scenes they describe, they must afford pleasure and satisfaction.
It was the locality of their description and sentiment that, probably, has kept them in the obscurity of an almost lost language. The ideas of an unpolished period are so contrary to the present advanced state of society, that more than a common mediocrity of taste is required to relish them as they deserve. Those who alone are capable of transferring ancient poetry into a modern language, might be better employed in giving originals of their own, were it not for that wretched envy and meanness which affects to despise contemporary genius. My first publication was merely accidental; had I then met with less approbation my after pursuits would have been more profitable ; at least, I might have continued to be stupid without being branded with dulness.
These poems may furnish light to antiquaries, as well as some pleasure to the lovers of poetry. The first population of Ireland, its first kings, and several circumstances, which regard its connection of old wi 7


74
DISSERTATION ON
British nations, who originally inhabited that island. In a preceding part of this dissertation I have shown how superior the probability of this system is to the undigested fictions of the Irish bards, and the more recent and regular legends of both Irish and Scottish historians. I mean not'to give offence to the abettors of the high antiquities of the two nations, though I have all along expressed my doubts concerning the veracity and abilities of those who deliver down their ancient history. For my own part, I prefer the national fame arising from a few certain facts, to the legendary and uncertain annals of ages of remote and obscure antiquity. No kingdom now established in Europe can pretend to equal antiquity with that of the Scots, inconsiderable as it may appear in other respects, even according to my system ; so that it is altogether needless to fix its origin a fictitious millenium before.
Since the first publication of these poems, many insinuations have been made, and doubts arisen, concerning their authenticity. Whether these suspicions are suggested by prejudice, or are only the effects of malice, I neither know nor care. Those who have doubted my veracity have paid a compliment to my genius; and were even the allegation true, my self-denial might have atoned for my fault. Without vanity I say it, I think I could write tolerable poetry ; and I assure my antagonists, that I should not translate what I could not imitate.
As prejudice is the effect of ignorance, I am not surprised at its being general. An age that produces few marks of genius ought to be sparing of admiration. The truth is, the bulk of mankind have ever been led by reputation more than taste, in articles of literature. If all the Romans who admired Virgil understood his beauties, he would have scarce deserved to have come down to us through so many centuries. Unless genius


THE POEMS OF oSSIAN, 75
were in fashion, Homer himself might have written in vain. He that wishes to come with weight on the superficial, must skim the surface, in their own shallow way. Were my aim to gain the many, I would write a madrigal sooner than an heroic poem. Laberius himself would be always sure of more followers than Sophocles.
Some who doubt the authenticity of this work, with peculiar acuteness appropriate them to the Irish nation. Though it is not easy to conceive how these poems can belong to Ireland and to me at once, I shall examine the subject without farther animadversion on the blunder.
Of all the nations descended from the ancient Celia;, the Scots and Irish are the most similar in language, customs, and manners. This argues a more intimate connection between them than a remote descent from die great Celtic stock. It is evident, in short, that, at some period or other, they formed one society, were subject to the same government, and were, in all respects, one and the same people. How they became divided, which the colony, or which the mother-nation, j have in another work amply discussed. The first circumstance that induced me to disregard the vulgarly-received opinion of the Hibernian extraction of the Scottish nation was my observations on their ancient language. The dialect of the Celtic tongue, spoken in the north of Scotland, is much more pure, more agreeable to its mother-language, and more abounding with primitives, than that now spoken, or even that which has been written for some centuries back, amongst the most unmixed part of the Irish nation. A Scotchman, tolerably conversant in his own language, understands an Irish composition from that derivative analogy which it has to the Gaelic of North Britain. An Irishman, on the other hand, without the


70 DISSERTATION ON
â– mo of study, can never understand a cor on in the Gae'ic tongue. This affords a proof that i Scotch Gaelic is the most original, and, consequently, the language of a more ancient and unmixed people. The Irish, however backward they may be to allow any thing to the prejudice of 'heir antiquity, seem inadvertently to acknowledge it, by the very appellation they give to the dialect they speak. They call their own language Caelic Eirinarch, i. e. Caledonian Irish, when, on the contrary, they call the dialect of North Britain a Chaelic, or the Caledonian tongue, emphatically. A circumstance of this nature tends more to decide which is the most ancient nation than the united testimonies of a whole legion of ignorant bards and senachies, who, perhaps, never dreamed of bringing the Scots from Spain to Ireland, till some one of them, more learned than the rest, discovered that the Romans called the first Iberia, and the latter Hibernia. On such a slight foundation were probably built the romantic fictions concerning the Milesians of Ireland.
From internal proofs it sufficiently appears that the poems published under the name of Ossian are not of Irish composition. The favorite chimera, that Ireland is the mother-country of the Scots, is totally subverted and ruined. The fictions concerning the antiquities of that country, which were formed for ages, and growing as they came down on the hands of successive senachies and fileas, are found, at last, to be the spurious brood of modern and ignorant ages. To those who know how tenacious the Irish are of their pretended Iberian descent, this alone is proof sufficient, that poems, so subversive of their system, could never be produced by an Hibernian bard. But when we look to the language, it is so different from the Irish dialect, that it would be as ridiculous to think that Milton’s Paradise Lost could be wrote by a Scottish peasant, as


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
77
to suppose that toe poems ascribed to Ossian were writ in Ireland.
The pretensions of Ireland to Ossian proceed from another quarter. There are handed down in that country traditional poems concerning the Fiona, or the heroes of Fion Mac Comnal. This Fion, say the Irish annalists, was general of the militia of Ireland in the reign of Cormac, in the third century. Where Keating and O'Flaherty learned that Ireland had an embodied militia so early, is not so easy for me to determine. Their information certainly did not come from the Irish poems concerning Fion. I have just now in my hands all that remain of those compositions; but, unluckily for the antiquities of Ireland, they appear to be the work of a very modern period. Every stanza, nay, almost every line, affords striking proofs that they cannot be three centuries old. Their allusions to the manners and customs of the fifteenth century are so many, that it is a matter of wonder to me how any one could dream of their antiquity. They are entirely writ in that romantic taste which prevailed two ages ago. Giants, enchanted castles, dwarfs, palfreys, witches, and magicians, form the whole circle of the poet’s invention. The celebrated Fion could scarcely move from one hillock to another without encountering a giant, or being entangled in the circles of a magician. Witches, on broomsticks, were continually hovering round him like crows; and he had freed enchanted virgins in every valley in Ireland. In short, Fion, great as he was, passed a disagreeable life. Not only had he to engage all the mischiefs in his own country, foreign armies invaded him, assisted by magicians and witches, and headed by kings as tall as the mainmast of a first-rate. It must be owned, however, that Fion was not inferior to them in height.
7*


DISSERTATION ON
•”8
A chos air Cro.nleach, druim-ard,
Chos eile air Crom-meal dubh,
Thoga Fion le iamh mhoir An d’uisge o Lubhair na fruth.
With one foot on Cromleach his brow,
The other on G'rommai the dark.,
Fion took up with his large hand The water from Lubar of the streams.
Cromleach and Crommal were two mountains in the neighborhood of one another, in Ulster, and the rivei of Lubar ran through the intermediate valley. The property of such a monster as this Fion I should never have disputed with any nation ; but the bard himself, in the poem from which the above quotation is taken, cedes him to Scotland :
Fion o Albin, siol nan laoich!
Fion from Albion, race of heroes!
Were it allowable to contradict the authority of a bard, at this distance of time, I should have given as my opinion, that this enormous Fion was of the race of the Hibernian giants, of Ruanus, or some other celebrated name, rather than a native of Caledonia, whose inhabitants, now at least, are not remarkable for their stature. As for the poetry, I leave it to the reader.
If Fion was so remarkable tor his stature, his heroes had also other extraordinary properties. “ In weight all the sons of strangers yielded to the celebrated T in-iosal; and for hardness of skull, and, perhaps, for thickness too, the valiant Oscar stood ‘ unrivalled ano alone.’” Ossian himself had many singular and less delicate qualifications than playing on the harp; and the brave Cuthullin was of so diminutive a size, as to De taken for a child of two years of age by the gigankc Swaran. To illustrate this subject, I shall here 1; y Before the reader the history of some of the Irish poems concerning Fion Mac Comnal. A translation of mose pieces, if well executed, might afford satisfaction, in an


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 79
uncommon way, to the public. But this ought to be the work of a native of Ireland. To draw forth from obscurity the poems of my own country has wasted all the time I had allotted for the Muses; besides, I am too diffident of my own abilities to undertake such a work. A gentleman in Dublin accused me to the public of committing blunders and absurdities in translating the language of my own country, and that before any translation of mine appeared. How the gentleman came to see my blunders before I committed them, is not sasy to determine ; if he did not conclude that, as a Scotsman, and, of course, descended of the Milesian race, [ might have committed some of those oversights, which, perhaps very unjustly, are said to be peculiar to them.
From the whole tenor of the Irish poems concerning the Fiona, it appeal's that Fion Mac Comnal flourished in the reign of Cormac, which is placed, by the universal consent of the senachies, in the third century. They even fix the death of Fingal in the year 268, yet his son Ossian is made contemporary with St. Patrick, who preached the gospel in Ireland about the middle of the fifth age. Ossian, though at that time he must nave been two hundred and fifty years of age, had a daughter young enough to become wife to the saint. On account of this family connection, “ Patrick of the Psalms,” for so the apostle of Ireland is emphatically called in the poems, took great delight in the company of Ossian, and in hearing the great actions of his family. The saint sometimes threw off the austerity of his profession, drank freely, and had his soul properly warmed with wine, to receive with becoming enthusiasm the poems of his father-in-law. One of the poems begins with this useful piece of information:
Lo don rabh Padrie na mhur,
Gun Sailm air uidh, ach a gol,
Ghluais es thigh Ossian mhic Fhion,
O sun leis bu bhinn a ghloir.


80
DISSERTATION ON
The title of this poem is “ Teantach mor na Fi< a.” it appears to have been founded on the same story *-ith the “ Battle of Lora.” The circumstances and catastrophe in both are much the same: but the Irish Os-sian discovers the age in which he lived by an unlucky-anachronism. After describing the total rout of Er ragon, he very gravely.concludes with this remarkable anecdote, that none of the foe escaped, but a few, who were permitted to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This circumstance fixes the date of the composition of the piece some centuries after the famous croisade : for it is evident that the poet thought the time of the croisade so ancient, that he confounds it with the age of Fingal. Erragon, in the course of this poem, is often called,
Jthoigh Lochlin an do shloigh,
King of Denmark of two nations-
which alludes to the union of the kingdom of Norway and Denmark, a circumstance which happened under Margaret de Waldemar, in the close of the fourteenth age. Modern, however, as this pretended Ossian was, it is certain he lived before the Irish had dreamed of appropriating Fion, or Fingal, to themselves. He concludes the poem with this reflection:
Na fagha se comhthrom nan n arm,
Erragon Mac Annir nan lann glas ’San n’Albin ni n’ abairtair Triath Agus ghlaoite an n’ Fhiona as.
“ Had Erragon, son of Annir of gleaming swords, avoided the equal contest of arms, (single combat,) no chief should have afterward been numbered in Albion, and the heroes of Fion should no more be named.”
The next poem that falls under our observation is “ Cath-cabhra,” or “ The Death of Oscar.” This piece is founded on the same story which we have in the first book of Temora. So little thought the auth


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
81
of Cath-cabhra of making Oscar his countryman, that in the course of two hundred lines, of which the poem consists, he puts the following expression thrice in the mouth of the hero •
Albin an sa d’roina m’ arach.—
Albion, where 1 was born and bred.
The poem contains almost all the incidents in the first book of Temora. In one circumstance the bard differs materially from Ossian. Oscar, after he was mortally wounded by Cairbar, was carried by his people to a neighboring hill which commanded a prospect of the sea. A fleet appeared at a distance, and the hero exclaims with joy,
Loingeas nio shean-athair at’ an ’S iaa a tiachd le cabhair chugain,
O Albin na n’ioma stuagh.
“ It is the fleet of my grandfather coming with aid to our field, from Albion of many waves !” The testimony of this bard is sufficient to confute the idle fictions of Keating and 0‘Flaherty, for, though he is fat from being ancient, it is probable he flourished a full century before these historians. He appears, however, to have been a much better Christian than chronologer ; or Fion, though he is placed two centuries before St. Patrick, very devoutly recommends the soul of his grandson to his Redeemer.
“ Duan a Gharibh Mac-Starn” is another Irish poem in great repute. The grandeur of its images, and its propriety of sentiment, might have induced me to give a translation of it, had I not some expectations, which are now over, of seeing it in the collection of the Irish Ossian’s Poems, promised twelve years since to the public. The author descends sometimes from the region of the sublime to low and indecent description; the last of which, the Irish translator, no doubt, will choose to leave in the obscurity of the original. In


82 DISSERTATION ON
this piece Cuthullin is used with very little ceremony, for he is oft called the “dog of Tara,” in the county of Meath. This severe title of the redoubtable Cuthullin, the most renowned of Irish champions, proceeded from the poet’s ignorance of etymology. Cu, “ voice” or commander, signifies also a dog. The poet chose the last, as the most noble appellation for his hero.
The subject of the poem is the same with that of the epic poem of Fingal. Caribh Mac-Starn is the same with Ossian’s Swaran, the son of Starno. His single combats with, and his victory over, all the heroes of Ireland, excepting the “ celebrated dog of Tara,” i. e. Cuthullin, afford matter for two hundred lines of tole-erable poetry. Cribh’s progress in search of Cuthullin, and his intrigue with the gigantic Emir-bragal, that hero’s wife, enables the poet to extend his piece to four hundred lines. This author, it is true, makes Cuthullin a native of Ireland: the gigantic Emir-bragal he calls the “guiding-star of the women of Ireland.” The property of this enormous lady I shall not dispute with him or any other. But as he speaks with great tenderness of the “ daughters of the convent,” and throws out some hints against the English nation, it is probable he lived in too modern a period to be intimately acquainted with the genealogy of Cuthullin.
Another Irish Ossian, for there were many, as ap. pears from their difference in language and sentiment speaks very dogmatically of Fion Mac Comnal, as an Irishman. Little can be said for the judgment of this poet, and less for his delicacy of sentiment. The history of one of his episodes may, at once, stand as a specimen of his want of both. Ireland, in the days of Fion, happened to be threatened with an invasion by three great potentates, the kings of Lochlin, Sweden, and France. It is needless to insist upon the impro-


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
83
priety of a French invasion of Ireland ; it is sufficient for me to be faithful to the language of my author. Fion, upon receiving intelligence of the intended invasion, sent Ca-olt, Ossian, and Oscar, to watch the bay in which it was apprehended the enemy was to land. Oscar was the worst choice of a scout that could be made ; for, brave as he was, he had the bad property of very often falling asleep on his post, nor was it possible to awake him, without cutting off one of his fingers, or dashing a large stone against his head. When the enemy appeared, Oscar, very unfortunately, was asleep. Ossian and Ca-olt consulted about the method of wakening him, and they at last fixed on the stone as the less dangerous expedient—
Gun thog Caoilte a chlach, nach gan,
Agus a n’ aighai’ chiean gun bhuail;
Tri mil an tulloch gun chri’, &c.
“ Ca-olt took up a heavy stone, and struck it against the hero’s head. The hill shook for three miles, as the stone rebounded and rolled away.” Oscar rose in wrath, and his father gravely desired him to spend his rage on his enemies, which he did to so good purpose, that he singly routed a whole wing of their army. The confederate kings advanced, notwithstanding, till they came to a narrow pass possessed by the celebrated Ton-iosal. This name is very significant of the singular property of the hero who bore it. Ton-iosal, though brave, was so heavy and unwieldy, that when he sat down it took the whole force of a hundred men to set him upright on his feet again. Luckily for the preservation of Ireland, the hero happened to be standing when the enemy appeared, and he gave so good an account of them, that Fion, upon nis arrival, found little to do but to divide the spoil among his soldiers.
AH these extraordinary heroes, Fion, Ossian, Oscar, and Ca-olt, says the poet, were


64
DISSERTS WON ON
Siol Erin na gorm Iann.
The sons of Erin of blue steel.
Neither shall I much dispute the matter with him ; he has my consent also to appropriate to Ireland the celebrated Ton-iosal. I shall only say that they are different persons from those of the same name in the Scots Poems; and that, though the stupendous valor of the first is so remarkable, they have not been equally lucky with the latter, in their poet. It is somewhat extraordinary that Fion, who lived some ages before St. Patrick, swears like a very good Christian.
Air an Dia do chum gaeh case.
By God who shaped every case.
It is worthy of being remarked, that, in the line quoted, Ossian, who lived in St. Patrick’s days, seems to have understood something of the English, a language not then subsisting. A person more sanguine for the honor of his country than I am, might argue from this circumstance, that this pretendedly Irish Ossian was a native of Scotland ; for my countrymen are universally allowed to have an exclusive right to the second sight.
From the instances given, the reader may form a complete idea of the Irish compositions concerning the Fiona. The greatest part of them make the heroes of Fion,
Siol Albin a n’nioma caoile.
The race of Albion of many firths.
The rest make them natives of Ireland. But the truth is, that their authority is of little consequence on either side. From the instances I have given, they appear to have been the work of a very modern period. The pious ejaculations they contain, their allusions to the manners of the times, fix them to the fifteenth cen lury. Had even the authors of these pieces avoided all allusions to their own times, it is impossible that the


THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
85
poems could pass for ancient in the eyes of any person tolerably conversant with the Irish tongue. The idiom is so corrupted, and so many words borrowed from tho English, that the language must have made considerable progress in Ireland before the poems were written.
It remains now to show how the Irish bards began to appropriate the Scottish Ossian and his heroes to their own country. After the English conquest, many of the natives of Ireland, averse to a foreign yoke, either actually were in a state of hostility with the conquerors, or, at least, paid little regard to government. The Scots, in those ages, were often in open war, and never in cordial friendship, with the English. The similarity of manners and language, the traditions concerning their common origin, and, above all, their having to do with the same enemy, created a free and friendly intercourse between the Scottish and Irish nations. As the custom of retaining bards and sena-chies was common to both, so each, no doubt, had formed a system of history, it matters not how much soever fabulous, concerning their respective origin. It was the natural policy of the times to reconcile the •raditions of both nations together, and, if possible, to deduce them from the same original stock.
The Saxon manners and language had, at that time, made great progress in the south of Scotland. The ancient language, and the traditional history of the nation, became confined entirely to the inhabitants of the Highlands, then falling, from several concurring circumstances, into the last degree of ignorance and barbarism. The Irish, who, for some ages 'before the conquest, had possessed a competent share of that kind of learning which then prevailed in Europe, found it no difficult matter to impose their own fictions on the ignorant Highland senachies. By flattering the vanity of the Highlanders with their long list of Hermonian
8


86
DISSERTATION ON
kings and heroes, they, without contradiction, assumed to themselves the character of being the mother-nation of the Seots of Britain. At this time, certainiy, was established that Hibernian system of the original of the Scots, which afterward, for want of any other, was universally received. The Scots of the low country, who, by losing the language of their ancestors, lost, together with it, their national traditions, received implicitly the history of their country from Irish refugees, or from Highland senachies, persuaded over into the Hibernian system.
These circumstances are far from being ideal. We have remaining many particular traditions which bear testimony to a fact of itself abundantly probable. What makes the matter incontestible is, that the ancient traditional accounts of the genuine origin of the Scots, have been handed down without interruption. Though a few ignorant senachies might be persuaded out of their own opinion by the smoothness of an Irish tale, it was impossible to eradicate, from among the bulk of the people, their own national traditions. These traditions afterward so much prevailed, that the Highlanders continue totally unacquainted with the pretended Hibernian extract of the Scotch nation. Ignorant chronicle writers, strangers to the ancient language of their country, preserved only from falling to the ground so improbable a story.
This subject, perhaps, is pursued farther than it deserves ; but a discussion of the pretensions of Ireland was become in some measure necessary. If the Irish poems concerning the Fiona should appear ridiculous, it is but justice to observe, that they are scarcely more so than the poems of other nations at that period. On other subjects, the bards of Ireland have displayed a genuis for poelry. It was alone in matters of antiquity that they were monstrous in their fables. Their ove-


f -------------------------------------------------------------------
I
I
i
THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 87
sonnets, and their elegies on the death of persons worthy or renowned, abound with simplicity, and a wild harmony of numbers. They Decame more than an atonement for their errors in every other species of poetry. But the beauty of these species depends so much on a certain curiosa felicitas of expression in the original, that they must appear much to disadvantage in another language^


A
CRITICAL DISSERTATION
OK
THE POEMS OF OSSIAN,
THE SON OF FINGAL*
BY HUGH BLAIR, D. D.
One of the Ministers of the High Church, eld Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, Edinrurgh.
Among the monuments remaining of the ancient state of nations, few are more valuable than their poems or songs. History, when it treats of remote or dark ages, is seldom very instructive. The beginnings of society, in every country, are involved in fabulous confusion; and though they were not, they would furnish few events worth recording. But, in every period of society, human manners are a curious spectacle ; and the most natural pictures of ancient manners are exhibited in the ancient poems of nations. These present to us what is much more valuable than the history of such transactions as a rude age can afford—the history of human imagination and passion. They make us acquainted with the notions and feelings of our fellow creatures in the most artless ages; discovering what objects they admired, and what pleasures they pursued, before those refinements of society had taken place, which enlarge, indeed, and diversify the transactions, but disguise the manners of mankind.


CRITICAL DISSERTATION, ETC.
89
Besides this merit which ancient poems have with philosophical observers of human nature, they have another with persons of taste. They promise some of the highest beauties of poetical writing. Irregular and unpolished we may expect the production of uncultivated ages to be; but abounding, at the same time, with that enthusiasm, that vehemence and fire, which are the soul of poetry: for many circumstances of those times which we call barbarous, are favorable to the poetical spirit. That state, in which human nature shoots wild and free, though unfit for other improvements, certainly encourages the high exertions of fancy and passion.
In the infancy of societies, men live scattered and dispersed in the midst of solitary rural scenes, where the beauties of nature are their chief entertainment. They meet with many objects to them new and strange ; their wonder and surprise are frequently excited ; and by the sudden changes of fortune occurring in their unsettled state of life, their passions are raised to the utmost; their passions have nothing to restrain them, their imagination has nothing to check it. They display themselves to one another without disguise, and converse and act in the uncovered simplicity of nature. As their feelings are strong, so their language, of itself, assumes a poetical turn. Prone to exaggerate, they describe every thing in the strongest colors ; which of course renders their speech picturesque and figurative. Figurative language owes its rise chiefly to two causes ; to the want of proper names for objects, and to the influence of imagination and passion over the form of expression. Both these causes concur in the infancy of society. Figures are commonly considered as artificial modes of speech, devised by orators and poets, after the world had advanced to a refined state. The contrary of this is the truth. Men never have
8* '


90
CRITICAL DISSERTATION
used so many figures of style as in those rude ages, when, besides the power of a warm imagination to suggest lively images, the want of proper and precise terms for the ideas they would express, obliged them to have recourse to circumlocution, metaphor, comparison, and all those substituted forms of expression, which give a poetical air to language. An American chief, at this day, harangues at the head of his tribe in a more bold and metaphorical style than a modern European would adventure to use in an epic poem.
In the progress of society, the genius and manners of men undergo a change more favorable to accuracy than to sprightliness and sublimity. As the world advances, the understanding gains ground upon the imagination ; the understanding is more exercised; the imagination, less. Fewer objects occur that are new or surprising. Men apply themselves to trace the causes of things ; they correct and refine one another ; they subdue or disguise their passions ; they form their exterior manners upon one uniform standard of politeness and civility. Human nature is pruned according to method and rule. Language advances from sterility to copiousness, and at the same time from fervor and enthusiasm, to correctness and precision. Style becomes more chaste, but less animated. The progress of the world in this respect resembles the progress of age in man. The powers of imagination are most vigorous and predominant in youth; those of the understanding ripen more slowly, and often attain not to their maturity till the imagination begins to flag. Hence poetry, which is the child of imagination, is frequently most glowing ana animated in the first ages of society As the ideas of our youth are remembered with a peculiar pleasure, on account of their liveliness and vivacity, so the most ancient poems have often proved the greatest favorites of nations.


ON l‘HE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
91
Poetry has been said to be more ancient than prose ; and, however paradoxical such an assertion may seem, yet, in a qualified sense, it is true. Men certainly never conversed with one another in regular numbers; but even their ordinary language would, in ancient times, for the reasons before assigned, approach to a poetical style; and the first compositions transmitted to posterity, beyond doubt, were, in a literal sense, poems; that is, compositions in which imagination had the chief hand, formed into some kind of numbers, and pronounced with a musical modulation or tone. Mus e or song has been found coeval with society among tne most barbarous nations. The only subjects which could prompt men, in their first rude state, to utter their thoughts in compositions of any length, were such as naturally assumed the tone of poetry ; praises of their gods, or of their ancestors ; commemorations of their own warlike exploits, or lamentations over their misfortunes. And, before writing was invented, no other compositions, except songs or poems, could take such hold of the imagination and memory, as to be preserved by oral tradition, and handed down from one race to another.
Hence we may expect to find poems among the antiquities of all nations. It is probable, too, that an extensive search would discover a certain degree of resemblance among all the most ancient poetical productions, from whatever country they have proceeded. In a similar state of manners, similar objects and passions, operating upon the imaginations of men, will stamp their productions with the same general character. Some diversity will, no doubt, be occasioned by climate and genius. But mankind never bear such resembling features as they do in the beginnings of society. Its subsequent revolutions give rise to the principal distinctions among nations; and divert, into


92
CRITICAL DISSERTATIO
channels widely separated, that current of human genius and manners which descends originally from one spring. What we have been long accustomed to call the oriental vein of poetiy, because some of the earliest poetical productions have come to us from the east, is probably no more oriental than occidental: it is characteristical of an age rather than a country, and belongs, in some measure, to all nations at a certain period. Of this the works of Ossian seem to furnish a remarkable proof.
Our present subject leads us to investigate the ancient poetical remains, not so much of the east, or of the Greeks and Romans, as of the northern nations, in order to discover whether the Gothic poetry has any resemblance to the Celtic or Gaelic, which we are about to consider. Though the Goths, under which name we usually comprehend all the Scandinavian tribes, were a people altogether fierce and martial, and noted, to a proverb, for their ignorance of the liberal arts, yet they too, from the earliest times, had their poets and their songs. Their poets were distinguished by the title of Scalders, and their songs were termed Vyses. Saxo Grammaticus, a Danish h'storian of considerable note, who flourished in the thirteenth century, informs us, that very many of these songs, containing the ancient traditionary stories of the count-v, were found engraven upon rocks in the old Runic character, several of which he has translated into Latin, and inserted into his history. But his versions are plainly so paraphrastical, and forced into such an imitation of the style and the measures of the Roman poets, that one can form no judgment from them of the native spirit of the original. A more curious monument of the true Gothic poetry is preserved by Olaus Wormius in his book de Literatura Runica. It is an epicedium, or funeral song, composed by Regner Lodbrog, and tians-


ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
93
fated by Olaus, word for word, from the original. This Lodbrog was a king of Denmark, who lived in the eighth century, famous for his wars and victories; and at the same time an eminent scalder, or poet. It was his misfortune to fall at last into the hands of one of his enemies, by whom he was thrown into prison, and condemned to be destroyed by serpents. In this situ-ation he solaced himself with rehearsing all the exploits of his life. The poem is divided into twenty-nine stanzas, of ten lines each; and every stanza begins with these words, “ Pugnavimus ensibus,” We have fought with our swords. Olaus’s version is in many places so obscure as to be hardly intelligible. I have subjoined the whole below, exactly as he has published it ;* and shall translate as much as may give the English reader an idea of the spirit and strain of this kind of poetry.
“We have fought with our swords. I was young, when, towards the east, in the bay of Oreon, we made torrents of blood flow, to gorge the ravenous beast of prey, and the yellow-footed bird. There resounded the hard steel upon the lofty helmets of men. The whole ocean was one wound. The crow waded in the blood of the slain. When we had numbered twenty years, we lifted our spears on high, and everywhere spread our renown. Eight barons we overcame in the east, before the port of Diminum ; and plentifully we feasted the eagle in that slaughter. The warm stream of wounds ran into the ocean. The army fell before us. When we steered our ships into the mouth of the Vistula, we sent the Helsingians to the hall of Odin. Then did the sword bite. The waters were all one wound. The earth was dyed red with the warm stream. The sword rung upon the coats of mail, and
* Sec th( note at the end of the Dissertation.


T
94 CRITICAL DISSERTATION
clove the bucklers in twain. None fled on that day, till among his ships Heraudus fell. Than him no braver baron cleaves the sea with ships; a cheerful heart did he ever bring to the combat. Then the host threw away their shields, when the uplifted spear flew at the breast of heroes. The sword bit the Scarfian rocks; bloody was the shield in battle, until Rafno the king was slain. From the heads of warriors the warm sweat streamed down their armor. The crows around the Indirian islands had an ample prey. It were difficult to single out one among so many deaths. At the rising of the sun I beheld the spears piercing the bodies of foes, and the bows throwing forth their steel-pointed arrows. Loud roared the swords in the plains of Lano.—The virgin long bewailed the slaughter of that morning.”—In this strain the poet continues to describe several other military exploits. The images are not much varied : the noise of arms, the streaming of blood, and the feasting the birds of prey often recurring. He mentions the death of two of his sons in battle ; and the lamentation he describes as made for one of them is very singular. A Grecian or a Roman poet would have introduced the virgins or nymphs of the wood bewailing the untimely fall of a young hero. But, says our Gothic poet, “ When Rogvaldus was slain, for him mourned all the hawks of heaven,” as lamenting a benefactor who had so liberally supplied them with prey; “ for boldly,” as he adds, “ in the strife of swords did the breaker of helmets throw the spear of blood.”
The poem concludes with sentiments of the highest biavery and contempt of death. “ What is more certain to the brave man than death, though amidst the storm of swords he stands always ready to oppose it 1 He only regrets this life who hath never known distress. The timorous man allures the devouring eagle to


ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 95
tho field of battle. The coward, wherever he comes, is useless to himself. This I esteem honorable, that the youth should advance to the combat fairly matched one against another ; nor man retreat from man. Long was this the warrior’s highest glory. He who aspires to the love of virgins, ought always to be foremost in the roar of arms. It appears to me, of truth, that we are led by the Fates. Seldom can any overcome tho appointment of destiny. Little did I foresee that Ella was to have my life in his hands, in that day when fainting I concealed my blood, and pushed forth my ships into the waves ; after we had spread a repast for the beasts of prey throughout the Scottish ba^s. But this makes.me always rejoice, that in the halls of our father Balder [or Odin] I know there are seats prepared, where, in a short time, we shall be drinking ale out of the hollow skulls of our enemies. In the house of the mighty Odin, no b^ave man laments death. I come not with the voice of despair to Odin’s hall. How eagerly would all the sons of Aslauga now rush to war, did they know the distress of their father, whom a multitude of venomous serpents tear ! I have given to my children a mother who hath filled their hearts with valor. I am fast approaching to my end. A cruel death awaits me from the viper’s bite. A snake dwells in the midst of my heart. I hope that the sword of some of my sons shall yet be stained with the blood of Ella. The valiant youths will wax red with anger, and will not sit in peace. Fifty and one times have I reared the standard in battle. In my youth I learned to dye the sword in blood : my hope was then that no king among men would be more renowned than me. The goddesses of death will now soon call me ; I must not mourn my death. Now I end my song. The goddesses invite me away; they whom Odin has sent to me from his hall. I will sit upon a lofty seat, and


96 CRITICAL DISSERTATION
drink ale joyfully with the goddesses of death. The hours of my life are run out. I will smile when I die.”
This is such poetry as we might expect from a barbarous nation. It breathes a most ferocious spirit. It is wild, harsh, and irregular; but at the same time animated and strong; the style in the original, full of inversions, and, as we learn from some of Olaus’s notes, highly metaphorical and figured.
But when we open the works of Ossian, a very different scene presents itself. There we find the fire and enthusiasm of the most early times, combined with an amazing degree of regularity and art. We find tenderness, and even delicacy of sentiment, greatly predominant over fierceness and barbarity. Our hearts are melted with the softest feelings, and at the same time elevated with the highest ideas of magnanimity, generosity, and true heroism. When we turn from the poetry of Lodbrog to that of Ossian, it is like passing from a savage desert into a fertile and cultivated country. How is this to be accounted for ? or by what means to be reconciled with the remote antiquity attributed to these poems ? This is a curious point, and requires to be illustrated.
That the ancient Scots were of Celtic original, is past all doubt. Their conformity with the Celtic nations in language, manners, and religion, proves it to a full demonstration. The Celtse, a great and mighty people, altogether distinct from the Goths and Teutones, once extended their dominion over all the west of Europe ; but seem to have had their most full and com-nlete establishment in Gaul. Wherever the Celtse or Gauls are mentioned by ancient writers, we seldom fail to hear of their Druids and their Bards ; the institution of which two orders was the capital distinction of their manners and policy. The druids were their


ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
97
philosophers and priests; the bards their poets and recorders of heroic actions; and both these orders of men seem to have subsisted among them, as chief members of the state, from time immemorial. We must not therefore imagine the Celtae to have been altogether a gross and rude nation. They possessed from veiy remote ages a formed system of discipline and manners, which appears to have had a deep and lasting influence Ammianus Marcellinus gives them this express testimony, that there flourished among them the study of the most laudable arts, introduced by the bards, whose office it was to sing in heroic verse the gallant actions of illustrious men; and by the druids, who lived together in colleges, or societies, after the Pythagorean manner, and, philosophizing upon the highest subjects, asserted the immortality of the human soul. Though Julius Caesar, in his account of Gaul, does not expressly mention the bards, yet it is plain that, under the title of Druids, he comprehends that whole college or order ; of which the bards, who, it is probable, were the disciples of the druids, undoubtedly made a part. It deserves remark, that, according to his account, the druidical institution first took rise in Britain, and passed from thence into Gaul; so that they who aspired to be thorough masters of that learning, were wont to resort to Britain. He adds, too, that such as were to be initiated among the druids, were obliged to commit to their memory a great number of verses, insomuch that some employed twenty years in this course of education ; and that they did not think it lawful to record those poems in writing, but sacredly handed them down by tradition from race to race.
So strong was the attachment of the Celtic nations tc their poetry and bards, that, amidst all the changes of their government and manners, even long after the order of the druids was extinct, and the national religion
9


98
CRITICAL DISSERTATION
altered, the bards continued to flourish ; not as a set of strolling songsters, like the Greek ’A01S01, or Rhapso-dists, in Homer’s time, but as an order of men highly lespected in the state, and supported by a public establishment. We find them, according to the testimonies of Strabo and Diodorus, before the age of Augustus CEesar ; and we find them remaining under the same name, and exercising the same functions as of old, in Ireland, and in the north of Scotland, almost down to dur own times. It is well known, that in both these countries every regulus or chief had his own bard, who was considered as an officer of rank in his court ; and had lands assigned him, which descended to his family. Of the honor in which the bards were held, many instances occur in Ossian’s Poems. On all important occasions they were the ambassadors between contending chiefs; and their persons were held sacred. “ Cairbar feared to stretch his sword to the bards, though his soul was dark. 1 Loose the bards,’ said his brother Cathmor,
‘ they are the sons of other times. Their voice shall be heard in other ages, when the kings of Temora have failed.’”
From all this, the Celtic tribes clearly appear to have been addicted in so high a degree to poetry, and to have made it so much their study from the earliest times, as may remove our wonder at meeting with a vein of higher poetical refinement among them, than was at first to have been expected among nations whom we are accustomed to call barbarous. Barbarity, I must observe, is a very equivocal term ; it admits of many different forms and degrees; and though, in all of them, it excludes polished manners, it is, however, not inconsistent with generous sentiments and tender affections. What degrees of friendship, love, and heroism may possibly be found to prevail in a rude state of society, no one can say. Astonishing instances of


ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN.
99
them we know, from history, have sometimes appear, ed ; and a few characters, distinguished by those high qualities, might lay a foundation for a set of manners being introduced into the songs of the bards, more re fined, it is probable, and exalted, according to the usual poetical license, than the real manners of the country.
In particular, with respect to heroism; the great employment of the Celtic bards was to delineate the characters, and sirig the praises of heroes. So Lucan—
Vos quoque qui lortes animos, belloque peremptos,
Laudibus in ] n.f imi vates diliunditis aevum
Plurima secvri f jdistis carmina bardi.—Phars. 1. 1.
Now when we consider a college or order of men, who, cultivating poetry throughout a long series of ages, had their imaginations continually employed on the ideas of heroism ; who had all the poems and pane gyrics, which were composed by their predecessors, handed down to them with care ; who rivalled and endeavored to outstrip those who had gone before them, each in the celebration of his particular hero; is it not natural to think, that at length the character of a- heno would appear in their songs with the highest lustre, and be adorned with qualities truly noble ? Some of the qualities indeed which distinguish a Fin-gal, moderation, humanity, and clemency, would not probably be the first ideas of heroism occurring to a barbarous people: but no sooner had such ideas begun to dawn on the minds of poets, than, as the human mind easily opens to the native representations of human perfection, they would be seized and embraced ; they would enter into their panegyrics ; they would afford materials for succeeding bards to work upon and improve ; they would contribute not a little to exalt the public manners. For such songs as these, familiar to the Celtic warriors from their childhood, and, throughout their whole life, both in war and in


Full Text

PAGE 2

• Grey , a! his mossy f'i:lV"P i:: h01d ! ltP I:Orm o f I

PAGE 3

I i Within !'ar it; :;et'll llt e Cl1id" : lltt' ::1!'01.1)!," a!' IU1'd :-in11 Of -he ill<"

PAGE 4

THE POEMS OF OSSIAN; TRANSLATED BY JAMES MACPHERSON, ESQ. TO WHICH ARE PREFIXED A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE AND DISSERTATION ON THB ..ERA AND POEMS OF OSSIAN. BOSTON: PHILLIPS, SAMPSON, AND COMPANY. 1856.

PAGE 5

r-=================;'1 I CONTENTS. Pt.ge. A Pre.iminary Discourllo ...................................... ;.... 5 Preface •••••...•••• .••••...••••••••• .. .•••.•.•••..•.••..•.••.•••••.•..•• 38 oil Dissertation concerningthe lEra of Ossian...... ............ 44 A Dissertanou concerning the \'oems of Ossian.......... ...... 57 Dr. Bia1r's IJnticilil Dissertation O•l the Poems of Ossian...... 88 Cath.loda, in tia ... .: Duans •...•••..••••..••••.•••••.•••••...•••....•• 189 Comala ................................................................. 203 Carric.thura..... •. . . . .... • .. ... .. • ... .. • .. • . • ... .. .. .. .. . • ... .. ... . .. .. 209 Carthon .... .. . . •• . . .................................................. 222 Oina.morul..... ... . ..................... , .......................... 235 Colna.dona...... ... . ............................................... 239 Oithona. ............ . ............................................... 243 Croma ......................................... _ ........... : ......... 249 Cahhon and Colmal. ............................................... 25i The War of Caros..... ........................... ................. 261 Cathlin of Clutha •.•• : ............................ ; .................. 269 Sul-malla of Lumon...... ... .. • .... • • .... .. ... • • • . .. • • • ... .. .... . .. • 27 5 The W a r of Inis-thona .. ............................................ 280 The Songs of Selma ...... .......................................... il85 Fin ga l, in six Books ................................................. 293 Lathmon ......................... ..................................... 358 Dar.thula ... ........................... ; ................................ 369 The D eath of Cuthullin ............................................. 383 The Battle of Lora ................................................... 391 Tom ora, in eight Books ............................................. 399 Conlath and Cuthona ................................................ 479 Berru t hon.. .. .. ................................................... 483

PAGE 6

A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. As Swift has, with some reason, affirmed that all sublunary happiness consists in being well deceived, i1 may possibly be the creed of many, that it had been wise, if after Dr. Blair's ingenious and elegant disserta. tion on "the venerable Ossian," all doubts respecting what we have been taught to call his works had for ever ceased: since there appears cause to believe, that numbers who listened with delight to " the voice of Cona," would have been happy, if, seeing their own good, they had been content with these poems accom panied by Dr. Blair's judgment, and sought to know no more. There are men, however, whose ardent love of truth rises, on all occasions, paramount to every other consideration ; and though the first step in search of it should dissolve the charm, and turn a fruitful Eden into a barren wild, they would pursue it. For these, and for the idly curious in literary problems, added to the wish of making this new edition of " The Poi m& of Ossian" as well-informed as the hour would allow, we have here thought it proper to insert some accouut of . a renewal of the controversy relating to the genuineness 0f this rich treasure of poetical excel. &ence. 1*

PAGE 7

u A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. Nearly half a century has elapsed since th publica. tion of the poems ascribed by Mr. Macpherson to Ossian, which poems he then professed to have col lected in the original Gaelic, during a tour through the Weste rn Highlands and 1sles ; but a doubt of their authenticity nevertheless obtained, and, from their first appearance to this day, has continued in va:rious de. grees to agitate :the literary world. In tbe present year, "A Report,"* springing from an inquiry insti. tut e d for the purpose of leaving, with regard to this matter, "no hinge or loop to hang a doubt on," has bee n l aid before the public. As the committee, in this investigation, followed, in a great measure, that line of conduct chalked out by David Hume to Dr. Blair, we shall, to stating their precise mode of pro ct-eding, make several large and interesting extracts from the historian's two letters on this subject. " I live in a place," he writes, "where I have the pleasure of frequently hearing justice done to your diss e rtation, but never heard it mentioned in a com pany, whe re some one person or other did not express his doubts with regard to the authenticity of the poems which are its subject ; and I often hear them totally reject e d with disdain and indignation, as a palpable and most impudent forgery. This OJ..inion has, indn e d, becom e v ery prevalent among the men of letters in London ; and I can foresee, that in a . few years, the poems, if they continue to stand on their present foot. ing, will be thrown aside, and will fall into final obliv ion. * " A Report of the of the Highland Society of Scot land, a ppointed to inquire into the nature and authenticity of the Poem s of Ossian. Drawn up, according to the directions of the committ ee , by Henry Mackenzie, Esq., its convener, or chairman With a copious appendix, containing some of the principal rlocu nents on which the report is founded Edinburjj;Ji, 1805." 8 fO pp 343

PAGE 8

A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 7 "The absurd pride and caprice of Macpherson him. self, who scorns, as he pretends, to satisfy anybody that doubts his veracity, has tended much to confirm this general skepticism ; and I must own, for my part, that though I have had many particular reasons to be. lieve these poems genuine, more than it is possible tor 'lny Englishman of letters to have, yet I am not entirely without my scruples on that head. You think, that the internal proofs in favor of the poems are very convin. cing ; so they are ; but there are also internal reasons against them, particularly from the manners, notwith standing all the art with which you have endeavored to throw a vernish* on that circ umst ance ; and the preser vation of such long and such connected poems, by ora l tracliti01i alone, during a course of fourteen centuries, is so much out of the ordinary course of human affairs, that it requires the strongest reasons to make us be. lieve it. My present purpose, therefore, is to apply to you in the name of all the men of letters of this, and, I inay say, of all other countries, to establish this capital point, and to give us proofs that these poems are, I do not say, so ancient as the age of Severus, but that they were not forged within these five years by James Mac pherson. These proofs must not be arguments, but testimonies ; people's ears are fortified against the former; the latter may yet find their way, before the poems are consigned to total oblivion. Now the t e sti monies may, in my opinion, be of two kinds. Mac. pherson pretends there is an ancient manuscript of 1:rctrt of Fingal in the family, I think, o1 Clanronald. Get that fact ascertained by more than one person of credit; let these persons be acquainted with the Gaelic ; \et them compare the original and the translation ; and le• them testify the fidelity of the latter. •So in MR.

PAGE 9

8 A PRELIMINARY r:ISCOURSE. " But the chief point in which it will be nece ssary for you to exert yours e lf, will be, to get positive t e sti mony from many different hands that such poems vulgarly recited in the Highlands, and have there long b e en the entertainment of t.he people. This testimony must be as particular as it is positive. lt will not be sufficient that a Highland gentleman or say or writ e to you that he has heard such poems ; nobody que stions that there are traditional poems of that part of the country, whe r e the names of Ossian and Fingal, and Oscar and G a ul, are mentioned in every stanza. The only doubt is, whether th e se poems have any far th e r r ese mblance to the poems published by Macpher son. I was told by Bourke,* a very ingenious Irish g e ntleman, th e author of a tract on the sublime and u e autiful, that on the first publication of Macpherson's book, all the Irish cri e d out, ' We know all those We have always heard them from our infancy.' But whe n h e asked more particular questions, he could n e v e r l earn that any one ever heard or could repeat the origin a l of any one paragraph of the pretended transla tion. This generality, then, must be carefully guarded again:st, a s b e ing of no authority. " Your conn e ctions among your brethren of the clergy may be of great use to you. You may eas ily l earn th e n a mes of all ministers of that country who und e r s tand th e language of it . You may write to th em, e xpr e ssing th e doubts that have arisen, and de. sir ing th e m to send for such of the bards as remain, and make them reh e arse their ancient poems. Let th e cle rgym e n th e n have the translation :u their hands, and l e t them write back to you, and inform you, that they heard such a on e , (naming him,) living in such a place, rehearse the original of such a passage, from •SoinMS )\ II !I I

PAGE 10

= A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE, 9 such a pa.ge to such a page of the English translation, which appeal 'ed exact and faithful. If you give to the public a snfficieat number of such testimonials, you may prevail. But I venture to foretel to you, that nothing less will serve the purpose ; nothing less wil so much as command the attention of the public. " Becket tells me, that he is to give us a new editior . of your dissertation, accompanied with some remarks on Temora. Here is a favorable opportunity for you to execute this purpose. You have a just and laudable zeal for the credit of these poems. They are, if genu. ine, one of the greatest curiosities, in all respects, that ever was discovered in the commonwealth of letters ; and the child is, in a manner, become yours by adop tion, as Macphe1'son has tota]ly abandoned all care of it. These motives call upon you to exert yours elf: and I think it were suitable to your cand,>r, and most satisfactory also to the reader, to publish all the an. swers to all the letters you write, even though some of those letters should make somewhat against your own opinion in this affair. We shall always be the more assured, that no arguments are strained beyond their proper force, and no contrary arguments suppressed, whe re such an entire communication is made to us. Becket joins me heartily in that application ; and he owns to me, that tlw oelievers in the authenticity of the poems diminish every day among the men of sense and reflection. Nothing less than what I propose can throw the balance on the other side." Lisle street, Leicester .Fields, 19th Sept., 1763. The second letter contains less matter of impor. tance ; but what there is that is relevant deserves not to be omitted. " I am very glad," he writes em the 6th of October,

PAGE 11

10 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 1763, "you have und e rtaken the task which I used the freedom to recomm en d to you. Nothing less than what you propose will serve the purpose. You must expect no assistance from Macpherson, who flew into a passion when I told him of the letter I had wrote to you. But you must not mind so strange and hetero clite a mortal, than whom I have scarce ever kriown a man more perverse and unamiable. H e will probably depart for Florida with Governor John s tone, and I would advise him to travel among the Chickasaws or Cherokees, in order to tame and civilize him. * * * * * * " Since writing the above, I have been in company with Mrs. Montague, a lady of great distinction in this place, and a zealous partisan of Ossian. I told her of your int e ntion, and even use d the fre e dom to read your letter to her. She was extremely pleased with your project ; and the rather, as the Due d e Nivernois, she said, h a d talked to h e r much on that subject la s t win ter; and desir ed, if possibl e , to get collected some proofs of the authenticity of th ese poems, which he proposed to lay b e for e the Academie de Belles Lett res at Paris . You see, then, that you are upon a great stage in this inquiry, and that many p eop le have th eir eyes upon you. This is a n e w motive for rendering your proofs as complete as possible. I cannot conceive any objection which a man, e ,en of the gravest char. acter, could have to your publication of his lett e rs, which will only attest a pla in fact known to him. Such scruples, if they occur, you must e ndeavor to re move, for on this trial of yours will the judgment of the nublic fina lly depend." * * * Without being acquainted with Hume's advice to

PAGE 12

• A PRELHIIJ'\AitY DIS COURSE. 11 Dr. Blait th e committ e e, compos e d of cho s en persons, and by the b e st Celtic scholars, adopted, as it will be se0n, a very similar manner of acting. It conceived the purpose of its nomination to be, to employ the influence of the society, and the extensive communieation which it possesses with every part of the Highlands, in collecting what materials or informa tion it w a s still practicable to collect, r e g a rding the authenticity and nature of the poems ascribed to Os sian, and particularly of that celebrated coll e ction pub lished by Mr. James Macpherson. For the purpose above mentioned, th e soon after its appointm e nt, circulated th e following set of queries, through such parts of the Highlands and Islands, and among such persons resident there, as seemed most likely to afford the information required. QUERIES. I. Have you ever heard repeated, or sung, any of the poems ascribed to Ossian, translated and publish e d by Mr. Macpherson? By whom have you h e ard them so repeated, and at what time or tim e s ? Did you ev e r commit any of them to writing ? or can y o u remember them so well as now to set th e m down 1 In eith e r of these cases, be so good to s end the Ga e lic origina-. to the committee . 2. The same answer is requ e sted concerning any other ancient poems of the same kind, and r e lating to th e same traditionary persons or stories with those in l\1 r . Macph e rson's collection . . 3. Are any of the persons from whom you heard any such po e ms now alive 1 or are ther e , in your part of the country, any persons who r e memb e r and can repeat or r e cite such poems 1 If there are, b e so go o d as to examine them as to the m a nner of their g e tting

PAGE 13

A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. or learning such compositions ; and set down, as accu rately as possible, such as they can now repeat or rP. cite ; and transmit such their account, and such com positions as th_,y repeat, to the committee. 4. If there are, in your neighborhood, any person3 from whom Mr. Macpherson received any poems, in quire particularly what the poems were which he so received, the manner in which he received them, and how he wrote them down ; show those persons, if you have an opportunity, his translation of such poems, and desire them to say, if the translation is exact and literal ; or, if it differs, in what it differs from the poems, as they repeated them to Mr. Macpherson, and can now recollect them. 5. Be so good to procure every information you conveniently can, with regard to the traditionary belief, in the country in which you live, concerning the history of Fingal and his followers, and that of Ossian and his poems; particularly those stories and poems published by Mr. and the heroes mentioned in them. Transmit any such account, and any prov.erbial or traditionary expression in the original Gaelic, rela. ting to the subject, to the committee. 6 In all the above inquiries, or any tb.at may occur to in elucidation of this subject, he is re quested by the committee to make the inquiry, and to take down the answers, with as much impartiality and precision as possible, in the same manner as if it were a legal question, and the proof to be investigated with a legal strictness.-See the " Report." It is presumed as undisputed, that a traditionary his. tory of a great hero or chief, called Pion, Pion na Gael, or, as it is modernized, Fingal, exists, and has immemorially existed, in the Highlands and Islands of Se.:rtland, and that certain poems or ballads containing

PAGE 14

,., ___ _ A FltELil\IINARY DISCOURSE. ld tl.c exploits of him and his associate heroes, were tho • fu_vorite lore of' the natives of those districts. The general belief of the existence of such heioic person ages, and the great poet Ossian, the son of Fingal, by whom their exploits were sung, is as universal in the Highlands, as the belief of any ancient fact whatsoever. It is recorded in proverbs, which pass through all ranks and conditions of men, Ossian dall, blind Ossian,* is a person as well known as strong Sampson, or wise Solomon. The very boys in their sports cry out for fair play, Cothram na feine, the equal combat of the Fingalians. Ossian, an deigh nam fiann, Ossian, the last of his race, is proverbial, to signify a man who has had the misfortune to survive his kindred ; and servants returning from a fair or wedding, were in use to de. scribe the beauty of young women they had seen there, by the words, Tha i clw boidheach reh Agandecca, nighean.ant sneachda, She is as beautiful as Agandecca. the daughter of the Snow. t All this will be readily conceded, and Mr. Macpher son's being at one period an "indifferent proficient in the Gaelic language," may seem an argument of some weight against his having himself composed these Os sianic Poems. Of his inaccuracy in the Gaelic, a lu dicrous instance is related in the declaration of Mr. Evan Macpherson, at Knock, in Sleat, Sept. 11, 1800. He declares that he, " Colonel Macleod, of Talisker, and the late Mr. Maclean of Coil, embarked with Mr. Macpherson for Uist on the same pursuit: that they !anded at Lochmaddy, and proceeded across the Muir Lo Benbecula, the seat of the younger Clanronald : that on their way thither they fell in with a man whom they afterwards ascertained to have been Mac Codrum, • r' 'Opl']pos.-Lascaris Const. t Report, p. 15. . 2 ___ _j

PAGE 15

14 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. JJC poet: that Mr. Macpherson asked him the qu
PAGE 16

L A Y DISCOURSE, 15 no d('cided opinion on the m(lin subject uf dispute. For u s th e contention shall still r e m a in sub judice. To the queries circulat e d through such parts of the Highl a nds as the committee imagin e d most likely to afford information in reply to them, they rec e ived many answ e rs, most of which were . conceived in nearly simi. lar t e rms ; that the persons them se lves had n eYer doubt e d of the existence of such poems as Mr. Mac pherson had translated ; that they h a d heard many of \hem repeated in their youth: that list e ning to them was the favorite amusement of Highland e rs, in the h.ours of leisure and idleness; but that since the rebel lion in 17 45, the manners of the people had und ergone a ch a nge so unfavorable to the r ecita tion of these p0em s , that it was now an amusement scarcely known, and that very few persons remain e d ative who were able to recit e them. That many of the poe ms which they had formerly heard were similar in subject and story, as well as in the names of th e hero es mentioned in them, to those translated by Mr. Macph erson: that his translation seemed, to such as had read it, a very able one; but that it did not by any means come up to the force or energy of the original to such as had read it; for his book was by no means universally . possessed, or read among the Highlanders, even accustomed to r e ading, who conceived that his trans l a tion could add but littl e to theit amusement, and not at all to their conviction, in a matter which they had nev e r doubted. A f e w of th e committee's correspondents sent th e m such ancient poems as they possessed in writing, from h a ving formerly taken them down from the oral reci. tation of the old Highland e rs who w erE' in use to re. cite th e m, or as they now took them dm vn from some person, whom a very advanced period of life, a par. tic ular connection with some reciter of the old school,

PAGE 17

16 A PRELIMINARY DIS COt:RSE. enabled ::;till to retain them in his memory;* but. the committee's correspondents said, were gen.eral t,v l .e::;s perfect, and more corrupted, than p()erns which they had formerly heard, or which might have been obtained at an earlier period.t Several collections carne to them by pr ese nts, as wed! as bv purchase, and in the.sp, are nurnerou " "shreds and patc.he.s," that bear a strong to the materials of which "Ossian's Poems" are composed. These are of various degrees of conseque nce. One of them we are the more tempted to give, for the same reason as the committee was the mure solicitous to procure it, because it was one whiCh some of the opposers of the authrmticity of Ossian had quoted as evidently spurious, betraying the most convincing marks of its being a close imitation of the address to the sun in Milton. "I got," says Mr. Mac Diarmid,t "the copy of these poems" (Ossian's address to the sun in Cmtlwn, and a similar address in Carrickthura) "about thirty years ago, from an old man in Glenlyon. I took it, and several other fragments, now, I fear, irrecoverably lost, from the man's mouth. He had l earnt them in his youth from people in the same glen, which must have been long before Macpherson was bom." • The Rev. Mr. Smith, w h o has published trallslations of many Ga e lic poems accompanied by the originals, assures us, that "near in the pari s h of Klimnver, lived a person named M'Pheal, whom he has heard, for we eks toD"ethcr, from five till ten o'clock at night rehearse ancient poem s , and many of them Os Two others, called M'Dugal and M'Neil, could entertain the ir h eareT!' in the same manner for a whole winter season. It was from per.,ons of this description1 undoubtedly, that Macpherson recovered a great part of the worKS of Ossian. A. Macdonald'• Prelim. Disc. p. 76. t See Report. April9, 1801, p. 71.

PAGE 18

A PRELIMITAR1 DISCOURSE. 17 t.ITERAL TRANSLATION OF OSSI • • N'S ADIRESS TO rHE SUN IN CARTHON. "0! thou who travellest above, round as the full-orbed mrd shield of the mighty! whence is thy brightncRR without f:own, thy light that is lastinJ, 0 sun 1 Thou comest forth in thy powerful beauty, aud the stars hidP. their course ; the moon, without strength, goes from the sky, hiding herself under a wave in the west. Thou art in thy journey alone ; who is so bold as to come nigh thee 1 The oak falleth from the high mountain; the rock and the precipice fall under old age; the ocean ebbeth and flowetl1, the moon is lost above in the sky; but thou alone forever in victory, in the rejoicing of thy own light. When the storn darkeneth around the world, with fierce thunder, and piercing lightnings, thou lookest in thy beauty from the noise, smiling in the troubled sky ! To me is thy light in vain, as I can never see thy countenance ; though thy yellow golden locks are spread on the face of the clouds in the east; or when thou trem blest in the west, at thy dusky doors in the ocean. Perhaps thou and myself are at one time mighty, at another feeble, our years sliding down from the skies, quickly travelling together to their end. Rejoice then, 0 sun ! while thou art strong, 0 king ! in thy youth. Dark and unpleasant is old age, like the vain and feeble light of the moon, while she looks through a cloud on the field, and her gray mist on the sides of the rocks ; a blast from the north on the plain, a traveller in distress, and he slow." The comparison may be made, by turning to the end of Mr. Macpherson's version of " Carthon," be ginning " 0 thou that rollest above." B! 1t it must not be concealed, that after all thE' exer. 2* . . l

PAGE 19

r:======================= -----18 A PRELlMINARY Dl!:'COURSE. uons of the committee, it has not been able to obtain any one poem, the same in title and tenor with the poems published by him. "r e therefore feel that the . reader of " Ossian's Poems," until grounds more rela tive be produced, will often, in the perusal of Mr. Mac. i1lwrson's translations, be induced; with some show of IUStlce. to exclaim with him, when he looked over the ;nanuseript copies found in Clanronald's family, "D--n the scoundrel, it is he himself that now speaks, and not Ossian '"* To this sentiment the committee has the candor to incline, :1s it will appear by their summing up. After producing or pointing to a large body of mixed evi. dence, and taking for granted the existence, at some period, of an abundance of Ossianic poetry, it comes to the question, "How far that collection of such poetry, published by Mr. James Macpherson, is genu. ine '!" To answer this query decisively, is, as they confi!ss, difficult. This, however, is the ingenious manner in which they treat it. " The committee is possessed of no documents, to show how much of his collection Mr. Macpherson obtained in the form in which he has given it to the world. The poems and fragments of poems which the committee has been able to procure, contain, as will appear from the article in the Appendix (No. 15) already mentioned, often the substance, and '>Ometimes almost the literal expression (the ipsissima verba) of passages given by Mr. Macpherson, in the poems of which he has published the translations. But the C<)m mittee has not been able to obtain any one poem the same in title or tenor with the poems published bv him. lt is inclined to believe, that he was in use to sopply l'hasms, and to give connection, by inserting passag3s "'Report, p. 44.

PAGE 20

A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. which he drd not find, and to add what he conceived to be dignity and delicacy to the original composition, oy striking out passages, by softening incidents, by re fining the language-in short, by changing what he considered as too simple or too rude for a modern ear, and elevating what, in his opinion, was below the standard of good poetry. To what degree, however, he exercised these liberties, it is impossible for the committee to determine. The advantages he possess ed, which the committee began its inquiries too late to enjoy, of collecting from the oral recitation of a num. her of persons, now no more, a very great number of the same poe ms on the same subjects, and then colla ting those different copies, or editions, if they may be so call e d, rejecting what was spurious or corrupted in one copy, and adopting from another, something more genuine and excellent in its place, afforded him an op portunity of putting tog et her what might fairly enc.1gh be call e d an original whole, of much more beauty, and with much fewer blemish es, than the committee believe it now possible for any p e rson, or combination of per sons, to obtain." P. 152-3. Some Scotch critics, who should not be ignorant of the strongholds and fastnesses of the advocates for the authenticity of these poems, appear so convinced of th e ir insufficiency, that they pronounce the question put to r es t forever. But we greatly distrust that any literary qu es tion, possessing a single inch of d e bateabl e ground to stand upon, will be suffered to enjoy much rest in an age like the present. There are as many minds as m en, and of wranglers there is no end. Be hold another and "another yet," and in our imagina. tion, he " bears a glass, Which shows us many more." The first of these is Mr. Laing, who has recently

PAGE 21

20 A PRELTllfiNARY published the "Poems of Ossian, &c., containing 01e Poetical Works of James Macpherson, Esq., in Prose and Rhyme: with notes and illustrations. In 2 vols. 8 vo. Edinburgh, 1805." In these ".notes and illu s trations," we foresee, that Ossian is likely to share the of Shaksp earc : that is, ultimately to be loaded all(] oppressed by heavy comrnentators, until his immortc.l sp iri t groan beneath vast heaps of perishable matt• ! r. The object of Mr. Laiug's comm e ntary, after having C'lsewhcre* endeavored to show that the po0rns are spurious, and of no historical authority, "is," says he, "not merely to exhiLit parallel passages, much lcs' in stances of a fortuitous resemblance of ideas, but to produce the precise originals from which the similes and images are indisputably derivcd."t And th s " l e pretends to find in Holy Writ, and in the cla s,:ic:al p )Cls, both of ancient and modern times. Mr. Lainrr, h:>wever, is one of those detectors of plagiarisms, discoverers of coincidences, whose exquisite pctJetar t i on and acuteness can find any thing anywhere. Dt-. J ohnson, who was shut against conviction with respell t . o Ossian, even when he affected to seek the truth in the heart of the Hebrides, may yet be made usetul to the Ossianit'=ls in canvassing the merits of this redoubted stickler on the side of opposition. " Among th e innu m e rable practices," says the Rambler,t "by whic:h in tere s t or envy haYe taught those who live upon literary fame to disturb each other at their airy banquets, one of the most common is the charge of plagiarism. \Vhen the excellence of a new composition can no onger be contested, and malice is compelled to givo "'ln his C-itical and Historical DLSilertation on tne Antiquity of Oss ian's Poems. t l'r e face, p. v I :
PAGE 22

A PRELIDIINARY DISCOURSE. 2l way tc the unanimity of applause, there is yet this expedient to be tried, by which the author may be de. graded, though his work be reverenced; and the ex cellence which we cannot obscure, may be set at such a distance as not to overpower our fainter lustre. This accusation is dangerous, because, even when it is false, it may be sometimes urged with probabilit.y." How far this just sentence applies to Mr. Lo.ing, it does not become us, nor is it our business, now to de clare : but we must say, that nothing can be more dis ingenuous or groundless than his frequent c.harges of p l agiarism of the following description; because, in the War if Caros, we meet with these words, " It is like the field, when darkness covers the hills around, and the shadow grows slowly on the plain of the sun," we are to bc:ieve, according to Mr. Laing, that the idea was stolon from Virgil's Majmesqtte cadunt a/tis de montibus umbrtE. For see, yon sunny hills the shade extend.-Th-yden . • As we11 might we credit that no one ever beheld a natural phenomenon except the Mantuan bard.* The book of nature is open to all, and in her pages there are no new readings. " Many subjects," it is we1'1 said by Johnson, " fall under the consideration of an author, which, being limited by nature, can admit only of slig ht and accidental diversities. All definitions of the same thing must be nearly the same ; and descrip tions, which are definitions of a more lax and fanoiful kind, must always have, in some degree, that resem blal!ce to each other, which they all have to their ob. jeet." "This is not so good, because not E<> amusing in its absurdity, as an attempt formerly .made to prove the JEneid Earse, from" Anna v.:umque cano," and "Airm's am fear canam," having the same meaning, and nearly the same sound .

PAGE 23

A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. It i> true, however, if we wBre fully able to admit that Macphers-on could not have obtained these ideas whew he professes to have found them, Mr. Luing has prodHced many instances of such remarkable coinci. dence as would make it probable that Macpherson fre. quently translates, not the Gaelic, but the poetical lore of antiquity. Still this is a battery that can only bL' brought to play on particular points; and then with great uncertainty. The mode of attack used by Mr. Knight, could it have been carried on to any extent, would have proved much more effectual. W c shall give the instance alluded to. In his " Analytical Enquiry into the Principles of Taste, 1805," he makes these re marks: " The untutored, but uncorrupted feelings of all un. polished nations, have regulated their fictions upon the same principles, even when most rudely exhibited. In relating the actions of their gods and deceased heroes, they are licentiously extravagant: for their falsehood coald amuse, because it could not be detected; but in the common appearances of nature, and all those objects and effects which are exposed to habitual observation, their bards are scrupulously exact; so that an extravagant hyperbole, in a matter of this kind, is sufficient to mark as counterfeit any composition attributed to them. In the early stages of society, men arc as acute and accurate in practical observation as they are limited and deficient in speculative science; and in proportion as they are ready to give up their imaginations to delusion, the y are jealously tenacious of the evidence of their senses. James Macpherson, in the person of his blind bard, could say, with npplause in the eighteenth century, 'Thus have I seen in Cona; but Conn I behold no more: thus have I seen two dark 11ills removed from their place by the strength of the mountain stream. They turn from side to sidP, nnd . __ u

PAGE 24

.4. PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE, 23 their tall oaks meet one another on high. Then they tall together with all their rocks and trees.' " But had a blind bard, or any other bard, presumed to utter &uch a rh apsody of bombast in the hall of shells, amid the savage warriors to whom Ossian is to navp, sung, he would have needed all thfl influence ot royal birth, attributed to that fabulous per souage, to restrain the audience from throwing their shells at his head, and hooting him out of their com pany as an impudent liar. They must have been suf ficiently acquainted with the rivulets of Cona or Glen Coe to know that he had seen nothing of the kind ; and have known enough of mountain torrents in general to know that no such effects are ever produced by them, and would, therefore, have indignantly rejected such a barefaced attempt to impose on their credulity.'' The best defence that can be set up in this case will, perhaps, be to repeat, "It is he himself that now speaks, and not Ossian." Mr. Laing had scarcely thrown down the gauntlet, when Mr. Archibald M'Donald* appeared "Ready, aye, ready,t for the field. The opinion of the color of his opposition, whether it be that of truth or error, will depend on the eye that eontemplates it. Those who delight to feast with Mr. Laing on the limbs of a mangled poet, will thjnk the latter unanswered ; while those:j: who continue to in" "Some of Ossian's lesser Poems, rendered into verse, with a Preliminary Discourse, in answer to Mr. Laing's Critical and His torical Dissertation on the Antiquity of Ossian's Poems, 8 vo. p 284. Liverpool, IS05." t Thirlestane's motto. See Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel. :j: A professor in the university of Edwburgh, the amiable and learned Dr. Gregory, is on thfl side of the believers in His judgment is a tower of strength. See the preface, p. vi. to xii. and

PAGE 25

I 24 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. dulge the animating thought, "that Fingal liv ed, and that Ossian sung," will entertain a different sentiment. After successfully combating several old posi ti0ns,* Mr. l\1'Donald terminates his discussion of the point at issue with th ese words : "He (Mr: Laing) declares, 'if a single poem of O s sian in MS. of an older dat e than the present century (1700,) be procured and !odged in a public library, 1 (Laing) shall return among the first to om national CJ eed.' " This is reducing the point at issue to a narrow compas s . Had the proposal been made at the outset, it would have saved both him and me a good deal of trouble : not that in regard to ancient Gaelic mann. scripts I could give any more satisfactory account than has been done in the course of this discourse. There the reader will see, that though some of the poems are conf esse dly procured from oral tradition, yet several gentlemen of veracity attest to have seen, among Macpherson's pap e rs, several MSS. of a much oldm date than Mr. Laing r e quires to b e convinced. Though not more credulous than my neighbors, I cann o t resist facts so well attested ; there are no stronger for be lieving the best-established human transaction s. " I understand the originals are in the pr ess, and ex pected daily to make their appearance. Whe n they do, the public will not be carried away by conjectur es , but be able to judge on solid grounds. Till then, lf3t the discu ssio n be at rest.'' P. 193-4. p. 1461 of his Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man with tnose oftheA11imal World. *Such as the s ilence of Dssi an in r espec t to relig'on; hi s omis sion of wolves and bears, &c. See also in the Literary J ourna l, Augu s t, lSQ.t, a powe rful encounter of m any of Mr. Laing' s ot her arguments in hts Dissertation against the authenticity of the"e po ems . His ignorance of the Gaelic, and the consequent futility o/ bis etymological remarks, are there ably exposed. !--I , j

PAGE 26

A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE ' , 25 It is curious to remark, and, in this place, not . un. worthy of our notice, that whilst the controversy is imminent in the decision, whether these poems are be ascribed to a Highlo.nd bard long since gone " to the halls of his fathers," or to a Lowland muse of the last century, it is in the serious meditation of some controversialist to step in and place the disputed wreath on the brows of Hibernia. There is no doubt that Ireland was, in ancient times, so much connected with the adjacent coast of Scotland, that they might almost be considered as one country, having a community of 10anners and of language, as well as the closest politi cal connection. Their poetical l anguage is nearly, or rather altogether the same. These coincicli ng circum stances, therefore, independent of all other ground, afford to ingenuity, in the present state of the question, a sufficient basis for the erection of an hypothetical <>U perstructure of a very imposing nature. In a small volume published at Dusseldorf in 1787, by Edmond, Baron de Harold, an Irishman, of endless titles,* we are presented with what are called, "Poems of Ossian lately discovered."t "I am interested," says the baron in his preface, "in no polemical dispute or party, and give these poems such as they are found in the mouths of the peo ple; and do not pretend to ascertain what was the nath e country of Ossian. I honor and revere equally a ., of the regiment of Konigsfield, gentle man of the bedchamber of his most serene highness the Elector Palatine, member of the German Society of Manheim1 of the Royal Artiquarian Society of London, and of the Acaoemy of Dusseldon." tIn some lines in these poems we find the lyre of Ossi .. rt called "the old Hibernian lyre.'' The idea is not new. See Burke's Observat.ion inHume's first Letter to Dr. Blair. Also, the coller fions by Miss Brooke and Mr. Kennedy. Compare the story ' Jf Conloch with that of Carthon in Macpherson. 3

PAGE 27

26 A PRELIMINARY DISCOUh:>E. bard of his exalted talents, were he born in Ireland or in Scotland. It is certain that the Scotch and Irisn were united at some early period. That they proceeo from the same origin is indisputable; nay, I belic;,ve that it is proved beyond any possibility of negating it, that the Scotch derive their origin from the Irish. This truth has been brought in question but of late days ; and all ancient tradition, and the general con. sent of the Scotch nation, and of their oldest historians, agree to confirm the certitude of this asse1tion. If any man still doubts of it, he will find, in Macgeoge han's History of Ireland, an entire conviction, estab. lished by elaborate discussion, and most incontroverti ble proofs:" pp. v. vi. We shall not stay to quarrel about " Sir Archy's great grandmother,"* or to contend that Fingal, the Irish giant, t did not one day go " over from Carrick. *See Macklin's Love A-la-mode. t "Selma is not at all known in Scotland. When I asked, and particularly those who were possessed of any poetry, son)JS, or tales, who Fion (for he IS not known by the nam e of j< by any ;) I was answered, that he was an Irishman, if a man; tor they sometimes thought him a giant, and that he lived in Ireland, and sometimes came over to hunt in the Highlands. "Like a true Scotchman, in order to make his composition more ' acc e ptable to his countrymen, Mr. Macpherson chanes th e name of Fwn Mac Cumhal, the Inshman, into Fingal; wnich, indeed sounds much better, and sets him up a Scotch king over the kingdom of Morven in the west of Scotland. It had be e n a better argument for the authenticity, if he had allowed him to b e an Inshman, and made Morven an Irish kingdom, as well as Ireland the scene of his battles, but as he must ..eed make the hero of an epic poem a great character, it was too great honor for any other connt1y but Scotland to have given birtli to so considerable a per sonag e. All the authentic histori es of Irelm;d give a full account of Finrral or Fion Mac Cum hal's actions, and any one who will tak e the trouble to look at Dr. Keatin&'s, or any other history of that country, will find the matter relatea as above, whereas, in the Chronicon Scotorum, from which the li?t of the Scotch kings is tak en, and the pretended MSS. they so much boast of to be seen in the T{ebrides, there is not one syllable said of such a name as l<'ingal."-An Enquiry into the Authenticity of the Pof ms of Oa. . :::-.-.. .

PAGE 28

I A l'RELIMINARY DISCOURSE. 27 tergus, and people all _ Scotland with his own hands," and make these SOilS of the north " illegitimate;" but we may observe, that from the inclination of the baron's opinion, added to the internal evidence of his poems, there appears at least as much reason to believe their author to have been a native of Ireland as of Scotland. The success with which Macpherson's en deavors had been rewarded, induced the baron to in quire whether any more of this kind of poetry could be obtained. His search, he confesses, would have proved fruitless, had he expected to find complete pieces; "for, certainly," says he," none spch exist. But," he adds, " in seeking with assiduity and care, I found, by the help of my friends, several fragments of old traditionary songs, which were very sublime, and par ticularly remarkable for their simplicity and elegance." D . • IV. "From these fragments," continues Baron de Har old, "I have composed the following poems. They are all founded on tradition ; but the dress they now appear in is mine. It will appear singular to some, that Ossian, at times, especially in the songs of Com fort, seems rather to be an Hibernian than a Scotchman, and that some of these poems formally contradict pas s a g e s of gr0at importance in those handed to the pub lic by Mr. Macpherson, especially that very remarlm ble one of Evir-allen, where the description of her marriage with Ossian is essentially different in all its parts from that given in former poems." P. v. oian, hy W . Shaw, A.lVL, F. S. A., autho: of the Gaelic Dictionary und (ira mmar. London, 17Sl. Mr . Shaw crowns his want of faith in Macpherson's Ossian witn tl1is piece of information. "A gentleman promised to ornament n scalloped shell with silver, if I should bnng him one from the Highlands, ant! to swear that it was the identical shell out of which used to drink."-A gentleman!

PAGE 29

A PRELil\lJNAR VlSCOURSE, vVe refer the reader to the . opening of tbe fourth book of Fingal, which treats of Ossian's courtship of Evir-allen. The Evir-allen of Baron de Harold is in these words : EVIR-ALLEN: A POEM. THou fairest of the maids of Morven, young beam of streamy Lutha, come to the help of the aged, come to the help of the distressed. Thy soul is open to pity. Friendship glows in thy tender breast. Ah come and sooth away my wo. Thy words are music to my soul. Bring me my once-loved harp. It hangs long neg lected in my hall. The stream of years has borne me away in its course, and rolled away all my bliss. Dim and faded are my eyes ; thin-strewed with hairs my head. Weak is that nervous arm, once the terror of fo<'s. Scarce can I grasp my staff, the prop of my trembling limb s. Lead me to yonder craggy steep. The murmur of th e falling st r eams ; the whistling winds rushing through the woods of my hills ; the welcome rays of the boun t eo us sun, will soon awake the voice of song in my br east. The thoughts of former years glide over my soul lik e swift-shooting meteors o'er A;:dven's gloomy vales. Come, ye friends of my youth, ye soft-sounding voices of Cona, bend from your gold-tinged c l ouds, and join me in my song. A mighty blaze is kindled in my soul. I hear a powerful voice. It says, "Seize thy beam of glory, 0 bard! for thou shalt soon depart. Soon shall the light of song be faded. Soon thy tuneful

PAGE 30

---=-=-====================; A PRELil\1INAF. Y DISCOURSE. f orgotten."-" Yes, I obey, 0 powerful voice, for •hnu art pleasing to mine ear." 0 Evir-allen! thou boast of Erin's maids, thy thoughts come streaming on my soul. Hear, 0 Malvina! a tale of my youth, the actions of my former days. Peace reigned over Morven's hills. The shell of jcy resounded in our halls. Round the blaze of the oak sported in festive dance the maids of Morven. They shone like the radiant bow of heaven, when the fiery rays of the setting sun brightens its varied sides. They wooe d me to their love, but my heart was silent, cold , Indifference, like a brazen shield, covered my frozen heart. Fingal saw, he smiled, and mildly spoke: My son, the down of youth grows on thy cheek. Thy arm has wielded the spear of war. Foes have felt thy force Morven's maids are fair, but fairer are the daughters of Erin. Go to that happy isle ; to Branno's grass covered fields. The daughter of my friend deserves thy love. Majestic beauty flows around her as a robe, and innocence, as a precious veil, heightens her youth. ful charms. Go, take thy arms, and win the lovely fair. Straight I obeyed. A chosen band followed my steps. We mounted the dark-bosomed ship of the king, spread its white sails to the winds, and ploughed through the foam of ocean. "Pleasant shone the fine eyed Uli-Erin.* With joyal songs we cut the liquid way. The moon, regent of the silent night, gleamed majestic in the blue vault of heaven, and seemed pleased to bathe her side in the trembling wave. My soul was full of my father's words. A thousand thoughts divided my wavering mind. Soon as the early beam of morn appeared we saw "'The guiding star to Ireland. 3*

PAGE 31

30 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. the green-skirted sides of Erin advancing in the bosom of the sea. White broke the tumbling surges on the coast. Deep in Larmor's woody bay we drove our keel to the shore, and gained the lofty beach. I inquired after the generous Branno. A son of Erin led us to I mils, to the banks of the sounding Lcgo. He said. '' Mu.uy warlike youths are assembled to gain the dark haired maid, the beauteous Evir-allen. Branno will f5ive her to the brave. The conqueror shall bear away the fair. Erin's chiefs dispute the maid, for she is destined for the strong in arms." These words inflamed my breast, and roused courage in my I clad my limb s in steel. I grasped a slti niug spear in my hand. Branno saw our approach. lie sent the gray-haired Snivan to invite us to his feast, and know the int e nt of our course. He came with the solemn steps of age, and gravely spoke the words of the chief. " Whence are these arms of steel ? If friends ye come, Branno invites you to his halls; for this day the lovely Evir-allen shall bless the warrior's arms whose lance shall shine victorious in the combat of valor." " 0 venerable bard !" I said, " peace guides my steps to Branno. My arm is young, and few are my d e eds in war, but valor inflames my soul; I am_of the race of the brave." The bard departed. We followed the steps of age, and soon arrived to Branno's halls. The hero came to meet us. Manly serenity adorn ed his brow. His ope n front showed the kindness of his heart. "Welcome," he said, "ye sons of stran. gers ; welcome to Branno's friendly halls ; partake his shell of joy. Share in the combat of spears. Not unw orthy is the pl"i:,>;e of vulo• lovely dark-haired

PAGE 32

r A PRELm'!INARY DISCOURSE, 31 maid of Erin; but strong must be that warrio: s hand that conquers Erin's chiefs ; matchless his strength in fight." "Chief," I replied, "the light of my father's deeds blazes in my soul. Though young, I seek my beam or glory foremost in the ranks of foes. Warrior, 1 can f'rrll, but I shall fall with renown." " Happy is thy father, 0 generous youth ! more happy the maid of thy love. Thy glory shall surround her with praise ; thy valor raise her charms. 0 were my Evir-allen thy spouse, my years would pass away in joy. Pleased I would descend into the grave: con tented see the end of my days." The feast was spread : stately and slow came Evir allcn. A snow-white veil covered her blushing face. Her krge blue eyes were bent on earth. Dignity flowed round her graceful steps. A shining tear fell glittering on her cheek. She appeared lovely as the mountain flower when the ruddy beams of the rising sun gleam on its dew-covered sides. Decent she sate. High beat my fluttering heart. Swift through my veins flew my thrilJing blood. An unusual weight op pressed my breast. I stood, darkened in my plaec. The image of the maid wandered over my troubled soul. The sprightly harp's melodious voice arose from the string of the bards. My soul melted away in the sound::;, for my heart, like a stream, flowed gently away in song. Murmurs soon broke upon our joy. Half-unsheathed daggers gleamed. Many a voice was heard abrupt. " Shall the son of the strangers be pre ferred? Soon shall he be rolled away, like mis• by the rushing breath of the tempest." Sedate I rose, for I aespised the boaster's threats. The fair one's eye followed my departure. I heard a. smothered sigh burst from her breast.

PAGE 33

32 A PRE: ,I!IIINARY DISC0JRSE. The horn's harsl: sound summoned us to the doubt. ful strife of spears. Lothmar, fierce hunter of the woody Gal mal, first opposed his might. He vainly insulted my youth, but my sword cleft his brazen shic:ld, a11d rut his ashen lance in twain. Straight 1 with held my descending blade. Lothmar retired confu se d Then rose the red-haired strength of Sulin. rolled his deep-sunk eye. His shaggy brows stood erect. His face was contracted with scorn. Thrice his spear pierced my mckler. Thrice his sword strud on my helm. Swift flashes gleamed from our circling blades. The pride of my rage arose. Furious I rushed on th e chief, and stretched his bulk on the plain. Groaning he fell to earth. Lego's shores re-echoed from his fall. • The n advanced Cormac, graceful in glittering arms. No fairer youth was seen on Erin's grassy hills. His age was equal to mine ; his port majestic; his statme tall and slender, Jike the young shooting poplar in Lu. tha's streamy vales; but sorrow sate upon his brow ; languor reign e d on his cheek. My heart inclined tb the youth. My sword oft avoided to wound ; often sought to save his days : but h e rush ed eager on death. He f e ll. Blood gushed from his panting breast. Tears flowed streaming from mine eyes. I stretched forth my hand to the chief. I proff e red gentle words of peace. Faintly he seized my hand. "Stranger," ne said, " I willingly die, for my days were oppress e d with wo. Evir-all e n rejected my love. She slighted my tend e r suit. Thou alone deservest the maid, for pit} r e igns in thy soul, and thou art generous and brave. T ell h e r, I forgiv e her scorn. T ell her, I descend with joy into the grave; but raise the stone of my prais e . L e t th e maid throw a flower on my tomb, and mingl e one tear with my dust; this is my sole requost Thio sl e can grant to mv shade."

PAGE 34

A PRELIMINARY DISco:fRSE, 83 I would have spoken, but broken sighs issuing from my breast, interrupted my faltering words. I threw my spear aside. 1 clasped the youth in my arms: but, alas! his soul was already departed to the cloudy man sions of his fathers. Then thrice I raised my voice, and called the chiefs to combat. Thrice I brandished my spear, and wield ed my glittering sword. No warrior appeared. They dreaded the force of my arm, and yielded the blue eyed maid. Three days I remained in Branno's halls. On the fourth he led me to the chambers of the fair. She came forth attended by her maids, graceful in lovely majesty, like the moon, when all the stars confess her sway, and retire respectful and abash ed. I laid my sword at her feet. Words of love flowed faltering from my tongue. Gently she gave her hand. Joy seized my enraptured soul. Branno was touched at the sight. He closed me in his aged arms. "0 wert thou," said he, "the son of my friend, the son of the mighty Fingal, then were my happiness complete !" " I am, I am the son of thy friend," I replied, " Os sian, the son of Fingal;" then sunk upon his aged breast. Our flowing tears mingled together. we re mained long clasped in each other's arms. Such was my youth, 0 Malvina! but alas! I am now forlorn. Darkness covers my soul. Yet the light of song beams at times on my mind. It solaces awhile my wo. Bards, prepare my tomb. Lay me by the fair Evir-allen. When the revolving years bring back the mild season of spring to our hills, sing the praise of Cona's bard, of Ossian, the friend of the distressed. 'fhe difference, in many material circumstances, be. tween these two descriptions of, as it would seem, the

PAGE 35

34 A PRELIMINARY DIS C OUR S E . same thing, must be very apparent. "I will s ubm it," says the baron, " the solution of this problem to the public." we shall follow his example. The Honorable Henry Grattan, to whom the baron d e dicates his work, has said, that the poems which it contains are calculated to inspire "valor, wisdom, and virtue." It is true, that th ey are adorned with nume rous beauties both of poetry and morality. They are farth e r distinguished and illumined by nobl e allu sions to the Omnipotent, which cannot fail to strike the reader as a part i . cular in which they r e markably vary from those of Mr. Macpherson. "In his," says our author, "there is no mention of the Divinity. In th e s e , the chief characteristic is the many solemn de s criptions of the Almighty Being, which give a degr e e of e l e va tion to them unattainable by any other method. It is worthy of observation bow the bard gains in sublimity by his magnific e nt display of the power, bounty, e t e r nity, and ju s tic e of God: and every read e r mu s t re joic e to find th e v e n erable old warrior occupi e d in de scriptions so worthy his great and compreh e n s ive g e nius, and to s e e him fre e d from th e imputation of atheism, with which h e had b ee n branded by many sa gac.ious and impartial men." P. vi. We could willingly transcribe more of these po e ms, but we hav e u.rre ady quot e d e nough to show the style of th e m, and can spare space for no additions. " La mor, a poem," is, th e baron thinks, of. a more ancient date than that of O ss ian, a nd "the model, perhaps, of his compo s itions." Anoth e r, call e d "Sitric," king of Dublin, which throws som e light on the history of those tim e s, be plac e s in th e ninth c e ntury. What faith, how e v e r, is to be put in th e g e nuin e n e ss of the " Frag *If Mr. Laing Rhould choose to take the trouble of p a ssing them •luough his alemhic, the_y may easily be disposed of. For instance, 'Lame!, or the ::long of de spair:" ..

PAGE 36

A PRELII\liNARY DISCOURSE. ments,"* which Baron de Harold assures us furnished him with the ground-work of these poems, we leave it lo others to ascertain. Our investigation is confined Nithin far narrower limits. It has, without doubt, been observed that in noticing what has transpired on this subject since our last edi tion, we have carefully avoided any dogmatism on the question collcctedly; and having simply displayed a torch to show the paths which lead to the labyrinth, those who wish to venture more deeply into its intrica cies, may, when they please, pursue them. We must acknowledge, before we depart, that we cannot see without indignation, or rather pity, the be lief of some persons that these poems are the offspring of Macpherson's genius, so operating on their minds as to turn their admiration of the ancient poet into contempt of the modern. We ourselves love antiquity, not merely however, on account of its antiquity, but because it de serves to be loved. No: we honestly own with Quin tilian, in quibusdam antiquorum, vix risum, in quibus dam autem vix somnum tenere.* The songs if other times, when they are, as they frequently are, supremely beautiful, merit every praise, but we must not there fore despise all novelty. In the days of the Theban bard, it would seem to have been otherwise, for he ap" The dreary night-owl screams in the solitary retreat of his mouldering ivy-covered tower," p. 163. Taken from the Persian poet quoted by Gibbon : " The owlliath sung her watch-song in the towers of Afrasiab " "All nature is consonant to the horrors of my mind." Larnd, p. 163. Evidently from the rhythmas of the Portuguese poet. One 1n despair, calls the desolation of nature "--Iugar conforme a meu cuidado." Obras dl Camoens, t. iii. p. 115 Mr. Laing may pronounce this learned, but it is at any rate u (oolish as it 1s learned. " Quintilian or Tacitus de Oratoribus.

PAGE 37

36 A PRELIMINARY DISCOURSE. pears to give the preference to old wine, but neu songsatv ot ptv OtvoJt, a118ta 0' IIJL.,CIIII vtwrtpwv.-Pind. Ol. Od. ix With respect to age in wine we are tolerably agreed, but we differ widely in regard to novelty in verse. Though warranted in some measure, yet all inordinate prepossessions should be moderated, and it would be well if we we1e occasionally to reflect on this question, if the ancients had been so inimicable to novelty as wn are, what would now be old 1* We shall not presume to affirm these poems were originally produced by Macpherson, but admit ting it, for the sake of argument, it would then, per haps, be just to ascribe all the mystery that has hung about th em to the often ungenerous dislike of novelty, or, it may be more truly, the efforts of contemporari es, which influences the present day. This might have stimulated him to seek in the garb of" th' olden time," that respect which is sometimes despitefully denied to drapery of a later date. Such a motive doubtl essly swayed the designs both of Chatterton and Ireland, whose names we cannot mention together without Dryden's comment on Spenser and Fleckn.,oe, "that is, from the top to the bottom of all poetry." In ushering into the world the hapless, but beautiful muse of Chat tCJ"ton, as well as the contemptible compositions of Ire land, it was alike thought necessary, to se0ure public attention, to have recourse to "quaint Inglis," or an an tique dress. And to the eternal dist_srace of preju dice, the latter, merely in conseque11ce of their dis guise, found men blind enough to ar.vocate their claims to that admiration which, on thei ; eyes being opened, "' See Horace.

PAGE 38

I Ji PRELII\1INARY DISCOURSE, 37 they could no longer see, and from the support of which they shrunk abashed. But we desist. It is useless to draw conclusions, as it is vain to reason with certain people who act un reasonably, since, if they were, in these particular cases, capable of reason, they would need no reasoning with. By some, the poems here published will be esteemed in proportion as the argument for their an. tiquity prevails ; but with regard to the general reader, and the unaffected lovers of" heaven-descended poesy,'' let the question take either way, still The harp in Selma was not idly strung, .And long shall last the themes our poet sung. Berraa-. Feb.l 1806.

PAGE 39

PREFACE. WITHOrr:' increasing his genius, the author may have Improved his language, in the eleven years that the f()!lowing poems have been in the hands of the public. Errors in diction might have been committed at twenty four, which the experience of a riper age may remove; and some exnberances in imagery may be restrained with advantage, by a degree of judgment acquired in the progress of time. Impressed with this opinion, he ran over the whole with attention and accuracy; and he hopes he has brought the work to a state of correct ness which will preclude all future improvements. The eagerness with which these poems have been received abroad, is a recompense for the coldness with which a few have affected to treat them at home. All the polite nations of Europe have transferred them into their respective languages ; and they speak of him who brought them to light, in terms that might flatter the vanity of one fond of fame. In a convenient indiffer ence for a literary reputation, the author hears praise without being elevated, and ribaldry without being de. pressed. He has frequently seen the first bestowed too precipitately; and the latter is so faithless to its purpose, that it is often the only index to merit in the present age. Though the taste which defines genius by the point3 of the compass, is a subject fit for mirth in it is

PAGE 40

PREFACE. 39 oftt n a serious matter in the sale of the work. When ri vcrs define the limits of abilities, as well as the boun daries of countries, a writer may measure his success by the latitude under which he was born. It was to avoid a part of this inconvenience, that the author is said b3 some, who speak without any authority, to nave ascribed his own productions to another name. If this was the case, he was but young in the art of decep tion. When he placed the poet in antiquity, the translator should have been born on this side of the Tweed. These observations regard only the frivolous in mat ters of literature; these, however, form a majority of . every age and nation. In this country men of g e nuine taste abound ; buttheir still voice is drowned in the clamors of a multitude, who judge by fashion of poe try, as of dress. The truth is, to judge aright, requires almost as much genius as to write well ; and good critics are as rare as great poets. Though two hun dre d thousand Romans stood up when Virgil came into the theatre, Varius only could correct the .J.Eneid. He that obtains fame must receive it through mere fashion; and gratify his vanity with the applause of men, of whose judgment he cannot approve. The following poems, it must be confessed, are more calculated to please persons of exquisite feelings of heart, than those who receive all their impressions by the ear. The novelty of cadenee, in what is called a prose version, though not destitute of harmony, will not, to common readers, supply th e absenoe of the fr e qur.nt returns of rhyme. This was the opinion of the ,vritcr hims elf, though he yielded to the judgment of oth e rs, in a mode, which presented freedom and dignity of expression, instead of fetters, which cramp the thought, whilst the ha1mony of language is pres e rved, His i1.tcntion was to publish in verse.The making of

PAGE 41

40 PREFACE. poetry, like any other handicraft, may be learn e d by and h e had served his apprenticeship, though m secret, to the Muses. It is, howev e r, doubtful, whether the harmony which these poe ms might derive from rhyme, even in much better hai1ds than those of the translator, could atone for the simplicity and energy which th e y would lose. The d e termination of this point shall be left to the readers of this preface. The following is the begin. ning of a poem, translated from the Norse to the Gaelic language; and, from the latter, transferred in. to English. The verse took little more time to the writer than the prose ; and he himself is doubtful (if he has succeeded in either) which of them is the most literal version. FRAGMENT OF A NORTHERN TALE. WHERE Harold, with golden hair, spread o'er Loch linn* his high commands ; where, with jt:stice, he ruled the tribes, who sunk, subdued, beneath his sword; ab. rupt nse s Gormalt in snow ! the tempests roll dark on his sides, but calm, above, his vast forehead appears. White-issuing from the skirt of his storms, the troubled torrents pour down his sides. Joining, as th e y roar along, they bear th e Torno, in foam, to th e main. Gray on the bank, and far from m e n, half-covered, by ancient pin e s, from th e wind, a lonely pile exalts its head, long shaken by th e storms of the north. To this fle d Sigurd, fierce in fig ht, from Harold the leader of armi e s, when fate had brightened his spear with re. nown : when he conqu e r e d in that rude field, where LuJan's warriors f e ll in bl o od, or rose in terror on the wav e s o f the main. Darkly sat the gray-haired chief; "'The Gaelic name of S candinavia, or Scandinia t The mou!ltains of St'vo l I I

PAGE 42

! PREFACE. 41 yet sorrow dwelt not in his soul. But when the war. rior thought on the past, his proud heart heaved against his side : forth flew his sword from its place : h e wounded Harold in all the winds. One daughter, and only one, but bright in form and mild of soul, the last beam of the setting line, remain e d to Sigurd of all his race. His son, in LuJan's battle slain, beheld not his father's flight from his foes. Nor finish e d seemed the ancient line! The splendid beauty of brighte yed Fithon covered still the fallen king with renown. Her arm was white like Gmmal's snow; her bosom whiter than the foam of the main, when roll the waves beneath the wrath of the winds. Like two stars were her radiant eyes, like two stars that rise on the d eep, wheu dark tumult embroils th e night. Ple asa nt are their beams aloft, as stately th e y asc e nd the skic-t>. Nor Odin forgot, in aught, the maid. Her form scarce equalled her lofty mind. Awe moved around h e r stately steps. Heroes loved-but shrunk away in th eir fears. Yet, midst the pride of all her charms, her heart was soft and her soul was kind. She saw the mournful with tearful eyes. Transient darkn es s arose in her breast. Her joy was in the chase. Each morning, when doubtful light wand e red dimly on LuJan' s waves, she roused th e resounding woods to Gor. mal's head of snow. Nor moved th e maid alone, &c. The same versified. Where fair-hair'd Harold, o'er Scandinia reign'd, And h e ld with justice what his valor gain'd, S e vo, in snow, his rugged forehead rears, And, o'er the warfare of his storms, appears Abrupt and vast.-White wand e ring down his side A thousand torrents, gl ea ming as they gticle, Unit e below, and, pouring through the plain, Hurry the troubled To>no to the main. . 4"" ! :===============:: f

PAGE 43

ir --......,, 42 PREFACE. Gray, on the bank, remote from human kind, By aged pines half-shelter'd from the wind, A homely mansion rose, of antique form, For ages batter'd by the polar storm. To this, fierce Sigurd fled from Norway's lord, \-Vhen fortune settled on the warrior's sword, In that rude field; where Suecia's chiefs were slain, Or forc'd to wander o'er the Bothnic main. Dark was his life, yet undisturb'd with woes, But when the memory of defeat arose, His proud heart struck his side ; he grasp'd the spear, And wounded Harold in the vacant air. One daughter only, but of form divine, The last fair beam of the departing line, Remain'd of Sigurd's race. His warlike son Fell in the shock which overturn'd the throne. Nor desolate the house! Fionia's charms Sustain'd the glory which they lost in arms. White was her arm as Sevo's .ofty snow, Her bosom fairer than the waves below When heaving to the winds. Her radiant eyes Like two bright stars, exulting as they rise, O'er the dark tumult of a stormy night, And gladd'ning heaven with their majestic light. In nought is Odin to the maid unkind, Her form scarce equals her exalted mind ; Awe leads her sacred steps where'er they move, And mankind worship where they dare not love. But mix'd with softness was the virgin's pride, Her heart had feeling, which her eyes denied ; H e r bright tears started at another's woes, While transient darkness on her soul arose. The chase she lov'd ; when morn with doubtfw l.>eam Came dimly wand'ring o'er the Bothnic stream. On Sevo's sounding sides she bent the bow, And rous'd his forests to his head of snow. Nor moved the maid alone, &c. 1 II I

PAGE 44

( I PREFACE. 43 One of the chief improvements, in this edition, is the care taken in arranging the poems in the order of time ; so as to form a kLd of regular history of the age to which they relate. The writer has now resigned them forever to their fate, That they have been well received by the public appears from an extensive sale ; that they shall continue to be well received, he may venture to prophesy, without the gift" of that inspiration to which poets lay claim. Through the medium of version upon version, they retain, in foreign languages, their native character of simplicity and energy. uine poetry, like gold, loses little, when properly trans fused; but when a composition cannot bear the test of a literal version, it is a counterfeit which ought not to pass current. The operation must, however, be per formed with skilful hands. A translator who cannot equal his original, is incapable of expressing its beau. ties. London, Aug. 15, 1773. . .

PAGE 45

lr====================-==-::::-::_:-==--...:::::=..:=.::......:;,_1, A DISSERTATION CONCERNING THE .ERA OF OSSIAN. INQUIRIES into the antirl'l'ties of nations afford motE' pleasure than any real advantage to mankind. The ingenious may form systems of history on probabilities and a few facts ; but, at a distance of time, their accounts must be vague at•d uncertain. The of states and kingdoms is as destitute cf great events, as of the means of transmitting them to posterity. The arts of polished life, by which alone facts can be pres e rved with certainty, are the poduction of a well. form e d community. It is then historians begin tu write, and public transactions to be worthy r e mem btance. The actions of former times are left in ob scurity, or magnified by uncertain traditions. Hen
PAGE 46

f;..:::: ===================:;-! f DISSERTATION, ETC. 45 nmongst them . and transmitted, with lustre, their great actions to post0rity. It is to them that they owe that unrivalled fame they now enjoy; while the great ac tions of other nations .are involved in fables, or lost in obsc:urity. The Celtic nations afford a striking instance of this kind. They, though once the masters of Eu rope, fiom the mouth of the river Oby, in Russia, to Cape Finisterre, the western point of Gallicia, in Spain, are very little mentioned in history. They trusted their fame to tradition and the songs of their bards, which, QV the vicissitude of human affairs, are long since lost. Their ancient language is the only monu ment that remains of them ; and the traces of it being found in places so widely distant from each other, serves only to show the extent of their ancient power, but throws very little light on tP,eir history. Of all the Celtic nations, that which possessed old Gaul is the most renowned: not perhaps on account of worth superior to the rest, but for their wars with a people who had historians to transmit the fame of their enemies, as well as their own, to posterity. Britain was first peopled by them, according to the testimony of the best authors ; its situation in respect to Gaul makes the opinion probable ; but what puts it beyond all dispute, is, that the same customs and language prevailed among the inhabitants of both in the days of Julius Cresar. The colony from Gaul possessed themselves, at first, of that part of Britain which was next to their own country; and spreading northward by degrees, as they increased in numbers, peopled the whole island. Some adventurers passing over from those parts of Britain that are within sight of Ireland, were the fcunders of the Irish nation: which is a more probable story than the idle fables of Milesian and Gallician colonies. Diodorus Siculus mentions it as a thing well ky1own in

PAGE 47

46 • DISSERTATION ON his time, that the inhabitants of Ireland were originally Britons ; and his testimony is unquestionable, when we consider that, for many ages, the language and cus toms of both nations were the same. 'facitus was of opinion that the ancient Caledonians were of German extract ; but even the ancient Gel" mans themselves were Gauls. The present Germans, properly so called, were not the same with the ancient Celtre. The manners and customs of the two nations were similar; but their language different. The Ger mans are the genuine descendants of the ancient Scan dinavians, who crossed, at an early period, the Baltic. The Celtre, anciently, sent many colonies into Ger many, all of whom retained their own laws, language, and customs, till they were dissipated, in the Roman empire ; and it is of them, if any colonies came from Germany into Scotland, that the ancient Caledonians were descended. But whether the ancient Caledonians were a colony of the Celtic Germans, or the same with the Gauls that first possessed themselves of Britain, is a matter of no moment at this distance of time. Whatever their ori. gin was, we find them very numerous in the time of Julius Agricola, which is a presumption that they were long before settled in the country. The form of their government was a mixture of aristocracy and mon archy, as it was in all the countries where the Druids bore the chief sway. This order of men seems to have been formed on the same principles with the Dac tyli, ldre, and Curetes of the ancients. Their pretended intercourse with heaven, their magic aRd divination, were the same. The knowledge of the Druids in natu. ral causes, and the properties of certain things, thQ fruits of the experiments of ages, gained them a mighty reputation among the people. The esteem of the populace soon inCJeased into a v e neration for the or. '-'===========:==!!

PAGE 48

THE JERA OF OSSIAN, 47 der; which these cunning and ambitious priests took care to improve, to such a degree, that they, in a man. ner, engrossed the management of civil, as well as re. ligious matters. It is generally allowed, that they did not abuse this . extraordinary power ; the preserving the character of sanctity was so essential to their influ ence, that they never broke out into violence or oppression. The chiefs were allowed to execute the laws, but the legislative power was entirely in the hands of the Druids. It was by their authority that the tribes were united, in times of the greatest danger, under one head. This temporary king, or V ergobretus, was chosen by them, and generally laid down his office at the end of the war. These priests enfoyed long this extraordinary privilege among the Celtic na. tions who lay beyond the pale of the Roman emp; . re. It was in the beginning of the second century that their power among the Caledonians began to decline. The traditions concerning Trathal and Cormac, ancestors to Fingal, are full of the particulars of the fall of the Druids : a singular fate it must be owned, of priests who had once established their superstition. The continual wars of the Caledonians against the Romans, hindered the bettor sort from initiating them selves, as the custom formerly was, into the order of the Druids. The precepts of their religion were con fined to a few, and were not much attended to bv a people inured to . war. The Vergobretus, or cl{icf magistrate, was chosen without the concurrence of the hierarchy, or continued in his office against their will. 0ontinua,l power strengthened his interest among the .ribes, and enabled him to send down, as hereditary to his posterity, the office he had only received himself by election. On occasion of a new war against the " king of th?. world," as tradition calls the Roman em-

PAGE 49

48 DISSERTATION ON peror, the Druids, to vindicate the honor of the order, began to resume their ancient privilege of choosing the Vergobretus. Garmal, the son of Tarno, being de puted by them, came to the grandfather of the cele brated Fingal, who was then Vergobretus, and com. manded him, in the name of the whole order, to lay down his office. Upon his refusal, a civil war com menced, which soon ended in almost the total extinction of the religious order of the Druids. A few that re mained, retired to the dark recesses of their groves, and the caves they had formerly used for their medita tions. It is then we find them in the circle of stones, and unheeded by the world. A total disregard for the 01 der, and utter abhorrence of the Druidical rites en sued. Under this cloud of public hate, all that had any knowledge of the religion of the Druids became ex. tinct, and the nation fell into the last degree of igno rance of their rites and ceremonies. It is no matter of wonder, then, that Fingal and his son Ossian disliked the Druids, who were the declared enemies to their succession in the supreme magistracy. It is a singular case, it must be allowed, that there are no traces of religion in the poems ascribed to Ossian, as the poetical compositions of other nations are so closely connected with their mythology. But gods are not necessary, when the poet has genius. It is hard to account for it to those who are not made acquainted with the manner of the old Scottish bards. That race of men carried their notions of martial honor to an ex travagant pitch. Any aid given their heroes in battle, was thought to uerogate from their fame ; and the bards immediately transferred the glory of the action to him who had given that aid. Had the poet brought down gods, as often as Home1 has done, to assist his heroes, his work had not con sisted of eulogiums on men, but of hymns to superioJ

PAGE 50

i r THE lERA OF OSSIAN. 49 ooings. Those who write in the Gaelic language sel dom mention religion in their profane poetry ; and wlilen they professedly write of religion, they never mix, with their compositions, the actions of their he roes. This custom alone, even though the religion 9f the Druids had not been been previously extiuguished, may, in some measure, excuse the author's silence con:erning the religion of ancient times. To allege that a nation is void of all religion, betrays ignorance of the history of mankind. The traditions of their fathers, and their own observations on the works of nature, together with that superstition which is inherent in the human frame, have, in all ages, raised in the minds of men some idea of a superior being. Hence it is, that in the darkest times, and amongst the most barbarous nations, the very populace themselves had some faint notion, at least, of a divinity. The Indians, who worship no God, believe that he ex ists. It would be doing injustice to the author of these poems, to think that he had not opened his conceptions to that primitive and greatest of all truths. But let his religion be what it will, it is certain that he has not al luded to Christianity or any of its rites, in his poems ; which ought to fix his opinions, at least, to an era prior to that religion. Conjectures, on this subject, must supply the place of proof. The persecution begun by Dioelesian, in the year 303, is the most probable time in which the first dawning of Chnstianity in the north of Britain can be fixed. The humane and mild char acter of Constantius Chlorus, who commanded then in Bl'itain, induced the persecuted Christians to take refuge Jnd81 him. Some of through a zeal to prrpa gate their tenets, or through fear, went beyond the pale of the Roman empire, and settled among the Caledo nians ; who were ready to hearken to their doctrines, if the religion of the Druids exp1oded long e. 5

PAGE 51

DISSElt rATION ON These missionaries, either through choice, or to give more weight to the doctrine they advanced, took possession of the cells and groves of the Druids; atHi / was iiom tlus retired life they had the name of CulI dees, which, in the language of the country, signified " the sequestered persons." It was with one of the Culdees that Ossian, in his extreme old age, is said to have disputed concerning the Christian religion. This dispute they say, is extant, and is couched in verse, according to the custom of the times. The extreme ignorance on the pa1't of Ossian of the Christian tP.nets, shows that that religion had only lately been introduced, as it is not easy to conceive how one of the first rank could be totally unacquainted with a religion that had been known for any time in the country. The dispute bears the genuine marks of antiquity. The obsolete phrases and expressions, peculiar to the time, prove it to be no forgery. If Ossian, then, lived at the introduction of Christianity, as by all appearance he did, his epoch will be the latter end of the third, and beginning of the fourth century. Tradition here steps in with a kind of proof. The exploits of Fingal against CaracHI, the son of the king of the world," are among the first briove actions of his youth. A complete poem, which relates to this subject, is printed in this collection. In the year 210, the Emperor Severus, after return ing from his expedition against the Caledonians a York, fell into the tedious illness of which he after ward died. The Caledonians and Maiat!B, resuminy courag e from his indisposition, took arms in order tu recover the possessions they had lost. The enrageJ emperor commanded his army to march into their country, and to destroy it with fire and sword. His orders were but ill executed ; for his son Caracalla was at the head of the army, and his thoughts entirely

PAGE 52

THE lERA OF OSSIAN. 51 r. -P.Il up with the hopes of his father's death, and wilh to supplant his brother Geta. He scarcely hao entered into the enemy's country, when news was ,rought him that Severus was dead. A suddeP peace is patched up with the Caledonians, and, as it appears ,.,om Dion Cassiu;:, the country they had lost to Severus •vas restored to them. The Caracul of Fingal is no other than Caracalla, who as the son of Severus, the emperor of Rome, whos e dominions were extended almost over the known world, was not without reason called the " son of the king of the world." The space of time between 211, the year Severus died, and the beginning of the fourth century is not so great, but Ossian, the son of Fingal, might have seen the Christians whom the persecution Dioclesian had driven beyond the pale of the Roman empire. In one of the many lamentations of the death of Os car, a battle which he fought against Caros, king of ships, on the banks of the winding Carun, is mentioned among his great actions. It is more than probable, that the Caros mentioned here, is the same with the noted usurper Carausius, who assumed the purple in +he year 287, and seizing on Britain, defeated the Emperor Maximinian Herculius in several naval engage :nents, which gives propriety to his being called the "king of ships." "The winding Carun," is that small river retaining still the name of Carron, and runs in the neighborhood of Agricola's wall, which Carau. sius repaired, to obstruct the incursions of the Caledo nians. Several other passages in traditions allude to the wars of the Romans; but the two just mentioned clearly fix the epocha of Fingal to the third century; !lnd this account agrees exactly with the Irish histories, which olace the death of Fingal, the son of Comhul, in

PAGE 53

52 DISSERTATION ON the year 283, and that of Oscar and their own cote. brat cd Cairbre, in the year 296. Some people may imagine, that the allusions to the Roman history might have been derived by tradition, from learned men, more than from ancient poems. This must then have happened at least three hundred years ago, as these allusions are mentioned often in the compositions of those times. Every one knows what a cloud of ignorance untl barbarism overspread the north of Europe three hun dred years ago. The minds of men, addicted to su perstition, contracted a narrowness that destroyed ge nius. Accordingly we find the compositions of those times trivial and puerile to the last degree. But, let it be allowed, that, amidst all the untoward circum stances of the age, a genius might arise ; it is not easy to determine what could induce him to allude to the Roman time1>.. vV e find no fact to favor any designs which could be entertained by any man who lived in the fifteenth century. The strongest objection to the antiquity of the poems now given to the public under the name of Ossian, is the improbability of their being handed down by tradi tion through so many centuries. Ages of barbarism, some will say, could not produce poems abounding with the disinterested and generous sentiments so conspicu ous in the compositions of Ossian; and could these ages produce them, it is impossible but they must be lost, or altogether corrupted, in a long succession of barbarous generations . . Those objections naturally suggest themselves to men unacquainted with the ancient state of the north ern parts of Britain. The bards, who were an inferior order of the Druids, did not share their bad fortune. They were spared by the victorious king, as it was through their means only he could hope for immortality

PAGE 54

THE JERA OF OSSIAN. 5:l to his fame They attended him in the camp, and contributed to establish his power by their songs. His great actions were magnified, and the populace, who had no ability to examine irl'to his character narrowly, were dazzled with his fame in the rhymes of the bards. In the mean time, men assumed sentiments that "e rarely to be met with in an age of The bards, who were originally the disciples of the Druids, h 1d their minds opened, and their ideas enlarged, by being initiated into the learning of that celebrated order. They could form a perfect hero in tb.eir own minds, and ascribe that character to their prince. The infe rior chiefs made this ideal character the model of their conduct ; and, by degrees, brought their minds to that generous spirit which breathes in all the poetry of the times. The prince, flattered by his bards, and rivalled by his own heroe-s, who imitated his character as de scribed in the eulogies of his poets, endeavored to ex cel his people in merit, as he was above them in station. This emulation continuing, formed at last the general character of the nation, happily compounded of what is noble in barbarity, and virtuous and generous in a polished people. vVhen virtue in peace, and bravery in war, are the characteristics of a nation, their actions become inter esting, and their fame worthy of immortality. A gen. erous spirit is warmed with noble actions, and becomes ambitious of perpetuating them. This is the true source of that divine inspiration, to which the poets of all ages pretended. When they found their themes inadequate to the warmth of their imaginations, they varnished them over with fables supplied with their own fancy, or furnished by absurd traditions. These fables, however ridiculous, had their abettors; posterity either imr,licitly believed them, or through a vanity natural to mankind, pretended that they did. They loved to 5*

PAGE 55

DIS1.cRTATION ON place the foundt s of 'heir families in the clays of' fable, when poetr)t, without the fear of contradiction, could give what character she pleased of her heroes. It is to this vanity that we the preservation of what remain of the more ancient poems. Their poetic:al merit made their heroes famous in a country where heroism was much esteemed and admired. The pos terity of these heroes, or those who pretended to be de5cended from them, heard with pleasure the eulo giums of their ancestors ; bards were employed to re peat the poems, and to record the connection of their patrons with chiefs so renowned. Every chief, in pro cess of time, had a bard in his family, and the office became at last hereditary. By the succession of these bards, the poems concerning the ancestors of the family were handed down from generation to generation ; they were repeated to the whole clan on solemn occa sions, and always alluded to in the new compositions of the bards. This custom came down to near our own times ; and after the bards were discontinued, a great number in a clan retained by memory, or com mitted to writing, their compositions, and founded the antiquity of their families on the authority of their poems. The use of letters was not known in the north of Europe till long after the institution of the bards : the records of the families of their patrons, their own, and more ancient poems, were handed down by tradition. Their poetical compositions were admirably contrived for that purpose. They were adapted to music; and the most perfect harmony was observed. Each verse was so connected with those which preceded or followed lt, that if one line had been remembered in a stanza, it was almost impossible to forget the rest. The cadences followed so natural a gradation, and the words were l-' adapted to the common turn of the voice, after it is I I I I f

PAGE 56

THJ:: lERA Of' 55 raised to a certain key, that it was almost impossible, from a similarity of sound, to substitute one word fur another. This excellence is pecu)iar to the Celtic tongue, and is perhaps to be met with in no other lan guage. Nor does this C'hoice of words clog the sense, or weaken the expression. The numerous flexions of consonants, and variation in declension, make the Ian. guage veery copious. The descendants of the Celtre, who inhabited Britain and its isles, were not singular in this method of pre serving the most precious monuments of their nation. The ancient laws of the Greeks were couched in versD, and handed down by tradition. Tlie Spartans, through a long habit, became so fond of this custom, that they would never allow their laws to be committed to wri ting. The actions of great men, and eulogiums of kings
PAGE 57

--/ DISSERTATION, ETC. ther, a princess of the blood of the Incas, taught hirn in his youth, that he col'lected the materials of his history. If other nations, then, that had often been overrun by enemies, and hath sent abroad and received colonie s , could for many ages preserve, by oral tradition, their laws and histories uncorrupted, it is much more prob a. hie that the ancient Scots, a people so free of intermix lure with for eig ners, and so strongly attached to the m e mory of their ancestors, had the works of their ba:ds handed down with great purity. What is advanced in this short dissDrtation, it must be confessed, is conjecture. Beyond the reach of records is settled a gloom which no ingenuity can penetrate. The manners described iri these po ems sllit the ancient Celtic times, and no other period that is known in history. We must, therefore, place the heroes far back in antiquity ; and it matters little, who were their contemporaries in other parts of the world. If we have placed Fingal in his proper period, we do honor to the manners of barbarous times. He exercised every manly virtue in Caledonia, while disgraced human nature at Rome. I

PAGE 58

DISSERTATION THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. fuE history of those nations who originally pus. the north of Europe, is less known than their manners. Destitute of the use of letters, they t.hemoolves had not the means of transmitting their great actions to remote posterity. Foreign writers saw them only at a distance, and described them as they found them. The vanity of the Romans induced them to consider the nations beyond the pale of their empire as barbarians ; and, consequently, their history unworthy of being investigated. Their manners and singular character we1e matters of curiosity, as they committed them to record. Some men otherwise of great merit, among ourselves, give into confined ideas on this sub ject. Having early imbibed their idea of exalted man ners from the Greek and Roman writers, they scarcely ever afterward have the fortitude to allow any dignity of character to any nation destitute of the use of let" Without derogating from the fame of Greece and Rome, we may consider antiquity beyond the pale of liY!ir empire worthy of some attention. The nobler J ,

PAGE 59

58 DISSERTATION ON passions of the mind neve1 shoot forth mor\ frPe and unrestrained than in the times we call brtrbarous. That irregular manner of life, and those manly pursuits, from which barbarity takl" ' it name, are hignly favor able to a strength of mind unknown in polished tiwcs. In advanced society, the characters of men are more uniform and disguised. The human passions lie in some degree concealed behind forms and artific1al man ners; and the powers of the soul, without an opportu. nity of exerting them, lose their vigor. The times oi regular government, and polished manners, are there fore to be wished for by the feeble and weak in mind. An unsettled state, and those convulsions which attend it, is the proper field for ar, exalted character, and the exertion of great parts. Merit there rises always su perior j no fortuitous event can raise the timid and mean into power. To those who look upon antiquity in this light, it is an agreeable prospect; and they alone can have real pleasUJ e in tracing nations to their source. The establishment of the Celtic states, in the north of Europe, is beyond the reach of written annals. The traditions and songs to which they trusted their history, were lost, or altogeth0r corrupted, in their revolutions and migrations, which were so frequent and universal, that no kingdom in Europe is now possessed by its original inhabitant!. Societies were formed, and kingd0ms erected, from a mixture of nations, who, in process of time, lost all knowledge of their own ori gin . If tradition could b0 depended upon, it is ouly among a people, fiom all time, free from intermixture wilh foreigners. We are to look for these among tire mountains and inaccessible parts of a country : places, on account of their barrenness, uninviting to an enerny, or whose natural o.trength enabled the natives to repel Such 11re the inhabitants of tlw mountains uf Scotland. W P-. acc o rdingly find that they di! fer

PAGE 60

I f THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. materially from those who possess the low and more fertile parts of the kingdom. .;r'heir language is pureo and original, and their manners are those of an ancient and unmixed race of men. Conscious of their own antiquity, they long despised others, as a new ami mix ed people. As they lived in a country only fit for pas ture, they were free from that toil and business which engross the attention of a commercial people. Their amusement consisted in hearing or repeating their songs and traditions, and these entirely turn e d on the antiquity of their nation, and the exploits of th eir fore fathers. It is no wonder, therefore, that th e re are more remains among them, than among any other people in Europe. Traditions, however, c oncerning remote periods are only to be regarded, in so far as they coincide with contemporary writers of undoubted credit and veracity. No writers began their accounts for a more early period than the historians of the Scots nation. With out records, or even tradition itself, they gave a long list of ancient kings, and a detail of their transactions, with a scrupulous exactness. One might naturally suppose, that when they had no authentic annals, they should, at least, have recourse to th e traditions of their country, and have reduced them into a regular system 0f history. Of both they seem te> have been equally rlestitute. Born in the low country, and strangers to the ancient language of their nation, they contented themselves with copying from another, and retail ing the same fictions in a new color and dress. John Fordun was the first who collected those frag ments of the Scots history which had escaped the bru tal policy of Edward I., and redut!ed them into order. His accounts, in so far as they concerned recent trans actions, deserved credit: beyond a certain period, they were fabulous and unsatisfactory. Some time bfl. J \

PAGE 61

-----00 DISSERTATION O:N fore Fordun wrote, the king of England, in a letter tc the pope, had run u}f the antiquity of his nation to a very remote rera. Fordun, possessed of all the national prejudice of the age, was unwilling that his country should yield, in point of antiquity, to a people then its rivals .,_nd enemies. Destitute of annals in Scotland, he had recourse to Ireland, which, according to th e vulgar error of the times, was reckoned the first habi tation of the Scots. He found there, that the lri'3h bards had carried their pretensions to antiquity as high, if not beyond any nation in Europe. It was from them he took those improbable fictions which form the first part of his history. The writers that succeeded Fordun implicitly follow ed his system, though they sometimes varied from him in their relations of particular transactions and the or der of succession of their kings. As they had no new lights, and were equally with him unacquaint ed with the traditions of their country, their histories contain little information conc e rning th e origin of th e Scots. Even Buchanan himself, except the elegance and vigor of his style, has very little to recomm e nd him. Blind e d with political prejudices, he seemed more anxious to turn the fictions of his predecessors to his own purposes, than to detect their misrepresentations, or investigate truth amidst the darkness which they had thrown round it. It therefore appears, that little can be collect e d from their own historians conceming the first migrations of the Scots into Britain. That this island was peopled from Gaul admits of no doubt. Whether colonies came afterward from the north of Europe, is a mUter of mere speculation. When South Britain yielded to the power of the Ro :nans, the unconquered nations to the nrrth of the province were distinguished by the name of Cal e do. nians From their very name, it appears that they I I

PAGE 62

THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 61 were of tnose Gauls who possessed themselves origi nally of Britain. It is comp oumled of two Celtic words, Cael signifying Celts, or Gauls, and Dun or Don, a hill; so that Cueldon, or Caledonians, is as much as to say, the " Celts of the hill country." The Highlanders, to th1s day, call themselves Cael, and their language Caelic, or Galic, and their country Caeldock, which the Romans softened into Caledonia. This, of itself, is sufficient to demonstrate that they arb the genuine descendants of the ancient Caledonians, and not a pretended colony of Scots, who settl e d first in the north, in the third or fourth century. From the double meaning of the word Cue], which signifies "strangers," as well as G a uls, or C e lts, some have imagined, that the ancestors of the Caledonians were of a different race from the rest of the Britons, and that they received their name upon that account. This opinion, say they, is supported by Tacitus, who, from several circumstances, concludes that the Cale. donians were of German extraction. A discussion of a point so intricate, at this distance of time, could neither be satisfactory nor important. Towards the latter end of the third, and beginning of the fourth century, we find the Scots in the nc rth. Porphirius makes the first mention of them about that time. As the Scots were not heard of before that period, most writers supposed them to have been a colony, newly come to Britain, and that the Picts were the only genuine descendants of the ancient Caledoni ans. This mistake is easily removed. The Caledoni ans, in process of time, became naturally Jivided into two distinct nations, as possessing parts oi the country entirely diffel " Pnt in their nature and soil. The we:..t ern coast of Scotland is hilly and barren ; towards tl.e cast, the country is plain, and f..t for tillage. The in habitants of the mountains, a roving and uncontrolled 6

PAGE 63

62 DISSERTATION 0:!1 race of men, lived by feeding of cattle, and what they killed in hunting. Their employment did not fix them to one place. They removed from one heath to ano ther, as snited best with their convenience or inclina tion. They were not, therefore, improperly called, l y their neighbors, Scuite, or "the wandering natlon ;' which is evidently the origin of the Roman name of Scoti. On the other hand, the Caledonians, who possessed the east coast of Scotland, as this division of the country was plain and fertile, applied themselves to agriculture, and raising of corn. It was from this that the Galic name of the Picts proceeded ; for they are called in that language, Cruithnich, i. e. "the wheat or corn eaters." As the Piets lived in a country so different in its nature from that possessed by the Scots so their national character suffered a material change. Unobstructed by mountains or lakes, their communica tion with one another was free and frequent. Society, therefore, became sooner established among them than among the Scots, and, consequently, they w e re much sooner governed by civil magistrates and laws. This, at last, produced so great a difference in the manners of the two nations, that they began to forget th eir com mon origin, and almost continual quarrels and animosi. ties subsisted between them. These animositi e s, afteJ some ages, ended in the subversion of the Pictish king dom, but not in the total extirpation of the nation ac cording to most of the Scots writers, who seem to thin!f it more for the honor of their countrymen to annihilate than reduce a rival people under their obedience. It is certain, however, that the very name of the Picts was lost, and that those that remain e d were so completely in with their conquerors, that they soon lost ull memory of their own origin. The end of the Pictish government is placed f'lo nca1 r 1 I I I

PAGE 64

r I I I I THE l'OEMS OF I)SSIAN. 63 tnut period to which authentic annals reach, that it is matter of wonder that we have no monuments of their language or history remaining. This favors the sys tem I have laid down. Had they originally been of a diff e r e nt race from the Scots, their language of COLU'Ee would b e The contrary is the case. The names of place s in the Pictish dominions, and the very nam e s of their kings, which are handed down to us, are of Galic original, which is a convincing proof that the two nations were, of old, one and the same, anrl only divid e d into two governments by the effect wluch th e ir situation had upon the genius of the people. The name of Picts is said to have been given by the Romans to the Caledonians who possessed the east coast of Scotland fEom their painting their bodies. The story is silly, and the argument absurd. But let us rever e antiquity in her very follies. This circum st a nce mad e some imagine, that the Picts were of Brit i s h e xtract, and a diff e r e nt race of men from the Scots. That mor e of th e Britons, who fled northward from the tyra nny of th e Romans, settled in the low country of S c o t land, than among the Scots of the mountains, may b e easily im ag in e d, from th e very nature of the coun try. It was th e y who introduc e d painting among the Pi c ts. From this circumstance, affirm some antiqua ri es, proc ee d e d the name of the latter, to distinguish th e m from th e Scots, who never had that art among th e m , a nd from th e Britons, who discontinued it aft e r th e Roman conqu e st. The C a l e donians, most certainly, acquired a considerable knowl e dge in navigation by their living on a co as t int e r secte d with many arms of the sea, and in island s , divid e d on e from another by wide and danger ous firths. It is, there fore, highly probable, that they \'nry early found th eir way to the north of lre lancl, which is within sight of th eir own country. That Ire. L======::::=:====::::'J

PAGE 65

64 DISSERTATION ON land was first peopled from Britain, is, at length, a mat. ter that admits of no doubt. The vicinity of the two islands ; the exact correspondence of the in habitants of both, in point of manners and language, are sufficient proof s , even if we had not th e testimonies of authors of undoubte d veracity to confirm it. The abettors of the most romantic systems of Irish antiqui• ties allow it; but they place the colony from Britain in an improbable and remote rera. I shall easily admit tlmt the colony of the Firbolg, confessedly the Belgre ot .i:Slltain, settled in the south of Ireland, before the Cael, or Caledonians discov e red the north; but it is not 'll all likely that the migration of the Firbolg to Ireland happened many centuries before the Christian rera. The poem of Temora throws considerable light on this subject. The accounts given in it agree so well with what the ancients have d e liver e d concerning the first population and i n habitants of Ireland, that every unbi ased p erson will confess them more probable than the l egends handed down, by tradition, in that country. It appears that, in the days of Tra thal, grandfather to Fin gal, Ire land was possessed by two nations; the Firbolg or B e lgre of Britain, who inhabit ed the south, and the Cael, who pas sed over from Caledonia and the Hebri des to Ulster. The two nations, as is usual among an unpoli s hed and lately settled p eop l e, were divid ed into small dyna s ti es, s ubject to p e tty kings or chiefs, indP p e ndcnt of one another. In this situation, it is proba ble, th ey coutinued long, without any mat e rial r e volu tion in the state of th e island, until Croth ar, lord of Atha, a country in Connaught, the most pot ent c hief .:1f the Firbolg, carried away Conlama, the daughter oi Cathmin , a c hief of the Cael, who possessed L'lster. Conlama had be e n some time b efore, to Turloch, a chief of their own nation. Turloc h re-

PAGE 66

THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 6ll sented the affront offered him by Crothar, made an ir ruption into Connaught, and killed Cormul, the brother of Crothar, who came to oppose his progress. Crothar himself then took arms, and either killed or expelled Turloeh. The war, upon this, became general betweeu the two nations, and the Cael were r educed to the last extremity. In this situation, they applied for aid to Trathal, king of Morven, who sent his brother Conar, already famous for his great exp loits, to their relief. Conar, upon his arrival in Ulster, was chosen king by the unanimous consent of the Caledonian tribes who possessed that country. The war was renewed with vigor and success ; but the Firbolg appear to have been rather repelled than subdued. In succeeding reigns, we learn, from ep isodes in the same poem, that the chiefs of Atha made several efforts to become monarchs of Ireland, and to expel the race of Conar. To Conar succeeded his son Cormac, who appears to have reigned long. In his latter days he seems to have been driven to the last extremity by an insunec tion of the Firbolg, who supported the pretensions of the chiefs of Atha to the Irish throne. Fingal, who was then very young, came to the aid of Cormac, totally defeated Colculla, chief of Atha, and re-estab lished Cormac in the sole possession of all Ireland. It was then he fell in lov e with, and took to wife, Ros crana, the daughter of Cormac, who was the mother of Ossian. Cormac was succeeded in the Irish thron e by hio son Cairbre ; Cairbre by Artho, his son, who was the father of that Cormac, in whose minority the of Swaran happened, which is the subject of the poem of Fingal. The family of Atha, who had not relin quished their pretensions to the Irish throne, reoelled in !he minority of Cormac, defeated his adherents, and murdered him in the palace of Teraora. CaiJbur, lord 6*

PAGE 67

66 DISSERTATION ON of Atha, upon this mounted the throne. His usurpa-. tion soon ended with his life ; for Fingal made an ex pedition into Ireland, and restored, after various vicis si tud es of fortune, the family of Conar to the posses sio n of the kingdom. This war is the subject of Ternora ; the events, though certainly heightened and embellished hy poetry, seem, notwithstanding, to have their founcla . tion in true history. Temora contains not only the history of the first mi . gration of the Caledonians into Ireland ; it also pre. s0rves some important facts concerning the first settle. 1nent of the Firbolg, or Belgre of Britain, in that king dom, under their l eader Larthon, who was ancestor to Cairbar and Cathmor, who successively mounted the Lish throne, after the death of Cormac, the son of Artho. I forbear to transcribe the passage on account of its l ength. It is the song of Fonar, the bard; to wards the latter end of the seventh book of Temora. As the generations from Larthon to Cathmor, to whom the episode is addressed, are not marked, as are those of the family of Conar, the first king of Ireland, we can form no judgment of the time of the settlement of the Firbolg. It is, however, probable it was some time before the Cael, or Caledonians, settled in Ulster. One important fact may be gathered from this history, that the hish had no king before the latter end of the first century. Fingal liv ed, it is supposed, in the third so Conar, the first monarch of the Irish, who was his grand-unc l e, cannot be placed farther back than the close of the first. To establish this fact, is to lay, at once, aside the pretended antiquities of the Scots and Irish, and to get quit of the long list of kings which the latter give us for a millenium before. Of the affairs of Scotland, it is certain, nothing can be depended upon prior to the reign of Fergus, the son of Ere, who lived in the fifth century. The true his-

PAGE 68

' THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 67 tory of Ireland begins somewhat later than that period. Sir James Ware, who was indefatigable in his re sr:arches after the anti-quities of his country, rejects, as mere fiction and idle romance, all that is related of the ancient Irish before the time of St. Patrick, and the reign of Leogaire. It is from this consideration tha1 he begins his history at the iiltroduction of Christianity, remarking, that all that is delivered down concerning the times of paganism were tales of late invention, strangely mixed with anachronisms and inconsistencies. Such being the opinion of Ware, who had collected, with uncommon industry and zeal, all the real and pre. tendedly ancient manuscripts concerning the history of his country, we may, on his authority, reject the im. Fobable and self.condemned tales of Keating and O'Flaherty. Cre. dulous and pueri l e to the last degree, 1hey have disgraced the antiquities they meant to establish. It is to be wished that some able Irish. man, who understands the language am! records of his country, may redeem, ere too late, the genuine anti. qui ties of Ireland from the hands of these idle fabulists. By comparing the history in these poems with the legends of the Scots and Irish writers, and by after. ward examining both by the test of the Roman authors, it is easy to discover which is the most probable. Probability is all that can be established on the author. ity of tradition, ever dubious and uncertain. But when it favors the hypothesis laid down by contemporary writers of undoubted veracity, and, as it were, finishes the figure of which they only drew the outlines, it ought, in the judgment of sober reason, to be preferred to accounts framed in dark and distant periods, with _ittle judgment, and upon no authority. Concerning the period of more than a century which intervenes between Fingal and the reign of Fmgus, the son of Ere or Arcath, tradition is dark r.nd connadic.

PAGE 69

r I 68 DISSeRTATION ON tory. Some trace up the family of Fergus to a son or Fingal ofthat name, who makes a considerable figure in Ossian's Poems. Thfl three elder sons of Fingal, Ossian, Fillan, and Ryno, dying without i9Sue, the suc cession, of course, devolved upon Fergus, the fourth son, aud his posterity. This Fergus, say some tradi tions, was the father of Conga!, whose son was Arcath, the father of Fergus, properly called the first king of Scots, as it was in his time the Cael, who possessed the western coast of Scotland, began to be distinguished by foreigners by the name of Sots. From thencefor ward, the Scots and Picts, as distinct nations, became objects of attention to the historians of other countries. The internal state of the two Caledonian kingdoms has always continued, and ever must remain, in obscurity and fable. It is in this epoch we must fix the beginning of the decay of that species of heroism which subsisted in the days of Fingal. There are three stages in human so. ciety. The first is the result of consanguinity, and the natural affection of the members of a family to one another. The second begins when property is estab lished, and men enter into associations for mutual de. fence, against the invasions and injustice of neighbors. Mankind submit, in the third, to certain laws and sub. ordinations of government, to which they trust the safety of their persons and property. As the first is formed on nature, so, of course, it is the most disintere..<:teJ and noble. Men, in the last, have leisure to cul tivate the mind, and to restore it, with to a primeval dignity of sentiment. The middle state is the region of complete barbarism and ignorance. About the beginning of the fifth century, the Scots and Pwts were !tdvanced into the second stage, and conse quently, into those circumscribed sentiments which always distinguish barbarity. The events which soon

PAGE 70

IJ THE POEI\IS OF OSSIAN, 69 after happened did not at all contribute to enlarge their ideas, or mend their national character. About the year 426, the Romans, on account of do mestic commotions, entire ly forsook Britain, finding it impossible to defend so distc1.nt a frontier. The Picts and Scots, this favorable opportunity, made in cursions into the deserted prov.ince. The Britons, enervated by the slavery of several centuries, and those vices which are inseparable from an advanced state of civility, were not able to withstand the impetu ous, though irregular, attacks of a barbarous enemy. In the utmost distress, they applied to their old masters, the Romans, and (after the unfortunate state of the en1pire could not spare a1d) to the Saxons, a nation equally barbarous and brave with the enemies of whom they were so much afraid. Though the bravery of the Saxons repelled the Caledonian nations for a time, yet the latter found means to extend themselves con siderably towards the south. It is in this period we must place the origin of the arts of civil life among the Scots. The seat of governmnnt was removed from the mountains to the plain and more fertile prov inces of the south, to be near the common enemy in case of sudden incursions. Instead of roving through unfrequented wilds in search of subsistence by means of hunting, men applied to agricultl.l're, and raising of corn. This manner of lire was the first means 0 changing the national character. The n ext tiling which contributed to it was their mixture with stran gers. In the countries which the Scots had conquered from the Britons, it is probable that most of the o! l inhabit ants remain e d. These incorporating \vith the con qtlerors, taught them agriculture and other arts which \hey themselves had received from the Romans. The Scots, however, in number as well as power, being

PAGE 71

70 DISSERTATION ON most predominant, retained still their language, and as many of the customs of their ancestors as suited with the nature of the country they possessed. Even the union of the two Caledonian kingdoms did not much aflcct the national character. Being originally de scended from the same stock, the manners of the Picts and Scots were as similar as the different natures of the count ri es they possessed permitted. What brought about a total change in the genius of the Scots nation was their wars and other transactions with the Saxons. Several counties in the south of Sc ot l and were alternate ly possessed by !he two nations. They were ceded, in the ninth age, to the Scots, and it is probable that most Saxon inhabitants re mained in of their lands. Durmg the several conquests and revolutions in England, many fled for refuge into Scotland, to avoid the oppression of foreigners, or the tyranny of domestic usurpers ; insomuch, that the Saxon race formed, perhaps, near one half of the Scottish kingdom. The Saxon man ners and l anguage daily gained ground on the tongue and customs of the ancient Caledonians, till, at last, the latter were entirely relegated to the inhabitants of the mountains, who were still unmixed with strangers. It was after the accession of territory which the • Scots received upon tne retreat of the Romans from Britain, that the inhabitants of the Highlande were d'vid e d into c l ans. The king, when he kept his court in the mountains, was considered by the whole nation as the chief of their blood. The small number, as w ell as the presence of their prince, prevented those divisions which, afterward, sprung forth into so many separate tribes. When the seat of goverment was re moved to the south, those who remained in the High tands were, of course, neglected. They naturally formed themselves into small s0cieties independent of

PAGE 72

THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 71 one another. Each society had its own regulus, who either was, or, in the succession of a few • generations, was regarded as chief of their blood. The nature of the country favored an institution of this sort. A few val.eys, divided from one another by extensive heath" and impassable mountains, form the face of the High lands. In those valleys the chiefs fixed their residence. Round them, and almost within sight of their dwellings, were the habitations of their relations and dependants. The seats of the Highland chiefs were neither disa greeable nor inconvenient. Surrounded with moun tains and hanging wooJs, they were covered from the inclemency of the weather. Near them generally ran a pretty large river, which, discharging itself not far off into an arm of the sea or extensive Jake, swarmed with variety of fish. The woods were stocked with wild-fowl ; and the heaths and mountains behind them were the natural seat of the red-deer and roe. If we make allowance for the backward state of agriculture, the valleys were not unfertile ; affording, if not all the conveniences, at least the necessaries of life. Here the chief lived, the supreme judge and lawgiver of his own people ; but his sway was neither severe nor unjust. As the populace regarded him as the chief of their blood, so he, in return, considered them as members of his family. His commands, therefore, though absolute and decisive, partook more of the authority of a father than of the rigor of a judge. Though the whole terri tory of the tribe was considered as the property of the chief, yet his vassals made him no other consideration for their lands than services, neither burdensome nor frequent. As he seldom went from home, he was at no expense. His table was supplied by his own herds and what his numerous attendants killed in hunting. In this rural kind of magnificence the Highland chiefs Jived for many ages. At a distance from the

PAGE 73

72 DlSSERTATl0;-1 ON seat of government, and secured by the inaccessiblene s s of their com!.try, they were free and ind e pendent. As they had little communication with strangers, the cus toms of their ancestors remained among th em, and their language retained its original purity. Naturaily fond of mi l itary fame, and remarkably attached to the memory of their ancestors, they delighted in traditions and songs concerning the exploits of their nation, and especially of their own particular families. A succes sion of bards was retained in every clan to hand down the memorable actions of their forefathers. As Fin gal and his chiefs were the most renowned nam e s in tradition, the bards took care to place them in the genealogy of every great family. They becam e fa. mous among the people, and an object of fiction and poetry to the bard. The bards erected their immediate patron s into he roes and celebrated them in their songs. As the circle of their knowledge was narrow, their idea s w e re con fined in proportion. A few happy expr e s s ions, and the manners they represent, may please those who un. derstand the language ; their obscurity and in a ccuracy would disgust in a translation. It was chiefly for this reason that I have rejected wholly the works of the bards in my publications. Ossian acted in a more e x tensive sphere, and his ideas ought to be more noble and univ e rsal ; neither gives he, I presume, so many of th e ir peculiarities, which are only understood in a certain p e riod or country. The other bards have their beauti e s, but not in this species of composition. The ir rhym es , only calculated to kindle a martial spirit among th e vulgar, afford very little pleasure to genuine taste. This observation only regards their poems of the h e roic kind ; in every inferior species of poetry they are more successful. They express the tender melancholy of desponding love with simplicity and na-

PAGE 74

r I I J • THE POEMS OF OSSIAN 73 ture . So well adapted are the sounds of the words to the srmtiments, that, even without any knowlcge of the language, they pierce and dissolve the heart. Succe;:;s ful love is expressed with peculiar tenderness and ele gance. In all their compositions, except the neroi<: ... which was solely calculated to animate the vulgar, they gave us the genuine language of the heart, without any of those affected ornaments of phraseology, which, though intended to beautify sentiments, divest them of their natural force. The ideas, it is confessed, are too local to be admired in another language ; to those who are acquainted with the manners they represent, and the scenes they describe, they must afford pleasure and It was the locality of their description and sentiment that, probably, has kept them in the obscurity of an al most lost language. The ideas of an unpolished period are so eontrary to the present advanced state of society, that more than a common mediocrity of taste is required to relish them as they deserve. Those who alone are capable of transferring ancient poetry into a modern language, might be better employed in giving originals of their own, were it not for that wretched envy and meanness which affects to despise contemporary genius. My first publication was merely accidental ; had I then met with less approbation my after pursuits would have been more profitable ; at least, I might have continued to be stupid without being branded with dulness. These poems may furnish light to antiquaries, as well as some pleasure to the lovers of poet!J The first population of Ireland, its first kings, and seven> I circumstances, which regard its connection of old wi1!n the south and north of Britain, are presented in seve1al episodes. The subject and catastrophe of the poem are founded upon facts which regarded the first peopling of that country, and the contests between the tw9 7 '

PAGE 75

74 DISSERTATION ON British nations, who originally inhabited that i s land. In a preceding part of this dissertation I have shown how superior the probability of this system is to the undig ested fictions of the Irish bards, and the mor e r e cent and regular legends of both Irish and Scotti-. . 1 historians. I mean not-to give offence to the abettors of the high antiquities of the two nations, though I have all along expressed my doubts concerning the veracity and abilities of those who deliv e r down their ancient history. For my own part, I prefe r the na tional fame arising from a few certain facts, to the legendary and uncertain annals of ages of remot e and obscure antiquity. No kingdom now estab lish e d in Europe can pretend to equal antiquity with that of the Scots, inconsiderable as it may appear in other r espects, • even accord ing to my system ; so that it is altogether needless to fix its origin a fictitious millenium b efo re. Since the first publication of these poems, m an y in smuations have b ee n made, and doubts arisen, concern ing their authenticity. Whether these suspicions are suggested by prejudice, or are only the effects of malice, I neither know nor care. Those who have doubted my veracity have paid a compliment to my genius; and were even the allegation true, mv self denial might have atoned for my fault. Without vanity I say it, I think I could write tolerable poetry ; and I assure my antagonists, that I should not translate what I could not imitate. As prejudice is the effect of ignorance, I am not surpris e d at its being general. An age that produces few marks of genius ought to be sparing of admiration. The truth is, the bulk of mankind have ever b ee n l e d by reputation more than taste, in articles of literature. If all the Romans who admired Virgil understood his beauti es, he would have scarce deserved to have come ciown to us through so many centuries. Unless genius

PAGE 76

THE POEMS OF 1.1SSIAN, 75 were in fashion, Homer himself might have written in vain. He that wishes to come with weight on the su perficial, must skim the surface, in their own shallow way. Were my aim to gain the many, I would write a madrigal sooner than an heroic poem. Laberius himself would be always sure of more followers than Sophocles. Some who doubt the authenticity of this work, with peculiar acuteness them to the Irish nation. Though it is not easy to conceiye how these poems can belong to Ireland and to me at once, I shall examine the subject without farther animadversion on the blun. der. Of all the nations descended from the ancient Cel ,re, the Scots and Irish are the most similar in language, and manners. This argues a more intimate connection between them than a remote descent from .he great Celtic stock. It is evident, in short, that, at .some period or other, they formed one society, were tmbject to the same government, and were, in all re one and the same people. How they became divided, which the colony, or which the mother-nation, J have in another work amply discussed. The first circumstance that induced me to disregard the vulgarly. received opinion of the Hibernian extraction of the bcottish nation was my observations on their ancient language. The dialed of the Celtic tongue, spoken in the north of Scotland, is much more pure, more agreeable to its mother-language, and more abounding wtth primitives, than that now spoken, or even that w11ich has been written for some centuries back, amongst the most unmixed part of the Irish nation. A Scotchman, tolerably conversant in his own Ian. guage, understands an Irish composition from that de. rivative analogy which it has to the Gaelic of North Britain. An Irishman, on the other hand, without the

PAGE 77

'16 DISSERTATION ..,ia of study, can never understand a cor'1n in the tv:Jgue. This affords a proof tha\ J Seotch Gaelic is the most original, and, consequently, the Ian. guage of a more ancient and unmixed people. The Irish, however bnckward th e y may be to allow any thing to the pre judice of "l cir antiquity, se e m inadvert e ntly to acknowl e dge it, by the v ery appellation they give to the dialect they speak. They cull th eir own language Gaelic Eirinarch, i. e. Caledonian Irish, wh e n, on the contrary, th e y call the dialect of North Britain a Chaelic, or the Cal e donian tongu e , e mphatically. A circumstance of this natur e tends more to d e cid e which is the most ancient nation than the united testimonies of a \vhole legion of ignorant bards and s e nachies, who, perhaps, n eve r dreamed of bringing the Scots from Spain to Ireland, tifl some one of them, more learned than th e r e st, discovered that the Romans <'aile d the first Ib e ria, and the latt e r Hib e rnia. On such a slight foundation were probably built the romantic fictions concerning th e Miles ians of Ire land. From internal proof's it suffi c i e ntly appears that the poems publi s h e d und e r th e nam e of Ossian are not of lri;;h composition. The Javorit e chimera, that Ire land is the mother-country of the Scots, is totally subverted and ruin e d. The fictions conc e rning th e antiquities of that country, which were formed for ag e s, and growing as th e y came clown on the hands of successive sena. chi e s and file as, are found , at last, to b e the spurious brood of mod e rn and ignorant ages. To those who kn o w h o w t e nacious th e Irish are of their pre tend e d Ib e rian d e sc e nt, this alone is proof sufficient, that poe ms, so subversive of their syst em, could neYer be produc e d by an Hib e rnian bard . But when we l o ok !o th e languag e , it is so diff e r e nt from the Irish dial e ct, that it would be as ridiculous to think that Milton's Paradise Lost could be wrote by a Scottish p c :1snnt, ail

PAGE 78

THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 77 to supp o.>e that t. 1e poems ascribed to Ossian were writ in Ireland. The pre tensions of Ireland to Ossian proceed from another quarter. There are handed down in that country traditional poems concerning the Fiona, or the hero e s of Fion Mac Comnal. This Fion, say the Irish ann a lists, was general of the militia of Ire land in th e reign of Cormac, in the third century. Where Keat ing and 0 'Flaherty learned that Ireland had an embo die d militia so eady, is not so easy for me to determine. Their information certainly did not come from the Irish poe ms concerning Fion. I have just now in my hands all that remain of those compositions ; but, un luckily for the antiquities of Ireland, they appear to be the work of a very modern period. Every stanza, nay, almost every line, affords striking proofs that they cannot be three centuries old. Their allusions to the manners and customs of the fift ee nth century are so many, that it is a matter of wonder to me how any one could dream of their antiquity. They are entirely writ in that romantic taste which prevailed two ages ago. Giants, enchanted castles, dwarfs, palfreys, witch e s, and magicians, form the whole circle of the poet ' s inv e ntion. The celebrated Fion could scarcely move from one hillock to another without encountering a giant, or being entangled in the circles of a magician. Witche s, on broomsticks, were continually hovering round him like crows ; and he had freed enchanted virgins in every valley in Ireland. In short, Fion, great as he was, passed a disagreeable life. Not only had he to engage all the mischiefs in his own country, forei()'n armie s invad e d him, assist e d by magicians and witche s, and headed by kings as tall as the mainmast of a first-rate. It must be owned, however, that Fion was not inferim to them in height. 7*

PAGE 79

VlSSERTATION ON A &1<•s air Cro.nleach, druim-ard, Chos eile air Crom-meal dubh, Thoga rion le lamh mhoir An d'uisge o Lubhair na truth. With one foot on Cromleach his brow, The other on G'rommal the dark Finn took up with his large hand The water from Lubar of the streams. Croml eac h and Crommal were two mountains in the nnighborhood of one another, in Ulster, and the rivm of Lubar ran through the intermediate valley. The pi'Operty of a monster as this Pion I should never h.ave disputed with any nation; but the bard himself; in the poem from which the above quotation is taken, l!edes him to Scotland : Pion o Albin siol nan laoich! Fion from A(bion, race of heroes! Were it allowable to contradict the authority of a bard, at this distance of time, I should have given as my opinion, that this enormous Pion was of the race of Hibernian giants, of Ruanus, or some other celebrated name, rather than a native of Caledonia, whose inhab. itants, now at least, are not remarkable for their sta. ture. As for the poetry, I leave it to the reader. If Pion was so remarkable for his stature, his had also other extraordinary properties. "In weight all the sons of strangers yielded to the celebrated T m iosal ; and for harcTness of skull, and, perhaps, fo1 thickness too, the valiant Oscar stood 'unrivalled unc. alone.'" Ossian himself had many singular and l ess delicate qualifications than playing on the harp; and the bra.Ye Cuthullin was of so diminutive a siz e , us to oe taken for a child of two years of age by the gigant:c Sw aran. To illustrate this subj e ct, I shall h e re 1: y oefore the reader the history of some of the Irish p0ems concerning Pion Mac Comnal. A translation of mr,se pieces, if well executed, might afford satisfaction, in an

PAGE 80

I 1 ! THE PO EMS OF OSSIAN, '79 uncommon way, to the public. But this ought to be the work of a native of Ireland. To draw forth from obscurity the poems of my own country has wasted aii the time I had allotted for the Muses; besides, I am too diffident of my own abilities to undertake such a work. A gentleman in Dublin accused me \.0 the pub. lie of committing blunders and absurdities in transla ting the language of my own country, and that before any translation of mine appeared. How the gentle. man came to see my blunders before I committed them, is not to determine; if he did not conclude that, as a Scotsman, and, of course, descended of the l\lilesian race, [might have committed some of those oversights, which, perhaps very unjustly, are said to be peculiar to them. From the whole tenor of the Irish poems concerning the Fiona, it appears that Fion Mac Comnal flourished in the reign of Cormac, which is placed, by the univerBal consent of the senachies, in the third century. They even fix the death of Fingal in the year 268, yet his son Ossian is made contemporary with St. Patrick, nho preached the gospel in Ireland about the middle ilf the fifth age. Ossian, at that time he must nave been two hundred and fifty years of age, had a daughter young enough to become wife to the saiut. On account of this family connection, "Patrick of the Psalms," for so the apostle of Ireland is emphaticaliy called in the poems, took great delight in the company of Ossian, and in hearing the great actions of his family. The saint sometimes threw off the austerity of his profession, drank freely, and had his soul pmpcrly warmed with wine, to receive with becoming enthuo:iasm the poems of his father-in-law. One of tho poems begins with this useful piece of information: Lo don rabh Padric na mhur, Gun Sailm air uidh, ach a go!, Ghluais e thigh Oss1an mhic Fhion, 0 ""n leis bu bhinn a ghloir.

PAGE 81

1 I --=., 8U DL'>SERT..I .TION ON The title of thi s poem is "Teantach mor na F1< a." it appears to have been found e d on the same stor) with the "Battle of Lora." The circumstances and cata stroph e in both are much the same: but the Iri s h O s sian discov e rs the age in which h e lived by an unlu cky anachroni s m. After describing th e total rout of Er ragon, he v ery gravely . concludes with this r e mark able anecdote, that none of the foe escap e d, but a few, who were permitt e d to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy L a nd. This circumstance fixes the date of the corn-pos ition of th e piece some centuri e s after the famous croisade : for it is evident that the poet thought the time of the croisade so ancient, that he confounds it with the age of Fingal. Erragon, in the course of this poem, is often called, Rhoigh Lochlin an do shloi g h, King of Denmark of two nations-which allud e s to the union of the kingdom of Norway and Denmark, a circumstance which happened under Margaret d e Walde mar, in the close of the fourteenth ag e . Mod e rn, how e v e r, as this pre t e nd e d Ossian was, it is certain h e lived b e for e th e Irish had dr eame d of appropriating Fion, or Fingal, to themselves. He con cludes the poe m with this r efle ction : N a f agha s e comhthr6m nann arm, Errag on M ac Annir n a n ! a nn glas ' S an n ' Albin ni n' ab a irtair Tnath Agus ghlaoite an n' Fhiona as. "Had Erragon, son of Annir of gleaming swords, avoided the e qual cont es t of arms, (ingle combat,) no chi e f should have aft e rw a rd b een numb e r e d in Albion, and the h ero e s of Fion should no mor e b e named . " The n e xt poe m that falls under our observation is "Cath-cabhra," or "The Dea.th of Oscar . " This pie ce is founded on the same story which we have in the first book of 'femora. So little thought th e au t h 'r

PAGE 82

li ! t ! I t I THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, of Cath-cabhra of making Oscar his OJtmtryman, that in the course of two hundred lines, of which the poem consists, he puts the following expression thrice iu the mouth of the hero Albin an sa d'roina m' arach.Albion, where 1 was born and bred. 'l'he poem contains almost all the incidents in the first book of Temora. In one circumstance the bard dif. fers materially from Ossian.' Oscar, after he was mor tally wounded by Cairbar, was carried by his people to a neighboring hill which commanded a prospect of the sea. A fleet appeared at a distance, and the hero ex claims with joy, Loingeas mo shean-athair at' an 'S iad a tiachd le cabhair chugain, 0 Albin na n'ioma stuagh. "It is the fleet of my grandfather coming with aid to our field, from Albion of many waves!" The testi mony of this bard is sufficient to confute the idle fic. tions of Keating and 0'Fiaherty, for, though he is fa1 from being ancient, it is proLable he flourished a full century before these historians. He appears, however, to have been a much better Christian than chronologer ; or Fion, though he is two centuries before St. Patrick, very devoutly recommends the soul of his grandson to his Redeemer. " Duan a Gharibh Mac-Starn" is another 11-ish poem in great repute. The grandeur of its images, and its propriety of sentiment, might have induced me to give a translation of it, had I not some expectations, which are now over, of seeing it in the collection of the Irish Os;:ian's Poems, promised twelve years since to the public. The author descends sometimes from the re gion of the sublime to low and indecent description; last of which, the Irish translator, no doubt, will choose to leave in the obscurity of the original. In 1 1

PAGE 83

82 DISSERTATION UN this piece Cuthullin is used with very little ceremony, for he is oft called the "dog of Tara," in the county of .Meath. This severe title of the redoubtable Cuthul lin, the most renowned of Irish champions, proceeded from the poet's ignorance of etymology. Cu, "voice" or commander, signifies also a dog. The poet chose the last, as the most noble appellation for his hero. The of the poem is the same with that of the epic poem of Fingal. Caribh Mac-Starn is the same with Ossian's Swaran, the son of Starno. His single combats with, and his victory over, all the heroes of Ireland, excepting the "celebrated dog of Tara," i. e. Cuthullin, afford matter for two hundred lines of toleerabl e poetry. Cribb's progress in search of Cu thullin, and his intrigu e with the gigantic Emirbrugal, that hero's wife, enables the poet to extend his piece to four hundred lines. This author, it is true, makes Cuthullin a native of Ireland: the gigantic Emir-brugal he calls the "guiding-star of the women of Ireland." The property of this enormous lady I shall not dispute with him or any other. But as he speaks with great tenderness of the " daughters of the convent," and throws out some hints against the English nation, it i s probable he lived in too modern a period to be intimately acquainted with the genealogy of Cuthullin. Anoth e r Irish Ossian, for there were many, as ap. pears from their difference in language and sentiment, speaks v ery dogmatically of Fion Mac Comnal, as an Irishman. Little can be said for the judgment of this poet, and less for his delicacy of sentiment. The his tory of one of his episodes may, at once, stand as a specimen of his want of both. Ireland, in the days of Fion, happened to be threatened with an invasion b) three great potentates, the kings of Lochlin, Sweden, and Fr6J,nce. It is needless to insist upon the impro-

PAGE 84

'l'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 83 priety of a French invasion of Ireland ; it is sufficient for me to be faithful to the languag e of my author. Fion, upon receiving intelligence of the intended inva sion, sent Ca-olt, Ossian, and Oscar, to watch the bay in which it was apprehended the enemy was to land. Oscar was the worst choice of a scout that could be made ; fo.r, brave as he was, he had the bad property of very often falling asleep on his post, nor was it pos. sihle to awake him, without cutting off one of his fin. gcrs, or dashing a large stone against his head. When the enemy appeared, Oscar, very unfortunately, was asleep. Ossian and Ca.olt consulted about the method of wakening him, and they at last fixed on the stone as the less dangerous expedient-Gun thog Caoilte a chlach, nach gan, a n' aighai' chiean gun bhuail; Tn mil an tulloch gun chri', &c. "Ca-olt took up a heavy stone, and struck it against the hero's head. The hill shook for three miles, as the stone rebounded and rolled away." Oscar rose in wrath, and his father gravely desired him to spend his rage on his enemies, which he did to so good purpose, that he singly routed a whole wing of their army. The confederate kings advanced, notwithstanding, till they came to a narrow pass possessed by the cele brated Ton-iosal. This name is very significant of the singular property of the hero who bore it. Ton. iosal, though brave, was so heavy and unwieldy, that when he sat down it took the whole force of a hundred men to set him upright on his feet again. Luckily for the preservation of Ireland, the hero happened to be standing when the enemy appeared, and !le gave so good an account of them, that Fion, upon nis arrival, found little to do but to divide the spoil among his soldiers. All these extraordinary heroEs, Pion, Ossian, Oscar, and Ca-olt, says the poet, were --------------------------

PAGE 85

84 niSSERTA riON ON 810! Erin na gorm !linn . The sons of Erin of blue steel . Neither shall I much dis pute the matt e r with him ; he has my consent al s o to appropriate to Ire land the c c le orated Ton-iosal. I shall only tbat th e y are dif ferent p e rsons from those of the same nam e in the Scots Po ems ; and that, though the stupendous v a lor of the first is so remarkable, th ey have not b ee n equally lucky with the latter, in th eir poet. It is some what extraordinary that Fion, who lived some ag e s be fore St. Patrick, swears like a very good Christian. Air an Dia do chum gach case . By God who s haped every case. It is worthy of being remarked, that, in the line quoted, Ossian, who lived in St. Patrick's days, s ee ms to have understood something of the English, a lan guage not then subsisting. A p e rson mor e sa nguine for the honor of his country than I am, might argue from this circumstance, that this pretend e dly Irish O s sian was a native of Scotland; for my countrymen are miversally allowed to have an exclusive ri g ht to the second sight. From the instances given, the reader may form a complete idea of the Irish compositions conc e rning the Fiona. The greatest part of them make the h e roes of Fion, Siol Albin a n'nioma caoile. The race of Albion of many firths. The r e st make them natives of Ireland. But the truth is, that th eir authority is of little consequence on either sid e . From th e instances I have giv e n, they appear to have been the work of a very modern period. The pious e jaculations they contain, their allusions to the manners of the tim e s, fix them to the fifteenth cen \ury. Had even the authors of these pieces avoided all to tt .eir own times, it is impossible •.hat the

PAGE 86

THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 815 poems could pass for ancient in the eyes of any person tolerably conversant with the Irish tongue. The idiom is so corrupted, and so many words borrowed from the English, that the language must have made ble progress in Ireland before the poems were written. It remains now to show how the Irish bards began to appropriate the Scottish Ossian and his heroes to their own country. After the English conquest, many of the natives of Ireland, averse to a for e ign yoke, either actually were in a state of hostility with the con querors, or, at least, paid little regard to government. The Scots, in those ages, were often in open war, and . never in cordial friendship, with the English. The similarity of manners and language, th e traditions con cerning their common origin, and, above all, their having to do with the same enemy, create d a free and friendly intercourse between the Scottish and Irish nations. As the custom of retaining bards and sena<'. hi e s was common to both, so e ach, no doubt, had form e d a system of history, it matters not how much soev e r fabulous, concerning their respective origin. It w a s the natural policy of the times to reconcile the a-uditions of both nations together, and, if possible, to d e duce them from the same original stock. The Saxon manners and language h a d, at that time, made great progress in the south of Scotland. The ancient language, and the traditional history of the na tion, became confined entirely to the inhabitants of the Highlands, then falling, from several concurring cir cumstanc e s, into the last degree of ignorance and bar barism. The Irish, who, for some age s before the conqu e st, had possessed a competent share of that kind of l earning which then prevailed in Europe, found it no difficult m atter to impose their own fictions on the ignorant Highland senachies. By flattering the vanity of the Highlanders with their long list of Hermonian 8

PAGE 87

. ' 86 DISSERTATION ON kings and h!!roes, they, without contradiction, assumed to themselves the character of being the mother-nation of the Scots of Britain. At this time, certainiy, was established that Hibernian system the original of the Scots, which afterward, for want of any other, universally received. The Scots of the low country, who, by losing the language of their ancestors, lost, together with it, their national traditions, received im plicitly the history of their country from Insh refugees, or from Highland senachies, persuaded over into the Hibernian system. These circumstances are far from being ideal. We have remaining many particular traditions which bear testimony to a fact of itself abundantly probable. What makes the matter incontestible is, that the an cient traditional accounts of the genuine origin of the Sc . ots, have been handed down without interruption. Though a few ignorant senachies might be persuaded out of their own opinion by the smoothness of an Irish tale, it was impossible to eradicate, from among the bulk of the people, their own national traditions. These traditions afterward so much prevailed, that the Highlanders continue totally unacquainted with the pre tended Hibernian extract of the Scotch nation. Igno rant chronicle writers, strangers to the anci e nt Ian. guage of their country, preserved only from falling to th e ground so improbable a story. This subject, perhaps, is pursued farther than it de serves ; but a discussion of the pretensions of Ireland was become in some measure necessary. If the Irish poems concerning the Fiona should appear ridiculou>', it is but justice to observe, that they are scarc e ly more so than t!1e poems of other nations at that period. On other subjects, the bards of Ireland have displayed a genuis for poe1ry. It was alone in matters of antiquity that they were monstrous in their fables. Their ove.

PAGE 88

' l I THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 87 sonn e ts, and their elegies on the death of persons wor thy or nmowned, abound with simplicity, and a wild har mony of numbers. oecam e more than an aton e ment for their errors in every other species of poe try. But th e beauty of these species depends so much on a certain curwsa felicitas of expression m the original, that th e y must appear much to disadvantage in another language ,

PAGE 89

I J CRITICAL DISSERTA'l'ION ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, THE SON OF FINGAL. . BY HUGH BLAIR, D. D. One of the Ministers of the High Church,l""\d Professor of Rhetoric and Belles :Cettres, Edint : urgh. AMONG the monuments remaining of the ancient state of nations, few are more valuable than their por!ms or songs. History, when it treats of remote or dark ages, is seldom very instructive. The beginnings of society, in every country, are involved in fabulous confusion; and though they were not, they would furnish few events worth reeording. But, in every period of so ciety, human manners are a curious spectacle ; and the most natural pictures of ancient manners are exhibited in the ancient poems of nations. These present to us what is much more valuable than the history of such transactions as a rude age can afford-the history of human imagination and passion. They make us ac. quainted with the notions and feelings of our fellow creatures in the most artless ages; discovering what objects they admired, and what pleasures they pursued, before those refinements of society had taken place, which enlarge, indeed, and diversify the transaction:!!, but disguise the manners of mankind. J

PAGE 90

r.=:-...:=-:.:.-=.-==-===============: '.1 C.RITICAL DISSERTATION, ETC, Besides this merit which ancient poems have with philosophical observers of human nature, they have another with persons of taste. They promise some of the highest beauties of poetical writing. Irregular and unpolished we may expect the production of uncul. tivated ages to be; but abounding, at the same time, with that enthusiasm, that vehemence and fire, which are the soul of poetry : for many circumstances of those times which we call barbarous, are favorable to the poetical spirit. That state, in which human nature shoots wild and free, though unfit for other improve ments, certainly encourages the high exertions of fan cy and passion. In the infancy of societies, men live scattered and dispersed in the midst of solitary rural scenes, where the beauties of nature are their chief entertainment. They meet with many objects to them new and strange ; their wonder and surprise are frequently excited ; and by the sudden changes of fortune occurring in their unsettled state of life, their passions are raised to the utmost; their passions have nothing to restrain them, their imagination has nothing to check it. They dis play themselves to one another without disguise, and converse and act in the uncovered simplicity of nature. As their feelings are strong, so their language, of it self, assumes a poetical turn. Prone to exaggerate, they describe every thing in the strongest colors; which of course renders their speech picturesque and figura tive. Figurative language owes its rise chiefly to two causes ; to the want of proper names for objects, and to the influence of imagination and passion over the form of expression. Both these causes concur in the infancy of society. Figures are commonly considered as artificial modes of speech, devised by orators and poets, after the world had advanced to a refined state. The contrary of this is the truth. Men never hne 8*

PAGE 91

CRITICAL IJISSER TA'l'ION used so many figures of style as in those rude ages, when, besides the power of a warm imagination to sug gest lively images, the want of proper and precise terms for the ideas they would express, obliged them to have recourse to circumlocution, metaphor, compari son, and all those substituted forms of expression, which give a poetical ah to language. An American chief, at this day, harangues at the head of his tribe in !:'. more bold and metaphorical style than a modern Eu ropean would adventure to use in an epic poem. In the progress of society, the genius and manners of men undergo a change more favorable to accuracy than to sprightliness and sublimity. As the world ad vances, the understanding gains ground upon the ima gination ; the understanding is more exercised ; the imagination, less. Fewer objects occur that are new or surprising. Men apply themselves to trace the causes of things ; they correct and refine one another ; they subdue or disguise their passions ; they form their ex terior manners upon one uniform standard of politeness and civility. Hwnan nature is pruned according to method and rule. Language advances from sterility to copiousness, and at the same time from fervor and enthusiasm, to correctness and precision. Style be comes more chaste, but less animated. The progress of the world in this respect resembles the progress of age in mn.n. The powers of imagination are most vigorous and predominant in youth; those of the un derstanding ripen more slowly, and often attain not to their maturity till the imagination begins to flag. Hence \)Oetry, which is the child of imagination, is frequently most glowing ana animated in the first ages of society As the ideas of our youth are remembered with a pe culiar pleasure, on account of their liveliness and vi vacity, so the most ancient poems have often proved the greatest favorites of nations. I I' ,I .I . i I I I I I

PAGE 92

I I I j ON rHE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 91 Poetry has been said to be more ancient than prose ; and, however paradoxical s.uch an assertion may seem, yet, in a qualified sense, it is true. Men certainly never conversed with one another in regular numbers; but even their ordinary language would, in ancient times, for the reasons b e fore assigned, approach to a poetical style ; and the first compositions transmitted to pos. terity, beyond doubt, were, in a literal sense, poems; that is, compositions in which imagination had th<) chief hand, formed into some kind of numbers, anJ pronounced with a musical modulation or tone. Mus . c or song has been found coeval with society among tw most barbarous nations. The only subjects whi
PAGE 93

92 CRIT!CAL DISSERTA'l!O channels widely separated, that current of humar genius and manners which descends originally from one spring. What we have been long accustomed to call the oriental vein of poetry, because some of the earliest poetlcJ.l productions have come to us from the east, is probably no more oriental than occidental : it is characteristical of an age rather than a country, and belongs, in some measure, to all nations at a cer. ,ain period. Of this the works of Ossian seem to fur nish a remarkabl e proof. Our present subject leads us to investigate the an cient poetical remains, not so much of the east, or of the Greeks and Romans, as of the northern nations, in order to discover whether the Gothic poetry has any resemblance to the Celtic or Gaelic, which we are about to consider. Though the Goths, under which name we usually comprehend all the Scandinavian tribes, were a people altogeth:'!r fierce and martial, and noted, to a proverb, for their ignorance of the lib eral arts, yet they too, from the Mrliest times, had their poets and th eir songs. Their poets were distinguished by the title of Scald e rs, and their so0ngs were termed Vys es . Saxo Grammaticus, a D.mish h'Btorian of con siderable note, who flourished in the century, inform s u s , that very many of these songs, <:onta ining the anci e nt traditionary stories of the coPnt-v, were found engraven upon rocks in the old Runic char!'l.ctor, s e ver a l of which he has translated into Latin, and in sert e d into his history. But his versions are plainly so paraphrastical, and forced into such au imitation of the style and the measures of the Roman poets, that one can form no judgment from th e m of the native spirit of th e original. A more curious monument of the true Gothic poetry is preserv-ed by Olaus W ormius in his book de Litcratura Runica. It is an epicedium, or fu neral song, composed by Regner and tmns-I I I I

PAGE 94

0 1 ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 93 ntcd by Olaus, word for word, from the original. This Lodbrog was a king of Denmark, who livt-d in the eighth century, famous for his wars and victories ; and at the same time an eminent sealder, or poet. It was his misfortune to fall at last into the hands of one of his enemi e s, by whom he was thrown into prison, and condemned to be destroyed by serpents. In this situ. ation he sol a ced himself with rehearsing all the exploits of his life. The poem is divided into twenty-nine stanzas, of ten lines each ; and every stanza begins with these words, "Pugnavimus ensibus," We have fought with our swords. Olaus's version is in many places so obscure as to be hardly intelligible. I have subjoined the whole below, exactly as he has published it;* and shall translate as much as may give the Eng lish reader an idea of the spirit and strain of this kind of poetry. " We have fought with our swords. I was young, wh en, towards the east, in the bay of Oreon, we made torr e nts of blood flow, to gorge the ravenous beast of pre y, and the yellow-foot e d bird. There resounded the hard ste e l upon the lofty h e lmets of men. The whol e ocean was one wound. The crow waded in the bloo d of the slain. When we had numbered twenty years, we lifted our spears on high, and everywhere spr e ad our r e nown. Eight barons we overcame in the b e fore the port of Diminum ; and ple ntifully we fea s t e d the e agl e in that slaughter. The warm str,.am of wounds ran into the ocean. The army fell betore us. \Vhen we st e ered our ships into the mouth of the Vi s tula, we sent the Helsingians to the hall of Odin. The n did the sword bite. The waters were all one wound. The earth was dyed red with the warm stream. The sword rung npon the coats of mail, and • Sec the note at the end of the Dissertation.

PAGE 95

94 CRITICAL lJIS:SBRTATION c!o,e the bucklers in twain. None fled on that day, till among his ships Heraudus fell. Than him no b1aver baron cleaves the sea with ships; a cheerful heart did he ever bring to the combat. Then the host threw away their shields, when the uplifted spear flew at the breast of heroes. The sword bit the Scarfian rocks; bloody was the shield in battle, until Rafno the king was slain . From the heads of warriors the warm sweat streamed down their armor. The crows around the Indirian islands had an ample prey. It were diffi cult to sing l e out one among so many deaths. At the rising of the sun I beheld the spears piercing the bo dies of foes, and the bows throwing forth their steel pointed arrows. Loud roared the swords in the plains of Lano.-The virgin long bewailed the slaughter of that morning."-In this strain the poet continues to describe several other military exploits. The images are not much varied : the noise of arms, the streaming of blood, and the feasting the birds of prey often recurring. He m e ntions the death of two of his sons in battle ; and the lamentation he describes as made for one of them is very singular. A Grecian or a Roman poet would have introduced the virgins or nymphs of the wood bewailing the untimely fall of a young hero. But, says our Gothic poet, "When Rogvaldus was slain, for him mourned all the hawks of heaven," as l amenting a benefactor who had so liberally supplied them with prey; "for boldly," as he adds, "in the strife of swords did the breaker of helmets throw the spear of blood." The poem concludes with sentiments of the highesl b1avcry and contempt of death. "What is more cer tain to the brave man than death, though amidst the storm of swords he stands always ready to oppose it 1 He only regrets this life who hath never known dis tress. The timorous man allur e s the devouring eag l e to ' j

PAGE 96

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 95 the field of battle. . The coward, wherever he eomes, is useless to himself. This I esteem honorable, tlmt the youth should advance to the . combat fairly matched one ag:J.inst another; nor man retreat from man. Long was this the warrior's highest glory. He who aspires to the love of virgins, ought always to be foremost in the roar of arms. It appears to me, of truth, that we are led by the Fateo;. Seldom can any overcome the appointment of destiny. Little did I foresee that Ella was to have my life in his hands, in that day when fainting I concealed my blood, and pushed forth my ships into the waves ; after we had spread a repast for the beasts of prey throughout the Scottish ba,s. But this makes . me always rejoice, that in the halls of our fa. ther Balder [or Odin] I know there are seats prepared, where, in a short time, we shall be drinking ale out of the hollow skulls of our enemies. In the house of the mighty Odin, no b .. ave man laments death. I come not with the voice of despair to Odin's hall. How eagerly would all the sons of Aslauga now rush to war, did they know the distress of their father, whom a mul titude of venomous serpents tear! I have given to my chi:dren a mother who hath filled their hearts with va!or. I . am fast approaching to my encl. A cruel death awaits me from the viper's bite. A snake dwells in the midst of my heart. I hope that the sword of some of my sons shall yet be stained with the blood of Ella. The valiant youths will wax red with anger, and will not sit in peace. Fifty and one times have I reared the standard in battle. In my youth I learned to dye the sword in blood : my hope was then that no king among men would be more renowned than me. The goddesses of death will now soon call me ; I must not mourn my death. Now I end my song. The god desses invite me away; they whom Odin has sent to me from his hall. I will sit upon a lofty sP.at, and

PAGE 97

96 CRITICAL DISSERTATION drink ale joyfully with the goddesses of death. The hour:; of my life are run out. I will smile when I die." This is such poetry as we might expect from a bar barous nation. It breathes a most ferocious spirit. It is wild, harsh, and irregular ; but at the same time animated and strong; the style in the original, full of inversions, and, as we learn from some of Olaus's notes, highly metaphorical and figured. But when we open the works of Ossian, a very dif ferent scene presents itself. There we find the fire and enthusiasm of the most early times, combined with an amazing degree of regularity and art. We find tenderness, and even delicacy of sentiment, greatly predominant over fierceness and barbarity. Our hearts are melted with the softest feelings, and at the same time elevated with the highest ideas of magnani mity, generosity, and true heroism. When we turn from the poetry of Lodbrog to th:!t of Ossian, it is like passing from a savage desert into a fertile and cultivated country. How is this to be accounted for 1 or by what means to be reconciled with the remote antiquity at tril.mted to poems 1 This is a curious point, ar,-1 requires to be illustrated. That the ancient Scots were of Celtic original, is past all doubt. Their conformity with the Celtic na. tions in language, manners, and religion, proves it to a full demonstration. The Celtre, a g1eat and mighty people, altogether distinct from the Goths and Teutones, once extended their dominion over all the west of Eu rope ; but seem to have had their most full and com nlete establishment in Gaul. Wherever the Ccltre or Gauls are mentioned by ancient writers, we seldom fail to hear of their Druids and their Bards ; the insti tution of which two orders was the capital distinction of their manners and policy. The druids were their

PAGE 98

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 97 philosophers and priests ; the bards their poets and re corders of heroic actions ; and both these orders of men seem to haye subsisted among them, as chief mem bers of the state, from time immemorial. We must not therefore imagine the Celtre to have been altogether a gross and rude nation. They possessed from very re mote ages a formed system of discipline and manners, appears to have had a deep and lasting influence Ammianus Marcellinus gives them this express testi mony, that there flourished among them the study of the most laudable arts, introduced by the bards, whose office it was to sing in heroic verse the gallant actions of illustrious men; and by the druids, who lived toge ther in colleges, or societies, after the Pythagorean manner, and, philosophizing upon the highest subjects, asserted the immortality of the human soul. Though Julius C . resar, in his account of Gaul, does not expressly mention the bards, yet it is plain that, under the title of Druids, he comprehends that whole college or or der ; of which the bards, who, it is probable, were the disciples of the druids, undoubtedly made a part. It deserves remark, that, according to his account, the druidical institution first took rise in Britain, and passed from thence into Gaul ; so that they who aspired to be thorough masters of that learning, were wont to resort to Britain. He adds, too, that such as were to be in itiated among the druids, were obliged to commit to their memory a great number of verses, insomuch that some employed twenty years in this course of educa tion ; and that they did not think it lawful to record those poems in writing, but sacredly handed them down by trarlition from race to race. . So strong was the attachment of the Celuc nations tc their poetry and bards, that, amidst all the changes of their government and manners, even long after the or der of the druids was extinct, and the national religion 9

PAGE 99

98 C:!ITICAL DISSERTATION nltered, the bards continued to flourish ; not as a set llr strolling songsters, like the Greek 'Aodoc, or Rlw .p;;o. dists, in Homer's time, but as an order of men highly 1espected in the state, and supported by a public estab . Jishment. We find them, according to the testi rnonic11 of Strabo and Diodorus, before the age of Augustus Cresar; and we find them remaining under the same name, and exerci sing the same functions as of old, in ireland, and in the north of Scotland, almost d0wn to }Ur own times. It is w ell known, that in both these countries every regulus or chief had his own bard, who was consid e red as an officer of ranl' in his court; and had lands assigned him, which descended to his family. Of the honor in which the bards were held, many instanc es occur in Ossian's Poems. On all important occasions they were the ambassadors between contending chief.'J; and their persons were held sacred. " Cairbar feared to stretch his sword to the bards, though his sou l was dark. 'Loose the bards,' said his brother Cathmor, ' they are the sons of other times. Their voice shall be heard in other ages, when the kings of T emora have failed.'" From all this, the Celtic tribes clearly appear to have been addicted in so high a degree to poetry, and to have made it so much their study from the earliest times, as may remove our wonder at meeting with a vein of higher poetical refinement among them, than was at first to have been expected among nations whom we are accustomed to call barbarous. Barbarity, I must obs erve, is a very equivoca l term ; it admits of many different forms and degrees; and though, in all of them, it excludes polished manners, it is, however, not inconsistent with generous sentiments and tender affections. What degrees of friendship, love, and heroism may possibly be found to prevail in a rude state of s0ciety, no one can say. Astonishing instances of

PAGE 100

r J I I I II ON THE OF OSSIAN. !:19 them we know, from history, have sometimes appear. ed ; and a few characters, distinguished by those high qualities, might lay a foundation for a set of manners beiug introduc e d into the songs of the bards, more re. fined, it is probable, and exalted, according to the usual poetical license, than the real manners of the country. In particular, with respect to heroism; the great employment of the Celtic bards was to delineate the characters, and sing the praises of heroes. So Lucan-Vos quoque qui lortes animos, bel!oque peremptos, Laudtbus in I >Tf nm vates diffunditis revum Plurima secvri jdistis carmina bardi.-Phars. I. 1. Now when we consider a college or order of men, • who, poetry throughout a long series of ages, had their imaginations continually employed on the ideas of heroism ; who had all the poems and pane gyrics, whic.h were composed by th e ir pred ecess ors, handed down to them with care; who rivalled and endeavored to outstrip those who had gone before them, each in the celebration of his particular hero; is it not natural to think, that at length the character of a. hew would appear in their songs with the highest lustre, and be adorned with qualities truly noble 1 Some of the qualities indeed which distinguish a Fin. gal, mod e ration, humanity, and clemency, would not probably be th e first ideas of heroism occurring to a baruarous people : but no sooner had such ideas be. gun to dawn on the minds of poets, than, as the hu man mind easily opens to the native representations of human perfection, they would b e seized and em braced ; they would enter into th eir panegyrics ; they would afforcl materials for succeeding bards to work upon and imrrove; they would contribute not a little to exalt the public manners. For such songs as th ese, fatuiliar to the Celtic warriors from their childhood, und, throughout their whole life, both in war and iu

PAGE 101

100 CRITICAL DISSERTATION peace, their principal entertainment, mu s t h ave lta d a very considerable influence in propagating among them real manners, nearly approaching to the po e ti cal ; and in forming even such a hero as Fingal. E s peci a lly wh e n we consider, that among their limit e d obje c t s o f ambition, among the few advantag e s which, in a savag e stat e , man could obtain over man, the chi e f was fame, and that immortality which they e x p e cted to r e c e ive from their vtrtues and exploits, in th e songs of bards. Having mad e thes e remarks on the C e ltic poetry and bards in g e neral, I shall next consider the particu• Jar advantages which Ossian poss e ss e d. He appears cle arly to have lived in a period which enjoy e d all the b e nefit I just now m e ntioned of traditionary poetry. The exploits of Trathal, Trenmor, and the other an c e stors of Fingal, are spok e n of as familiarly known. Anci e nt bards are fr e qu e ntly allud e d to. In on e re markabl e passa g e O ss ian d e scrib e s hims elf as Jiving in a sort of classical ag e , e nlightened by the memorials of form e r tim es , which w e r e convey e d in the s ongs of bards ; and points at a p e riod of darkn e ss and igno rance which lay b eyond the reach of tradition. " His word s," say s h e , "came only by h a lv e s to our ears ; they w e r e d a rk as th e tal e s of oth e r tim e s, b e fore the light f f th e song aro se." Ossian himself appears to h a v e b ee n e ndowed by nature with an exqui s ite s e nsi bility of h eart; prone to th a t t e nd e r m e lancholy which i s so oft e n an a tt e ndant on great g e nius : and susc e pti ble e qually of strong and of soft e motion. He was not only a prof e ss e d b a rd, e ducat e d with c a r e , as we m a y easily b elie v e , to a ll th e poe tical art then known, and conn-octed, as he shows us hims elf, in intimate fri<>ndship with the other cont e mporary b a rds, but a warrior also ; and th e son of th e most renown e d hero und prince of his age. This formed a conjunction of j

PAGE 102

I I ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. circumstances uncommonly favorable towards exalting the imagination of a poet. He relates expeditions in which he had been engaged ; he sings of battles in which he had fought and overcome ; he had beheld tho most illustrious scenes which that age could exhibit, both of l1eroism in war and magnificence in peace. For however rude the magnificence of those times may seem to us, we must remember, that all ideas of mag nificence are comparative ; and that the age of Fingal was an rera of distinguished splendor in that part of tho world. Fingal reigned over a considerable territory; he was enriched with the spoils of the Roman province ; he was ennobled by his victories and great ac.tions ; and was in all respects a personage of much higher dignity than any of the chieftains, or heads of clans, who lived in the same country, after a more extensive monarchy was established. The manners of Ossian's age, so far as we can them from his writings, wel'e abundantly favor. able to a poetical genius. The two di,..piriting vices, to which Longinus imputes the decline of poetry, cov etousness and effeminacy, were as yet unkn0wn. The cares of men were few. They lived a roving indolent lifo ; hunting and war their principal employments ; and their chief amusements, the music of bards, and "the feast of shells." The great objects pursued by heroic spirits, was" to receive their fame ;" that is, to become worthy of being celebrated in the songs of bards ; and " to have their name on the four gray stones." To die unlamented by a bard, was deemed so great a misfortune as even to disturb their ghosts in unoth e r state. " They wander in thick mists beside the reedy lake ; but never shall they rise, without the song, to the dwelling of winds." After death, thPy expected to follow employments of the same natnre with those which had amused them on earth; to fly 9*

PAGE 103

r --------, 102 CRITICAL DISSERTATION with their friends on clouds, to pursue airy deer, and to listen to tneu praise in the mouths of bards. In such times as these, in a country where poetry had been so long cultivated, and so highly honored, is it any won der that, among the race and succession of bards, oue Homer should arise : a man, who, endowed with a natural happy genius, favored with peculiar advantages of birth and condition, and meeting, in the course of his life, with a variety of incidents proper to fire his imagi nation, and to touch his heart, should attain a degree of eminence in poetry, worthy to draw the admiration of more refined ages 1 The compositions of Ossian are so strongly marked with characters of antiquity, that although there were no external proof to support that antiquity, hardly any reader of judgment and taste could hesitate in referring them to a very remote rera. There are four great stages through which men successively pass in the pro gress of society. The first and earliest is the life of hunters; pasturage succeeds to this, .-as the ideas of property begin to take root; next agriculture; and, lastly, commerce. Throughout Ossian's Poems we plainly find ourselves in the first of these periods of so ciety; during which hunting was the chief employment of men, and the principal method of their procuring subsist ence. Pasturage was not indeed wholly unknown; for we hear of dividing the herd in the case of a divorce ; but the allusions to herds arid to cattle are not many ; and of agriculture we find no traces. No cities ap pear to have been built in the territories of Fingal. No arts are mentioned, except that of navigation and of working in iron. Every thing presents to us the most simple and unimproved manners. At their feasts, the heroes prepared their own repast; they sat round the hght of the burning oak ; the wind lifted their locks, ani whistled thmugh their open halls. Whatever waa I

PAGE 104

1 ON THE POEJ\'IS OF OSSIAN. 103 .>eyond chc of life was known to them onlv n.s the spoil of the Roman province ; "the gold of stranger ; the lights of the stranger; the steeds of the stranger; the children of the rein." The r e pr ese ntation of Ossian's times must strike us the mor e, as genuine and authentic, when it is com pared with a poem of later date, which Mr. Macpher son has preserved in one of his notes. It is that in whieh five bards are represented as passing the even. ing in th e house of a chief, and each of them separately giving his description of the night. The night scenery is beautiful ; and the author has plainly imitated the style and manner of Ossian ; but he has allowed some images to appear which betray a later period of society. For we meet with windows clapping, the herds of goats and cows seeking shelter, the shepherd wandering, corn . on the plain, and th e wakeful hind r e building the shocks of corn which had b een overturned by the tempest. Whereas, in Ossian's works, from beginning to end, all is consistent; no modern allusion drops from him ; bu1 everywhere the same face of rude nature appears ; a country wholly uncultivat ed, thinly inhabited, and re. cently peopled. The grass of the rock, the flower of the heath, the thistle with its beard, are the chief orna. ments of his landscapes. " The desert," says Fingal. "is enough for me, with all its woods and deer." The circle C'f ideas and transactions is no wider thun suits such an age ; nor any greater diversity introduced into characters, than the events of that period would naturally display. Valor and bodily strength the admireu qualities. Contentions arise, as is usual among savag e nations, from the slightest causes. To be af fronted at a tournament, or to b e omitted in the invitu tion to a feast, kindles a war. vVome n are often car. ried away by force; ana the whole tribe, as in the Ho. meric times, rise to avenge the wrong . The heroP.s

PAGE 105

104 CRITil:AL DISSERTATION show rcfincm
PAGE 106

I I I I. _ _ ON THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. 105 cbe 0onsequences of more profound reflection, and Ion. ger acquaintance with the arts of thought and of speech. Ossian, accordingly, almost never expresses himself in the abstr .tct. His ideas extended little further than to the objects he saw around him. A public, a commu nity, the universe, were conceptions beyond his sphere. Even a mountain, a sea, or a Jake, which he has occasion to mention, though only in a simile, are for the " most part particularizeci ; it is the hill of Cromla, the storm of the sea of Malmor, or the reeds of the lake of Lego. A mode of expression which, while it is characteris tical of ancient ages, is at the same time highly favora. ble to descriptive poetry. For the same reasons, per. sanification is a poetical figure not very common with Ossian. Inanimate objects, such as winds, trees, flow. ers, he sometimes personifies with great beauty. But the personifications which are so familiar to later poets, of Fame, Time, Terror, Virtue, and the rest of that class, were unknown to our Celtic bard. These were mod e s of conception too abstract for his age. All these are marks so undoubted, and some of them too so nice and delicate, of the most early times, as put the high antiquity of these poems out of question. Es p e cially when we consider, that if there had been any imposture in this case, it must have been contrived and executed in the Highlands of Scotland, two or three centuries ago; as up to this period, both by manti scripts, and by the testimony of a multitude of living witnesses, concerning the uncontrovertible tradition of lhese poems, they can clearly be traced. Now, this ts a period wh e n that country enjoyed no advantages for a composition of this kind, which it may not bP sup pos e d to have enjoyed in as great, if not in a greater degree, a thousand years before. To suppose that two or three hundred years ago, when we well know the Highlands to have been in a state of ross ignorance

PAGE 107

106 CRITICAL DISSERTATION and barbarity, there should have arisen in that country a poet, of such exquisite genius, and of such deep kuowll!lige of mankind, and of history, as to divest himself of the ideas and manners of his own age, and to give us a just and natural picture of a state of so ciety auci e nter by a thou san d years ; one who could support tl1is counterfeited antiquity through such a large collec tion of poems, without the least inconsistency ; and who, possessed of all this genius and art, had, at the same time, the self-denial of concea ling himself, and of ascribing his own works to an antiquated bard, with out the imposture being detected ; is a supposition that transcends all bounds of credibility. There are, besides, two other circumstances to be attended to, still of greater weight, if possible, against this hypothesis. One is, the total absence of religious irleas Jiom this work ; for which the translator has, in his preface, given a very probable account, on the footing of its being the work of Ossian. The druidical supr:rstition was, in the days of Ossian, on the point of its final extinction ; and, for particular r eas ons, odious to the family of Fingal ; whilst the Christian faith was not yet established. But had it b ee n the work of one to whom the idPas of Christianity were familiar from his infancy, and who had supemdded to the m also the Liguted superstit ion of a dark age and C!)Untry, it is im possibl e but in some passage or oth e r, the traces of them would have appeared. The other circumstance is, the entire silence which reigns with respect to all the great clan-. or families which are now established in the High,unds. The origin of these several clans is known to b e very ancient; and it is well known that there is no passion by which a nativ e Highlander is more dis tinguished than by attachment to his clan, !'.nd jealousy for its honor. That a Highland bard, in forging a work relating to the antiquities of his country, should

PAGE 108

r ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 107 have inserted no circumstance which pointed out the rise of his own clan, which ascertained its antiquity, or increased its glory, is, of all suppositions that can be formed, the most improbable; and the silence on this had amounts to a demonstration that the author lived before any of the present great clans were formed or known. Assuming it then, as well we may, for certainty, that the poems, now under consideration, are genuine venerable monuments of a very remote antiquity, I proceed to make some remarks upon their general spirit and strain. The two great characteristics of Ossian's poetry are, tenderness and sublimity. It breathes nothing of the guy and cheerful kind ; a n air of solemnity and seriousness is dilfusP.d over the whole. Ossian is, perhaps, the only poe t who never relaxes, or lets himself down into the light and amusing strain; which I readily admit to be no small disadvantage to him, with the bulk of readers. He moves perpetually in the high r eg ion of the grand and the pathetic. One keynote is struck at the beginning, and supported to the end ; nor is any ornament introduc ed, but what is perfectly concordant with the general tone of melody. The events recorded, are all serious and grave ; the scenery throughout, wild and romantic. The exte11ded heath by the seashore; the mountains shaded with mist; the torrent rushing through a solitary valley ; the scattered oaks, and the tombs of warriors over grown with moss ; all produce a solemn attention in the mind, and prepare it for great and extraordinary We find not in Ossian an imagination that itself, and dresses out gay trifles to please the tancy. His poetry, more perhaps that of ar,y othel" WJ"iter, deserves to be styled, The poetry cif the &earl. It is a heart penetrated with noble sentiments tnd with sublime and tender passions; a heart thh ,[

PAGE 109

108 CRITICAL DISSERTATION glows, and kmdles the fancy; a heart that is full, and pours itself forth. Ossian did not write, like modern poets, to please readers and critics. He sung from the love of poetry and song. His delight was to think of the heroes amonG whom he had flourished ; to recall the aff e cting incidents of his life ; to dwell upon his past wars, and lov es, and friendships : till, as he ex presses it himself, " there com es a voice to Os s ian, and awakes his soul. It is the voice of years that are gone; they roll before me with all their deeds;" and under this true poetic inspiration, giving vent to his genius, no wonder we should so often hear, and ac knowledge, in his strains, the powerful and ever-plPas ing voice of nature. -Arte, natura potentior omni-Est Deus in nobis, agitante calescimus il!o. It is necessary here to observe, that the beauties of Ossian's writings cannot be felt by those who have given them only a single or hasty perusal. His manner is so different from that of the poets to whom we are most accustomed; his style is so concise, and so much crowned with imagery; the mind is k ept at such a stretch in accompanying the author; that an ordi nary reader is at first apt to be dazzled and fatigued, rather than pleas e d. His poems require to b e taken up at intervals, and to be frequently r e viewed ; and then it is impossible but his beauties must open to every reader who is capable of sensibi lity. Those who have the highest degree of it will relish them the most. . As Homer is, of all the great poets, the one wh<>se manner, and whose times, come the nearest to Ossian's, we are naturally l ed to run a parallel in some instances oetween the Greek and Celtic bard. For though Homer 1ived more than a thousand years before Ossian, it not from the age of the world, but from the state of society, that we are to judge of resembling times. '!'he I II -----------L-----_ _ _____.,.., -------

PAGE 110

ON TTIE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 109 Greek has, in several points, a manifest superiority He introduces a greater variety of incidents ; he sesses a larger compass of ideas; has more diversity in his characters;and a much deeper knowledge of human nature. It was not to be expected, that in any of these particulars Ossian could equal Homer. For Homer lived in a country where society was much far ther advanced ; he had beheld many more objects ; cities built and flourishing; laws instituted ; order, dis cipline, and arts, begun. His field of observation was much larg e r and more splendid: his knowledge, of course, more extensive ; his mind also, it shall l1e granted, more penetrating. But if Ossian's ideas and objects be less diversified than those of Homer, they are all, however, of the kind fittest for poetry : the bra very and generosity of heroes, the tend e rness of lovers, the attachment of friends, parents, and children. In a rude age and country, though the ev e nts that happen be few, the undissipated mind broods over th e m more; they strike the imagination, and fire the passions, in a higher degree ; and, of consequence, become happier materials to a poetical genius, than the same events when scattered through the wide circle of more varied action and cultivated life. Homer IS a more cheerful and sprightly poet than Ossian. You discern in him all the Greek vivacity ; whereas Ossian uniformly maintains the gravity and solemnity of a Celric hero. This, too, is in a great measure to be accounted for from the different situa tions in which they lived-partly perscnal, and partly national. Ossian had survived all his fiiends, and was disposed to melancholy by the incidents of his life. But. besides this, cheerfulness is one of the many blessings which we owe to formed society. The solitary, wild state, is always a serious one. Bating the sudden and violont bursts of mirth, which sometimes break forth at 10

PAGE 111

110 CRITICAL lJISSERTATlON their dances and feasts, the savage American tnbes have been noted by all travellers for their gravity ana taciturnity. Somewhat of this taciturnity may be also remarked in Ossian. On all occasions he is frugal of his words ; and never gives you more of an image, or a description, than is just sufficient to place it befo re you in one clear point of vie w. It is a blaze of light ning, which flashes and vanishes. Homer is more extended in his d esc riptions, and fills them up with a greater variety of circumstances. Both the poe ts are dramatic ; that is, they introduce their personages fre quently speaking before us. But Ossian is conci se and rapid in his speeches, as he is in every other thing. Homer, with the Gree k vivacity, had al>:o some portion of the Greek loquacity. His speeches, ind eed, are highly charact eristical; and to th e m we are much in d ebte d for that admirab l e display he has given of human nature. Yet, if he b e tedious any whe r e , it is in these: som e of th e m are trifling, and some of them plainly un s eas onable. Both poe ts are e min e ntly sublime ; but a difference may be remarked in the species of th e ir sublimity. Hom er's sublimity is accompanied with more impetuosity and fire ; O ss ian's with more of a solemn and awfu l grandeur. Homer hurries you a l ong; Ossian elevates, and fixes you in astoni;;hment. Homer is most sublime in actions and battl e s ; Ossian in de scription and sentim e nt. In th e pathetic, Hom e r, when he chooses to exert it, has great power ; but Ossian exerts that power much oftener, and has the character of tend e rn ess far more d ee ply imprint e d on his works. No poe t kn e w better how to seize and melt th e heart. With r ega rd to dignity of sentiment, the pre-emin ence must clearly be given to Ossian. This is, ind eed, a surprising circumstance, that in point of hum a nity, magnanimity, virtuous feelings of every kind, our rude Celtic bard should be distillguished to such a d eg ree, I J

PAGE 112

1 THE POF.!II::; OF OSSIAN. 111 tlrrtt not o • . ; the horoes of Homer, but even those of the polite and refined Virgil, are left far behind by those of Ossian. After these general observations on the genius and spirit of o • 1r author, I now proceed to a nearer view and more accurate examination of his works ; and as Fingal is the first great poem in this collection, it is proper to begin with it. To refuse the title of an epic po e m to Fingal, because it is not, in every little partic ular, exactly conformable to the practice of Homer and Virgil, were the mere squeamishness and pedantry of criticism. Examined even according to Aristotle's rules, it will be found to haye all the essential requisites of a true and regular epic; and to have several of them in so high a degree, as at first view to raise our aston ishment on finding Ossian's composition so agreeable to rules of which he was entirely ignorant. But our astonishment will cease, when we consider from what sou1:ce Aristotle drew those rules. Homer knew . no more of the laws of criticism than Ossian. But, guided by nature, he composed in verse a regular story, found. ed on heroic actions, which all posterity admired. Aristotle, with great sagacity and penetration, traced the causes of this general admiration. He observed what it was in Homer's composition, and in the con duct of his story, which gave it such power to please; from this observation he deduced the rules which poets ought to follow, who would write and please like Hom e r ; and to a composition formed according to rules, he gave the name of an epic poem. Hence his whole system arose. Aristotle studied nature in H o mer. Homer and Ossian both wrote from nature. No wonder that amnng all the three, tl1ere should be such agreement and conformity. The fundamental rules delivered by Aristotle con. ccrniug an epic poem, .are these : that the action, which L=-=--===--========::::J

PAGE 113

112 CRiTICAL DISSERTATJt)N is the groundwork of thB poem, should be one, cotn. plete, and great; that it should be feigned, not merely historical ; that it should be enlivened with characters and manners, and heightened by the marvellous. But, before entering on any of these, it may perhaps be asked, what is the moral of Fingal? For, accorJing to M. Dossu, an epic poem is no other than an allegory contrived to illustrate some moral truth. The poet, says this critic, must begin with fixing on some maxim or instruction, which he intends to inculcate on man kind. He next forms a fable, like one of .sop's, wholly with a view to the moral; and having thus set tled and arranged his plan, he then looks into tradition ary history for names and incidents, to give his fable some air of probability. Never did a more frigid, pedantic notion enter into the mind of a critic. we may safely pronounce, that he who should compose an epic poem after this manner, who should first lay down a moral and contrive a plan, before he had thought of his p e rsonages and actors, might d e liver, indeed, very sonnd instruction, but would find very few readers. There cannot be the least doubt that the first object which strikes an epic poet, which fires his genius, and gives him any idea of his work, is the action or subject he is to celebrate. Hardly is there any tale, any sub. jcct, a poet can choose for such a work, but will afford some general moral instruction. An epic poem is, by its nature, one of the most moral of all poetical compo sitions : its moral tendency is by no means to be limited t0 some commonplace maxim, which may be gatherPd from the story. It arises from the admiration of bP.roic actions which such a composition is peculiarly cotlculatcd to produce ; from the virtuous emotions which the chmacters and incidents raise, whilst we r ead it ; from the happy impressions which all the parts separately, as well as the w'wle together, leave upon

PAGE 114

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 113 the mind. However, if a general moral be still insist ed on, Fingal obviously furnishes one, not inferior to that of any other poet, viz: that wisdom and bravery always triumph over brutal force: or another, nobler still : that the most complete victory over an enemy is obtained by that moderation and generosity which con. vert him into a friend. The unity of the epic action, which of all Aristotle's rules, is the chief and most material, is so strictly pre served in Fingal, that it must be p e rceived by every reader. It is a more complete unity than what arises from relating the actions of one man, which the Greek critic justly censures as imperfect: it is the unity of one enterprise-the deliverance of Ireland from the invasion of Swaran; an enterprise which has surely the full heroic dignity. All the incidents recorded bear a constant r e ference to on e e nd ; no double plot is car ried on; but th e parts unite into a regular whole; and as the action is one and great, so it is an entire or complete action. For we find, as the critic farther requires, a beginning, a middle, and an end; a nodus, or intrigu e, in the poem ; difficulties occurring through Cuthullin's rashness and bad success; those difficulti es gradually surmounted; and at last, the work conduct ed to that happy conclusion which is held e ssential to e pic poe try. Unity is, ind eed, observed with greater exac tn ess in Fingal, than in almost any other epic composition. For not only is unity of subject main tained, but that of time and place also. The autumn is clearly pointed out as the season of the action ; and from beginning to end the scene is never shifted from the heath of Lena, along the seashore. The duration of the action in Fingal, is much shorter than in the Iliad or .iEneid; but sure there may be shorter as well longer h e roic poems ; and if the authority of Aristotle be also requir e d for this, he says that the 10*

PAGE 115

111 CRITICAL DISSERTATIC\N epic composition is indefinite as to the time of its dura. tion. Accordingly, the action of the I l iad lasts only forty-seven days, whilst that of the JEneid is continued for more than a year. Throughout the whole of Fingal, there reigns that of sentiment, style, and imagery, which ought ever to distinguish this high species of poetry. The story is conducted with no small art. The poe t goes not back to a tedious recital of the beginning of the war with Swaran ; but hastening to the main action, he falls in exactly, by a most happy coincidence of thought, with the rule of Horace : Semper ad eventum festinat, et in medias res, Non secus ac notas, auditorem rapit-Nec gernino bellum Trojanum orditur ab ovo. De Arte Poet. He invokes no muse, for he ackno _ wledged none ; but his occasional addresses to Malvina have a finer effect than the invocation of any muse. He sets out with no formal proposition of his subject; but the sub. ject naturally and easily unfolds itself; the po e m open. ing in an animated manner, with the situation of Cu thullin, and the arrival of a scout, who informs him of Swaran's landing. Mention is presently made of Fin gal, and of the expected assistance from th e ships of the lone ly is le, in ord e r to give farth e r light to th e s ub j ect . For the poe t often shows his address in gradually preparing us for the events he is to introduc e ; and, in particular, th e pre p a ration for the appearance of Fin gal, the previous expectations that are raised, and the extr e me magnificence, fully answering these expecta tions, with which the h e ro is at l e ngth present e d to us, are all work e d up with such skilful conduct as would do h o n o r to any poe t of the most r e fined tim es . Homer's nrt in magnifying the chara ct e r of Achilles, has been ;nive:sally adrn ired. Ossian certainly shows no less

PAGE 116

l t --' ! r-.. ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. ll{J ttrt in aggrandizing Fingal. Nothing could be more happily im a gined for this purpose than the whole man agement of the last battle, wherein Gaul, the son of 1\Iorni, had b e sought Fingal to retire, and to leave him and his other chiefs the honor of the day. The g e ne rosity of the king in agreeing to this proposal ; the majesty with which he retreats to the hill, from whence he was to b e hold the engagement, attended by his bards, and waving the lightning of his sword ; his per ceiving the chi efs overpowered by numbers, but, from unwillingn e ss to deprive them of the glory of victory by coming in person to their assistanc e , first sending U I lin, the bard, to animate their courage ; and at last, wh e n the danger becomes more pre ssing, his rising in his might, and interposir:g, like a divinity, to decide the doubtful fate of the day; are all circumstances contJive d with so much art, as plainly discover the Celtic bards to have b een not unpractised in h e roic po etry. The story which is the foundation of the Iliad, is in itself as simpl e as that of Fingal. A quarrel arises betw een Achilles and Agam e mnon concerning a female slave ; on which Achilles, apprehending himself to be injured, withdraws his assistance from the rest of the Gree ks. The Greeks fall into great distress, and be s ee ch him to b e r e concil e d to th e m. He r e fus e s to fight for th e m in p e r s on, but s ends his fri e nd Patroclus ; and upon his b e ing slain, go e s forth to revenge his death , and kills Hector. The subject of Fingal is this: Swaran comes to invade Ireland; Cuthullin, the guar dian of the young king, had applied for his assistarce to Fingal, who r e igned in the opposite coast of Scotkwd. But b e for e Fingal's arrival, he is hurried by rash coun. sel to e ncount e r Swaran. He is defe at e d ; he retreats. and d es ponds. Fingal arrives ill this conjuncture. The battle is for some time dubious ; but in the end he con quers Swaran ; and the remembrance of Swaran'a

PAGE 117

116 CRITICAL DISSERTATION being the brother of Agandecca, who had once saved his life, makes him dismiss him honorably. Homer, it is true, has filled up his story with a much greater variety of particulars than Ossian ; and in this hab shown a compass of invention superior to that of the other poet. But it must not be forgotten that though Homer.be more circumstantial, his incidents, however, are l ess diversified in kind than those of Ossian. War and bloodshed reign throughout the Iliad ; and, not withstanding all the fertility of Homer's invention, there is so much uniformity in his subjects, that there are few readers, who, before the close, are not tired with perpetual fighting. Whereas in Ossian, the mind is relieved by a more agreeable diversity. There is a finer mixture of war and heroism, with love and friendship--of martial, with tender scenes, than is to be met with, perhaps, in any other poet. The episodes, too, have great propriety-as natural, and proper to that age and country : consisting of the songs of bards, which are known to have been the great entertainment of the C e ltic h e ro es in war, as well as in peace_ These songs are not introduced at random ; if you except the episode of Duchommar and Morna, in the first book, which, though beautiful, is more unartful than any of the rest, they have always some particular relation to th e actor who is interested, or to the events which are going on ; and, whilst th e y vary the scene, they pre s e rve a sufficient connection with the main subject by the fitness and propriety of their introduction. As Fingal's love to Agandecca influences some cir tumstanc es of th e poem, particularly the honorable dismis s ion of Swaran at the end; it was necessary that we should b e l e t into this part of the hero's story. But as it lay without the compass of the pres,nt action, it cou ld b e r eg ularly introduced nowhere except in an episode. Accordingly, the po0t, with as much pro. I ,.

PAGE 118

i)_ __ ON THE POE111S OF OSSIAN, 117 priety as it Aristotle himself had directed the plan, has contrived an episode for this purpose in the song of Cnnil, at the beginning of the third book. The conclusion of the poem is strictly .according to rule, and is every way noble and pleasing. The re conciliation of the contending heroes, the consolation of Cuthullin, and the general felicity that crowns the action, soothe the mind in a very agreeable manner, and form that passage from agitation and tro\_\ble, to perfect quiet and repose, which critics require as the proper termination of the epic work. " Thus they passed the night in song, and brought back the morn ing with joy. Fingal arose on the heath; and shook his glittering spear in his hand. He moved first to. wards the plains of Lena ; and we followed like a ridge of fire. Spread the sail, said the king of Morven, and catch the winds that pour from Lena. \V e rose on the waves with songs; and rushed with joy through the foam of the ocean." So much for the unity and general conduct of the epic action in Fingal. With regard to that property of the subject which Aristotle requires, that it should be feigned, not histor. ical, he must not be understood so strictly as if he meant to exclude all subjects which have ar! founda. tion in truth. For such exclusion would both be un. reasonable in itself, and what is more, would be con. trary to the practice of Homer, who is known to have founded his Iliad on historical facts concerning the war of Troy, which was famous throughout all Gree---e. Aristotle means no more than that it is the business or a poet not to be a mere annalist of facts, but to em. hellish truth with beautiful, probable, and useful fic tions ; to copy nature as he himself explains it, like painters, who preserve a likeness, but exhibit their ohjpcts more grand and beautiful than they in reality. That Os<>ian has followed this course, and

PAGE 119

118 CRl'!lCAL DISSERTATION building upon true history, has sufficiently adorne.:l tt with poetical fiction for aggrandizing his characters and facts, will not, I believe, be questioned by most readers. At the same time, the foundation which tho s o facts and characters had in truth, and the share which the poet had himself in the transactions which he re cords, must be considered as no small advantage to his work. For truth makes an impression on the mind far b eyond. any fiction ; and no man, let his imagination be ever so strong, relates any events so feelingly as those in which he has b ee n interested ; paints any sc e ne so naturally as one which he has seen; or draws any characters in such strong colors as those which he has personally known. It is considered as an advan tage of the epic subject to be taken from a period so distant, as, by b e ing involved in the darkness of tradi tion, may give license to fable. Though Ossian's suh ject may at first view appear unfavorable in this res p ect, as b e ing taken from his own times, yet, when we r eflect that h e liv e d to an extreme old age; that he relat es what had b ee n transacted in another coun try, at the distance of many years, and after all that race of m e n who had b ee n the actors were gone off the stage ; we shall find the objection in a great m eas ure obviat ed. In so rude an age, when no writte n records were known, when tradition was loose, and accuracy of any kind little attended to, what was great and h e roic in one generation, easily ripened into the marv-ellous in th e n ex t. The natural . r e pres e ntation of human character in an epic poem is highly esse ntial to its merit ; and, iP. resp ect of this, there can b e no doubt of Hom er's ex celling all the heroic poets who have ever wrot e . But though Ossian be much inferior to Homer in this arti. cle, he will be found to be equal a'L least, if n, .t supe rior to Virgil ; and has, indeed, given all the -:lispla.y '================ -

PAGE 120

ON !'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 119 of human nature, which the simple occurrences of his times could be expected to furnish. No dead unif0rrn. ity of character prevails in Fingal ; but, on the con. trary, the principal characters are not only clearly dis tinguished, but sometimes artfully contrasted, so as to illustrate each other. Ossian's heroes are like Horner's, all brave ; but their bravery, like those of Homer's too, is of different kinds. For instance : the prudent, the sedate, the modest and circumspect Connal, is fine ly opposed to the presumptuous, rash, overbearing, but gallant and generous Calmar. Calmar hurries Cu. thullin into action by his temerity ; and when he sees the bad effects of his counsels, he will not survive the disgrace. Connal, like Ulysses, attends Cu. thullin to his retreat, counsels and comforts him under his misfortune. The fierce, the proud, and the high spirited Swaran, is admirably contrasted with the calm, the moderate, and generous Fingal. The character of Oscar is a favorite one throughout the whole poems. The amiable warmth of the young warrior ; his eager impetuosity in the day of action ; his passion for fame ; his submission to his father ; his tenderness for l\Ialvina; are the strokes of a masterly pencil : the strokes are few ; but it is the hand of nature, and attracts the heart. Ossian's own character, the old man, the hero, and the bard, all in one, presents to us, through the whole work, a most respectable and vener able figure, which we always contemplate with pleasure. Cuthullin is a hero of the highest class : daring, mag. nanimous, and exquisitely sensible to honor. We become attached to his interest, and are deeply tonch ed with his distress ; and after the admiration raised for him in the first part of the poem, it is a strong proof of Ossian's masterly genius, that he durst adven. ture to produce to us another hero, compared with whom, even the great Cuthullin should be only an in.

PAGE 121

CRITICAL DISSERTATION personage ; and who should rise as far above nim, as Cuthullin rises above the rest. Here, indeed, in the character and description of Fingal, Ossian triumphs almost unrivalled ; for we may boldly defy all antiquity to show us any hero equal to Fingal. Homer's Hector possesses several great and amiable qualities ; but Hector is a secondary personage in the Iliad, not the hero of the work. We see him only occasionally; we know much less of him than we do of Fingal; who, not only in this epic poem, but in Temora, and throughout the rest of Ossian's works, is presented in all that variety of lights, which give the full display of a character. And though Hector faithfully discharges his duty to his country, his friends, and his family, he is tinctured, however, with a degrE.9 of the same savage ferocity which prevails among all the Homeric heroes: for we find him insulting over the fallen Patroclus with the most cruel taunts, and telling him, when he lies in the agonies of death, that A " chilles cannot help hlm now ; and that in a short time his body, stripped naked, and deprived of funeral honors, shall be devoured by the vultures. whereas, in the character of Fingal, concur almost all the quali ties that can ennoble human nature; that can either make us admire the hero, or love the man. He is not only unconquerable in war, but he makes his people happy by his wisdom in the days of peace. He is truly the father of his people. He is known by the epithet of " Fingal of the mildest look ;" and distin guished on every occasion by humanity and generosity. He is merciful to his foes ; full of affection to his chil dren ; full of concern about his friends; and never mentions Agandecca, his first love, without the utmost He 1s the universal protector of the dis"None ever went sad from Fingal."-" 0, Oscar ! bend the strong in arms ; but spare the feeble

PAGE 122

ON THE POEMS 0F OSSIAN. 121 hand. Be thou a stream of mighty tides agamst the foes of thy people ; but lik e th e gale that moves the grass to those who ask thine aid. So Trenmor liv ed ; such Trathal was; and such has Fingal been. 1\Iy arm was the support of the injured ; the weak rest ed behind the lightning of my steel." These were the maxims of true heroism, to which he formed his grand son. His fame is represented as everywhere spread ; the greatest heroes acknowledge his superiority; his enemies tremble at his name ; and the highest enco mium that can be bestowed on one whom the poets would most exalt, is to say, that his soul was like the soul of Fingal. To do justice to the poet's merit, in supporting such a character as this, I must observe, what is not com monly attended to, that there is no part of poetical execution more difficult, than to draw a p e rfect char act e r in such a manner as to render it distinct, and affecting to the mind. Some strokes of human imper f ec tion and frailty, are what usually give us the most clear view, and the most sensible impr ess ion of a char act e r ; because they present to us a man, such as we have seen ; they recall known features of human nature. When poets attempt to go b ey ond this range, and describe a faultless hero, they for the most part set before us a sort of vague, undistinguishablc character, sucn as th e imagination cannot lay hold of, or realize to its elf as the object of affection. \Ve know how much Virgil has failed in this particular. His perfect h e ro, .lEneas, is an unanimated, insipid personage, whom we may pretend to admire, but whom no one can heartily love. But what Virgil has failed in, Ossian, to our astonishment, has successfully executed. His Fingal, though exhibited without any of the com mon human failings, is, nevertheless, a real man ; a r.haracter which touches and interests every reader. 11

PAGE 123

122 P.lTICAL DISSERTATION To this it has much contributed that the poet has rep. resented him as an old man ; and by this has gained the advantage of throwing around him a great many circumstances, pecuiiar to that age, which paint him to the fancy in a more distinct light. He is surrounded with his family; he instructs his children in the prin ciples of virtue ; he is narrative of his past exploits; he is venerable with the gray locks of age ; he is fre. quently disposed to moralize, like an old man, on hu man vanity, and the prospect of death. There is more art, at least more felicity, in this, than may at first be imagined. For youth and old age are the two states of human life, capable of being placed in the most pic turesque lights. Middle age is more general and vague; and has fewer circumstances peculiar to the idea of it. And when any object is in a situation that admits it to be rendered particular, and to be clothed with a variety of circumstances, it always stands out more clear aml full of poetical description. Besides human personages, divine or supernatural agents are often introduced into epic poetry, forming what is called the machinery of it ; which most critics hold to be an essential part. The marvellous, it must be admitted, has always a great charm for the bulk of readers. It gratifies the imagination, and affords room for striking and sublime description. No wonder, therefore, that all poets should have a strong propensity towards it. But I must observe, that nothing is more difficult than to adjust properly the marvellous with the probable. If a poet sacrifice probability, and fill his worl: with extravagant supernatural scenes, he spreads ocr it an appearance of romance and childish fiction ; he transports his readers from this world into a fantas. tic visionary region ; and loses that weight and dignity which should reign in epic poetry. No work from which probability is altogether banished, can make a

PAGE 124

ON THE OF OSSIAN, 123 lasting or deep impression. Human actions and man. ners are always the most interesting objects which caP be presented to a human mind. All machinery, there fore, is faulty, wh;_ch withdraws these too much from view, or obscures them under a cloud of incredible fic tions. Besides being temperately employed, machinery ought always to have some foundation in popular belief. A poet is by no means at liberty to invent what system of the marvellous he pleases; he must avail himself either of the religious faith, or the superstitious credu lity of the country wherein he lives; so as to give an air of probability to events which are most contrary to the common course of nature. In these respects, Ossian appears to me to have oeen remarkably happy. He has, indeed, followed the same course with Homer. Fo1 it is perfectly absurd to ima gine, as some critics have done, that Homer's mythol ogy was invented by him "in consequence of profound reflection on the benefits it would yield to poetry." Homer was no such refining genius. He found the traditionary stories, on which he built his Iliad, min gled with popular legends concerning the intervention of the gods; and he adopted these because they amused the fancy. Ossian, in like manner, found the tales of his country full of ghosts and spirits; it is likely he believed them himself; and he introduced them, be. cause they gave his poems that solemn and marvellous cast which suited his genius. This was the only machinery he could employ with propriety; because it "as the only intervention of supernatural beings '' hich agreed with the common belief of the country. It was happy ; because it did not interfere in the least with the proper display of human characters and ac. tious ; because it had less of the incredible than most other kinds of poetical machinery; and because it Sf'.rved to riiversify the scene, and to heighten the sub.

PAGE 125

124 CRITICAL DISSERTATION Ject by an awful grandeur, which is the great design of machinery. As Ossian's mythology is y to himself, and makes a considerab l e figure in his other poems, as well as in Fingal, it may be proper to make some observa tions on it, independent of its subserviency to epic com position. It turns, for the most part, on the appear ances of daparted spirits. These, consonantly to the notions of every rude age, are represented not as purely immaterial, but as thin airy forms, which can be visible or invisible at pleasure ; their voice is fee. ble, their arm is weak ; but they are endowed with knowledge more than human. In a separate state, they r eta in the same dispositions which animated them in this life. They ride on the wind; they bend their airy bows ; and pursue deer formed of clouds. The ghosts of departed bards continue to sing. The ghosts of departed heroes frequent the fields of their former fame. " They rest together in their caves, and talk of mortal men. Their songs are of other worlds. They come sometimes to the ear of rest, and raise their feeble voice." All this presents to us much the same set of ideas concerning spirits, as we find in the eleventh book of the Odyssey, where Ulysses visits the regions of the dead; and in the twenty-third book of the Iliad, the ghost of Patroclus, after appearing to Achilles, van. ishcs precisely like one of Ossian's, emitting a shrill, feeble cry, and melting away like smoke. But though Homer's and Ossian's ideas concerning ghosts were of the same nature, we cannot but observe, that Ossian's ghosts are drawn with much stronger and liv elier colors than those of Homer. Ossian describes ghosts with all the particularity of one who had seen and conversed with them, and whose imagination was full of the impression they had left upon it. He calla up those awful and tremendous ideas •vhich the

PAGE 126

r--.:....=-==-=--============:-'1 ON THE POEMS OF O:>SlA.N. 12:S -Simulacra modis pallentia miris are fitted to raise in the human mind ; and which, in Shakspeare's style, "harrow up the soul." Crugal's ghost, in particular, in the beginning of the second book of Fingal, may vie with any appearance of this , kind, described by any epic or tragic poet whatever. Most poets would have contented themselves with tell ing us, that he resembled, in every particular, the liv ing Crugal; that his form and dress were the same, only his face more pale arid sad ; and that he bore the mark of the wound by which he fell. But Ossian sets before our eyes a spirit from the invisible world, dis tinguished by all those features which a strong, aston. ished imagination would give to a ghost. " A dark red stream of fire comes down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam; he that lately fell by the hand of Swaran, striving in the battle of heroes. His face is like the beam of the setting moon. His robes are of the cloud of the hill. His eyes are like two decaying flames. Dark is the wound of his breast.-The stars dim twinkled through his form ; and his voice was like the sound of a distant stream." The circum stance of the stars being beheld " dim twinkling .hrough his form," is wonderfully picturesque, and wnveys the most lively impression of his thin and sha dowy substance. The attitude in which he is aftr: rward placed, and the speech put into his mouth, are full of tLat solemn and awful sublimity, which suits the sub ject. " Dim, and in tears he stood, and he stretched his pale hand over the hero. Faintly he raised his feeble voice, like the gale of the reedy Lego.-My ghost, 0 Connal! is on my native hills; but my corse is on the sands of Ulla. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, or find his lone steps in the heath. I am li,;ht as the blast of Cromla ; and I move like the shadow vf mist. Connal, son of Col gar! I see the dark cloud 11*

PAGE 127

I I 126 CRITICAL DISSERTATION of cieath • it hovers over the plains of Lena. The sons of green Erin shall fall. Remove from the field of ghosts.-Like the darkened moon, he retirPd in the midst of the whistling blast." Several other appearances of spirits might be point ed out, as among the most sublime passages of Ossian's . poetry. The circumstances of them are considerably diversified, and the scenery always suited to the occa sion. "Oscar slowly ascends the hill. The meteors of night set on the heath before him. A distant tor rent faintly roars. Unfrequent blasts rush through aged oaks. The half-enlightened moon sinks dim and red behind her hill. Feeble voices are heard on the heath. Oscar drew his sword-." Nothing can pre pare the fancy more happily for the awful scene that is to follow. "Trenmor eame from his hill at the voice of his mighty son. A cloud, like the steed of the stranger, supported his airy limbs. His robe is of the mi::t of Lano, that brings death to the people. His sword is a green meteor, half extinguished. His face is without form, and dark. He sighed thrice over the hero ; and thrice the winds of the night roared around. Many were his words to Oscar.-He slowly vanished, like a mist that melts on the sunny hill." Tv appearances of this kind, we can find no parallel among the Greek ot Roman poets. They bring to mind that noble description in the book of Job: "In thoughts from the vision of the night, when deep sleep talleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face : the hair of my flesh stood up , It stood still : but I could not discern the form thereof. 1\.n image was before mine eyes. T!1ere was siience; and I heard a voice-Shall mortal man be more just than God?" As Ossian's beings are described with '•

PAGE 128

l'-ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 127 a surpriswg force of imagination, so they are iutro with propriety. We have only three ghosts in Fingal: that of Crugal, which comes to warn the host of impending destruction, and to advise them to save themselves by retreat; that of Evir-allen, the spouse of Ossian, which calls on him to rise and rescue their son from danger ; and that of Agandecca, which, just lJefore the last engagement with Swaran, moves Fingal tv pity, by mourning for the approaching destruction of her kinsman and people. In the other poems, ghosts sometimes appear, when invoked, to foretell futurity; Jrequently, according to the notions of these times, they come as forerunners of misfortune or death, to those whom they visit ; sometimes they inform their hiends at a distance of their own death ; and some times they are introduced to heighten the scenery on some great and solemn occasion. '!A hundred oaks burn to the wind ; and faint light gleams over the heath. The ghosts of Ardven pass through the beam, and show their dim and distant forms. Comala is half unseen on her meteor ; and Hidallan is sullen and dim."-" The awful faces of other times looked from the clouds of Crona."-" Fercuth! I saw the ghost of night. Silent he stood on that bank ; his robe of mist 1lew on the wind. I could behold his tears. An aged man he seemed, and full of thought." The ghosts of strangers mingle not with those of the natives. "She is seen : but not like the daughters of the hill. Her robes are from the strangers' land; and she is still alone." When the ghost of one whom we had formerly known is introduced, the propriety of the living character is still preserved. This is remarkable in the appearance of Calmar's ghost, in the poem eriti tled, The death of Cuthullin. He seems to forebode Cuthullin's death, and to beckon him to his cave. Cuthullin reproaches him for that he could

PAGE 129

128 CRITICAL DISSERTATION be intimidated by such prognostics. " Why ciost thou bend thy dark eyes on me, ghost of the carborne Calmar '? W ouldst thou frighten me, 0 Matha's son ! from the battles of Cormac ? Thy hand was not feeble in war; neither was thy voice for peace. How art thou chief of Lara! if thou now dost advise to fly! Retire thou to thy cave: thou art not Calmar's ghost ; he delighted in battle ; and his arm was like th e thunder of heaven." Calmar makes no retum to this seeming reproach : but "he retired in his blast with joy; for he had heard the voice of his praise." This is precis e ly the ghost of Achill e s in Homer; who, notwithstanding all the dissatisfaction he expresses with his stat e in the region of the dead, as soon as he had h e ard his son Neoptol e mus praised for his gallant behavior, strode away with silent joy to rejoin the rest of the shad e s. It is a great advantage of Ossian's mythology, that it is not local and t e mporary, like that of most other anci e nt poe ts ; which of course is apt to seem ridicu lous, after the super s titions have passed away on which it is found e d. Ossian's mythology is, to sp eak so, the mythology of human nature ; for it is found e d on what has b ee n the popular b e lief, in all ages and countries, and und e r all forms of religion, conc e rning the appear. anc c s of d e part e d spirits. Homer ' s machinery is al ways live ly and amusing; but far from being always support e d with prop e r dignity. The indecent squabbles am o ng his gods sure ly do no honor to epic po etry. \-Vhc r e a s Ossian's machinery has dignity upon all oc ca s ions. It is inde e d a dignity of the dark and awful kind ; but this is prop er; b e cause coincident with tho strain and s pirit of th e poe try. A light and gay my thology, like Hom er's, would have been perfe ctly un. suitabl e to the subj e cts on which Ossian's genius employed. But though his machinery be always sol. , •

PAGE 130

I I ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, 129 emn, it is not, however, always dreary or dismal ; it is enlivened, as much as the subject would permit, by those pleasant and beautiful appearances, which he sometimes introduces, of the spirits of the hill. These are gentle spirits: descending on sunbeams, fair mov ing on the plain ; their forms white and bright; their voices sweet ; and their visits to men propitious. The greatest praise that can be given to the beauty of a living woman, is to say, "She is fair as the ghost of the hill, when it moves in a sunbeam at noon, over the silence of Morven." "The hunter shall hear my voice from his booth. He shall fear, but love my voice. For sweet shall my voice be for my friends ; for pleas ant were they to me." Besides ghosts, or the spirits of departed men, we find in Ossian some instances of other kinds of machin ery. Spirits of a superior nature to ghosts are some times alluded to, which have power to embroil the deep ; to call forth winds and storms, and pour them on the land of the stranger ; to overturn forests, and . to send death among the people. We have prodigies too ; a shower of blood; and when some disaster is befalling at a distance, the sound of death is heard on the strings of Ossian's harp: all perfectly consonant, not only to the peculiar ideas of northern nations, bul to the general current of a superstitious imagination in all countries. The description of Fingal's airy hall, in the poem called Errathon, and of the ascent of Mal vina into it, deserves particular notice, as remarkably noble and magnificent. But, above all, the engage ment of Fingal with the spirit of Loda, in Carric-thuru, cannot be mentioned without admiration. I f01bear transcribing the passage, as it must have drawr. the attention of every one who has read the works of Os The undaunted courage of Fingal, opposed to all the of the Scandinavian god ; the appear

PAGE 131

130 CRITlCAL DISSERTATION nnce and the speech of that awful spirit; the wound which he r eceives, and the shriek which he sends forth, "as, rolled into himself, he rose upon the wind ;" are full of the most amazing and terrible majesty. I know no passage more sublime in the writings of any .min. spired author. The fiction is calculated to aggrandize the hero ; which it does to a high degree : nor is it so unnatural or wild a fiction as might at first be thought. According to the notions of those times, supernatural beings were material, and, consequently, vulnerable. The spirit of Loda was not acknowledged as a deity by Fingal ; he did not worship at the stone of his power ; he plainly considered him as th e god of his enemies only ; as a local deity, whose dominion ex tended no farther than to the regions where he was worshipped; who had, therefore, no title to threaten him, and no claim to his submission. We know there are poe tical precedents of great authority, for fictions fully as extravagant; and if Homer be forgiven for making Diomed attack and wound in battle the gods whom that chief himself worshipped, Ossian sure ly is pardonable for making his hero superior to the god of a foreign territory. Notwithstanding the poetical advantages which I have ascribed to Ossian's machinery, I acknowledge it would have been much more beautiful and perfect had the author discovered some knowledge of a Supreme B e ing. Although his silence on this head has been accounted for by the l earned and ingenious translator in a very probable manner, y e t still it must be held a considerable disadvantage to the poetry. For the most august and lofty ideas that can embe lli sh poetry are deri vee! from the belief of a divine of the umverse; and hence the invocation of a Supreme Being, or at least of some superior powers, who are conceJv('d as presiding over human affPirs, the solem.

PAGE 132

ON THE POE:li'IS OF OSSIAN. 131 nities oi religious worship, prayers preferred, and as. sistance implored on critical occasions, appear with great dignity in the works of almost all poets, as l'hief ornaments of their compositions. The absence of all &uch religious ideas from Ossian's poetry is a sensible blank in it ; the more to be regretted, as we can easi ly imagine what an illustrious figure th'\y would have made under the management of such a genius as his; and how finely they would have been adapted to many situations which occur in his works. After so particular an examination of Fingal, it were needless to enter into as full a discussion of the conduct of Temora, the other epic poem. Many of the same observations, especially with regard to the great char. acteristics of heroic poetry, apply to both. The high merit, however, of Temora, requires that we should not pass it by without some remarks. The scene of Temora, as of Fingal, is l aid in Ire. Janel ; and the action is of a posterior date. The sub. j ect is, an expedition of the hero to dethrone and pun. ish a bloody usurper, and to restore the possession of the kingdom to the posterity of the l awfu l prince : aa •mdertaking worthy of the justice and heroism of the great Fingal. The action is one, and comp l ete. The poem opens with the descent of Fingal on the coast, and the consultation held among the chiefs of the ene. my. The murder of the young prince Cormac, which was the cause of the war, being antecedent to the ep ic action, is introduced with great propriety as an episode in the first book. In the progress of the poem, threfl baUies are described, which rise in their importanee above one another; th e success is various, and the issue for some time doubtful; till at l ast, Fingal, brought into distress, by the wound of hb great Gaul, and the death of his son FiJian, assumes tne himself; and, having slain the [rish king

PAGE 133

132 CRITICAL DISSERTATIOM in single combat, restores the rightful neir to h\s throne. Temora has perhaps less fire than the other epic poem; bt in return it has more variety, more tend e r ness, and more magnificence. The reigning idea, so often presented to us, of " Fingal, in the last of his fields," is venerable and affecting; nor could any more noble conc.lusion be thought of, than the aged he.ro, aft e r so many successful achievements, taking r is l e ave of battles, and, with all the solemnities of those times, resigning his spear to his son. The events are less crowded in Temora than in Fingal ; actions and characters are more particularly displayed : we are let into the transactions of both hosts, and informed of the adventures of the night as well as of the day. The still, pathetic, and the romantic scenery of s e veral of the night adventures, so remarkably suited to O s sian's g e nius, occasion a fine diversity in the poem ; and are happily contrasted with the military operations of the day. In most of our author's poems, the horrors of war are softe ned by intermixed sc e n e s of love and fri e ndship. In Fingal these are introduced as e pisodes: in T e mora w e have an incident of this nature wrought into th e body of the piece, in the . adventur e of C a thmor and Sulmalla. This forms one of the most con s picu o us beauti e s of that poe m. The distress of Sulm a lla, dis gui se d and unknown amongst strangers, her tend e r and anxious conc ern for the safe ty of Cathmor, h e r dream, and h e r m e lting r e membrance of the land of her fa. !h e rs ; C a thmor' s e motion when he first discoy e rs h e r, his struggl e s to conc e al and suppress his pa ss ion, l e st it should unman him in th e midst of war, though "his soul pcur e d forth in s ecre t, wh e n he b e held h e r fearful eye," and the last int e rvi e w between th em, when, over come 1Jy h e r tend e rness, he lets her know he had dis.

PAGE 134

= ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 1S3 coYered her, and confesses his passion ; are all wrought up with the most exquisite sensibility and delieacy. Besides the characters which appeared in Fingal, several new ones are here introduced ; and though, as they are all the characters of warriors, bravery is the predominant feature, they are nevertheless diversified in a sensible and striking manner. Foldath, for in stance, the general of Cathmor, exhibits the perfect picture of a savage chieftain ; bold and daring, but presumptuous, cruel, and overbearing. He is distin guished, on his first appearance, as the friend of the tyrant Cairbar, " His stride is haughty; his red eye rolls in wrath." In his person and whole deportment he is contrasted with the mild and wise Hidalla, anoth er leader of the same army, on whose humanity and gentleness he looks with great contempt. He profes sedly delights in strife and blood. He insults over the fallen. He is imperious in his counsels, and factious when they are not followed. He is unrelenting in all his schemes of revenge, even to the length of denying the funeral song to the dead ; which, from the injury thereby done to their ghosts, was in those days con sidered as the greatest barbarity. Fierce to the last, he comforts himself in his dying moments with think ing that his ghost shall often leave its blast to rejoice over the graves of those he had slain. Yet Ossian, ever prone to the pathetic, has contrived to throw into his account of the death, even of this mail, some tender circumstances, by the moving description of his daugh ter Dardulena, the last of his race. The character of Foldath tends much to exalt that of Cathmor, the chief commander, which is distin. guished by the most humane virtues. He abhors all fraud and cruelty, is famous for his hospitality to strangers ; open to every generous sentiment, and to every soft and compassionate feeling. He is so amia. 12

PAGE 135

134 CRITICAL DISSERTATION ble as to divide the reader's attachm e nt between hin; and the hero of the poem; though our author ha& art fully ma:.aged it so as to make Cathmor hims c If indi rectly acKnowledge Fingal's superiority, and to appear .somewhat apprehensive of the event, after th e death of Fillan, which he knew would call forth Fingal in all his might. It is very remarkable, that although Ossian has introduced into his poems three complete hero es, Cuthullin, Cathmor, and Fingal, he has, how ever, sensibly distinguished each of their characters ; Cuthullin is particularly honorable ; Cathmor particu larly amiable; Fingal wise and great, retaining an ascendant peculiar to himself in whatever light he is viewed. But the favorite figure in Temora, and the one most highly finished, is Fillan. His character is of that sort for which Ossian shows a particular fondn ess ; an eager, ferv e nt, young warrior, fired with all th e impa tient enthusiasm for military glory p ec uliar to that time of life. He had sketched this in the d esc ription of his own son Oscar; but as h e has e xtend ed it more fully in Fillan, and as the character is so con sonant to the epic strain, though, as far as I r e m e mb e r, not placed in such a conspicuous light by any other e pic poet, it may b e worth while to attend a little to Ossian's management of it in this instance. Fillan was the youngest of all the sons of Fingal ; young e r, it is plain, than his n e phew Oscar, by fame and great deeds in war we may naturally s uppose hi s ambition to have b ee n highly stimulated. Withal, as he is younger, h e !S d esc rib e d as more ra s h and fiery. His first appearance is soon after Oscar's death, when he wa s employed to watch the m ot ions of the foe by night. In a conversation with his brother Ossian, on that occasion, we learn that it was not long he began to lift the spear. "Few are the marks

PAGE 136

j_ _ _ ON THE POEMS OF OSSIA.N, 135 of my sword in batt!& ; but my soul is fire." He is with some difficulty restrained by Ossian from going to attack the enemy ; and complains to him, that his father had never allowed him any opportunity of sig nalizing his valor. "The king hath not remarked my sword ; I go forth with the crowd ; I return without my fame." Soon after, when Fingal, according to custom, was to appoint one of his chiefs to command the army, and each was standing forth, and putting in nis claim to this honor, Fillan is presented in the fol lowing most picturesque and natural attitude : " On his spear stood the Son of Clatho, in the wandering of his locks. Thrice he raised his eyes to Fingal ; his voice thrice failed him as he spoke. Fillan could not boast of battles; at once he strode away. Bent over a dis tant stream he stood; the tear hung in his eye. He struck, at times, the thistle's head with his inverted spear." No less natural and beautiful is the descrip tion of Fingal's paternal emotion on this occasion. "Nor is he unseen of Fingal. Sidelong he beheld his son. He beheld him with bursting joy. He hid the big tear with his locks, and turned amidst his erowded soul." The command, for that day, being given to Gaul, Fillan rushes amidst the thickest of the foe, saves Gaul's life, who is wounded by a random arrow, and distinguishes himself so in battle, that " the days of old return on Fingal's mind, as he beholds the renown of his son. As the sun rejoices from the cloud, over the tree his beams have raised, whilst it shakes its lonely head on the heath, so joyful is the king 9ver Fillan." Sedate, however, and wise, he mixes the praise which he bestows on him with some reprehension of his rash ness. "My son, I saw thy deeds, and my soul was glad. Thou art brave, son of Clatho, but headlong in the strife. So did not Fingal advance, though he never feared a foe. Let thy people be a ridge behind

PAGE 137

136 CRITICAL DISSERTATION thee; th e y are thy strength in the field. The n s halt thou b e long renowned, and behold the tombs of thy On the next day, the greatest and the last of Fillan's life, th e charge is committed to him of leading on the host to battle. Fingal's speech to his troops on this is full of noble sentiment ; and, where here commends his son to th eir care, extremely touching. "A young b e am is before you: few are his steps to war. They are few, but he is valiant; d efe nd my dark hair ed son. Bring him back with joy; hereafter he may stand alone. His form is like his fathers; his soul is a fiame of their fire." When the battl e b egins, the poet puts forth his strength to describe the exploits of the young hero; who, at last encountering and kill ing with his own hand Foldath, the opposite general, attains the pinnacle of glory. In what follows, when the fat e of FiJian is drawn near, Ossian, if anywhere, exce ls him se lf. Foldath b e ing slain, and a general rout begun, there was no r es ource l eft to the enemy but in th e great Cathmore himself, who in this ex tremity descends from the hill, where, according to th e custom of those princ es , h e surveyed the battle. Obs e rve how this critical event is wrought up by the poet. "\Vide-spre ading over echoing Lubar, the flight of Bolga is roll e d along. Fillan hung forward on their steps, and strewed the heath with dead. Fingal re joic ed over his son.-Blue-shielded Cathmor rose. Son of Alpin, bring the harp! Give FiJian's praise to the wind : rais e high his praise in my hall, while ycl he shines in war. Leave, blu e -eyed Clatho! leave thy .nil ; b e hold that early beam of thine ! The host is w1:hered in its course. No farther look-it is dark -light trembling from the harp, strike, virgins! strike the sound." The sudden interruption and suspense of the narration on Cathmor's ri1>ing from his hill, the

PAGE 138

':'HE. POEMS OF OSSIA:N', 137 11brupt bursting into the praise of Fillan, and the pas. sionate apostrophe to his mother Clatho, are admirable e fforts of poetical art, in order to interest us in FiJian's danger ; and the whole if! heightened by the immediate following simile, one of the most magnificent and sub. lime that is to be met with in any poet, and which, if it had been found in Homer, would have been the fre. quent subject of admiration to critics : " FiJian is like a spirit of heaven, that descends from the skirt of his blast. The troubled ocean feels his steps as he strid e s from wave to wave. His path kindles behind him; islands shake their heads on the heaving seas." But the poet's art is not yet exhausted. The fall of this noble young warrior, or, in Ossian's style, the extinction of this beam of heaven, could not be ren. der ed too interesting and affecting. Our attention is naturally drawn towards Fingal. He beholds from his hill the rising of Cathmor, and the danger of his son. But what shall he do ? " Shull Fingal rise to his a id, and take the sword of Luno ? What then shall become of thy fame, son of white-bosomed Clatho? Turn not thin e eyes from daughter of lnistore ! I shall not quench thy early beam. No cloud of mine shall rise, my son, upon thy soul of fire." Struggling between concern for the fam e , and fear for the safety of his son, he withdraws from the sight of the engage. ment, and despatches Ossian in haste to the field, with this affectionate and delicate injunction: "Father of Oscar!" addressing him by a title which on this 1>ccasion has the highest propriety: "Father of Oscar! lift the spear, defend the young in arms. Dutconceul thy steps fmm Fillan's eyes. H e must not know that I doubt his steel." Ossian arrived too late. But un. wiliing to describe Fillan vanquished, the poet sup. prei'ises all th e circumstances of the combat with Cath mor ; and only shows us the dying hero. We see him

PAGE 139

rr==============---::::::--=-== I II 138 CRITICAL DISSERTATION animated to the end with the same martial and ardent spirit ; breathing his last in bitter regret for being so early cut off from the field of glory. "Ossian, lay rr.e in that hollow rock. Raise no stone above me, lest one should ask about my fame. I am fall e n in the first of my fields ; fallen without renown. Let thy voice alone send joy to my flying soul. Why should the bard know where dwells the early-fallen Fillan ?" He who, after tracing the circumstances of this shall deny that our bard is possessed of high sentim ent and high art, must be strangely prejudiced indeed. Let him read the story of Pallas in Virgil, which is of a similar kind ; and after all the praise he may justly bestow on the elegant and finished description of that amiable author, let him say which of the two poets unfolds most of the human soul. I waive insisting on any more of the particulars in Temora ; as my aim is rather to lead the reader into the genius and spirit of Ossian's poetry, than to dwell on all his beauties. The judgment and art discovered in conducting works of such length as Fingal and Temora, distin guish them from the other poems in tLi.s collection. The smaller pieces, however, contain par:icular beau-ties, no less eminent. They are historkal poems, generally of the elegiac kind ; and plainly discover thems e lves to be the work of the same author. One consistent face of manners is everywhere pres, uted to us ; one spirit of poetry reigns ; the masterly h,1.nd of Ossian appears throughout ; the same rapid and anim a ted style; the same strong coloring of imagina .. tion, and the same glowing sensibility of heart. Be sides th e unity which b e longs to the compositions of one rm.n, there is moreover a certain unity of subject, which very happily connects all these poems. They form the poetical history of the age of Fingal. The !=====================---I I I

PAGE 140

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 139 same race of heroes whom we had met with in the greater poems, Cuthullin, Oscar, Connar, !ind Gaul, return again upon the stage ; Fingal himself is always the principal figure, presented on every occa sion, with equal magnificence, nay, rising upon us to the last. The circumstances of Ossian's old age and blindness, his surviving all his friends, and his relating their great exploits to Malvina, the spouse or mistress of his beloved son Oscar, furnish the finest poetical situations that fancy could devise for that tender pa thetic which reigns in Ossian's poetry. On each of these poems there might be room for separate observations, with regard to the conduct and dispositions of the incidents, as well as to the beauty of the descriptions and sentiments. Carthon is a regu lar and highly finished piece. The main story is very properly introduced by Clessamore's relation of the udventure of his youth ; and this introduction is finely neightened by Fingal's song of mourning over Moina; in which Ossian, ever fond of doing honor to his father, has contrived to distinguish him for being an eminent poet, as well as warrior. Fingal's song upon this oc casion, when " his thousand bards leaned forwards from their seats, to hear the voice of the king," is inferior to no passage in the whole book; and with great judg ment put in his mouth, as the seriousness, no less than the sub limity of the strain, is peculiarly suited to the hero's character. In Darthula are assembled almo<>t all the tender images that can touch the heart of man , friendship, love, the affections of parents, sons, and brothers, the distress of the aged, and the unavailing bravery of the young. The beautiful address to the moon, with which the poem opens, and the transitiov. from thence to the subject, most happily prepare the mind for that train of affecting events that is to follow. The story is reg:1lar, dramatic, interesting to the last.

PAGE 141

140 CRITICAL DISSERTATION He who can read it without emotion may congratulate himself, if he pleases, upon being completely armed against sympathetic. sorrow. As Fingal had no occa sion of appearing in the action of this poem, Ossian makes a very artful transition from his narration, to what was passing in the halls of Selma. The sound heard there on the strings of his harp, the concern which Fingal shows on hearing it, and the invocation of the of their fathers, to receive the heroes fall ing in a distant land, are introduced with great beauty or imagination to increase the solemnity, and to diver sify the scenery of the poem. Carric-thura is full of the most sublime dignity; and has this advantage, of being more cheerful in the sub j ect, and more happy in the catastrophe, than most of the other poems : though tempered at the same time with episodes in that strain of tender melancholy which seems to have been the great delight of Ossian and the bards of his age. Lathmon is peculiarly distinguished by high generosity of sentiment. This is carried so far, particularly in the refusal of Gaul, on one side, to take the advantage of a sleeping foe ; and of Lathmon, on the other, to overpower by numbers the two young warriors, as to recall into one's mind the manners of Ghivalry; some resemblance to which may perhaps be suggested by other incidents in this collection of poems. Chivalry, however, took rise in an age and country too remote fiom those of Ossian, to admit the suspicion that the one could have borrowed any thing from tho other. So far as chivalry had any real existence, the same military enthusiasm which gave birth to it in tl1e feudal times, might, in the days of Ossian, that is, iu the inf::mcy of a rising state, through the operation of the same cause, very naturally produce effects of the same kind on the minds and manners of men. So far ns ehivalry was an ideal system, existing on ly in ro-

PAGE 142

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 141 mance, it will not be thought surprising, when we reflect on the account , before given of the Celtic bards, that this imaginary refinement of heroic manners should be found among them, as much, at least, as among the Troubadors, or strolling Proven'
PAGE 143

142 . CRil'ICAL DISSERTATION nddres sed to her beloved Oscar, she sings her own tlcath-song. Nothing could be calculated with more art to sooth and comfort her than the story which Os sian r e lat es. ln the young and brave Fovargormo, another Oscar is introduced: his praises are sung; and the happiness is set before her of those who die in their youth "when their renown is around them; before the feeble behold them in the hall, and smile at their trembling hands." But nowhere does Ossian's genius appear to greater advantage, than in Berrathon, which is reckoned tho conclusion of his songs, ' The last sound of the voice of Cona.' Qualis olor nolo positurus littore vitam, Ingemit, et mooslls mulcens concentibus auras Prresago qureritur venientia funera cantu. The whole train of ideas is admirably suited to the subject. Every thing is full of that invisible world, into which the aged bard believ e s himself now ready to enter . The airy hall of Fingal presents itself to his view ; " he sees th e cloud that shall receive his ghost; he beholds the mist that shall form his robe when he appears on his hill;" and all the natural objects around him seem to carry the presages of d eat h. "The thistle shakes its beard to the wind. The flower hangs its J wavy head ; it seems to say, I am covered with the drops of hE:aven; the time of my departure is near, and the blast that shaiJ scatter my leaves." Malvina's d eath is hinted to him in the most delicate manner by the son of Alpin. His lamentation over h e r, her apo theosis, or ascent to the habitation of heroes, and the intr oduction to the story which fo!lows from the men tion which Ossian supposes tLe father of Malvina to mak e of him in the hali of Fingal, are all in the high e st spirit of poetry. "And dost thou remember Ossian, 0 Toscar, son of Conloch 1 The battles of our youth

PAGE 144

ON THE POE!IlS OF OSSIAN. 143 man;; our swords went together to the field." Nothing could be more proper than to end his songs with recordipg an exploit of (ather of that Malvina, of whom his heart was now so full ; and who, from first to last, had been such a favorite object throughout ali poems. The scene of most of Ossian's poems is laid in Scot land, or in the coast of Ireland, opposite to the tenito ries of Fingal. When the scene is in Ireland, we per ceive no change of manners from those of Ossian's native country. For as Ireland was undoubtedly peo pled with Celtic tribes, the language, customs, and re ligion of both nations were the same. They had been separated from one another by migration, only a few generations, as it should seem, before our poet's age ; and they still maintained a close and frequent inter course. But when the poet relates the expeditions of any of his heroes to the Scandinavian coast, or to the islands of Orkney, which were then part of the Scan dinavian territory, as he does in Carric-thura, Sul-malla of Lumon, and Cathloda, the cas e is quite altered. Those countries were inhabited by nations of the Teu tcnic descent, who, in their manners and religious rites, differed widely from the Celtre; and it is curious and remarkable, to find this difference clearly pointed out in the poems of Ossian. His descriptions bear the native marks of one who was present in the expeditions which he relates, and who describes what he had seen with his own eyes. No are we carried to Lochlin, or the }slands of InistorP-, than we perceive we are in a foreign region. New objects begin to ap. pear. We me e t everywhere with the stones and cir cles of Loda, that is, Odin, the great Scandinavian d e ity. We meet with the divinations and enchant ments for which it is well known those northern naJcns were early famous. " There. mixed with the

PAGE 145

i II 144 CRITICAL DISSERTA TIO.N l murmur of waters, rose the voice of aged men, who calltd the forms of night to aid them in their war;" whilst the Caledonian chief81 who assisted them, are described as standing at a distance, heedless of their rites. That ferocity of manners which distinguisted those nations, also becomes conspicuous. In the com bats of their chiefs there is a peculiar savagene . ss ;_ ev'm their women are bloody and fierce. The spirit. dnd the very ideas of Regner Lodbrog, that northern scal der, whom I formerly quoted, occur to us again. " The hawks," Ossian makes one of the Scandinavian chiefs say, "rush from all their winds; they are wont to trace my course. We rejoiced three days above the dead, and called the hawks of heaven. They came from all their winds, to feast on the foes of Annir." Dismissing now the separate consideration of any of our author's works, I proceed to make some obser vations on his manner of writing, under the general heads of Description, Imagery, and Sentiment. A poet of origina l genius is always distinguished by his talent for description. A second-rate writer dis cerns nothing new or peculiar in the object he means to describe. His conceptions of it are vagoe and loose; his expressions f eeble; and of course the object is pre sented to us indistinctly, and as through a cloud. But a true poet makes us imagine that we see it b e fore our eyes ; he catches the distinguishing features ; be gives it the colors of life and reality; he places it in such a light that a painter could copy after him. This happy talent is chiefly owing to a lively imagination, which first receives a strong impr e ssion of the object ; and then, by a prop er selection of capital picturesque cir cumstances employed in describing it, transmit s that impression in its full force to the imaginations of othe rs. That Ossian possesses this descriptive power in a high degree, we have a clear proof, from the effect ,v!Jich

PAGE 146

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 145 his dcscrionons produce upon the imaginations of those who read nirn with any degree of attention, or Few poets are more interesting. We contract an inti. mate acquaintance with his principal heroes. The ch:uacters, the manners, the face of the country, be. come familiar; we even think we could draw the figure of his ghost. In a word, whilst reading him we are transported as into a new region, and dwell among his objects as if they were all real. It were easy to point out several instances of ex. quisite painting in the works of our author. Such, for instance, is the scenery with which Temora opens, and the attitude in which Cairbar is there presented to us; the description of the young prince Cormac, in the same book; and the ruins of Balclutha, in Cartho. "I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were desolate. The fire had resounded in the halls: and the voice of the people is heard no more. The stream of Clutha was removed from its place by the fall of the walls. The thistle shook there its lonely head ; the moss whistled to the wind. The fox looked out from the windows; the rank grass of the wall waved round his head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina ; silence is in the house of her fathers." Nothing also can be more natural and lively than the manner in which Carthon afterward describes how the conflagration of his city affected him when a child : " Have I not seen the fallen Balclutha? And shall I feast with Comhal's son ? Comhal ! who threw his fire in the midst of my father's hall ! I was young, and knew not the cause why the virgins wept. The columns of smoke pleased mine eye, when they arose above my walls: I often looked back with gladness, when my friends fled above the hill. But when the years of my youth came on, I beheld the moss of my fallen walls. My sigh arose with the moining; and my tears descended with night. 13

PAGE 147

----.....,. 146 CRITICAL DISSERTATION Shall I not fight, I s a id to my soul, again s t the children of my foes 1 And I will fight, 0 bard ! I feel the strength of my soul." In the sam e poem, the a s s e m. bling of the chi efs round Fingal, who had b ee n w a rn e a of some imp e nding dang e r by the appearance of a prodigy, is d e scrib e d with so many pictur e sque circum. stances, that one imagines hims elf pres e nt in the as. sembly. " The king alon e beheld the terrible sight, and h e for e saw th e d e ath of his p eople . He cam e in silence to his hall, and took his father's s p ear : the mail rattl e d on his br e ast. The h eroes ros e around. They looked in s il e nc e on each oth e r, marking the eyes of Fingal. They saw the battl e in his fac e . A thousand shi e lds are plac e d at once on their arms ; and they dr e w a thou s and swords. The hall of S e lma bright e ned around. The clang of arms asc e nd s . The gray dogs howl in their place. No word is among th e mighty chi efs. Eac h marke d th e eye s of th e king; and half as sume d his s p ear." It has b ee n objecte d to O ss ian , that his d esc riptions of military action s are imp erfe ct, and much l ess div er. sified by th e cir c umst a nc e s than tho se of Hom e r. This is in som e me asure true. The a m a zing f e rt i lity of Hom er's inv e ntion, is nowh e re so mu c h di spla y e d as in th e incid e nts of his b a ttl es , and in th e litt l e his t ory h e g i v es of th e p e r s ons slain. Nor, in dee d , with r egard to the t a l e nt of d e scription, c an too m uc h be said in prais e of Hom e r. Eve ry thing is aliv e in his writing s . The colors with which he paints are those of natur e . But O ss i a n' s g e nius w as of a diff er e nt kind from H o m e r 's . It l e d him to hurry toward s grand obj e cts, rath e r th a n to amuse him self with parti cula rs of l e s s import a n ce . H e co uld dwe ll on th e death of a favorit e h ero; but th a t of a priv a t e man s eldo'l1 s t oppe d ( nis rapid cours e . Hom er's g e niu s was more c ompre. I I ""''"" than o,ian'• It included • widcc cirele ol I _ _:_-:::-;:_ _ d

PAGE 148

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 147 oojects; and could work up any incident into descrip tion. Ossian's was more limited ; but the region within which it chiefly exerted itself was the highest of all, the region of the pathetic and the sublime. vVe must not imagine, however, that Ossian's battles consist only of general indistinct description. Such beautiful incid e nts are sometimes introduced, and the circumstances of the persons slain so much diversified, as show . that he could have embellished his military sce n e s with an abundant variety of particulars, if his g e nius had led him to dwell upon them. "One man is stre tch e d in the dust of his native land; he fell, where oft e n he had spread the feast, and often raised the voice of the harp." The maid of lnistore is intro. duced in a moving apostrophe, as weeping for another; and a third, "as rolled in the dust he lifted his faint ey e s to the king," is remembered and mourned by Finga l as the friend of Agandecca. The blood pour ing from the wound of one who was slain by night, is h eard "hissing on the half-extinguished oak," which had been kindled for giving light. Another climbling up a tree to escape from his foe, is pierced by his spear from behind : shrieking, panting he f ell; whilst moss and withered branches pursue his fall, and strew the blue arms of Gaul. Never was a finer picture drawn of the ardor of two youthful warriors than the follow ing: "I saw Gaul in his armor, and my soul was mix e d with his ; for the fire of the battle was in his eyes ; he looked to the foe with joy. We spoke the words of friendship in secret ; and (le lightning of our swords poured together. We drew tnem behind the wood, and tried the strength of our arms on the empty uir." Ossian is always concise in his descriptions, whicn adds mJch to their beauty and force. For it is a greal mistake to imagine, that a crowd of particulars, or a

PAGE 149

148 CRITICAL DISSERTATION very full and extended style, is of advantage to tion. On the contrary, such a diffuse manner for most part weakens it. Any one redundant circumstance is a nuisance. It encumbers and loods the fancy, and r ende rs the main image indistinct. " Obstat," as Quintilian says with regard to style, "quicquid non adjuvat." To be concise in d esc ription, is one thing: and to be general, is another. No description that rests in generals can possibly be good ; it can convey no lively idea; for it is of particulars only that we have a distinct conception. But, at the same time, no strong imagination dwells long upon any one particular; or heaps together a mass of trivial ones. By the happy choice of some one, or of a few that are the most striking, it presents the image mor e complete, shows us more at one glance than a feeble imagination is able to do, by turning its object round and round into a vari ety of lights. Tacitus is of all prose writers the most concise. He has eve n a degree of abruptness resembling our author: yet no writer is more eminent for liv e ly description. When Fingal, after having conquered the haughty Swaran, proposes to dismiss him with honor: "Raise to-morrow thy white sails to the wind, thou broth e r of Agandecca!" he conveys, by thus addressing his enemy, a stronger impression of the emotions then passing within his mind, than if whol e paragraphs had b ee n spent in d esc ribing the conflict between r ese ntm e nt against Swaran and thf' tender r emem brance of his ancient love. No amplifi cation is n ee ded to give us the most full idea of a hardy vet e ran, after the few following words: " His t hie ] d is marked with the stJ"Okes of battle ; his r e d eye de "oises danger." When Oscar, l eft alone, was sur rounded by foes, " he stood," it is said, "growing in ni::; plac e , like the flood of the narrow vale;" a h a ppy representation of one, who, Ly daring intre pidity in

PAGE 150

ON THE PO.t:MS OF OSSIAri. 149 tho midst of danger, seems to increase in his appear. ance, and becomes more formidable every moment, like the sudden rising of the torrent hemmed in by the valley. And a whole crowd of ideas, concerning the circuJT . stanc e s of dom e stic sorrow, occasioned by a young warrior's first going forth to battle, is poured upon the mind by these words: "Calmar l e aned on his fath er's sp ear ; that spear which he brought from Lara's hall, wh e n the soul of his mother was sad." The conciseness of Ossian's descriptions is the more proper, on account of his subjects. Descriptions of gay and smiling scenes may, without any disadvantage, be amplified and prolonged. Force is not the predomi. nant quality expected in these. The description may b e weaken e d by being diffuse, yet, notwithstanding, may be b e autiful still; whereas, with respect to grand, solemn, and pathetic subjects, which are Ossian's chief field, the case is very diff e rent. In these, energy is abov e all things required. The imagination must be. s e iz e d at once, or not at all; and is far more deeply impr e ss e d by one strong and ard e nt image, than by the anxious minuteness of labored illustration. But Ossian's genius, though chiefly turned towards th e sublime and pathetic, was not confined to it. In subj e cts also of grace and delicacy, he discovers the h a nd of a master. Take for an example the following el egant description of Agandecca, wherein the tender. n e ss of Tibullus seems united with the majesty of Virgil. "The daughter of the snow overheard, ann left the hall of her secret sigh. She came in all her beauty ; like the moon from the cloud of the east. Love lin e s s was around her as . light. Her steps wcrB lik e the music of songs. She saw the youth and loved him. He was the stolen sigh of her soul. Her blue eye s roll e d on him in s ecret; and she blest the chief of Morv en." S e v e ral oth e r instances might be pro. 13*

PAGE 151

150 CRITICAL DISSERTATION duced of the feelings of love and friendship, painted by our author with a most natural and happy deli cacy. The simplicity of Ossian's manner adds great beauty to hi!:! descriptions, and indeed to his whole poetry. We meet with no affected omaments; no forced re finement ; no marks either in style or thought of a studied endeavor to shine or sparkle. Ossian appears everywhere to be prompted by his feelings ; and to speak from the abundance of his heart. I remember . no more than one instance of what may be called a quaint thought in this whole collection of his works. lt is in the fitst book of Fingal, where, from the tombs of two lovers, two lonely yews are mentioned to have sprung, "whose branches wished to meet on high." This sympathy of the trees with the lovers, may be teckoned to border on an Italian conceit; and it is somewhat curious to find this single instance of that sort of wit in our Celtic poetry. "The joy of grief" is one of Ossian's remarkable expressions, several times repeated. If any one shall think that it needs to be justified by a precedent, he may find it twice used by Homer: in the Iliad, when Achilles is visited by the ghost of Patroelus; and in the Odyssey, when Ulysses meets his mother in the shades. On both these occasions, the heroes, melted with tendemess, lament their not having it in their power to throw their arms round the ghost, "that we might," say they, "in mutal embrace, enjoy the delight of grief." KpvtpoTo rorap1rWJ
PAGE 152

OJ" THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 151 a tender melanc,holy. Ossian makes a very proper distinction en this gratification and the destruetive <.!!feet of overpowering grief. " There is a joy in grief when peace dwells in the breasts of the sad. But sor row wastes the mournful, 0 daughter of Toscar, and their days are few." To "give the joy of grief," gen. erally signifies, to raise the strain of soft and grave music ; and finely characterizes the taste of Ossian's age and country. In those days, when the songs of bards were the great delight of heroes, the tragic muse was held in chief honor : gallant actions and vi:tuoug sufferings, were the chosen theme; preferably to that light and trifling strain of poetry and music, which promotes light and trifling manners, and serves to emasculate the mind. "Strike the harp in my hall," said the great Fingal, in the midst of youth and victo ry ; " strike the harp in my hall, and let Fingal hear the song. Pleasant is the joy of grief! It is like the shower of spring, when it softens the branch of the oak ; and the young leaf lifts its green head. Sing on, 0 bards ! To-morrow we lift the sail." Personal Epithets have been much used by all the poets of the most ancient ages ; and when well chosen, not general and unmeaning, they contribute not a little to render the style descriptive and animated. Besides epithets founded on bodily distinctions, akin to many of Homer's, we find in Ossian several which are re. mukably beautiful and poetical. Such as Oscar of the future fights, Fingal of the mildest look, Carril of other times, the mildly blushing Evir-allin: Bragela, the lonely sun-beam of Dunscaich ; a Culdee, the son of the secret cell. But of all the orHaments employed in descriptive poetry, comparisons or similes are the most splendid. 'l11ese chiefly form what is called the imagery of a poem ; and as they abound so much in the works of

PAGE 153

c.=== ==== =========----CR."acco of the one, when recalled, serv e s to quicken and heigh\en the im. pression mad e by the other. Thus, to grve instanct: from our poet, the pleasure with which :1n ()d man looks back on the exploits of his youth, has no direct resemblance to the beauty of a fine evcni:1g ; farther than that both agree in producing a ce:-tain calm, placid joy. Yet Ossian h a s found e d upon this, on e of the most beautiful comparisons that is to be met with in any poe t. " Wilt thou not listen, son of the rock, to th e song of Ossian? My soul is full of othei times ; the joy of my youth returns . Thus the sur. app e ars in th e west, after the st e ps of his h ave mov e d b e hind a storm. The green hills lift their d e wy heads. The blue streams rejoice in the vale. The aged b e rn comes forth on his staff; and his gray hair glitt e rs in the beam." Never was there a finer group of objects. It raises a strong conception of th., I I /I I

PAGE 154

ON THE OF OSSIAN. 153 old man's JOY and e:ation of heart, by displaying a. scene which produces in every spectator a correspond. ing train of pleasing emotions; the dec l ining sun look ing forth in his brightness after a storm ; the cheerful face of all nature ; and the still life finely animated uy the circumstance of the aged hero, with his staff and his gray locks: a circumstance both extremely pic turesque in itself, and peculiarly suited to the main object of the comparison. Such analogies and associ ations of ideas as these, are highly pleasing to the fan. cy. They give opportunity for introducing many a fine poetical picture. They diversify the scene; they aggrandize the subject; they keep the imagination awake and sprightly. For as the judgment is princi . pally exercised in distinguishing objects, and remarking the differences among those which seem a l ike, so the highest amusement of the imagination is to trace likenes.>es and agreements among those which seem differ ent. The principal rules which respect poetical compari sons are, that they be introduced on proper occasions, when the mind is disposed to relish them ; and not in the midst of some severe and agitating passion, which cannot admit this play of fancy ; that th e y be founded on a resemblance neither too near and obvious, so as to give little amusement to the imagination in tracing it, nor too faint and remote, so as to be appre h ended with difficulty; that they serve either to illustrate the prineipal object, and to render the conception of it more clear and distinct ; or, at least, to heighten and embellish it, by a suitable association of images. Every country has a scenery peculiar to itself; and the imagery of a good poet will exhibit it. For as he copies after his allusions will of course be taken from those objects which he sees around him, and which have often struck his fancy. For this reason,

PAGE 155

154 CRITICAL DISSERTATIO?I in order . o judge of the propriety of po e tical imag e ry, we ought to be in some measure acquaint e d with the natural history of the country where the sc e ne of the poem is l aid. The introduction of foreign images bP. trays a poet, copying not from nature, but from other ''Titers. Hence so many lions, and tigers, and eagl e s, and s e rpents, which we meet with in the similes of mod e rn poe ts ; as if these animals had acquir e d some right to a place in poetical comparisons for ever, be cau s e employed by anci e nt authors. They employ e d th e m with propri e ty, as objects generally known in th eir country, but th e y are absurdly used for illustra tion by us, who know them only at second hand, or by d e scription. To most readers of modern poetry, it w e r e more to the purpose to describe lions or tigers by simil e s taken from men, than to compare men tG lions. Ossian is very corr e ct in this particular. His im a g ery is, without e xc e ption, copied from that face of nature whic h h e saw b e fore his eyes ; and by con s e quenc e may b e expe ct e d to be lively. We m ee t with no Gre ci a n or Italian sc enery; but with the mi s ts and clouds, and storms, of a northern mountain ous r e gion. No poe t abounds more in similes than Ossian. There are in this coll e ction as many, at l e ast, as 'in th e whole Iliad and Odyssey of Homer. I am ind e ed inclin e d to think, th a t the works of both poets are too mu c h crowd e d with th e m. Simil e s are sparkling or nam ents; and, like all things that sparkle, are apt to dazzl e and tir e us by th e ir lustre. But if O s sian's simil e s b e too frequ e nt, they have this advantage, ot b e ing commonly short e r th a n Homer's; they int e rrup his narration l e ss ; he just glances aside to some re sembling object, and instantly returns to his forme: track. Homer's simil e s include a wider range of objects; but, in return, Ossian's are, without exception,

PAGE 156

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, 155 taken from objects of dignity, which cannot be said for all those which Homer employs. The sun, the moon, and the stars, clouds and meteors, lightning and thun. der, seas and whales, rivers, torrents, winds, ice, rain, snow, dews, mist, fire and smoke, trees and forests, hea.n and grass and flowers, rocks and mountains, music and songs, light and darkness, spirits and ghosts ; thP-f'e form the circle within which Ossian's compari sons generally run. Some, not ' many, are taken from birds and beasts : as eagles, sea-fowl, the horse, the deer, and the mountain bee ; and a very few from such operations of art as were then known. Homer has div e rsified his imagery, by many more allusions to the animal world ; to lions, bulls, goats, herds of cattle, serpents, insects ; and to various occupations of rural and pastoral life. Ossian's defect in this article, is plainly owing to the desert, uncultivated state of his country, which suggested to him few images beyond natural inanimate objects, in their rudest form. The birds and animals of the country were probably not aumerous ; and his acquaintance with them was slen der, as they w e re little subjected to the uses of man. The great objection made to Ossian's imagery, is its uniformity, and the too frequent repetition of the same comparison. In a work so thick-sown with simil e s one could not but expect to find images of th e same kind sometimes suggested to the po e t by res e m. bling objects ; especially to a poet like Os s ian, who wrot e from the immediate impulse of poetical enthusi asm, and without much preparation of study or labor. Fertile as Homer's imagination is acknowledged to be, who does not know how often his lions, and bulls, and flocks of sh e ep , recur with little or no variation ; nay, sometimes, in the very same words? The objection made to Ossian is, however, founded, in a great measUl'e, upon a mistake. It has b e en supposed hy inat.

PAGE 157

156 CRITICAL DISSERTATION tentivc readers, that wherever the moon, the cloud, or the thunder, r e turns in a simile, it is the same s imile , and the same moon, or cloud, or thund e r, which th e y had met with a few pages before. Where as very often the similes are widely different. The ob _ i e ct, from whenc e they are taken, is indeed in substance the same ; but the image is new ; for the appearance of the object is changed; it is presented to th e fancy in another attitude ; and clothed with new circumstan c e s, to make it suit the different illustration for which it is employed. In this lies Ossian's gteat art; in so happily varying the form of the few natural appear ances with which he was acquainted, as to make them correspond to a great many different objects. Let us take fo1 one instance the moon, which is very frequently introduced in his comparisons ; as in north ern climates, where the nights are long, th e moon is a greater object of attention than in the climat e of Ho mer; and l e t us vie w how much our poet h a s diversi fied its appearanc e . The shield of a warrior is like "the darkened moon when it moves a dun circle through the h eavens." The face of a ghost, wan and pal e , is like "the b e am of th e setting moon." And a different appearance of a ghost, thin and indi s tinct, is like " the new moon seen through tbe gather e d mist, when the sky pours down its flaky snow, and the world is sil e nt and dark;" or, in a different form still, is like " the wat e ry b e am of th e moon, when it rushes from b e tween two clouds, and the midnight shower is on the field." A very opposite us e is made of the moon iL'. the d e scription of Agandecca: "She came in all h e r b e auty, like the moon from the cloud of the east." Hop e succ e ed e d by disappointment, is "joy rising on her face and sorrow returning again, like a thin cloud on the moon." But when Swaran, after his defeat, is cheered by Fingal's generosity, "his face brightened

PAGE 158

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 151 ttke the full moon of heaven, when the ckuds vanish away, and leave her calm and broad in the midst of the sky." Venvela is "bright as the moon when it trem bles o'er the western wave;" but the soul of the guilty Uthal is "dark as the troubled face of the moon, when it foretells the storm." And by a very fanciful and uncommon allusion, it is said of Cormac, who was to die in his early years, "Nor long shalt thou lift the spear, mildly-shining beam of youth ! D e ath stands dim behind thee, like the darkened half of the moon behind its growing light." Another instance of the same nature may be take.n from mist, which, as being a very familiar appearance in the country of Os sia n, he applies to a variety of pur poses, and pursues through a great many forms. Some tim e s, which one would hardly expect, he employs it to h e ighten the appearance of a beautiful object. The hair of Morna is "like th e mist of Cromla, when it curls on the rock, and shines to the beam of the west." " The song comes with its music to m e lt and please the ear. It is like soft mist, that rising from the lake pours on the silent vale. The green flowe rs are filled with dew. The sun returns in its strength, and the mi s t is gone." But, for the most part, mist is employ ed as a similitude of some disagr eea ble or t e rrible ob ject. "The soul of Nathos was sad, lik e the sun in the day of mist, when his face is wat ery and dim."" The darkness of old age comes like the mist of the desert." The face of a ghost is "pale as the mist of Cromla."-" The gloom of battle is roll e d along as mist that is poured on the valley, when storms invade the sil e nt sunshine of heaven." Fame, su ddenly de parting; is liken e d to "mist that flies away b e for e the rustling wind of th e vale." A ghost, slowly vanish i n g, to "mist that melts by degrees on the sunny hill." CaiJbar, after his treacherous assa ss ination of Oscar, is l4

PAGE 159

158 CRITICAL DISSERTATION compared to a pestilential fog. "I love a foe like Cathmor," says Fingai, "his soul is great; his arm is strong ; his battles are full of fame. But the little soul is like a vapor that hovers round the marshy lake. It never rises on the green hill, lest the winds meet it there. Its dwelling is in the cave; and it sends forth the dart of death." This is a simile highly finished. But there is another which is still more striking, found ed also on mist, in the fourth book of Temora. factious chiefs are contending : Cathmor, the king, in. tmposes, rebukes, and silences them. The poet in. tends to give us the highest idea of Cathmor's supe riority; and most effectually accomplishes his intention by the following happy image. " They sunk from the king on either side, like two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises between them on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on either side ; each to wards its reedy pool." These instances may suffi. ciently show with what richness of imagination Ossian's comparisons abound, and, at the same time, with what propriety of judgment they are employed. If his field was narrow, it must be admitted to have been as well cultivated as its extent would allow. As it is usual to judge of poets from a comparison of their similes more than of other passages, it will, perhaps, be to the reader, to see how Homer and Ossian have conducted some images of the kind. This might be shown in many instances. For as the great objects of nature are common to the poets of all nations, and make the general storehouse of all ima5ery, the groundwork of their comparisons must, of course, be frequently the same. I shall select only a few of the most co.nsiderable from both poets. 1\[r. Pope's translation of Homer can be of no use to us here. The parallel is altogether unfeir between prose and the imposing harmony of flowing numbers. It is

PAGE 160

I ( / . I ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 15r only by viewing Homer in the simplicity of a prose translation, that we can form any comparison between the two bards. The shock of two encountering armies, the noise and the tumult of battle, afford one of the most grand dnd awful subjects of description; on which all epic poets have exerted their strength. Let us first h ear Homer. The following description is a favorite one, for we find it twice repeated in the same words.* " When now the conflicting hosts joined in the field of battle, then were mutually opposed shields, and swords, and the strength of armed men. The bossy bucklers were dashed against each other. The uni versal tumult rose. There were mingled the triumphant shouts and the dying groans of the victors and the vanquished. The earth streamed with blood. As whe n winter torrents, rushing from the mountains, pour into a narrow valley their violent waters. They issue from a thousand springs, and mix in the hollowed channel. The distant sh e pherd hears on the mountain their roar from afar. Such was the terror and the shout of the e ngaging armies." In another passage, the poet, much in the manner of Ossian, heaps simile on simile, to express the vastness of the idea with which his ima gination seems to labor. " With a mighty shout the hosts engage. Not so loud roars the wave of ocean, when driven against the shore by the whole force of the boisterous north ; not so loud in the woods of the mountain, the noise of the flame, when rising m its fury to consume the forest; not so loud the wind among the lofty oaks, when the wrath of the s•orm rages ; as was the clamor of the Greeks and Trojans, when, roaring terrible, they rushed against each other." t • Diad, iv. 46; and Diad, viii. 60 t Diad, 393. i

PAGE 161

L 160 CRITICAL DISSERTATION 'fo these descriptions and similes, we mjly the fullowing from Ossian, and leave the reader to judge between them. He will find images of the same kind employed ; commonly J ess extended; but thrown forth with a glowing rapidity which characterizes our poet. " As autumn's dark storms pour from two echo ing hills, towards each other approached the heroes. Af'. two dark streams from high rocks meet and mix, and roar on the plains ; loud, rough, and dark in bat tle, meet Loch lin and Inisfail. Chief mixed his strokes with chief, and man with man. Steel clanging, sound ed on steel. Helmets are cleft on high ; blood bursts and smokes around.-As the troubled noise of the ocean, when roll the waves on high ; as the last peal of the thunder of heaven; such is the noise of battle." " As roll a thousand waves to the rock, so Swaran's host came on ; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so lnisfail met Swaran. Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sound of shields.-The field echoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers that rise by turns on the red son of the furnace."" As a hundred winds on Morven ; as the streams of a hundred hills ; as clouds fly successive over heaven; or as the dark ocean assaults the shore of the desert ; so roaring, so vast, so 1 errible, the armies mixed on Lena's echoing heath." In severa l of these images there is a remarkable similarity to Homer's: but what follows is superior to any comparison that Homer uses on this subject. " The groan of the people spread over the hills ; it was like the thunder of night, when the cloud bursts on Cona, and a thousand ghosts shriek at once on the hollow wind." Never was an image of more awful sublimity employed to heighten the ter ror of battle. Both poets compare the appearance of an army ap proaching, to the gath e ring of dark :;louds. (
PAGE 162

' ON THE POEJ\1S OF OSSIAN. 161 !i shepherd," says Homer, "beholds from the rock a cloud borne along the sea by the western wind ; black as pitch it appears from afar sailing over the ocean, and carrying the dreadful storm. He shrinks at the sight, and drives his flock into the cave : such, under the Ajaces, moved on the dark, the thickened phalanx to the war."*-" They came," says Ossian, "over the desert like stormy clouds, when the winds roll them 0\er the heath; their edges are tinged with lightning; and the echoing groves foresee the storm." The edges of the clouds tinged with lightning, is a sublime idea: but the shepherd and his flock render Homer's simile more picturesque. This is frequently the dif. ference between the two poets. Ossian gives no more \han the main image, strong and full: Hom e r adds circumstances and appendages, which amuse the fancy by enlivening the scenery. Homer compares the r e gular appearance of an army, to " clouds that are settled on the mountain-top, in the day of calmness, when the strength of the north wind sle eps." t Ossian, with full as much propriety, com pares the appearance of a disordered army, to "the mountain cloud, when the blast hath entered its womb, and scatters the curling gloom on every side." Ossi a n's clouds assume a great many forms, and, as we might expect from his climate, are a f e rtile source of im agery to him. " The warriors follow ed th eir chiefs like the gathering of the rainy clouds behind the red m ete ors of heaven." An army retreating without coming to action, is likened to " clouds, that having long thr e atene d rain, retire slowly b e hind the hills." The picture of 01thona, after she had determined to die, is lively and d e licate. "Her soul was resolved, and the tear was dried from her wildly-looking eye. A troubled • Diad, iv. 275. 14* t Iliaci, v 522.

PAGE 163

162 CRITICAL DISSERTATION joy mse on her mind, like the red path of the lightning on a stormy cloud." The image also of the g loomy cairbar, meditating, in silence, the assassination of Oscar, until tne moment came when his designs were ripe for execution, is extremely noble and complete in all its parts. "Cailbar heard their words in silence, like the cloud of a shower; it stands dark on Cromla till the lightning bursts its side. The valley gleams with r e d light; the spirits of the storm rejoice. So stood the silent king of Temora ; at length his words are heard." Homer's comparison of AchiiJes to the Dog-Star, is very sub lim e. " Priam beheld him rushing along the plain, shining in his armor, like the star of autumn: bright are its beams, distinguished amidst the multi tude of stars in the dark hour of night. It rises in its splendor ; but its splendor is fatal ; betokening to miserable men the destroying heat."* The first ap. pearance of Fingal is, in like manner, compared by Ossian to a star or meteor. " Fingal, tall in his ship, stretched his bright lance before him. Terrible was the gleam of his steel ; it was like the green meteor of death, setting in the heath of Malmor, when the traveller is alone, and the broad moon is darkened in heaven." The hero's appearance in Homer is more magnifteent; in Ossian, more terrible. A tree cut down, or overthrown by a storm, is a similitude frequent among poets for descrioing the fall of a warrior in battle. Homer emp loy s it often. But the most b ea utiful, by far, of his comparisons, founded on this object, inde e d one of the most beautiful in the whole Iliad, is that on the death of Euphorbus. "As the young and verdant olive, which a man hath reared with care in a lonely field, where the springs of water • Iliad, xx.ii. 26. --

PAGE 164

I r-=.::::.:.:.-=-.::===== = ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, bubble around it; it is fair and flourishing ; it is fnn ned by the breath of all the winds, and loaded with white blossoms ; when the sudden blast of a whirlwind descending, roots it out from its bed, and stretches it on the dust."* To this, elegant as it is, we may op pos e the following simile of Ossian's, relating to the death of the three sons of Usnoth. " They fell, like three young oaks which stood alone CJl the hill. The traveller saw the lovely trees, and wond e red how they gre w so lonely. The blast of the des e rt came by night, and laid th eir green heads low. Next day he return ed ; but they were withered, and the h e ath was bare." Malvina's allusion to the . same object, in her lam e nta tion ove r Oscar, is so exquisit e ly t e nd e r, that I cannot forb ear' giving it a place al so. " I w a s a lovely tre e in thy pr e s e nce, Oscar ! with all my branches round me. But thy death c arne , like a blast from the d e s e rt, and laid my green h e ad low. The spring return e d with its show ers; but no l eaf of mine arose." S e v e ral of O ss i an's simil es , taken from trees, are remarkably b e autiful, and div e rsifi e d with well-chosen circum. s t a nc es; such as that upon th e d e ath of Ryno and Orla: "The y have fall e n lik e the oak of the d esert; wh e n it li e s across a str e am, and withers in th e wind of• th y mountains." Or that which Os s ian appli es to hims elf: " I, lik e an anci e nt o a k in Morv e n, mould e r alon e in rny pl a c e ; th e blas t h a th lopp e d my branch e s away ; and I tremble at the winds of th e north." As Homer e xalts his h e roes by comparing them to gods, Ossian mak e s th e sam e us e of comparisons t a k e n from spirits and ghosts. "Swaran roare d in battl e , 1ike th e shrill spirit of a storm , that sits dim on the clouds of Gormal, and enjoys the death of the mari. ner." His peopl e gath e r e d round Erragou, "like * lliad, xvii. 53.

PAGE 165

i J 164 DISSERTATION I storms around the ghost of night, when he calls them from the top of Morven, and prepares to pour them on the land of the stranger."-" They fell before my son, like groves in the desert, when an angry ghost rushes through night, and takes their green heads in his hand." In such images, Ossian appears in his strength ; for very seldom have supernatural beings been painted with so much & ublimity, and such force of imagination, as by this poet. Even Homer, great as he is, must yield to him in similes formed upon these. Take, for instance, the following, which is the most remarkable of this kind in the Iliad. " Meriones followed Idome neus to battle, like Mars, the destroyer of men, when he rushes to war. Terror, his beloved son, strong and fterce, attends him ; who fills with dismay the most valiant hero. They come from Thrace armed against the Ephyrians and Phlegyans; nor do they regard the pray e rs of either, but dispose of success at their will."* The idea here is undoubtedly noble, but observe what a figure Ossian sets before the astonished imagination, and with what sublimely-terrible circumstances he has heightened it. " He rushed, in the sound of nis arms, like the dreadful spirit of Loda, when he comes in the roar of a thousand storms, and scatters battles from his eyes. He sits on a cloud ove r Lochlin's seas. !fis mighty hand is on his sword. The wind lifts his flaming locks. So terrible was Cuthullin in the day of his fame." Hom er's comparisons relate chiefly to martial sub Jects, to the ap!Jearances and motions of armies, the engagement and death of heroes, and the various in. cid e nts of war. In Ossian, we find a greater variety of other subjects, illustrated by similes, particularly the songs of bards, the beauty of women, the different • Iliad, xiii. 298 I

PAGE 166

r I l ON 'IIIE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 165 circumstances of old age, sorrow, and private distress; which g1ve occasion to much beautiful imagery. What, for instance, be more delicate and moving, than the following simile of Oithona's, in her lamentation over the dishonor she had suffered ? " Chief of Stru. mon." replied the sighing maid, . " why didst thou come over the dark blue wave to N uath's mournful daughter? Why did not I pass away in secret, likt> the flower of the rock, that lifts its fair unseen, and strews its withered leaves on the blast?" The music of bards, a favorite object with Ossian, is illus. trated by a variety of the most beautiful appearances that are to be found in nature. It is compared to the calm shower of spring ; to the dews of the morning on the hill of roes; to the face of the blue and still lake. Two similes on this subject I shall quote, be. cause th ey would do honor to any of the most ccle brated classics. The one is : " Sit thou on the heath, 0 b.1.rd ! and let us hear thy voice ; it is pleasant as the gale of the spring that sighs on the hunter's ear, when he awakens from dreams of joy, and has heard the music of the spirits of the hill." The other con. tains a short but exquisitely tender image, accompa nied with the finest poetical painting. " The music of Carril was like the memory of joys that are past, pl e asant, and mournful to the soul. The ghosts of de parted bards heard it from Slimora's side. Soft sounds spread along the wood ; and the silent valleys of night rejoice." 1:Vhat a figure would such imagery and such ac enery have made, had thry been presented to us ndnrned with the sweetiiess J.nd harmony of the Vir gilian numbers ! I have chosen all along to compare Ossian with Homer, rather than Virgil, for an obvious reasou. There is a much nearer correspondence between the times and manners of the two former poets. Both

PAGE 167

166 CRITICAL DISSERTATION wrote in an early period of society ; both are orJgm als; both are distinguished by simplicity, sublimity, and fire. The correct elegances of Virgil, his artful imitation of Homer, the Roman stateliness \vhich he everywhere maintains, admit no parallel with the ab rupt boldness and enthusiastic warmth of the Celtic bard. In one article, indeed, there is a resemb nnce. Virgil is more tender than Homer, and thereby agrees more with Ossian; with this difference, that the feel ings of the one are more gentle and polished-those of the other more strong : the tenderness of Virgil '3oftens-that of Ossian dissolves and overcomes the heart. A resemblance may be sometimes observed between Ossian's comparisons and those employed by the sa cred writers. They abound much in this figure, anrl they use it with the utmost propriety. The imagery of Scripture exhibits a soil and climate altogether dif. ferent from those of Ossian : a warmer country, a more smiling face of nature, the arts of agriculture and of rural life much farther advanced. The wine-press and the threshing-floor are often presented to us ; the cedar and the palm-tree, the fragrance of perfumes the voice of the turtle, and the beds of lilies. The similes are, like Ossian's, generally short, touching on one point of resemblance, rather than spread out into little episodes. In the following example may be per ceived what inexpressible grandeur poetry receives from the intervention of the Deity. "The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters ; but God Bhall rebuke them, and they shall fly far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the II' wind, and like the down of the thistle before the whirl-/ wind."_*-----------------L • hOoh, """ 13 I _j l I

PAGE 168

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 167 Besides formal comparisons, the poetry of Ossian is embellished with many beautiful metaphors ; such as that remarkab:y fine one applied to Deugala : " She was covered with the light of beauty ; but her heart was the house of pride." This mode of expression, which suppresses the mark of comparison, and substi. tutes a figured description in room of the object de scribed, is a great enlivener of style. It denotes that glow and rapidity of fancy, which, without pausing to form a regular simile, paints the object at one stroke. " Thou art to me the beam of the east, rising in a land unknown."-" In peace, thou art the gale of spring; in war, the mountain storm."-" Pleasant be thy rest, 0 lovely beam! soon hast thou set on our hills! The J steps of thy departure were stately, lik e the moon on the blue trembling wave. But thou hast l eft us in darkness, first of the maids of Lutha !-Soon hast thou set, Malvina ! but thou risest, like the beam of the east, the spirits of thy friends, where they sit in their stormy halls, the chambers of the thunder." This is correct, and finely supported. But in the following instance, the metaphor, though very beautiful at the beginning, becomes imperfect before it closes, by being improperly mixed with the literal sense. " Trathal went forth with the stream of his people : but they met a rock ; Fingal stood unmoved ; broken, they rolled back from his side. Nor did they roll in safety; thP sp ear of the king pursued their flight." The hyperbole is a figure which we might expect find often employed by Ossian ; as the und_ imagination of early ages generally prompts exaggera tion, and carries its objects to excess ; whereas longer experience, and farther progress in the arts of ,.lfe, chasten men's ideas and exp ressions. Yet Ossian's hyperboles appear not, to me, either so frequent or so harsh as might at first have been looked for ; an ad.

PAGE 169

168 CRITICAL DISSERTATION vantage owing, no doubt, to the more cultivated CJ.te in which, as was before shown, poetry subsisted a ;1ong the ancient Celtre, than among most other bar1c.trous nations. One of the most exaggerated descriptions in the whole work, is what meets us at the beginning of Fingal, where the scout makes his report to Cuthullin of the landing of the foe. But this is so far from de. serving censure, that it merits praise, as being on that occasion natural and proper. The scout arrives, trcm. bling and full of fears ; and it is well known that no passion disposes men to hyperbolize more than terror. It both annihilates themselves in their own apprehen. sion, and magnifies every object which they view through the medium of a troubled imagination. Hence all those indistinct images of formidable greatness, the natural marks of a disturbed and confused mind, whieh occur in Moran's description of Swaran's appearance, and in his relation of the conference which they held together ; not unlike the report which the affrighted Jewish spies made to their leader, of the land of Ca. naan. "The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants there of; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature: and there saw we giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants ; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight."* vrith regard to personifications, I formerly observed that Ossian was sparing, and I accounted for his being so. All e gorical p e rsonages he has none ; and their absence is not to be regretted. For the intermixture of those shadowy beings, which have not the support even of mythological or legendary belief, with human actors, seldom produces a goo i effect. The fiction "' Numbers, xiii. 32, 33

PAGE 170

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, 160 bo..,. ,,mes too visible and fantastic ; and overthl'OwS that imp1-ession of reality, which the probable recital of 1m man actions is calculated to make upon the mind. In the serious and pathetic scenes of Ossia n, especia!Jy, allegorical characters would have been as much out of place as in tragedy ; serving only unseasonably to :trnuse the fancy, whilst they stopped the current and weakened the .force of passion. With apostrophes, or addreStles to persons absent or dead, which have been in all ages the language of pas sion, our poet abounds ; and they are among his high est beauties. Witness the apostrophe, in the first book of Fingal, to the maid of Inistore, whose lover had fallen in battle ; and that inimitably fine one of Cuthul lin to Bragela, at the conclusion of the same book. He commands the harp to be struck in he1; praise ; and the mention of Bragela's name immediately suggesting to him a crowd of tender ideas-" Dost thou raise thy fair face from the rocks," he exclaims, " to find the sails of Cuthullin? The sea is rolling far distant, and its white foam shall deceive thee for my sails." And now his imagination being wrought up to conceive her as, at that moment, really in this situation, he becomes afraid of the harm she may receive fiom the inclem ency of the night ; and with an enthusiasm happy and affecting, though beyond the cautious strain of modern poetry, "Retire," he proceeds, "retire, for it is night, my love, and the winds sigh in thy hair. Retire to hall of my feasts, and think of the times that are past : for I will not return until the storm of war has 0, Connal! speak of wars and arms, and send her from my mind; tor lovely with her raven hair is the white-bosomed daughter of Sorglan." This breathes all the native spirit of passion anP, tenderness. The addresses to the sun, to the moon, and to the evening star, must draw the attention of every reat:ier 15 ---------. --. .========::::J

PAGE 171

170 CRITICAL DISSERTATION of taste, as among the most splendid orname:1ts of thi!! collection. The beauties of each are too great and too obvious to need any particular comm e nt. In one pas sage only of the addre.ss to the moon, there appears some obscurity. " Whither dost thou retire from thy course when the darkness of thy countenance grows ? Hast thou thy hall like Ossian 1 Dwellest thou in th6 shadow of grief1 Have thy sisters fallen from heaven? Are they who with thee, at night, no more r Y es , they have fallen, fair light! and thou dost often retire to mourn." We may be at a loss to compre hend, at first view, the ground of those sp ec ulations of Ossian concerning the moon: but when all the circum stances are att e nded to, th e y will appear to flow natu rally from the present situation of his mind. A mind under the dominion of any strong passion, tinctur es with its own disposition every object which it beholds. The old bard, with his heart bleeding for the loss of all his friends, is meditating on the diff e rent phases of the moon. H e r waning and darkness pr ese nt to his melancholy imagination the image of sorrow ; and presently the idea arises, and is indulged, that like himself, she retires to mourn over the l oss of other moons, or of stars, whom he calls her sisters, and fan. cies to have once rejoiced with her at night, now fallen from heav e n. Darkness suggested the idea of mourn ing, and mourning sugg e sted nothing so naturally to Ossian as the death of b e loved friends. An instance precis e ly similar, of this influence of passion, may Le seen in a passage, which has always been admired, of Shakspeare's King Lear. The old man, on the point of distraction through th e inhumanity of his daughters, sees Edgar appear, disguised like a beggar and a madman. Lear. Didst tho.u give all to thy duughters And art thou come to this 1 Couldst thou leave Didst thou give them

PAGE 172

I I I , , I I I t ON THE POEMS OF OS:!!laN. Kent. He hatn no daughters, sir . .Lrar. Death, traitor! nothing could have subdued nature To such a lowness, but his daughters. 171 The apostrophe to the winds, in the opening of Dar thula, is in the highest spirit of poetry. " But the winds deceive thee, 0 Dar-thula! and deny the woody Etha to thy sails. These are not thy mountains, Nathos, nor is that the roar of thy climbing waves. The halls of Cairbar are near, and the towers of the foe lift their heads. Where have ye been, ye southern winds! when the sons of my love were deceived? But ye have been sporting on plains, and pursuing the this tle's beard. 0 that ye had been rustling in the sails of Nathos, till the hills of Etha rose! till they rose in their clouds, and saw their coming chief." This pas sage is remarkable for the it bears to an expostulation with the wood nymphs, on .their absence at a critical time ; which, as a favorite poetical idea, Virgil has copied from Theocritus, and Milton has very happily imitated from both. Where were ye, nymphs! when the remorseless deep Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas For neither were ye playing on the steep \Vhere your old bards, the Jamous Druids, lie ! Nor on the shaggy top of Mona, high, Nor yet where Deva spreads her w1zard stream.-Lycid Having now treated fully of Ossian's talents, with respect to description and imagery, it only remains to make some observations on his sentiments. No sentinents can be beautiful without being proper; that is, mited to the character and situation of those who utter them In this respect Ossian is as correct as most writers. His characters, as above described, are, in general, w ell supported; which could not have been the case, had the sentiments been unnatural or out oi place. A varit>ty of personages, of different ages, and conditions, are introduced into his pot>ms ; and

PAGE 173

• 172 CRlTlCAL DISSERTATION they speak and act with a propriety of sentiment and behavior whkl• it is surprising to find in so rude an age Let the poem of Dar-thula, throughout, be taken as an example. But it is not enough that sentiments be natural and proper. In order to acquire any high degree of poeti cal merit, they must also be sublime and pathetic. The sublime is not confined to sentiment alone. It belongs to description also ; and whether in descrip tion or in sentiment, imports such ideas presented to th e mind, as raise it to an uncommon degree of eleva tion, and fill it with admiration and astonishment. This is the highe s t effect either of eloquence or poetry ; and, to produce this effect, requires a genius glowing with the strongest and warmest conception of some object, awful, great, or magnificent. That this character of genius belongs to Ossian, may, I think, sufficiently ap pear from many of the passages I have already had occasion to quote. To produce more instances were superfluous. If th e engagement of Fingal with the spirit of Loda, in Carric.thura; if the encounters of the armies, in Fingal; if the address to the sun, in Carthon ; if the similes founded upon ghosts and spirits of the night, all formerly m e ntioned, be not admitted as examples, and illustrious ones too, of the true po e ti cal sublime, I confess mys e lf entirely ignorant of this quality in writing. All th e circumstances, ind eed, of Ossian's composi tion, are favorable to the sublime, more perhaps than to any other species of b ea uty. Accuracy and correct ness, artfully connected narration, exact method and proportion of parts, we may look for in polish e d times. The gay and th e b ea utiful will appear to more advan tag e in the midst of smiling scenery and pleasurable themes ; but, amidst the rude scenes of nature, amidst rocks and torrents, and whirlwinds and battles, dwellE

PAGE 174

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 173 the sublime. It is the thunder and the lightning of genius. It is the offspring of nature, not of art. 1t is negligent of al: the lesser graces, and perfectly con. sistent with a certain noble disorder. It associates naturally with that grave and solemn spirit which dis ting11ishes our author. For the sublime is an awful and serious emotion ; and is heightened by all the images of trouble, and terror, and darkness. Ipse pater, media nimborum in nocte, corusc9. Fulmina molitur dextra; quo maxima motu Terra tremit; fugere ferre ; et mortalia corda Per gentes, humilis stravit pavor; ille, flagranti Aut A tho, aut Rhodopen, aut alta Cerauma telo Dejicit.-Vi•g. Georg. i. Simplicity and conciseness are never-failing charac teristics of the style of a sublime writer. He rests on the majesty of his sentiments, not on the pomp of his expressions. The main secret of being sublime is to say great things in few, and in plain words: for every superfluous decoration degrades a sublime idea. The mind rises and swells, when a lofty description or sen timent is presented to it in its native form. But no sooner does the poet attempt to spread out this senti ment, or description, and to deck it round and round with glittering ornaments, than the mind begins to fall from its high elevation ; the transport is over ; the beautiful may remain, but the sublime is gone. Hence the concise and simple style of Ossian gives great ad vantage to his sublime conceptions, and assists them in seizing the imagination with full power. Sublimity, as belonging to sentiment, coincides, in a measure, with magnanimity, heroism, and gener osity of sentiment. Whatever discovers human nature in its greatest elevation ; whatever bespeaks a high effort of soul, or shows a mind superior to pleasures, to dangers, and to death, forms what may be called the moral of svntimental sublime. For this Ossian is 15* l

PAGE 175

174 CRITICAL DISSERATION eminently distinguished. No poet maintains a higher tone of virtuous and noble sentiment throughout all his works. Particularly in all the sentiments of Fingal there is a gr.andeur and loftiness, proper to swell the mind with the highest ideas of human perfection. Wherever he appears, we behold the hero. The ob j e cts which he pursues are always truly great: to bend the proud; to protect the injured; to defend his friends ; to overcome his enemies by generosity more than by force. A portion of the same spirit actuates all the other heroes. Valor reigns ; but .it is a generous valor, void of cruelty, animated by honor, not by hatred. We behold no debasing passions among Fingal's war riors; no spirit of avarice or of insult; but a perpetual contention for fame ; a desire of being distinguished and r emembered for gallant actions ; a love of justice ; and a zealous attachment to their friends and their country. Such is the strain of sentiment in the works of Ossian. But the sublimity of moral sentiments, if they want ed the softening of the tender, would be in hazard of giving a hard and stiff air to po e try. It is not enough to admire. Admiration is a cold feeling, in compari son of that deep interest which the heart takes in ten der and pathetic scenes ; where, by a mysterious atta<::hment to the objects of compassion, we are pleas ed and delighted, even whilst we mourn. With sc e nes of inis kind Ossian abounds; and his high merit in the:;e is incontestible. He may be blamed for draw ing tears too often from our eyes ; but that he has the power of commanding them, I believe no man, who has the least sensibility, will question. The general character of his poetry is the heroic mixed with the elegiac strain; admiration tempered with pity. Ever fo1d of giving, as he expresses it, "the joy of grief," it is visible that, on all moving subjects, he rlelights to ' I I ,,

PAGE 176

f l I . ON 'l'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 175 exert his genius ; and, accordingly, never were there finer pathetic situations than what his works present. His great art in managing them lies in giving vent to the simple and natural emotions of the heart. We with no exaggerated declamation; no subtile re finements on sorrow ; no substitution of description in place of passion. Ossian felt strongly himself; and the heart, when uttering its native language, never fails, by powerful sympathy, to affect the heart. A great variety of examples might be produced. We need only open the book to find them everywhere. What, for instance, can be more moving than the lamenta tions of Oithona, after her misfortune 1 Gaul, the son of Morni, her lover, ignorant of what she had suffered, comes to her rescue. Their meeting is tender in the nighest degree. He proposes to engage her foe, in single combat, and gives her in charge what she is to do if he himself shall fall. " And shall the daughter of Nuath live 1" she replied, with a bursting sigh. " Shall I live in Tromathon, and the son of Morni low? My heart is not of that rock ; nor my soul care less as that sea, which lifts its blue waves to every wind, and rolls beneath the storm. The blast, which shall lay thee low, shall spread the branches of Oithona on earth. We shall wither together, son of car-borne Morni ! The narrow house is pleasant to me, and the gray stone of the dead ; for never more will I leave ti1y rocks, sea-surrounded Tromathon !-Chief of St1 u mon ! why com est thou over . the waves to N uath 's mournful daughter 1 Why did I not pass away in secret, like the flower of the rocks that lifts its fair head unseen, and strews its withered on the t>last ? Why didst thou come, 0 Gaul ! to hear my departing sigh ?-0, had I dwelt at Duvranna, in the bright beam of my fame ! Then had my years come on with joy: and the virgins would bless my steps.

PAGE 177

176 CRI1'LCAL J:ISSERTATION But I fall in yonth, son of Morni! and my father If'- • ' blush in his hall !" Oithona mourns like a woman : in Cuthullir.! Cll. pressions of grief after his defeat, we behold the senti ments of a hero-generous, but d es ponding. The sit uation is remarkably fine. Cuthullin, rou se d from his cave by the noise of battle, sees Fingal victorious in the field. He is described as kindling at the sight . " His hand is on the sword of his fathers ; his red-roll ing eyes on the foe. He thrice attempted to rush to battle ; and thrice did Connal stop him ;" suggesting th at Fingal was routing the foe ; and that he ough1 not, by the show of superfluous aid, to deprive the king of any part of the honor of a victory, which was owing to him alone. Cuthullin yields to this generou s senti. ment ; but we see it stinging him to the heart with the sense of his own disgrace. " Then, Carril, go," re plied the chief, "and greet the king of Morven. WheP Lochlin falls away like a stream after rain, and the noise of the battle is over, then be thy voice sweet in Ins ear, to praise the king of swords. Give him the sword of Caithbat ; for Cuthullin is worthy no more to lift the arms of his fathers. But, 0 ye ghosts of the lonely Cromla ! ye souls of chiefs that are no more 1 be ye the companions of Cuthullin, and talk to him in the cave of his sorrow. For never more shall I be re nowned among the mighty in the l and. I am like a b e am that h as shone : like a mist that has fled away ; when the blast of the morning came, and brightened .he shaggy side of the hill. Connal ! talk of arms no more : depart e d is my fame. My sighs shall be on Cromla's wind ; till my footsteps cease to be seen. And t'wu, white-bosom e d Br'lg ela! mourn over the fall of my fame : for vanquished, I will never return to thee, thou sunbE.um of Dunscaich !"

PAGE 178

ON THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN, 177 -..Estuat ingens Uno in corde pudor, Juctusque, et conscia vutus. Besides such extended pathetic scenes, Ossian fre. quently pierces the heart by a single unexpected stroke. When Oscar fell in battle, "No father mourned his son slain in youth; no brO{her, his brother of love ; they fell without tears, for the chief of the people was low." In the admirable interview of Hector with A ndro mache, in the sixth Iliad, the circumstance of the child in his nurse's arms, has often been remarked as adding much to the tooderness of the scene. In the following passage, relating to the death of Cuthullin, we find a circumstance that must strike the imagination with still greater force. " And is the son of Semo fallen 1" said Carril, with a sigh. " Mournful are Tura's walls, and sorrow dwells at Dunscaich. Thy spou-se is left alone in her youth; the son of thy love is alone. He shall come to Bragela, and ask her why she weeps 1 He shall lift his eyes to the wall, and see his father's sword. Whose sword is that 1 he will say ; and the soul of his mother is sad." Soon after Fingal had shown all the grief of a father's heart for Ryno, one of his fallen in battle, he is calling, after his ac eustomed manner, his sons to the chase. "Call," says he, "Fillan and Ryno.-But he is not here.-My son rests on the bed of death." This unexpected start of anguish is worthy of the highest tragic poet. If she come in, she'll sure speak to my wife-My wife . !-my w:le !\Vhat wife 1-l have no wiieOh, insupportable ! Oh, heavy hour !Othello The contrivance of the incident in both poets is 'limilar : but the circumstances are varied with judg ment. Othello dwells upon the name _ of wife, when it had fallen from him, with the confusion and horror of one tortured with guilt. Fingal, with the dignity of a hero, corrects himself, and suppresses his rising grief.

PAGE 179

118 CRITICAL DISSERTATION The contrast which Ossian frequently makes between his present and his former state, diffuses over his whole poetry a solemn pathetic air, which cannot fail to make im: ression on every heart. The conclusion _ of the songs of Selma is particularlycalculateJ for this purpose. Nothing can be mure poetical and tender, or can leave upon the mind a stronger and more affecting idea of the venerable and aged bard. " Such were the we rds of the bards in the days of the song; when the king heard the music of harps, and the tales of other times. The chiefs gathered from all their hills, and heard the lovely sound. They praised the voice of Cona,* the first among a thousand bards. But age is now on my tongue, and my soul has failed. I hear, sometimes, the ghosts of bards, and learn their pleasant song. But memory fails on my mind ; I hear the call of years. They as they pass along, Why does Ossian sing ? Soon shall he lie in the narrow house, and no bard shall raise his fame. Roll on, ye dark brown years! for ye bring no joy in your course. Let the tomb open to Ossian, for his strength has failed. The sons of the song are gone to rest. My voice re mains, like a blast, that roat:s lonely on the sea-rur rounded rock, after the winds are laid. The dark moss whistles there, and the distant mariner sees the waving trees." Upon the whole, if to feel strongly, and to describe nnturally, be the two chief ingredients in poetical ge IJius, Ossian must, after fair examination, be held to that g e nius in a high degree. The question is not, wh!'ther a few impi"Oprieties may be pointed out in his wurks '?-whethe r this or that passage might not have been worked up with more art and skill, by flame writer of happier times? A thousand such cold and • Ossian himself is poetwally called the voice of Cona. I I I I I I I _ . _____ II

PAGE 180

OF THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. 179 frivolous criticisms are t>.ltogether indecisive as to his genuine merit. But bas .1e the spirit, the fire the in. spi•ation of a poet 1 Doe, he utter the voice of nature? Does he elevate by his sentiments 1 Does he interest by his description 1 Does he paint to the heart as well as to the fancy 1 Does he make his readers glow, and tremble, and weep 1 These are the great character. istics of true poetry. Where these are found, he must be a minute critic, indeed, who can dwell upon slight defects. A few beauties of this high kind transcend whole volumes of faultless mediocrity. Uncouth and abrupt Ossian may sometimes appear, by reason of his conciseness ; but he is sublime, he is patltetic, in an eminent degree. If he has not the extensive know. ledge, the regular dignity of narration, the fulness and accuracy of description, which we find in Homer and Virgil, yet in strength of imagination, in grandeur of sentiment, in native majesty of passion, he is fully their equal. If he flows not always like a clear stream, yet he breaks forth often like a torrent of fire. Of art, too, he is far from being destitute ; and his imagination is remarkable for delicacy as well as strength. Seldom or never is he either trifling or tedious ; and if he be too melancholy, yet he is always moral. Though his merit were in other respects much less than it is, this alone ought to entitle him to high regard, that his writings are remarkably favorable to virtue. They awake the tenderest sympathies, and inspire the most generous emotions. No reader can rise from him w1thout being warmed with the sentiments of human. ity, virtue, and honor. Though unacquainted with the original language, there is no one but must judge the translation to de. serve the highest praise, on account of its beauty and elegance. Of its faithfulness and accuracy, I have been assured by persons skilled in the Gaelic tongue,

PAGE 181

180 CRITICAL DISSERTATION who from their youth were acquainted with many of these poems of Ossian. To transfuse such and fervid ideas from one language into another ; to translate literally, and yet with such a glow of poetry; to keep alive so much passion, and support so much dignity throughout ; is one of the most diffic , llt works of genius, and proves the translator to have :Jeen ani. mated with no small portion of Ossian's spirit. The m e asured prose which he has employed, pos. sesses considerable advantages above any sort of ver sification he could have chosen. While it pleases and fills the ear with a vari e ty of harmonious cadences, being, at the same time, freer from constraint in the choice and arrangement of words, it allows the spirit of the original to be exhibited, with more justn ess, force, and simp licity. Elegant, however, and master ly , as Mr. Macpherson's translation is, we mu s t never forget, whilst we read it, that we are putting the m e rit of the original to a severe test. For we are examining a poet stripped of his native dress; divested of the harmony of his own numbers. We know how much grace and energy the works of the Greek and Latin poets receive from the charm of versification in their original languages. If then, destitute of this advan tage, exhibited in a literal version, Ossian still has power to please us a poet; and not to pleas e only, but often to command, to transport, to melt the heart; we may very safely infer that his productions ate the off spring of a true and uncommon genius ; and we may boldly assign him a place among those whose works 11re to last fiJr ages. r i --------

PAGE 182

.. ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAK. NOTE. (p. 93.) Pugnavimus ensibus Haud t longum tempus Cum in Gotlandia accessimus Ad seroentis immensi necem Tunc impetravimus Thoram Ex hoc vocarunt me virum Quod serpentem transfodi Hirsutam braccam ob illam cre 'em Cuspide ictum intuli in colubrur.J Fmro lucidorum stupendiorum. Multum juvenis fui quando acquisivimWt Orientem versus in 01eonico freto Vulnerum amnes avidre ferre Et flavipedi avi Accepimus ibidem sonuerunt Ad sublimes galeas Dura ferra magnam escam Omnis erat oceanus vulnus Vadavit corvus in sanguine cresorqm. Alte tunc lanceas Quando viginti annos numeravimus Et celebrem laudem comparavim ,us p _ assim Vicimus octo barones In ante Dimini portum Aqmire impetravimus tunc Hospitii sumptum in illa strage Sr.dor decidit in vulnerum Oceano perdidit exercitus retatem. Pugnre facta copia Cum Helsingianos postulavimus Ad aulam Odini NaYes direxi , mus in t'Btium Vistule IP 181 J

PAGE 183

182 L_ CRITICAL DlSSERTATIOl'l Mucro potuit tum mordere Omnis erat vulnus unda Terra rubefacta calido Frendebat gladius in loricas Gladius findebat clypPos. Memini neminem tunc fugisse Priusquam in navibus Heraudus in bello caderet Non findit navibus Alius baro prrestantior Mare ad portum In navibus longis post illum Sic attulit princeps passim Alacre in bellum cor. Exercitus abjecit clypeos Cum hasta volavit Ardua ad virorum pectora Momordit Scarforum cautes Cladius in pugna Sanguineus erat clypeus Antequam Rafno rex caderet Fluxit ex virorum capitibus Calidas in Iori cas sudor. Habere potuerunt tum corvi Ante Indirorum insulas Sufficientem prredam dilaniandam Acquisivimus feris carnivoris Plenum prandium unico actu Difficile erat unius facere mentionem Oriente sole Spicula vidi pung e re Propulerunt arcus ex se terra. Altum mugierunt enses Antequam in Laneo campo ..._ --===-: __ :-:: ____ .

PAGE 184

ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Eislinus rex cecidit Processimus auro ditati Ad terram prostratorum dimicandtlnl Gladius secuit clvDeorum Picturas in conventu Cervicum mustum ex vulneribus Diffusum per cerebrum lissum. 'fenuimus m Hu.ngtJine Cum hastam unximus Ante Boring holmum Telorum nubes disrumpunt clypelliP Extrusit arcus ex se metallum V olnir cecidit in conflictu Non erat illo rex major Cresi dispersi late per littora Ferre amplectebantur escam. Pugna manifeste crescebat Antequam Freyr rex caderet In Flandorum terra Crepit creruleus ad incidendum Sanguine illitus in auream Loricam in pugna Durus armorum mucro olim Virgo deploravit matutinam lanienam Multa prreda dabatur feris. Centies centenos vidi jacere In navibus Ubi .nglanes vocatur Navigavimus ad pugnam Per sex dies antequam exercitus caderet Transcgimus mucronum missam In exortu solis Coactus est pro nostris gladiis Valdiofur in bello occumbere. 183

PAGE 185

184 Cf, ITICAL DISSERTATION • Ruit pluvia sanguinis de gladiis Prreceps in Bardafyrde Pallidum corpus pro accipitribtis Murmuravit arcus ubi mucro mordebat loricas In canflictu Odini pileus galea Cucurrit arcus ad vulnus V encnate acutus conspersus sudore sang-.rlnco. Tenuimus magica scuta Alte in pugnre Judo Ante Hiadningum sinum Videre licuit tum viros . Qui gladiis lacerarunt clypeos In gladiatorio murmure Galere attritre virorum Erat sicut splendidam virginem In Jecto juxta se collocare. Dura venit tempestas clypeis Cadaver cecidit in terram In Nortumbria Erat circa matutinum tempus Hominibus necessum erat fugere Ex prrelio ubi acute Cas s idis campos mordebant gladii Erat hoc veluti juvenem viduam In primaria sede osculari. Herthiofe evasit fortunatus In Australibus Orcadibus ipse Victorire in nostris hominibus Cugebatur in armorum nimbo Rogvaldus occumb e re lste venit summus super accipitres Luctus in gladiorum Judo

PAGE 186

ON THE l'OEMS OF OSSIAN. Strenue jactabat concussor Galere sanguinis teli. Quilibet jacebat transversim supra alium Gaudebat pugna lretus Accipiter ob gladiorum ludum Non fecit aquilam aut aprum Qui lrlandiam gubernavit Conventus fiebat ferri et clypei Marstanus rex jejunis Fiebat in vedrre sinu Prreda data corvis. Bellatorem multum vidi cadere Mante ante machreram Virum in mucronum dissidio Filio meo incidit mature Gladius juxta cor Egillus fecit Agnerum spoliatum lmperterritum virum vita Sonuit lancea prope Hamdi Griseam loricam splendebant vexilla. V erborum tenaces vidi dissecare Haud minutim pro lupis Endili maris ensibus Erat per hebdomadre spatium Quasi mulieres vinum apportarent Rubefactre erant naves Valde in strepitu armorum Scissa erat lorica In Scioldungorum prrelio. Pulcricomum vidi crepuscu.ascere Virginis amatorem circa matutinum Et con'lbulationis amicum viduarum Erat sicut calidum balneum Vinei vasis nympha portaret 16* 185 .. :. o ; . ' • '•;

PAGE 187

186 CRITICAL lJISSERTATIOl( .Nos in lire freto Anteqt:am Orn rex caderet Sanguineum clypeum vidi ruptum Hoc invertit virorum vitam. Egimus gladiorum ad credem Ludum in Lindis insula Cum regibus tribus Pauci p.)tuerunt inde lretari Cecidit multus in rictum ferarum Accipiter dilaniavit carnem cum lupo Ut satur inde discedcret Hybernorum sanguinis in oceanum Copiose decidit per mactationis tempt& Alte gladius mordebat clypeos Tunc cum aurei colors Hasta fricabat loricas Videre licuit in Onlugs insula Per srecula multum post ]bi fuit ad gladiorum ludos Reges processerunt Rubicundum erat circa insulam At volans Draco vulnerum. Quid est viro forti morte certius Etsi ipse in armorum nimbo Adversus collocatus sit Sa.-pe deplorat retatem Qui nunquam premitur Malum ferunt timidum incitare Aquilam ad gladiorum ludum Meticulosus venit nuspiam Cordi suo usui. Hoc numero requum ut procedat In contactu gladiorum Juvenis unus contra alterum

PAGE 188

. ON THE POEMS OF OSSIAN'. Nun retrocedat vir a viro Hoc fuit viri fortis nohiiitas diu Semper debet amoris amicus virginum Audax esse in fremitu armorum. Hoc videt.ur mihi re vera Quod fata sequimur Rarus transgrcditur fata Patearum Non destinavi Ellre De vitre exitu rriere Cum ego sanguihein seinirn6rtuus tegerem Et naves in aquas protrusi Passtm impetravimus tum ieris Escam in Scotire sinubus. Hoc ridere me facit semper Quod Balderi patris Parata scio in aula Bibemus cerevisiam brevi Ex concavis crateribus craniorum Non gemit vir fortis contra mortem Magnifici m Odini domibus Non venio disperabundis Verbis ad Odini aulam. Hie vellent nunc omnes Filii Aslaugre gladiis Amarum bellum excitare Si exacte scirent Calamitates nostras Quem non pauci angues V enenati me discerpunt Matrem accepi meis Filiis ita ut corda valeant. V aide inclinatur ad hrereditatem Crudele stat nocumentum a vipera Anguis inhabitat aulam cordis 187

PAGE 189

r 188 CRITICAL DISSE:f.TATION, .ETC. Speramus alterius ad Othini Virgam in Ellre sanguine Filiis meis livescet Sua ira rubescet Non acres juvenes Sessionem tranquillam facient. Habeo quinquagies Prrelia sub signis facta Ex belli invitatione et semel .Minime putavi hominum Quod me futurus esset J uvenis didici mucronem rubefaoore Alius rex prrestantior Nos Asre invitabunt Non est lugenda mors. Fert animus finire Invitant me Dysre Quas ex Othini aula Othinus mihi misit Lretus cerevisiam cum Asi8 In summa sede bibam Vitre elapsre sunt h'lrat Ridens moriar.

PAGE 190

CATH-LODA. ARGUMENT OF DUAN 1.* Finglll when very young, making a voyage to the Orkney Islands, was ciriven by stress of weather into a bay of Scandinavia, near the residence of Starno, king of Lochlin . Starno invites Fingal to a feast. Fingal, doubting the taith of the and mindful of a former breach of hospitality, ret uses to go.-;:,tarno gathers together his tribes; Fingal resolves to defend himself.-Night coming on, Duth-maruno proposes to Fingal to observe the mo tions of the enemy.-The king himself undertakes the watch. Advancing towards the enemy, he accidentally comes to the cave of Turthor, where Starno had confined Conban-Cargla, the captive daughter of a neighboring chief.-Her story is imperfectJ a part of tlie original being lost.-Fingal comes to a place ot worship, where Starno, and his son Swaran, consu l ted the spirit of Loda concerning tlie issue of the war. -The rencounter of Fingal and Swaran.-Duan first concludes with a description of the .airy h a ll of Cruth loda, supposed to be the Odin of Scandi navia . A TALE of the times of old! Why, thou wanderer unseen! thou bender of the thistle of Lora; why, thou breeze of the valley, hast thou left mine ear 1 I hear no distant roar of streams ! No sound of the harp from the rock! Come, thou hun tress of Lutha, Malvina, call back his soul to the bard. I look forward to Lochin of lakes, to the dark billowy bay of U-thorno, where Fingal descends from ocean, from the roar of winds. Few are the heroes of Mor ven in a land unknown ! Starno sent a dweller of Loda to bid Fingal to the feast; but the king remembered the past, and all his rage arose. "Nin Gormal's mossy towers, nor Star no, shall Fingal behold. Deaths wander, like shadows, over his fiery soul ! Do I forget that beam of light, the • The bards distinguished those compositions in which the nar ration is often interrupted by episodes and! apostrophes, by the name of Duan.

PAGE 191

190 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. white-handed daqghter of kings ?* Go, son of Loda; his words are wind to Fingal : wind, that, to and fro, drives the thistle in autumn's dusky vale. Duth-maru no, arm of death ! Cromma-glas, of Iron shields ! Struthmor, dweller of battle's wing! Cromar, whose ships bound on seas, careless as the course of a me. teor, on dark-rolling clouds ! Arise around me, chil dren of heroes, in a land unknown ! Let each look on his shield like Trenmor, the ruler of wars."-" Come down," thus Trenmor said, "thou dweller between the harps! Thou shalt roll this stream away, or waste with me in earth." Around the king they rise in wrath. No words come forth : they seize their spears. Each soul is rolled into itself. At length the sudden clang is waked on all their echoing shields. Each takes his hill by night; at intervals they darkly stand. Unequal bursts the hum of songs, between the roaring wind ! Broad over them rose the moon ! In his arms came tall Duth-maruno: he, from Croma of rocks, stern hunter of the boar ! In his dark boat he rose on waves, when Crumthormot awaked its woods. In the Qohase he shone, among foes : No fear was thine, Duth-maruno ! " Son of daring Comhal, shall my steps be forward through night 1 From this shield shall I view them, over their gleaming tribes 1 Starno, king of lakes, is bGfore me, and Swaran, the foe of strangers. Their words are not in vain, by Loda's stone of power. Should Duth-maruno not return, his spouse is lonely at home, where meet two roaring streams on Crath mocraulo's plain. Around are hills, with echoing woods; the ocean is rolling neur. My son looks on "'Agandecca the daughter of Stamo, whom her father killed, c n account of her discovering to Fingal a plot laid against his life. t Crumthormoth, one of the Orkney or Shetland Islands .J

PAGE 192

CATHLODA, 191 screaming sea-fowl, a young wanderer on the field. Give the head of a boar to Candona, tell him of his father's joy, when the bristly strength of U-thorno rolled. on his lifted spear. Tell him of my deeds in war ! Tell where father fell!" "Not forgetful of my fathers," said Fingal, "I have bounded over the seas. Theirs were the times of dan ger in the days of old. Nor settles darkness on me, before foes, though youthful in my locks. Chief of Crathmocraulo, the field of night is mine." Fingal rushed, in all his arms, wide bounding over Turthor's stream, that sent its sullen roar, by night, through Gormal's misty vale. A moonbeam glittered on a rock ; in the midst stood a stately form ; a form with floating locks, like Loch lin's white-bosomed maids. Unequal are her steps, and short. She throws a broken song on wind. At times she tosses her white arms : for grief is dwelling in her soul. " Torcal-torno, of aged locks," she said, "where now are thy steps, by LuJan 1 Thou hast failed at thine own dark stl'eams, father of Conban-cargla ! But I behold thee, chief of LuJan, sporting by Loda's hall, when the dark-skirted night is rolled along the sky. Thou sometimes hidest the moon with thy shield. I have seen her dim, in heaven. Thou kindlest thy hair into meteors, and sailest along the night. Why am I forgot, in my cave, king of shaggy boars 1 Look from the hall of Loda, on thy lonely daughter." " Who art thou," said Fingal, "voice of night 1" She, trembling, turned away. " Who art thou, in thy darkness 1" She shrunk into the cave. The king loosed the thong from her hands. He asked about her fathers. " Torcul-torno," she said, " once dwelt at LuJan's foamy stream: he dwelt-but now, in Loda's hall, be l

PAGE 193

192 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. shakes the som . ding shell. He met Starno of Lochlin in war; long fought the dark-eyed kings. My father fell, in his blood, blue-shielded Torcul-torno! By a rock, at LuJan's stream, I had pierced the bounding roe. My white hand gathered my hair from off the rushing winds. I heard a noise. Mine eyes were up. My soft breast rose on high. My step was forward, at Lulan, to meet thee, Torcul-torno. It was Starno, dreadful king! His red eyes rolled on me in love. Dark waved his shaggy brow, above his gathered smile. Where is my father, I said, he that was mighty in war ! Thou art left alone among foes, 0 daughter of T . orcul-torno ! He took my hand. He raised the sail. In this cave he placed me dark. At times he comes a gathered mist. He lifts before me my father's shield. But often passes a beam of youth far distant from my cave. The son of Starno moves in my sight. He dwells lonely in my soul." "Maid of Lulan," said Fingal, "white-handed daughter of grief! a cloud, marked with streaks of fire, is rolled along my soul. Look not to that dark-rob e d moon; look not to those meteors of heaven. My gleaming steel is around thee, the terror of my foes ! It is not the steel of the feeble, nor of the dark in soul ! The maids are not shut in our caves of streams. They toss not their white arms alone. They bend fair within their locks, above the harps of Selma. Their voice is not jn the desert wild. We melt along the pleasing sound !" Fingal again advanced his steps, wide through the bosom of night, to where the trees of Loda shook armd squally winds. Three stones, with heads of moss, are there ; a st•eam with foaming course: and dreadful, rolled 11-round them, is the dark red cloud of Loda. B:igh from its top looked forward a ghost, half formed

PAGE 195

= CATH-LODA. 193 of the shadowy swoke. He poured his voice, at times, amidst the roaring stream. Near, bending beneath a blasted tree, two heroes received his words: Swaran of Jakes, and Starno, foe of strangers. On their dun shields they darkly leaned : their spears are forward through night. Shrill sounds the blast of darkness in Starno's floating beard. They heard the tread of FingaL The warriors rose in arms. "Swaran, lay that wanderer low," said Star no, in his pride. "Take the shield of thy father. It is a rock in war." Swaran threw his gleaming spear. It stood fixed in Loda's tree. Then came the foes for ward with swords. They mixed their rattling steel. Through the thongs of Swaran's shield rushed the blade* of Luno. The shield fell rolling on earth. Cleft, the helmet fell down. Fingal stopt the lifted st e el. Wrathful stood Swaran, unarmed. He rolled his silent eyes;. he threw his sword on earth. Then, slowly stalking over the stream, he whistled as he went. Nor unseen of his fathe1 is Swaran. Starno turns away in wrath. His shaggy brows were dark above his gathered rage. He strikes Loda's tree with his spear. He raises the hum of They come to the host of Lochlin, each in his own dark path; like two foam-covered streams from two rainy vales! To Turthor's plain Fingal returned. Fair rose the beam of the east. It shone on the spoils of Lochlin in the hand of the king. From her cave came forth, in her beauty, the daughter of Torcul-torno. She gathered her hair from wind. She wildly raised her song. The song of LuJan of shells, where once her father dwelt. She saw Starno's bloody shield. Glad-The Eword of Fingal, so called from its maker, Luno of Lochhu. 17

PAGE 196

194 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. ness rose, a light, on her face. She saw the cleft bel met of Swaran She shrunk, darkened, from Fingal. " Art thou fallen by thy hundred streams, 0 love of the mournful maid 1" U-thorno that risest in waters! on whose side are the meteors of night I behold the dark moon de scending behind thy resounding woods. On thy top dwells the misty Loda : the house of the spirits of men ! In the end of his cloudy hall bends forward Cruth-loda of swords. His form is dimly s e en amid his wavy mist. His right hand is on his shield. In his left is the half viewless shell. The roof of his dreadful hall is marked with nightly fires ! The race of Cruth-loda advance, a ridge of form less shades. He reaches the sound _ ing shell to those who shone in war. But between him and the feeble, his shield rises a darkened orb. He is a setting met e or to the weak in arms. Bright as a rainbow on streams, came Lulan's white-bosomed maid. ARGUMENT OF DUAN IJ, Fingal, returning with day, devolves the command on Duth maruno, who engages tlie en e my and drives them over the s tr e am of Turthor. Having recalled his people, he congratul a t es Duth-maruno on his s ucc e ss, but di s cov e rs that th a t hero had be e n mortally wound e d in the action-Duth-maruno dies. Ullin, th e bardl in honor of th e de a d, introduce s the episode of Col gorm ana S trina-dona, which concludes this duan. "WHEitE art thou, son of the king?" sai.1 darK hair e d Duth-maruno. " Where hast thou failed, young beam of S e lma 1 He r e turns not from the bosom of night! Morning is spr e ad on U-thorno. In his mist is the sun on his hill. Warriors, lift the shields in my presence. H e must not fall like a fire from heaven, whcse place is not marked on the ground. He comes like an eagle, from the skirt of his squally wind ! In

PAGE 197

== CATH-LODA. 195 nis hand are the spoil of foes. King of Selma, our souls were sad !" "Near us are the foes, Duth-maruno. They come forward, like waves in mist, when their foamy tops are seen at times above the low-sailing vapor. The tra feller shrinks on his journey; he knows not whither ao fly. No trembling travellers are we! Sons of he roes call forth the steel. Shall the sword of Fingal arise, or shall a warrior lead ?" The deeds of old, said Duth-maruno, are like paths to our eyes, 0 Fingal ! Broad-shielded Trenmor is still seen amidst his own dim years. Nor feeble was the soul of the king. There no dark deed wandered in secret. From their hundred streams came the tribes, to glassy Colglan-crona. Their chiefs were before them. Each strove to lead the war. Their swords were often half unsheathed. Red rolled their eyes of rage. Separate they stood, and hummed their surly songs. " Why should they yield to each other 1 their fathers were equal in war." Trenmor was there, with his people stately, in youthful locks. He saw the advancing foe. The grief of his soul arose. He bade the chiefs to lead by turns ; they led, but they were rolled away. From his own mossy hill blue-shielded Trenmor came down. He led wide-skirted battle, and the strangers failed. Around him the dark-browed warriors came: they struck the shield of joy. Like a 'Jleasant gale the words of power _rushed forth from S e lma of kings. But the chiefs led by turns, in war, till mighty danger rose : then was the hour of the king to conquer in the field. "Not unknown," said Cromma-glas of shields, "are .he deeds of our fathers. But who sha;l now lead the war before the race of kings 1 Mist settles on these four dark hills: within it let each warrior strike his shield. Spirits may descend in darkness, and mark us for the war."

PAGE 198

196 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. They went each to his hill of mist. Bards marked the sounds of the shields. Loudest rung thy boss. Duth-maruno. Thou must lead in war! Like the murmurs of waters the race of U -thorn() came down. Starno led the battle, and Swaran of stormy isles. They looked forward from iron shields, like Cruth-loda, fiery-eyed, when he looks from behind the darkened moon, and strews his signs on night. The foes met by Turthor's stream. They heaved like riclgy waves. Their echoing strokes are mixed. Shadowy death flies over the hosts. They were clouds of hai, with squally winds in their skirts. Their showers are roaring together. Below them swells the dark-rolling deep. Strife of gloomy U-thorno, why should I mark thy wounds 1 Thou art with the years that are gone ; thou fadest on my soul ! Starno brought forward his skirt of war, and Swaran his own dark wing. Nor a harmless fire is Duth maruno's sword. Lochlin is rolled over her streams. The wrathful kings are lost in ' thought. They roll their silent eyes over the flight of their land. The horn of Fingal was heard ; the sons of woody Albion returned. But many lay, by Turthor's stream, silent in their blood. " Chief of Crathmo," said the king, "Duth-maruno, hunter of boars ! not harmless returns my eagle from the field of foes! For this white-bosomed Lanul shall brighten at her streams ; Candona shall rejoice as he wand e rs in Crathmo's fields." "Colgorm," replied the chief, "was the first of my race in Albion; Colgorm, the rider of ocean; through its wat e ry vales. He slew his brother in 1-thorno :" he left the land of his fathers. He chose his place ir. • An i s ! anu of Scandinavia. I I I

PAGE 199

CATH-LODA. 197 silence, by rocky Crathmo-c.raulo. His race camo forth in their years; they came forth to war, but they always fell. The wound of my fathers is mine, king of echoing isles ! He drew an arrow from his side ! He fell pale in a land unknown. His soul came forth to his fathers, to their stormy isle. There they pursued boars of mist, along the skirts of winds. The chiefs stood silent around, as the stones of Loda, on their hill. The tra. veller sees them, through the twilight, from his lonely path. He thinks them the ghosts of the aged, forming future wars. Night came down on U-thorno. Still stood the chiefs in their grief. The blast whistled, by turns, through "very warrior's hair. . Fingal, at length, broke forth from the thoughts of his soul. He called Ullin of harps, and bade the song to rise. "No falling fire, that is only seen, and then retires in night; no de. parting meteor was he that is laid so low. He was like the strong-beaming sun, long rejoicing on his hill. Call the names of his fathers from their dwellings old!' I-thorno, said the bard, that risest midst ridgy seas! 'Vhy is thy head so gloomy in the ocean's mist 1 From thy vales came forth a race, fearless as thy strong. winged eagles : the race of Colgorm of iron shields, dwellers of Loda's hall. In Tormoth's resounding isle arose Lurthan, streamy .till. It bent its woody head over a silent vale. There, at foamy Cruruth's source, dwelt Rurmar, hunter of ! His daughter was fair as a sunbeam, white. bosomed Strina-dona ! Many a king of heroes, and hero of iron shields ; many a youth of heavy locks came to Rurmar's echo ing hall. They came to woo the maid, the stately huntress of Tormoth wild. But thou lookest careless from thy steps, high-bosomed Strina.dona! 17*

PAGE 200

1 i 198 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. lf on the heath she moved, her breast was whiter than the down of cana ;* If on the sea-beat shore, thau the foam of the rolling ocean. Her eyes were two stars of light. -Her face was heaven's bow in showers. Her dark hair flowed round it, like the streaming clouds. Thou wert the dweller of souls, white-handed Strina dona! Colgorm came in his ship, and Corcul-suran, king of shells. The brothers came from 1-thorno to woo the sunbeam of Tormoth wild. She saw them in their echoing steel. Her soul was fixed on blue-eyed Col gorm. Ul-lochlin'st nightly eye looked in, and saw the tossing arms of Strina-dona. Wrathful the brothers frowned. Their flaming eyes in silence met. They turned away. They struck their shields. Their hands were trembling on their sworos. They rushed into the strife of heroes for long haired Strina-dona. Corcul-suran fell in blood. On his isle raged the strength of his father. He turned Colgorm from 1-thorno, to wander on all the winds. In Crathmo craulo's rocky field he dwelt by a foreign stream. Not• darkened the king alone, that beam of light was near, the daughter of echoing Tormoth, white armed Strina-dona. "' The cana is a certain kind of grass, which grows plentifully ia the heathy morasses of the north. t Ul-lochlin, " the guide to Lochlin ;" the name of a liW" I

PAGE 201

C.ATH-LODA. 199 ARGUMENT OF DU.AN III. Ol!sian, after some general reflections, describes the situation of Fingal, and the position of the army of Lochlin.-The convers& tion of Stamo and Swaran.-The episode of Corman-trunar and Foina-bragal.-Starno, from his own example, recommends to Swaran to surprise Fingal, who had retired alone to a neighboring hill. Upon Swaran's Starno undertakes th(! enterpriSe himself; is overcome and taKen prisoner by Fingal. He IS dismissed, after a severe reprimand for his cruelty. WHENCE is the stream of years? Whither do they roll along ? Where have they hid, in mist, their many col ored sides. I look unto the times of old, but they seem dim to Ossian's eyes, like reflected moonbearr{s on a distant lake. Here rise the red beams of war! There, silent, dwells a feeble race ! They mark no years with their deeds, as slow they pass along. Dweller between the shi e lds! thou that awakest the failing soul! descend from thy wall, harp of Cona, with thy voices three! Come with that which kindles the past: rear the forms of old, on their own dark-brown years! U-thorno, hill of storms, I behold my race on thy side. Fingal is bending in night over Duth-maruno's tomb. Near him are the steps of his heroes, hunters of the boar. By Turthor's stream the host of Lochlin is deep in shades. The wrathful kings stood on two hills : they looked forward on their bossy shields. They looked forward to the stars of night, red wander ing in the west. Cruth-loda bends from high, like a formless meteor in clouds. He sends abroad the winds, &.nd marks them with his signs. Starno foresaw that Morven's king was not to yield in war. He twice struck the tree in wrath. He rushed be fore his son. He hummed a surly song, and heard his eir in wind. Turned from one another, they stood,

PAGE 202

20(1 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. like two oaks, which different winds had bent ; each hangs over his own loud rill, and shakes his boughs in the course of blasts. "Annir," said Starno of lakes, "was a fire that con sumed of old. He poured death from his eyes along the striving fields. His joy was in the fall of men. Blood to him was a summer stream, that brings joy to the withered vales, from its own mossy rock. He cat.oe forth to the lake Luth-cormo, to meet the tall Curman-trunar, he from Urlor of streams, dweller of battle's wing." The chief of Urlor had come to Gormal with his dark-bosomed ships. He saw the daughter of Annir, white-armed Foina.bragal. He saw her! Nor rolled her eyes on the rider of stormy waves. She fled to his ship in darkness, like a moonbeam through a nightly veil. Annir pursued along the deep ; he called the winds of heaven. Nor alone was the king! Starno was by his side. Like U-thorno's young eagle, I turned my eyes on my father. We rushed into roaring Urlor. With his people came tall Corman-trunar. We fought; but the foe pre vailed. In his wrath my father stood. He lopped tht> young trees with his sword. His eyes rolled red in his rage. 1 marked the soul of the king, and I retired in night. From the field I took a broken helmet; a shield that was pierced with steel ; pointless was the spear in my hand. I went to find the foe. On a rock sat tall Corman.trunar beside his burning oak ; and near him beneath a tree, sat deep-bosomed Foina.bragal. I threw my broken shield before her I spoke the words of peace. " Beside his rolling sea lies Aunir of many lakes. The king was pierced ir battle; and Starno is to raise his tomb. Me, a son of Loda, he sends to white-handed Foina, to bid her send a lock from her hair, to rest with her father in earth. I I I

PAGE 203

CATH-LODA, 201 And 1f10u, king of roaring Urlor, let the battle cease, till A.1nir receive the shell from fiery-eyed Cruth-loda." Bursting into tears, she rose, and tore a lock from her hair ; a lock, which wandered in the blast, along her heaving breast. Corman-trunar gave the she .!, and bade me rejoice before him. I rested in the shadt> of night, and hid my face in my helmet deep. Sleep descended on the foe. I rose, like a stalking ghost. I pierced the side of Corman-trunar. Nor did Foinu bragal escape. She rolled her white bosom in blood. Why, then, daughter of heroes, didst thou wake my rage? Morning rose. The foe were fled, like the depart. ure of mist. Annir struck his bossy shield. He called his dark-haired son. I came, streaked with wandering blood : thrice rose the shout of the king, like the burst. ing forth of a squall of wind from a cloud by night. We rejoiced three days above the dead, and called the hawks of heaven. They came from all their winds to feast on Annir's foes. Swaran, Fingal is alone in his hill of night. Let thy spear pierce the king in secret ; like Annir, my soul shall rejoice. "Son of Annir," said Swaran, "I shall not slay in shades : I move forth in light: the hawks rush from all their winds. They are wont to trace my course : it is not harmless through war." Burning rose the rage of the king. He thrice raised his gleaming spear. But, starting, he spared his son, and rushed into the night. By Turthor's stream, a cave is dark, the dwelling of Conban-carglas. There he laid the helmet of kings, and called the maid of LuJan; but she was distant far in Loda's resounding hall. Swelling in his rage, he strode to where Fingal lay nlone. The king was laid on his shield, on his own semet hill.

PAGE 204

202 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, Stern hunter of shaggy boars! no feeble maid is laic before thee. No boy on his ferny bed, by Turthor'lll murmuring stream. Here is spread the couch of the mighty, from which they rise to deeds of death! Hunt. er of shaggy boars, awaken not the terrible ! Starno came murmuring on. Fingal arose in arms. " Who art thou, son of night !" Silent he threw the spear. They mixed their gloomy strife. The shield of Starno fell, cleft in twain. He is bound to an oak. The early beam arose. It was then Fingal beheld the king. He rolled awhile his silent eyes. He thought of other days, when white-bosomed Agandecca moved like the music of songs. He loosed the thong from his hands. Son of Annir, -he said, retire. Retire to Gor mal of shells ; a beam that was set returns. I remem ber thy white-bosomed daughter ; dreadful king, away! Go to thy troubled dwelling, cloudy foe of the lovely ! Let the stranger shun thee, thou gloomy in the hull! A tale of the times of old ! ------------

PAGE 205

CO MALA, A DRAMATIC POEM. A'RGUMENT. fhis 11oerr. i.s valuable on account of the light it tlirows on the nn tiquity of Ossian's compositions. The Caracul mentioned here is the same with Caracalla, the son of Severns, who, in the year 2ll, com'Jlanded an expedition against the Caledonians The vanety of the measure shows that the poem was originally set to music, and perhaps presented before the chiefs upon solemn occasions. Tradition has handed down the story more complete than it is in the poem. "Comala, the daughter of Sarno, king of lnistcore, or Orkney Islands, fell in love with Fin&al, the son of Comhal, at a feast1 to which her fatherhad invitea him [Fin gal, B. III.] upon h1s return from Lochlin, after the death of Agandecca. Her passion was so violent, that she followed him, disguised like a youth, who wanted to be employed in his wars. She was soon discovered by Hidallan, the son of Lam or, one of Fingal'5 heroes, whose love she had slighted some time before. Her romantic passion and beauty recommended her so much to the king, that he had resolved to make her his wife; when news was brought him of Caracu!'s exl!edition. He marched to stop the progress of the enemy, and Gomala attended him. He left her on"' hill, within sight of Caracul's army, when he himself went to battle, having previously promised, if ha survived, to return that night." The sequel ot the story may be gathered from the poem itself. FINGAL. HIDALLAN. Co MALA. The Person.!. MELILCOMA, DERSAGRENA, BARDS. Daughters of Morni. Dersagrena. The chase is over. No noise on Erdven but the torrent's roar! Daughter of Morni, come from Crona's banks. Lay down the bow and take the harp. Let the night come on with songs; let our joy be great on Ardven. Jl[elilcoma. Night comes on apace, thou blue-eyed maid! gray night grows dim along the plain, I saw a

PAGE 206

204 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. deer at Crona's stream; a mossy bank he seemed through the gloom, but soon he bounded away. A meteor played round his branching horns; the awfuJ faces of other times looked from the clouds of Crona. Dersagrena. These are the signs of Fingal's death. The king of shields is fallen ! and Caracul prevails. Rise, Comala, from thy rock ; daughter of Sarno, rise in tears ! the youth of thy love is low ; his ghost is on our hills. Melilcoma. There Comala sits forlorn ! two gray dogs near shake their rough ears, and catch the flying breeze. Her red cheek rests upon her arm, the moun. tain wind is in her hair. She turns her blue eyes towards the fields of his promise. Where art thou, 0 Fingal 1 The night is gathering around. Comala. 0 Carun of the streams ! why do I behold thy waters rolling in blood 1 Has the noise of the battle been heard ; and sleeps the king of Morven 1 Rise, moon, thou daughter of the sky ! look from be. tween thy clouds; rise, that I may behold the gleam of his steel on the field of his promise. Or rather l e t the meteor, that lights our fathers through the night, come with its red beam, to show me the way to my fallen hero. Who will defend me from sorrow 1 Who from the love of Hidallan 1 Long shall Comala look before she can behold Fingal in the midst of his host; bright as the coming forth of the morning in the cloud of an early shower. Hidallan. Dwell, thou mist of gloomy Crona, dwell on the pat]1 of the king ! Hide his steps from mi 1e eyes, let me remember my friend no more. The bands of battle are scattered, no crowding tread i& round the noise of his steel. 0 Carun ! roll thy streams of blood, the chief of the people is low. Comala. Who fell on Carun's sounding banks, son of the cloudy night ? Was he white as the snow of

PAGE 207

CO MALA. 205 !•.rdven? Blooming as the bow of the shower 1 Was his hair like the mist of the hill, soft and curling in the day of the sun 1 Was he like the thunder of heaven in battle 1 Fleet as the roe of the desert 1 Hidallan. 0 that I might behold his love, fair leaning from her rock ! Her red eye dim in tears, her blushing cheek _!lalf bid in her locks! Blew, 0 gentle breeze ! lift thou the heavy locks of the maid, that I may behold her white arm, her lovely cheek in her grief. Comala. And is the son of Comhal fallen, chief o{ the mournful tale ! The thunder rolls on the hill • The lightning flies on wings of fire ! They frighten not Comala; for Fingal is low. Say, chief of the mournful tale, fell the breaker of the shields 1 Hidallan. The nations are scattered on their hills ! they shall hear the voice of the king no more. Comala. Confusion pursue thee over thy plains ! Ruin overtake thee, thou king of the world! Few be thy steps to thy grave ; and let one virgin mourn thee ! Let her be like Comala, tearful in the days of her youth ! Why hast thou told me, Hidallan, that my hero fell 1 I might have hoped a little while his re turn; I might have thought I saw him on the distant rock: a tree might have deceived me with his appear ance ; the wind of the hill might have been the sound of his horn in mine ear. 0 that I were on the banks of Carun; that my tears might be warm on his cheek. Hidallan. He lies not on the banks of Carun : on Ardven heroes raise his tomb. Look on them, 0 moon ! from thy clouds ; be thy beam bright on his breast, that Comala may behold him in the light of his armor. Comala. Stop, ye sons of the grave, till I behold .ny love ! He left me at the chase alone. I knew not that hP went to war. He said he would return with 18

PAGE 208

206 THE POE!IlS OF OSSIAN. the right ; the king of Morven is returned ! Why thou not tell me that he would fall, 0 trembling dweller of the rock ?* Thou sawest him in the blood of his youth; but thou didst not tell Comala. Melilcoma. What sound is that on Ardven 1 Who is that bright in the vale 1 Who comes like the strength of rivers, when their crowded waters glitter to the moon 1 Comala. Who is it but the foe of Comala, the son of the king of the world ! Ghost of Fingal ! do thou, from thy cloud, direct Comala's bow. Let him fall like the hart of the desert. It is Fingal in the crowd of his ghosts. Why dost thou come, my Jove, to frighten and please my soul? Fingal. Raise, ye bards, the song; raise-the wars of the streamy Carun ! Caracul has fled from our arms along the field of his pride. He sets far distant like a meteor, that encloses a spirit of night, whe n the winds drive it over the heath, and the dark woods are gleaming around. I heard a voice, or was it the breeze of my hills 1 Is it the huntress of Ardven, the white handed daughter of Sarno 1 Look from the rocks, my love ; let me hear the voice of Comala ! Comala. Take me to the cave of thy rest, 0 lovely son of death 1 Fingal. Come to the cave of my rest. The storm is past, the sun is on our fields. Come tv the cave of my rest, huntress of echoing Ardven ! Comala. He is returned with his fame! I feel the right hand of his wars ! But I must rest beside the rock till my soul returns from my fear! 0 let the harp be near! raise the song, ye daughters of Morna. Dersagrena. Comala has slain three deer on Ard.. By the " dweller of the rock" she means a Druid.

PAGE 209

CO MALA. 207 ven, the fire ascends on the rock ; go to the feast of Cumala, king of the woody Morven! Fingal. Raise, ye sons of song, the wars of the streamy Carun; that my white-handed maid may re joice : while I behold the feast of my love. Bards. Roll. streamy Carun, roll in joy, the sons of battle are fled ! the steed is not seen on our fields ; the wings of their pride spread on other lands. The sun will now rise in peace, and the shadows descend in joy. The voice of the chase will be h eard; the shields hang in the hall. Our delight will be in the war of th e ocean, our hands shall grow red in the blood of Lochlin. Roll, streamy Carun, roll in joy, the sons of battle fled ! Melilcoma. Descend, ye light mi s ts from high ! Y e moonbeams, lift her soul ! Pale lies the maid at th e rock ! Comala is no more ! Fingal. Is the daughter of Sarno dead ; the white bosomed maid of my love ? Meet me, Comala, on my heaths, when I sit alone at the streams of my hills. Hidallan. Ceased the voice of the huntress of Ardven? why did I trouble the soul of the ma . id 1 When shall I see thee, with joy, in the chase of the dark-brown hinds? Fingal. Youth of the gloomy brow ! No more shalt thou feast in my halls! Thou shalt not pursue my chase, my foes shall not fall by thy sword. Lead me to the place of her rest, that I may behold her b ea uty. Pale she lies as the rock, the cold winds lift het hair. Her bow-string sounds in the blast, her al'J'ow was broken in her fall. Raise the praise of the daughter of Sarno ! give her name to the winds of heaven. Bards. See! meteors gleam around the maid! S ee ! moonbeams lift her soul ! Around her, from their clouds, bend the awful faces of her father; Sarno

PAGE 210

208 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. of the gloomy brow ! the red-rolling eyes of Fidallan! When shall thy white hand arise 1 When shall thy voice be heard on our rocks ? The maids shall seek thee on the heath, but they shall not find thee. Thou shalt come, at times, to their dreams, to settle peace in their soul. Thy voice shall remain in their ears, they shall think with joy on the dreams of their rest. Me teors gleam around the maid, and moonbeams lift b.er soul!

PAGE 211

CARRICTHURA. ARGUMENT. F:nga;, returning from an expedition which he had made into the Roman province, resolved to visit Cathulla, king of Inistore, and brother to Comala, whose story is related at large in the preced ing dramatic poem. Upon his coming in sight ofCarric-thura, the palace ofCathulla, he observed a flame on its top, which, in those days, was a signal of distress. The wind drove him into " bay, at some distance from Carric-thura, and he was obliged te pass the night on shore . Next day he attacked the army of Fro thai, king of Sora, who had besieged Cathulla in his palace of Carric-thura, and took Frothal himself prisoner, after he . had en gaged him in a single combat. Tht' delivt'rance of Carric-thura IS the subject of the poem ; but several other episodes are inter woven With it. It appears, from tradition that this po"m was addressed to a Culdee, or one of the first Christian missionaries, and that the story of the spirit of Loda, supposed to be the ancient Odin of Scandinavia, was introduced by Ossmn in opposition to the Culdee's doctrine. Be this as it will, it lets us into Ossian's notions of a superior Being; and shows us that he was not ad dicted to the superstition whJCh prevailed all the world over, be fore the introduction of Christianity. HAST thou left thy blue course in heaven, golden-haired son of the sky ! The west opened its gates ; the bed of thy repose is there. The waves come to behold thy beauty. They lift their trembling heads. They see thee lovely in thy sleep; they shrink away with fear. Rest in thy shadowy cave, 0 sun ! let thy return be in joy. B1,1t let a thousand lights arise to the sound of the harps of Selma: let the beam spread in the hall, the king of shells is returned! The strife of Crona i5 past, like sounds that are no more. Raise the song, 0 bards ! the king is returned w1th his fame ! Such were the words of Ullin, when Fingal returned from war ; when he returned in the fair blushing of youth with all his heavy locks. His blue arms were 18*

PAGE 212

210 THE POEMS OF OSSL\N. on the hero; like a light cloud on the sun, when ne moves in his robes of mist, and shows but half his beams. His heroes followed the king : the feast of shells is spread. Fingal turns to his bards, and bids the song to rise. Voices of echoing Cona ! he said ; 0 bards of other times! Y e, on whose souls the blue host of our fathers rise ! strike the harp in my hall : and let me hear the song. Pleasant is the joy of grief; it is like the shower of spring when it softens the branch of the oak, and the young leaf rears its green head. Sing on, 0 bards ! to-morrow we lift the sail. My blue course is through the ocean, to Carric-thura's walls; the mossy walls of Sarno, where Comala dwelt. There the noble Cathulla spreads the feast of shells. The boars of hiR woods are many ; the sound of the chase shall arise ! Cronnan, son of the song ! said Ullin ; Minona, graceful at the harp! raise the tale ofShilric, to please the king of Morven. Let Vinvela come in her beauty, like the showery bow, when it shows its lovely head on the lake, and the setting sun is bright. She comes, 0 Fingal ! her voice is soft, but sad. Vinvela. My love is a son of the hill. He pursues the flying deer. His gray dogs are panting around him; his bow-string sounds in the wind. Dost thou rest by the fount of the rock, or by the noise of the mountain stream 1 The rushes are nodding to the wind, the mist flies over the hill. I will approach my love unseen ; I will behold him from the POCk. Lovely I saw thee first by the aged oak of Branno; thou we:'t returning tall from the chase ; the fairest among thy friends. S!tilric. What voice is that I hear 1 that voice like the summer wind ! I sit not by the nodding rushes ; I :!ear not the fount of the rock. Afar, Vinvela, afar, I go to the wars of Fingal. My dogs attend me no

PAGE 213

/ CARRIC-THUR.11.. 211 more. No more I tread the hill. No more from on high I see thee, fair moving by the stream of the plain ; bright as the bow of heaven ; as the moon on the western wave. Vim,ela. Then thou art gone, 0 Shilric ! I am alone on the hill ! The deer are seen on the brow: void of fear they graze along. No more they dread the wind; no more the rustling tree. The hunter is far removed, he is in the field of graves. Strangers! sons of the waves ! spare my lovely Shilric ! Shilric. If fall I must in the field, raise high my grave, Vinvela. Gray stones, and heaped up earth, shall mark me to future times. When the hunter shall sit by the mound, and produce his food at noon, "some warrior rests here," he will say ; and my fame shall live in his praise. Remember me, Vinvela, when low on earth I lie ! Vinvela. Yes! I will remember thee ! alas ! my Shilric will fall! What shall I do, my love, when thou art for ever gone 1 Through these hills I will go at noon: I will go through the silent heath. There I wilJ see the place of thy rest, returning from the chase. Alas ! my Shilric will fall ; but I will remember Shilric. And I remember the chief, said the king of woody Morven; he consumed the battle in his rage. But now my eyes behold him not. I met him one day on the hill ; his cheek was pale : his brow was dark. The sigh was frequent in his breast : his steps were towards the desert. But now he is not in the crowd of my chiefs, when the sounds of my shields arise. Dwells he in the narrow house,* the chief of high Carmora 1 Cronnan ! said Ullin of other times, raise the song of Shilric! when he returned to his hills, anll Vinvela "The grave.

PAGE 214

212 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, was no more. He leaned on her gray mossy stone; he thought Vinvela lived. He saw h e r fair moving on the plain; but the bright form l asted not: the sunbeam fled from the field, and she was seen no more. Hear the song of Shilric; it is soft, but sad ! I sit by the mossy fountain ; on the top of the hill of winds. One tree is rustling above me. Dark waves roll over the heath. The lake is troubled below. The deer descend from the hill. No hunter at a distance is seen. It is mid-day: but all is silent. Sad are my thoughts alone. Didst thou but appear, 0 my love ? a wanderer on the heath ? thy hair floating on the wind behind thee; thy bosom heaving on the sight; thine eyes full of tears for thy friends, whom the mists of the hill had concealed? Thee I would comfort, my love, aud bring thee to thy father's house ? But is it she that there appears, like a beam of light on the heath ? bright as the moon in autumn, as the sun in a summer comest thou, 0 maid, over rocks, over mountains, to me ? She speaks: but how weak her voice ! like the breeze in the reeds of the lake. " Returnest thou safe from the war ? Where are th) fri e nds, my love? I heard of thy death on the hill; I heard and mourned thee, Shilric ! Yes, my fair, I re turn: but I alone of my race. Thou shalt see th e m no more; their graves I raised on the plain. But why art thou on the desert hill ? Why on the heath alone ? "Alone I am, 0 Shilric! alone in the winter-house. With grief for thee I fell. Shilric, I am pale in the tomb." She fleets, she sails away; as mist before the wind 1 and wilt thou not stay, Vinvela? Stay, and behold mv tears ! Fair thou appearest, Vinvela! fair thou \\-ast. when alive!

PAGE 215

C.lRRIC-THURA. 213 By the mossy fountain I will sit ; on the top of the hills of winds. When mid-day is silent around, 0 talk with me, Vinvela! come on the light-winged gale! on the breeze of the desert, come ! Let me hear thy voiceJ as thou passest, when mid-day is silent around! Sueh was the song of Cronnan, on the night of Sel ma's joy. But morning rose in the east; the blue waters rolled in light. Fingal bade his sails to rise ; the winds came rustling from their hills. lnistore rose to sight, and Carric-thura's mossy towers! But the sign of distress was on their top : the warning flame edged with smoke. The king of Morven struck his breast: he assumed at once his spear. His darkened brow bends forward to the coast: he looks back to the lag ging winds. His hair is disordered on his back. The silence of the king is terrible ! Night came down on the sea: Rotha's bay received the ship. A rock bends along the coast with all its echoing wood. On the top is the circle of Loda, the mossy stone of power! A narrow plain spreads beneath covered with grass and aged trees, which the midnight winds, in their wrath, had torn from their shaggy rock. The blue course of a stream is there ! the lonely blast of ocean pursues the thistle's beard. The flame of three oaks arose : the feast is spread round ; but the soul of the king is sad, for Carric-thura's chief distrest. The wan cold moon rose in the east. Sleep de scended on the youths ! Their blue helmets glitter to the beam ; the fading fire decays. But sleep did not rest on the king: he rose in the midst of his arms, and slowly ascended the hill, to behold the flame of Sarno's tower. The flame was dim and distant ; the moon hid her red face in the east. A blast came from the mountain, on its wings was the spirit of Loda. He came to his place m his terrors, and shook his dusky spear. His

PAGE 216

!l14 1'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. eyes appear like flames in his dark face ; his voice is 1ike distant thunder. Fingal advanced his spear in night, and raised his voice on high. Son of night, retire; call thy winds, and fly ! Why dost thou to my pr ese nc e, with thy shadowy arms? Do I fear thy g l oomy form, spirit of dismal Loda! Weak is thy shield of clouds; feeble is that meteor, thy sword! The blast rolls them together; and thou thyself art lost. Fly from my presence, son of night! call thy winds, and fly! Dost thou force me from my place ? replied the hol low voice. The people bend before me. I turn the battle in the field of the brave. I look on the nations, and they vanish : my nostrils pour the blasts of death. I come abroad on the winds ; the tempests are before my face. But my dwelling is calm, above the clouds; the fields of my rest are pleasa nt. Dwell in thy pleasant fie lds, said the king: Let Comhal's son be forgot. Do my steps ascend from my hills into thy peac eful plains 1 Do I meet thee with a spear on thy cloud, spirit of dismal Loda 1 Why then dost thou frown on me 1 \Vhy shake thine airy spear1 Thou frownest in vain : I never fled from the mighty in war. And shall the sons of the wind frighten the king of Morven? No! he knows the weakness of their arms! Fly to thy land, replied the form: receive thy wind and fly 1 The blasts are in the hoi low of my han i ; the course of the storm is mine. The king of Sora is m) son, he bends at the stone of my power. His battle around Carric-thura; and he will prevail ! Fly to thy lund, son of Comhal, or feel my flaming wrath. H e lifted high his shadowy spear! He bent forward his dreadful height. Fingal, advancing, drew his sword; the blade of dark-brown Luno. The gleam. ing path of the steel winds through the gloomy ghost,

PAGE 217

CARRIC-TIIURA. 215 The form fell shapeless into the air, like a column of smoke, which the staff of the boy disturbs as it rises from the half-extinguished furnace. The spirit of Loda shrieked, as, rolled into himself, he rose on the wind. lnistore shook at the sound. The waves heard it on the deep. They stopped in \heir course with fear ; the friends of Fingal started at '>nee, and took their heavy spears. They missed the they rose in rage ; all their arms resound ! The moon came forth in the east. Fingal returned in the gleam of his arms. The joy of his youth was great, their souls settled, as a sea from a storm. Ullin raised the song of gladness. The hills of Inistore re joiced. The flame of the oak arose; and the tales of heroes are told. But Frothal Sora's wrathful king sits in sadness be. neath a tree. The host spreads around Carric-thura. He looks towards the walls with rage. He longs for the blood of Cathulla, who once overcame him in war. When Annir reigned in Sora, the father of sea-borne Frothal, a storm arose on the sea; and carried Frothal to Inistore. Three days he feasted in Sarno's halls, and saw the slow-rolling eyes ofComala. He loved her in the flame of youth, and rushed to seize the white-armed maid. Cathulla met the chief. The gloomy battle arose. Frothal was bound in the hall : three days he pined alone. On the forth, Sarno sent him to his ship, and he returned to his land. But wrath darkened in his soul against the noble Cathulla. When Annir's stone of fame arose, Frothal came in his strength. The battle burned round Carric-thura and Sarno's mossy walls. Morning rose on Inistore. Frothal struck his dark brown shield. His chiefs started at the sound; they stood, but their eyes were turned to the sea. They saw Fingal coming in his strength; and first the noble

PAGE 218

:u6 THE POEl\IS OF OSSIAN. Thubar spoke, "Who comes, like the stag of the deser., with all his herd behind him 1 Frothal, it is a foe ! I see his forwarJ spear. Perhaps it is the king of Mor. ven, Fingal the first of men. His deeds are well known in Lochlin ! the blood of his foes is in Sarno's halls. Shall I ask the peace of kings 1 His sword is the bolt of heaven!" Son of the feeble hand, said Frothal, shall my days begin in a cloud 1 Shall I yield before I have conquered, chief of streamy Tora 1 The people would say in Sora, Frothal flew forth like a meteor; but a darkness has met him, and his fame is no more. No, Thubar, I will never yield; my fame shall surround me like light. No: I will never yield, chief of streamy Tora! He went forth with the stream of his people, but they met a rock ; Fingal stood unmoved, broken they rolled back from his side. Nor did they safely fly; the spear of the king pursued their steps. The field is covered with heroes. A rising hill preserved the foe. Frothal saw their flight. The rage of his bosom rose. He bent his eyes to the ground, and call e d the noble Thubar. Thubar! my people are fled. My fame has ceased to rise. I will fight the king; I feel my burning soul! Send a bard to d e mand the combat. Speak not against Frothal's words! But, Thubar! I love a maid; she dwells by Thana's stream, the white. bosomed daughter of Herman, Utha, with soft-rolling eyes. She feared the low-laid Comala; her secret sighs rose when I spread the sail. Tell to Utha of harps that my soul delighted in her. Such were his words, resolved to fight. The soft sigh of Utha was near! She had followed her hero in the armor of a man. She rolled her eye on the youth, in secret, from beneath her steel. She saw the bard as he went ; the spear fell tluice from her hand ! Her loose hair flew on the wind. Her white breast rose f , , I I

PAGE 219

CARRIC-THURA. 217 with sighs. She raised her eyes to the king. She would speak, but thrice she failed. Fingal heard the words of the bard ; he came in the 1trength of his st e el. They mixed their dcathful :spearn: hP.y raised the gleam of their arm;;. llut the sword •If r'ingal descended and cut Frothal's shield in twai:J. His fair side is exposed; half-bent, he forest:te j death. Darkness gathered on Utha's soul. The rolled down her cheek. She rushed to cover the cnief with her shield: but a fallen oak met her steps . She fell on her arm of snow ; her shield, her helmet flew wide. Her white bosom heaved to the sigh; he1 dark brown hair is spread on earth. Fingal pitied the white-armed maid! he s tayed the uplifted sword. The tear was in the eye of the king, as, bending forward, he spoke, " King of str e amy Sora! fear not the sword of Fingal. It was never stained with the blood of the vanquished; it never pierced a fallen foe. Let thy people rejoice by their native streams. Let the maid of thy love be glad. Why shouldst thou fall in thy youth, king of streamy Sora 1" Frothal heard the words of Fingal, and saw the rising maid: they* stood in silence, in their beauty, like t\\ o young trees of the plain, when the shower of spring is on their leaves, and the loud winds are laid. Daughter of Herman, said Frothal, didst thou come from Tora's streams 1 didst thou come in thy beauty to behold thy warrior low 1 But he was low before the mighty, maid of the slow-rolling eye! The feehle did not overcome the son of carborne Annir! Terrible art thou, 0 king of Morven! in battles of the spear. But, in peace, thou art like the sun when he looks through a silent shower: the flowers lift their fair heads before him ; the gales shake their rustling wings. 0 that thou I

PAGE 220

218 THE POEII:S OF OSSIA1'{. wert in Sora! that my feast were spread! The future kings of Sora would see thy arms and rejoice. They would rejoice at the fame of their fathers, who beheld the mighty Fingal ! Son of Annir, replied the king, the fame of Sora's race shall be heard ! When chiefs are strong in war, then does the song arise ! But if their swords are stretched over the feeble ; if the blood of the weak has stained their arms ; the bard shall forget them in the song, and their tombs shall not be known. The stran ger shall come and build th e re, and remove the heaped up earth. An half-worn sword shall rise before him; bending above it, he will say, " These are the arms of the chiefs of old, but their names are not in song." Come thou, 0 Frothal ! to the feast of Inistore : l e t the maid of thy love be there ; let our faces brighten with joy! Fingal took his spear, moving in the steps of his might. The gates of Carric-thura are opened wide. The feast of shells is spread. The soft sound of music arose. Gladness brightened in the hall. The vowe of Ullin was heard; the harp of Selma was strung. Utha rejoiced in his presence, and d e manded the song of grief; the big tear hung in her eye when the soft Crimora spoke. Crimora, the daughter of Rinval, who dwelt at Lotha's roaring stream ! The tale was long, but lovely; and pleased the blushing Utha. Crimora. Who cometh from the hill, like a cloud tinged with the beam of the west? Whose voice is that, loud as the wind, but pleasant as the harp of Car. ril? It is my lov e in the light of steel; but sad is his darken e d brow! Live the mighty race of Fingai or what darkens Connal's soul? Connal. They live. 'fhey return from the r:hnse !ike a stream of light. The sun is on their s!Jields. Like a ridge of fire they descend the hill. Loud is the == ====-=---...::_ _ ________ _ _

PAGE 221

CARRIC-THURA. 210 voice of the youth ! the war, my love, is near! To morrow the dreadful Darga comes to try the force of our race. The race of Fingal he defies; the race of battles and wonnds ! Crimora. CoPnal, I saw his sails like gray mist on the dark-brown wave. They slowly came to land. Canna!, many are the warriors of Dargo. Connal. Bring me thy father's shield, the bossy iron shield of Rinval! that shield like the full-orbed mc;;on, wh e n sh e moves darkened through heaven. Crimora. That shield I bring, 0 Connal ! but it did n o t d e f end my father. By the spear of Gormar he fell. Thou mayst fall, 0 Connal ! Connal. Fall I may ! but raise my tomb, Crimora! Gray stones, a mound of earth, shall send my name to oth e r times. Bend thy red eye over roy grave, beat thy mournful heaving breast. Though fair thou art, my love, as the light; more pleasant than the gale of th e hill ; yet I will not hear remain. Raise my tomb, Crimora! Crimora. Then give me those arms that gleam; tha t sword 11nd that spear of steel. I shall meet Darga with Connal, and aid him in the fight . Farewell, ye oc ks of Ardven ! ye deer ! and ye streams of the hill! W e shall return no more! Our tombs are distant far ! "And did they return no more 1" said Utha's burst. ing sigh . " Fell the mighty in battle, and did Crimora liv e 1 H e r steps were lonely ; her soul was sad for Conn a!. Was he not young and lovely; like the beam of the setting sun 1 Ullin saw the virgin's tear, he took th e softly trembling harp; the song was lovely, but sad, and sile nce was in Carric-thura. Autumn is dark on the mountains; gray mist rests on the hills. The whirlwind is heard on the heath. Dark rolls t he river through the narrow plain. A tree Rtands alone on the hill, and marks the slumbering

PAGE 222

220 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Connal. The leaves whirl round with the wind, ancJ strew the grave of the dead. At times are seen here the ghosts of the departed, when the 1 nusing alone stalks slowly over the heath. Who can reach the SOl.t•ce of thy race, 0 Connal! who recount thy fathers 1 Thy family grew like an oak on the mountain, which meeteth the wind with its lofty head. But now it is torn from the earth. Who shall supply the place of Connal? He•re was the din of arms; here the groans of the dying. Bloody are the wars of Fingal, 0 Connul ! it was here thou didst fall. Thine arm was like a storm ; thy sword a beam of the sky; thy height a rock on the plain; thine eyes a fumace of fire. Louder than a storm was thy voice, in the battles of thy steel. Warriors fell by thy sword, as the thistles by the staff of a boy. Dargo the mighty came on, darkened in his rage. His brows were gathered into wrath. His eyes like two caves in a rock. Bright rose their swords on each side; loud was the clang of their steel. The daughter of Rinval was near; Crimora bright Ill the armo1 of man; her yellow hair is loose behind, her bow is in her hand. She followed the youth to the war, Connal her much-beloved. She the string on Dnrgo; but, erring, she pierced her Connal. He falls like an oak on the plain; lik e a rock from shaggy hill. What shall she do, hapless maid 1 He bk:eds; her Connal dies! All the night long she cries, and all the day, "0 Connal, my love, and my friend !" With gri e f the sad mourner dies r Enrth here enclose3 the lo\l'liest pair on the hill. The grass grows bet weer the stones of the tomb: l often sit in the mournful shade. The wi nJ sighs the grass; their memory rushes on my mind. Undisturbed you now sleep together; in the tomb of the mountain you rest alone! And soft be their rest, said Utha, hapless c!Jildren o{

PAGE 223

CARRIC-THURA. 221 streamy Lotha! I will remember them with tears, and my secret song shail rise; when the wind is in the groves of Tora, when the stream is roaring near. Then shall they come on my soul, with all their lovely grief! Three days feasted the kings : on the fourth their white sails arose. The winds of the north drove Fin gal to Morven's woody land. But the spirit of Loda sat in his cloud behind the ships of Frothal. He hung forward with all his blasts, and spread the white-bo somed sails. The wounds of his form were not for gotten ! he still feared the hand of the king ! 19* '

PAGE 224

CfARTHON. ARGU!I'lENT. filis poem is complete, and the subject of it, as of most 1 compositions, tragi ca.. In the of Corn hal, the son pf Tra thal, and lather ol the cel,.hrated Pwgal, Cle55ammor, the son of Thaddu, and brother of Morna Fingal's mother, was dri1e , by a stor111 into the river Clyde, on the banks of" hich stood Balclutha, a town b e longing to the Briton s , between the walls. He was ho,pitably rec eivt>d by l{euthamir, thP princip a l man in the place, who gave him Moina, his only daughter, in marriage. R eudo, the son of Cormo, a Briton, who was in love with Moina, came to Reuthamir's hou s e, and behaved haughtily towards Cles e iim mor. A quaJTel ensued, in which Reuda waH killed ; the Brit ons who attended him, pressed so hard on Clessammor that he was obliged to throw himself into the Clyde and swim to his ship. lie hoisted sail, and the wind bPing favorable, bore him out to sea. He allen endeavored to return, and carry off his beloved Moina by night; but the wind continuing contrary, he was forced to desist. Moina, who had been left with child by her husband, brought forth a son, and died soon after. Reuthamir named the child Carthon, i . e., "the mu1mur of waves," from the storm which carried off Clessammor his father, who wa.3 supposed to have been cast away. When Carthon was three years old, Comhal, the father of F1ngal1 in one of his expeditions the Britons, took and burnt Batclutha. ReutMmir was kilted in the attack ; and Car thou was carried safe away by his nurse, who fled farther into the country of the Britons. Carthon, coming to man's estate, was resolved to revenge the fall of Balclutha on Comhal's pos terity. He set sail from the Clyde, and f a lling on the coast of Morven, def e ated two of Fingal ' s h e roes, who came to oppos•• his progress. H e was, at last, unwittingly kill e d by hi s father Cles sammor, in a combat. This story is the foundation of the present poem, wnich opens on the night preceding the death of Carthon, so that what passed before is introduced by way of epillOde. The poem is addressed to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar. A TALE of the times of old! The deeds of days of other years. Tl1e murmur of thy streams, 0 Lora! brings back the memory of the past. The sound of thy woods, L Ga'mall"• i• lovely in mine ear. Do>t tl>ou not be. l I

PAGE 225

------==== CARTHON, 223 h,Jid, Malvina, a rock with its head c f heath! aged pines bend from its face ; green is the narrow plain at its feet; there the flower of the mountain grows, and shakes its white head in the breeze. Tbe thistle is there alone, shedding its aged beard. Two stones, half sunk in the ground, show their heads of moss. The deer of the mountain avoids the place, for he beholds a dim ghost standing there. The mighty lie, 0 Malvina! in the nanow plain of the rock. A tale of the times of old! The deeds of days of other years ! Who comes from the land of strangers, with his thousands around him 1 The sunbeam pours its bright stream before him; his hair meets the wind of his hills. His face is settled from war. He is calm as the even ing beam that looks from the cloud of the west, on Cona's silent vale. Who is it but Comhal's son, the king of mighty deeds! He beholds the hills with joy, he bids a thousand voices rise. "Ye have fled over your fields, ye sons of the distant land ! The king of the world sits in his hail, and hears of his pe
PAGE 226

224 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. his fame 1 Such was the renown of Com hal in t\le battles of his youth. Often did we pass over Carun to the land of the strangers : our swords returned, not I' unstain e d with blood : nor did the kings of the world rejoice. Why do I remember the times of our war 1 My hair is mixed with gray. My hand forgets to b e nd the bow: I lift a lighter spear. 0 that my joy would return, as when I first beheld the maid; the whitebosomed daughter of strangers, Moina, with the darkblue eyes! Tell, said the mighty Fingal, the tale of thy youthft:.' days. Sorrow, like a cloud on the sun, shades the soul of Clessammor. Mournful are thy thoughts, alone, on the banks of the roaring Lora. Let us hear the sor row of thy youth and the darkness of thy days ! " It was in the days of peace," replied the great Cles sammor, "I came in my bounding ship to Balclutha's walls of towers. The winds had roared behind my sails, and Clutha's stre ams received my dark-bosom e d sliip. Three days I remained in Reuthamir's halls, and saw his daught e r, that beam of light. The joy of the shell w ent round, and the aged hero gave the fair. Her breasts were like foam on the waves, and her eyes like stars of light; her hair was dark as the raven's wing: her soul was generous and mild. My lov e for Moina was great ; my heart poured forth in joy. " The son of a stranger came ; a chief who loved the white-bosomed Moina. His words were mighty in the hall; he oft e n half-unsheathed his sword. 'Where,' said he, 'is the mighty Comhal, the restless wanderer of th e h e ath 1 Com e s he, with his host, to Balclutha, sin c e Clessammor is so bold 1' My soul, I replied, 0 warrior! burns in a light of its own. I stand without fear in the midst of thousands, though the valiant are distant far. Stranger! thy words are mighty , for Cles sammor is alone. But my sword trembles by my side, '-'====================--

PAGE 227

I I I CARTHON. 225 and long!' to glitter in my lland. Speak no mort.. of Comhal, son of the winding Clutha! "The strength of his pride arose. We fought: fell beneath mv sword. The banks of Clutha heard his fit1!; a thousa'nd spears glittered around. I fought: the strangers l plunged into the stream of C!il1ha. My white sails rose over the waves, and I bounded on the dark-blue sea. Moina came to the shore, and rolled the red eye of her tears; her loose hUi1 flew on the wind; and I heard her mournful, dis. tant cries. Often did I turn my ship; but the winds of the east prevailed. Nor Clutha ever since have I seen, nor Moina of the dark-brown hair. She fell in Balclutha, for I have seen her ghost. I knew her as she came through the dusky night, along the murmur of Lora: she was like the new moon, seen through the gathered mist; when the sky pours down its flaky snow, and the world is silent and dade" Raise, ye bards, said the mighty Fingal, the praise of unhappy Moina. Call her ghost, with your songs, to our hi lis, that she may rest with the fair of Morven, the sunbeams of other days, the delight of heroes of . old. I ba"ve seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were The fire had resounded in the halls : and the voice of the people is heard no more. The stream of Clutha was removed from its place by the fall of the walls. The thistle shook there its lonely head: the moss whistiAd to the wind. 'fhe fox looked out from th e windows, the rank grass of the wall waved round its head. D eso late is the dwelling of Moina, silence is in the house of her fathers. Raise tlw song of mournii.g, 0 uards, over the land of strang, rs. They have but f a llen before us : for one day we must fall. Why dost tho,J build the hall, son of the winged days 1 Thou look est from thy towers to-day: yet a few years, and the blast of tht\ desErt comes; it howls in thy empty

PAGE 228

226 THE OF OSSIAN. court, and whistles round thy half-worn shield. P.ntt l et the blast of the desert come ! we shall be renowne
PAGE 229

CARTHON. 227 Sons of Morven, began the king, this is no time fill the shell ; the battle darkens near us, death hovers over the land. Some ghost, the friend of Fingal, has forewarned us of the foe. The sons of the stranger come from the darkly rolling sea; for from the watet carne the sign of Morven's gloomy danger. Let each assume his heavy spear, each gird 0n his father's sword. Let the dark helmet rise on every head; the mail pour its lightning from every side. The battle gathers like a storm; soon shall ye hear the roar of death. The hero moved on before his host, like a cloud be fore a ridge of green firel when it pours on the sky of night, and mariners foresee a storm. On Cona's rising heath they stood : the white bosomed maids beheld them above like a grove ; they foresaw the death of the youth, and looked towards the sea with fear. The \\-hite wave deceived them for distant sails; the tear is on their cheek! The sun rose on the sea, and we be. held a distant flee t. Like the mist of ocean they came and poured their youth upon the coast. The chief was among them, like the stag in the midst of the herd. His shield is studded with gold ; stately strode the king of spears. He moved towards Selma ; his thousands moved behind. Go, with a song of peace, said Fingal: go, Ullin, to the king of swords. Tell him that we are mighty in war; that the ghosts of our foes are many. But re nowned are they who have feasted in my halls ; they show the arms of my fathers in a foreign land ; the sons of the strangers wonder, and bless the friends of Morven's race ; for our na[")es have been heard afar : the kings of the world shook in the midst of their host. Ullin went with his song. Fingal rested on his spear: he saw the mighty foe in his armor: he blest the stranger's son. "How stately art thou, son of the

PAGE 230

228 THE l'OEi11S OF OSSIAN • . sea!" !>aiel che king of wo"Jdy Morven. "Thy swortl is a beam of fire by thy ; thy spear is a pine tim\ defies the storm. The varied face of the moon is not I broader ' han thy shield. Ruddy is thy face of youth! I the ringlets of thy hail! But this tree may fall, and his memory be forgot! The daughter of the stran-ger will be sad, looking to the rolling sea: the childr0n will say, 'We see a ship; perh,\ps it is the king of Bn.lclutha.' The tear s tarts from theit mother's eye: her thoughts are of him who sleeps in Morven!" Such were the words of the king when Ullin came to the mighty Carthon : he threw down the spear before him, he raised the song of peace. "Come to the feast of Fingal, Cmthon, from the rolling sea! partake of the feast of the king, or lift the spear of war ! The ghosts of our foes are many: but renowned are the .friends of Morven! Behold that field, 0 Carthon! many a green hill rises there, with mossy stones and rustling grass; these are the tombs of Fingal's foes, the sons of the rolling sea !" "Dost thou speak to the weak in arms !" said Car than, " bard of the woody Morven? Is my face pale for fear, son of the peaceful song? Why then dost thou think to darken my soul with th e tales of those who fell? My arm has fought in battle, my renown is known afar. Go to the feeble in arms, bid them yield to Fingal. Have not I seen the fallen Balclutha? And shall I feast with Comhal's son? Com hal, who threw his fire in the midst of my father's hall ? I was young, and knew not the cause why the virgins wept. The columns of smoke pleased mine eye, when they rose above my walls ! I often looked back with gladness when my frie'1ds flew along the hill. But when the years of my youth came on, I beheld the moss of my fallen walls. My sigh arose with the morning, and my tears descended with night. Shall I not fight, I said to my soul, against the children

PAGE 231

e CARTHON. 229 of my foes 1 And I will fight, 0 bard ! I feel the etrength of my soul !" His people gathered around the hero, and drew at .:mce their shining swords. He stands in the midst, like a pillar of fire, the tear half-starting from his eye, for he thought of the fallen Balclutha. The crowded pride of his soul arose. Sidelong he looked up to the hill, where our heroes shone in arms : the spear trem bled in his hand. Bending forward, he seemed to threaten the king. Shall I, said Fingal to his soul, meet at once the youth 1 Shall I stop him in the midst of his course be fore his fame shall arise ! But the bard hereafter may say, when he sees the tomb of Carthon, Fingal took his thousands to battle, before the noble Carthon fell. No: bard of the times to come! thou shalt not lessen Fingal's fame ! my heroes will fight the youth, and Fingal behold the war. If he overcomes, I rush, in my strength, like the roaring stream of Cona. Who of my chiefs wilJ meet the son of the rolling sea? Many are his warriors on the coast, and strong is his ashen spear! Cathul rose in his strength, the son of the mighty Lormar: three hundred youths attend the chief, the of his native streams. Feeble was his arm against Cmthon: he fell, and his heroes fled. Connal resumed the battle, but he broke his heavy spear: he lay bound on the field : Carthon pursued his people. Clessammor, said the king of Morven, where is the spear of thy strength? Wilt thou behold Connal bound: thy friend at the stream of Lora? Rise, in the light of thy steel, companion of valiant Comhal ! le: the youth of Balclutha feel the strength of Morven's race. He rose in the strength of his steel, shaking his locks. He fittfd the steel to his side; he rushed in the pride of valor. 20

PAGE 232

230 THE POEMS OSS :AN. Carthon stood on a rock: he saw the hero rushing on. He loved the dreadful joy of his face: his strength in the locks of age ! "Shall I lift that spear," he said, ''that never strikes but once a foe 1 Or shall I, with the words of peace, preserve the warrior's life 1 Stalely are his steps of age ! lovely the remnant of his yean>! Perhaps it is the husband of Moina, the father of car borne Carthon. Often have I heard that he dwelt at the echoing stream of Lora." Such were his words when Clessammor came, and lifted high his spear. The youth received it on his shield, and spoke the words of peace. "Warrior of the aged locks ! is there no youth to lift the spear '! Hast thou no son to raise the shield before his father to meet the arm of youth 1 Is the spouse of thy love no more 1 or weeps she over the tombs of thy sons 1 Art thou of the kings of men 1 What will be the fame of my sword shouldst thou fall?" It will be great, thou son of pride ! begun the tall Clessammor. I have been renowned in battle, but I never told my name to a foe.* Yield to me, son of the wave, then shalt thou know that the mark of my sword is in many a field. "I never yielded, king of spears!" replied the noble pride of Carthon: "I have also fought in wm, I behold my future fame. Despise me not, thou chief of men! my arm, my spear is strong. Retire among thy friend"; let younger heroes fight." Why dost thou wound my soul? replied Clessammor, with a tear. Age does not tremble on my hand. I still can lift the sword. Shall I fly in Fingal's sight, in the "' To tell one's name to an enemy, was reckoned, in those days of heroism, a manife st evasion of fighting him ; for if it was once known that friendship subsisted of ola, between the ancestors of the combatants, the battle immediately ceased, and the ancient amity of their forefathers was renewed. "A man who tells his name to bis enemy," was of old an ignominious term for a coward.

PAGE 233

\ \

PAGE 235

r-C-::::::=================:, I CARTHON. 231 sight of him I love 1 Son of the sea! I never fled: exalt thy pointed spear. They fought like two contending winds, that strive to roll the wave. Carthon bade his spear to err : he still thought that the foe was the spouse of Moina. He brok e Cle ssammor's beamy spear in twain: he seized his Rhining sword. But as Carthon was binding the chief_ the chief drew the dagger of his fathers. He saw the foe's uncovered side, and opened there a wound. Fingal saw Clessammor low: he moved in the sound of his steel. The host stood silent in his presence : they turned their eyes to the king. He came like the sullen noise of a storm before the winds arise : the hunt e r hears it in the vale, and retires to the cav e of the rock. Carthon stood in his place, the blood is rushing down his side : he saw the coming down of the king, his hopes of fame arose, but pale was his cheek: his h a ir flew loose, his h e lm e t shook on high: the force of Carthon fail ed, but his sword was strong. Fingal beheld the hero's blood ; he stopt the uplifted spear. "Yie ld, king of swords!" said Comhal's son, "1 b e hold thy blood; thou hast been mighty in battle, and thy fame shall never fad e. " Art thou the king so far renowned 1 repli e d the car-borne Carthon: art thou that light of death, that frightens the kings of the world 1 But why should Carthon ask 1 for he is like the stream of his hills, strong as a river in his course, swift as the eagle of heaven. 0 that I had fought with the king, that my fame might be great in song! that the hunter, my tomb, might say, he fought with the mighty Fingal. But C a rthon dies unkuown : he has pour e d out his force on the weak. "But thou shalt not die unknown, replied the king of woody Morven : my bards are many, 0 Carthon ! their Rongs descend to future times. The children of years

PAGE 236

232 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. to come shall hear the fame of Carthon, when they sit round the burning oak, and the night is spent in songs of old. The hunter, sitting in the heath, shall hear the rustling blast, and raising his eyes, behold the rock where Carthon fell. He shall turn to his son, nnd show the place where the mighty fought: There the king of Balclutha fought, like the strength of a thousa11d streams." Joy rose in Carthon's face; he lifted his heavy eyes. He gave his sword to Fingal, to lie within his hall, that the memory of Balclutha's king might remain in Mor ven. The battle ceased along the field, the bard had sung the song of peace. The chiefs gathered round the falling Carthon; they heard his words with sighs. Silent they l eaned on their spears, while Balclutha's hero spoke. His hair sighed in the wind, and his voice was sad and low. "King of Morven," Carthon said," I fall in the midst of my course. A foreign tomb receives, in youth, the last of Reuthamir's race. Darkness dwells in Bal. clutha; the shadows of grief in Crathmo. But raise my remembrance on the banks of Lora, where my fa. thers dwelt. Perhaps the husband of Moina will mouin over his fallen Carthon." His words reached the heart ofClessammor: he fell in silence on his son. The host stood darkened around: no voice is on the plain. Night came : the moon, from the east, looked on the mourn. ful field; but still they stood, like a silent grove that lifts its head on Gormal, when the loud winds are laid, nne! dark autumn is on the plain. Three days they mourned above Carthon ; on the fourth his father died. In the narrow plain of the rock chey lie; a dim ghost defends their tomb. There lovely Moina is often seen, when the sunbeam darts on the rock, and all around is dark. There she is .<;een, Malvina; but 110t iike tic daughter s of the bill.

PAGE 237

CARTllON. 233 robes arc from the stranger's land, and she is still alone! Fingal was sad for Carthon; he commanded his bards to mark the day when shadowy autumn returned; and often did they mark the day, and sing the hero's praise. "Who comes so dark from ocean's roar, like autumn's shadowy cloud? Death is trembling in his hand ! his eyes are flames of fire ! Who roars along darK Lor,fl's heath? Who but Carthon, king of swords! The people fall ! see how he strides like the sullen ghost of Morven ! But there he lies, a goodly oak which sudcien blasts overturned ! When shalt thou rise, Bal clutha's joy? When, Carthon, shalt thou arise? Who comes so dark from ocean's roar, lik e autumn's shad owy cloud?" Such were the words of the bards in the day of their mourning; Ossian often joined their voice, and added to their song. My soul has been moumful for Carthon: he fell in the days of his youth; and thou, 0 Clessammor! where is thy dwelling in the wind ? Has the youth forgot his wound? Flies he on clouds with thee? I feel the sun, 0 Malvina! leave me to my rest. Perhaps they may come to my dreams: I think I hear a feeble voice ! The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of Carthon: I feel it warm around. 0 thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers ! Whence are thy beams, 0 sun ! thy everlast ing light ! Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty ; the stars hide themselves in the sky ; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave; but thou thyself mov est alone. Who can be a companion of thy course 1 The oaks of the mountains fall ; the mountains them selves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven: but thou art for ever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course. When the world is dark with when thunder rolls and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy "jO* I :==================== I

PAGE 238

234 THE POEJ\18 OF OSS I AN . beauty from the clouds, and laugheat at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain, for he beholds thy b e ams no more : whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of .ne w e st. But thou art, perhaps, like me, for a s eason; thy y e ars will hav e an end. Thou shalt sle e p in thy clouds, care l e ss of the voice of the morning. Exult th en, 0 sun, in the stre ngth of thy youth! age is dark and unlov ely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon, whe n it shines through broken clouds, and the mist is on the hills : the blast of the north is on the plain, the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey. ., I I! I I

PAGE 239

r --::..:_--=::-::::--== ==--=-=-=-==-======;. ! i OINA-MORUL. After an address t( Malvina, the daughter of Toscar, Ossian pr" ceeds tc relate his own expedition to Fniirled, an island of Scan dinavia. 1\Ial-orchol, kinll, of Fuiirfed, being hard pressed in war by Ton-thormod, chief of Sar-dronto (who liad demanded in vain the daughter of Mal-orchol in marriage,) Fingal sent Ossian to his aid . Ossian, on the day after his arrival, came to battle wi
PAGE 240

236 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. for war was atound him, and our fathers had met at the feast. In Col-coiled I bound my sails. I sent my sworo to Mal-orchol of shells. He knew the signal of Albion, and his joy arose. He came from his own high hall, and seized my hand in grief. "Why comes the of heroes to a falling king 1 Ton-thormod of many spears is the chief of wavy Sar-dronlo. He saw and loved my daughter, white-bosomed Oina-morul. He sought. I denied the maid, for our fathers had been He came with battle to Fuarfed; my people are rvlled away. "Why comes the race of heroes to a fall ing king?" I come not, I said, to look, like a boy, on the strife. Fingal remembers Mal.orchol, and his hall for From his waves the warrior descended on thy wondy isle : thou wert no cloud before him. Thy feast was spread with songs. For this my sword shall rise, :tnd thy foes perhaps may fail. Our friends are not for15ot in their danger, though distant is our land. "Descendant of the darinJ Trenmor, thy words lire lii{e the voice of Cruth-Loda, when he speaks from his parting cloud, strong dweller of the sky ! Many h11ve rejoiced at my feast; but they all have forgot Mal orchol. I have looked towards all the winds, but no white sails were seen ! but steel resounds in my hall. and not the joyful shells. Come to my dwelling, race of h e roes! dark-skirted night is near. Hear the voice of songs from the maid of Fuarfed wild." We went. On the harp arose the white hands ot Oina-morul. She waked her own sad tale from every trembling string. I stood in silence; for bright in he1 locks was the daughter of many isles ! Her eyes wen two stars, looking forward through a rushing shower, The mariner marks them on high, and blesses . the lovely beams With morning we rushed to battle, to Tormul's • II I l

PAGE 241

I OINA-MORUL. 231 resounding stream : the foe moved to the sound of Ton. thormod's bossy shield. From wing to win!! the strife was mixed. I met Ton-thormod in fight. Wide flew his broken steel. I seized the king in war. I gave his hand, fast bound with thongs, to Mal-orchol, the giver of shells. Joy rose at the feast of Fuarfed, for the foe had failed. Ton-thormod turned his face away from Oina-morul of isles. Son of Fingal, began Mal-orchol, not forgot shalt thou pnss from me. A light shall dwell in thy ship, Oina morul of slow-rolling eyes. She shall kindle gladness along thy mighty soul. Nor unheeded shall the maid move in Selma through the dwelling of kings. In th e hall I lay in night. Mine eyes were half closed in sleep. Soft music came to mine ear. It was lik e the rising breeze, that whirll' at first the thistle's beard, then flies dark-shadowy over the grass. It was the maid of Fuarfed wild ! she raised thP. nightly song ; she kn e w that my soul was a stream that flowed at pleasant sounds. " Who looks," she said, "from his rock on ocean's closing mist 1 His long locks like the raven's wing, are wandering on the blast.-Stately are his st eps in grief! The tears are in his eyes ! His manly breast is heaving over his burstiQg soul! Retire, I am distant afar, a wanderer in lands unknown. Though the race of kings are around me, yet my soul is Why have our fathers been foes, Ton-thor mod, love of maids!" "Soft voice of the streamy isle," I said, "why dost thou mourn by night 1 The race of daring Trenmo1 arc not the dark in soul. Thou shalt not wander by streams unknown, blue-eyed Oina-morul ! within this bosom is a voice : it comes not to other ears : it bids O ss ian hear the hapless in their hour of wo. Retire, soft singer by night! Ton-thormod shall not mourn on his rock!" l=============================== •

PAGE 242

rl 238 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. With morning I loo sed the king. I gave the long haired maid. Mal-orchol heard my words in the ma.lst of his echoing halls. "King of Fuarfed wild, why should Ton-thormod mourn? He is of the race of he roes, and a flame in war. Your fathers have been foes, but now their dim ghosts rejoice in death. They stretch their hands of mist to the same shell in Loda. Forget their rage, ye warriors! It was the cloud of other years." Such were the deeds of Ossian, while yet his locks were young ; though loveliness, with a robe of beams, c lothe:! the of many isles. We call back. maid of Lutha, the years that have rolled away ! I I)

PAGE 243

r I I :.., . . ' r •• COLNA-DONA. ARGUMENT. despatches Ossian and Toscar, the son of Conloch, and father oJ Malvina, to rw.:se a stone on the banks of the stream of Grona, to perpetuate the memory of a victory which he had obtained in that place. 'When they were employed in that work, Car-ul, a neighboring chief, invited them to a feast. They went, and Toscar fell desperately in love with Colna-dona, the daughter of Car-ul. Colna-dona became no less enamored of Toscar. An incident at a hunting party brings their loves to a happy issue . CoL-AMON* of troubled streams, dark wanderer of distant vales, I behold thy course, between trees near Car-ul's echoing halls ! There dwelt bright Colna-dona, the daughter of the king. Her eyes were rolling stars; her arms were white as the foam of streams. Her breast rose slowly to sight, like ocean's heaving wave. Her soul was a stream of light. Who, among the maids, was like the love of heroes? Beneath the voice of the king we moved to Cronat of the streams, Toscar of grassy Lutha, and Ossian young in fields. Three bards attended with wngs. Three bossy shields were borne before us ; for v ':.l were to rear the stone in memory of the past. By Crona's mossy course Fingal had scattered his foes ; he had rolled away the strangers like a troubled s e a. We came to the place of renown ; frorri the mountains de scended night. I tore an oak from its hill, and raised a flame on high. I bade my fathers to look down from • Colna-dona "the love of heroes." Col-am on, "nar row river." Car-uJ, "dark-eyed." t "mu1muring," was the name of a small stream which dischargea itself in the nver Carron.

PAGE 244

240 THE POEJ\'IS OF OSSIAN. the of their hall ; for, at the fame of their race they brighten in the wind. I took a from the stream, amidst the song of bards. The blood of Fingal's foes hung curdled in its ooze. Beneath I placed, at intervals, three bosses from the shield of foes, as rose or fell the sound of Ullin's nightly song. Toscar laid a dagger in earth, a mail of sounding steel. We raised the mould around the stone, and bade it speak to other years. Oozy daughter of streams, that now art reared or. high, speak to the feeble, 0 stone ! after Selma's raee have failed! Prone from the stormy night, the travel ler shall lay him by thy side : thy whistling moss shall sound in his dreams; the years that were pao:t shall return. Battles rise before him, blue-shielded kings descend to war: the darkened moon looks from heaven on the troubled field. He shall burst with morning from dreams, and see the tombs of warriors round. He shall ask about the stone, and the aged shall reply, " This gray stone was raised by Ossian, a chief of other years !" From Col-arnon came a bard, from Car-ul, the friend of strangers. He bade us to the feast of kings, to the dwelling of bright Colna-dona. We went to the hall of harps. There Car-ul brightened betwe e n his aged locks, when he beheld the sons of his friends, like two young branch e s before him. "Sons of the mighty," he said," ye bring back the days of old, when first I descended from waves, on S e lma's streamy vale ! I pursued Duthmocarglos, dweller of ocean's wind. Our fathers had b ee n foes; we m e t by Clutha's winding waters. He fle d along the sea, and my sails were spread behind him. Night dec eived me on the deep. I came to the dwelling of kings, to Selma of high-bosomed maids. Fingal came forth with his bards, and Conloch, arm of heath. I

PAGE 245

, --=-------COLNA-DONA. 241 feasted three days in the hall, and saw the blue eyes of Erin, Roscrana, daughter of heroes, light of Cor. mac's raCI;}. Nor forgot did my steps depart: the kings gave the1r shields to Car-ul: they hang on high in Col amon, in memory of the past. Sons of the daring kings, ye bring back the days of old ! Car-ul kindled the oak of feasts, he took two bosses from our shields. He laid them in earth beneath a stone, to speak to the hero's race. " vVhen battle," said the king roar. and our sons are to meet in wrath, my race sh!tll looK perhaps on this stone, when they prepare the spear. Have not our fathers met in peace 1 they will say, and lay aside the shield." Night came down. In her long locks moved the daughter of Car-ul. Mixed with the harp arose the Yoice of white-armed Colna-dona. Toscar darkened in his place before the love of heroes. She came on his tro3bled soul, like a beam to the dark heaving ocean, when it bursts from a cloud, and brightens the foamy side of a wave.* With morning we awaked the woods, and hung for ward on the of the roes. They fell by their wonted streams. We returned through Crona's vale. From the wood a youth came forward, with a shield and pointless spear.-" Whence," said Toscar of Lutha, " is the flying beam 1 Dwells there peace at Col-amon, round bright Colna-dona of harps 1" . " By Col-amon of streams," said the youth, "bright Colna-dona dwelt. She dwelt; but her course is now in deserts with the son of the king ; he that seized with love her soul as it wandered through the hall." * Here an episode is entirely lost; or, at least, is handed down 10 imperfectly, that it does not deserve a place in the poem. 21 =::::::..:.-=:.:::::=::::::::======== -----

PAGE 246

li 242 'l'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. "Stranger of tales," said Toscar, "hast thou mark e d the warrior's course 1 He must fall; give thou that bossy shield." In wrath he took the shi e ld. Fair behind it rose the breasts of a maid, white as the bo som of a swan, rising graceful on swift-rolling waves. It was Colna-dona of harps> the daughter of the king! Her blue eyes had rolled on Toscar. and her love \Jose I

PAGE 247

1 I I I lj_ OITHONA. ARGUMENT. Gaul, the son of Momi, attended Lathmon into own crnntry, after his being defeated in Morven, as related in a pr<>cerling poem. He was kindly entertained by Nuiith, the father ofLnth mon, anrl fell in love with his daughter Oithona. The lady was no l e ss of Gaul, and a day was fixed for their mar riag e . In the mean time Fingal, preparing for an expedition into the country of the Britons, sent for Gaul. He ob e yed, and went; but not without promising to Oithona to return, if he survived the war, by a certain day. Lathmon too was ol>IIged to attend his t l uh c r Nuath in his wars, and Oithona was left alon e at Dunlath mon, the seat of the family. Dunrommath, Lord of Uthal, sup pose d to be one of the Orkneys, taking ad vantage of the absence of her fi"iends, came and earned of!; by force, Oithona, who had formerly rejected his love, into Tromatfton, a desert island, where h e concealed her in a cave. raul returned on the day apiJointed; heard of the rape, and sailed to Tromathon, to revenge himself on Dunrommath. When he landed, he found Oithona disconsolate, and resolved not to sur vive the loss of her honor. She told lum the story of her misfor and she scarce ended when Dunrommath with his follow ers app e ared at the farther end of the island. Gaul prepared to attack him, recommending to Oithona to retire till the battle was over. She seemingly obeyed but she secretly armed herself, mshed into the thickest of the battle, and was mortally wounded. Gaul, pursuing the flying enemy, found her ju s t expiring on the field; he mourned over her, ratsed her tomb, and returned to Morven. Thus is the story handed down by tradition; nor i s it given with any material aiflerence in the poem, w, -.:cn opens with Gauls return to Dunlathmon, after the rape of Oithona. D.A RKNESS dwells around Dunlathmon, though the noon shows half her face on the hill. The daugh1er uf night turns her eyes away; she beholds the ap proaching grief. The son of Morni is on the plain: there 1s no sound in the hall. No long streaming beam of light comes trembling through the gloom. The voice of Oithona is not heard amidst the noise of the streams of Duvranna. " Whither art thou gone in thy

PAGE 248

244 THE PO ElliS OF o::;S IAN. beauty, dark. haired daughter of N uath ? Lath Ilion i3 in the field of the valiant, but thou didst promi s e to re main in the hall till the son of Morni return e d. Till he returned from Strumon, to the maid of his love ! The tear was on thy cheek at his departure; the sigh rose in secret in thy breast. But thou dost not come forth with songs, with the lightly trembling sound of the h:up !" Such were the words of Gaul, when he came to Dun lathmon's towers. The gates were open and dark. The winds were blustering in the hall. The trees strewed the threshold with leaves; the murmur of night was abroad. Sad and silent, at a rock, the son of Morni sat: his soul trembled for the maid; but he knew not whither to turn his course! The son of Leth stood at a distance, and heard the winds in his bushy haiL BLit he did not raise his voice, for he saw the sorrow of Gaul! Sleep descend e d on the chiefs. The visions of night arose. Oithona stood, in a dream, before the eyes of Morni's s o n. H e r hair was loose and disordered; her love ly eye roll e d deep in tears. Blood stained her snowy arm. The rob e half hid the wound of her breast. She stood ove r the chief, and her voice was f e ebly heard. "Sleeps th e son of Morni, he that was lovely in the eyes of Oithona? Sl eeps Gaul at the distant rock, and the daughter of N uath low? The sea rolls Tound th e d a rk i s l e o f Tromathon. I sit in my tears in the cav e ! Nor do I sit alone, 0 Gaul! the dark chief of Cuthal i s th e r e . He is there in the rage of his love. What can Oithona do ?" A rougher blast rushed through the oak. The dreaw of night departed. Gaul took his aspen epcar. HE;) stood in the rage of his soul. did turn to the east. He accused the lagging :ight. A.t the morning came forth. The hero :ifleJ u1 ) ihtl sail. I ' .J

PAGE 249

t OITHONA. 245 The winds came rustling from the hill ; he boundetl on the waves of the deep. On the third day arose Tro mathon, like a blue shield in the midst of the sea. The wave rc.ared against its rocks; sad Oithona sat on the coast! She looked on the rolling waters, and her tears came down. But when she . saw Gaui in his arms, she started, and turned her eyes away. Her lovely cheek is bent and red; her white arm trembles by her side. Thrice she strove to fly from his pre sence ; thrice her steps failed as she went ! " Daughter of N uath," said the hero, "why dost thou fly fi"Om Gaul 1 Do my eyes send forth the flame of death 1 Darkens hatred in my soul 1 Thou art to me the beam of the east, rising in a land unknown. But thou coverest thy face with sadness, daughter of carhome Nuath! Is the foe of Oithona near! My soul bums to meet him in fight. The sword trembles by the side of Gaul, and longs to glitter in his hand. Sp e ak, daughter of Nuath! Dost thou not behold my tears 1" "Young chief of Strumon," replied the maid, "why comest thou over the dark-blue wave, toN uath's mourn ful daughte1! Why did I not pass away in secret, like the flower of the rock, that lifts its fair head unseen, and strews its withered leaves on the blast! Why didst thou come, 0 Gaul ! to hear my d e parting sigh ! I vanish in my youth; my name shall not be heard. Or it will be heard with grief; the tears of N uath must fall. Thou wilt be sad, son of Momi! for the departed fame of Oithona. But she shall sleep in the narrow tomb, far from the voice of the mourner. Why didst thou come, chief of Strumon! to the sea-beat rocks of Tromathon !" " J came to meet thy foes, daughter of car-borne N uiHhJ The death of Cuthal's chief darkens before me; or Morni's son shall fall ! Oithona! when Gaul is low, 21* ___ __..__ ==-====== ===============================:=.:

PAGE 250

THE POEMS C OSSIAN, rais/3 m:;tomb on that oozy rock. When the dark bounding ship shall pass, call the sons of the sea ; call them, and give this sword, to bear it hence to Morni's hall. The gray-haired chief wi:! then cease to !C>Ok towards the desert for the return of his son !" "Shall the daughter of N uath live?" she rep lieu, wirh a bursting sigh. "Shall I live in Tromathon, and tho son of Morni low 1 My heart is not of that rock; nor my soul careless as that sea, which lifts its blue waves to every wind, and rolls beneath the storm! The blast which shall lay thee low, shall spread the branches of Oithona on earth. We shall wither together, son of car-borne Morni! The narrow house is pleasant to me, and the gray stone of the dead : for never more will I leave thy rocks, 0 sea-surrounded Tromathon! Night came on with her clouds after the departure of Lathmon, when he went to the wars of his fathers, to the moss-covered rock of Duth6rmoth. Night came on. ! sat in the hall, at the beam of the oak ! The wind was abroad in the trees. I heard the sound of arms. Joy rose in my face. I thought of thy return. It was the chief of Cuthal, the red-haired strength of Dunrommath. His eyes rolled in fire: the blood of my people was on his sword. They who defended Oithona fell by the gloomy chief! What could I do 1 My arm was weak. I could not lift the spear. Ht> took me in my grief; amidst my tears he raised sail. He feared the returning Lathmon, the brother of unhappy Oithona ! But behold, he comes with hit people! the dark wave is divided before him! WhithC\ wilt thou turn thy steps, son of Morni 1 Many are tht warriors of thy foe !" "l\fy steps never turned from battle," Gaul said, ana unsheathed his sword : " shall I then begin to fear ; Oithona! when thy foes are near 1 Go to thy cave, my love, till our battle '::ease on the field. Son of Leth, ' ' .I I ,, I

PAGE 251

'I OirHONA. bring the bows of our fathers! the sounding quiver of Morni! Let our three warriors bend the yew. Our. selves will lift the spear. They are a host on the rock ! our souls are strong in war!" Oithona went to the cave. A troubled joy rose on her mind, like the red path of lightning on a stormy cloud! Her soul was resolved: the tear was dried fwm her wildly-looking eye. Dunrommath slowly ap proached. He saw the son of Morni. Contempt con tracted his face, a smile is on his dark-brown cheek; his red eye rolled half concealed, beneath his shaggy brows! " Whence are the sons of the sea ?" began the gloomy chief. Have the winds driven you on the rocks of Tromathon 1 or come you in search of the white handed maid 1 the sons of the unhappy, ye feeble men, come to the hand of Dunrommath ! His eye spares not the weak ; he delights in the blood of strangers. Oithona is a beam of light, and the chief of Cuthal en joys it in secret; wouldst thou come on its loveliness like a cloud, son of the feeble hand 1 Thou mayest come, but shalt thou return to the halls of thy fathers 1" "Dost thou not know me," said Gaul, "red-haired of Cuthal1 Thy feet were swift on the heath, in 'he battle of car-borne Lathmon; when the sword of \forni's son pursued his host, in Morven's woody land. Dunrommath! thy words are mighty, for thy warriors gathm behind thee. But do I fear them, son of pride 1 J am not of the race of the feeble!" Gaul advanced in his arms; Dunrommath shrunk be. hind his people. But the spear of Gaul pierced the gloomy chief: his sword lopped off his head, as it bendPd in death. The son of Morni shook it thrice by the lock ; the warriors of Dunrommath fled. Tho arrows of Morven pursued them: ten fell on the mossy rocks. The r e st lilt the sounding sail, and bound on the I

PAGE 252

I' 248 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. troubled deep. Gaul advanced towards the cave of Oithona. He beheld a youth leaning on a An arrow had pierced his side ; his eye roll e d faintly be neath his helmet. The sou l of Morni's son was sad; h e carne, and spoke the words of peace. "Can the hand of Gaul heal thee, youth of the mournful brow? I have searched for the herbs of the mountains; I have gathered them on the secret banks of their streams. My hand has closed the wound of the brave, their eyes have blessed the son of Morni. Where dwelt thy fathers, warrior? Were they of the sons of the mighty! Sadness shall come, lil
PAGE 253

CROMA. 249 6aul returned. But his sigh rose, at times, in the midst of his friends ; like blasts that shake their unfre quent wings, after the stcrmy winds are laid ! CROMA. ARGUMENT, Mah1na, the daughter ofToscar, is overheard by Ossian lamentin"' the death of Oscar her lover. Ossian, to divert her grief, relates his own actions in an expedition which he undertook:, at Fingal's command, to aid Crothar the pelt)' king of Croma, a country in in Ireland against Rothmar, who invaded his dominions. The story is deUvered down thus in tradition. Crothar, king: of Cro ma, being blind with age, and his son too young for tlle field, Rothmar, the chief of Tromo, resolved to avail himself of the op portunity oRered of annexing the dominions ofCrothar to his own. He accordingly marched into the country subject to Crothar, but which he held of Arth or Artho, who was, at the time, supreme king of Ireland. Grothar be on account of his age and blindness, unfit for action, sent for aia to Fingal, king of Scotland ; who ordered his son Ossian to the relief of Crothar. But before his arrival Fovar gormo, the son of Crothar, attacking: Rothmar, was slain himself, and his forces totally defeated. Ossmn renewed the war; came tu b'.l,:le, killed Rothmar, and routed his army. Croma being thus delivered of its enemtes, Ossian returned to Scotland. " IT was the voice of my love ! seldom art thou in the dreams of Malvina! Open your airy t.alls, 0 father of Toscar of shields ! Unfold the gates of your clouds: the steps of Malvina are near. I have heard a voice in my dream. I feel the fluttering of my soul. Why didst thou come, 0 blast ! from the dark-rolling face of the lake 1 Thy rustling wing was in the tree ; the dream of .Malvina fled. But she beheld her love when his robe of mist flew on the wind. A sunbeam was on his skirts, they glittered like the gold of ihe stranger I I I l

PAGE 254

250 THE POEMS OF OSS!AN. It was the voice of my love ! seldom comes he to my dreams! " But thou dwellest in the soul of Malvina, son of mighty Ossian! My sighs arise with the beam of the east ; my tears descend with the drops of night . I was a lovely tree, in thy presence, Oscar, with all my branches round me ; but thy death came like a blast from the desert, and l aid my green head low. The spring returned with its showers ; no leaf of mine arose! The virgins saw me silent in the hall; they touched the harp of joy. The tear was on the cheek of Malvina: the virgins beheld me in my grief. Why art thou sad, they said, thou first of the maids of Lutha ! Was h e lovely as the beam of the morning, and stately in thy sight?" Pleasant is thy song in Ossian's ear, daughter of streamy Lutha ! Thou hast heard the music of departea bards in the dream of thy rest, when sleep fell on thine eyes, at the murmur of Moruth. When thou didst re turn from the chase in the day of the sun, thou hast heard the music of bards, and thy song is lovely! It is lovely, 0 Malvina! but it melts the soul. There is a joy in grief when peace dwells in the breast of the sad. But sorrow wastes the mournful, 0 daughter ofToscar! and their days are few! They fall away, like the flower on which the sun hath looked in his strength, after the mildew has passed over it, when its head is heavy with the drops of night. Attend to the tales of Ossian, 0 maid! He remembers the days of his youth! The king commanded ; I raised my sails, and rushed into the bay of Croma; into Croma's sounding bay iu l ovely lnisfail. * High on the coast arose the towers of Crothar king of spears; Crothar renowned in the battles of his youth; but age dwelt then around the • Ini.sfail. one of the ancient names oflreland.

PAGE 255

CROMA. 251 chief. Roth mar had raised the sword against the hero; nnd the wrath of Fingal burned. He sent Ossian to meet Rothmar in war, for the chief of Croma was the friend of his youth. I sent the bard before me with songs. I came into the hall of Crothar. There sal the chief amidst the arms of his fathers, but his eyes had failed. His gray locks waved around a staff, on which the warrior leaned. He hummed the song of other times; when the sound of our arms reached his ears Crothar rose, stretched his aged hand, and blessed the son of Fingal. "Ossian !" said the hero, "the strength of Crothar's arm has failed. 0 could I lift the sword, as on the day that Fingal fought at Strutha ! He was the first of men; but Crothar had also his fame. The king of Morven praised me ; he placed on my arm the bossy shield of Calthar, whom the king had slain in his wars. Dost thou not behold it on the wall ? for Crothar's eyes have failed. Is thy strength like thy father's, Ossian! let the aged feel thine arm !" I gave my arm to the king; he felt it with his aged hands. The sigh rose in his breast, and his tears came down. "Thou art strong, my son," he said, "but not like the king of Morven ! But who is like the hero among the mighty in war ? Let the feast of my hall be spread ; and let my bards exalt the song. Great is he that is within my walls, ye sons of echoing Croma !" The feast is spread. The harp is heard ; and joy is in the hall. But it was joy covering a sigh, that darkly dwelt in every breast. It was like the faint beam of the m•>on spread on a cloud in heaven. At length the music ceased, and the aged king of Croma spoke ; he spoke without a tear, but sorrow swellnd in the midst of his voice. " Son of Fingal ! beholdest thou not the darkness of Crothar's joy 1 My soul was not sad at the feast, when J l

PAGE 256

'=====-=== 252 THl' POEMS OF O!:>SJAN. my people lived before me. I rejoiced in toe presence of strangers, when my son shone in the hall. But, Ossian, he is a beam that is departed. He left no streak of light behind. He is fallen, son of Fingal! in the wars of his father. Rothmar the chief of grassy Tromlo heard that these eyes had failed ; he heurd that my arms were fixed in the hall, and the pride of his soul arose ! He came towards Croma; my peopl e fell before him. I took my arms in my wrath, but what could sightless Crothar do? My steps were unequ al; my grief was great. I wished for the days that were past. Days ! wh e rein I fought; and won in the field of blood. My son returned from the chasP.: the fair haired Fovar-gormo. He had not lifted his sword in battle, for his arm was young. But the soul of the youth was great; the fire of valor burned in his e y es . . He saw th e disordered steps of his father, and his s igh arose-" King of Croma," he said, "is it becau se thou hast no son ; is it for the weakness of Fovar-gormo's arm that thy sighs aris e ? I begin, my father, to feel my strength; I have dr awn the sword of my youth; and I have bent the bow. L e t m e meet this Rothmar, with the sons ofCroma: let me m ee t him, 0 my father? I feel my burning soul!"-" And thou shalt m ee t him," I said, "son of the sightless Crothar ! But let others advance before thee that I may hear the tread of thy feet at thy return ; for my eyes behold thee not, fair haired Fovar-gormo !" He went; he met the foe ; he fell. Rothmar advances to Croma. He who slew my son is near, with all his pointed spears." This is no time to fill the shell, I replied, and took my sp ear! My p eop le saw th e fire of my eyes; the y all arose around. Through night we strode along the heath. Gray morning rose in the east. A green nar row vale appeared before us; nor wanting are it s wind streams. The dark host of Rothmar are on its ll I "

PAGE 257

253 with all their glittering arms. vVe fought along the vale. They fled. Rothmar sunk hcneath n.y sword ! Day had not descemff,d in the west, when l btought his arms to Crothar. The aged hero felt thctr with his hands; and joy brightened all his thoughts The people gather to the hall! The sh ells nf the feast are heard. Ten harps are strung; five bards ad. vance, and sing, by turns, the pmisn of Ossian; they poured fourth their burning souls, and the string an swered to their voice. The joy of Croma was great; for peace return e d to the land. The night came on with silence; the moming 1'eturnf'd with joy. No foe came in darkness wirh his glitt e ring spear. The joy of Croma was great; for the gloomy Rothmat had fallen! . I raised my voice for Fovar-gormo, when they laid the chief in earth. The aged Crothar was there, but his sigh was not heard. He searched for the wound of his son, and found it in his breast. Joy rose in the face of the aged. He carne and spoke to Ossian. " King of spears !" he said, " my son has not fallen without his fame. The young warrior did not fly; but met death as he W(lnt forward in his strength. Happy are they who die in youth, when their renown is heard 1 The feeble will not behold them in the hall ; or smile at their trembling hands. Their mem-:>ry shall be hon ored in song; the young tuar of tlw virgin will fall. But the aged wither away by degrees; the fame of their youth, while yet they live, is all forgot. They fall in secret. The sigh of their son is not heard. Joy is anund their tomb; the stone of their fame is placed without a tear. Happy are they who die b their youth, when their renown is around them !" 22 I I ' ,I jl ,I I' : j 11 I I I ' 11 . l l

PAGE 258

,, CALTHON AND COLMAL. This piece, as many more of Osstan's compos,tions, is address e d to one of the lirst mi ss ionaries. The story of the po e m is h a nded down by tradition thus :-In the country of the I3ritons, between the w alls , two chiefs liv e d in the days of Fingal, Dun thalmo, Lord of Tentha, supposed to be the Tweed; and Rath mor, who dwelt at Clutha, well known to be the river Clyde. l< athmor was not more renowne d for his generos ity and h osp i tality, than Dunthalmo was infamous for ht s cr u e lty and ambi tion. Dunthalmo, throu g h envy, or on account of some private feud s, which su bsiSt e d between the famili•!s, murdered Rathmor at a feast; but being afterward touched wtth he edu cated th e two sons of Rathmor, Calthon a nd Colmar, in his own hous e. They g rowing up to man's estate, dropped some hints that they intended to r evenge the death of their father, upon which Dunthalmo shut th e m up in two caves, on th e banks of Teutha, i ntending to take them oil" privately. Colma!, the daugh ter of Dunthalmo, who was sec retly in love with Calthon, h elpe d him to make hi s esca pe from prison, and fled with him to Fingal1 disgui sed in the habit of a young warrior, and implor ed his aict against Dunthalmo. Fingal sent O;,sian with three hu nd r e d men to Colmar's relief. Dunthalmo, having previously murd e r e d Col mar, came to a battle with Ossian, but he was killed by that h e ro, and his army totally d efeated. Calthon marned Colma ! his deliverer; and Ossian r eturne d to Morven. PLEASANT is the voic e of thy song, thou lonely dweller of the rock ! It comes on the sound of the stream, along the narrow vale. My soul awakes, 0 strangC'r, in the midst of my hall. I stretch my hand to the spear, a8 in the day-; of other years. I stretch my hand, but it is feeble: and the sigh of my bosom grows. wilt thou not listen, son of the rock ! to the song of Ossian? My soul is full of other times; the joy of my youth ceturu s . Thus the sun appears in the west, after the steps of his brightness have moved behind a storm: the green hills lift their dewy heads : the blue st eams reI 1!-_ ----

PAGE 259

I I C ALTHON A N D COLlllAL. 255 fv.ce in the vale. The aged hero comes forth on his staff; his gray hair glitters in the beam. Dost thou not b e hold, son of the rock ! a shield in Ossian's hall ? [t is marked with the strokes of battle; and the bright. nes s of its bos s e s ha s f a iled. That shield the great Duntbulmo b o re, the chief of streumy T e utha. Dun th u lrno bor e it in l>attle before he fell by Ossian's spear. Listen, son of the rock! to the tale of other y e ars. R u thmor was u chief of Clutha. The feeble dwelt in his h a ll. The gates of Rathmor were never shut: his f e ast was always spread. The sons of the stranger c a m e . The y blessed the g e nerous chi e f of Clutha. B a rds r a i se d the song, and touched the harp : joy bright e ned on the face of the sad! Dunth a lmo c u me, in his pride, and rus hed into the combat of R a thmor. The chi e f of Clutha overcame: the rage of Dunthalmo ro se . H e cam e , by night, with his warriors; the mighty R a thmor f e ll. H e f e ll in his halls, where his feast was oft e n spre ad for strangers. Colmar and Calthon were young, the sons of car born e Rathrnor. The y cam e , in th e joy of youth, into th eir fath e r ' s hall. They b e hold him in his blood ; th e ir burstin g tears descend. The soul of Dunthalmo m e lt ed, wh e n h e saw the childr e n of youth. He brought the m to Alt e utha's w alls ; th e y gre w in the hous e of th eir foe. The y b e nt the bow in his pr esence: and came forth to his wars. The y saw the fallen walls of th e ir fath e rs ; th e y saw the green thorn in the hall. Th0u t ears rushed forth in secre t. At tim e s their faces w e r e sad. Dunthalmo b e held their grief; his darken ing soul design e d th e ir d e ath. He closed them in two ctw e s , on th e e ch o ing banks of Teutha. The sun di1 not com e th e r e with his b eams; nor the moon of hea. v e n by night. The sons of Rathmor remained in dark!less, and for esaw th eir d e ath. The dau g ht e r of Dunthalmo wept :n silenee, the fair j I I ! I I, II I I d I

PAGE 260

256 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. haired blue-eyed Col mal. Her eye had rolled in secre. on Calthon; his loveliness swelied in her soul. She trembled for her warrior; but what could Coinnl do? H e r arm could not lift tlw spear; nor was the swc11d formed for her side. Her white breast never rose be ucath a mail. Neither was her eye the terror of heroc,.;. What canst thou do, 0 Colma! ! for the falling chief? Her steps are unequal; her hair is loose; her eye looks wildly through her tears. She came, by night, to the hall. She armed her lovely form in steel; the steel of a young warrior, who f ell in the first of his battles. She came to the cave of Calthon, and loosed the thong from his hands. "Arise, son of Rathmor," she said, "arise, the night is dark ! Let us fly to the king of Selma, chief of fallen Clutha! I am the son of Lamgal, who dwelt in thy fa. thor's hall. I heard of thy dark dwelling in the cave, and my soul arose. Arise, son of Rathmor! arise, the night is dark!"-" Blest voice!" replied the chief, "comes!. thou from the clouds to Calthon? The ghosts of his fathers have oft e n descended in his dreams, since tho sun has retired from his eyes, and darkness has dwelt around him. Or art thou the son of Lamgal, the ehief l often saw in Clutha 1 But shall I fly to Fingal, a11d Colmar my brother low? Will I fly to Morven, and the hero closed in night? No; give me that spear, son of Larngal; Calthon will defend his bro. th c r !" ''A thousand warriors," replied the maid, "stretch their spears round car-borne Colmar. 'Vhat can Cal than do against a host so great? Let us fly to the king of Morven, he will rome with war .. His arm is stretched forth to the unhappy; the lightning of his sword is round the weak. Arise, thou son of Rathmor; tho shadows will fly away. Arise, or thy stf ps may oe lieen, and thou must fall in vouth." I I , , I I

PAGE 261

CALTHON AND COL!IIAL. 257 The sighing hero rose; his tears deseend for car. borne Colmar. He c..1me with the maid to Selma's hall: but he knew not that it was Colma!. The helm e t crwered her lovely far:e. Her bosom heaved Leneath the steel. Fingal returned from the chase, and found the lov e ly strangers. They were like two beams of light, in the midst of the hall of shells. The king hearo the talc of grief, and turned his eyes around. A thou sand heroes half rose before him; claiming the war ot Teutha. I came with my spear from the hill ; the joy of battle rose in my breast: for the king spoke to Os . sian in the midst of a thousand chiefs. "Son of my strength," b egan the king, "take thou the spear of Fingal. Go to Teutha's rushing stream, and save the carborne Colmar. Let thy fame. return before thee like a pleasant gale ; that my soul may rc. joice over my son, who renews the renown of vur fa. thers. Ossian! be thou a storm in war; but mil d when the foe is low ! it was thus my fame arose, 0 my son ! b e thou like Selma's chief. When the haughty come to my halls, my eyes behold them not. But my arm is stretched forth to the unhappy. My sword df;!. fends the weak." I rejoiced in the words of the king. I took my rattling arms. Diaran rose at my side, and Dargo, king of spears. Three hundred youths followed our st eps ; the lovely strangers were at my side . Dun thalmo heard the sound of our approach. He gathered the strength of Teutha. He stood on a hill with hi3 host. They were like rocks broken with thunder, when their bent trees are singed and bare, and the streams of their chinks have failed. The stream of Teutha roll e d in its pride, b e fore the gloomy foe_. I sent a bard to Dunthalmo, to offer the combat on the plain; but he smil e d in the darkness of his pride. 1-l un s::tt l c d host mov e d on the hill; like the mountain Q2* --=-======

PAGE 262

I I :,::d, when tho :,::, and ''"' I I, II I . " I i I teb; the curling gl'lom on every side. . Tlwy brought Colmar to Temha's bank, bound with n tlmusand thongs. The chief is sad, but stately. lli3 eye is on his friends; for we stood in our arms, ''hi Jst Teutha's waters rolled between . Dunthalmo caJJI": with hi:; spear, and pierced the hero's side: he roll e d on the bank in his blood. \V e heard his broken sighs. CaltiJOII rushed into the stream: I bounded forward on n1y spPar. Teutha's race fell before us. Night came rolling dvwn. Dunthalmo rested on a rock, amidst an aged woocL Tl,e rage of his bosom burned against the car-burne Cal thon. But Calthon stood in grief; he muurn e d the fallen Colmar; Colmar slain in youth be. f(lre his lame arose! I lx1de the song of wo to rise, to soothe the mourn ful chief; but he stood beneath a tree, and often threw bi. spear on the earth. The humid eye of Colmnl roll.cd nPar in a secret tear: she foresaw the fall of Dunthalmo, or of Clutha's warlike chief. Now half the night had passed away. Silence and darkness were on the field. Sleep rested on the eyes of the heroes: Calthon's settling soul was still. His eyes were half closed; but the murmur of Teutha had not yet failed in his ear. Pale, and showing his wounds, the ghost of Colmar came: he bent his head over the hero, an•: his feeble voice! " Sl e eps the son of Rathmor in his night, and I,is brother low? Did we not rise to the chase together 1 Pursued we not the dark-brown hinds? Colmar was not forgot till he tell, till death had blasted his vouth I lie pale beneath the rock of Lona. 0 let C:1lthon rise! the morning comes with its beams; Dunthalrno wil: dishonor the fallen." He passed away in his blast Tlu' rising Calthon saw the steps of his departure. He rushed in the sonnd of his steel. Unhappy Colma! rose.

PAGE 263

CALTHON AND COLJ\1AL. 25!) She follnwed her hero through night, and dra7ged her spear IH!' hind. But when Calthon came to Lona's rock, he found his fallen brother. The rage of his bosom rose; he rushed among the foe. The groans of death ascend. They close around the chief. He is bou .. d in the midst, and brought to gloomy Dunthalmo. The sho It of joy a1ose; and the hills of night replied. I started at the sound; and took my father's spear. Diaran rose at my side; and the youthful strength of Darga. 'We missed the chief of Clutha, and our souls were sad. I dreaded the departure of my fame. The pride of my valor rose. "Sons of Morven," 1 said, "it is not thus our fathers fought. They rested not on the field of strangers, when the foe was not fallen before th em. Their strength was like the eagles of heaven; their renown is in the song. But our people fall hy degrees. Om fame begins to depart. What shall the king of Morven say, if Ossian conquers not at Teutha? Ris e in your steel, ye waHiors, follow the sound of Ossian's course. He will not return, but renowned, to the echoing walls of Selma." :Mol'lling rose on the blue waters of Tentha. Colma] stood b e fore me in tears. She told of the chief of Clutha: thrice the spear fell from her hand. My wrath turn e d against the stranger; for my soul trembled for Calthon. "Son of the feeble hand !" I said, "do Tcutl.a's warriors fight with tears? The battle is not won with grief; nor dwells the sigh in the soul of war. Go to the deer of Carmun, to the lowing herds of Tcutha. But leave these arms, thou son of fear! A \\oal'l'ior may lift them in fight." I tore the mail from her shoulders. Her snowy brenst appeared. She bent her blushing face to the gmund. I looked in silence to the chiefs. The spear fell from my hand ; the sigh of my bosom rose ! But whcu J heard the name of the maid, my crowding tears

PAGE 264

.. -=-1: ! 'I I 260 THE POEJ\1S OF OSSIAN. I rushed down. I blessed the lovely beam of youth, and bade the battle move ! Why, son of the rock, should Ossian tell how Teutha's warriors died 1 They are now forgot in thei, land ; their tombs are not found on the heath. Years came on with their storms. The green mounds are moul d e red away. Scarce is the grave of Dunthalmo s een, or the place where he fell by the spear of Ossi a n. Some gray warrior, half blind with age, sitting by night at the flaming oak of the hall, tells now my d e eds to his sons, and the fall of the dark Dunthalmo. 1'lle faces of youth bend sidelong towards his voice. Bur prise and joy burn in their eyes! I found Calthon bound to an oak; my sword cut the thongs from his itanas. I gave him the white-bosomed Colma!. They awe!J in tile halls of Teutha. II 1: I, I' ! I .I I '

PAGE 265

THE WAR OF CAROS. ARGUMENT. Caros IS prolably the noted usurper Carausius, by birth a Menap1an, wilo assume d tht' purple in the year 28-l; and, s eizing on Bntain, dt'leat e d the emperor i\1aximinian I lerculius in s everal naval en which gives propriety to his being called in this poem "tne king of ships." He repaued Agricola's wall, in order to ob s truct the incursions of the Caledonians, and when he was em ploy e d in that work, it appears he was attack e d by a J,Jarty under th e command of Oscar tlie son of Ossian. Thi s battle ts the foun. dation of thepresent poem, whid. is addressed to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar. BRING, daughter of Toscar, bring the harp! the light of the song rises in Ossian's soul! It is like the field, when darkness covers the hills around, and the shadow grows slowly on the plain of the sun. I behold my son, 0 Malvina! near the mossy rock of Crona. But it is the mist of the desert, tinged with the beam of the west! Lovely is the mist that assumes the form of Oscar! turn from it, ye winds, when ye roar on the side of Ardven! vVho comes towards my son, with the murmur of a song 1 His staff is in his hand, his gray hair loose on the wind. Surly joy lightens his face. He often looks back to Caros. It is Ryno of songs, he that went to view the foe. "What does Caros, king of ships?" said the son of the now mournful Ossian: "spreads he the wings* of his pride, bard of the times of old 1"" Ilc spreads them, Oscar," replied the bard, "but it is behind his gathered heap.t He looks over his stones • The Homan eagle t Agricola's wall, which Carausius

PAGE 266

2G2 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. with fear. He beholds thee terrible, us the ghost :Jf night, t h at rolls the waves to his ships!" " Go, thou first of my bards!" says Oscar, "take the spear of Fingal. Fix a flame on its point. Shake it to the winds of heaven. Bid him in songs, to advance, and leave the rolling of his wave. Tell to Caras that I l ong for battle ; that my bow is weary of the chase of Cona . Tell him the mighty are not here; and that my arm is young." He went with the murmur of songs. Oscar reared his voice on high. It reached his heroes on Ardven, l ike the noise of a cave, when the sea of Togorma rolls before it, and its trees meet the roaring winds. They gather round my son like the streams of the hill; when, after rain, they roll in the pride of their course. Ryno came to the mighty Caros. He struck his flaming spear. Come to the battle ofOscar. 0 thou that sit test on the rolling waves! Fingal is distant far; he hears the songs of bards in Morven: the wind of his hall is in his hair. His terrible spear is at his side; his shield that is like the darkened moon! Come to the battle of Oscar; the hero is alone. He came not over the streamy Carun. The bard returned with his song. Gray night grows dim on Crona . The feast of shells is spread. A hundted oaks burn to the wind ; faint light gleams over the heath. The ghosts of Ardven pass through the beam, and show their dim and distant forms. Comala* is half unE. een 1 . I on her meteor; Hidallan is sullen and dim, like thE\ darkened moon behind the mist of night. "Wi1y art thou sad?" said Ryno; for he alone be. heid the chief. " Why art thou sad, Hidallan! hast thou not received thy fame 1 The songs of Ossian have ,. This is the scene of Co mala's death, which is the subject of the dramatic poem.

PAGE 267

THE WAR 0}' CAROS. 263 been heard; thy ghost has brightened in wind, when th.1u didst bend from thy cloud to hear the song of .Morven's bard!"-" And do thine eyes," said Oscar, "behold the chief, like the dim meteor of night? Say, Rvno, say, how fell Hidallan, the renowned in the days of my fathers ! His name remains on the rocks of Cona. I have often seen the streams of his hills!" replied the bard, drove Hidallan from his wars. The king's soul was sad for Comala, and his eyes conld not behold the chief. Lonely, sad, along the heath he .<;lowly moved, with silent steps. His a rms hung disordered on his side. His hair flies loose from his btow. The tear is in his downcast eyes; a sigh half silent in his breast! Three days he strayed unseen, alone, before he came to Lamor's halls: the mossy halls of his fathers, at the stream of Balva. There Lamor sat alone beneath a tree ; for he had sent his p e ople with Hidallan to war. The stream ran at his feet ; his gn'.y head rested on his staff. Sightless are his aged eyes. He hums the song of other times. The nois\3 of Hidallan's feet came to his ear: he knew the tread of his son. " Is the son of Lamor returned; or is it the sound of his ? Hast thou fallen on the banks of Carun, son of the aged Lamor? Or, if I hear the sound of Hidallan's feet, where are the mighty in the war? where are my people, Hidallan! that were wont to re turn with their echoing shields? Have they fallen on the banks of Carun ?" "No," replied the sighing youth, "the people of Lamor live. They are renowned in war, my father ! but Hidallan is renowned no more. I must sit alone on the banks of Balva, when the roar of the battle ll:l'OWS." "But thy fathers never sat alone," replied the rising pride of Lamor. "They I;Jever sat alone on the banks ( _ _ == --------------------

PAGE 268

II I I 264 THE POE:\1S OF OSSIAN. of Balva, wlten the roar of battle rose. Dost thou not behold that tomb 1 My eyes discern it not; there rests the noble Garmallon, who ncvet fle d from war I Come, thou renowned in battle, he says, come to thy father's tomb. How am I renowned, Garmallnn ? my son h as fled from war!" "King of the streamy Balva !" said Hidallan witn a sigh, "why dost thou torment my soul ? Lamar, J never fled. Fingal was sad for Comala ; he d e uied his wars to Hidallan. Go to the gray streams of thy land, he said; moulder like a leafless oak, which the winds have bent over Balva, never more to grow." " And must I hear," Lamar replied, " the lonely tread of Hidallan's feet 1 When thousands are r e nowned in battle, shall he bend over my gray streams ? Spirit of the noble Garmallon ! carry Lamar to place ; his eyes are dark, his soul is sad, his son has lost his fame." " Where," said the youth, "shall I search for fame. to gladd e n the soul of Lamar ? From whence shall 1 return with renown, that the sound of my arms may be pleasant in his ear ? If I go to the chase of hinds, my name will not be heard. Lamar will not feel my dogs with his hands, glad at my arrival from the hill. He will not inquire of his mountains, or of the darlc bzuwn deer of his deserts!" "I must fall," said L amar, "like a leafless oak : it grew on a rock ! it was overturned by the winds ! l\fy ghost will be seen on my hills, mourutul for my young Hidallan. Will not ye, ye mists, as ye rise, hide him from my sight! My son, go to Lamar's hall: there the anns of our fathers hang. Bring the sword of Garmallon : he took it from a foe !" He went and brought the sword with all its studded thongs. He gave it to his father. The gray-haired hero felt the point with his hand. ' l I

PAGE 269

THE WAR OF CAROS, 265 " My son, lead me to Garmallon's tomb: it rises Deside that rustling tree. The long grass is wither. rd ; I hear the breezes whistling there. A little foun. lain murmurs near, and sends its waters to Balva. There let me rest ; it is noon : the sun is on our fields !" He led him to Garmallon's . tomb. Lamor pierced the side of his son. They sleep together : their an. eient halls moulder away. Ghosts are seen there at noon : the valley is silent, and the people shun the place of Lamor. " Mournful is thy tale," said Oscar, " son of the times of old! My soul sighs for Hidallan; he fell in the days of his youth. He flies on the blast of the desert : his wandering is in a foreign land. Sons of the echoing Morven ! draw near to the foes of Fingal. Send the night away in songs ; watch the strength of Caros. Oscar goes to the people of other times ; to the shades of silent Ardven, where his fathers sit dim in their clouds, and behold the future war. And art thou there, Hidallan, like a half-extinguished meteor 1 Come to my sight, in thy sorrow, chief of the winding Balva !" The heroes move with their songs. Oscar slowly ascends the hill. The meteors of night set on the heath before him. A distant torrent faintly roars. U nfre
PAGE 270

213ti THE POEi\IS OF mighty son. A cloud, like the steed of the stranger, supported his airy limbs. His robe is of the mist of Lano, that brings death to the people. His swcY :l is a green meteor, half-extinguished. His face is vith. out form, and dark. He sighed thrice over the h ero: thrice the winds of night roared around! Many wer
PAGE 271

I THE WAR OF CAROS. 267 strength. " Am I alone," said Oscar, "in the midst of a thoU3and foes 1 Many a spear is there ! many a darkly-rolling eye. Shall I fly to Ardven 1 But did my fathers ever fly 1 The murk of their arm is in a thousand battles. Oscar too shall be renowned. Come, ye dim ghosts of my fathers, and behold my deeds in war ! I may fall ; but I will be renowned like the race ot the echoing Morven." He growing in his place, like a flood in a narrow vale! The battle came, but they fell : bloody was the sword of Oscar! The noise reached his people at 9rona ; they camt'l like a hundred streams. The warriors of Caras fled ; Oscar remained like a rock left by the ebbing sea. Now dark and deep, with all his steeds, Caras rolled his might along : the little streams are lost in his course : the earth is rocking round. Battle spreads from wing to wing; ten thousand swords gleam at once in the sky. But why should Ossian sing of battles 1 For never more shall my ste e l shine in war. I re m embe r the days of my youth with grief, when I feel the w e akness of my arm. Happy are they who fell i n th e ir youth, in the midst of their renown! The y h ave not b e h eld the tombs of their friends, or failed to b end the bow of their strength. Happy art thou, 0 O s car, in the midst of thy rushing blast! Thou often go 0 st to the fie lds of thy fame, where Caros fled from thy lift e d sword ! Darknes;; comes on my soul, 0 fair daughter of '!'os car ! I b e hold not the form of my son at Carun, nor the figure of Oscar on Crona. The rustling winds have cal'l'ied him far away, and the heart of his father is sad. But lead me, 0 Malvina! to the sound of my woods, to the roar of my mountain streams. Let the be heard on Cona : let me think on the days of other years. And bring me the harp, 0 maid ! that tk==========

PAGE 272

268 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. I may touch it when the light of my soul -;hall arise . Be thou near to learn the song ; future times shal! hear of me ! The sons of the feeble hereaft e r will lift the voice of Cona; and looking up to the rocks, say, "Here Ossian dwelt." They shall admire the chiefs of old, the race that a re no more, while we ride on our clouds, Malvina! on the wings of the r<.nring winds. Our voices shall be heard at times in the desert ; we shall sing on the breeze of the rock!

PAGE 273

I:=.:..=-:-.-1 CATHLIN OF CLUTHA. ARGUI\1ENT. ln address to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar. The poet relates the arrival of Cathlin in Selma, to solicit aid a(!:ainst Duth-carm(Jr ofCluba, who had killed Cathmol for the saKe of his daughter Lanul. Fino-a! declining to make a choice among his heroes, \'l'ho were ali' claiming the command of the expedition, they re tired "each to his hill of ghosts," to be determined by dreams. The spirit of Trenmor appears to Ossian and Oscar. They sail fiom the bay of Carmona, and on the fourth day, appear off the valley ofRath-col, in Inis-huna, wh e re Duth-carmor had fixed hi3 residence. Ossian despatches a bard to Duth carmor to demand b'lttle. Night comes on. The distr ess ofCathlin ofClutha. Ossian devolves the command on O s car, who, acco rdin g to the custom of the kings of Morven, before battl e , retired to a neighboring hill. Upon tlie coming on of day, the battle joins. Oscar carries the mail and helmet ofDuth-carmor to Cathlinl who had retired from the field. Cathlin is discovered to be the aaughter of Cathmol in disgui s e, who had been carried of!" by force by, and had made her f'SCape from, Duth-carmor. Co11m, thou beam that art lonely, from watching in the night ! The squalling winds are around thee, from all their echoing hills. Red, over my hundred streams, are the light-covered paths of the dead. They rejo.ice on the eddying winds, in the season of night. Dwells there no joy in song, white-hand of the harps of Lutha 1 Awake the voice of the string; roll my soul to me. [t is a stream that has failed. Malvina, pour the song. l hear thee from thy darkness in Selma, thou that watchest lonely by night! Why didst thou withhold the song from Ossian's falling soul? As the falling brook to the ear of the hunter, descending from his storm-covered hill, in a sunbeam rolls the echoiug stream, he hears and shakes his dewy locks : such is i-te voice of Lutha to the friend of the spirits of 23* I I ,L=================!_t

PAGE 274

270 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. .My swelling bosom beats high. I look back on Lhe days that are past. Come, thou beam that art lonely, from watching in the night ! In the echoing bay of Carmona we saw one day the bounding ship. On high hung a broken shield; it was marked wandering blood. Forward came a youth in arms, and stretched his pointless spear. Long, over his tearful eyes, hung loose his disordered locks. Fin. gal gave the shell of kings. The words of the stran. ger arose. " In his hall lie s Cathmol of Clutha, by the winding of his own dark streams. Duth-carmor saw white-bosomed Lanul, and pierced her father's side. In the rushy desert were my steps. He fled in the season of night. Give thine aid to Cathlin to revenge his father. I sought thee not as a beam in a land of clouds. Thou, like the sun, art known, king of echo. ing Selma!" S e lma's king looked around. In his presence we rose in arms. But who should lift the shield 1 for all had claimed the war; The night came down; we strode in silence, each to his hill of ghosts, that spirits might descend in our dreams to mark us for the field. We struck the shield of the dead : we raised the hum of songs. We thrice called the ghosts of our fathers. 'Ve laid us down in dreams. Trenmor came, before mine e y e s, the tall form of other years ! His blue hosts w e re behind him in half-distinguished rows.Scarce seen is their strife in mist, or the stretching forward to deaths. I listened, but no sound was there. The forms were empty wind ! I started from the dream of ghosts. On a sudden blast fle w my whistling hair. Low sounding, in the oak, is the d e parture of the dead. I took my shield from its bough. Onward came the rattling of steel. It was Oscar of Lego. He had seen his fathers . . , As :ushes forth the blast on the bosom of whitening '-'===============:==d) ,, /I I I I i j

PAGE 275

I I I' I ;---, I I / )) .,J--'1 I / II /I /, ' )

PAGE 276

I I ' 1.:-CA'l'HLIN OF CLUTHA. 271 wav e s, so careless shall my course be, through oceatl, to the dwe lling of foes. I have seen the dead, my father! My beating soul is high! My fame is bright before m e , like the streak of light on a cloud, when the broad sun comes forth, red traveller of the sky !" " Grandson of Branno," I said, " not Oscar alone shall meet the foe. I rush forward, through ocean, to the woody dwelling of heroes. Let us contend, my son, like eagles from one rock, when they lift theit broad wings against the stream of winds." We raised our sails in Carmona. From three ships they marked my s hield on the wave, as I on nightly Ton th e na,* red traveller between the clouds. Four days came the breeze abroad. Lumon came forward in mi st. In winds were its grov es. Sunbeams marked at times its brown side. " White leapt the foamy streamy from all its echoing rocks. A green field, in the bosom of hills, winds silent with its own blue stream. Herf', "midst the waving of oaks, were the dwellings of kings of old." But sil e nce, for many dark-brown years, had settled in grassy Rath-col; for the race of heroes had failed along the pleasant vale. Duth-carmor was here, With his p eo ple, dark rider of th e wave! Ton-thena had hid h e r head in th e sky. He bound his white-bosom e d sail s. His course i s on the hills of Rath-col to the s e ats of roes. We came. I s e nt the bard, with songs, to call the foe to fight. Duth-carmor h e ard him with ;'Oy. The king's soul was lik e a beam of fire; a b ea m of fire, marked with smok e , rushing, varied through th e bosom of night. The de e ds of Duth-carmor wen, dark, though his arm was strong. Night came with the gathering of clouds. By the * Ton-thena, " fire of the w:w e." was the remarkable star men tioned in the seventh book of Ternora, which directed the courso of L art hon to Ireland. -I

PAGE 277

.. I II 272 'rHE POEMS OF OSSIAN. beam of the oak we sat down. At a distance stood Cathlin of Clutha. I saw the changeful soul of the strange1'. As shadows fly over the field of grass, so various is Cathlin's cheek. It was fair within locks, that roseon Rath-col's wind. I did not rush, amidst his soul, with my words. I bade the song to rise. " Oscar of Lego," I said, "be thine the secret hill to-night.*' Strike the shield like Morven's kings. With day thou shalt lead in war. From my rock I shall see th ee, Oscar, a dreadful form ascending in fight, like the appearance of ghosts amidst the storms they raise. Why should mine eyes return to the dim tim es of old, ere yet the song had bursted forth, like the sudden ri sing of winds ? But the years that are past are mark e d with mighty d ee ds. As the nightly rider of waves l ooks up to Ton-thena of beams, so let us turn our eyes to Trenmor the father of kings." " Wide, in Caraeha's echoing field, Carma! had poured his trib es . They were a dark ridge of waves. The gray-haired bards were like moving foam on their face. They kindle the strife around with their red rolling eyes. Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; a son of Loda was there, a voice in his own dark land, to call the ghosts from high. On his hill he had dwelt in Lochlin, in the midst of a leafless grove. Five stc,nes lift ed near their heads. Loud roared his rush ing stream. He often raised his voice to the winds, wh e n m e teors marked th e ir nightly wings, when the dark-robed moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor un heard of ghosts was he ! They came with the sound of eagle-wings. They turned battle, in fields, beforo th e kings of men. *' This passage alludes to the well-known custom among the an of Scotland, to retire from their arm)' on the mght pre ceding a oattle. The story which Ossian introduces in the next paragr a ph, conc•'ms the fall of the Lruids. ., ' II I I I Ji l l

PAGE 278

r II 272 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, beam of the oak we sat down. At a distance stood Cathlin of Clutha. I saw the changeful soul of the stranger. As shadows fly over the field of grass, so various is Cathlin's cheek. It was fair within locks, that rose on Rath-col's wind. I did not rush, amiJst his soul, with my words. I bade the song to rise. "Oscar of L ego," I said, "be thine the secret hill to-night."' Strike the shield like Morven's kings. With day thou shalt lead in war. From my rock I shall s ee thee , O s car, a dreadful form ascending in fight, like the app e arance of ghosts amidst the storms th e y rai se . Why should mine ey e s return to the dim times of old, ere yet the song had bursted forth, like the sudd e n ri s ing of winds ? But the years that are past are mark e d with mighty d ee ds. As the nightly rid e r of wav es looks up to Ton-thena of b e ams, so let us turn our eyes to Trenmor the fath e r of kings." "Wide , in C a raeha's echoing field, Carma! had pour e d his trib e s. They were a dark ridge of waves. The gray-haired bards were like moving foam on their face. The y kindle the strife around with their red rolling e y e s. Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; a son of Loda was there, a voice in his own dark land, to call the ghosts from high. On his hill he had dwelt in Lochlin, in the midst of a. leafle s s grove. Five ston e s lift e d n ear their h e ads. Loud roared his rush ing stream. He often raised his voice to the winds, whe n meteors marked their nightly wings, when the dark-rob e d moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor un h e ard of ghosts was he ! They came with the sound of eagle-wings. They turned battle, in fields, beforo the kings of men. ,. Thi s passage alludes to the well-known custom among the an ctent kings of Scotland, to retire from th e ir army on the mght pre ceding a battle. The story which Ossian introduces in the next paragraph, conc<'rns the fall of the Lruids. /I l i I I I I 1 :

PAGE 279

-rr -.. , II 272 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. beam of the oak we sat down. At a distance stood Cathlin of Clutha. I saw the changeful soul of the stranger. As shadows fly over the field of grass, so various is Cathlin's cheek. It was fair within locks, that rose on Rath-col's wind. I did not rush, amidst his soul, with my words. I bade the song to rise. " Oscar of Lego," I said, " be thine the secret hill to-night."' Strike the shield like Morven's kings. With day thou shalt lead in war. From my rock I shall see thee, O;;car, a . dreadful form ascending in fight, lik e the appearance of ghosts amidst the storms they r aise. Why should mine eyes return to the dim times of old, ere yet the song had bursted forth, like the sudd e n rising of winds ? But the years that are past are marked with mighty deeds. As the nightly rider of waves looks up to Ton-thcna of beams, so let us turn our eyes to Trenmor the father of kings." " Wide, in Caraeha's echoing field, Carma! had poured his tribes. They were a dark ridge of waves. The gray-haired bards were like moving foam on their face. They kindle the strife around with their red. rolling eyes. Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; a son of Loda was there, a voice in his own dark land, to call the ghosts from high. On his hill he had dwelt in Lochlin, in the midst of a leafless grove. Five stones lifted near their heads. Loud roared his rush ing stream. He often raised his voice to the winds, when meteors marked their nightly wings, when the dark-robed moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor un heard of ghosts was he ! They came with the sound of eagle-wings. They turned battle, in fields, beforo the kings of men. • This passage alludes to the well-known custom among the an kings of Scotland, to retire from their arm}' on the mght pre ceding a battle. The story which Ossian introduces in the next paragraph, conC<'l1lS the fall of the I ruids. lj /, / i I I . J : I I

PAGE 280

i t ' I , , ! CATHLIN OF CLUTHA. 273 " But Trenmor they turned not from battle. Ho drew forward that troubled war: in its dark skirt was Trathal, like a rising light. It was dark, and Loda's son poured forth his signs on night. -The feeble were not before thee, son of other lands ! Then rose the strife of kings about the hill of night ; but it was soft dS two summer gales, shaking their light wings on a lake. Trenmor yielded to his son, for the fame of the king had been heard. Trathal came forth before his father, and the foes failed in echoing Caracha. The years that are past, my son, are marked with mighty deeds." In clouds rose the eastern light. The foe came forth in arms. The strife is mixed on Rath.col, like the roar of streams. Behold the contending of kings ! They meet beside the oak. In gleams of steel the dark forms are lost ; such is the meeting of meteors m a vale by night : red light is scattered round, and men foresee the storm !-Duth-carmor is low in blood! The son of Ossian overcame! Not harmless, in battle, was he, Malvina, hand of harps! Nor, in the field, were the steps of Cathlin. The strangers stood by secret stream, where the foam of Rath-col skirted the mossy . stones. Above bends the branchy birch, and strews its leaves on wind. The inverted spear of Cathlin touched at times tne stream. Oscar brought Duth-carmor's mail : his helmet with its eagle-wing. He placed them before the stranger, and his words were heard. " The foes of thy father have fallen. They are laid in the field of ghosts. Renown 1eturns to Morven like a rising wir.-d. Why art thou dark, chief of Clutha 1 Is there cause for grief?" "Son of Ossian of harps, my soul is darkly sad. l behold the arms of Cathmol, which he raised in war . Take the mail of Cathlin, place it high in Selma's hall, that thou mayest remembex the hapless in thy distant

PAGE 281

I I I 274 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. land." From white breasts descended the mail. It was the race of kings : the soft-handed daughter of Cathmol, at the streams of Clutha! Duth-carmor saw her bright in the ; he had come by night to Clutha. Cathmol met him in battle, but the hero fell. Three days dwelt the foe with the maid. On the , 1 fourth she tied in arms. She remembered the race of kings, and felt her bursting soul! Why, maid of Toscar of Lutha, should I tell how Cathlin failed ? Her tomb is at rushy Lumon, in a distant land. Near it were the steps of Sul malla, in the days of grief. She raised the song for the daugh ter of strangers, and touched the mournful harp. Come from the watching of night, Malvina, lonely beam! .......... ----------------l j 1_1. I

PAGE 282

SUL-MALLA OF LUMON. ARG Ul\1:ENT. Tllis poem, which, properly speaking, IS a continuation of the last, crens with an address to Sul-malla, the daughter of the of lnis-huna, whom Ossian met at the chase, as he returned from the. battle of Rath-co!. Sul-malla invites Ossian and Oscar to a feast, at the residence of her father, who was then absent on the wars. Upon hearing their names and family, she rel ates an ex pedition of Fingal into Inis-huna. She casually mentioning Cath mor, chief of Atha, (who then ass i sted her father against hts ene mies,) Ossian introduces the episode of'Culgorm and Suran -dronl o, two Scandinavian kings, in whose wars Ossian himself and Cath mor were engaged on opposite sides. The story is imperfect a part of the ongmal being lost. Ossian, warned in a dream by the ghost of Trenmor, sets sai l from Inis-huna. \VHo moves so state ly on Lumon, at the roar of the foamy waters? Her hair falls upon her heaving breast. \Vhite is her arm behind, as slow she bends the bow. Why dost thou wander in deserts, lik e a light through a cloudy field ? The young roes are panting by their secret rocks. Return, thou daughter of kings! the cloudy night is noar ! It was the young branch of green Inis huna, Sul-malla of blue eyes. She sent the bard from h e r roc.;k to bid us to her feast. Amidst the song we sat down in Cluba's echoing hall. White moved the hands of Sul-malla on the trembling st ring s. heard, amidst the sound, was th e name of Atha's king: h e that was absent in battle for her own green land. Nor absent from her soul was he: he came 'midst he1 thoughts by night. Ton-thena looked in from sky, and saw her tossing arms. The sound of shells had ceased. Sul-malla ros e . She spoke with asl
PAGE 283

rj 276 THE POJ'li1S OF OSSIAN , of men are ye, tall riders of the wave." "Not un . known," I said, "at his streams is he, the father of our race. Fingal has been heard of at Cluba, blue. eyed daughter of kings. Not only at Crona's stream is Ossian and Oscar known. Foes tremble at our voice, and shrink in other lands." "Not unmarked," said the maid, "by Sul-malla, is the shield of Morven's king. It hangs high in my father's hall, in memory of the past, when Fingal came to Cluba, in the days of other years. Loud roared 1he boar of Culdarnu, in the midst of his rocks and woods. Inis-huna sent her youths ; but they failed, and virgins we11t over tombs. Careless went Fingal to Culdarnu. On his spear rolled the strength of the woods. He was bright, they said, in his locks, the first of mortal m en. Nor at the feast were heard his words. His deeds passed from his soul of fire, like the rolling of vapors from the face of the wandering sun. Not care less looked the blue eyes of Cluba on his stately steps. In white bosoms rose the king of Selma, in the midst of their thoughts by night. But the winds bore the stranger to the echoing vales of his roes. Nor lost to other lands was he, like a meteor, that sinks in a cloud. He came forth, at times in his brightness, to the distant dwelling of foes. His fame came, like the sound of winds, to Cluba's woody vale. " Darkness dwells in Cluba of harps ! the race of kings is distant far : in battle is my father Conmor ; and Lormar, my brother, king of streams. Nor dark. ening alone are they ; a beam from other lands is nigh ; the friend of strangers* in Atha, the troublcr of the field. High from their misty hills looks forth the blue eyes of Erin, for he is far away, young dweller of their Nor harmless, white hands of Erin! is Cath. "' Cathmor, the son ofBr . rbar-duthol. II ___ ,___.

PAGE 284

T SUL-MALLA OF LUMON. 277 mor in the of war ; he rolls ten thousand before him in his distant field." "Not unseen by Ossian," I said, "rushed Cathmor from his streams, when he poured his strengt.h on I-thorno, isle of many waves! In strife met two kings in 1-thorno, Culgorm and Suran-dronlo: each from his echoing isle, stern hunters of the boar ! " They met a boar at a foamy stream ; each pierced him with his spear. They strove for the fame of the deed, and gloomy battle rose. From isle to isle they sent a spear broken and stained with blood, to call the friends of their fathers in their sounding arms. Cath came from Erin to Colgorm, red-eyed king ; I aided Suran-dronlo in his land of boars. "We rushed on either side of a stream, which roar ed through a blasted heath. High broken rocks were round with all their bending trees. Near were two circles of Loda, with the stone of power, where spirits descended by night in dark-red streams of fire. There, mixed with the murmur of waters, rose the voice of aged men ; they called the forms of night to aid them in their war. " Heedless I stood with my people, where fell the foamy stream from rocks. The moon moved red from the mountain. My song at times arose. Dark, on the other side, young Cathmor heard my voice, for he lay beneath the oak in all his gleaming arms. Morning came : we rushed to the fight ; from wing to wing is the rolling of strife. They fell like the thistle's head beneath autumnal winds. " In armor came a stately form : I mixed my strokes with the chief. By turns our shields are pif!rced : loud rung our steely mail. His helmet fell to the grouncl. In brightness shone the foe. His eyes, two pleasant flames, rolled between his wandering locks. I knew Cathmor of Atha, and threw my spear on earth. 24 ------=======::::::::::========:::

PAGE 285

I I 278 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Dark we turned, and silent passed to mix with other foes. "Not sc passed the striving kings. They mixed in echoing fray, like the meeting of ghosts in the dark wing of winJs. Through either breast rushed the spea1s, nor yet lay the foes on earth ! A rock received their fall ; half-reclined they lay in death. Each held the lock of his foe: each grimly seemed to roll his eyes. The stream of the rock leapt on their shields, and mixed below with blood. " The battle ceased in I-thorno. The strangers met in peace : Cathmor from Atha of streams, and Ossian king of harps. We placed the dead in earth. .,Our steps were by Runar's bay. With the bounding boat afar advanced a ridgy wave. Dark was the rider of seas, but a beam of light was there like the ray of the sun in Stromlo's rolling smoke. It was the daughter of Suran-dronlo, wild in brightened looks. Her eyes were wandering flames amidst disordered locks. Forward is her white arm with the spear; her high-heav ing breast is seen, white as foamy waves that rise, IJy turns, amidstrocks. They are beautiful, but terrible, and mariners call the winds ! " 'Come, ye dwellers of Loda !' she said : ' come, Carchar, pale in the midst of clouds ! Sluthmor that stridest in airy halls ! Corchtur, terrible in winds ! Receive from his daughter's spear, the foes of Suran dronlo. No shadow at his roaring streams, no mildly looking form, was he ! When he took up his spear, the hawks shook their sounding wings: for blood was poured around the steps of dark-eyed Suran.dronlo . . He lighted me no harmless beam to glitter on his . >treams. Like meteors I was bright, but I blasted the foes of Suran-dronlo.'" Nor unconcerned heard Sul-malla the praise of

PAGE 286

SUL-MALLA OF LUMON. 279 Cathmor of shields. He was within her soul, like a fire in secret heath, which awakes at the voice of the i)Jast, and sends its beam abroad. Amidst the song re moved the daughter of kings, like the voice of a sum mer breeze, when it lifts the heads of flowers, and curls the lakes and streams. The rust l ing sound gently spreads o'er the vale, softly-pleasing a3 it saddens the soul. By night came a dream to Ossian ; formless stoo-.1 the shadow of Trenmor. He seemed to strike the dim shield on Selma's streamy rock. I rose in my rattling steel: I knew that war was near; before the winds our sails were spread, when Lumon showed its streams to the morn. Come from the watching night Malvina, lonely beam! -

PAGE 287

THE WAR OF INIS-THONA. ARGUMENT! ltefiecttons on the poet's youth. An apostrophe to Osca! obtains leave to go to Ims-thona, an tsland of Scandinavm . . The mournful story of Argon and Ruro, the two of the kmg of Inis-thona. Oscar revenges their death, and returns in triumph to !:';elmn. A soliloquy by the poet himself. OuR youth is like the dream of the hunter on the hill of heath. He sleeps in the mild beams of the sun: he awakes amidst a storm ; the red lightning flies around : trees shake their heads to the wind ! He looks back with joy on the day of the sun, and the pleasant dreams of his rest! When shall Ossian's youth return 1 \\rhen his ear delight in the sound of arms 1 When shall I, like Oscar, travel in the lignt of my steel 1 Come with your streams, ye hills of Cona! listen to the voice of Ossian. The song rises, like the sun, in my soul. I fee l the joys of other times. I behold thy towers, 0 Selma! the oaks of thy shaded wall: thy streams sound in my ear; thy heroes gather r ound. Fingal sits in the midst. He leans on the shield of Trenmor; his spear stands against the wall ; he listen s to the songs of his bards. The deeds of his arm are heard ; the actions of the king in his youth ! Oscar had r(;lturned from the chase, and heard the he ro's praise. He took the shield of Branno* from the wall ; his eyes were filled with tears. Red was the cheek of youth. His voice was trembling low. My spear shook its bright head in his hand: he spoke to Morven's king. " Fingal ! thou king of heroes ! Ossian, next to him • The father ofEverallin, and grandfather to Oscar -=ll I I I I

PAGE 288

THE WAR OF INIS-THONA. 281 in war! ye have fought in your youth ; your names are renowned in song. Oscar is like the mist of Con a; I appear and I vanish away. The bard will not know my name. The hunter will not search in the heath for my tomb. Let me fight, 0 heroes, in the battles of lnis-thona. Distant is the land of my war! ye shall not hear of Oscar's fall : some bard may find me there; som e bard may give my name to song. The daughter of the stranger shall see my tomb, and weep o\'er the youth, that carne from afar. The bard shall say, at the feast, Hear the song of Oscar from the distant lanJ !" "Oscar," replied the king of Morven, "thou shalt fight, son of my fame! Prepare my dark-bosomed ship to carry my hero to Inis-thona. Son of my son, re gard our fame ; thou art of the race of renown : let not the children of strangers say, Feeble are the sons of Morven! Be thou, in battle, a roaring stotm: mild as the evening sun in peace ! Tell, Oscar, to lnis-tho na's king, that Fingal remembers his youth; when we strove in the combat together, in the days of Agandecca." They lifted up the sounding sail : the wind whistled through the thongs* of their masts. Waves lashed the oozy rocks: the strength of ocean roars. My son be held, from the wave, the land of groves. He rushed into Runa's sounding bay, and sent his sword to Annir of spears. The gray-headed hero rose, when he saw the sword of Fingal. His eyes were full of tears ; he rem e mb e red his battles in youth. Twice had they lifted the spear before the lovely Agandecca: heroes stood far distant., as if two spirits were striving in winds. "But now," began the king, "I am old; the sword lies useless in my hall. Thou who art of Morven's • •hongs were used among the Celtic nations, instead of ropes.

PAGE 289

r I I 282 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. race! Annir has seen the battle of spears ; but now he is pale and withered, like the oak of Lano. I have no son to meet thee with joy, to bring thee to the halls of his fathers. Atgon is pale in the tomb, and Ruro is no more. My daughter is in the hall of strangers; she longs to behold my tomb. Her spouse shakes ten thousand spears ; he comes a cloud of death from Lano. Come, to share the feast of Annir, son of echoing Morven? Three days they feasted together; on the fourth, Annir heard the name of Oscar. They rejoiced in the shell.* They pursued the boars of Runa. Beside the fount of mossy stones the weary heroes rest. The tear steals in secret from Annir : he broke the rising sigh. "Here darkly rest," the hero said, "the chi[. dren of my youth. This stone is the tomb of Ruro; that tree sounds over the grave of Argon. Do ye hear my voice, 0 my sons, within you1 narrow house ? Or do ye speak in these rustling leaves, when the wind of the desert rises ?" " King of lnis.thona," said Oscar, "how fell the children of youth? The wild boar rushes over their tombs, but he does not distul'b theit repose. They pur. sue deer formed of clouds, and bend their airy bow. They still love the sport of their youth; and mount the wind with joy." " Cormalo," replied the king, "is a chief of ten thousand spears. He dwells at the waters of Lano,t which sends forth the vapor of death. He came to Runa's echoing halls, and s0ught the honor of the spear.t The youth was lovely as the first beam of "' To "rejoice in the shell," is a phrase for feasting sumptuously and drinking freely. t Lano was a lake of Scandinavia, remarkable in the days ol O!;l;tan for emitting a pestilential vapor in autumn. t By "the honor of the spear," J S meant the tournament pracftl;ed amoug the ancient northern nations.

PAGE 290

'l'HE WAR OF INI5-TI-IONA. 283 the sun ; f ew were they who could meet him in fight ! My heroes yielded to Cormalo ; my daughter was seized in his love. Argon and Ruro returned from the chase ; the tears of their pride descend : they roll their silent eyes on Runa's heroes, who had yielded to a stranger. Three days they feasted with Cormalo; on the fourth young Argon fought. But who could fight with Argon 1 Cormalo is overcome. His heart swelled with the grief of pride; he resolved in secret to behold the death of my sons. They went to the hills of Runa; they pursued the dark-brown hinds. The arrow of Cormalo flew in secret; my children fell in blood. He came to the maid of his love; to lnis-thona's long haired maid. They fled over the desert. Annir re mained alone. Night came on, and day appeared; nor Argon's voice nor Ruro's came. At length their much-loved dog was seen ; the fleet and bounding Runa. He came into the hall and howled; and seemed to look towards the place of their fall. We followed him ; we found them here : we laid them by this mossy stream. This is the haunt of Annir, when the chase of the hinds is past. I bend like the trunk of an aged oak ; my tears for ever flow !" "0 Ronnan !" said the rising Oscar, "Ogar, king of spears ! call my heroes to my side, the sons of streamy Morven. To-day we go to Lano's water, that sends forth the vapor of death. Cormalo will not long rejoice: death is often at the point of our swords!" They came over the desert like stormy clouds, when the winds roll them along the heath ; their edge::. are tinged with lightning; the echoing groves foresee the storm ! The horn of Oscar's battle is heard ; Lano shook over all its waves. The children of the lake convened around the sounding shield ofCormalo. Oscar fought as he was wont in war. Cormalo fell beneath his sword: the sons of dismal Lano fled to their sc.

PAGE 291

284 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. cret vales! Oscar brought the daughter of Juis-thona to Annir's echoing hnlb. The face of age is bright with joy; he blest the king of swords. Huw great was the joy of Ossian, when he b e h eld th e distant sail of his son! it was like a cloud of light that ris e s in th e east, whe n the traveller is sad in 'l land unknown: and dismal night with h e r ghosts, is s iting around in s hades! We brought him with songs to S e lma's halls. Fingal spr e ad the f e a s t of she lls. A thou s and bards rai $ ed the name of O scar: Morv e n answ e r e d to the sound. The daught e r of Toscar was th ere; h e r voic e was like the harp, whe n the distant sound corr es, in the evening, on the soft rustling breeze of the mle! 0 lay me, ye that see the light, near some rock of my hills ! l e t the thick haz e ls be around, l e t the rus oak b e n ear. Green be the place of my rest; l e t th e sound of the distant torrent be heard. Daughter of Tos car, tak e the harp, and raise the lovely song of S elma; that sle e p may overtake my soul in the midst of joy; that the dreams of my youth may r e turn, and th e days of the mighty Fingal. S elma! I behold thy tow e rs, thy tr e es, thy shad e d wall ! I see the hero e s of Morven; I hear the song of bards: Oscar lifts the sword of Cormalo; a thousand youths . admire its stud. d e d thongs. They look with wond e r on my son: th e y admire the strength of his ann. They mark the joy of his f a th er's e y es; th e y long for an equal fame, and ye shall hav e youJ; fam e , 0 sons of str e amy Monen! 1\ly soul is often brightened with song; I remembe1 the fri e nds of my youth. But sleep descends in the s o und of the harp ! ple asant dreams begin to rise ! Y e. sons of the chas e , stand far distant nor disturb my rest The bard of other times hol ds d iscourse with his fa th ers! the ch i efs of the days of o ld! Sons of the chase) stand far distant ! disturb mt the dreams of Ossian I =n I

PAGE 292

,/":;=-===========fill l i r l THE SONGS OF SELMA. ARGUl\1ENT. to the evening star. Apostrophe to Fingal and his timee. lVlinuna sings belore the king the song of the unfortunate Colma, and the bards exhtbit other specimens of their poetical talents .i aecording to an annual custom established by the monarchs ot the ancient Caledonians. STAR of descending night! fair is thy light in the west! thou that liftest thy unshorn head from thy cloud: thy steps are stately on thy hill. What dost thou be. hold in the plain 1 The stormy winds are laid. The murmur of the torrent comes from afar. Roaring waves climb the distant rock. The flies of evening are on their feeble wings: the hum of their coutse is :Jn the field. What dost thou behold, fair light 1 But thou dost smile and depart. The waves come with joy around thee: they bathe thy lovely hair. Fare w e ll, thou silent beam! Let the light of Ossian's soul arise! And it does arise in its strength! I behold my de parted friends. Their gathering is on Lora, as in the days of other years. Fingal comes like a watery col umn of mist ! his heroes are around: and see the bards of song, gray-haired Ullin! Stately Ryno! Alpin with the tuneful voice! the soft complaint of Minona! How are ye changed, my friends, since the days of S e lma's feast! when we contended, like gales of spring, o.s they fly along the hill, and bend by turns the feebly whis tling grass. Minona came forth in her beauty: withdowncast look and tearful eye. Her hair flew slowly on the blast, that rushed unfrequeDt from the hill. The souls )L __ ------------------------

PAGE 293

286 THE POEJIIS OF OSSIAN. of the heroes were sad when she raised the tunelhl voice. Often had th ey seen the grave of Salgar, the dark dwe lling of white-bosomed Colma. Colma left alone on the hill, with all her voice of ::;ong! Salgar promised to come: but the night descended around. Hear the voic e of Colma, when she sat alone on tho hill. Colma. It is night, I am alone, forlorn on the hill of sto rms. The wind is heard on the mountain. Tho tonent pours down the rock. No hut receives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds! Ris e , moon ! from behind thy clouds. Stars of the night, arise ! Lead me, some light, to the place where my love rests from the chase alone ! his bow near him, unstrung: his dogs panting around him. But here I mu s t sit alone, by th e rock of the mossy stream. The stream and the wind roar aloud. I hear not the voice of my love ! Why delays my Salgar, why the chief of the hill, his promise 1 Here is the rock, and here • the tree! here is the roaring stream! Thou didst promise with night to be here. Ah ! whither is my Snlgar gone 1 With thee, I would fly from my father; with thee, from my brother of pride. Our race have long b ee n foes ; we are not foes, 0 Salgar ! Cease a little while, 0 wind! stream, be thou silent awhile! let my voice be heard around. Let my wan derer hear me! Salgar! it is Colma who calls. Here is the tre e , and the rock. Salgar, my love ! I am here. Why delayest thou thy coming 1 Lo! the calm moon c o mes forth. The flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are gray on the steep, I see him not on the brow. , His dogs come noi before him, with tidings of his near aprroach. Here I must sit alone! Who lie on the heath beside me1 Are they my love and my brother 1 Speak to me, 0 my friends ! To Colma they give no reply. Speak to me; I am ulonel 1.!::================-J

PAGE 294

THE SONGS OF SELMA. 287 1\fy is tormented with fears! Ah! they are dead! Their swo rds a re red from the fight. 0 my brother! my brother! why hast thou slain my S a lgar? why, 0 Salgar! hast thou slain my brother ? Dear wer e ye both to me! what shall I say in your praise 1 Tho wert fair on th e hill among thousands ! he was terrible in fight. Speak to me ; hear my voice ; hear me, sons of my love! They are silent; sile nt for ever! Cold, cold, are their breasts of clay! Oh! from the rock on the hill, from the top of the windy st eep, spe ak, ye ghosts of the dead ! speak, I will not be afraid! Whither are ye gone to rest ' ? In what cave of the hill :shall I find the departed? No fee ble voice is on the gale: no answer half-drowned in the storm ! I sit in my grief; I wait for morning in my tears!' Rear the tomb, ye friends of the dead. Close it not till Colma come. My life flies away like a dream: why should I stay behind? Here shall I rest with my friends, by the stream of the sounding rock. When night com e s on the hill ; when the loud winds arise ; my ghost shall stand in the blast, and mourn the death of my friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth. He shall fear but love my voice ! For sweet shall my voice be for my friends : pleasant were her friends to Colma! Such was thy song, Minona, softly-blushing daughter of Torman. Our tears descended tor Colma, and our souls were sad! Ullin came with his harp ! he gave the song of The voice of Alpin was pleasant: the soul of Ryno was a beam of fire! But they had rested in the narrow house : their voice had ceased in Selma. Ullin had returned, one day, from the chase, before the heroes fell. He heard their strife on the hill ; their song was soft but sad ! They mourned the fall of Mo. rar, first of mortal men! His soul was like the soul of Fingal: his sword like the sword of Oscar. But ho '..':=:::::=============--------

PAGE 295

---288 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. fell, and his father mourned: his sister's eyes were full of tear;;. l\finona's eyes were full of tears, the sisler of carborne l\lorar. She retired from the song of Ullin, like the moon in the west, when she foresees th e shower, and hid es her fair head in a cloud. I touched the harp with Ullin; the song of mourning rose ! Ryno. The wind and the rain are past; calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. Over the green hills flies the inconstant sun. Red through the stony val e comes down the stream of the hill. Sw ee t are thy murmurs, 0 stream ! but more sweet is the voic e I hear. It is the voice of Alpin, th e son of song, mourning for the dead ! Bent is his head of age; red his tearful eye. Alpin, thou son of song, why alone on the silent hill ? why complain es t thou, as a blast in th e wood; as a wave on the lone ly shore? Alpin. My tears, 0 Ryno! are for the dead; my voice for those that have p asse d away. Tall thou art on the hill; fair among the sons of the vale. But thou shalt fall like Morar; the mourner shall sit on thy tomb. The hills shall know thee no more ; thy bow shall lie in thy hall unstrung. Thou wert swift, 0 Morar! as a roe on the desert; terrible as a met eor of fire. Thy wrath was as tlte storm. Thy sword in battl e, as lightning in th e field. Thy voice was a stream after rain; like thunder on distant hills. Many fell by thy arm ; th e y were con. sumed in the flames of thy wrath. But wh e n thou didst return from war, how peaceful was thy brow ! Thy face was like the sun after rain ; like the moon in the silence of night; calm as the breast of the lake when the loud wind is laid. Narrow is thy dwelling now! Dark the pla c e of thine abode! With three steps I compass thy g rave. 0 thou who wast so great before! Four with their \eads of moss, are the only memorial of th ee . A I I I I

PAGE 296

THE SONGG OF SELMA. 289 tree with scarce a leaf, long grass, whil' . h whistles in the wind, mark to the hunter's eye the grave of the mighty Morar. Morar! thou art low indeed. Thou nast no mother to mourn thee ; no maid with her tears '>f love. D e ad is she that brought thee forth. Fallen JS the daughter of Morglan. \Vho on his staff is this? who is this whose head is white with age; whose eye s are red with tears 1 v;ho quakes at ev ery step 1 It is thy fath e r, 0 Morar! the father of no son but thee. He heard of thy fame in war; he heard of foes dispersed. He h e ard of Momr's renown ; why did he not hear of his wound ? Weep, thou father of Morar! wee p ; but thy son heareth thee not. Deep is the sleep of the dead ; low their pillow of dust. No more shall he hear thy voice ; no more awake at thy call. When shall it be morn in the grave, to bid the slumberer awake? Farewell, thou bravest of men ! thou conqueror in the field ! but the field shall see thee no more; nor the dark wood be lightened with the splendor of thy steel. Thou hast left no son. The song sh a ll preserve thy name. Future times shall hear of thee; they shall h ear of the fallen_Morar. The grief of all arose, but most the bursting sigh of Armin, He remembers the death of his son, who fell in the aays of his youth. Carmor was near the hero, the chi e f of the echoing Galmal. Why burst the sigh of Armin ? he said. Is there a cause to mourn 1 The song comes, with its music, to melt and please the soul. It is like soft mist, that, rising from a lake, pours on the sil e nt vale ; the green flowers are fil 'led with dew, but th e sun r e turns in his strength, and the mist is gone. Why art thou sad, 0 Armin, rhief of sea-surrounded Gorma? S a d I am! nor small is my cause of wo. Carmnr, thou hast lost no son ; thou hast lost no daughter uf beauty. Colgar the valiant lives; and Annira, fairest 25 J

PAGE 297

I 290 THE l'OEJ\IS OF OSSIAN. maid. The boughs of thy house ascend, 0 Carmor ! but Armin is the last of his race. Dark is thy bed, 0 Dama! deep thy sleep in the tomb! When shalt thou awake with thy songs? with all thy voice of music? Arise, winds of autumn, arise; blow along the heath ! streams of the mountains, roar! roar, tempests, in the groves of my oaks ! walk through broken clouds, 0 moon ! show thy pale face, at intervals ! bring to my mind the night, when all my children fell ; when Arin dal the mighty fell ! when Dama the lovely failed! Dama, my daughter ! thou wert fair ; fair as the moon on Fura, white as the driven snow ; sweet as the breathing gale. Arindal, thy bow was strong. Thy spear was swift on the field. Thy look was like mist on the wave : thy shield, a red cloud in a storm. Ar mar, renowned in war, came, and sought Dama's love. He w.as not long refused : fair was the hope of their friends! Erath, son of Odgal, repined : his brother had been slain by Armar. He came disguised like a son of the sea: fair was his skiff on the wave ; white his locks of age; calm his serious brow. Faires t of women, he said, lovely daughter of Armin ! a rock not distant in the sea bears a tree on its side : red shin e s the fruit afar ! There Armar waits for Daura. I come to carry his love! She went; she called on Armar. Nought answered, but the son of the rock.* Armar, my lover my love! why tormentest thou me with fear! hear, son of Arnart, hear: it is Daura who calleth thee ! Erath the traitor fled laughing to the land. She lifted .up her voice ; she called for her brother and for her fa the-. Arindal! Armin! none to relieve your Dama! • By "the son of the rock," the poet means echoin!! hack of the human voice from a rock. "' 1-------------------------_.:_

PAGE 298

"/==========================:-! I THE SONGS OF SELMA. 291 Her voice came over the sea. Arindal my son de. scendetl from the hill ; rough in the spoils of the chase. His arrows rattled by his side ; his bow was in hi5 hand ; five dark-gray dogs attended his steps. He saw fie rc e Erath on the shore : he seized and bound him to an o a k. Thick wind the thongs of the hide around hi3 limbs : h e loads the winds with his groans. Arindal a sc ends the deep in his boat, to bring Dama to land. Anna r cam e in his wrath, and l e t fly the gray-feather. ed shaft. It sunk, it sunk in thy heart, 0 Arindal, my son ! for Erath the traitor thou diP-st. The oar is st oppe d at once ; he panted on the rock and expired. What is thy grief, 0 Daura, when round thy feet is p o ur e d thy brother's blood ! The boa t is brok e in tw a in. Armar plunges into the sea, to rescue his Dama, or die . Sudden a from a hill came over t he wav es . He sunk, and h'e rose no more. Alon e on the sea-beat rock, my daughter was heard to complain. Frequent and loud were !ler cries. Whal could her fath e r do? All night I stood on the shore. I saw h e r by the faint beam of the moon. All night I heard her cries. Loud was the wind; the rain beat hard on the hill. Before morning appeared her voice was weak. It died away, like the evening breeze among the grass of the rocks. Spent with grief, she exp ired ; and left th e e, Armin, alone. Gone is my strength in war ! fall e n my pride among women ! When the storms aloft arise ; when the north lifts the wave on high! I sit by the sounding shore, and look on th e fatal rock. Often by the setting moon, I see th e ghosts of my children. Half viewless, they walk in mournful conf e rence together. wm none of you speal' in pity. The y do not regard their father. I am sad, 0 C a rmor, nor small is my cause of wo. Suc h were th e words of the bards in the days of ilong ; whe u the king heard the music of harps, tho I II I .L

PAGE 299

I I 292 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, tales of other times! The chiefs gathered from a1, their hills, and heard the lovely sound. They the voice of Cona ;* the first among a thousand hards I but age is now on my tongue; my sou l has failed : _ hear, at times, the ghosts of bards, and learn their pleasant song. But memory faiJg on my mind. I hear the call of years; they say, as they pass along, Why does Ossian sing? Soon shall he lie in the narrow house, and no bard shall raise his fame! Roll on, ye clark-brown years; ye bring no joy on your course! Let the tomb open to Ossian, for his strength has failed. The sons of song are gone to rest. My voice remains, like a blast, that roars, lonely, on a sea-surrounded rqck, after the winds are laid. The dark moss whistJ,l>f there; the distant mariner sees the waving trees ! o Ossian is sometimes poetically called " the voice of Q>a • !..!:::::=L= . _ _ )

PAGE 300

• ,-.:___=::==:=:=:===================, I I I ! FINGAL: .Lir .A.Jr:liEl'I'T EPIC. POEII BOOK I. ARGUlllENT. Cuth'll!in (general of the Irish tribes, in the minority of Cormac, kiLg oflreland) sitting alone beneath a tree, at the gate ofTura, a castle of Ulster (tlie other chiefs having gone on a huntmg party to Cromla, a neighboring hill,) is informed oft he landing of Swaran, king of Loch lin, by Moran, the son of Fithil, one of his scouts. He convenes the chieis; a council is held, and disputes run high about giving battle to the enemy. Connel, the petty king of Togorma, and an intimate friend of Cuthullin, was for retreating, iill Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the northw e st coast of Scotland, whose aid had been previously solicited, should arrive ; but Calmar, the son of Madia, lord of Lara, a country in Connaught, was for engaging the enemy im mediately. Cuthullin, of htmself willing to fight, went into the opinion of Calmar. Marching towards the enemy, he missed three of his bravest heroes, Fergus, Duchomar, and Cathba. Fergus arriving, tells Cuthullin oJ the death of the two other chiefs : which tntroduce s the affecting episode of Morna, the daughter of Cormac. The army of Cuthullin is d escrie d at a dist a nce by Swaran, who sent the son of Arno to observe the motions of the enemy, while he him se lf ranged hi s force& in order of battl e. The son of Arno returning to Swaran, describes to him Cnthullin's chariot, and the terrible appearance of that h e ro . The a rmies e ngage, but night coming on, leaves the vic tory und ec ided. Cuthullin, according to tlie hospitality of the tim es, se nd s to Swaran a formal invitation to a feast, by his bard Carril, the son of Kinfena. Swaran refuses to come. Carril re lat es to Cuthullin tl,e story of Grudar and Brassolis . A party, by Connal's advice, is sent to observe the enemy; which closes the action of the first day. CuTHULLIN sat by Tur:t's wall ; by the trl;:)e of the rastling sot.:nd. His spear leaned against the rock. His shield lay on the grass by his side. Amid his thoughts of mighty Cairbar, a hero slain by the chi( f 25* :1 i l II I. II I

PAGE 301

l 294 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. in war ; the scout of ocean comes, Moran the son of Fithil! " Arise," said the youth, "Cuthullin, arise. I see the ships of the north! Many, chief of men, are the fl•e. Many the heroes of the sea-borne Swaran !"" Moran !" replied the blue-eyed chief, " thou ever trernblest, son of Fithil ! Thy fears have increils c d the foe. It is Fingal, king of deserts, with aid to green Et in of streams."-" 1 beheld their chief;'' says Moran, " tall as a g litt ering rock. His spear is a blasted pine. His shield the rising moon ! He sat on the shore! like a cloud of mist on the silent hill ! Many, chief of heroes ! I said, many are our hands of war: \-V ell art thou named, the mighty man ; but many mighty men are seen from Tura's windy walls. "Ile spoke, like a wave on a rock, 'vVho in this land appears like me? Heroes stand not in my pre sence : they fall to earth from my hand. Who can meet Swaran in fight? Who but Fingal, king of S el ma of storms ? Once we wrestled on Malmor ; our heels overturned the woods. Rocks fell from their place; rivul e ts, changing their course, fled murmuring from our side. Three days we renewed the strife; heroes stood at a distance and trembled. On the fouith, Fingal says, that the king of the ocean fell ! but Swaran says he stood! Let dark Cuthullin yield to him, that is strong as the storms of his land !' " "No!" replied the blue-eyed chief, "I never yield to mortal man ' Dark Cuthullin shall be great or dead ! Go, son of Fithil, take my spear. Strike the sounding shi eld of Serno. It hangs at T rustling The sound of peace is not its voice! My heroes shall hear and obey." lie went. He struck the bossy shield. The hills, the rocks reply. The sound spreads along the wood: deer start by the lake of roes. Curach leaps fr.orn the snunding rock ! and Connal of ! r I -:-:-:-.

PAGE 302

I FINGAL. 295 the bloody ! Crugal's breast of snow beats high. The son of Fa vi leaves the dark brown hind. It is the shield of war, said Ronnart; the spear of Cuthullin, said Lugar! Son of the sea, put on thy arms! Cal mar, lift thy sounding steel ! Puno ! dreadful hero,
PAGE 303

,-;==============-=-=-=:.: . I I 296 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. with the blood of thousands. But though my hand Ill bent on fight, my heart is for the peace of Erin.* Be. hold, thou first in Cormac's war, the sable fleet of Swaran. His masts are many on our coasts, like r e eds on th e lake of Lego. His ships are forests cloth e d with mists, when the trees yield by turns to the squally wind. Many are his chiefs in battle. Connal is for p e ace ! Fingal would shun his arm, the first of mor. tal men ! Fingal who scatters the mighty, as stormy winds the echoing Cona ; and night settles with all her clouds on the hill !" " Fly, thou man of peace !" said Colmar, " fly," said the son of Matha ; " go, Connal, to thy silent hills, wher e the spear never brightens in war ! Pursue the dark-brown deer of Crom\a: stop with thine arrows th e bounding ro e s of Lena. But blue-eyed son of S e mo, Cuthullin, ruler of the fie ld, scatter thou the sons of Lochlin !t roar through the ranks of their pride. L e t no v es s e l of the kingdom of snow bound on the dark-rolling wav e s of Inistore.t Rise, ye dark winds of Erin, ri se ! roar, whirlwinds of Lara of hinds ! Amid the t empe st let me die , torn, in a cloud, by angry ghosts of men ; amid the tempest let Calmar die, if ev e r chase was sport to him, so much as the battle of shi elds! " Calmar!" Connal slow replied, " I never fled, young son of Matha ! I was swift with my friend s in fight ; but small is the fame of Connal ! The battle was won in my preoence ! the valiant overcame ! But, son of S e mo, h ear my voice, regard the ancient throne of Cormac. Give wealth and half the land for peace, till Fingal shall arrive on our coast. Or, if war be thy "' Erin a name of Ireland for " ear " or " iar " west and " iD" an island. ' ' ' ' t The Ga e lic nanie of a Scandinavian general. t The urkney islands . '! I ij ,, I' l il II I .I I

PAGE 304

I I FINGA;:.. 297 choice, 1 lift the sword and spear. My joy shall be in the midst of thousands ; my soul shall alighten through the gloom of the fight !" " To n .e," Cuthullin replies, "pleasant is the noise of arms! pleasant as the thunder of heaven, before the show e r cf spring ! But gather all the shining trib e s, that I may view the sons of war ! Let them pass along the heath, bright as the sunshine before a storm ; when the west wind collects the clouds, and Morv e n echoes over all her oaks ! But whe re are my friends in battle ? the supporters of rny ann in danger 1 'Wh e re art tho.u, white-bosomed CathLa 1 Where th a t cloud in war, Duchomar 1 Hast thou l e ft me, 0 F e rgus ! in the day of the storm? Fergus, first in our j o y at the feast ! son of Rossa ! arm of death ! com cs t thou like a roe from Malmor 1 like a hart from thy echoing hills ? Hail, thou son of Rossa ! what sh::td e s the soul of war ?" " Four stones,"* replied the chief, "rise on the grave of Ciithba. These hands have laid in earth Ducho. m a r, that cloud in war ! Cathba, son of Torman ! t . hou wert a sunbeam in Erin. And thou, 0 valiant Duchomar ! a mist of the marshy Lano ; when it mov e s on the plains of autumn, bearing the death of thousands along. Morna ! fairest of maids ! calm is thy sleep in the cave of the rock ! Thou hast fallen in darkness, like a star, that shoots across the desert; 1\hen the traveller is alone, and mourns the transient beam!" * This passage alludes to the manner of burial among the ancient i:'co:s. They opened a grave six or eight feet deep; the bottom was lined wtth fine clay; and on this they laid the body of the de c e a sed, and, if a warnor, his sword1 and the heads of twelvt. ar rows by his side. Above they laio anothP.r str.trum of clay, in which th e y placed the_ horn of a deer, the symbol of hunting. The whole was covered wtth a fine mould, and four s t o nes placed on eud to ma . k the extent of the grave. These are the four stones Qlluded to here. 1 ! ___ _ .-:--.::--=-==-=--===========::.!

PAGE 305

298 THE POElllS OF oSSIAN. "Say," said Serna's blue-eyed ::;on, "say how fel. the chiefs of Erin. Fell they by the sons of Lochlin, striving in the battle of heroes? Or what confines the strong in arms to the dark and narrow house ?" " Cathba," replied the hero, "fell by the sword of DuchOmar at the oak of the noisy streams. Duchomar carne to Tura's eave ; he spoke to the lovely Morna. ' l\1oxr.a, fairest among women, lovely daughter of strong-armed Cormac ! Why in the circle of stones : in the cave of the rock alone ? The stream murmurs along. Tho old tree groans in the wind. The lake is troubled before thee : dark are the clouds of the sky ! But thou . art snow on the heath; thy hair is the mist of Cromla ; when it curls on the hill, when it shines to the beam of the west ! Thy breasts are two smooth rocks seen from Branna of streams. Thy arms, like two white pillars in the halls of the great Fingal.' " ' From wh e nce,' the fair-haired maid replied, 'from whence Duchom a r, most gloomy of men ? Dark are thy brows and terrible ! Red are thy rolling eyes ! Does Swaran appear on the sea ? What of the foe, DuchOmar ?' ' From the hill I return, 0 Morna, from the hill of th e dark-brown hinds. Three have I slain with my bend e d yew. Three with my long-bounding dogs of the chase. Lovely daughter of Cormac, I love th ee as my soul : I have slain one stately deer for thee. High was his branchy head-and fleet his feet of wind.' ' Duchomar !' calm the maid replied, ' I love thee not, thou gloomy man ! hard is thy heart of rock ; dark is .thy terrible brow. But Cathba, young son of Tarman, thou art the love of Morna. Thou art a sunbeam, in the day of the gloomy storm. Sawest thou the son of Tarman, lovely on the hill of his hinds ? Here the aaughter of Cormac waits the coming of Cathba !" "'Long shall Morna wait,' Duch6mar said, 'long shall Morna wait for Cathba ! Behold tllis sword un. .J_ II ]/ I I I I

PAGE 306

t:::z::::"". __ FINGAL. 299 sheathed ! Here wanders the blood of Cathba. Long sha.ll Morna wait. He fell by the stream of Branno ! On Croma I will raise li.is tomb, daughter of blue shielded Corm
PAGE 307

I i I 300 THE POE! lS 01' OSSIAN. Gather the strength of the tribes ! Move to the wars of Erin ! Attend the car of my battles ! R e joice in the noise of my course ! Place three spears by my side : follow the bounding of my steeds ! that my soul may b e strong in my friends, when battle darken3 around the beams of my steel ! As rushes a stream of foam from the dark shady deep of Cromla, when the thunder is travellicg above, and dark-brown night sits on half the hill. Through the breach e s of the tempest l ook forth the dim faces of ghosts. So fierce, so vast, so terrible, rushed on the sons of Erin. The chief, like a whale of ocean, whom all his billows pursue, poured valor forth, as a stream, rolling his might along the shore. The sons of Lochlin heard the noise, as the sound of a winter storm. Swaran struck his bossy shield : he called the s . on of Arno. " ' What murmlll' rolls along th e hill, like the gathered flies of the eve 1 The sons of Erin d e scend, or rustling winds roar in the dist a nt wood ! Such is the noise of Gormal, before the white tops of my waves arise. 0 son of Arno ! ascend the hill ; view the dark face of the heath ! " He went. He trembling swift returned. His eyes rolled wildly round. His heart beat high against his side. His words were faltering, broken, slow. "Arise, son of ocean, arise, chief of the dark-brown shields ! I see the dark, the mountain-stream of battle ! the deep moving strength of the sons of Erin ! the car of war cnmes on, like the flame of death ! the rapid car of Cuthullin, the noble son of Semo! It.bends behind. lik e a wave near a rock ; like a sun-streaked mist of the heath. Its sides are embossed with stones, and l.'lparkle lik e the sea round the boat of night. Of pol. • ished yew is its beam; its seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears ; the bottom is foot-stool of heroes ! Before the 1:ight side of the

PAGE 308

1 r l FINGAL. 301 car is seen the snorting horse ! the high-maned, broad. breasted, proud, wide-leaping, strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his hoof: the spreading of his mane above is like a stream of smoke on a ridge of rocks. Bright are the sides of his steed ! his name i.s Sulin-Sifadda ! " Before the left side of the car is seen the snorting horse ! The thin-maned, high-headed, strong-hoofed fleet-bounding son of the hill : His name is Dusronnal, among the stormy sons of the sword ! A thousand thongs bind the car on high. Hard polished bits shine in wreath of foam. Thin thongs, bright studded with gems, bend on the stately necks of the steeds. The steeds, that like wreaths of mist fly over the streamy vares ! The wildness of deer is in their course, the stre ngth of eagles descending on the preJ. Theil nois e is like the blast of winter, on the sides of the snow-headed Gormal. " Within the car is seen the chief; the strongarme d son of the sword. The hero's name is Cu thullin, son of Semo, king of shells. His red cheek is like my polished yew. The look of his blue rolling eye is wide, beneath the dark arch of his brow. His hair flies from his head like a flame, as bending forward he wields the spear. Fly, king of ocean, fly! He comes, like a storm along the streamy vale! " When did I fly ?" replied the king ; " when fie
PAGE 309

302 'l'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. of my land ; that meet the storm with joy, and stretch their dark pines to the wind !" Like autumn's dark storms . Pouring from two echo ing hills, towards each other approached the heroes. Like two deep .stre ams from high rocks meeting, mix ing roaring on th0 plain ; loud, rough, and dark in bat tle meet Loch lin and Chief mixes his strokes with chi ef, and man with man : steel, clanging, on steel. Helmets are cleft on high. Blood bursts and smokes around. Strings murmur on the polishEd y e ws. Darts rush along the sky. Spears fall like the circles of light, which gild the face of night : as the noise of the troubled ocean, when roll the waves on high. As the last peal of thunder in heav e n, such is th e din of war ! Though Cormac's hundr e d bards w e re there to give the fight to song ; feebl e was the voice of a hundred bards to send the d e aths to future tim e s ! For many w e re the d e aths of hero e s ; wide poured the blood of the brave! Mourn. y e sons of song, mourn the death of the noble Sithallin. Let the sons of Fiona rise, on the lone plains of her lovely Ardan. They fell, like two hinds of the desert, by the hands of the mighty Swa. ran ; when, in the midst of thousands, roared like the shriJ: spirit of a storm. He sits dim on the clouds of 1 he north, and enjoys the death of the marin e r. Nor sl e pt thy hand by thy side, chief of the isle of mist !* many were the deaths of thine arm, Cuthullin, thou son of Semo ! His sword was like the beam of heaven when it pierc e s the sons of the vale . : wh e n the people are blasted and fall , and all the lJ.ills are burning around. Dusronnal snorted over the bodies of hero e s. Sifadda b a thed his hoof in blood. The battl e lay be* Th, isle of Sky ; not improperly called the " isle or mist," as 1ts high hills, which catch the cloudS from the Western Ocean, occasion almost cont;"lual rains. I ----

PAGE 310

FINGAL. 303 hind them, as groves overturned on the desen: of Crom la ; when the blast has passed the heath, laden with the spirits of nightJ Weep on the rocks of roar1ng winds, 0 maid of lnis tore ! Bend thy fair head over the waves, thou lovelier than the ghost of the hills, when it moves on the sun beam, at noon, over the silence of Morven. He is fallen : thy youth is low ! pale beneath the sword of Cuthullin ! No more shall valor raise thy love to match the blood of kings. Trenar, graceful Trenar died, 0 maid of Inistore ! His gray dogs are howling at home : they see his passing ghost. His bow is in the hall unstrung. No sound is in the hall of his hinds! As roll a thousand waves to the rocks, so Swaran's host came on. As meets a rock a thousand waves, so Erin met Swaran of spears. Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sounds of shields. Each hero is a pillar of darkness ; the sword a beam of fire in his hand. The field echoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers, that rise, by turns, on the red son ofthe furnace. Who are these on Lena's heath, these so gloomy and dark ? Who are these like two clouds, and their swords like lightning above them ? The little hills are troubled around ; the rocks tremble with all their moss. Who is it but ocean's son and the car-borne chief of Erin? Many are the anxious eyes of their friends, as they see them dim on the heath. But night conceals the chiefs in clouds, and ends the dreadful fight ! It was on Cromla's shaggy side that Dorglas had placed the deer ; the early fortune of the chase, before the heroes left +he hill. A hundred youths collect the heath ; ten warriors wake the fire ; three hmn.lred choose the polished stones. The feast is smoking wide ! Cuthullin, chief of Erin's war, resumed his mighty soul. He stood upon his beamy spear, and

PAGE 311

304 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. spoke to the son of songs ; to Carril of other time.
PAGE 312

.. .:--FINGAI,. 305 fail, and lovely a1 . the songs of wo that are heard on :\ lbion's rocks, when the noise of the chase is past, and the streams of Cona* answer to the voice of Ossian." " In other clays," C.1rril replies, " came the sons of ocean to Erin ; a thousand vessels bounded on waves to Ullin's lovely plains. The sons of lnis-fail arose to meet the race of dark-brown shields. Cahbar, first of men, was there, and Grudar, stately youth ! Long had they strove for the spotted bull that lowed on Gal bun's echoing heath. Each claimed him as his own. Death was often at the point of their steel. Side by side the heroes fought; the strangers of ocean fled. Whose name was fairer on the hill than the name of Cairbar and Grudar? But, ah ! why ever lowed the bull on Golbun's echoing heath ? They saw him leap ing like snow. The wrath of the chiefs returned. " On Lubar'st grassy banks they fought ; Grudar fell in his blood. Fierce Cairbar came to the vale, where Brassolis, fairest of his sisters, all alone, raised the song of grief. She sung of the actions of Grudar, the youth of her secret soul. She mourned him in the field of blood, but still she hoped for his return. Her white bosom is seen from her robe, as the moon from the clouds of night, when its edge heaves white on the view from the darkness which covers its orb. Her voice was softer than the harp to raise the song of grief. Her soul was fixed on Grudar. The secret look of her eye was his. ' When ;;halt thou come in thine arms, hou mighty in the war ?' " 'Take, Brassolis,' Cahbar came and said ; 'take, Brassolis, this shield of blood. Fix it on high within my hall, the armor of my foe !' Her soft heart beat * The Cona here mentioned is the small river that runs through Glenco in Argyleshire . t Lubar, a nver in Ulster. "Labhar," loud, noisy. 26*

PAGE 313

306 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. against her side. Distracted, pale, she flew. She found her youth in all his blood; she died on Cromla's heath. Here rests their dust, Cuthullin ! these lonely vews sprung from their tombs, and shade them from the storm. Fair was Brassolis on the plain ! Stately was Grudar on the hill ! The bard shall preserve their names, and send them down to future times !" "Pleasant is thy voice, 0 Carril," said the blue-eyed chief of Erin. Pleasant are the words of other times. They are lik e the calm shower of spring, when the sun iooks on the fie ld, and the light cloud flies over the hills. 0 strike the harp in praise of my love, the ionely sunbeam of Dunscaith ! Strike the harp in the of Brag e la, she that I left in the isle of mist, the spouse of Semo's son ! Dost thou raise thy fair face from the rock to find the sails of Cuthullin ? The sea is rolling distant far : its white foam deceives thee for my sails. Retire, for it is night, my love ; the dark winds sigh in thy. hair. Retire to the halls of my feasts, think of the times that are past. I will not return till the storm of war is ceased. 0 Connal ! speak of war and arms, and send her from my mind. Lovely with her flowing hair is the white-bosomed daughter of Sorglan." Conmt!, slow to speak, replied, " Guard against the race of ocean. Send thy troop of night abroad, and watch the strength of Swaran. Cuthullin, I am for p en c e till the race of Selma come, till Fingal come, the first of men, and beam, like the oon, on our fields !" The hero struck the shield of alarms, the warriors of thPnight moved on. The rest lay in the heath of the deer, and slept beneath the dusky wind. The ghosts* of the lately dead were near, and swam on ,. 1 t was long the opinion of the ancient Scots, that a ghost was heard shr' . eking near the place where a death was to happen soon after. 1 ' !I I I .

PAGE 314

i I FINGAL. 307 the gloomy clouds ; and far distant in the dark si ience Jf Lena, the feeble voices of death were faintly heard BOOK II. ARGUMENT. The ghost of Crugal, one of the Irish heroes who was ktlled m . battle, appearing to Connal, foretells the defeat of Cuthullin in the next battle, and earnestly advises him to make peace with Swl)ran. Connal the vision; but Cutnullin is in flexible; from a pnnc1ple of honor h e would not be the first to sue lor peace, and he resolved to continue the war. Mornin()' comes; Swaran proposes di s hon orable term s to Cuthullin, which are rejected. The battle b e gins, and is obstinately fouO'ht tor some tim e, until, upon the tlig ht of Grumal, the whole Iri s h armY. gave way. Cuthullin and Canna! cover their retreat. Carn l leads th e m to a hill, whither they are soon followed by Cuthullin himself, who descries the fleet of Fingal making towards their coast; but night coming on, he lost sight of It again. Cuthullin, dej ec ted alter his defeat, attributes hts ill suc cess to the death of Ferda, his ft'iend, whom he had killed s ome time before. Carril, to s how that ill s ucce ss did not always at tend those who innocently killed their friends, introduces the episode of Canna! and Galvina. CoNNAL lay by the sound of the mountain-stream, beneath the aged tree. A stone, with its moss, sup ported his head. Shrill, through the heath of Lena, he heard the voice of night. At distance from the hero e s he lay; the son of the sword feared no foe ! The hero beheld, in his r e st, a dJ.rk-red stream of fire rushing down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam, a chi e f who fell in fight. He fell by the hand of Swa ran, striving in the battle of heroes. His face is like the beam of the setting moon. His robes are of the clov.ds of the hill. His eyes are two decaying flames. I 1 -====================::_t

PAGE 315

308 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, Dark is the wound of his breast ! "Crugal," said the mighty Connal, " son of Dedgal famed on the hill of hinds ! Why so pale and sad, thou breaker of shields 1 Thou hast never been pale for fear! What disturbs the departed Crugal1" Dim, and in tears he stood, and stretched his pale hand over the hero. Faintly he raised his feeble voice, like the gale of the reedy Lego. " My spirit, Connal, is on my hills; my course ou the sands of Erin. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, nor find his lone steps in the heath. I am light as the blast of Cromla. I move like the shadow of mist ! Connal, son of Colgar, I see a cloud pf death : it hovers dark over the plains of Lena. The sons of green Erin must fall. Remove from the field of ghosts." Like the darkened moon he retired, in th"' midst of the whistling blast. "Stay," said the mighty Connal; " stay, my dark-red friend. Lay by that beam of heaven, son of windy Cromla ! What cave is thy lonely house 1 What green-headed hill the place of thy repose 1 Shall we not hear thee in the storm 1 in the noise of the mountain-stream 1 when the feeble sons of the wind come forth, and, scarcely seen, pass over the desert 1" The soft-voiced Connal rose, in the midst of his sounding arms. He struck his shield above Cuthullin. The son of battle waked. "Why," said the ruler of the car, " comes Connal through my night 1 My spear might turn against the sound, and Cuthullin mourn the death of his friend. Speak, Connal ; son of Colgar, speak ; thy counsel is the sun of heaven !" " Son of Semo !" replied the chief, " the ghost of Crugal carne from his cave. The stars dim twinkled through his form. His voice was like the sound of a distant stream He is a messenger of death ! He speaks of the dark and narrow house ! Sue for peace, 0 chief of Erin ! or flv over tbe heath of Lena !

PAGE 316

FINGAL, 309 " He spoke to Connal," replied the hero, "though stars dim twinkle1 through his form. Son of Col_ar, it was the wind that murmured across thy ear. Or if it was the form of Crugal, why didst thou not force him to my sight 1 Hast thou inquired where is his cave 1 the house of that son of wind 1 .My sword might find that voice, and force his knowledge from Crugal. But small is his Connal; he was here to-day. He could not have gone beyond our hills! who could tell him there of our fall?" "Ghosts fly on clouds, and ride on winds," said Connal's voice of wisdom. " They rest together in their caves, and talk of mortal men." " Then let them talk of mortal men ; of every man but Erin's chief. Let me be forgot in their cave. I viii not fly from Swaran! If fall I must, my tomb fhnll rise amidst the fame of future times. The hunter shall shed a tear on my stone : sorrow shall around the high-bosomed Bragela. I fear not death; to fly I fear ! Fingal has seen me victorious ! Thou dim phantom of the hill, show thyself to me! come on thy beam of heaven, show me my death in thine hand! yet I will not fly, thou feeble son of the wind ! Go, son of Colgar, strike the shield. It hangs between the spears. Let my warriors rise to the sound in the midst of the battles of Erin. Though Fingal delays his coming with the race of his stormy isles, we shall 0 Colgar's son, aud die in the battle of heroes !" The sound spreads wide. The heroes rise, like the breaking of a blue-rolling wave. They stood on the heath, like oaks with all their branches round them, whe n they echo to the stream of frost, and their wither ed l e aves are rustling to the wind ! High Cromla's head of clouds is gray. Morning trembles on the half enlightened ocean. The blue mist swims slowly by, nnd hides the sons of Inis-fail !

PAGE 317

lk-310 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, "Rise ye," said the king of the dark-brown shields "ye that came from Lochlin's waves. The sons of Erin have fled from our arms; pursue them over the plains of Lena! Moria, go to Cormac's hall. Bid them yield to Swaran, before his people sink to the tomb, and silence spread over his isle." They rose, rustling like a flock of .:;ea-fowl, when the waves expel them from the shore. Their sound was like a thousand streams, that meet in Cona's vale, when after a stormy night, they turn their dark eddies beneath the pale light of the morn. As the dark shades of autumn fly over the hills of grass, so gloomy, dark, successive came the chiefs gf Lochlin's echoing woods. Tall as the stag of Morven, moved stately before them the king. His shining shield is on his side, like a flame on the heath at night, when the world is silent and dark, and the traveller sees s!me ghosts sporting in the beam ! Dimly gleam the hills around, and show indistinctly their oaks! A blast from the troubled ocean removed the settled mist. The sons of Erin appear, like a ridge of rocks on the coast; when mariners, on shores unknown, are trembling at veering winds ! "Go, Moria, go," said the king of Lochlin, "offer peace to these. Offer the terms we give to kings, when nations bow down to our swords. When the valiant are dead in war ; when virgins weep on the field !" Tall Moria came, the son of Swarth, and stately strode the youth along! He spoke to Erin's blue-eyed chief, among the lesser heroes. " Take Swaran's peace," the warrior spoke, "the peace he gives to kings when nations bow to his sword. Leave Erin's streamy plains to us, and give thy spouse and dog. Thy spouse, high-bosomed heaving fair! Thy dog that overtakes the wind! Give these to prove the weaknel's of thine arm, Jive then beneath our power!"

PAGE 318

l'lNGAL. 311 " Tel! Swaran, tell that heart of pride, Cuthullin never yields ! I give him the dark-rolling sea; I give his people graves in Erin. But never shall a stranger have the pleasing sunbeam of my love. No deer sh3ll fly on Lochlin's hills, before swift-footed Luath." " Vain ruler of the car," said Moria, " wilt thou then fight the king ? the king whose ships of many groves could carry off thine isle ! So little is thy green-hilled Erin to him who rules the stormy waves !" " In words I yield to many, Moria. My sword shall yield to none. Erin shall own the sway of Cormac while Connal and Cuthullin live! 0 Connal, first of mighty men, thou hemest the words of Moria. Shall thy thoughts then be of peace, thou breaker of the shields ? Spirit of fallen Crugal, why didst thou threaten us with death ? The narrow house shall receive me in the midst of the light of renown. Exalt, ye sons of Erin, exalt the spear and bend the bow ; rush on the foe in darkness, as the spirits of stormy nights !" Then dismal, roaring fierce and deep, the gloom of battle poured along, as mist that is rolled on a valley when storms invade the silent sunshine of heaven. Cuthullin moves before me in arms, like an angry ghost before a cloud, when meteors enclose him with fire ; when the dark winds are in his hand. Carril, far on the heath, bids the horn of battle sound. He raises the voice of song, and pours his soul into the minds of the brave. "Where," said the mouth of the song, "where is 1he fallen Crugal ? He lies forgot on earth ; the hall of shells* is silent. Sad is the spouse of Crugal. She is a stranger in the hall of her grief. :But who is she that, like a sunbeam, flies before the ranks of the foe 1 "' The ancient Scots, as well as the present Highlanders, drunk in shells; hence it is, that we so often meet in the oltl poetry, with "thief of shells," and "the hall or shells."

PAGE 319

312 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. It is Degrena, lovely fair, the spouse of fallen Crug-P.j, Her hair is on the wind behind. Her eye is red; ner yoice is shrill. Pale, empty, is thy Crugal now! His form is in the cave of the hill. He comes to the ear of r est ; he raises his feeble voice, like the humm;ng of the mountain-bee, like the collected flies of the em ! But Degrena falls like a cloud of the morn ; the sword of Lochlin is in her side. Cahbar, she is fallen, the rising thought of thy youth ! She is fallen, 0 Cairbar ! the thought of thy youthful hours !" Fierce Cairbar heard the mournful sound. He rush ed along like ocean's whale. He saw the death of his daughter: he roared in the midst of thousands. His spear met a son of Lochlin ! battle spreads from winr, to wing ! As a hundred winds in Lochlin's groves, as fire in the pines of a hundred hills, so loud, so ruinous, so vast, the ranks of men are hewn down. Cuthullin cut off heroes like thistles ; Swaran wast e d Erin. Curach fell by his hand, Cairbar of the bossy shield ! Morglan lies in lasting rest! Ca-olt trembles as he dies! His white breast is stained with blood ! his yel low hair stretched in the dust of his native land ! He often had spread the feast where he fell. He oft e n there had raised the voice of the harp, when his dogs leapt round for joy, and the youths of the chase pre pared the bow ! Still Swaran advanced, as a stream that bursts from 1he d ese rt. The little hills are rolled in its course, the rocks are half-sunk by its side. But Cuthullin stood before him, like a hill, that catches the clouds of heav en. The winds contend on its head of pin e s, the hail rattles on its rocks. But, firm in its strength, it stands, and shades the silent vale of Cona. So Cuthul lin shaded the sons of Erin, and stood in the midst of thousands. Blood rises like the fount of a rock from ___ -:---

PAGE 321

I I r I ! FINGAL. 313 pantmg heroes around. But Erin fulls on either wing, ;ike snow in tile day of the sun. "0 soJs of Erin," said Grumal, "Lochlin conquers on the field. Why strive we as reeds against the wind? Fly to the hill of dark-brown hinds." He fled like the stag of Morven ; his spear is a trembling beam of light behind him. Few fled with Grumal, chief of the little soul: they fell in the battle of heroes on Lena's echoing heath. High on his car of many gems the chief of Erin stood. He slew a mighty son of Lochlin, and spoke in haste to Connal. " 0 Connal, first of mortal men, thou hast taught this arm of death ! Though Erin's sons have fled, shall we not fight the foe? Carril, son of other times, carry my fri e{lds to that bushy hill. H e r e , Connal, let us stand like rocks, and save our fly ing friends." Connal mounts the car of gems. They stretch their shi e lds, like the darkened moon, the daughter of the starry ski e s, when she moves a dun circle through heav en, and dreadful change is expected by men. Sith fadda panted up the hill, and Stronnul, haughty steed. Like waves behind a whale, behind them rushed the foe. Now on the rising sid e of Cromla stood Erin's f e w sad sons : like a grove through which the flame had rush e d , hurried on by the winds of the stormy night ; distant, withered, dark, they stand, with not a leaf to shake in the vale. Cuthullin stood beside an oak. .He roll e d his red eye in sil e nc e , and heard the wind in his bushy hair ; the scout of oc e an came, Moran the son of Fithil tc The ships," he cried, "the ships of the lon e ly isl<>Q, Fingal comes, the first of men, the break e r of ht'
PAGE 322

I [} 314 THE POEi\fS OF OSS!Al'\ sands, 0 king of resounding Selma ! Thy sail.,, my friend, arc to me the clouds of the morning; thy :;hips the light of heaven ; and thou thyself a pillar or fire that beams on the world by night. 0 Connal, first of men, how pleasing in grief are our friends ! But the night is gathering around. Where now are the ships of Fingal 1 Here let us pass the hours of darkness ; here wish for the moon of heaven." The winds came down on the woods. The torrents rush from the rocks. Rain gathers round the head of Cromla. The red stars tremble between the flying clouds. Sad, by the side of a stream, whose sound is echoed by a tree, sad by the side of a stream the chief of Erin sits . Connal, son of Colgar, is there, and Canil of other times. "Unhappy is the hand of Cu thullin," said the son of Serna, " unhappy is the hand of Cuthullin since he slew his friend ! Ferda, son of Damman, I lov ed thee as myself!" "How, Cuthullin, son of Serna, how fell the breaker of the shields ? Well I remember," said Connal, "the son of the noble Damman. Tall and fair, he was like the rainbow of heaven. Ferda from Albion came, the chief of a hundred hills. In Muri's* hall he learn ed the sword, and won the friendship of Cuthullih. We moved to the chase together : one was our bed in the heath." Deugala was tf1e spouse of Cairbar, chief of the plains of Ullin. She was covered with the light of beauty, but her heart was the house of pride. She loved that sunbeam of youth, the son of the noble Damman. "Caiibar," said the white-armed Deugala, "give JOe half of the herd. No more I will remain in your halls. Divide the herd, dark Caiibar !" " Let Cuthullin," said Cairbar, "divide my herd on the hill. "' A place in Ulster. _j

PAGE 323

FINGAL, 315 His breast is the seat of justice. Depart, thou light uf beauty!" I went and divided the herd. One snow. white bull rE>mained. I gave that bull to Cairbar. The wrath of Deugala rose ! "Son of Damman," began the fair, " Cuthullin hath pained my soul. I must hear of his death, or Lubar's stream shall roll over me. My pale ghost shall wan der near thee, and mourn the wound of my pride. Pour out the blood of Cuthullin, or pierce this heaving breast." "Deugala," said the fair-haired youth, " how shall I slay the son of Semo ? He is the friend of my secret thoughts. Shall I then lift the sword ?" She wept three days before the chief; on the fourth he said he would fight. " I will fight my friend, Deugala, but may I fall by his sword ! Could I wander on the hill alone ? Could I behold the grave of Cuthullin ?'' "Ve fought on the plain of Mori. Our swords avoid a wound. They slide on the helmets of steel, or sound on the shields. Deugala was near with a smile, and said to the son of Damman: "Thine arm is fee ble, sunbeam of youth! Thy years are not strong for steel. Yield to the son of Semo. He is a rock on Malmor." The tear is in the eye of youth. He faltering said to me: " Cuthullin, raise thy bossy shield. Defend thee from the hand of thy friend. My soul is laden with grief, for I must slay the chief of men." I sighed as the wind in the cleft of a rock. I lifted high the edge of my steel. The sunbeam of battle fell : the first of Cut hull in's friends! Unhappy is the hand of Cuthullin since the hero fell!" "Mournful is thy tale, son of the car," said Carril of other times. "It sends my soul back to the ages of old, to the days of other years. Often have I heard of who slew the friend he loved; yet victory

PAGE 324

I( 316 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. attended his steel : the battle was consumed in his ptcscncc !" Coma! was the son of Albion, the chief of a hundred hi lis ! II is deer drunk of a thousand streams. A thousand rocks replied to the voice of his dogs. His face was the mildness of youth ; his hand the death of hero e s. One was his love, and fair was she, the daugh. tcr of the mighty Conloch. She appeared like a sun beam among women. Her hair was the wing of the raven. Her dogs were taught to the chase. Her bowstring sounded on the winds. Her soul was fixed on Comnl. Often met their eyes of love. Their course in the chase W<'.s one. Happy were their words in secret. But Grumal loved the maid, the dark chief of the gloomy Ardven. He watched her lone steps in the heath, the foe of unhappy Comal. One day, tired of the chase, when the mist had con cealed their friends, Coma! and the daughter of Con loch met in the cave of Ronan. It was the wonted haunt of Comal. Its sides were hung with his arms. A hundr e d shields of thongs were there ; a hundred h e lms of sounding steel. "Rest here," he said, "my. love, Galbina: thou light of the cave of Ronan! A deer apperus on Mora's brow. I go; but I will soon return." "I fear," she said, "dark Grumal, my" foe: ne haunts the cave of Ronan ! I will rest among the arms; but soon return, my lov e !" He went to the deer of Mora. The daughter of Con loch would try his love. She clothed her fair sides with his armor: she strode from the cave of Ronan! h e thought it was his foe. His heart beat high. His color changed, and darkness dimmed his eyes. He drew the bow. The arrow flew. Galbina fell in blood ! He run with wildness in his steps: he called the daughter of Conloch. No answer in the lonely rock. Where art thou, 0 my love? He saw at I I

PAGE 325

FINGAL. 317 her heaving heart, beating around the arrow he tbcw. "0 Conloch's daughter! is it thou 1" He sunk upon her breast ! The hunters found the hapless pair! afterward walked the hill. llut many and silent'' ere his steps round the dark dwelling of his love. The flee t of the ocean camt!. He fought ; the strangers fkd. He searched for death along the field. But who could slay the mighty Coma!? He threw away his dark-brown shield. An arrow found his manly breast. He sleel!s with his loved Galbina at the noise of the sounding surge ! Their green tombs are seen by the mariner, he bounds on the waves of the north. 27* l

PAGE 326

r-;=====-----:.:::---1 . , l i BOOK III.• ARGUMENT. Cuihullin, pleased with the story ofCarril, insists wl\h that bard for more of his songs. He relates the actions of Fingal in LochLn and death of Agandecca1the beautiful sister of Swaran. He scarce finished, when Calmar, the son of Matha, who had advised the first battle, came wounded !rom the field, and told them of Swaran's design to surprise the remains of the Irish army. He himself proposes to withstand singly the whole force of the ene my, in a narrow pass, till the Irish should make good their retreat. Cuthullin, touched with the gallant proposal of Calmar, to accompany him, and orders Canil to carry off the few that remained of the Irish. Morning comes, Calmar dies of his wounds; and the ships of the Galedomans appearing, Swaran gives ove1 the pursuit of the Irish, and returns to oppose Fingal's landing Cuthullin, ashamed, after his defeat, to appear before Fingal, re tires to the cave ofTura. Fingal engages the enemy, puts them to flight: bttt the coming on of night makes the victory not de cisive. The king, who had observed the gallant behaviOr of his grandson Oscar, gives him advice concerning his condnct in peace and war . He recommends to him to place the example of his father s b e fore his eyes, as the best model for his conduct; which introduces th e episode concernin& Fainasollis, the dau g hter of the king of Cracll;z. whom Fingal haa taken under his protec tion in his youth. J
PAGE 327

FINGAL. :319 halls of joy, when Fingal, king of shields, was there, and glowed at the deeds of his fathers. "Fingal ! thou dweller of battle," said Carril, "early were thy deeds in arms. Lochlin was consumed in thy wrath, when thy youth strove in the beauty of maids. They smiled at the fair-blooming face of the hero ; but death was in his hands. He was strong ..lil the waters of Lora. His followers were the roar of a thousand streams. They took the king of Lochlin in war; they restored him to his :ship. His big heart swelled with pride; the death of the youth was dark in his soul. For none ever but Fingal, had overcome the strength of the mighty Starno. He sat in the hall of his shells in Lochlin's woody land. He called the gray-haired Snivan, that often sung round the circle* of Loda ; when the stone of power heard his voice, and battle turned in the field of the valiant! " 'Go, gray-haired Snivan,' Starno said : 'go to Ardven's sea-surrounded rocks. Tell to the king of Selma; he the fairest among his thousands; tell him I give to him my daughter, the loveliest maid that ever heaved a breast of snow. Her arms are white as foam of my waves. Her soul is generous and mild. Let him come with his bravest heroes to the daughter of the secret hall!' Snivan came to Selma's hall: fair haired Fingal attended his steps. His kindled soul flew to the maid, as he bounded on the waves of the north. 'vVelcomc,' said the dark-brown Starno, 'welcome, king of rocky Morven! welcome his heroes of might, sons of the distant isle! Three days within my halls shall we feast; three days pursue my boars ; that your fame may reach the maid who dwells in the secret hull.' * This passage most o!rtainly alludes to the religion of Lochlinf a:.1d " the s tone of power," here mentioned, is the rmage of one o :he d eir.ics of Scrtndinavia. ----=-=============================

PAGE 328

. I 320 THE POEniS OF OSSIAN. "Starno designed their death. He gave the feast of sh e lls. Fiugal, who doubted the foe, k e pt on his arrns of steel. The sons of death were afraid: th e y fled from the eyes of the kiug. The voice of sprightly mirth aro s e. The trembling harps of joy wer e stru11g. ilan.ls sung th e battles of hero es; they sung the heuv . i11g br e ast of love. Ullin, Fingal's bard, was th ere: the sw ee t voice of resounding Cona. He praised the daught e r of Lochlin; and Morven's* high-descend ed chi ef. The daughter 0f Lochlin overh e ard. She l eft the hnH of h e r secret sigh ! Sh e came in all he1 beauty, lik e the moon from th e cloud of the east. Lovelin e ss was round her as lig-ht. Her steps w ere the mu s ic of songs. She saw the youth and loved him. He was th e stol e n sigh of her soul. Her blue eyes rolled on him in secret: she blessed the chief of re sounding Morv e n. " The third day, with all its beams, shone bright on the wood of boars. Forth moved the dark-browed Starno; and Fingal, king of shields. Half th e day they spent in the chase ; the spear of S e lma was red in blood. It was then the daughter of Starno, with blue eyes rolling in tears; it was then she came with her voice of love, and spoke to the king of Morven. 'Fin gal, high-d e scended chief, trust not Starno's heart of prid e . Within that wood he has plac e d his chi efs. lleware of th e wood of death. But remember, son oi the isle, rem e mber Agandecca; save me from the wrath of my f a ther, king of the windy Morven !' " The youth with unconcern went on ; his heroes by his side. The sons of death fell by his hand; and Gormal echo e d around! B e fore the halls of Sta rno the sons of ,he chase convened . The king's dark brows • All the northwest coast of Scotland probably went, of oldhun dcr the name of Morven, which signiiiea a ridge of very high ills

PAGE 329

I ,, I I . wc.J hke clou-ds; his eyes like meteors of nigltt. 'Bring hither,' he said, 'Agandecca to her lovely king of M01 ven ! His hand is stained with the blood of my people; her words have not been in vain!' She came with the red eye of tears. She came with loosely flowing locks. Her white breast heaved with broker .. sighs, like the foal? of the streamy Lubar. Starno pierced her side with steel. She fell, like a wreath of snow, which slides from the rocks of Ronan, when the woods are still, and echo deepens _n the vale ! Then Fingal eyed his valiant chiefs : his valiant chiefs took arms ! The gloom of battle roared: Loch lin fled or died. Pale in his bounding ship he closed the maid of the softest soul. Her tomb ascends on Ardven; the sea roars round her narrow dwelling." "Blessed be her soul," said Cuthullin; "blessed bl' the mouth of the song! Strong was the youth of Fingal; strong is his arm of age. Lochlin shall fall again be. fore the king of echoing Morven. Show thy face from a c!Qud, 0 moon! light his white sails on the wave: and if any strong spirit of heaven sits on that low-hung cloud ; turn his dark ships from the rock, thou rider of the storm!" Such were the words of Cuthullin at the sound ol the mountain stream; when Calmar ascended the . hill, th':) wounded son of Matha. From the field he came in his blood. He leaned on his bending spear. Feeble i'l the arm of battle! but strong the soul of the hero! ""\;Vel come! 0 son of Matha," said Canna!, "welcome art thou to thy friends ! Why bursts that broken sigh from the breast of him who never feared before ?" "A ncl never, Connal, w;n he fear, chief of the pointed st eel ! My soul brightens in clanget. in the noise of arms I am of the race of battle. My fathers never feared. " Cormar was the first of my race. He sported IJ 1

PAGE 330

822 THE POEJIIS OF OSSIAN. through the storms of waves. His black skiff bounJea on ocean; he travelled on the wings of the wind. A i!pirit once embroiled the night. swell and rocks resound. Winds drive along the clouds. The light. ning (lies on wings of fire. He feared, and came to land, then blushed that he feared at all. He rushed again among th e waves, to filld the son of the wind. Three youths guide the bounding bark : he stood with sword uns heathed. 'When the low-hung vapot passed, he took it by the curling head. He searched its dark womb with his steel. The son of the wind forsook the air. The moon and the stars returned! Such was the boldness of my race. Calmar is like his fathers. Dan. ger flies from the lifted sword. They best succeed who dare! " But now, ye sons of green Erin, retire from Lena's bloody heath. Collect the sad remnant of out friends, and join the swot;d of Fingal. l heard the sound of Lochlin's advancing arms: Calmar will remain and fight. My voice shall be such, my friends, as if thou sands were behind m e . But, son of Semo, remember me. Remember Calmar's lifeless corse. When Fin gal shall have wasted the field, place me by some stone of remembrance, that future times may hear my fame; that the mother of Calmar may rejoice in my renown." "No: son of Matha," sai<;l Cuthullin, "I will never leave thee here. My joy is in an unequal fight: my soul increases in danger. Connal, and Carril of other times, carry off the sad sons of Erin. When the battle is over, search for us in this narrow way. For near this oak we shail fall, in the strc;'ams of tl:e battle of thousands! 0 Fithal's son, with flying speed rush over the heath of Lena. Tell to Finpl that Erin is faller! Bid the king of Morven come. 0 l et him come like the sun in o. storm, to lighten, to restore the isle !" Morning is gray on Cromla. The sons of ti1e sea I

PAGE 331

FIN GAL. . 323 a.scend. Calmar stood forth to meet them in the pride of his kindling soul. But pale was the face of the c . hief. He leaned on his lather's spear. That spt.:ar which he brought from Lara, when the soul of his mo ther was sad; the soul of the lonely Alc!etha, wani11g in the sorrow of years. But slowly now th e hero falls, lik e a tree on the plain. Dark Cuthullin stands alone like a ro c k in a sandy val e . The s e a comes with its Wdves, and roars on its hard e n e d sid e s. Its head is cov e r e d with foam; th e hills are e choing round. Now from the gray mist of the oc e an the white sail e d ships of Fingal app eaJ'. High i s the grove of th eir ma s ts, as th e y nod, by turns, on the rolling wave. Swaran saw them from th e hill. He r e turn e d fi'om the son s of Erin. As ebbs the resounding se a, through th e hundr e d isl e s of Inistor e ; so loud, so vast, so im m e ns e , r e turn e d the sons of Lochlin a)!ainst the king. But b e nding, weeping, sad, and s low, and dragging his long sp ear behind, Cuthullin sunk in Cromla's wood, and mourn e d his fallen friends. H e f eare d the face of Fingal, who was wont to gree t him from the field
PAGE 332

324 THE POEI'viS OF OSSIAN. before him. Terrible was the gleam of his steel: 1. was like the green meteor of death, setting in the heath of Malmor, when the traveller is alone, and the broad moon is darkened in heaven. " The battle is past," said the king. "I behold the blood of my friends. Sad is the heath of Lena! mourn ful the oaks of Cromla! The hunters have fallen in their strength: the son of Semo is no more! Ryno and Fillan, my sons1 sound the horn of Fingal. Ascend that hill ou the shore; call the children of the foe. Call them from the grave of Lamderg, the chief of other times. Be your voice like that of your father, when he enters the battles of his strength ! I wait for the mighty stranger. I wait on Lena's' shore for Swa ran. Let him come with all his race; strong in battle are the friends of the dead!" Fair Ryno as lightning gleamed along: dark Fill an rushed like the shade of autumn. On Lena's heath their voice is heard. The sons of ocean heard the horn of Fingal. As the roaring eddy of ocean return ing from the kingdom of snows : so strong, so dark, so sudden, came down the sons of Loch lin. The king in their front appears, in the dismal pride of his arms ! Wrath burns on his dark-brown face; his ey es roll in the fire of his valor. Fingal beheld the son of Starno: he remembered Agandecea. For Swaran with tears of youth had moumed his white-bosomed sister. He sent Ullin of songs to bid him to the feast of shells : for pleasant on Fingal's soul returned the memory of if..<') first of his loves ! Ullin came with aged steps, and spoke to Starnu's son. '' 0 thou that dwellest afar, surrounded, hke a rock, with thy waves! come to the feast of the king, r..nd pass the day in rest. To-morrow let us fig ht, 0 Swaran, and break tl1e echoing shields."-" To-day," said Starno's wrathful son, " we break the er:hoing II IL __ _ ----------.. I II

PAGE 333

FINGAT. s!-ielt!s: to-morrow my feast shall be spread; but Fin. gal shall lie on earth."-" To-mo1-row let his fi.mst be spread," said Fingal, with a smile. "To-d:q, 0 my sons! we shall break the echoing shields. Ossian, stand thou near my arm. Gaul, lift thy •ernble sword. F01gus, bend thy crooked yew. Thmw, FiJian, thy lance through heaven. Lift your shields, like the darkened moon. Be your spears the meteors of death. Follow me in the path of my fame. Equal my deeds in battle." As a hundred winds on Morven; as the streams of a hundred hills; as clouds fly successive over heaven; as the dark ocean assails the shore of the desert: so roaring, so vast, so terrible, the armies mixed on Lena's echoing heath. The groans of the people spread over the hills: it was like the thunder of night, when the cloud bursts on Cona ; and a thousai,Jcl ghosts shriek at once on the hollow wind. Fingal rushed on in his strength, terrible as the spirit of Trenmor ; when in a whirlwind he comes to Morven, to see the children of his pride. The oaks resound on their mountains, and the rocks fall down before him. Dimly seen as lightens the night, he strides largely from hill to hill. Bloody was the hand of my father, when he whirled 1he gleam of his sword. He remembers the battles of !lis youth. The field is wasted in its course! Ryno went oh like a pillar of fire. Dark is the brow of Gaul. Fergus rushed forward with feet of wind; Fillan like the mist of the hill. Ossian, like a rock, I came down. I exulted in the strength of the king. I Many were the deaths of my arm ! dismal the gleam of my sword ! My locks were not then so gray; nor trembled my hands with age. My eyes were not closed ! in darkness ; my feet failed not in the race ! _ Who can relate the deaths of the people 1 who the deeds of mighty heroes 1 when Fingal, burning in his ! 1 28

PAGE 334

I I I I I ! ,, li ;I 326 THE POEDiS OSSIAN. wrath; consumed the sons of Lochlin 1 Groans swelled on groans from hill to hill, till night had covered all. Pal), staring like a herd of deer, the sons of Lochlin convene on Lena. We sat and heard the sprightly harp, at Lubar's gentle stream. Fingal himself was next to the foe. He listened to the tales of his bards His godlike race were in the song, the chiefs of other times. Attentive, leaning on his shield, the king of Morven sat. The wind whistled through his locks; his thoughts are of the days of other years. Near him, on his bending spear, my young, my valiant Oscar stood. He admired the king of Morven : his deeds were swelling in his soul. "Son of my son," began the king, "0 Oscar, pride of youth : I saw the shining of the sword. I gloried in my race. Pursue the fame of our fathers ; b e thou what they have, been, wh e n Trenmor lived, the first of m en, and Tra thal, the father of heroes ! The y fought the battle in th e ir youth. They are the song of bards. 0 Oscar ! bend the strong in arm ; but spare the feeble hand. Be thou a stream of many tides against the foes of thy people ; but like the gale, that moves the grass, to those who ask thine aid. So Trenmor live d ; such Trathal was; and such has Fingal been. My arm wns the support of the injured; the weak rested behind the lightning of my steel. " Oscar ! I was young, like thee, when lovely Fain. as6llis came: that sunbeam ! that mild light of love 1 the daughter of Craca's* king. I then returned from Cona's heath, and few were in my train. A white. sailed boat appeared far off; we saw it like a mist, that rode on ocean 's wind. It soon approached. 'Ve saw the fair. Her white breast heaved w i th sighs.. The "'What the Craca here mentioned was, it is not, at this distance of time, easy to determine. The most probable opinion is. that it was one of the Shetland isles. II

PAGE 335

. I wind was in her loose dark hair ; her rosy cheek had tears. 'Daughter of beauty,' calm I said, '\\hat sigh is in thy breast? Can I, young as I am, dEfend thee, daughter of the sea? My sword is not unmatched in war, but dauntless is my heart.' "'To the e I fly,' with sighs she said, '0 prince of mighty men! To thee I fly, chief of the generous shells, supporter of the feeble hand ! The king of Craca's echoing isle owned me the sunbeam of his race. Cromla's hills have heard the sighs of love for unlrappy Fainas6llis! Sora's chief beheld me fair; he lov ed the daughter of Craca. His sword is a beam of lig ht upon the warrior's side. But dark is his brow ; and tempests are in his soul. I shun him on the roar. ing sea ; but Sora's chief pursues.' "'Rest thou,' I said, 'behind my shield! rest in peace, thou beam of light ! The gloomy chief of Sora will fly, if Finga l's arm is like his soul. In some lone I might conceal thee, daughter of the sea. But Fingal never Hies . Where the danger threatens, I rejoice in the storm of spears.' I saw the tears upon her cheek. I piti e d Craca's fair. Now, like a dreadful wave afa r, appeared the ship of stormy Bmbar. His masts high. b cn ded over the sea behind their sheets of snow. White r oll the waters on either side. The strength of ocean sounds. 'Come thou,' I said, 'from the roar of ocean, th o u rider of the storm. Partake the feast within my !mil. It is the house of strangers.' " The maid stood ti"embling by my side. He .:lrew th e bow. She fell. 'Unerring is thy hand,' I said, ' but f ee ble was the foe.' We fought, nor weak the strife of death. He sunk beneath my sword. \Ve laid them in two tombs of stone; the hapless lovers of youth! Such have I been, in my youth, 0 Oscar! be thou like the age of Fingal. Never seard thou for batile; nor shun it when it comes. I L =-:---=========::::.1

PAGE 336

328 THE POEMS :>F OSSIAN. " Fillan and Oscar of .he dark-brown hair ! ye that arc swift in the race . !ly over the heath in my pre sence. View the sons of Lochlin. Far off I hear the noise of their feet, lik e distant sounds 111 wovd.,. Go : th at they may not fly from my sword, along the waves of the n.orth. For many chief's of' Erin's race lie bere on the dark bed of death. The children of war are low ; the sons of echoing Cromla." The heroes flew like two dark clouds: two dark clouds that are the chariots of ghosts; when air's dark children come forth to frighten hapless men. It was tl1en that Gaul, the son of Morni, stood like a rock in night. His spear is glittering to the stars; his voice like many streams. ''Son of battle," cried the chief, "0 Fingal, king of shells! let the bards of many songs sooth Erin's friends to rest. Fingal, sheath thou thy sword of death; and l et thy people fight. We wither away without our fame; our king is the only breaker of shields! vVhen morning rises on our hill s, behold at a distance our deeds. Let Loch lin feel the sword of Morni's son; tlw.t bards may sing of me . Such was the custom heretofore of' Finga l 's noble race. Such was thine own, thou king of swords, in battles of the spear." "0 son of Morni," Fingal r eplied , "I glory in thy fame. Fight; but rny spear shall be near, to aid thP.e in the midst of danger. Raise, raise the voice, ye of song, and lull me into rest. Here will Fingal lie, amidst the wind of night. And if thou, Agandecca, art near, among the children of thy land; if thou sittest on a blast of wind, among the high-shrouded masts of Loddin; come to my dreams, my fair one ! Show thy bright face to my Many a voice and many a harp, in tuneful sounds arose. Of Fingal noble deeds they sung; of Fingal's noble race : and sumetimes, on the lovely sound was i l

PAGE 337

I FINGAL. 3:.'.9 the name of Ossian. I often fought, . and often won in battles of the spear. But blind, aud tearful, 'ind forlorn, l walk with little men ! 0 Fingal, with thy race of war I now behold thee not. The wild roes feed on the green tomb of the mighty king of Morven ! Blest be thy soul, thou king of swords, thou most re nowned on the hills of Cona ! BOOK IV. ARGUMENT. The action of the poem being suspended by night, Ossian take.1' the opportunity to relate his own actionR at the lake of Lego. and Ius courtship of Everallin, who was the mother of Oscar, and had died some time before the expedition of Fingal into Ireland Her ghost appears t<:> him, and tells him that Oscar, who had been sent, the beginning of the mght1 to observe the enemy, was engaged with an advanced party, ano almost overpowered. Os sian relieve s his son; and an alarm is given to Fingal of the ap proach of Swaran. The king rises, calls his army together, and as he had promised the preceding night, devolves the command on Gaul the son of Morni, while he himself, after charging his sons to behave gallantly and defend his people, retires to a hill, from whence he could have a view of the battle. The battle joins; the poet relates Oscar's great actions. But when Oscar. rn conjunction with his father, conquered in one wing, Gaul; who was attacked by Swaran in person, was on the point of re treating in the other. Fingal sends Ullin his bard to encourage them with a war song, but notwithstanding Swaran prevails; and Gaul and his army are obliged to give way. Fingal descending from th e hill, rallies them again ; Swaran desists from the pursuir, pos sesses himself of a rising ground, r es tores the ranks, and waits the approach of Fingal. The king, having encouraged his men, gives the necessary orders, and renews the battle. Cuthullin who, with his fiiend Connal, and Carril his bard, had retired the cave of Tura, hearing the noise, came to the brow of the hill, which overlooked the field of battle, he saw Fingal engaged with th'e enemy. He, being hindered by Connal from joining Fing , al, who was upon the point of obtaini!'g _a complete v1ctory, sends Carril to congratulate that hero on b...; suct:ess. WHu comes with her songs from the hill, like thP. bow of 1 he showery Lena 1 . , t is the maid of 1 he V! ace 28* --:--=.::-=-======= I I I

PAGE 338

330 THE POEl\1S OF OSSIAN. of Jove the white-armed daughter of Toscar! Often hast thuu heard my song ; often given the tear :>I beauty. Dost thou come to the wars of thy people 1 to hear the actions of Oscar 1 'Vhen shall I cease to mourn, by the streams of resounding Cona? l\1 y yea r5 passed away in battle. My age i<> darkened with grief! "Daug)1ter of the hand of snow, I was not so mournful and blind; I was not so dark and forlorn, when Everallin loved me! Everallin with the dark-brown hair, the white-bosomed daughter of Branna. A thou sand heroes sought the maid, she refused her love to a thousand. The sons of the sword were despised : for gracefu l in her eyes was Ossian. I went, in suit of the maid, to Lego's s::tble surge. Twelve of my people w ere there, the of streamy MorvPn ! \V e came to Bran no, friend of strangers! Branna of the sounding mail! 'From whence,' he said,' are the anns of steel? Not easy to win is the maid, who has denied the blue eyed sons of Etin. But blest be thou, 0 son of Fin gal ! Happy is the maid that waits thee ! Though twelve daughters of beauty were mine, thine were the choice, thou son of fame !' '' He opened the hall of the rnaicl, the dark-haired Everallin. Joy kindled in our manly breasts. We btcst the maid of Branna. A hove us on the hill ap peared the people of stately Cormac. Eight were the heroes of the chief . The heath flamed wide with their arms . There Colla; there Durra of wounds; there mighty Toscar, and Tago ; there Fresta the victorious stood; Dairo of the happy deeds; Dala the battle's bul wark in the narrow way! The sword fla!Tied in the hand of Cormac. Graccftt! was the look of the hero! Eigh' , were the heroes of Ossian. Ullin, stormy son of war. Mullo of the generous de<::ds. The noble, he graceful Srelacha. Oglan, and Cerdnn the wrath

PAGE 339

FINGAL. 331 ful. Dumariccan's brows of death. And whv should Ogar be the last; so wide-renowm.:d on the hills of Ardven? "Ognr met Dala the strong face to face, on the field of heroe;;. The battle of the chiefs was like wind, on ocean's foamy waves. The dagger is remembered by Og .u; the weapon which he loved. Nine times he drownecl it in Dala's side. The stormy battle turned. Three times I broke on Cormac's shield : three times he broke his spear. But, unhappy of love! I cut his head away. Five times I shook it by bck. The fiiends of Cormac fled. 'Vl10ever would .mve told me, lovely maid, when then I strove in battle, that blind, forsaken, and forlorn, I now should pass the night ; firm ought his mail to have been ; unmatched his arm in war." On Lena's gloomy heath the voice of music died away. The inconstant blast blew hard. The high oak shook its leaves around. Of Everallin were my thoughts, when in all the light of beauty she came ; her blue eyes rolling in tears. She stood on a cloud before my sight, and spoke with feeble voice ! " Rise, Ossian, rise, and save my son; save Oscar. prince of men. Near the red oak of Luba's stream he fights with Loch lin's sons." She sunk into her cloud again. I covered me with steel. My spear supported my steps; my rattling armor rung. I hummed, as I was wont in danger, the songs of heroes of old. Like dis tant thunder Loch lin heard. They fled; my son pursued. I called him like a distant stream. "Oscar, return over Lena. No further pursue the foe," I said, "though Ossian is behir.J thee." He came! and pleasant to my ear was Oscar's sounding steel. " Why didst thou stop my hand,'' he said, "till death had covered all? For dark and dreadful by the stream they met thy son and Fililn. They watched the terrors of the night. I

PAGE 340

rr= i I I I I I I 332 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN . Our swords have conquered some. But ll.S tlw winds of night pour the ocean over the white sands of Mora, so dark advance the sons of Loch lin, over Lena., rus tling h eat! The ghosts of night shriek afar: 1 ha,e seen th e met eo rs of death. Let me awake the king of Morv en, h e that smiles in danger ! He that is like the sun of heaven, rising in a storm !" Fingal had started from a dream, and leaned on Trenmor's shield ! the dark-brown shield of his fath e rs, wbich they had lifted of old in war The hero had seen, in his rest, the mournful form of Agandecca. Sh e cam e from the way of the ocean. She slowly, lon e ly, moved over Lena. Her face was pale, like the mist of Cromla. Dark were the tears of her cheek. She oft e n raised her dim hand from her robe, her robe which was of the clouds of the desert : she raised h e r dim hand over Fingal, and turned away silent eyes! " Why weeps the daughter of Starn,o ?" said Fingal with a sigh ; " why is thy face so pale, fair wanderer of th e clouds ?" Sh e d e parted on the wind of Lena .. She l eft him in the midst of the night. Sh e mourned th e sons of her people, that were to fall by the hand of Fingal. The h e ro started from rest. Still he beheld h e r m his soul. The sound of Oscar's steps approach ed. The king saw the gray shield on his side: f01 the faint beam of the morning came over the waters of Ullin. " What do the foes in th e ir fear ?" said the rising king of Morven: "or fly th e y through oeean;s foam, or wait th ey the battle of steel ? But why should Fmgul ask? I bear th e ir voice on the early wind! Fly ov e r L e na's h eat h : 0 Oscar, awake our friends !" The king stood by the stone of Lubar. 1 brice he reared his terrible voice . The deer started from the fountains of Cromla. The rocks shook on all their hills. Like the noise of a hundred mountain-streams,

PAGE 341

FINGAL. 333 that bur st, and rov r, and foam ! lik e the clouds, t11at gathc r to a tern pest on the blue face of I he s.ky ! so m e t the sons of the desert, round the t e rrible voice or Fingal. Pleasant was the voice of the king of Mor v e n to the warrio1s of his land. Often had he led them to battle ; often returned with the spoils of the foe. "Come to battle," said the king, "ye children of echoing Selma ! Come to the d 'ath of thousands ! Comhal's sou will see the fight. My sword s hall wave on the hill, the defence of my people in war. But never may you need it, warriors; while the son of Morni fights, the chief of mighty men! He shall lead my battle, that his fame may rise in song! 0 ye ghosts of h eroe s d ea d ! ye riders of the storm of Cromla ! re ceive my falling people with joy, and b ea r them to your hills. And m ay the blast of L e na carry th e m over my seas, that they may come to my silent dreams, and de light my soul in r est. Fillan and Oscar of the dark brown hair! fair Ryno, with the pointed steel! ad vance with valor to the fight. Behold the sOXJ of Morni! Let your swo rds be like his in strife : b e hold the deeds of his hands. Protect the friends of your father. Remembe r the chiefs of old. My children, I will see y(,)u yet, though here you should fall in Erin. Soon shall our cold pale ghosts meet in a eloud, on Conn's eddying winds." Now like a dark :md stormy cloud, edged round with the red lightning of heaven, flying westward fi'Om th e n10rning's b eam, the king of Selma removed Ter rible is th e light of his armor; two spears are in his hand. His gmy hair falls on the wind. He often looks back on th e war. Three bard:; attend the son of fame, to hear his words to the chiefs. High on Cromla's side he sat, waving the lightning of his sword, and as he wav ed we moved. L ___ _ _

PAGE 342

334 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Joy rises in Oscar's face. His cheek is red. eye sheds tears. The sword is a beam of fire in his hat1d. He came, and smiling, spoke to Ossian. " 0 ruler of the fight of steel ! my father, hear thy son! Retire with Morven's mighty chief. Give me the fame oi Ossian. If here I fall, 0 chief, remember that breast of snow, the lonely sunbeam of my love, the white handed daughter of Toscar! For, with red cheek from the rock, bending over the stream, her soft hair flies about her bosom, as she pours the sigh for Oscar. Tell her I am on my hills, a lightly-bounding son of the wind ; tell her, that in a cloud I may meet the lovely maid of Toscar." "Raise, Oscar, rather raise my tomb. I will not yield the war to thee. The first and bloodiest in the strife, my arm shall teach thee how to fight. But remember, my son, to place this sword, this bow, the horn of my deer, within that dark and narrow house, whose mark is one gray stone ! Oscar, I have no love to leave to the care of my son. Ever ullin is no more, the lovely daughter of Branna!" Such were our words, when Gaul's loud voice came growing on th e wind. He waved on high the sword of his fath e r. 'Ve rushed to death and wounds. As waves, white bubbling over the deep, come swelling, roaring on ; as rocks of ooze me e t roaring waves ; so foe s attack e d and fought. Man met with man, and ste e l with s t eel. Shi e lds sound and warriors fall. As a hundr e d hummers on the red son of the furnace, so ro se , so rung their swords ! Gaui rushed on, like a whirlwind in Ardven. The destruction of heroes is on his sword. Swaran 'i''as like the fire of the desert in the echoing heath of Uor mnl ! How can J give to the song the death of many spt'ars? My sword rose high, and flamed in the strife of blood. Oscar, terrible wert thou, my best, mv great0st son! I rejoiced in my secret soul, when his 'I I J I II I I ------=--::::.J I

PAGE 343

FINGAL 335 sword flamed over thfl slain. They fle.:I amain through Lena s heath. We pursued and slew. As stones that bound from rock to rock ; as axes in echoing woods ; as thunder rolls from hill to hill, in dismal broken ; so blow to blow, and death to from the hand of Oscar and mine. But Swaran closed round Morni's son, as the strength of the tide of lnistore. The king half rose from hill at the sight. He half-assumed the spear. "Go, Ullin, go, my aged bard," b e gan the king of Morven. "Remind the mighty Gaul of war. Remind him of his fathers. Support the yi e lding fight with song; for song enlivens war." Tall Ullin went, with step of age, and spoke to the king of swords. " Son of the chief of generous steeds! high-bouhding king of spears! Strong arm in every perilous toil ! l Iard heart :hat never yields ! Chief of the pointed arms of death ! Cut down the foe ; let no white sail bound round dark lnistore. Be thine arm like thunder, thine eyes like fire, thy heart of solid rock. Whirl round thy sword as a meteor at night : lift thy shield like the flame of death. Son of the chief of generous steeds, cut down the foe ! Destroy !" The hero's heart beat high. But Swaran came with battle. He cleft the shield of Gaul in twain. The sons of Selma fled. Fingal at once arose in arms. Thrice he reared his dreadful voice. Cromla answered around. The sons of the desert stood still. They bent their blush ing faces to earth, ashamed at the presence of the king. He came like a cioud of rain in the day of the sun, when slow it rolls on the hill, and fields expect the shower. Silence attends its slow progress a]oft; but the tempEst is soon to rise. Swaran beheld the ble king of Morven. He stopped in the midst of his course. Dark he leaned on his spear, rolling his red eyes around. Silent and tall he seemed as an ook on ------.. ------------------

PAGE 344

336 THE POEJ\1S OF o;..>lAN. the banks of Lubar, which had its branches blasted of old by the lightning of heaven. It bc:nds over the stream : the gray moss whistles in the wind : so stood the king. Then slowly he retired to the rising heath ot' Lena. His thousands pour round the hero. Dark. ness gathers on the hill ! Fingal, lik e a beam of heaven, shone in the midst of his people. His heroes gather around him. He sends forth the voice of his power. "Raise my stand ards on high ; spread them on Lena's wind, like the flames of a hundred hills ! Let them sound on the wind of Erin, and remind us of the fight. Y e sons of the roaring streams, that pour from a thousand hills be near the king of Morven ! attend to the words of his power ! Gaul, strongest arm of death! 0 Oscar, of the future fights! Connal, son of the blue shields of Sora! Dermid, of the dark-brown hair! Ossian, king of many songs, be near your father's arm !" \V e reared the sunbeam* of battle ; the standard of th e king! Each hero exulted with joy, as, waving, it flew on the wind. It was studded with gold abov e , as the blue wide shell of the nightly sky. Each hero had his standard too, and each his gloomy men ! "Behold," said the king of generous shells, "how Lochlin divides on Lena ! They stand like broken clouds on a hill, or a half-consumed grove of oaks, when we see the sky through its branches, and the m eteor passing behind ! Let every chief among the friends of Fingal take a dark troop of those that frown so high: nor let a son of the echoing groves bound on the waves of Inistore !" ".l\Iine," said Gaul, "be the seven chiefs that came • Fingal's standard was by the name of" sunbeam:" j1 probably on account of its brignt color, and by its being studded Ill with gold. 1'o begin a battle ts expressed, in old compos:ti<,n, bJ •' titling of the sunbeam." II

PAGE 345

FINGAL. 337 from Lano's 1ake ." " Let Inistore's dark king," said Oscar, " come to the sword of Ossian's son." " To mine the king of Iniscon," said Connal, heart of steel! " Or Mudan's chief or I," said brown-haired Dermid, "simi! sleep on clay-cold earth." My choice, though now so weak and dark, was Terman's battling king ; I promised with my hand to win the hero's dark-brown shield. "Blest and victorious be my chiefs," said Fingal of the mildest look. " Swaran, king of roaring waves, thou mt..the choice of Fingal !" Now, like a hundr e d different winds that pour tl1rough many vales, divided, dark the sons of Selma advanced. Cromla e cho e d around ! How can I re late the deaths, when we closed in the strife of arms 1 0, daughter of Toscar, bloody w e re our h ands ! The gloomy ranks of Lochlin fell like the banks of roaring Cona ! Our arms were victoriou s on Lena: each chief fulfilled his promise. B es ide th e murmur of Branno thou didst often sit, 0 maid ! thy white bosom ro se fr eque nt, like the down of the swan whe n slow sh e swims on the lake, and sidelong winds blow on her ruffl e d wing. Thou hast seen th e sun r eti r e, red and slow behind his cloud: night gathering round on the mountain, while the unfrequent blast roare d in the nar row vales. At length the rain beats hard : thund e r rolls in peals. Lightning glances on the rocks ! Spirits ride on beams of fire ! The strength of th e mountain streams comes roaring down the hills. Such was the noi
PAGE 346

338 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. It was then, by Fingal's hand, a hero fell, to his grief! Gray-haired he rolled in the dust. He lifted his faint eyes to the king. " And is it by me thou hast fallen," said the son of Comhal, "thou friend of Agan d ecca 1 I have seen thy tears for the maid of my love in the halls of the bloody Starno ! Thou hast been tl>e foe of the foes of my love, and hast thou fallen by my hand 1 Raise . Ullin, raise the grave of Mathon, and give his name to Agandecca's song. Dear to my soul hast thou been, thou darkly-dwelling maid of Ardven !" Cuthullin, from the cave of Cromla, heard the noi3e of the troubled war. He called to Connal, chief of swords : to Carril of other times. The gray-haired heroes heard his voice. They took their pointed spears. They came, and saw the tide of battle, like ocean's crowded waves, when the dark wind blows from the deep, and rolls the billows through the sandy vale ! Cuthullin kindled at the sight. Darkness gathered on his brow. His hand is on the sword of his fathers : his red-rolling eyes on the foe. He thrice attempted to rush to battle. He thrice was stopped by Connal. "Chief of the isle of mist," he said, "Fingal subdues the foe. Seek not a part of the fame of the king ; himself is like the storm!" " Then, Carril, go," replied the chief, "go greet the king of Morven. When Lochlin falls away :tike a stream after rain ; when the noise of the battle is past ; then be thy voice sweet in his ear to praise king of Selma ! Give him the sword of Caithbat. Cuthul lin is not worthy to lift th e arms of his fathers ! 0 ye ghosts of the lonely Cromla ! ye souls of chiefs that are no more ! be near the steps of Cuthullin ; talk to him in the cave of his grief. Never more shall I be renowned among the mighty in the land. am a beam that has shone; a mist that has fled away when I ' I I ,, -I! -======---------------------===--==--

PAGE 347

l -: J ' I l l'INGAI,. 339 the blast of the morning came, ar.d brightened the shaggy side of the hill. Connal, talk of arms no more ! d e parted is my fame. My sighs shall be on Cromla's wind, till my footsteps cease to be seen. And thou, white-bosomed Bt•agela! mourn over the fall of my fame : vanquished, I will never return to thee, tnou sunbeam of my soul_!" BOOK V. ARGUMENT. Cuthullin and Connal still remain on the hill. Fingal and Swaran m ee t : the combat is described. Swaran is overcome, bound, and d e liv e red over as a pri s oner to the care of Ossian, and Gaul, th e son of Morni; Fingal, his youn_e;er sons1 and Oscar1 still pur sue th e e n emy. The ep1sode of urla, a cnief of Locnlin, who was mortally wounded in the battle, is introduc ed. Fingal, touch e d with the death of Orla, orders the pursuit to be discontinued; and c a lling his sons togeth er! h e i s mform e d that Ryno, th e youngest of them, was s l a in . He aments his death, he ars the story of Lamde rg and Gelchossa, and r e turn s towards the place whP-re h e h ad l eft S waran . Carril, who had b ee n sent by Cu thullin to congratuiate Fingal on his victory, comes in the m ean time to Ossian. The conversation of the two poets closes the action of the fourth day. ON Cromla's resounding side Connal spoke to the chief of th e noble car. Why that gloom, son of Semo 1 Our friends are the mighty in fight. Renowned l! "t thou, 0 w a rrior ! many were th e d e aths of thy ste e l. O ften has Bragela met, with blue-rolling eyes of joy: often has she met h e r hero r e turning in the midst of the valiant, when his sword was red with slaughter, whe n his foes were silent in the fields of the tomh. Ple asant to her ears were thy bards, when thy deeds arose in song.

PAGE 348

I I I II 'I 340 THE POElllS OF OSSIAN. But b e hold the king of Morven ! He moves, below, like a pillar of fire. His strength is like the stream of Lubar, or the wind of the echoing Cromla, when the branchy forests of night are torn from all their rocks. Happy are thy people, 0 Fingal ! thine arm shall finish their wars. Thou art the first in their dangers: the wisest in the days of their peace. Thou speakcst, and thy thousands obey: armies tremble at the sound of thy steel. Happy are thy people, 0 Fingal ! king of resounding Selma. \Vho is that so dark and terri ble coming in the thunder of his course ? who but Starno's son, to meet the king of Morven? Behold the battle of the chiP.fs! it is the storm of the ocean, when two spirits meet far distant, and contend for the rolling of waves. The hunter hears the noise on his hill. He sees the high billows advancing to Ardven's shore. Such were the words of Connal when the heroes met in fight. There was the clang of arms ! there every blow, like the hundred hammers of the furnace! Ter rible is the battle of the kings ; dreadful the look of their eyes. Their dark-brown shields are cleft in twain. Their steel flies, broken, from their helm-,, They fling their weapons down. Each rushes to his hero's grasp; th e ir sinewy arms bend round each other: they turn from side to side, and strain and stretch their large-spreading limbs below. But when the pride of their strength arose, they shook the hill with their heels. Rocks tumble from their places on high ; the green-headed bushes are overturned. At length the strength of Swaran fell; the king of the groves is bound. Thus have I seen on Corm; but Cona I behold no more ! thus have I seen two dark hills removed from their place by the strength of their bursting Rtream. They turn from side to side in their fall ; their tall oaks meet one 'lnother on high. Tlwn they tumblE: I I l j -I I

PAGE 349

' I FINGAL. 3H together with all their rocks and trees. The streams are turned by their side. The red ruin is seen afar. "Sons of distant Morven," said Fingal, "guard the king of Loch lin. He is strong as his thousand waves. His hand is taught to war. His race is of the times of old. Gaul, thou first of my heroes ; Ossian, king of songs attend. He is the friend of Agandecca; to joy his grief. But Oscar, FiJian, and Ryno, ye chil dren of the race, pursue Lochlin over Lena, that no vessel may hereafter bound on the dark-rolling waves of Jnistore." They flew sudden across the heath. He slowly moved, ' like a cloud of thunder, when the sultry plain of summer is silent and dark. His sword is before him as a sunbeam ; terrible as the streaming meteor of night. He came towards a chief of Lochlin. He spoke to the son of the wave.-" Who is that so dark and sad, at the rock of the roaring stream ? He can not bound over its course. How stately is the chi-ef! His bossy shield is on his side ; his spear like the tree iif the desert. Youth of the dark-red hair, art thou of the foes of Fingal ?" "I am a son of Lochlin," he cries ; "strong is my arm in war. My spouse is weeping at home. Orla shall never return!" "Or fights or yields the hero?" said Fingal of the noble deeds; " foes do not conquer in my presence : my friends are renowned in the hall. Son of the wave, follow me : partake the feast of my shells: pursue the deer of my desert: be thou the friend of Finga 1." " No," said the hero : " I assist the feeble. My strength is with the weak in anns. My sword has been always unmatched, 0 warrior ! let the king of Morven yield !" "I never yielded, Orla. Fingal never yielded to man. Draw thy sword, and choose thy foe. Many are my heroes!" "Does then ths king refuse the fight?" &aiel Orla of 29* 'I [ 1 I I

PAGE 350

I I• 'I I I 342 '!'HE POEMS OF OSSIAN. the dark-brown. shield. "Fingal is a match for Orla: and he
PAGE 351

ilnlo. ::::.._::::._==-===========-a=-a=--=-=-=r FINGAL. my sons, raise high the memory of Orla. Here let the dark-haired hero rest, far from the spouse of his love. Here let him rest in his narrow house, far from the sound of Lota. The feeble will find his bow at home, but will not b e able to bend it. His faithful d o gs howl on hi s hills; hi s boars which he us e d to purs1101 r e joic e . Fallen is the arm of battle ! the mighty among the valiant is low ! Exalt the voice, and blow th e horn, ye sons of th e king of Morven ! Let us go Lack to Swaran, to s e nd the night away in song. Fil lan , O sca r, and Ryno, fly ov e r th e h e ath of L e na. V\-rherc, Ryno, art thou, young son of fame ? Thou art not wont to be the last to answer thy father's voic e !" "Ryno," said Ullin, first of bards, " is with the awful forms of his fath e r s . With Trathal, king of shi elds ; with Trenmor of mighty d ee ds. The youth is l ow, the youth is p a l e , h e lie s on L e na's h eath!" "Fe ll th e swiftest of th e race," s aid the king, "the fir s t to b e nd the bow? Thou scarce hast been known to m e ! Why did young Ryno fall ? But sle e p thou softly on L ena; Finga l s hall soon b e hold the e . S o on shall my voice b e heard no mor e , and my foot s t eps ceas e to b e se e n . The bards will t e ll of Fingal's nam e . The ston e s will talk of m e . But, Ryno, thou art low, indeed: thou hast not r e c e ived thy fam e . Ullin, <;trike th e harp for Ryno ; t e ll wha t th e chi e f would h ave been . F a r e w e ll, thou fir s t in e v ery fie ld. No m o r e s h a ll I direct thy dart. Thou th a t hast be e n so f air! I b e hold th ee not. Fare w ell." The t ear is on the chee k of th e king, for t eniblc was his son in war. His son that was lik e a beam of fir e by night on a hill, whe n th e f o r e st s s ink down in its cours e , and th e trav elle r tre mbles at th e sound. But the winds drive it th e steep. It sinks from sight, and darkness pr e v a ils. " Whose f a me is in that dark-green tomb?" b egan the king of generous shells: "four stones with their

PAGE 352

;r:======= -= ------------:1 34t THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. heads of moss stand there. They mark the narrow housP. lf death. Neat it let Ryno rest. A neighbor to the .->rave let him lie. Some chief of fame is here, to fly with my son on clouds. 0 Ullin ! raise the songs of old. Awake their memory in their tomb. If in the fie:d they never fled, my son shall rest by their side. H'l shall rest, far distant from Morven, on Lena's re sounding plains." "Here," said the bard of song, "here rest the first of h e roes. Silent is Lamderg in this place, dumb is Ullin, king of swords. And who, soft smiling from her cloud, shows me her face oflove 1 Why, daughter, why so pale art thou, first of the maids of Cromla 1 Dost thou slee p with the foes in battle, white-bosomed daughter of Tuathal 1 Thou hast been the love of thou sa nds, but Lamd erg was thy love. He came to Tura's mossy towers, and striking his dark buckler, spoke: ' is Gclchossa, my love, the daughter of the noble Tuathal 1 I left her in the hall of Tura, when I fought with the great Ulfada. Return soon, 0 Lamd e1g! she said, for here I sit in grief. Her whit e br east rose with sighs. Her cheek was wet with tears. But I see her not coming to meet me to sooth my soul after war. Silent is the hall of my joy. I near not the voice of the bard. Bran does not shake nis chains at the gate, glad at the coming of Lamderg. Where is Gclchossa, my love, the mild daught e r of g e n e rous Tuathal 1' .. "' Lamderg,' says Ferchios, son of Aidon, 'Gel. chossa moves stately on Cromla. She and the maids of th e bow pursue the flying deer " ' Ferchios !' re. pli e d the chief of Cromla, 'no noise meets the ear 01 Lamd erg! No sound is in the woods of Lena. Nu deer fly in my sight. No panting dog pursues. I see not Gelchossa, my love, fair as the full moon setting on the hills. Go, Ferchios, go to Allad, the grav.haircd . ,. II il li 11 / J I I , J l j

PAGE 353

FINGAL, 345 son of th. e rock. His dwelling is in the circle of stom!s. He may know of the bright Gelchossa !' '' l'he son of Aidon went. He spoke to the ear o[ age. ' Allad, dweller of rocks, thou that tremblest alone, what saw thine eyes of age?' 'I saw,' answered A !lad the old, 'Ullin the son o f Cairbar. He came, in darkness, from Cromla. He hummed a surly song, like a blalO't in a leafless wood. He entered the hall of Tura. " Lamderg," he said, " most dreadful of mer , light or yield to Ullin." " Lamd erg," replied Ge chossa, " the son of battle is not here. He fights Ulfada, mighty chief. He is not here, thou first of men ! But Lamderg never yields. He will fight the son of Cairbar !" "Lovely thou," said terrible Ullin, " daughte1 of the generous Tuathal. I carry thee to Cairbar's halls. The valiant shall have Gelchossa. Three days I remain on Cromla, to wait that son of battl e, L a mderg. On the fourth Gelchossa is mine, if the mighty Lamderg flies."' ''' Allad,' said the chief of Cromla, 'peace to thy dreams in the cave! Ferehios, sound the horn of Lamd e rg, that Ullin may hear in his halls.' Lamderg, like a roaring storm ascended the hill from Tura. He hummed a: surly song as he went, like the noise of a falling stream. He darkly stood upon the hill, like a cloud varying its form to the wind. He rolled a stone, th e sign of war. Ullin heard in Cairbar's hall. The hero heard, with joy, his foe . He took his fath er's spear. A smile brighteos his dark-brown cheek, as h e places his sword by his side. The dagger glittered in his hand, he whistled as he went. " Gelchossa saw the silent chief, as a wreath of mist ascending the hill. She struck her white and heaviua breast; and silent, tearful, feared for Lamdnrg. bar, hoary chief of shells,' said the maid of the tender bane!, ' I must bend the bow on Cromla. I see the

PAGE 354

346 POEIIIS OF OSSIAN, dark-brown hinds.' She hasted up the hill. In vain thr. gloomy h e roes fought. Why should I tell to Se!. ma's king how wrathful heroes fight? Fierce Ullit> fell. Young Lamderg came, all pale, to the daughter of gen e rous TuathnJ ! ' What blood, my love,' she trembling said, ' what blood runs down my warrior's side ?' 'It is Ullin's blood,' the chief replied, ' thou fairer than the snow ! Gelchossa, l e t me rest here a little while.' The mighty Lamderg died ! ' And sleepest thou so soon on earth, 0 chief of shady Tura ?' Three days she mourned b es ide her love. The hunt ers found her cold. They raised this tomb above the three. Thy son, 0 king of Morven, may rest here with heroes !" " And here my son shall rest," said Fingal. " The voice of their fame is in mine ears. Fillan and Fer gus, bring hither Orla, the pale youth of the stream of Lata ! not unequalled shall Ryno lie in earth, when Orl a i s by his side. Weep, ye daughters of Morven ! II ye maids of th e streamy Lata, weep ! Like a tree tbey / grew on the hills. They have fallen like the oak of the d ese rt, when it lies across a stream, and withers in II th e wind. Oscar, chief of every youth, thou seest how they have fallen. Be thou like them on earth renown, their forms in battle; but calm was Ryno in the days ! ed. Like them the song of bards. Terrible were of p eace. He was like the bow of the shower seen I far distant on the stream, when the sun is setting on Mora, when silence dwells on the hill of d ee r. Rest, I I youngest of my sons ! rest, 0 Ryno ! on Lena. We loa s h all b e no more. Warriors one day must fa II !" I Such was thy grief, thou king of swords, when Ryno a.y on earth. What must the grief of Ossian be, for I J \hou thyself art gone ! I hear not thy distant voice on Cona. My eyes perceive thee not. Often forlorn and / L __ dark I sit at thy tomb, and feel it with my hands.

PAGE 355

I ,, FINGAL. 347 When I tLink I hear thy voice, it is but the passing blast. Fingul has long since fallen asleep, the ruler of the war! Then Gaul and Ossian sat with Swaran, on the soft green banks of Lubar. I touched the harp to plea<;;o the king; but gloomy was his brow. He rolled his red eyes towards Lena. The hero mourned his host. I raised mine eyes to Cromla's brow. I saw the son of generous Semo. Sad and slow he retired from his hill, towards the lonely cave of Tura. He saw Fin gal victorious, and mixed his joy with grief. The sun is bright on his armor. Connal slowly strode behind. They sunk behind the hill, like two pillars of the fire of night, when winds pursue them over the mountain, and the flaming death resounds ! Beside a stream of roaring foam his cave is in a rock. One tree bends above it. The rushing winds echo against its sides. Here rests the chief of Erin, the son of generous Se mo. His thoughts are on the battles he lost. The tear is on his cheek. He mourned the departure of his fame, that fled like the mist of Cona. 0 Bragela ! thou art too far remote to cheer the soul of the hero. But let him see thy bright form in his mipd, that his thoughts may return to the lonely sunbeam of his loYe! Who comes with the locks of age? It is the son of songs. " Hail, Canil of other times ! Thy iii like the harp in the halls of Tura. Thy words aro pleasant as the shower which falls on the sunny field. Carril of the times of old, why comest thou from the son of the generous Semo ?" " Ossian, king of swords," replied the bard, " 1hou l)est canst raise the song. Long hast thou been known to Carril, thou ruler of war ! Often have I touched the harp to ,ovely Everallin. Thou too hast often my voicP. in Branno's hall of ger.erous shells. \nd

PAGE 356

348 -----------1 , THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. j often, amidst our voices, was heard the mildest Evcral. lin. One day she sung of Cormac's fall, the youth who died for her love. I saw the tears on h e r check, and on thine, thou chief of men. Her soul was touch e d for the unhappy, though she loved him not. How fair among a thousand maids was the daughter of generou3 llranno !" "Bring not, Carril," I replied, "bring not h e r memory to my mind. My soul must melt at the Je. mcmbrance. My e y e s must have their tears. Pale in the earth is sh e , th e softly-blushing fair of my love! But sit thou on the heath, 0 bard ! and let us hear thy voice . It is pleasant as the gale of spring, that sighs on the hunter's ear, when he awakens from dreams of joy, and has heard the music of the spirits of the hill"' BOOK VI. ARGUMENT. Ni ght comes on. Fingal gives a feast to his army, at which S w a ran is pres e nt. The king comm a nds Ullin his bard to giv e " thll son g of peace ;" a cu s tom alw a ys obse rv e d at the end of a w a r. Ulhn r e l a t es the a ct i ons of Tre nmor, great-grandfather to Fin ga l , in S c a ndinavi a, and hi s marriag e wnh lnib a ca, th e dau ghte r o f a kin g of L oc hlin , who w as a n cestor to Bwaran; which co ns id e rati o n , t oget h e r with hi s b e in g broth e r to Ag a ndecc a , with who m Fingal w as in lov e in his youth, induc e d th e kin g to r e ) ease him, and p e rmit him to r e turn with th e re_ m a ins of ht s a rmy mto Lo c hlin , upo n ht s prorru se of n ever r e turrung to Ir e l a nd in a hostil e m a nn e r. The nig ht is s pent in se ttling Bwaran's d e p a rt are , in son gs of b a rd s , a nd in a conv e rsation in which the s t ory o! G rumal i s mtroduced by F ingal. Mornin g comes. Sw a r an de p a rt s . Fmgal go e s on a huntin g party, a nd finding C uthullin in the c a v e of Tura , c omfort s him, and sets sail the next day for Scotland, which conclud e s the poem. THE clouds of night came rolling down. DarKness rests on the steeps of Cromla. The stars of the north -,i '-===================,_.

PAGE 357

FINGAL. 349 arise over the rolling of Erin's waves; they their heads of fire througl. the flying mist of heaven. A distant wind roars in the wood. Silent and dark is thn plain of death ! Still on the dusky Lena arose in my ears the voice of Carril. He sung of the friends of our youth ; the days of former years ; when we met on the banks of Lego ; when we sent round the joy of the shell. Cromla answered to his voice. The ghosts of those he sung came in their rustling winds. They were seen to bend with joy, towards the sound of their praise! Be thy soul blest, 0 Carril ! in the midst of thy ed dying winds. 0 that thou wouldst come to my hall, when I am alone by night ! And thou dost come, my friend. I hear often thy light hand on my harp, when it hangs on the distant wall, and the feeble sound touches my ear. Why dost thou not speak to me in my grief: and tell when I shall behold my friends '? But thou passest away in thy murmuring blast; too wind whistles through the gray hair of Ossian ' Now, on the side of Mora, the heroes gathered to the feast. A thousand aged oaks are burning to the wind. The strength of the shell goes round. The souls of warriors brighten with joy. But the king of Lochlin is silent. Sorrow reddens in the eyes of his pride. He often turned towards Lena. He remem bered that he fell. Fingal leaned on the shield of fathers. His gray locks slowly waved on the wind, and glittered to the beam of mght. He saw the grief of Swaran, and spoke to the first of bards. " Raise, Ullin, raise the song of peace. 0 sooth my soul from war ! Let mine ear forget, in the sound, the dismal noise of arms. Let a hundred harps be near to gladden the king of Lochlin. He must depart from us with joy. None ever went sad from Fingal. ! the lightning of my sword is against the strong 30 r --------------------:----------:-==--_j I

PAGE 358

350 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. in fight. Peaceful it lies by my side when warriors yield in war." " Trenmor," said the mouth of songs, " lived in the days of other years. He bounded over the waves of the north; companion of the storm! The high of the land of Lochlin, its groves of murmuring sounds, appeared to the hero through mist; he bound his white bosomed sails. Trenmor pursued the boar that roared through the woods of Gormal. Many had fled from its presence ; but it rolled in death on the spear of Trenmor. Three chiefs, who beheld the deed, told of the mighty stranger. They told that he stood, like a pillar of fire, in the bright arms of his valor. The king of Lochlin prepared the feast. He called the blooming Trenmor. Three days he feasted at Gor. mal's windy towers, and received his choice in the com . . bat. The land of Lochlin had no hero that yielded not to Trenmor. The shell of joy went round with songs in praise of the king of Morven. H e that came over the waves, the first of mighty men. "Now when the fourth gray morn arose, the hero launched his ship. He walked along the silent shore, and called for the rushing wind ; for l oud and distant he heard the blast murmuring behind the groves, Covered over with arms of steel, a son of the woody Gormal appeared. Red was his cheek, and fair his hair. His skin was like the snow of Morven. Milt! rolled his blue and smiling eye, when he spoke to the king of swords. " ' Stay, Trenmor, stay, thou first of men ; thou hast not conquered Lonval's son. My sword has often met th e brave. The wise shun the strength of my bow.' 'Thou fair-haired youth,' Trenmor replied, ' I will not fight with Lonval's son. Thine arm is feeble, sunbeam of youth ! Retire to Gormal's dark hinds.' ' But I will retire,' replied the youth,

PAGE 359

i I I lj_ ' . FINGAL. 351 • with the sword of Trenmor ; and exult in the sound of my fame. The virgins shall gather with around him w 10 conquered migl->ty Trenmor They shall sigh witl'. the sighs of love, and admire the length of thy spear: when I shall carry it among thousands ; when I lift th e glittering point to the sun.' " ' Thou shalt never carry my spear,' said the angry king of Morven. ' Thy mother shall find thee pale on the shore ; and looking over the dark-blue deep, see the sails of him that slew her son !' ' I will not lift the spe ar,' replied the youth, ' my arm is not strong with years. But with the feathered dart I have l e arned to pie r ce a distant foe. Throw down that heavy mail of steel. Trenmor is covered from death. I first will lay my mail on earth. Throw now thy dart, thou king of Morven !' He saw the heaving of her breast. It w a s the sister of the king. She had seen him in the hall : and loved his face of youth. The spear dropt from th e hand of Trenmor : he bent his red cheek to the ground. She was to him a beam of light that meets th e sons of the cave ; when they revisit the fields of the sun, and bend their aching eyes ! " ' Chief of the windy Morven,' began the maid of the arms of snow, 'let me rest in thy bounding ship, far from the love of Corio. For he, like the thunder of the desert, is terrible to Inibaca. He loves me in the gloom of pride. He shakes ten thousand spears !' --' Rest thou in peace,' said the mighty Trenmor ' rest behind the shield of my fathers. I will not fly from the chief, though he shakes ten thousand spears.' Tlu ce days he . waited on the shore. He sent his horn abroad. He called Carlo to battle, from all his echo ing hills. But Corio carne not to battle. The king of Lochlin descends from his hall. He feasted on the roaring shore. He gave the maid to Trenmor !" "King of" I.ochlin," said Fingal, "thy blood flow.i

PAGE 360

352 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. in the vdns of thy foe. Our fathers m e t in battl e, be. cause they lov ed the strife of Epears. But often did they feast in the hall . and send round the joy of thf> shell. Let thy face brighten with gladness, and thin e ear deli g ht in the harp. Dreadful as the storm of thine ocean, thou hast poured thy valor forth ; thy voice has heen lik e the voice of thousands when they engage in war. Raise, to-morrow, raise thy white sails to the wind, thou brother of Agandecca! Bright as the beam of noon, she comes on my mournful soul. I have seen thy tears for he fair one. I spared thee in the halls of Starno ; when my sword was red with slaughter : whe n my eye was full of tears for the maid. 01 dost thou choose the fight 1 The combat which thy fathers gave to Tre nmor is thine! that thou mayest depart re nowned, lik e the sun setting in the west !" " King of the race of Morven !" said the chief of resounding Lochlin, " never will Swaran fight with the e , first of a thousand hero es ! I have seen thee in the halls of Starno ; few were thy years beyond my own. When shall I, I said to my soul, lift the spear lik e the noble Fingal ? We have fought heretofore, 0 warrior, on the side of the shaggy Malmor ; after my waves had carried me to thy halls, and the feast of a thousand shells was spread. Let the bards send his name who overcame to future years, for noble was the strife of M a lmor ! But many of the ships of Lochlin have l ost their youths on Lena. Take these, th ou king of Morven, and be the fri end of Swaran ! When thy sons shall come to Gormal, the feast of shells sliall be spread, and the combat offered on the vale." "Nor ship," replied the king, "shall Fingal take, no1 lnnd of many hills. The desert is enough to me, with f !I its deer and woods. Rise on thy waves again, thou noble friend of Agandecca ! Spread thy white sails to the beam of the morning ; return to the echo ______ .J I' I I I I I

PAGE 361

r -I FINGAL. 353 ing hills of Gormal."-" Blest be thy soul, tho!! king of shells," said Swaran of the dark-brown shield. "lP pea<:>e thou art the gale of spring ; in war the moun. tai1 storm. Take now my hand in friendship, king of echoing Selma ! Let thy bards mourn those who fell. Let Erin give the sons of Lochlin to earth. Raise high tiB mossy stones of their fame : that the children of tJ,e north hereafter may behold the place where their fathers fought. The hunter may say, when he leans on a mossy tomb, Here Fingal and Swaran fought, the heroes of other years. Thus hereafter shall he say, and our fame shall last for ever." "Swaran," said the king of hills, "to day our fame is greatest. shall pass away like a dream. No sound will remain in our fields of war. Our tombs will be lost in the heath. The huriter shall not know the place of our rest. Our names may be heard in song. What avails it, when our strength hath ceased 1 0 Os sian, Carril, and Ullin ! you know of heroes that are no more. Give us the song of other years. Let the night pass away on the sound, and morning return with joy." We gave the song to the kings. A hundred harps mixed their sound with our voice. The face of Swa ran brightened, like the full moon of heaven; . when the cloJds vanish away, and leave her ca[m and broad in the midst of the sky. " where, Carril," said .the great . Fingal, "Curril of other times ! where is the son of Semo, the king of the isle of mist 1 Has he retired like 'the meteor of death, to the dreary cave of Turu 1"-" Cuthulliu," said Curril of other times, "lies in the dreary cave of Tura. His hand is on the sword of his strength. His thoughts on the battles he lost. Mournful is the king of spears: till now unconquered in war. He sends his sword, to rest on the side of Fingal : for, like the storm of the desert, thou hast scattered all his foes. 30* c •• ---=================================-\

PAGE 362

' 1 I ,, !I i' I I I --__ ,_ __ ------------, 354 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Take, 0 Fingal ! the sword of the hero. Hi:; fame is departed like mist, when it flies, before the rus! _ ling wind, along the brightening vale." "No," replied the king, "Fingal shall never take his sword. His arm is mighty in war: his fame shall never fail. Many have been overcome in battle; whose renown arose from their fall. 0 Swaran, king of resounding woods, give all thy grief away. The vanquished, if brave, are renowned. They are like the sun in a cloud, when hehides his face in the south, but looks again on the hills of grass." " Grumal was a chief of Cona. He sought the battle on every coast. His soul rejoiced in blood; his ear in the din of arms. He poured his warriors on Craca; Cruea's king met him from his grove; "for then, within the of Brumo, he spoke to the stone of power. Fierce was the battle of the heroes, for the maid of the breast of snow. The fame of the daughter of Craea had reached Grumal at the streams of Cona; he vowed to have the white-bosomed maid, or die on echoing Craca. Three days they strove together, and Grumal on the fourth was bound. Far from his friends they placed him in the horrid circle of Brumo; where often, _ they said, the ghosts of the dead howled round the stone of their fear. But he afte rw ard shone, like a pillar of the light of heaven. They fell by his mighty hand. Grumal had all his fame! "Raise, ye bards of other times," continued the great Fingal, " raise high the praise of heroes: that my soul may sett l e on their fame ; that the mind of Swaran may cease to be sad." They in the heath of Mora. The dark winds rustled over the chiefs. A hundred voices, at once, arose; a hundred harps were strung;. They sung of other times; the mighty chief8 of former years ! When now shall I hear the bard 1 Wt.en rejoice at the fame of my fathers 1 The harp i!'l j / I I II ,,

PAGE 363

! I I I ========= = ; ! FINGAL. 355 not strung on Morven. The voice of music ascends not on Cona. Dead, with the mighty, is the barc:l. Fame is in the desert no more." Morning trembles with the beam of the east; it glimmers on Cromla's side. Over Lena is heard th e horn of Swaran The sons of the ocean gather around. Silent and sad they rise on the wave. The blast of Erin is b e hind their sails. White, as the mist of Mor ven, they float along the sea. "Call," said Fingal, "call my dogs, the long-bounding sons of the chase. (all white-breasted B1 an, and the surly strength of Luath! Fillan, and Ryno ;-but he is not here ! My son rests on the bed of death. Fillan and Fergus! blow the horn, that the joy of the chase may arise ; that the deer of Cromla may hear, and start at the lake of roes." The shrill sound spreads along the wood. The sons of heathy Cromla arise. A thousand dogs fly off at onc e, gray-bounding through the heath. A deer fell by every dog; three by the white-breasted Bran. He brought them, in their flight, to Fingal, that the joy of the king might be great ! One deer fell at the tomb of Ryno. The grief of Fingal r et urned. He saw how peaceful lay the stone of him, who was the first at the chase! "No more shalt thou rise, 0 my son! to par take of the feast of Cromla. Soon will thy tomb be hid, and the grass grow rank on thy grave. The sons of the feeble shall pass along. The y shall not know where the mighty lie. " Ossian and Fillan, sons of my strength ! Gaul, chief of the blu e steel of war! Let us ascend the hill to the cav e of Tura. Let us find the chief of the battles of Erin. Are these the walls ofTura 1 gray and lonely they rise on the heath. The chief of sh e lls is sad, and the halls are silent and lonely. Come, let us find Cu. thnllin, and g ive him all our joy . But is that Cu. ' I I I I , I l II

PAGE 364

356 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, tl.ullin, 0 Fillan, or a pillar of smoke on the heath 1 The wi'ld of Cromla is on my eyes. I distinguish 11ot my friend." "Fingal!" replied the youth," it is the son ofSemo !" Gloomy and sad is the hero ! his hand is on his sword. Hail to the son of battle, breaker of the shields !" "Hail to thee," replied Cuthullin, "hail to all the sons of .Morven! Delightful is thy presence, 0 Fingal ! it is the sun on Cromla: when the hunter mourns his ab sence for a season, and sees him between the clouds. Thy sons are like stars that attend thy course. They give light in the night. It is not thus thou hast seen me, 0 Fingal ! returning from the wars of thy land : when the kings of the world had fled, and joy returned to the hills of hinds!" " l\lany are thy words, Cuthullin," said Connan of small renown. "Thy words are many, son of Semo, but where are thy deeds in arms? Why did we come, over ocean, to aid thy feeble sword ? Thou fiiest to thy cave of grief, and Connan fights thy battles. Resign to me these arms of light. Yield them, thou chief of Erin."-" No hero," replied the chief, "ever sought the arms of Cuthullin! and had a thousand heroes sought them, it were in vain, thou gloomy youth ! I fled not to the cave of grief, till Erin failed at her streams." "Youth of the feeble arm," said Fingal, "Connan, cease thy words! Cuthullin is renowned in battle: ter rible over the world. Often have I heard thy faille, thou stormy chief of Inis-fail. Spread now thy white sails for the isle of mist. See Bragela leaning on her rock. Her tender eye is in tears, the winds lift her long hair from her heaving breast. She listens to the breeze of night, to hear the voice of thy rowers ; to hear the song of the sea; the sound of thy distan• harps." -, . I I

PAGE 365

FINGAL. 357 " Long shall she listen in vain. Cuthuliin shall never return. How can I behold Bragela, to raise tl. e sigh of her breast 1 Fingal, I was nlways victoricus, in of other spears."-" And hereafter thou shalt be victorious," said Fingal of generous shells. "The fa me of Cuthullin shall grow, like the branchy tree of Crom1. Many battles await thee, 0 chief! Many shall be the wounds of thy hand! Bring hither, Oscar, th e d eer ! Prepare the feast of shells, Let our souls r e joice after danger, and our friends delight in our presence." We sat. We feasted. We sung. The soul of Cuthullin rose. The strength of his arm returned. Gladness brightened along his face. Ullin gave the song; Carril raised the voice. I joineo. the bards, and sung of battles of the spear. Battles! where I often fought. Now I fight no more! The fame of my former deeds is ceased. I sit forlorn at the tombs of my fri ends! Thus the night passed away in song. We brought back the morning with joy. Fingal arose on the heath, and shook his glittering spear. He moved first to wards the plains of Lena. We followed in all our arms "Spread the sail," said the king, "seize the winds as they pour from Lena." We rose on the wave with songs. We rushed, with joy, through the foam of tht> deAJJ}. II II li I L_=

PAGE 366

LA'fHM.)N. ARGUMENT. Lathmon, a Hnhsh prince, taking advantage of Fingal's absencl! on an expedition to Ireland, maCle a descent on Morven, and vanced within sight of Selma, the royal residence. ar rived in the mean time, and Lathmon retreated to a hill, where !tis army was surprised by night, and himself taken prisoner by Ossian and Gaul the son of Morni. The poem opens with the first appearance of Fingal on the coast of Morven, and ends, it may be supposi'd, about noon the next day. SELMA, thy balls are si l ent. There is no sound in the woods of Morven. The wave tumbles along on the coast. The silent beam of the sun is on the field. 'fhe daughters of Morven come forth, lik e the bow of the show er; they look towards green Erin for the white sails of the king. had promised to return, but the winds of the north arose ! Who pours from the eastern hill, like a stream of darkness? It is the host of Lathmon. He has heard of the absenc . e of Fingal. He tru sts in the winds of the north. His soul brightens with joy. Why dost thou come, 0 Lathmon? The mighty are not in Se]. rna. Why earnest tl.ou with thy forward spear? will the daughters of l\1o :ven fight? But stop, 0 mighty stream, in thy course! Does not Lathmon behold these sails? Why dost thou vanish, Lathmon, lik e the mist of the lak e ? But the squally storm is behind thee; Fingal pursues thy steps! The king of Morven had started from sleep, as we rolled on the dark-blue wave. He stretched his hand to his spear, his heroes rose around. We knew that he l' . ad seen his fathers, for they often descended to his dreams, '':Then the sword of the foe rose over the laud

PAGE 367

LATHMON. 359 and the battle darkened before us. "Whither hast thou fled, 0 wind 1" said the king of Morven. "Dost thou rustle in the chambers of the south 1 pursuest thou the shower in other lands 1 Why dost thou not come to my sails 1 to the blue face of my seas 1 The foe is in the land of Morven, and the king is absent far. But Jet each bind on his mail, and each assume his shield. St1etch every spear over the wave; let every sword be unsh e athed. Lathmon is before us with his host; he that fled from Fingal on the plains of Lona. But he returns like a collected stream, and his roar is be tween our hills." Such were the words of Fingal. vVe rushed into Carmon's bay. Ossian ascended the hill! he thrice struck his bossy shield. The rock of Morven replied: the bounding roes came forth. The foe was troubled in my presence : he collected his darkened host. I stood like a cloud on the hill, rejoicing in the arms of my youth. Morni sat beneath a tree, on the roaring waters of Strumon : his locks of uge are gray: he leans forwatd on his staff; young Gaul is near the hero, hearing the battles of his father. Often did he rise in the fire of his soul, at the . mighty deeds of Morni. The aged heard the sound of Ossian's shield ; he knew the si5n of war. He started at once from his place. His gray hair parted on his back. He remembered the deeds of other years. "My son," he said, to fair-hair e d Gaul, "I hear the sound of war. The king of Morven is returned; his signal> are spread on the wind. Go to the halls of Strumon; bring his arms to Morni. Bring the shield of my fath er's latter years, for my arm begins to fail. Take thou thy armor, 0 Gaul ! and rush to the lirst of thy battles. Let thine arm reach to the renown of thy fathers. Be thy course in the field like the eagle's I

PAGE 368

I I I Jl 360 THE PO ElVIS OF OSSIAN. wing. Why shouldst thou fear death, my son 1 the valiant fall with fame; their shields turn the dark stream of danger away; renown dwells on their aged hairs. Dost thou not see, 0 Gaul ! how the steps of my age are honored ? Morni moves forth, and the young men meet him, with silent joy, on his course. But I never fled from danger, my son ! my sword ligl.tened through the darkness of war. The strang e r melted before me ; the mighty were blasted in my presence." Gaul brought the arms to Morni : the aged warrior is covered with steel. He took the spear in his hand, which was stained with the blood of the valiant. He came towards Fingal ; his son attended his steps. The son of Comhal arose before him with joy, when he came in his locks of age. " Chi e f of the roaring Strumon !" said the ri s ing soul of Fingal ; " do I behold thee in arms, after thy strength has failed? Often has Morni shone in fight, like the beam of the ascending sun; when he disperses the storms of the hill, and brings peace to the glitter. ing fields. But why didst thou not rest in thine age ? Thy renown is in the song. The people b e hold thee, and bless the departure of mighty Morni. Why didst thou not rest in thine age ? The foe will vanish before Fingal!" " Son of Comhal," replied the chief, "the strength ofMorni's arm has failed. I attempt to draw th e swoni of my youth, but it remains in its place. I throw th13 spear, but it falls short of the mark. I feel the w e ight of my shield. We decay like the grass of the hill ; our strength returns no more. I have a son, 0 Fingal! his soul has delighted in Morni's deeds; but his sword has not been lifted against a foe, neither has his fnmc begun. I come with him to the war; to direct his nrrn in fight. His renown will be a light to my soui. --------------------

PAGE 369

LA TilMON. 361 in the dark hour of my departure. 0 that the namP. of l\lorni were forgot among the people! that the he. roes would only say, 'Behold the father of Gaul!'" "King ofStrumon," Fingal replied, "Gaul shall lift the sword in fight. But he shall lift it before Fingal; my arm shall defend his youth. But rest thou in the halls of Selma, and hear of our renown. Bid the harp to be strung, and the voice of the bard to arise, th.tt those who fall may rejoice in their fame, and the soul of Morni brighten with joy. Ossian, thou hast fou:sht in battles : the blood of strangers is on thy spear: thy course be with Gaul in the strife ; but depart not from the side of Fingal, lest the foe should find you alone, and your fame fail in my presence." "*I saw Gaul in his arms; my soul was mixed with his. The fire of the battle was in his eyes ! he looked to the foe with joy. We spoke the words of friendship in secret ; the lightning of our swords poured together; for we drew them behind the wood, and tried the strength of our arms on the empty air!" Night came down on Morven. Fingal sat at the beam of the oak. Morni sat by his side with all his gray. waving locks. Their words were of other times, of the mighty deeds of their fathers. Three bards, at times, touched the harp: Ullin was near with his song. He sung of the mighty Comhal ; but darkness gathered on Morni's brow. He rolled his red eye on Ullin: at once ceased the song of the bard. Fingal observed the aged hero, and he mildly spoke : " Chief of Stru. mon, why that darkness 1 Let the days of other years be forgot. Our fathers contended in war; but we meet together at the feast. Our swords are turned on the foe of our 1and: he melts before us on the field. • Ossian spea.lm, 31

PAGE 370

I I --------------362 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Let the days of our fathers be forgot, hero of mossy Strumon !" ,-King of Morven," replied the chief, "I remember thy father with joy. He was tenible in battle, the rage of the chief was deadly. My eyes were full of when the king of heroes fell. The valiant fall, 0 Fin gal! the feeb l e remain on the hills! How many heroes httve passed away in the days of Morni! Yet I did not shun the battle ; neither did J fly from the strife of the valiant. Now let the friends of Fingal rest, for the night is around, that they may rise with strength to battle against car-borne Lathmon. I hear the sound of his host, like thunder moving on the hills. O ssian! and fair haired Gaul! ye are young and swift in the race. Obs e rve the foes of Fingal from that woody hill. But approach them not: your fathers are ncar to shield you. Let not your fame fall at once. The valor of youth may fail !" We h ea rd the words of th e chief with joy. We moved in the clang of our arms. Our steps are on the woody hill. Heaven bl]rns with all its stars. The meteors of death fly over the field. The distant noise of the foe reached our ears. It was th0n Gaul spoke, in his valor : his hand half unsheathed his sword. "Son of Fingal !" he said, "why burns soul of Gaul? my heart beats high. My steps are disordered; my hand trembles on my sword. When I look to wards the foe, my soul lightens before me. I see th e ir sleeping host. Tremble thus the souls of the valiant in battles of the spear? How would the soul of Morni rise if we slwuld rush on the foe ? Our renown would grow in song: our steps would be stately in the eyes of the brave." "Son of Morni," I replied, "my soul delights in war. I delight to shine in battle alone, to give my name to the bards. But what if t'le foe should prevail? can I

PAGE 371

I J.L LATIU10N. 363 behold the eyes of the king ? They are terrible in his displeasure, and like the flames of death. But I will not behold them in his wrath! Ossian shall prevail or fall. But shall the fame of the vanquished rise? They pass like a shade away. But the fiune of Ossian shaJ rise ! His deeds shall be like his father's. Let us rush in our arms; son of Morni, let us rush to fight. Gaul, if thou shouldst return, go to Selma's lofty hall. Tell to Everallin that I fell with fame ; carry this 11word to Branno's daughter. Let her give it to Oscnr, when the years of his youth shall arise." "Son of Fingal," Gaul replied with a sigh, "shall [ rBturn after Ossian is low ? What would my father say? what Fingal, the king of men? The feeble would turn their eyes and say, 'Beho"ld Gaul, who left his friend in his blood !' Y e shall not behold me, ye feeble, but in the midst of my renown! Ossian, I have heard from my father the mighty deeds of heroes ; their mighty deeds when alone ! for the soul increases in danger !" "Son of Morni," I replied, and strode before him on the heath, " our fathers shall praise our valor when they mourn our fall. A beam of gladness shall rise on their souls, when their eyes are full of tears. They will say, 'Our sons have not. fallen unE:nown : they spread death around them.' But why should we think of the narrow house? The sword defends the brave. But death pursues the flight of the feeble; their re nown is never heard.'' w e rushed forward through night ; we came to the roar of a stream, which bent its blue course round the foe, through trees that echoed to its sound. We came to the bank of the stream, and saw the sleeping host. Their fires were decayed on the plain: the lonely steps of their scouts were distant far. I stretched my 8pr.ar before me, to support my steps over the stream.

PAGE 372

;i64 THE POE!IIS OF OSSIAN. But Gaul took my hand, and spok e the words of the brave. "Shall the son of Fingal rush on th e slee ping foe ? Shall h e come like a bla s t by night, when it ove rturns the young trees in s ecret? Fingal did not re<'eive his f a m e , nor dw e lls renown on the gray hairs of Morni, for a ctions lik e these. Strike, Ossian, strike th e s hield, and let th eir thousands rise ! Let them meet Gaul in his first battl e , that he may try the strength of hi s arm." My soul r e joiced ov e r the warrior; my bursting tears came down. "And the foe shall meet thee, Gaul," I said: "the f a m e of Morni's son shall arise. But ru s h not too far, my hero : l e t the gleam of thy ste el b e n ear to Ossian. L e t our hands join in slaugh. ter. Gaul! dost thc>u not behold that rock? Its gray sid e dimly gl e ams to the stars. Should the foe pre vail, l e t our back b e toward s the rock. Then shall th e y fear to approach our sp e ars ; for death is in our hands !" I struck thrice my e choing shield. The startling foe aro se . We rush e d on in th e sound of our arms. The ir crowd e d st eps fly over th e heath. They thought th:u th e mighty Fingal was come. The strength of their arms with e r e d away. The sound of their flight was lik e that of flame , when it rush e s through the blast e d grov e s. It was then the spear of Gaul flew in its stre ngth ; it was then his sword arose. Cremor fell ; and mighty L e th ! Dunthormo struggled in his blood. The st e el rush e d through Crotho's side, as b ent h e rose on his spear ; the black stream poured from the wound, and hissed on the half-extinguished oak. Cathmin saw the steps of the hero behind him: he asc ende d a bla s t e d tre e ; but the spear pierc e d him from behind. Shrieking, panting, he fell. Muss and Withered branches pursue fiis fall, and strew the blue turns of Gaul. Such were thy deeds, son of Morni, in the first of

PAGE 373

r-=-=::...-=-==== ===--==== LATHMON. 365 thy battles. Nor slept the sword by thy side, thou last of Fingal's race! Ossian rushed forward in his strength ; the people fell before him ; as the grass by the staff of the boy, when he along the field, and the gray beard of the thistle falls. But careless the youth moves on ; his steps are towards the desert. Gray morning rose around us ; the winding streams are bright along the heath. The foe gathered on a hill ; and the rage of Lathmon rose. He bent the red eye of his wrath : he is silent in his rising grief. He often struck his bossy shield : and his steps are unequal on the heath. I saw the distant darkness of the hero, and I spoke to Morni's son. " Car-borne chief of Strumon, dost thou behold the foe 1 They gather on the hill in their wrath. Let our steps be toward the king.* He shall rise in his strength, and the host of Lathmon vanish. Our fame is around us, warrior ; the eyes of the agedt will rejoice. But let us fly, son of Morni, Lathmon descends the hill." " Then let our steps be slow," replied the fair-haired Gaul ; " lest the foe say with a smile, ' Behold the waniors of night ! They are, like ghosts, terrible in darkness; they melt away before the beam of the east.' Ossian, take the shield of Gormar, who fell beneath thy spear. The aged heroes will rejoice, beholding the deeds of their sons." Such were our words on the plain, when Sulmath came to car-borne Lathmon: Sulmath chief of Datha, at the dark-rolling stream of Duvranna. "Why dost thou not rush, son of N uath, with a thousand of thy heroes 1 Why dost thou not descend with thy host hefore the warriors fly 1 Their blue arms are beam ing to the rising light, and their steps are before us on the heath !" • Fingal. t Fingal and Morni. 31*

PAGE 374

-, 366 THE POP.MS OF OSSIAN. . / I

PAGE 375

1---f __ _ I LATHMON. 367 wa.rd, it shone like a gate of brass. But Ossian's spear pierced the brightness of its bosses, and sunk in a tree that rose behind. The shield hung on the quivering lance! But Lathmon still advanced! Gaul foresaw the fall of the chief. He stretched his buckler before my sword, whe n it descended, in a stream of light, over the king of Dunlathmon! Lathmon beheld the son of Morni. The tear started from his eye. He threw the sword of his fathers otl the earth, and spoke the words of the brave. " Why shou1d Lathmon fight against the first of men ? Your souls are beams from heaven ; your swords the flames of dr:>ath! Who can equal the re nown of the heroes, whose deeds are so great in yonth? 0 that ye were in the halls of N uath, in the green dwelling of Lathmon ! Then would my father say tlmt his son did not yi eld to the weak. But who com es, a mighty stream, along the echoing heath ? Tte little hills are troubled before him. A thousand ghosts are on the beams of his steel ; the ghosts of those who are to fall by the king of resounding Morven. Happy art thou, 0 Fingal ! thy son shall fight thy wars. They go forth before thee : they return with the steps of their renown!" Fingal came in his mildness, rejoicing in secret over the deeds of his son. Morni's face brightened with gladness. His aged eyes look faintly through tears of joy. We came to the halls of Selma. We sat around the feasts of shells. The maids of song came in to our presence, and the mildly-blushing Everallin! Her hair spreads on her neck of snow, her eye rolls in secret on Ossian. She touched the harp of music ! we blessed the daughter of Branno ! Fingal rose in his place, and spoke to Lathmon, king of sp e ars. The sword of Trenmor shook by his side, ns high he raised his mighty arm. "Son of Nuath,' _,__._____ ---==========================-!

PAGE 376

i\ I I . I I 368 THE PO ElliS 01' OSSIAN. .II he said, " why dost thou search for fame in Morven ? We are not of the race of the feeble ; our swords gleam not over the weak. When did we rouse thee, 0 LathI mon, with the sound of war ? Fingal does not delight in battle, though his arm is strong! My renown grows 1 on the fall of the haughty. The light of my steel pours on the proud in arms. The battle comes ! and the tombs of the valiant rise; the tombs of my people ris e, 0 my fathers ! I at last must remain alone ! But I will remain renowned: the departure of my soul shall be a stream of light. Lathmon ! retire to thy place! Turn thy battles to other lands ! The race of Morven are renowned; their foes are the sons of the unhappy." ======---

PAGE 377

I I I I i! I I !J DAR-THt:"LA. ARGUMENT. It may not i e improper here to give the story which is the founda tion of thts poem, as it is h a nded down by tradition. Usnoth. lord of Etha, which is probably that part of Argyleshire which is near Loch Eta, an arm of the in Lorn, had three sons, Na t h o s , Althos, a nd Ardan, by S l issa ma, th e dau g ht e r ofSemo, and sister to the celebra ted Cuthullin. The three brothers, when very young, were sent over to Ireland by their father, to learn th e use of arms und e r their uncle C uthullin, who m ade a g reat figure in that kingdom . They were just landed in Ubter, when the news of C uthullin 's death arrived. Nathos thou!!h v e ry young, took the com mand of Cuthullin's army, made h ead agains t Cairbar the usurper, and d e feated him in several batt les. Ca irbar at la s t, having J ou nd means to murd e r Cormac, th e l awful king, th e army of N a thos s hilted s ides, and h e himsel f was obliged to r e turn into Ul,ter, in order to p ass over into Sco tland . 1\u-thula, th e dau g hter of Colla, with wh om Cairb a r was in love, resided at that time in Selama, a castle in Ul s t er. She saw, fell in love, and fled wi t h Na thos; but a sto rm ri s ing at sea, they w ere unfortunately driven back on th a t part of the coas t of Ulster, where Cai rb a r was encamped with hi s a rmy . The three brothers, after havin g defended themselves lor so me time with great bra very, were overpowered and s l ai n, a nd the unfortunate Dar-thula killed h e rself upon the body of h e r b elove d Nathos. Th e poem opens on th e night preceding the d ea th of the sons of Usnoth, and brin gs in, by way of e pisode, what passed before. It r e l ates the d eat h of Dar-thula d1fleren tly fiom the common tradition . This account is th e mo s t probable, as suicide seems to have been unknown in those early times, tor no traces of it are bund in the old poetry. DAUGHTER of heaven, fair art thou! the silence of th) fac e is pleasant ! Thou comest forth in lovelines!J. The stars attend thy blue course in the east. The clouds r ejo ice in thy presence, 0 moon ! They bright en their dark-brown sides. vVho is like thee in h eaven, light of the silent night 1 The stars are a s ham e d in thy presence. They turn away their sparkling eyes. Whither dost thou retire from thy

PAGE 378

l'------=, 370 THE FORMS OF OSSIAI\r. course when the darkness of thy countenanc-:J grow& 1 Hast thou thy hall, like Ossian ? Dwellest thou in tho shadow of grief? Have thy sisters fallen from heaven? Are they who rejoiced with thee, at night, no more 1 Yes, they have fitllen, fair light! and thou dost often retire to mourn. But thou thyself shalt fail one night and leave thy blue path in heaven. The stars will then lift their heads : who were ashamed in thy presenc(', will rejoice. Thou art now clothed with thy brightnct.s. Look from thy gates in the sky. Burst the c\oud, 0 wind! that the daughters of night may look forth ; that the shaggy mountains may brighten, and the ocean roll its white waves in light ! Nathos is on the deep, and Althos, that beam of youth ! Ardan near his brothers. They move in gloom of their course. The sons of Usnoth move in darkness, from the wrath of Cairbar of Erin. Who is that, dim by their ? The night has covered her beauty ! Her hair sighs on ocean's wind. Her robe streams in dusky wreaths. She is like the fair spirit of heaven in the midst of the shadowy mist. Who is . it but Dar-thula, the first of Erin's maids? She has fled from the love ofCairbar, with blue-shielded Nnthos. But the winds deceive thee, 0 Dar-thula ! They deny the woody Etha to thy sails. These are not the moun tains of N nthos ; nor is that the roar of his climbing waves. The hulls of Cairbar are near : the towers Jf the foe lift their heads ! Erin stretches its green into the sea. Tura's bay receives the ship. 'Vhere have ye been, ye southern winds, when the sons of my love were deceived ? But ye have been sporting on the plains, pursuing the thistle's beard. 0 that ye had been rustling in the sails of Nathos, till the hills of Etha arosE> ! till they arose in their clouds, and saw their returmng chief! Long hast thou been nbsent, Nathos! the day of thy return is past! I I

PAGE 379

DAR-T HULA. 371 But the land of strangers saw thee lovely ! thou wast lovely in the eyes of Dar-thula. Thy face was like the light of the morning. Thy hair like the ra ven's wing. Thy soul was generous and mild, like the hour of the sun. Thy words were the gale of the reeds; tLe gliding stream of Lora! But when the rage of battle rose, thou wast a sea in a storm. The dang of thy arms was terrible: the host vanished at the sound of thy course. It was then Dar-thula beheld thee, from the top of bet mossy tower; from the tower of Selama, where her fathers dwelt. • " Lovely art thou, 0 stranger!" she said, for her trembling soul arose. "Fair art thou in thy battles, friend of the fallen Cormac ! Why dost thou rush on in thy valor, youth of the ruddy look ? Few are thy hands in fight against the dark-brown Cailbar ! 0 that I might he freed from his love, that I might rejoice in the presence of N athos ! Blest are the rocks of Etha! they will behold his steps at the chase ; they will see his white bosom, when the winds lift his flowing hair!" Such were thy words, Dar.thula, in Selama's mossy towers. But now the night is around thee. The winds have deceived thy sails-the winds have deceived thy sails, Dar-thula! Their blustering sound is high. Cease a little while, 0 north wind ! Let me hear the voice of the lovely. Thy voice is lovely, Dar-thula, between the rustling blasts ! "Are these the rocks of Nathos ?" she said, "this the roaring of his mountain streams ? Comes that beam of light from Usnoth's nightly hall? The mist spreads around; the beam is feeble and distant far. But the light of Dar-thula's soul dwells in the chief of Etha! Son of the generous Usnoth, why that broken Bigh? Are we in the land of strangers, chief of echo :ng Etha ?" "These are not the roeks of Nathos," he replied,

PAGE 380

:172 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. " nor this the roar of his stream. No light comP-s from Etha' s hall, for they are distant far. We are in the land of strangers, in the land of cruel Cairbar. The winds have deceived us, Dar-thula. Erin lifts here her hills. Go towards the north, Althos: be thy steps, Ardan, along the coast ; that the foe may not come in darkness, and our hopes of Etha fail. I will go towards that mossy tower, to see who dwells about the beam. Rest, Dar-thula, on the shore! rest in peace, thou lovely light! the sword of Nathos is around thee, !ike the lightning of heaven !" He went. She sat alone : she heard the rolling of the wave. The big tear is in her eye. She looks for returning Nathos. Her soul trembles at the olast. She turns her ear towards the tread of his feet. The tread of his feet is not heard. " Where art thou, son of my love ! The roar of the blast is around me. Dark is the cloudy night. But Nathos does not return. What detains thee, chief of Etha? Have the foes met the hero in the strife of the night?" He returned ; but his face was dark. He had seen his departed friend! It was the wall of Tura. The ghost of Cuthullin stalked there alone ; the sighing of his breast was frequent. The decayed flame of his eyes was terrible ! His spear was a column of mist. The stars looked dim through his form. His voice was like hollow wind in a cave: his eye a light seen afar. He told the tale of grief. The soul of Nathos was sad, like the sun in the day of mist, when his face :s watery and dim. " Why art thou sad, 0 N athos !" said the lovely daughter of Colla. "Thou art a pillow of light to Dar-thula. The joy of her eyes is in Etha's chief. Where is my friend, but Nathos? My father, my brother is fallen ! Silence dwells on Selama. Sadness spreads on the blue streams of my land. My friends

PAGE 381

DAR-THULA. 373 have fall e n with Cormac. The mighty were slain in th e battles of Erin. Hear, son of Usnoth! hear, 0 N athos ! my tale of grief. " Evening darkened on the plain. The blue streams failed before mine eyes. The unfrequent blast came rustling in the tops of Selama's groves. My seat was beneath a tree , on the walls of my fathers. Truthil past before my soul ; the brother of my love : he that was absent in battle against the haughty Cairbar ! B e nding on his spear, the grayhaired Colla c a me. His downcast face is dark, and sorrow dwells in his soul. His sword is on the sid e of the h e ro ; th e h e lmet of his fathers on bis h ea d. The battl e grows in his br e ast. He strives to hide th e tear. "' Da1'-thula, my daughter,' he said, 'thou art the las t of Colla's race ! Truthil is fallen in battle. The chi e f of S e l a ma is no more ! Cairbar com e s, with his thousands, towards S e lama's walls. Colla will his prid e, and rev e nge his son. But wh e re shall I find thy safe ty, D a r-thula with the dark-brown hair! thou art lov e ly as the sunbeam of heaven, and thy friends are low !' 'Is the son of battle fallen?' I s aid, with a bursting sigh. 'Cease d the generous soul of Truthil to light e n through the field ? My safety , Colla, is in that bow , I hav e learned to pierce the de e r. Is not Cair bar iike the hart of the desert, father of fallen Truthil ?' " The fac e of age brightened with joy. The crowded t e ars of his eyes poured down. The lips of Colla trembl e d. His gray beard whistled in the blast. 'Thou art the sister of Truthil,' he said; 'thou burnest in the fir e of his soul. Take, Dar-thula, take that sp e ar, that brazen shield, that burnish e d helm ; th e:;are th e spoils of a warrior, a son of early youth ! When the light rises on Selama, we go to meet the car-borne Cairbar. But keep thou near the arm of Colla, beneath the shadow of my shield. Thy father, 32

PAGE 382

874 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Dar-thula, could once defend thee; but age is tremblinl! on his hand. The strength of his arm has failed. soul is darkened with grief.' " We passed the night in sorrow. The light of morning rose. I shone in the arms of battle. Tho gray-haired hero moved before. The sons of S0larna convened ar )Und the sounding shield of Colla. But few were they in the plain, and their locks were gray. The youths had fallen with Truthil, in the battle of car-borne Cormac. 'Friends of my youth,' said Colla, 'it was not thus you have seen me in arms. It was not thus I strode to battle when the great Confaden fell. But ye are laden with grief. The darkness of age comes like the mist of the desert. My shield is worn with years! my sword is fixed in its place!* . I said to my soul, Thy evening shall be calm ; thy departure like a fading light. But the storm has returned. I bend like an aged oak. My boughs are fallen on Selama. I trem ble in my place. Where art thou, with thy fallen he roes, 0 my beloved Truthil! Thou answerest not from thy rushing blast. The soul of thy father is sad. But I will be sad no more ! Cairbar or Colla must fall ! I feel the returning strength of my arm. My heart leaps at the sound of war.' " The hero drew his sword. The gleaming blades of his people rose. They moved along the plain. Their gray hair streamed in the wind. Cairbar sat at the f e ast, in the silent plain of Lena. He saw the coming of the heroes. He called his chi efs to war Whv should I tell to N athos how the strife of battle I have seen thee in the midst of thousands, like * It was the cu s tom of ancient times, that every warrior, at a certain age, or wh e n he became unfit for the field fixed his arms •n the gr eat hall, where the tribes feasted upon joyful occasions. He was afterward never to appear in battle; and this stage of life was called the ' ' : ime of fixing the arms." I I

PAGE 383

I DAR-THULA. 375 the beam of heaven's fire: it is beautiful, but terrible; the people fall in its dreadful oourse. The spear of Colla flew. He remembered the battles of his youth. A.n arrow came with its svund. It pierced the hero's side. He fell on his echoing shield. My soul started with fear. I stretched my buckler over him: but my heaving breast was seen! Cairbar came with his spear. He beheld Sehima's maid. Joy rose on his dark-brown :ace. He stayed his lifted steel. He raised the tomb of Co:la. He brought me weeping to Se!ama. Ho spoke the words of love, but my soul was sad. I saw the shields of my fathers ; the sword of car-borne Tru thil. I saw the arms of the dead; the tear was on my cheek ! Then thou didst come, 0 N athos ! and gloomy Cairbar fled. He fled like the ghost of the desert be fore the morning's beam. His host was not near; and feeble was his arm against thy steel! Why art thou sad, 0 Nathos ?" said the lovely daughter of Colla. "I have met," replied the hero, "the battle in my youth. My arm could not lift the spear when danger first arose. My soul brightened in the presence of war, as the green narrow vale, when the sun pours his str eamy beams, before he hides his head in a storm. The lonely traveller fee ls a mournful joy. He sees the iarkness that slowly comes. My soul brightened in ;!anger before I saw Selama's fair; before I saw thee, ,ike a star that shines on the hill at night ; the cloud 1dvances, and threatens the lovely light ! We are rn .he land of foes. The winds have deceived us, Dar. :hula! The strength of our friends is not near, nor t!-_ e mountains of Etha. Where shall I find thy peace, daughter of mighty Colla! The brothers of Nathos are brave, and his own sword has shone . m fight. But what are sons of Usnoth to the host of dark-brown Cairbar ! 0 that the winds had brought thy sails, Oscar king of men ! Thou didst promise to come to the bat.

PAGE 384

376 THE OF OSSIAN. ties of fallen Cormac! Then would my hand be strong as the flaming arm of death. Cairbur would tre mble in his halls, and peace dwell round the lovely Dar-thula. But why dost thou fall, my soul ? The sons of Usnoth may prevail !" " And th ey will pr e vail, 0 Nathos !" said the rising s0u of the maid. "Neve r shall Darthula behold the Jul.:; of gloomy Cairbar. Give me those arms of brass, that glitt e r to the passing meteor. I see them dimly in th e dark-bosom e d ship. Dar-thula will enter the bat tl e s of st eel. Gho s t of the noble Colla ! do I b ehold the e on that cloud ! Who is that dim besid e thee? Is it the car-b o rne Truthil? Shall I behold the hall s of him that s lew Selama's ci1ie f? No: I will not beholu th em, spirits of my love!" Joy ro se in the face of N athos when he heard the whit e-bosome d maid. "Daughter of Selama! thou shin es t along my soul. Come, with thy thousands, Cairb ar! the str e ngth of Nathos is returned! Thou, 0 a ge d Usnoth! shalt not h ear that thy son has fled. I r e m embe r e d thy words on Etha, when my sails began to rise : wh e n I s pread th e m towards Erin, towards the mos sy walls of Tura! 'Thou goest,' he said, '0 Nathos, to th e king of shields ! Thou goest to Cuthullin, chi e f of m e n, who never fled from danger. Let not thin e tum be feeble : n e ither be thy thoughts of lest th e son of S emo should say that Etha's race are w e ak. His words may com e to Usnoth, and sadden his sou' . in th e hall.' The t ear was on my father's ch ee k. He gave this shining sword! " I eume to Tura' s bay ; but the halls of T ara were silent. I looked around, and there was none to tell of th e son of generous Semo. I went to the hall of shelis, wher e the arms of his fathers hung. Bu.t the arms were gone, and aged Lamhor sat in tears. ' Whence are the arms of steel1' said th e rising L:tmhor. 'The -,I I I _ _)

PAGE 385

I ,-=.:.:.=================: DAR-THULA. 377 light of the spear has long been absent from Tura's dusky walls. Come ye from the rolling sea ? or frorr. Temora's mournfl1l halls?' "'We come from the sea,' I said, 'from Usnoth's rising towers. We are the sons of Slissama, the daughter of car-borne Semo. Where is Tura's chief, son of the silent hall? But why should Nathos ask? for I behold thy tears. How did the mighty fall, son of the lonely Tura ?' 'He fell not,' Lamhor replied, ' like the silent star of night, when it flies through darkness and is no more. But he was like a meteor that shoots into a distant land. Death attends its dreary course. Itself is the sign of wars. Mournful arc the banks of Lego ; and the roar of streamy Lara! There the hero fell, son of the noble Usnoth !' 'The hero fell in the midst of slaughter,' I said with a bursting sigh. ' His hand was strong in war. Death dimly sat behind his sword.' " We came to Lego's sounding banks. We found his rising tomb. His friends in battle are there : his bards of many songs. Three days we mourned over the hero : on the fourth I struck the shield of Caithbat. The heroes gathered around with joy, and shook their beamy spears. Corlath was near with his host, the friend of car-borne Cairbar. We came like a stream by night. His heroes fell before us. When the peo. ple of the valley rose, they saw th e ir blood with morn ing's light. But we rolled away, like wreaths of mist, to Cormac's echoing hall. Our swords rose to defend the king. But Temora's halls were empty. Cormac Vud fallen in his youth. The king of Erin was no more! "Sadness seized the sons of :Erin. They slowly, gloomily retired: like clouds that long having threat ened rain, vanish behind the hills. The sons of Us. noth moved, in their grief, towards Tura's sounding 32*

PAGE 386

. . '\ 378 Tll.E POEJ\IS OJ..' OSSIAN. bny. We passed by Selama. Cairbar retired like Lena's mist, when driven before the winds. It was then I beheld thee, 0 Dar-thula! like the light of Etha's sun. ' Lovely is that beam!' I said. The crowded sigh of my bosom rose. Thou earnest in thy beauty, Dar-thula, to Etha's momnful chief. But the winds have deceived us, daughter of Colla, and the foe is ncar!" "Y the foe is near," said the rushing strength of Althos. " I heard their clanging arms on the coast. I saw the dark wreaths of Erin's standard. Distinct is the voice of Cairbar ; loud as Cromla's falling stream. He had seen the dark ship on the sea, before the dusky night came down. His people watch on Lena's plain. They lift ten thousand swords." "And let them lift ten thousand swords," said Nathos with a smile. "The sons of car-borne Usnoth will never tremble in danger! Why dost thou roll with all thy foam, thou roaring sea of Erin 1 Why do ye rustle on your dark wings, ye whistling storms of the sky 1 Do ye think, ye storms, that ye keep Nathos on the coast 1 No: his soul de tains him, children of the night ! Althos, bring my father's arms : thou seest them beaming to the stars. Bring the spear of Semo. It stands in the dark-bosomed ship!" He brought the arms. Nathos covered his limbs in all their shining steel. The stride of the chief is lovely. The joy of his eyes was terrible. He looks tow;cmls the coming of Cailbar. The wind is rustling in ius hair. Dar-thula is silent at his side. Her look is fixed on the She strives to hide the rising sigh. T.yo tears swell in her radiant eyes! '' Althos !" said the chief of Etha, "I see a cave in ihat rock. Place Dar-thula there. Let thy arm, my brother, be strong. Ardan! we meet the foe; call to battle gloomy Cairbar. 0 that he came in his sound 'l il

PAGE 387

f 1'=.;::_::..=:-:::--:::::_ __ =======-==========; . j 1 :-DAR-THULA. 379 ing steel, to meet the son of Usnoth! Dar-thula, if thuu shalt escape, look not on the fallen Nathos! Lift thy <:ails, 0 Althos! towards the echoing groves of my land. " Tell the chief that his son fell with fame. ; that my sword did not shun the fight. Tell him I fell in the midst of thousands. Let the joy of his grief be great. Daughter of Colla ! call the maids to Etha's echoing hall ! Let their songs arise for Nathos, when shadowy autumn returns. 0 that the voice of Cona, that Ossian might be heard in my praise ! then would my spirit re joice in the midst of the rushing winds." "And my voice shall praise thee, N athos, chief of the woody Etha ! The voice of Ossian shall rise in thy prai s e, son of the generous U snoth ! vVhy was I not on Lena when the battle rose ? Then would the sword of Os sian defend thee, or himself fall low !" We sat that night in Selma, round the strength of the shell. The wind was abroad in the oaks. The spirit of the m ountain* roared. The blast came rus tling through the hall, and gently touched my harp. The sound was mournful and low, like the song of the tomb. Fingal heard it the first. The crowded sighs of his bosom iose. " Some of my heroes are low," said the gray-haired king of Morven. " I hear the sound of death on the harp. Ossian, touch the trembling string. Bid the sorrow rise, that their spirits may fly with joy to Morven's woody hills !" I touched the harp before the king ; tne sound was mournful and low. " Bend forward from your clouds," I said, " ghosts of my fathers ! bend. Lay by the red terror of your course. Receive the fallen chief; whether he comes from a distant land, or rises from the rolling sea. "' By the spirit of the mountain, is meant that deep and melancl::oly sound which precedes a storm, well known to tt.ose who llve in a high country.

PAGE 388

380 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Let his robe of mist be near; his spear that is formed of a cloud. Place an half-extinguished meteor by his side, in the form of the hero's sword. And, oh ! let his countenance be lovely, that his friends may delight in his presence. Bend from your clouds," I said, " ghosts of my fathers ! bend !" Such was my song in Selma, to the lightly-trembling harp. But Nathos was on shore, surrounded by the night. He heard the voice of the foe, amidst the roar of tumbling waves. Silent he heard their voice, and rested on his spear ! Morning rose, with its beams. The sons of Erin appear: like gray rocks, with all their trees, they spread along the coast. Cair bar stood in the midst. He grimly smiled when he saw the foe. Nathos rushed forward in his strength: 'lOr could Dar-thula stay behind. She came with the hero, lifting her shining spear. "And who are these, in their armor, in the pride of youth 1 Who but the sons of Usnoth, Althos and dark-haired Ardan 1" "Come," said Nathos, "come, chief of high Temo. ra ! Let our battle be on the coast, for the white. bosomed maid. His people are not with Nathos: they are behind these rolling seas. Why dost thou bring thy thousands against the chief of Etha 1 Thou didst fly from him in battle, when his friends were around his spear." "Youth of the heart of pride, shall Erin's king fight with thee 1 Thy fathers were not among the renowned, nor of the kings of men. Are the arms of foes in their halls 1 or the shields of other times 1 Cairbar is renowned in Temora, nor does he fight with feeble men !" The tear started from car-borne N athos. He turned his eyes to his brothers. Their spears flew at once. Three h eroes lay on earth . Then the light of their swords gleamed on high. The ranks of Erin yield, as a ridge of dark clouds before a blast of wind ' Then

PAGE 389

DAR-THULA. 381 Cairlnr ordert,d his people, and they drew a thousana bows. A thousand arrows flew. The sons of Usnoth fell in blood. They fell like three young oaks, which stood alone on the hill: the traveller saw the lovely trees, and wondered how they grew so l onely: the blast of the desert came by night, and l aid their green heads low. Next day he returned, but they were with ered, and the heath was bare ! Dar-thula stood in silent grief, and beheld their fall ! No tear is in her eye. But her look is wildly sad. Pale was her cheek. Her trembling lips broke short a.n half-formed word. Her dark hair flew on wind. The gloomy Cairbar came. " Where is thy lover now ? the car-borne chief of Etha ? Hast thou be held the halls of Usnoth? or the dark-brown hills of Fingal? My battle would have roared on Morven, had not the winds met Dar-thula. Fingal himself would have been low, and sorrow dwelling in Selma !" Her shield fell from Dar-thula's arm. Her breast of snow appeared. It appeared ; but it was stained with blood. An arrow was fixed in her side. She fell on the fallen N athos, like a wreath of snow ! Her hair spreads wide on his face. Their blood is mixing round! " Daughtet of Colla! thou art I ow !" said Cairbar's hundred bards. " Silence is at the blue streams of Sclama. Truthil's race have failed. When wilt thou rise in thy beauty, first of Erin's maids ? Thy sleep is l ong in the tomb. The morning distant far. The sun shall not come to thy bed and say, A wake, Dar. tlmla! awake, thou first of women! the wind of sprinf, is abroad. The flowers shake their heads on the grP-en hills. The woods wave their growing leaves. Reme, 0 sun ! the daughter of Colla is asleep. She will not come forth in her beauty. She will not move in the steps of her loveliness."

PAGE 390

882 THE POE111S OF OSSIAN. Such was the song of the bards, when they raised the tomb. I over the grave, when the king of Morven came: when he came to green Erin to fight with cur-borne Oairbar !

PAGE 391

THE DEATH OF CUTHULLIN. ARGUlliENT. Cuthullin, after th e arms of Fingal had expelled Swaran from Ire land, continu e d to manage the aflairs of that kingdom as the guardian of Cormac the young king. In the third y e ar of Cu thullin's a dministration, Torlath, the son of Cantela, r e b elle d in Connau g ht : and advanced to Temora to d e throne C o rm a c. Cu thullin m a rch e d ag a in s t him, came up with him at th e lake of and totally d e f e ated his forc es. Torlath fell in battl e by Cutnullin 's hand ; but a s he too eagerly pr ess ed on th e e n e my, h e was mortally wound ed. The aflairs of C orm a c, thou g h for s ome ttm e supp o rt e d by Nathos, as m e ntion e d in th e pr ece ding poe m, f ell into confu stOn at the death of Cuthullin. Cormac himself was slain by the rebel Cairbar; and th e re es tablishment of the royal family of Ir e land, by Fingal, furni s hes the s ubject of the eptc poem of Temora. Is th e wind on the shield of Finga l ? Or is the voic e of p a st times in my hall ? Sing on, sweet voice ! for thou art pleasant. Thou carriest away my night with joy. Sing on, 0 Bragela, daughter of car-borne Sorglan! " It is the white wave of the rock. and not Cuthul Jin's sails. Often do the mists m e for the ship of my love ! when they rise round some ghost, and spread their gray skirts on the wind. Why dost thou d e lay thy coming, son of the generous S emo? Foux tim e s has autumn returned with its winds, and raised thE seas of Togorma,* since thou hast been in the roar <•f battles, and Bragela distant far! Hills of isle of mist ! when will ye answer to his hounds ? But ye are dark in your clouds. Sad Br?-gela calls in vain ! Night comes rolling down. The face of ocean falls. The h e a.th-cock's heati is beneath his wing. The hind "' Togorma, i . e. "the island c:{ Mue waves," one of th e ne. brides.

PAGE 392

384 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. sleeps with the hart of the desert. They shall rise with morning's light, and feed by the mossy stream. But my tears return with the sun. My sighs come on with the night. When wilt thou come in thine arms, 0 chief of Erin's wars ?" Pleasant is thy voice in Ossian's ear, daughter of car-borne Sorglan! But retire to the hall of shells; to the beam of the burning oak. Attend to the mur mur of the sea : it rolls at Dunscai's walls : let sle ep !lc scend on thy blue eyes. Let the hero arise in thy dr eams! Cuthullin sits at Lego' .> l11ke, at the dark rolling of waters. Night is arour . ! the hero. His thousands spr e ad on the Leath. A hundred oaks burn in the midst. The feast of
PAGE 394

r----• TllE DEATH OF CUTHULLIN, 385 beam of youth ! death stands dim behind thee, like the darkened half of the moon behind its growing light. Cuthullin rose before the bard, that carne from generous Torlath. He offered him the shell of joy. He honored the son of songs. "Sweet voice of Lego !" he said, "what are the words of Tor lath 'l Comes he to our feast or battle, the car-borne son of Cantela 1" . " He comes to thy battfe," replied the bard, " to the sounding strife of spears. When morning is gray on Lego, Torlath will fight on the plain. Wilt thou meet him, in thine arrns, king of the isle of mist 1 Terri ble is the spear of Torlath ! it is a me _ teor of night. He lifts it, and the people fall ! death sits in the light ning of his sword !"-" Do I fear," replied Cuthullin, "the spear of car-borne Tor lath 1 He is brave as a thousand heroes : but my soul delights in war ! The sword rests not by the side of Cuthullin, bard of the times of old ! Morning shall meet me on the plain, and gleam on the blue arms of Semo's son. But sit thou on the heath, 0 bard, and let us hear thy voice. Partake of the joyful shell : and hear the songs of Temora !" " This is no time," replied the bard, "to hear the song of joy: when the mighty are to meet in battle, like the strength of the waves of Lego. Why art thou so dark, Slimora! with all thy silent woods 1 No star trembles on thytop. No moonbeam on thy side. But the meteors of death are there : the gray watery forms of ghosts. Why art thou dark, Slimora ! why thy silent woods 1" He retired, in the sound of his song. Carril joined his voice. The music was like the mem. ory of joys that are past, pleasant and mournful to the ilOUI. The ghosts of depar(ed bards heard LHl Slimora's uide. Soft sounds spread along the wood. The silent valleys of night rejoice. So when he sits in the silence 'l'l ----'---------------------_______ _j

PAGE 395

II !I 356 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. of the clay, in the valley of his breeze, the humming of the mountain bee comes to Ossian's ear : the gale drowns it in its course : but the pleasant sound returns again! Slant looks the sun on the field! gradual grows the shade of the hill ! " Raise," said Cuthullin to his hundred bards, " thn song of the noble Fingal : that song which he hears at night, when the dreams of his rest descend; when the bards strike the distant harp, and the faint light gleams on Selma's walls. Or let the grief of Lura rise : the sighs of the mother of Calmar, when he was sought, in vain, on his hills; when she beh eld his bow in the hall. Carril, place the shield of Caithbat on that branch. Let the spear of Cuthullin be near ; that the sound of my battle may rise, with the gray beam of the east." The h e ro leaned on his father's shield : the song of Lara ros e ! The hundred bards were distant far : Car ril alone is near the chief. The words of the song were his : the sound of his harp was mournful. "Alcletha with the aged locks! mother of car-borne Calmar ! why dost thou look towards the des e rt, to be hold the retum of thy son 1 These are not his heroes, dark on the heath: nor is that the voice of Calmar. It is but the distant grove, Alcletha ! but the roar of the mountain-wind!-*' \Vho bounds over Lara's stream, sister of the noble Calmar 1 Does not Alcleth a b e hold his spear 1 But her eyes are dim ! Is it not the sc n
PAGE 396

I ' I I I I -============================. THE DEATH OF CUTHULLIN. 387 "'*But it is covered with the blood of foes, of car-borne Calmar! His spear never returned unstained with blood: not his bow from the strife of the mighty. The oa. ttle is consumed in his presence : he is a flame of death, Alona !-Youth of the mournful speed! where is the son of Alcletha ! Does he return with his fame, in th e midst of his echoing shields? Thou art dark and silent! Calmar is then no more! Tell me not, warrior, how he fell. I must not hear of his wound!' Why dost thou look towards the desert, mother of low. laid Calmar?" Such was the song of Carril, when Cuthullin lay on his shi e ld. The bards rested on their harps. Sleep f ell softly around. The son of Semo was awake alone. His soul fixed on war. The burning oaks began to decay. Faint red light is spread around. A feeble voic e is heard! The ghost of Calmar came! He stalked dimly along the beam. Dark is the wound in his side. His hair is disordered and loose. Joy sits pale on his face. He seems to invite Cuthullin to his cave. " Son of the cloudy night!" said the rising chief of Erin; "why dost thou bend thy dark eyes on me, gho s t of th e noble Calmar ? W ouldst thou frighten me, 0 Matha's son ! from the battles of Cormac? Thy hand was not feeble in wat : neither was thy voice for p e ace. How art thou changed, chief of Lara! if thou now dost advise to fly! But, Calmar, I never fled. I n e ver fear e d the ghosts of night. Small is their know ledge, weak their hands; their dwelling is in the wind. Bnt my soul grows in danger, and rejoices in the noise of steel. Retire thou to thy cave. Thou art not Cal. mar's ghost. He delighted in battle. His arm was like the thunder of heaven ! He retited in his blast with jcy, for he had heard the voice of his praise." • Alcletha spe4ks. IJ

PAGE 397

llr:--=-===========-38R THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. The faint beam of the morning rose. The souna of Caithbat's buckler sp1oead. Green Erin's warriors convened, lik e the roar of many streams. The horn of war is heard over Lego. The mighty Torlath came ! " Why dost thou come with thy thousands, Cu. thullin," said the chief of Lego. "I know the strength of thy ann. Thy soul is an unextinguished fire. Why fight we not on the plain, and let our hosts behold our de eds? Let them behold us like roaring waves; that tumble round a rock; the mariners hasten away, and look on their strife with fear." "Thou ri sest like the sun, on my soul, replied the son of Semo. Thine arm is mighty, 0 Torlath ! and worthy of my wrath. Retire, ye men of Ullin, to Sli mora's shady side. Behold the chief of Erin, in the day of his fame. Carril, tell to mighty Connal, if Cu thullin must fall, tell him I accused the winds, which roar on Togorma's wuves. Never was he absent in battle, when the strife of my fame arose. Let his sword be before Cormac, like the beam of heaven. Let his couns e l sound in Temora, in the day of danger!" He rushed, in the sound of his arms, like the terrible spirit of Loda, when he comes, in the roar of a thou sand storms, and scatters battles from his eyes. He sits on a cloud over Lochlin's seas . His mighty hand is on his sword. Winds lift his flaming locks! The waning moon half lights his dreadful face. His fe Cuthullin in the day of his fame. Torlath fell by his hand. Lego's heroes mourned. They gather around the chief, like the clouds of the desert. A thousand swords rose at once; a thousand arrows flew; but h e stood like a rock in the of a roaring sea. They fell around. He strode in blood. Dark Slimora echoed wide. The sons of Ullin came. The battle

PAGE 398

THE DEATH OF CUTHULLIN. 389 spread over Lego. The chief of Erin overcame. He retumed over the field with his fame. But pale ht returned! The joy of his face was clark. He rolled Jus eyes in silence. The sword hung, unsheathed, in his hand. His spear bent at every step! "Carril," said the chief in secret, "the strer.gth of Cuthullin fails. My days are with the years that art past. No morning of mine shall arise. They shall sf'ek me at Temora, but I shall not be found. Cormac will weep in his hall, and say, Where is Erin's chief ' ? But my name is renowned! my fame in the song of bards. The youth will say, in secret, 0 let me die as Cuthullin died! Renown clothed him like a robe. The light of his fame is great.-Draw thP. arrow from my side. Lay Cuthullin beneath that oak. Place the shield ofCaithbat near, that they may behold me amidst the arms of my fathers !" " And is the son of Semo fallen 1" said Carril with a sigh. "Mournful are Tura's walls. Sorrow dwells at Dunscai. Thy spouse is left alone in her youth. The son of thy love is alone! He shall come to Bra gela and ask her why she weeps ! He shall lift his eyes to the wall, and . see his father's sword. Whose sword is that 1 he will say. The soul of his mother is sad. Who is that, like the hart of the desert, in the murmur of his course 1 His eyes look wildly round in search of his friend. Connal, son of Colgar, where nast thou been, when the mighty fell 1 Did the of Togorma roll around thee 1 Was the wind of the south in thy sails 1 The mighty have fallen in battle, and thou wast not there. Let none tell it in Selma, nor in MoHen's woody land. Fingal will be sad, and the sons of the desert mourn !" By the dark-rolling waves of Lego they raised the tomb. Luath, at a distance, lies. The song o : bards rose over the dead.

PAGE 399

-----, 390 THE l'OEl\!S OF OSSIAN. " * Blest be thy soul, son of Semo! Thou wert mighty in battle. Thy strength was like the strength of a stream; thy speed like the eagle's wing. Thy path in battle was terrible : the steps of death were be hind thy sword. Blest be thy soul, son of Semo, car borne chief of Dunscai! Thou hast not fallen by the sword of the mighty, neither was thy blood on the spear of the brave. The arrow came, like the sting of death in a blast: r10r did the feeble hand, which drew the bow, perceive it. Peace to thy soul, in thy cave, chief of the isle of mist ! " The mighty are dispersed at Temora; there is none in Cotmac's hall. The king mourns in his youth. He does not behold thy return. The sound of thy shield is ceas e d : his foes are gathering round. Soft b e thy rest in thy cave, chief of Erin's wars! Bragela will not hope for thy return, or see thy sails in ocean's foam. Her steps are not on the shore : nor her ear ope n to the voice of thy rowers. She sits in the hall of shells. She sees the arms of him that is no more. Thine eyes are full of tears, daughter of car-borne Sorglan! Blest be thy soul in death, 0 chief of shady Tura !" • This is the song of the bards over Cuthullin 's tomb. I li. I I

PAGE 400

r ! I THE BATTLE OF LORA. ARGUMENT., 1!'111gal, or, his return from Ireland, after he had expel.ed Swaran from that kingdom, made a feast to all his heroes: he forgot to invite Ma-ronnan and Aldo, two chiefs, who had not been alona with him in his expedition. They resented his reglect; ana went over to Erragon, king of Sora, a country of Scandinavia! the declared enemy of Fingal. The valor of Aldo soon gainea him a great reputation in Sora; and Lorma1 the beautiful wile of Erragon, fell in love with him. He founa means to escape with her, and to come to who resided then in Selma, on the western coast. Erragon mvaded Scotland, and was slain in battle by Gaul1 the son of Morni, after he had rejected terms of peace olrered nim by Fingal. In this war Aldo fell, in a single combat, by the hands of his rival Erragon, and the unfortunate Lorma afterward died of grief. SoN of the distant land, who dwellest in the secret cell ; do I hear the sound of thy grove 1 or is it thy voice of songs 1 The torrent was loud in my ear ; but 1 heard a tuneful voice. Dost thou praise the chiefs of thy land : or the spirits of the wind 1 But, lonely dweller of rocks! look thou on that heathy plain. Thou seest green tombs, with their rank, whistling grass, with their stones of mossy heads. Thou seest them, son of the rock, but Ossian's eyes have failed! A mountain-stream comes roaring down, and send::: its waters round a green hill. Four mossy stones, in the midst of withered grass, rear their heads on the top. Two trees which the storms have bent, spread their whistling branches around. This is thy dwelling, Erragon ; this thy narrow house ; the sound of thy shells has been long forgot in Sora. Thy shield is be come dark in thy hall. Erragon, king of ships, chief of distant Sora ! how hast thou fallen on our mount• II

PAGE 401

-392 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. ains? How is the mighty low? Son of the secret cell! dost thou delight in songs ? Hear the battle of Lorn. The sound of its steel is long since past. So thunder on the darkened hill roars and is no more. The sun returns with his silent beams. The glittering rock:;, a11d the green heads of the mountains, smile. The bay of Cona received out ships from Erin's rolling waves. Our white sheets bung loose to the masts. The boisterous winds roared behind the groves of Morven. The born of the king is sounded; the deer start from their rocks. Our arrows flew in the woods. The feast of the hill is spread. Our joy was great on our rocks, for the fall of the terrible Swaran. Two heroes were forgot at our feast. The rage of their bosoms burned. They rolled their red eyes in secret. The sigh bursts from their breasts. They were seen to talk together, and to throw their spears on earth. The y were two dark clouds in the midst of our joy; like pillars of mist on the settled sea : they glitter to the sun, but the mariners fear a storm. " Raise my white sails," said Ma-ron nan, "raisa them to the winds of the west. Let us rush, 0 Aldo! through the foam of the northern wave. We are for got at the feast: but our arms have been red in blood. Let us l eave the hills of Fingal, and serve the king of Sora. His count e nance is fie rce. War darkens around his spear. Let us be renowned, 0 Aldo, in th e battles of other lands!" They took their swords, their shields of thongs. They rush e d to Lumar's resounding bay. They came to Sora's haughty king, the chief of bounding steeds . Erragon had returned from the chase. His spear was red in blood. H e bent his dark face to the grounJ • whistled as h e went. He took the strangers ms feast: they fought and conquered in his wars. Aldo returned with his fame towards Sora's lofiv

PAGE 402

THE BATTLE OF' LORA. 393 waJs. From her tower looked the spouse of Erragon, th e humid, rolliug eyes of Lorma. Her yellow hair flies on wind of ocean. Her white breast heaves, like snow on heath; when the gentle winds arise, and slowly mov e it in the light. She saw young Aldo, like th e b ea m of Sora's s e tting sun. Her soft heart sighed. Tear s fille d h et eyes. Her whito arm supported her h ea d. Three days she sat within the hall, and covered h e r grief with joy. On the fourth she fled with the h e ro, along th e troubled sea. They came to Cona's mo ss y tow e rs, to king of spears. "Aldo of the heart of pride!" said Fingal, rising in wr ath; "shall I defend thee from the rage of Sora's injured king? Who will now receive my people into th e ir halls? Who will give th e feast of strangers, since AI do of the little soul has dishonored my name in Sora? Go to thy hills, thou feeble hand ! Go: hide thee in thy cav es. Mournful is the battle we must fight with Sora's gloomy king. Spirit of the noble Trenmor! when will Fingal cease to fight? I was born in the mid s t of b a ttles,* and my steps must move in blood to th e tomb. But my hand did not injure the weak, my st ee l did not touch the f ee ble in arms. I behold thy tempests, 0 Morven! which will overturn my halls! wh e n my children are dead in battle, and none remains to dwe ll in S e lma. Then will the feeble come, bnt th e y will not know my tomb. My renown is only in song. My d ee ds shall be as a dream to future times!" His peopl e gath e red around Erragon, as the storms Iound the ghosts of night; when he calls them from the top of Morven, and pr e pares to pour them on the lana of the stranger. He came to the shore of Cona. • Com hal, tne father of Fingal, was slain in battle, against the tntl e of Morni, the very day that Fingal was born; so that he 1nay with propriety, be said to have been "born in the midst of battles.'! I

PAGE 403

394 THE POEJIIS OF OSSIAN. He sent his bard to the king to demand the combat of thousands : or the land of many hills ! Fingal sat in his hall with the friends of his youth around him. The young heroes were at the .-:hase, far distant in the des. ert. The gray-haired chiefs talked of other times; of the actions of their youth; when the aged Nartmor came, the chief of streamy Lora. "This is no time," said Nartmor, "to hear the songs of other years : Erragon frowns on the coast, and lifts ten thousand swords. Gloomy is the king among his chiefs! he is like the darkened moon amidst the meteors of night ; when they sail along her skirts, and give the light that has failed o'er her orb." "Come," said Fingal, "from thy hall, come, daughter of my love: come from thy hall, Bosmina, maid of streamy Mor ven! Nartmor, take the steeds of the strangers. At tend the daughter of Fingal ! Let her bid the king of Sora to our feast, to Selma's shaded wall. Offer him, 0 Bosmina! the peace of heroes, and the wealth of generous Aldo. Our youths are far distant. Age is on our trembling hands!" She came to the host of Erragon, like a beam of light to a cloud. In her right hand was seen a spark ling shell. In her left an arrow of gold. The first, the joyful mark of peace! The latter, the sign of war. Erragon brightened in her presence, as a rock before the sudden beams of the sun; when they issue fwm a broken cloud divided by the roaring wind! " Son of the distant Sora," began the mildly-blushing maid, "come to the feast of Morven's king, to 'I S u lma'. shadP.d walls. Take the peace of heroes, 0 warrior! Let the dark sword rest by thy side. 1 \ Choosest thou the wealth of kings ? Then hear t:;e I words of generous Aldo. He gives to Erragon a hundred steeds, the children of the rein ; a hundred maids from distant lands; a hundred hawks with fluttering li l.!::================------'

PAGE 404

THE BATTLE OF LORA. 39f, wing, that fly across the sky. A hundred girdles* shall also be thine, to bind high-bosomed maids. The fr:ends of the births of heroes. The cure of the sons of. toil. Ten shells, studded with gems, shall shine in Sora's towers : the bright water trembles on their stars, and seems to be sparkling wine. They gladdened once the kings of the world,t in the midst of their echoing halls. These, 0 hero ! shall be thine ; or thy white bosomed spouse. Lorma shall roll her bright eyes in thy halls; though Fingal loves the generous Aldo : Fingal, who never injured a hero, though his arm ia strong!" "Soft voice of Cona !" replied the king, "tell him, he spreads his feast in vain. Let Fingal pour his spoils around me. Let him bend beneath my power. Let him give me the swords of his fathers : the shields of other times ; that my children may behold them in my halls, and say, ' These are the arms of Fingal!' " "Never shall they behold them in thy halls," said the rising pride of the maid. " They a r e in the hands of heroes, who never yield in war. King of echoing Sora ! the storm is gathering on our hills. Dost thou not foresee the fall of thy people, son of the distant land ?" She came to Selma's silent halls. The king beheld her downcast eyes. He rose from his place, in his strength. He shook his aged locks. He took the sounding mail of Trenrnor. The dark-brown shield of his fathers. Darkness filled Selma's hall, when he * .Sanctified girdles, till very lately were kept in many families iu the north of Scotland; they were bound about women in lab or , and were supposed to alleviate their pains, and to accelerate the birth. They were impressed with several mystical ligures, and the ceremony of binding them about the woman's W!uot, was accom panied with words anll gestures, wl:Uch showed the custom to huve
PAGE 405

396 THE POEMS Of OSSIAN. atretched his hand to the spear : the ghosts of thou. sands were near, and foresaw the death of the people. Ter:-ible joy rose in the face of the aged heroes. They rushed to meet the foe. Their thoughts are on the de eds of other years : and on the fame that rises from death! Now at Trathal's ancient tomb the dogs of the chase appeared. Fingal knew that his young heroes follow ed. He stopped in the midst of his course. Oscar appeared the first; then Morni's son, and Nemi's race. Fercuth showed his gloomy form. Dermid spread his dark hair on wind. Ossian came the last. 1 hummed the song of other times. My spear supported my steps over the little streams. My thoughts were of mighty men. Fingal struck his bossy shield, and gave tht> dismal sign of war. A thousand swords at once, un sheathed, gleam on the waving heath. Three gray. haired sons of the song raise the tuneful, mournful voice. Deep and dark, with sounding steps, we rush, a gloomy ridge, along ; like the shower of the storm when it pours on a narrow vale. The king of Morven sat on his hill. The sunbeam of battle flew on the wind. The friends of his youth are near, with all their waving locks of age. Joy rose in the hero's eyes when he beheld his sons in war ; when he saw us amidst the lightning of swords, mind. ful of the deeds of our fathers. Enagon came on, in his strength, like the roar of a winter stream. The battle falls around his steps : death dimly stalks along by his side. " Who comes," said Fingal, "like the bounding roe ; lik e the hart of echoing Cona? His shield glit ters on his side. The clang of his armor is mournful. He meets with Erragon in the strife. Behold the battl e of the chiefs ! It is like the contending of ghosts in a gloomy storm. But fallest thou, son of the hill, 1[ J ------------------.-------_ .. _. ' II

PAGE 406

THE BATTLE OF LORA. 397 and is thy white oosom stained with blood 1 Weep, unhappy Lorma! AI do is no more!" The king took the spear of his strength. He was sad for the fall of Aldo. He bent his deathfui eyes on the foe : but Gaul met the king of Sora. Who can relate the fight of thn chiefs 1 The mighty stranger fell ! "Sons of Cuna !" Fingal cried aloud, "stop the hand of death. Mighty was he that is low. Much is he mourned in Sora! The stranger will come towards his hall, and wonder why it is so silent. The king is fallen, 0 stranger! The joy of his house is ceasPd. Listen to the sound of his woods! Perhaps his ghost IS nwrmuring there! But he is far distant, on Morven, h'lneath the sword of a foreign foe." Such were the words of Fingal, when the bard raised the song of vV e stopped our uplifted lilwords. We spared the feeble foe. We laid Erragon in a tomb. I raised the voic e of gri ef. The clouds of night carr.e rolling down. The ghost of Erragon appeared to some. His fac e was cloudy and dark ; a half-formed sigh in his breast. " Blest be thy soul, 0 king of SoJ:a ! thine arm was terrible in war!" Lorma sat in Aldo's hall. She sat at the tight of a flaming oak. The night came down, but he did not return. The soul of Lorma is sad ! " vVhat detains theP., hunter of Cona 1 Thou didst promise to return. Has the deer been distant far 1 Do the dark wmds sigh, round thee, on the heath 1 I am in the land of strangers ; who is my friend, but Aldo 1 Come from thy sounding hills, 0 my best beloved !" Her eyes are turned towards the gate. She listens to the rustling blast. She thinks it is Aldo's tread. Joy rises in her face! But sorrow returns again, like a thin cloud on the moon. " Wilt thou not return, my love 1 Let me beheld the face of the hill. The moon IS in the east. Calm and bright is the breast of the 34 I I l I I l \

PAGE 407

398 THE POE!IIS OF OSSIAN. lake ! When shall I behold his dogs, returning from the chase ? When shall I hear his voice, loud and dis tant on the wind ? Come from thy sounding hills. hunter of woody Cona !" His thin ghost appeared, on a rock, like a watery beam of feeble light : when the moon rushes sudden from between two clouds, and the midnight shower is on the field. She followed the empty form over the heath. She knew that her hero fell. I heard her approaching cries on the wind, like the mournful voice of the breeze, when it sighs on the grass of the cave ! She came. She found her hero ! Her voice was heard no more. Silent she rolled her eyes. She was pale and wildly sad ! Few were her days on Cona. She sunk into the tomb. Fingal commanded his bards; they sung over the death of Lorma. 'Phe daught e rs of Morv e n mourned her, for one day in the year, wher. the dark winds of autumn returned ! Son of the distant land ! Thou dwellest in the field of fame ! 0 let the song arise, at times, in Fraise of those who fell! Let their thin ghosts rejoice around ; and .the soul of Lorma come on a feeble beam; when thou liest down to rest, and the moon looks into thy cave. Then shalt thou see her lovely ; but the ..ear is still on her cheek I

PAGE 408

I 'fEMORA. AN EPIC POEM. BOOK I. ARGUMENT. Caitbar, the soo ofBorbar-duthul, lord of Atha, in Cc.nnaught, the most pottnt chief of the race of the Fir-bolg, having murdered, at Temora, the royal palace, Cormac, the son of Artho, the young king of usnrpPd the throne. Cormac was lineally de scended from Conar, the son of Trenmor, the great-wandtathe.r of Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabtted tne western coast of Scotland. Fingal resented the behavior of Cairbar, and r e solved to pass over mto Ireland with an army, to re-establish the royal family on the Irish throne. Early intelligence of Ius de s igns comin" to Cairbar, he assembled some of his trib e s in Ulster, and at the same time ordered his brother Cathmor to fol low htm speedily with an army from Temora. Such was the situation of aflairs when the Caledonian invaders appeared on the coast of Ulster. The poem opens in the momiqg. Cairbar is represented as retired from the r e st of the army, when one of his scouts brought him news of the landing of Fingal. He assembles a council of Ius chiefs. Foldath, the chief of Morna, haughtily despises th{'! enemy ; and is reprimanded warmly by Malthos. Cairbar, aftf r hearing their debate, orders a feast to be prepared, to which, oy his bard Olla, he invites Oscar, the son of Ossian; resolvina to pick a quarrel with that hero, and so have some pretext for killtn" him. Oscar came to the feast ; the quarrel happened; the foiTowers of both fought, and Cairbar and Oscar fell by mutual wounds. The noise of the battle reached Fingal's army. The king came on to the relief of Oscar, and the Irish fell back to the army of Cathmor, who was advanced to the banks of the river Lnbar, on the heath of Moi-lena. Fingal, after mourning over his grandson, ordered Ullin, the chief of h!s oards, to carry his body to Morven, to be there interred. Night commg on, Althan, the son of Conachar, relates to the king the partlc!tlars of the murder of Connac. Fillan, the son of Fmgal, ts sent to observe lh e motions of Cathmor, by night, which the action or the first day. The scene of thts book ts a platn, near the of Mora, which rose on the borders of the heath ofMoi-lena in Ulster THE blue waves of Erin roll in light. The moun. tains are covered with day. Trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze. Gray torrents pour their n01sy L=-=--===--======-:======

PAGE 409

400 THE POElllS OF OSSIAN. streams. Two green hi lis, with aged oaks, surround a narrow plaiu. The blue course of a stream is there. On its banks stood Cairbar of Atha. His spear sup ports the king: the red eye of his fear is sad. Cormac rises in his soul, with all his ghastly wounds. The gray form of the youth appears in darkness. Blood pours from his airy side . Cairbar thrice threw his spear on rarth. Thrice he stroked his beard. His steps are short. He oflen stops. He tosses his sinewy arms. He is like a cloud in the desert, varying its form to <"very blast. The valleys are sad around, and fear, by turns, the shower ! The king at length r esumed his soul. He took his pointed spear. He turned his eye to Moi-lena. The scouts of blue ocean came. They came with steps of fear, and often looked behind. Cairbar knew that the mighty were near. He called his gloomy chiefs. Tile sounding steps of his warriors came. They drew at once their swords. There Moruth stood with darkened face. 1Jidnlla's long hair sighs in the wind. RL'd-haircd C01mar on his spear, and rolls his sidelong-looking eyes. Wild is the look of Malthos, from b c neath two h:1ggy brows. Foldath stands, like an oozy rock, that covers i t s dark sides with foam. Ilis spear is lik e Slimora's fir, that meets the wind of heaven. His shield is marked with the strokes of battle. His red eye despises danger. These, and a tlmusand other chiefs, surrounded the king of Erin, when the scout of ocean came, Mor-annal, from streamy !\lu i-lena. His eyes hang forward from his face. His lips arc trcmblmg pale! ''Do the chiefs of Erin stand," he said, "silent os the grove of evening 1 Stand they, like a silent wood, and Fingal on the coast 1 Fingal, who is terrible in battl e, the king of streamy Morven!" "Hast thou l!een the warrior?" said Cairbar with a ,jgh. .., .Are U--\ I I

PAGE 410

TEMORA. 401 his heroes many on the coast 1 Lifts he the spear of battle 1 or comes the king in peace 1" " In peace he comes not, king of Erin; I have seen his forward spear.* It is a meteor of death. The blood of thou. sands i s on its steel. He came first to th e shore, strong in the gray hair of age. Full rose his sinewy limbs, as h e st rode in his might. That :;:word is by his side, which gives no second wound. His shield is t e rrible, lik e the bloody moon, ascending through a storm. Then came Ossian, king of songs. The n Morni's son, the first of men. Connal leaps forward on his spear. Dcrmid spreads his dark-brown locks. Fillan bends his bow, th e young hunter of streamy Moruth. But who is that before them, like the terrible course of a stream 1 It is the son of Ossian, bright between his locks! His long hair falls on his back. His dark brows are half enclosed in ste e l. His sword hangs loo se on his side. His spear glitters as he moves. I fled from his t e rrible eyes, king of high T e mora !" "Then fly, thou feebl e man," said Foldath's gloomy wr at h. " Fly to the gray streams of thy land, son of th e littl e soul ! Have not I seen that Oscar 1 I beheld th e chief in war. He is of the mighty in danger: but th e r e are others who lift th e spear. Erin has many sons as brave, king of Temora of groves. Let Foldath meet him in his strength. Let me stop this mighty stream. My spear is covered with blood. My shield is lik e the wall of Ti.1ra !" " Shall Foldath alone meet the foe 1" replied the dark-browed Malthos 1 "Are they not on our coast, "' Mor -a nm i l here alludes to the particular appearance of Fingal's epear . lf a man upon hts first landing m a strange country, k e pt th e point of his spear forward, it denoted, in those days, that he came m a hostile manner, and accordingly he was treated a s an enemy; if he k ept the point b e hind him, 1t was a token of fr:end ilup, anti he was Immediat e ly invited to the feast, according to the !lo s pitality of the times . . M* I 'I

PAGE 411

------------------____ ... __ ----il I I ! I I I II f 402 THE POEJ\1S OF OSSIAN. like the waters of many streams? Are not thGse the chiefs who vanqui-s!1ed Swaran, when the sons of green Etin fled 1 Shall Folduth meet their bravest h e ro 1 Foldath of the heart of pride ! Take the strength d the people! and lot Multhos come. My sword is retl with slaughter, but who has h eard my words 1" "Sons of green Erin," said Hidalla, "let not Fingal hear your wiJrds. The foe might rejoice, and his arm L e strong in the land. Ye a1e brav e , 0 warriors! Ye are t e mp es ts in war. Ye are lik e storms, which m ee t the rocks without fear, and overturn the woods ! But l e t us move in our strength, sluw as a gathered cloud ! Then shall the mighty tremble ; the spear shall fall fr o m the hand of the valiant. We see the cloud of death, they will say, while shadows fly over their face. Fingal will mourn in his age . H e shall b e hold his /lyiug fam e . The steps of his chiefs will cease in 1\forven. The moss of years shall grow in S e lma !" Cairbar heard their words in silence, like the cloud of a shower: it stands dark on Cromla, till the light ning bursts its side. The valley gleams with h e av en's flame; the spirits of the storm r e joice. So stood the sil e nt king of T emora; at l e ngth his words broke forth. " Spread the feast on Moi-lena. L e t my hun dred bards attend. Thou red-hair e d Olla, take the h:trp of the king. Go to O scar, chi e f of swords. Bid O sca r to our joy. To-day we feast and hear the song; to-morrow break the spears! Tell him that I have raised the tomb of Cathol; that bards gave his fri en d to the wind>'. Tell him that Cairbar has heard of his fame, at the stream of resounding Carun. CatlunOJ", my brother, is not here. He is not here with his thou sattds, and onr arms are weak. Cathmor is a foe to strife at the f east! His soul is bright as that sun! But Crti rbar must fight with Oscar, chiefs of woody T e rnora! II is words for Cathol were many! the wrath of Cuirbar I I II f

PAGE 412

r r = I 'l'EJIIORA. 403 bums ! He shall fall on Moi.Iena. l\Iy fame shall rise in blood!" Their faces brightened round with joy. They spread over Moi.lena. The feast of shells is prepared. The songs of bards arise. The chiefs of Selma heard their joy. We thought that mighty Cathmor came. Cath mor, the fiiend of strangers! the brother of red-hflired Cairbar. Their souls were not the same. The light of heaven was in the bosom of Cathmor. His towers rose on the banks of Atha: seven paths led to his halls. Seven chiefs stood on the paths, and called the stranger to the feast ! But Cathmor dwelt in the wood, to shun the voice of praise ! Olla came with his songs. Oscar went to Cairbar's feast. Three hundred warriors strode along Moi-lena of the sl:reams. The gray dogs bounded on the heath : their howling reached afar. Fingal saw the departing hero. The soul of the king was sad. He rreaded Cairbar's gloomy thoughts, amidst the feast of shells. My son raised high the spear of Cormac. A hundred bards met him with songs. Cairbar concealed, with smiles, the death that was dark in his soul. The feast is spread. The shells resound. Joy brightens the face of the host. But it was like the parting beam of the sun, when he is to hide his red head in a storm ! Cairbar rises in his arms. Darkness gathers on his brow. The hundred harps cease at once. The clang of shields* is heard. Far distant on the heath Olla raised a song of wo. My son knew the sign of death; and rising seized his spear. "Oscar," said the dark-red Cairbar, " I behold the spear of Erin. The spear of Temrha glitters in thy hand, son of woody "' \Vhen a chief was determwed to kill a person already in his it was usual to signify that death was intended, by tho Eound of a shield struck with the blunt end of a spear: at the same tha• a bard at a distance raised the death-song ! .'.:::.-=--=-----,------=--=----_-==============================='-,

PAGE 413

404 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. Morven ! It was the pride of a hundred kings. The death of heroes of old. Yield it, son of Ossian, yield it to car-borne Cairbar !" " Shall I yield," Oscar replied, "the gift of Erin's injured king; the gift of fair-haired Cormac, wh e n Oscar scattered his foes ? I came to Cormac's halls of joy, whe n Swaran fled from Fingal. Gladness rose in the face of youth. He gave the spear of Temora. Nor did he give it to the feeble: neither to the wL:ak in soul. The darkness of thy face is no storm to me : nor arc thine eyes the flame of death. Do I fear thy c l anging shield? Tremble I at Olla's song? No . Caiibar, frighten the feeble ; Oscar is a rock !" " Wilt thou not yield the spear ?" replied the rising pride of Cairbar. "Are thy words so mighty, because Fingal is near? Fingal with aged locks, from Mor v e n's hundr e d groves! He has fought with little men. But he must vanish before Cairbar, like a thin pillar of mist before the winds of Atha !"-"Were he who fought with littl e m en, near Atha's haughty chief, Atha's chief would yield green Erin to avoid his rag e ! Sp ea k not of the mighty, 0 Cairbar ! Turn thy sword on me. Our strength is equal : but Fingal is renowned ! the first of mortal men !" Their people saw the darkening chiefs. Their crowd ing steps are heard. Their eyes roll in fire. A thou sand swords are half unsheathed. Red-haired 01\a the song of battle. The trembling joy of Oscar's soul arose : the wonted joy of his soul when Fingal's horn was heard. Dark as the swelling wave of ocean before the rising winds, when it bends its head near the coast, came on the host of Cairbar ! Daughter of Toscar! why that tear? He is net fallen yet. Many were the deaths of his arm oefore my hero fell ! Behold they fall before my son, like groves in the rl II I I I I

PAGE 414

I I I I I I I ij TEMORA. 405 destJrt ; when GJl angry ghost rushes through night, and takes their green heads in his hand ! Morlatlt falls. Mai'Onnan dies. Conachar trembles in his blood ! Cairbar shrinks before Oscar's sword ! H e creeps in darkn ess behind a stone. I I e lifts th e spear in secret; h e pie rc es my side! He falls iorward on his shield, his kn ee sustains th e chief. But still his s p e :n is in his hand ! S ee , gloomy Cairbar f alls ! The steel pie r ced his forehead, and divided his r e d h'lir behind. H e by like a sh a ttered ro c k, which Cromla shakes fr o m its shaggy side, when the green valleycd Erin sh akes its m o unt a ins from sea to sea ! But never m o re shall Oscar ris e ! He l oa ns on his b ossy shidd. His spear is in his terribl e hand. Erin's sons stan d distant and dark. The ir shouts arise, like crowded streams. Moi-lena echoes wid e. Fingal h eard t h e sound. He to o k the s pear of Selma. His steps a r c befor e us on th e heath. H e spoke th e words of wo. " I hear the nois e of war. Y o&ng Os car is alone. Ri se, sons of Morven :join the hero's sword !" O.,;sian ru s h e d alollg the h e ath. Fill a n bound e d over Moi-lena. Finga l strode in his strength. The light of his shield is terrible. The sons of Erin s a w it far dista nt. They trembled in their souls. They knew that th e wrath of the king arose: and th ey for esa w their death. We first arrived. We fought. Erin's ch i efs withstood our rage. But when th e king carne, in the sound of his course, what heart of steel could stand? Erin fled ov e r M o i-lena. D ea th pursued their flight . vVe saw Os car on his shield. W, saw his hl 1 :1d around. Sil e nce darken e d on every face. Each turned his back and w e pt. The king strove to hide his teats. His gray beard whistl e d in the wind. He b ends his head above the chief. His words are mixed with sighs. " Art thou fallen, 0 Oscar ! in the midst of th)

PAGE 415

I " THE POEMS OF OSSIAL'. course ? the heart of the aged beats ov e r th ee ! he se e s thy coming wars ! The wars which ought to come h e s e es ! They are cut off from thy fame ! Whe n shall joy dw e ll at S elma? When shall gri e f d e part from l\Io rv e n ? My sons fall by d e grees : Fingal is the last of his race. My fam e b e gins to pass aw a y. l\Iine a ge will b e without friends. I shall sit a gray cloud in my h a ll. I shall not h ear th e r e turn of a son, in his so unding arms . W eep, ye heroes of Morven ! nev e r m o r e sh all O scar ris e ! " And the y did w eep, 0 Fingal! D ear was the h e ro to th e ir souls. H e w e nt out to battl e , and th e foe s v an ished. He r e turn e d in p e ace, amid s t their joy. No f athe r mourn e d his s on sl a in in youth : no broth e r his bmth e r of love. The y f e ll without t e ars, for the chi e f of th e p e ople is low! Bran is howling at his f eet: g loomy Luii.th i s s ad ; for h e had oft e n l e d them to the chase ; t o th e b o unding ro e of the d esert ! Whe n O scar s 1w his fri e nds around, his h ea ving br e a s t a r ose . " The groans," h e said," of ag e d c h ie fs; th e howlin g o f my d ogs ; th e s udd e n bur s ts of th e so ng of g ri ef, hav e m e lt e d Os car' s soul. My soul, that n e v e r m e l te d b e f o r e . It was lik e th e s t ee l of my sw o rd. O ss ian, carry m e to my hills ! Rais e th e ston es of my r e nown. Pla ce the horn of a d eer: pla ce my sword by my sid e . The torr e nt h e r e aft e r may r a is e the earth: the hun te r m a y find th e ste el, and say, ' This h a s be e n O sca r ' s s w ord, th e prid e o f oth e r y ears !' " " Fallel'lt tho u , son of my fam e ? shall I n e ver see th e e, Osca1 ? Wh e n oth e rs h ear of th eir son s , shall I not hear of thee ? The moss is on thy four gray stones. The mournful wind is th e r e . The b a ttl e shall be fought without th e e. Thou sh a lt not pursue the dark-brown hinds. When the warrior returns from battl e s, and tells of other lands; ' l have seen a tomb,' h e will say, 'by the roaring stream, the clark dwelling of a II I I I i::============ = ==----'

PAGE 416

r TEll!: ORA. 407 chief. He fell by car-borne Oscar, the first of mortal men.' I, perhaps, shall hear his voice. A beam of joy wiL ri10e in my soul." Night would have descended in sorrow, and morn. ing returned in the shadow of grief. Our chiefs would have stood, like cold-dropping rocks on Moi-lena, and have forgot the war ; did not the king disperse his grief, and raise his mighty voice. The chiefs, as new-wakened from dreams, lift up their heads around. "How long on Moi-lena shall we weep 1 How long pour in Erin our tears 1 The mighty will not return. Oscar shall not rise in his strength. The valiant must fall in their day, and be no more known on their hills. Where are our fathers, 0 warriors ! the chiefs of the times of old 1 They have set, like stars that have shone. We only hear the sound of their praise. But they were renowned in their years : the terror of other times. Thus shall we pass away, in the day of our fall. Then let us be renowned when we may; and leave our fame behind us, like the last beams of the sun, when he hides his red head in the west. The traveller mourns his absence, thinking of the flame of his beams. Ullin, my aged bard ! take thou the ship of the king. Carry Oscar to Selma of harps. Let the daughters of Morven weep. We must fight in Erin, for the race of fallen Cormac. The days of my years begin to fail. I feel the weakness of my a::m. l\fy fathers bend from their clouds, to receive their gray-haired son. But before I go hence, one beam of fame shall rise. My days shall end, as my years be. gar_, in fame. My life shall be one stream of "-ght to bards of other times !" Ullin raised his white sails. The wind of the south came forth. He bounded on the waves towards Selma. I remained in my grief, but my words were not heard. The feast . Is spread on Moi-lena. A hundred heroes .-----. -,-------

PAGE 417

408 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. reared the tomb of Cairbar. No song is raised over the chief. His soul has been dark and bloody. The bards remembered the fall of Cormac! what could they say in Cairbar's praise 1 Night came rolling down. The light of a hundred oaks arose. Fingal sat beneath a tree. Old A.lthau stood in the midst. He told the tale of fallen Cormac. Althan•the son of Conachar, tlte friend of car.borne Cuthullin. He dwelt with Cormac in windy Temora, when Semo's son fell at Lego's stream. The tale of AI than was mournful. The tear was in his eye when . he spoke. " The setting sun was yellow on Dora. Gray even ing began to descend. Temora's woods shook with the blast of the inconstant wind. A cloud gathered in the west. A red star looked from behind its edge. I stood in the wood alone. I saw a ghost on the dark. ening air ! His stride extended from hill to hill. Hi& shield was dim on his side. It was the son of Semo I knew the warrior's face. But he passed away in his blast; and all was dark around! My soul was sad. I went to the hall of shells. A thousand lights arose. The hundred bards had strung the harp. Cormac stood in the midst, like the morning star, when it re joices on the eastern hill, and its young beams are bathed in showers. Bright and silent is its progress aloft, but the cloud that shall hide it is near ! The, sword of Artho was in the hand of the king. He looked with joy on its polished studs; thrice he at tempted to draw it, and thrice he failed; his yellow locks are spread on his shoulders! his cheeks of youth arc red. I mourned over the beam of youth, for he was soon to set ! " ' Althan !' he said with a smile, ' didst thou behold my father 1 Heavy is the sword of the king ; surely ) ,. his arm was strong. 0 that I were like him in battle, L , 1

PAGE 418

'l'EIIIORA. 409 wher. the rage of his wrath arose ! then would I have met, with Cuthullin, the car-borne son of Cantela! But years may come on, 0 Althan! and my arm be strong. Hast thou heard of Semo's son, the ruler of high 're mora'? He might have returned with his fame. He promised to return to-night. My bards wait him with songs. My feast is spread in the hall of kings.' "1 heard Cormac in silence. My tears began to flow. I hid them with my aged locks. The king per ceived my grief. ' Son of Conachar !' he said, ' is the son of Semo low 1 Why bursts the sigh in secret 1 vVhy descends the tear 1 Comes the car-borne Tor lath 1 Comes the sounds of red-haired Cairbar 1 They come ! for I behold thy grief. Mossy Tura's chief is low ! Shall I not rush to battle 1 But I cannot lift the spear ! 0 had mine arm the strength of Cuthullin, soon would Cairbar fly ; the fame of my fathers would be renewed; and the deeds of other times !' "He took his bow. The tears flow down from both his sparkling eyes. Grief saddens round. The bards bend forward, from their hundred harps. The lone blast touched their trembling strings. The sound* is sad and low ! a voice is heard at a distance, as of one in grief. It was Carril of other times, who came tiom dark Slimora. He told of the fall of Cuthullin. He told of his mighty deeJs. The people were scattered round his tomb. Their arms lay on the ground. They had forgot the war, for he their sire, was seen no more! "'But who,' said the soft-voiced Carril, 'who come 1il:e bounding roes 1 Their stature is like young trees in the valley, growing in a shower! Soft and ruddy a1e their cheeks ! Fearless souls look forth from their *" That prophetic sound, mentioned in other pot>ms, which the harps of the bards emitted before the death of a pt:rson wortln' &md renowned. 35 •

PAGE 419

• 410 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. eyes 1 Who but the sons of Usnoth, chief of streamy Etha ? The people rise on every side, like the str e ngth of an half-extinguished fire, when the winds come, sud den, from the desert, on their rustling wings. Sudd e n glows the dark brow of the hill ; the passing mariner lags, on his winds. The sound of Caithbat's shield was heard. The warriors saw Cuthullin in Nathos. So rolled his sparkling eyes ! his steps were such on the heath. Battles are fought at Lego. The sword of Nathos prevails. Soon shalt thou behold him in t!Jy halls, king of Temora of groves !' "'Soon may I behold the chief!' replied thf" blue. eyed king. 'But my soul is sad for Cuthullin , His voice was pleasant in mine ear. Often have we moved, on Dora, to the chase of the dark-brown hinds. His bow was unerring on the hills. He spoke of mighty m en. He told of the deeds of my fathers. I felt my rising joy. But sit thou at thy feast, 0 Carril! I have oft e n heard thy voice. Sing in praise of Cuthullin. Sing of N athos of Etha !' " Day rose on Temora, with all the beams of the east. Crathin came to the hall, the son of old Gell
PAGE 420

(i......-===================;-t TEMORA. 411 Temora ? chief of the gloomy brow. Let not thy sword rise against Cormac ! Whither dost thou turn thy speed ?' He passed on in darkness. He seized the hand of the king. Cormac foresaw his death; the rage of his eyes arose. 'Retire, thou chief of Atha! Nathos comes with wm. Thou art bold in Cormac's hall, for his arm is weak.' The sword entered the side of the king. He fell in the halls of his father. His fair hair is in the dust. His blood is smoking round. " ' Art thou fallen in thy halls?' sai,8 Carril, '0 son of noble Artho! The shield of Cuthullin was not near. Nor the spear of thy father. Mournful are the moun. tains of Erin, for the chief of the people is low ! Blest be thy soul, 0 Cormac ! Thou art darkened in thy youth!'" "His words came to the ears of Cairbar. He closed us in the midst of darkness. He feared to stretch his sword to the bards, though his soul was dark. Long we pined alone! At length the noble Cathmor came. He heard our voice from thf:_l cave. He turned the eye of his wrath on Cairbar. "'Brother of Cathmor,' he said, 'how long wilt thou pain my soul ? Thy heart is a rock. Thy thoughts are dark and bloody ! But thou art the brother of Cath mor; and Cathmor shall shine in thy war. But my soul is not like thine ; thou feeble hand in fight! The light of my bosom is stained with thy deeds. Bart.!s will not sing of my renown; they may say, "Cathmor was brave, but he fought for gloomy Cairbar." They wiil pass over my tomb in si13 nce. My fame shall not be heard. Cairbar! loose the bards. They are the sons of future times. Their voice shall be heard in other years ; after the kings of Temora have failea. we came forth at the words of the chief. \Ve saw him in his strength. He was like thy youth, 0 Fingal! wh e n thou first didst lift the spear. His face was like

PAGE 421

412 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. th e plain of the sun, when it is bright. No darkneS\t travelled over his brow. But he came with his thou sands to aid the red-haired Cailbar. Now he comes to revenge his death, 0 king of woody Morven!' "Le t Cathmor come," replied the king, "I love a foe so great. His soul is bright. His arm is strong. His battles are full of fame. But the little soul is a vapor that hovers round the marshy lak e. It never ri ses on the green hill, l est the winds should meet it there. Its dwe lling is in the cave: it sends forth the dart of death! Our young heroes, 0 warriors! are like the renown of our fathers. They fight in youth. They fall. Their names are in song. Fingal is amid his darkening years. He must not fall, as an aged oak, across a secret stream. Near it are the steps of the hunter, as it lies beneath the wind. 'How has that tree fallen 1' he says, and, whistling, strides along. Raise the song of joy, y e bards of Morven! Let our souls forget the past. The red stars look on us from the clo\]ds, and sile ntly descend. Soon shaJI the gray b e am of the morning rise, and show us the foes of Cor mac. Fillan ! my son, take thou the spear of the king. Go to Mora's dark-brown side. Let thine eyes travel over the heath. Observe the foes of Fingal; observe the course of generous Cathmor. I hear a distant sound, like falling rocks in the desert. But strike thou thy shie ld, at times, that they may not come through night, and the fame of Morven cease. I begin to be alone, my son. I dread the fall of my renown!" The voice of bards arose. The king leaned on the shield of Trenmor. Sleep descended on his eyes. His future battles arose in his dreams. The host are sleeping around. Dark-haired Fillan observes the foe. His steps are on the distant We hear, at times, his clanging shield.

PAGE 422

.; BOOK ll. ARGUMENT. 'l'tnl' book opens, we may suppose, abont midnil\ht, with a soliloquy ot Ossian, who hari retired fiom the rest of tne .anny, to mourn for his son Oscar Upon hearing the noise of Cathmor's army approaching, he went to find out his brother FiJian, who kept the watch on the hill of Mora, in the front of Fingal's army. In the conversation of the brothers, the episode of Conar, the son of Trenmor, who was the first king of Ireland, is introduced, which lays open the origin of the contests between the Cael and the Fir bolg, the two natwns who first possessed themselves of that island. Ossmn kindles a fire on Mora: upon which Cathmor desisted from the design he had formed of surprising the army of the Cale donians. He calls a council of his chiefs: reprimands Foldath for advising a night attack! as the Irish were so much superior in number to the enemy. T 1e bard Fonar introduces the story of Crothar, the ancestor of the king, which throws further light on
PAGE 423

414 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. lost a hero, chiefs of resounding Morven ! Who could equal his strength, when battle rolled against his siJe, like the darkness of crowded waters 1 Why this cloud on Ossian's soul 1 It ought to burn in danger. Erin is near with her host. The king of Selma is alone. A lone thou shalt not be, my father, while I can lift tho spear! I rose in all my arms. I rose and listened to the wind. The shield of Fillan is not heard. I tremble for the son of Fingal. " Why should the foe come by night? Why should the dark-haired warrior fall?" Distant, sullen murmurs rise; like the noise of the lake of Lego, when its waters shrink, in the days of frost, and all its bursting ice resounds. The people of Lara look to heaven, and foresee the storm! My steps are forward on the heath. The spear of Oscar is in my hand ? Red stars looked from high. I gleamed along the night. I saw FiJian silent before me, bending forward from Mora's rock. He heard the shout of the foe. The joy of his soul arose. He heard my sounding tread, and turned his lifted spear. "Comest thou, son of night, in peace ? Or dost thou meet my wrath ? The foes of Fingal are mine. Speak, or fear my steel. I stand not, in vain, the shield of Morven's race." "Neve r mayest thou stand in vain, son of blue-eyed Clatho! Fingal begins to be alone. Darkness gathers on the last of his days. Yet he has two sons who ought to shine in war. Who ought to be two beams of light, near the steps of his departure." "Son Fingal," replied the youth, "it is not long since I raised the spear. Few are the marks of my sword in war. But Fillan's soul is fire! The chiefs of Bolga* cro,vd around the shield of generous Cath• The southern parts of Ireland went, for some time, under the

PAGE 424

,--==-..:.=,-==========--=====;. , TEMORA. 415 mor. Their gathering is on the heath. Shall my steps approach their host 1 I yielded to Oscar alone in the strife of the race of Con a!" " Fill an, thou shalt not approach their host ; nor fall before thy fame is known. My name is heard in song; when needful, I advance. From the skirts of night I shall view them over all their gleaming tribes. Why, Fillan, dido>t thou speak of Oscar 1 Why awake my sigh! I must forget the warrior, till the storm is rolled away. Sadness ought not to dwell in danger, nor thn tear in the eye of war. Our fathers forgot their fallen sons, till the noise of arms was past. Then sorrow returned to the tomb, and the song of bards arose. The memory of those who fell quickly followed the departure of war: when the tumult of battle is past, the soul in silence melts away for the dead. "Conar was the brother of Trathal, first of mortal men. His battles were on every coast. A thousand streams rolled down the blood of his foes. His fame filled green Erin, like a pleasant gale. The nations gathered in Ullin, and they blessed the king; the king of the race of their fathers, from the land of Selma. " The chiefs of the south were gathered, in the dark ness of their pride. In the horrid cave of Morna they mixed their secret words. Thither often, they said, the spirits of their fathers came; showing their pale forms from the chinky rocks; reminding them of the honor of Bolga. ' Why should Conar reign,' they said, ' the son of resounding Morven ?' " They came forth, like the streams of the desert, with the roar of their hundred tribes. Cona was a rock before them: broken, they rolled on every side. But name of Bolga, rrcm the Fir-bolg or Belgre of Britain, who settled a colony there "Bolg" s1gmfies a "quiver," from which proceeds "Fir-holg," i.e.," bowmen:" so called from their using bows more ha1• any Qfthe neighboring nations. I

PAGE 425

., n fl 416 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. d often th returned, and the sons of Selma fell. The / king stood, among the tombs of his warriors. He darkly bent his mournful face. His soul was rolled into itself: and he had marked the place where he was to fall : when Trathal came, in his strength, his brother from cloudy Morven. Nor did he come alone. Colgar was at his side : Col gar the son of the king and of white. bosomed Solin-corma. "As Trenmor, clothed with meteors, descends from the halls of thunder, pouring the dark storm before him over the troubled sea: so Colgar descended to battle, and wasted the echoing fie ld. His father rejoiced over the hero: but an arrow came! His tomb was raised without a tear. The king was to revenge his son. He lightened forward in battle, till Bolga yielded at her streams! " When peace returned to the land: when his blue waves bore the king to Morven: then he remembered his son, and poured the silent tear. Thrice did the bards, at the cave of Furmono, call the soul of Colgar. They called him to the hills of his land. He heard them in his mist. Trathal placed his sword in the cave, that the spirit of his son might rejoice." "Colgar, son of Trathal," said FiJian, "thou wert renowned in youth! but the king hath not marked my sword, bright streaming on the field. I go forth with the crowd. I return without my fame. But the foe approaches, Ossian ! I hear their murmur on the heath. The sound of their steps is like thunder, in the bosom of the ground, when the rocking hills shake their groves, v.nd not a blast pours from the darkened sky!" Ossian turned sudden on his spear. He raised the flame of an oak on high. I spread it large on Mora's wind. Cathmor stopt in his course. Gleaming he stood, like a rock, on whose sides are the wandering blasts ; which seize its echoing streams, and clothe 1-'================='===::::d)

PAGE 426

I I TEMORA. 417 them with ice. So stood the friend of strangers! The winds lift his heavy locks. Thou art the tallest of the race of Erin, king of streamy Atha! "First of bards." said Cathmor, "Fonar, call the chief-> of Erin. Call red-haired Cmmar : dark-browea the sidelong-looking gloom of 1\laronnan. Let the pride of Foldath appear. The red-rolling eye of Turlotho. Nor let Hidalla be forgot; his voice, in danger, is the sound of a shower, when it falls in the blasted vale, near Atha's falling stream. Pleasant is its sound on the plain, whilst broken thunder travels over the sky!" They came in their clanging arms. They bent for ward to his voice, as if a spirit of their fathers spoke from a cloud of night. Dreadful shone they to the light; like the fall of the stream of Bruno,* when the meteor lights it, before the nightly stranger. Shuddering he stops in his journey, and looks up for the beam of the morn! "Why delights Foldath," said the king, "to pour the blood of foe s by night 1 Fails his arm in battle, in the beams of day 1 Few are the foes before us ; why should we clothe us in shades 1 The valiant delight to shine in the battles of their land! Thy counsel was in vain, chief of Morna! The eyes of Morven do not sleep. They are watchful as eagles on iheir mossy rocks. L e t each collect beneath his cloud the strength of his roaring tribe. To-morrow I move, in light, to meet the foes of Bolga! Mighty was he that is low, tho • race of Borbar-duthul !" "Not unmarked," said Foldath, "were my steps be. f01e thy race. In light, I met the foes of Cairbar. The warrior praised my deeds. But his stone was * Bruno was a of worship, (Fing. b. 6.) in Craca, which ill to be one of the isles of Shetland.

PAGE 427

418 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. raised without a tear! No bard sung over Erin's Icing. Sl.all his foes rejoice along their mossy hills 1 they must not rejoice! l -Ie was the friend of Foldath! Our words were mixed, in secret, in Moma'iil silent cave ; whilst thou, a boy in the field, pursuedst the beard. With Morna's sons I shall rush abroad, and find the foe on his dusky hills. Fingal shall lie without his song, the gray-haired king of Selma." "Dost thou think, thou feeble man," replied Cath mor, half enraged: "Dost thou think Fingal can fall, without his fame, in Erin 1 Could the bards be silent at the tomb of Selma's king; the song would burst in secret ! the spirit of the king would rejoice ! It is when thou shalt fall, that the bard shall forget the song. Thou art dark, chief of Morna, though thine arm is a tempest in war. Do I forget the king of Erin, in his narrow house 1 My soul is not lost to Cairbar, the brother of my love ! I marked the bright beams of joy which travelled over his cloudy mind, when I returned, with f a me, to Atha of the streams." Tall they removed, beneath the words of the king. Each to his own dark tribe; where, humming, they roll e d on the heath, faint-glittering to the stars: like waves in a rocky bay, before the nightly wind. Be. neath an oak lay the chief of Atha. His shield, a dusky round, hung high. Near him, against a rock, leaned the fair stranger* of Inis-huna : that beam of light, with wandering locks, from Lumon of the roes. At a distance rose the voice of Fonar, with the deeds of the days of old. The song fails, at times, in Lubar's growing roar. "Crothar," began the bard, •' first dwelt at Atha's mossy stream! A thousand oaks, from the mountains, formed his echoing hall. The gathering of the people • By" the stranger of lnis-h ma," IS meant Bull-malla.-B iv. j I I

PAGE 428

TEl\lORA. 419 was there, around the feast of the blue-eyed king. But who, among his chiefs, was like the stately Crothar? Warriors kindled in his presence. The young sigh of the virgins rose. In Alnecma* was the warrior hon ored : the first of the race of Bolga. "lie pursued the chase in Ullin: on the moss-cover ed top of Drumardo. From the wood looked the daughter of Cathmin, the blue-rolling eye of Con-lama. Her sigh rose in secret. She bent her head, amidst hm wandering locks. The moon looked in, at night, and saw the white tossing of her arms; for she thought of the mighty Crothar in the season of dreams. " Three days feasted Crothar with Cathmin. On 1he fourth they awaked the hinds. Con-lama moved to the with all her lovely steps. She met Cro thar in the narrow path. The bow fell at once from her hand. She turned her face away, and half hid it with her locks. The love of Crothar rose. He brought the white-bosomed maid to Atha. Bards raised the song in her presence. Joy dwelt round the daughter of Cathmin. " The pride of Turloch rose, a youth who loved the white-handed Con-lama. He came, with battle, to Alnecma; to Atha of the roes. Cormul went forth to the strife, the brother of car-borne Crothar. He went forth, but he fell. The sigh of his people rose. Silent and tall across the stream, came the darkening strength of Crothar: he rolled the foe from Alnecma. He re tumed midst the joy of Con-lama. " Battle on battle comes. Blood is poured on blood. The tombs of the valiant rise. Erin's clouds arc hung round with ghosts. The chiefs of the South gath01ed round the echoing shield of Crothar. He came, w1th death to the paths of the foe. The virgins wept, by ,. Alnecma, or Alnecmacht, was the ancient name of Connaught tJUi n is still the Irish name of the province of Ulster

PAGE 429

420 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. the streams of Ullin. They looked the mist of the hill : no hunter descended from its folds. Silence in the land. Blasts sighed lonely on grassy tombs. " Descending like the eagle of heaven, with all his rustling winds, when he forsakes the blast with joy, the son of Trenmor came; Conar, arm of death, from Morven of the groves. He poured his might along green Erin. Death dimly strode behind his swor 1. The sons of Bolga fled from his course, as from a stream, that, bursting from the stormy desert, rolls the fie lds together, with all their echoing woods. Crothar met him in battle: but Alnecma's warriors fled. The king of Atha slowly retir ed, in the grief of his soul. He afterward shone in the south ; but dim as the sun of autumn, wh e n he visits, in his robes of mist, Lara of dark streams. The withered grass is covered with d ew; the field, though bright, is sad." "Why wakes the bard before me," said Cathmor , "the memory of those who fled? Has some ghost, from his dusky cloud, bent forward to thine ear; tc fright e n Cathmor from the field, with the tales of old ? Dw e llers of the skirts of night, your voice is but a blast to me f which takes the gray thistle's head, and strews its beard on streams. Within my bosom is a voice. Others hear it not. His soul forbids the king of Erin to shrink back from war." Abashed, the bard sinks back on night; retired, he b e nds above a stream. His thoughts are on the days of Atha, when Cathmor heard his song with joy. His t e ars came rolling down. The winds are in his beard. Erin sleeps around. No sleep comes down on Cath mor's eyes. Dark, in his soul, he saw the spirit of low-.aid Cairbar. He saw him, without his song, roll ed in a blast of night. He rose. His steps wero round. the host. He struck, at times, his echoing =-======:.--

PAGE 430

'fEMORA. 421 shield. The sound rEached Ossian's ear on Mora's mossy brow. "Fillan," I said, "the foes advance. I hear the shield ot war. Stand thou in the narrow path. Os sian shall mark their course. If over my fill! the host should pour ; then be thy buckler heard. A wake the king on his heath, lest his fame should fly away." I strode in all my rattling arms; wide bounding over a stream that darkly winded in the field, before the king of Atha. Green Atha's king with lifted spear, came forward on my course. Now would we have mixed in horrid fray, like two contending ghosts, that bending forward from two clouds, send forth the roaring winds; did not Ossian behold, on high, the helmet of Erin's kings. The eagle's wing spread above it, rustling in the breeze. A red star looked through the plumes. I stopt the lifted spear. " The helmet of kings is before me ! Who art thou, son of night 1 Shall Ossian's spear be renowned, when thou art lowly laid 1" At once he dropt the gleaming lance. Growing before me seemed the form. He stretched his hand in night. He spoke the words of kings. " Friend of the spirits of heroes, do I meet thee thus in shades 1 I have wished for thy stately steps in Atha, in the days of joy. Why should my spear now arise 1 The sun must behold us, Ossian, when we bend, gleam. ing in the strife. Future warriors shall mark the place, and shuddering think of other years. They shall mark it, lilw the haunt of ghosts, pleasant and dreadful to the soul." " Shall it then be forgot/' I said, "where we meet in peace 1 Is the remembrance of battles always pleMant to the soul? Da not we Qehold, with joy, the place where our fathers feasted 1 But our eyes are . full of tears, on the fields of their war. This stone shat rise with all its moss and speak to other years. 36 -----------------

PAGE 431

I j.! 422 THE POEI\lS OF OSSIAN. ' Here Cathmor and Ossian met ; the warriors met in pea ce !' When thou, 0 stone, shalt fail: when Lubar's &tream shall roll away; then shall the trav eller come and bend here, perhaps, in rest. vV hen the darkened moon is roll e d over his head, our shadowy forms may com e , and, mixing with his dreams, remind him of place. But why turnest thou so dark away, son of Borba r-dutbul ?" " Not forgot, son of Fingal, shall we ascend these winds. Our de eds are streams of light, before the eyes of bards. But darkness is rolled on Atha: the king is low without his song; still there was a b ea m towards Cathmor, from his stormy soul ; like th e moon in a cloud, amidst the dark-red course of thunder." "Son of Erin," I r e pli e d, "my wrath dwells not in his earth. My hatreci flies on eagle wings, from th e foe that is low. H e shall hear the song of bards. Cairbar shall r e joice on his winds." Cathmor 's swelling soul arose. He took the dagg e r from his side, and placed it gleaming in my hand. H e plac e d it in my hand, with sighs, and sile11t strode away. Mine e yes followed his departure. He dimly glea m ed, like th e form of a ghost, which meets a trav eller by night, on the dark-skirted heath. His words are dark, like songs of old : with morning strides the unfini s hed shade away! vVho comes from Luba's vale? from the skirts of the m orn ing mist? The drops of heaven are on his head. His st e ps are in the paths of the sad. It is Carril of other times. H e . comes from Tura's silent cav e . I b e h old it dark in the rock, through the thin folds of mist . There, perhaps, Cuthullin sits, on the blast which b e nds its trees. Pl e asant is the song or' the morning from the bard of Erin. "The waves crowd away," said Carril. "They cr0wd away for fear. They hear the sou:r:d of thy

PAGE 432

TE!IIORA. 423 c lming forth, 0 sun! Terrible is thy beauty, son of heaven, when death is descending on thy locks: when thou rollest thy vapors before thee, over the blasted host. But pleasant is thy beam to the hunter, sitting by the rock in a storm, when thou showest thyself from !bE' parted cloud, and brightcnest his d e wy locks he looks down on the streamy vale, and beholds the de. scent of roes ! How long shalt thou rise on war, and r oll, a bloody shield, through heaven 1 I see the death of heroes, dark wandering over thy face !" " Why wander the words of Carril ?" I said. "Does the son of heaven mourn? He is unstained in his course, ever rejoicing in his fire. Roll on, thou care. l ess light. Thou too, perhaps, must full. Thy dark ening hour may seize thee, struggling as thou rollest through thy sky. But pleasant is the voice of the bard: pleasant to Ossian's soul! It is like the shower of the morning, when it comes through the rqstling vale, on which the sun looks through mist, just rising from his rock s. But this is no 0 bard! to sit down, at the strife of song. Fingal is in arms on the vale. Thou sccst the l1a ming shield of the king. His face darkens between his locks. He beholds the wide rolling of Erin. Do es not Carril behold that tomb, beside the roaring stream? Three stones lift their gray heads, beneath a b e nding oak. A king is lowly lairl! Give thou his soul to the wind. He is the brother of Cuth. mor ! Open his airy hall ! Let thy song be a strc.aw u{ joy to Cairbar's darkened ghost!"

PAGE 433

BOOK ni. ARGUl\tENT. Mornmg coming on, Fingal, after a speech to ht3 people, devolvet th e command on Gaul, the son of Morni; it being the custom of the that th e king s hould not engage, till thP nece ss ity of aflairs rd the field o f uattll'. The bards s ing the war-song . The general conflict is deEcril>ed. Gaul, the son ofMorni, distingui s h es him self; kills Tnr-l a thon, chief of Moruth, and other ch1efs of le sse r name. O n the other hand, Foldath, who commanded the Irish army (for Cathmor, after th e example of Fingal, kept himself from bat tl e, ) fig ht s gallantly; kills Connal, chief of Dun-lora, and ad vances to e n gage Gau l him self. Gaul, in the mean time, b e ing wounded in the hand, by a random arrow, is covered by Fillan th e son of Fingal, who perform s prodigies of valor. Night comes on. The horn of Fin ga l recalls his army. The bards meet them1 with a congratul a tory song, in which the praises of Gaul ana FiJian are p a rticul arly celebrated. The chiefs sit down at a f east ; Fingal mi,;,;es Conn a!. The episode of Connal and Duth caron is introduced; which throw s further light on the ancient h is tory of Ir e l and. Car ril is despatched to raise the tomb of Con ntll. The action of llus uook takes up the second day lrom the op e ning of the "WHo is that at blue-streaming Lubar 1 Who, by the bending hill of roes 1 Tall he leans on an oak t orn from high, by nightly winds. Who but Comhal's son, brightening in the last of his fields ? His gray h air is on the breeze. He half unsh eaths the sword of .Luno. His eyes are turned to l\loi-lena, to the dark moving of foes. Dost thou hear the voice of the king ' I :t is like the bursting of a stream in th e desert, when it !Omes , between its echoing rocks, to the blasted field 1f the sun! "Wide-skirted comes down the foe! Sons of voody Selma, arise ! Be ye like the rocks of our land, :n whose brown sides are the rolling of streams. A I. I I _I

PAGE 434

TEJ.\IORA. beam of joy comes on my soul. I see the foe mighty before me. It is when he is feeble, that the sighs of Fingal are heard: lest death should come without rc. nown, and darkness dwell on his tomb. Who sbnll lend the war, against th e bust of Alnecma? It is only when danger grows, that my sword shall shine. Sucn was th e custom, heretofore, of Trenmor the ruler of winds ! and thus descend e d to battle the blue-shielded !" The chiefs bend towards the king. Each darkly seems to claim the war. They t ell, by halves, th eir mighty deeds. The y turn their eyes on Erin. But far u e fore the rest the son of Morni stands. Silent h e stands, for who had not heard of th e battles of Gaul ? Thry rose within his soul. His hand, in secret, seized the swor d. The sword which he brought from Stru mun, when th e of Morni fail e d. On his spear J eans Fillan of S e lma, in the wand e ring of his locks. Thrice h e raises his eyes to Fingal : his voice thric e fails him as he speaks. My broth e r could not boast of battles: at once he strides away. Bent over a dist ant stream he stands: the tear hangs in his eye. He strikes, at times, the thistle's head, with his invert ed spear. Nor is he unseen of Fingal. Sidelong he be holds his son. He beholds him with bursting joy; and turns, amid his crowded soul. In silence turns the king towards Mora of W
PAGE 435

-----, 4 ... 6 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. roars Hi:rh on cloudy Mora, Fingal shall behold the war. Stand, Ossian, near thy father, by the falling stream. Raise the vrnce, 0 bards! Selma, move be. neath the sound. It is my latter field. Clothe it ove1 with light." As the sudden rising of winds ; or distant rolling of troubled seas, when some dark ghost in wrath heaves the billows over an isle: an isle the seat of mist on the deep, for many dark-brown years! So terrible is the sound of the host, wide moving over the field. Gaul is tall before them. The streams glitter within his strides. The bards raise the song by his side. He strikes his shield between. On the skirts of the blast the tuneful voices rise. "On Crona," said the bards, "there bursts a stream by night. It swells in its own dark course, till morning. early beam. Then comes it white from the hill, with the rocks and their hundred groves. Far be my steps from Crona. Death is tumbling there. Be ye a stream from Mora, sons of cloudy Morven ! " Who rises, from his car, on Clutha 1 The hills are troubled before the king ! The dark woods echo round, and lighten at his steel. See him amidst the foe, like Colgach's sportful ghost: when he scatters the clouds and rides the eddying winds! It is Morni of bounding steeds ! Be like thy father, 0 Gaul ! " Selma is opened wide. Bards take the trembling harps. Ten youths bear the oak of the feast. A dis tant sunbeam marks the hill. The dusky waves of the blast fly over the fields of grass. Why art thou silent, 0 Selma 1 The king returns with all his fame. Did not the battle roar 1 yet peaceful is his brow ! It roared, and Fingal overcame. Be like thy father, 0 Fillan !" They move beneath the song. High wave their arms, as rushy fields beneath autumnal winds. On j tl I i! ' i I I 1 I I I I I ' I t -1 -'==================----

PAGE 436

r.c=.:...-. ! II ) I i I i I I' I ' I I J TE.l\IORA. 427 Mora st ands the king in arms. Mist flies round his buckH:r abroad ; as aloft it hung on a bough, on Cor mul's mossy rock. In silence 1 stood by Fingal, and turned my eye s on Cromla's wood : lest I should b e hold the host, and rush amid my swelling soul. My foot is forward on the heath. I glittered, tall in steel : like the falling stream of Tromo, which nightly winds bind over with ice. The boy sees it on high gleaming to the e arly beam : towards it he turns his ear, and wonders why it is so silent. Nor b ent over a stream is Cathmor, like a youth in a peaceful field. Wide he drew forward the war, a dark and troubled wave. But when he beheld Fingal on Mora, his generous pride arose. " Shall the chief of Atha fight, and no king in the field ? Foldath, lead my people forth, thou art a beam of fire." Forth issues Foldath of Morna, like a cloud, the robe of ghosts. He drew his sword, a flame from his side. He bade the battle move. The tribes, like ridgy waves, dark pour their strength around. Haughty is his stride before th em. His red eye rolls in wrath. He calls Cormul, chief of Dun-ratho ; and his words were heard. "Cormul, thou beholdest that path. It winds green behind the foe. Place thy people there ; lest Selma should escape from my sword. Bards of green-valleyed Erin, let no voice of yours arise. The sons of Morven mnst fall without song. They are the foes of Cairbar . Hereafter shall the traveller meet their dark, thick mist, on Lena, where it wanders with their ghosts, beside the reedy lake. Never shall they rise, without song, to the dwelling of winds." Cortnul d a rkened as he went. Behind him rushed his tribe. They sunk beyond the rock. Gaul spoke to FiJian of Selma; as his eye pm sued the course of t11e dark-eyed chief of Dun-ratho. " Thou beholdest

PAGE 437

428 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. the steps ol' Cormul ! Let thine arm be strong ! When he is low, son of Fingal, remember Gaul in war. Hr:re I fall forward into bav.le, amid the ridge of shields!" The sign of' death ascends : the dreadf11l sound of Morni's shield. Gaul pours his voice between. Fingal rises on Mora. He saw them fmm wing to wing, bending at ()nce in strife. Gleaming on his own tlurk hill, Cathmo r, of streamy Atha. The kings were like two spirits of heaven, standing each on his gloomy cloud : whrn they pour abroad the winds, and lit't the roaring seas. The blue tumbling of wav es is b e fore them, mark e d with the paths of whules. They them selves are calm and bright. The gale lifts slowly their locks of mist. What beam of light hangs high in air? What beam but l\forni's dreadful sword ' ? Death is strewed on thy paths, 0 Gaul ! Thou fuldest them tog e ther in thy rage . Like a young oak falls Tur-lathon, with his br a nches round him. His high: bosomed spouse stretches her white arms, in dr eams, to the returning chi ef, as she sleeps by gurgling Moruth, in her disordered locks. It is his ghost, Oichoma. The chief is lowly laid. Hearken not to the winds forTur-lathon's echoing shield. It is pie rced, by his streams. Its sound is pass e d away. Not peac eful is the hand of Foldath. He winds his course in blood. Connal met him in fight. They mixed th eir clanging steel. why should mine eyes l!ldJOIJ them ? Connal, thy locks are gray ! Thou w ert the fri end of strangers, at the moss-covered rock of Dun-lora. When the skies were roll e d together: the n thy feast was spread. The stranger heard the winds without; and rejoiced at thy buming oak. \Vhy, son of Duth-caron, art thou laid in blood? the blast e d tree b e nds above th(:e. Thy shield lies broken near. Thy blood mixes with the stream, thou breaker of the shields! --1

PAGE 438

TEMORA. 429 Ossian took the spear, in his wrath. But Gaul rush. ed forward on Foldath. The feeble pass by his side: his rage is turned on Morna's chief. Now they had rai se d their deathful spears: unseen an arrow came. It pierced the hand of Gaul. His steel fell sounding to earth. Young Fillan came, with Cormul's shield! He stretched it large before the chief. Foldath sen t his shouts abroa<;l, and kmdled all the field : as a blast that lift s the wide-winged flame over Lumon's echoing groves. " Son of blue-eyed Clatho," said Gaul, "0 Fillan! thou art a beam from heaven; that, coming on the • . roubl e d deep, binds up the tempest's wing. Cormul is fallen before thee. Early art thou in the fame of thy fathers. Rush not too far, my hero. I cannot lift the spear to aid. I stand harmless in battle : but my voic e shall be poured abroad. The sons of Selma shall hear, and remember my former deeds." His terrible voice rose on the wind. The host bends forward in fight. Often had they heard him at Stru mon, when he called them to the chase of the hinds. H e stands tall amid the war, as an oak in the skirts of a storm, which now is 'clothed on high, in mist : then s hows its broad waving head. The musing hunter lifts his eye, from his own rushy field ! My soul pursues thee, 0 Fillan! through the path of thy fame. Thou rollest the foe before thee. Now Foidath, perhaps, may fly: but night comes down with it s clouds. Cathmor's horn is heard on high. The sons of Selma hear the voice of Fingal, from Mora's gathered mist. The bards pour th e ir s0ng, like dew, on the returning war. '' \Vho comes from Strumon," they said, "amid her wandering locks 1 She is mournful in her steps, and lift s h e r blue eyes towards Erin. Why art thou sad, Evir-choma 1 Who is like thy chief in renown 1 He !.=-----=========----

PAGE 439

4!30 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. descended dreadful to battle ; he returns, like a light ft om u cloud. He raised the sword in w ruth : they shrunk before blue-shielded Gaul! ".Joy, like the rustling gale, comes on the soul of thP. king. He remembers the battles of old ; the where in his fathers fought. The days of old returr. on Fingal's mind, us he beholds the renown of his son. As the sun rejoices, from his cloud, over the tree his beams have raised, as it shades its lonely head on the heath ; so joyful is the king over Fillan ! "As the rolling of thunder on hills, when Lara's fields are still and dark, such are the steps of Selma, pleasant and dreadful to the ear. They return with their sound, like eagles to their dark-browed rock, after the prey is torn on the field, the dun sons of the bounding hind. Your fathers rejoice from their clouds, sons of streamy Selma!" Such was the nightly voice of bards, on Mora of the hinds. A flame rose, from a hundred onks, which winds had torn from Cormul's steep. The feast is spr e ad in the midst ; around sat the gleaming chiefs. Fingal is there in his strength. The eagle wing of his hclmnt sounds. The rustling bbsts of the west unequal rush through night. Long looks the king in silence round ; at length his words are heard. "J\Iy soul feels a want in our joy. I behold a breach among my friends. The head of one tree is low. The squally wind pours in on Selma. Where is the chief of Dun-lora? Ought Connal to be forgot at the feast 1 When did he forget the stranger, in the midst of echoing hall? Ye are silent in my presence! Canna! is then no more! Joy meet thee, 0 warrior! like a stream of light. Swift be thy course to thy fathers, along the roaring winds. Ossian, thy soul is fire ; kindle the memory of the king. Awake the battles of Connal, when first he shone in war. The locks of

PAGE 440

TEMORA. 431 Connal were gray. His days of youth were mixed with min e . In one day Duth-caron first strung our bows against the roes of Dun-lora." " Many," I said, " are our paths to battle in green vall eyed Erin. Often did our sails arise, over the bl11e tumLiing wav e s ; when we came in other days, .o nid the race of Cona. The strife roared once in A ln e cma, at the foam-covered streams of Duth-ula. 'With Cormac descended to battle Duth-caron, from cloudy S e lma. Nor descended Duth-caron alone; his son was by his side, the long-haired youth of Connal, lifting the fi1st of his spears. Thou didst command them, 0 Fingal ! to aid the king of Erin. " Like the bursting strength of ocean, the sons of Bolga rushed t.o war. Colc-ulla was b e for c . th c m, the chief of blue stream Atha. The battle was mixed on the plain. Cormac shone in his own strife, bright as the forms of his fathers. But, far before the rest, Duth caron hewed down the foe. Nor slept the arm of Connal by his father's side. Colc-ulla prevailed on the plain : like scattered mist fled the people of Cormac. " Then rose the sword of Duth-caron, and the steel of broad-shielded Connal. They shaded their flying friends, like two rocks with their heads of pine. Night came down on Duth-ula; silent strode the chiefs over the field. A mountain-stream roared across the path, nor could Duth-caron bound over its course. ' Why stands my father 1' said Connal, ' I hear the rushing foe.' "' Fly,• Connal,' he said. ' Thy father's strength begins to fail. I come wounded from battle. Here let me r e st in night.' 'But thou shalt not remain alone,' said Connal's bursting sigh. 'My shield is an eagle's wing to cover the king of Dun-lora.' He bends dark above his father. The mighty Duth-caron dies!

PAGE 441

432 THE POEIIIS OF OSSIAN. "Day rose, and night rP,tnmed. No lonely bard appeared, deep musing on the heath : and could Con nal l eave the tomb of his father, till he should receive his fame ? He bent the bow against t)1e roes of Duth ula. He spr e ad the lonely feast. Seven nights he laid his head on the tomb, and saw his father in his dreams. He saw him rolled, dark in a blast, like the vapor of reedy Lego. At length the steps of Colgan came, the bard of high Temora. Duth-caron received his fame, and brightened, as he rose on the wind." " Pleasant to the ear," said Fingal, " is the praise of the kings of men ; when their bows are strong in battle ; when they soften at the sight of the sad. Thus let my name be renowned, when the bards shall lighten my rising soul. Carril, son of Kinfena ! take the bards, and raise a tomb. To-night let Connal dwell within his narrow house. Let not the soul of the valiant wander on the winds. Faint glimmers the moon at Moi-lena, through the broad-headed groves of the hill ! Raise stones, beneath its beam, to all the fallen in war. Though no chief.<> were they, yet their hands were strong in fight. They were my rock in danger : the mountain from which I spread my eagle wings. Thence am I renowned. Carril, forget not the low !" Loud, at once, from the hundred bards, rose the song of the tomb. Carril strode before them; they are the murmur of streams behind his steps. Silence dwells in the vales of Moi-lena, where each, with its own dark ril\, is winding between the hills. I heard the voice of the bards, l essening, as they moved I l e aned forward from my shield, and felt the kindling of my soul. Half formed, the words of my song burst forth upon the wind. So hears a tree, on the vale, the voice of spring around. It pours its green leaves to the sun. It shakes its lonely head. The hum of the mountain I . -::::::-----------

PAGE 442

TEMORA. 433 bee is near it; 1he hunter sees it with joy, from the blasted lteath. Young Fillan at a distance stood. His helmet lay glittering on the ground. His dark hail is loose to the blast. A beam of light is Clatho's son ! He beard the words of the king with joy. He leaned forward on his spear. "My son," said car-borne Fingal, "I saw thy deeds, and my soul was glad." "The fame of our fathers," I said, "bursts from its gathering cloud. Thou art brave, son of Clatho ! but headlong in the strife. So did not Fingal advance, though he nevm feared a foe. Let thy people be a ridge behind. They are thy strength in the field. Then shalt thou be long renown ed, and behold the tombs of the old. The memory of the past returns, my deeds in other years: when first I descended from ocean on the green-valleyed isle." We bend towards the voice of the king. The moon looks abroad from her cloud. The gray -skirted nliat is near : the dwelling of the ghosts ! 97 1 I I J

PAGE 443

BOOK IV. ARGUMENT. The second night continues. Fmgal relates) at the feru,-t, his own first e>.pedition into Ireland, and his with H os.cru.na, the daughter of Cormac, king of that islana. The Irish convene in the presence of Cathmor. The situation of the k'ng described. The story of Sul-malla, the daughter of Conmor, king of lnis-huna, who, in the disguise of a young warrior, hath fol lowed Cathmor to the war. The sullen behavtor of Foldath, who had commanded in the battle of the preceding day, renews the dillerence between him and Malthos i but Cathmor, interposing, ends it. The chiefs feast, and hear tne song of Fonar the bard. Cathmor returns to rest, at a distance from the army. The ghost of his brother Cairbar appears to him in a dream; and obscurely foretells the issue of the war. The soliloquy of the king. He discovers Sul-malla. Morning comes. Her soliloquy closes the book. "BENEATH an oak," said the king, "I sat on Selma's streamy rock, when Connal rose, from the sea, with the broken spear of Duth-caron. Far distant stood tho youth. He ' turned away his eyes. He remembered the steps of his father, on his own green hill. I dark ened in my place. Dusky thoughts flew over my soul. The kings of Erin rose before me. I half unsheathed !he sword. Slowly approached the chiefs. They lifted up their silent eyes. Like a ridge of clouds, they wait for the bursting forth of my voice. My voice was, to them, a wind from heaven, to roll the mL,t away. " I bade my white sails to rise, before the roar of Cona's wind. Three hundred youths looked, from their waves, on Fingal's bossy shield. High on the mast t hung, and marked the dark-blue sea. But when night came do:wn, I struck, at times, the warning boss : I struck, and looked on high, for fiery-haired Ul erin.* • Ul-erin, "the guide to Ireland," a star known by that name ia lhe days of Fingal

PAGE 444

-'"';.==== TEMORA. 435 Nor absent ,\ras the star of heaven. It trave]ed l'ed between the clouds. I pursued the lovely beam, on the faint-gleaming deep. With morning, Erin rose in t. We carne into the bay of Moi-lena, where . its blue waters tumbl ed, in the bosom of echoing woods. H e r e Cormac, in his s ecret halls,avoids the strength of Colc-ulla. Nor he alone, avoids the foe. The blue eye of Ros-cranna is there : Ros-cranna, white-handed m a id, the daughter of the king! " Gray, on his pointless spear, came forth the aged st eps of Cormac. He smil e d from his waving lock-;,; but gri e f was in his soul. He saw us few before him, and his sigh arose. '1 see th e arms of Trenmor,' he said ; ' and these are the st eps of the king ! Fingal ! th o u art a beam of light to Cormac's darkened soul ! E a rly is thy fame, my son: but strong are the foes o f Erin. They are like the roar of streams in the land, son of car-borne Comhal !' ' Yet they may be roll e d away,' I said, in my rising soul. ' We are not of th e race of the feeble, king of blue-shielded hosts ! Why should fear come amongst us, like a ghost of night 1 The soul of the valiant grows when foes in cre ase in the fie ld. Roll no darkness, king of Erin, on the young in war!' " The bursting tears of the king came down. He .;ciz e d my hand in silence. 'Race of the daring l're nmor !' at length he said, 'I roll no cloud before thee . Thou burn e st in the fire of thy fathers. I be. h old thy fam e . It marks thy course in battle, like a s t rr>am of lig bt. But wait the coming of Cairbar; my .so must j oin thy s word. He calls the sons of Erin fr o m all their dis tant stre ams.' " vVe came to the hall of the king, where it rose in th e midst of rocks, on whose dark sides were the marks of s tr e ams of old. Broad oaks bend aroulld with their mo,;s. The thick birch is wa\ing near. Half hid, in , i I i I I I

PAGE 445

.. 430 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. her shadowy grove, Ros cranna raises the song. Her white hands move on the harp. 1 beheld her blue rolling eyes. She was like a spirit of heaven half folded in the skirt of a cloud ! "Three days we feasted at Moi-lena. She rises bright in my troubled soul. Cormac beheld me dark. He gave the white-bosomed maid. She comes with b e nding eye, amid the wandering of her heavy locks. She came! Straight the baule roared. Colc-ulla ap. p eared: I took my spear. My sword rose, with my people against the ridgy foe. Alnecma fled. Cok.ulla fell. Fingal returned with fame. " Renowned is he, 0 Fillan, who fights in the strength of his host. The bard pursues his steps through the land of the foe. But he who fights alone, few are his deeds to other times! He shines to. day, a mighty light. To-morrow he is low. One song con tains his fame. His name is one dark field. He is forgot ; but where his tomb senqs forth the tufted grass." Such are the words of Fingal, on Mora of the roes . Three bards, from the rock of Cormul, pour down the pleasing song. Sleep descer}ds in the sound, on the broad-skirted host. Carril returned with the bards, from the tomb of Dunlora's chief. The voice of morn iug shall not come to the dusky bed of Duth-caron. K o more shalt thou hear the tread of roes around thy narrow house ! As roll the troubled clouds, around a meteor oi night, .vhe n they brighten their sides with its light along the heaving sea; so gathers Erin around the gleun,ing form of Cathmor. He, tall in the midst, careless lifts, at times, his spear: as swells or falls the sound of Fonar's distant harp. Near him leaned, against a rOl:k, Snl-malla of blue eyes, the white-bosomed daughter of Conmor, king of To his aid came olue.

PAGE 446

II TEI\IORa. 4.37 s.1ielded Cathmor, and rolled his foes away. Sul-malla beheld him stately in the hall of feasts. Nor careless rolled the eyes of Cathmor on the long-haired maid ! The third day arose, when Fithil came, from Erin of the stre ams. He told of the lifting up of the shi eltl in Sdma: h e told of the danger of Cairbar. Cathmor raised the sail at Cluba; but the winds were in other lauds. Three days he remain e d on the coast, and .urned his ey e s on Conmor's halls. He r e membered the daughter of straugers, and his sigh arose. Now when 1he winds awaked the wave: from the hill came a youth in arms; to lift th e sword with Cathmor, in his e choing fields. It was the whit e -armed Sul malla. Secret sh e dwe lt beneath her helmet. Her steps w ere in the path of the king : on him h e r blue ey e s roll e d with joy, when he lay by his rolling streams: But Cath mor thought that on Lumon she still pursued the roes. He thought, that fair on a rock, s he stretch e d her whit e hand to the wind ; to f e el its course from Erin, the gree n dwelling of her love. He had promised to return, with his white-bosom e d sails. The maid is n ear the e, 0 Cathmor: leaning on her rock. The tall forms of the chiefs stand around; all but dark-brow e d Foldath. He lean e d against a distant tr ee , roll e d into his haughty soul. His bushy hair whistl e s in th e wind. At times, bursts the hum of a song. H e struck the tree at l e ngth, in wrath; and rush e d b e fore the king! Calm and stately, to the beam of th e oak, arose the form of young Hidalla. His hair falls round his blushing cheek, in the wreaths of wav ing light. Soft was his voice in Clonra, in the vall e y cif his f a th e rs. Soft was his voic e whe n he touched •he harp, in the hall near his roaring streaw ! "King of Erin," said Hidalla, "now is the time to !'east. Bid the voice ofbards arise. Bid them roll the night aw ay. The soul r e tums, from song, more ter :l7 * I I ' I I I I I I

PAGE 447

438 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. rible to w ... r. Darkness settles on Erin. From hill to hill bend the skirted clouds. Far and gray, on the heath, the dreadtul strides of ghosts are seen: the ghosts of those who fell bend forward to their song. Bid, 0 Cathmor! the harps to rise, to brighten thP. dead, on their wandering blasts." "Be all the dead forgot," said Foldath's bursting wrath. " Did not I fail in the field 1 Shall I then hear the song 1 Yet was not my course harmless in war. Blood was a stream around my steps. But the feeble were behind me. The foe has escaped from my sword. In Oonra's vale touch thou the harp. Let Dura an swer to the voice of Hidalla. Let some maid look, from the wood, on thy long yellow locks. Fly fr cru Lubar's echoing plain. This is the field of heroes!" " King of Erin," Malthos said, "it is thine to lead in war. Thou art a fire to our eyes, on t:le dark. brown field. Like a blast thou hast passed over hosts. Thou hast laid them low in blood. But who has heard thy words returning from the field? The wrathful de light in death; their remembrance rests on the wounds of their spear. Strife is folded in their thoughts: their words are ever heard. Thy course, chief of Moma, was like a troubled stream. The dead were rolled on thy path: but others also lift the spear. vVe were not feeble behind thee: but the foe vias strong." Cathmor b e h eld the rising rag e and bending forward of eith e r chi e f: for, half unsheathed, th e y held their _ swords, and roll e d their silent eyes. Now would th e y have mixed in hol'!'id fray, had not the wrath of Cath. mor burned. He drew his sword : it gleamed through night, to the high-flaming oak! "Sons of pride," said the king, "allay your swelling souls. Retire in night. Why should my rage arise 1 Should I contend with both in arms! It is no time for strife! Retire, ye clouds, nt my feast. Awake my no more." L::===== -.,.......,.--

PAGE 448

TElllORA. They sunk from the king on either side ; like two coltmns of morning mist, when the sun rises, between them, on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on t:!itl.e r side: each towards its reedy pool ! Silent sat the chiefs at the feast. They look, at times, Jn Atha's king, where he strode, on his rock, amid his settling soul. The host lie along the field. Sleep de scends on Moi-lena. The voice of Fonar ascends alone, beneath his distant tree. It ascends in the praise of Cathmor, son of Larthon of Lumon. But Cathmor did not hear his praise. He lay at the roar of a stream. Tlw rustling breeze of night flew over his whistling It ,_;:s. His brother came to his dreams, half seen from his low-hung cloud. Joy rose darkly in his face. He had heard the song of Carril.* A blast sustained his dark skirted cloud: which he seized in the bosom of night, as he rose, with his fame, towards his airy hall. Half mix e d with the noise of the stream, he poured his feeble words. "Joy meet the soul of Cathmor. His voice was heard on Moi-lena. The bard gave his song to Cair bar. He travels on the wind. My form is in my father's hall, like the gliding of a terrible light, which darts across the desert, in a stormy night. No bard shall be wanting at thy tomb when thou _art lowly laid. The sons of song love the valiant. Cathmor, thy name is a ple asant gale. The mournful sounds arise ! On Lubar's field there is a voice! Louder still, ye shadowy ghosts! The dead were full of fame! Shrilly swells the f ee ble sound. The rougher blast alone is heard! Ah! soon is Cathmor low!" Rolled into himself he flew, wide on the boso01 of winds. The old oak felt his departure, and shook its whistling head. Cathmor • The fmo:>.ral elegy at the tomb ofCairbar. ,___,____"'------===========::::=====:::::'

PAGE 449

, I •\ I I 140 TIIE POEMS OF OSSIAN. starts from rest. He takes his deathful spear. He lifts his eyes around. He sees but dark-skirted night. "It was the voice of the king," he said. "But now his form is gone. Unmarked is your path in the air: ye children of the night. Often, like a reflected beam, are ye seen in the desert wild : but ye retire in your blasts, before our steps approach. Go, then, ye feeble race ! Knowledge with you there is none! Your joys are weak, and like the dreams of our rest, or the light winged thought, that flies across the soul. Shall Cath. mor soon be low 1 Darkly laid in his narrow house ? Where no morning comes, with her half-opened eye s 1 Away, thou shade! to fight is mine! All further thought away! I rush forth on eagles' wings, to seize my beam of fhme. In the lonely vale of streams, abides the narrl'W soul. Years roll on, seasons return, but he is still unknown. In a blast comes cluudy death, ac.d lays his gray head low. His ghost is folded in the vapor of the fenny field. Its course is never on hills, nor mossy vales of wind. So shall not Cathmor de part. No boy in the field was he, who only marks the. b e d of roes, upon the echoing hills. My issuing forth wa>: with kings. My joy in dreadful plains: where broken hosts are rolled away, like seas before the wind." So spoke the king of Alnecma, brightening in his rising soul. Valor, like a pleasant flame, is gleaming within his breast. Stately is his stride on the heath ! The beam of east is poured around. He saw his gray host on the field, wide spreading their ridges in light. He rejoiced, like a spirit of heaven, whose steps came forth on the seas, when he beholds them peaceful round, and all the winds are laid. But soon he awakes thb waves, and rolls them large to some echoing shore. On the rushy bank of a stream slept the daughter of lnis-huna. The helmet had fallen from her head.

PAGE 451

I I. TEMORA. 441 Hei dreams were in the lands of her fathers. There morning is on the field. Gray streams leap down from the rocks. The breezes, in shadowy waves, fly over the rushy xlelds. There is the sound that prepares fo!" the chase. There the moving of warriors from the hall. But tall above the rest is seen the hero of streamy Atha. He bends his eye of love on Sul-malla, from his stately steps. She turns, with pride, her faee away, and careless b e nds the bow. Such were the dreams of the maid when Cathmor of Atha came. He saw her fair face before him, in the midst of her wandering locks. He knew the maid of Luman. What should Cathmor do 1 His sighs arise. His tears come down. But straight he turns away. "This is no time, king of Atha, to awake thy secret soul. The battle is rolled before thee like a troubled stream." H e struck that warning boss,* wherein dwelt the voice of war. Erin rose around him, like the sound of eagl e wing. Sul-malla started fiom sleep, in her disordered locks. She seized the helmet from earth. She trembled in her place. "vVhy should they know in Erin of the daughter of lnis-huna 1" She remem bered the race of kings. The pride of her soul arose! Her st eps are behind a rock, by the blue-winding stream of a vale; where dwelt the dark-brown hind ere y e t the war arose, thither came the voice of Cath m o r, at times, to Sul-malla's ear. Her soul is darkly sad. She pours her words on wind. "The dreams of Inis-huna departed. They are dis,. In ord.,r to understand this passage, it is necessary to look to th e d es cripllu.: or Cathmor's slueld m the seventh book . This shield h a d se v e n ]'rincipul bosses, the sound or each of which, when struck with a s pear, conveyed a particular order fiom the kinfrr to his tribes. The s ound of one of them, as here, was the signa for the army to a ss emble. ! 1 , _ _ _ ____

PAGE 452

442 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, persed from my soul. I hear not the chase in my land. I am concealed in the skirt of war. I look forth from my cloud. No beam appears to light my path. I b e hold my warriors low; fot the broad. shi elde d king is near. He that overcom e s in danger, Fingal, from Selma of spears! Spirit of d e part e d Con m o r ! are thy st e ps on the bosom of winds 1 thou, at times, to other father of sad Sul-malla 1 dost rome! I have heard thy voice at night; whil e y e t I rose on th e wave to Erin of the streams. The ghost s of fathers, th ey say, call away the souls of the ir rac e , while th ey b e hold th e m lonely in the midst of wo. Call me, my father, away! When Cathmor is low on e arth, then shall Sul-malla be lonely in the midst of wo !" 1 I I I J

PAGE 453

BOOK V. ARGUMENT. Th! roet, after a ahort address to the harp of Cona. ueu::ribes the a1rane:ement of both armies on either side of the ril , . , Lubar Fingal gives the command to Fillan ; but at the same bmr orders Gaul, tlie son of Morni, who had been wounded in th( in the preceding battle, to assist him with his counsel. Til, of the Fir-bolg is commanded by Foldath . The general orsd JS described. The great actions of Fillan . He kills Roth mar and Cuhnin. But when Fillan conquers in one wing, Foldath preoses hard on the other. He wounds Dermid, the son of Duthno, and puts the whole wing to flight. Dermid deliberates with himself, and, at last, resolves to put a stop to the progress of Foldath, by engaging h1m in single combat. When the two chiefs were ap proaching towards one another, Fillan came suddenly to the re lief of Dermid; engaged Foldath, and killed him. The behavior of Malthos towards the f a llen Foldath. Fillan puts the whole army of the Fir-bolg to The book closes with an address to Clatho, the motlier of tnat hero THou dweller between the shields that hang, on high, in Ossian's hall ! Descend from thy place, 0 harp, and let me hear thy voice! Son of Alpin, strike the string. Thou must awake the soul of the bard. The murmur of Lora's stream has rolled the tale away. I stand in the cloud of years. Few are its openings towards the past ; and when the visiod comes, it is but dim ana dark. I hear thee, harp of Selma ! my soul retums. like a breeze, which the sun brings back to the mle, where dwelt the lazy mist. Lubar is bright before me in the windings its vale. On either side, on their hills, arise the tad forms of the kings. Their people are poured around them , bending forward to their words : as if their fatherlio spoke, descending from the winds. But they them selves are like two rocks in the midst; each with its dark head of pines, when they are seen in the desert,

PAGE 454

444 THE POEl\lS OF OSSIAN. above low-sailing mist. High on their face are streams which spread their foam on blasts of wind ! Beneath the voice of Cathmor . pours Erin, like the sound of flame. Wide they come down to Lubat. Before them is the stride of Foldath. But Cathmor retires to his hill, beneath his bending oak. The tum bling of a stream is near the king. He lifts, at times, his gleaming spear. It is a flame to his people, in the midst of war. Near him stands the daughter of Con mor, leaning on a rock. She did not rejoice at the strife. Her soul delighted not in blood. A valley spreads green behind the hill, with its three blue stre ams. The sun is t :tere in silence. The dun moun tain roes come down. On these are turned the eyes of Sul-malla in her thoughtful mood. Fingal beholds Cathmor, on high, the son of Bmbar- • duthul ! he beholds the deep rolling of Erin, on the darkened plain. He strikes that warning boss, which bids the people to obey, when he sends his chief before them, to the field of renown. Wide rise their spears to the sun. Their echoing shields reply around. Fear, like a vapor, winds not among the host : for he, the king, is near, the strength of streamy Selma. Glad ness brightens the hero. We hear his words with joy. " Like the coming forth of winds, is the sound of Selma's sons! They are mountain waters, determined in their course. Hence is Fingal renowned. Hence is his name in other lands. He was not a lonely beam in danger: for your steps were always near ! But never was Fingal a dreadful form, in your presence, darkened into wrath. My voice was no thunder to your ears. Mine eyes sent forth no death. When the hanghty appeared, I beheld them not. They were for got at my feasts. Like mist they melted away. A young beam is before you! Few are his paths to wat! They are few, but he is valiant. Defend mv dark-

PAGE 455

TEMORA. 445 haired son. Bring Fillan back with joy. Hereafter he mfly stand alone. His form is like his fathers. His soul is a flame of their fire. Son of car-home Morni, move behind the youth. Let thy voice reach his ear, from the skirts of war. Not unobserved rolls battle befor e thee, breaker of the shie Ids." The king strode, at once, away to Cormul's lofty rock. Intermitting darts the light from his shield, as slow the king of heroes moves. Sidelong rolls his eye o'er the heath, as forming advance the lines. Graceful fly his half-gray locks round his kingly features, now lightened with dreadful joy. Wholly mighty is the chief! Behind him dark and slow I moved. Straight came forward the strength of Gaul. His shield hung loose on its thong. He spoke, in haste, to Ossian. " Bind, son of Fingal, this shield ! Bind it high to the side of Gaul. The foe may behold it, and think I lift the spear. If I should fall, let my tomb be hid in the field ; for fall I must without fame. Mine arm cannot lift the steel. Let not Evir-choma hear it, to blush be twe e n her locks. Fillan, the mighty behold us ! Let us not forget the strife. Why should they come from their hills, to aid our flying field!" ,He strode onward, with the sound of his shield. My voice pursued him as he went. " Can the son of Morni fall, without his fame in Erin? llut the deeds of the mighty are forgot by themselves. They rush carless over the fields of renown. Their words are never heard !" I rejoiced over the steps of the chief. I strode to the rock of the king, where he sat, in his wandering locks, amid the mountain wind r In two dark ridges bend the host towards eacn other, at Lubar. Here Foldath rises a pillar of darkness; trJCre brightens the youth of Fillan. Each, with his spear in the stream, sent forth the voice of war. Gaul sl ruck the shield of Selma. At once they plunge in 38 -----------------------------'

PAGE 456

446 THE l'OE!IIS OF OSSIAN. battle ! Steel pours its gleam on steel : like the fall or streams s hon e the field, when they mix th e ir foam to gether, from two dark-browed rocks ! B e hold he comes, the son of fame! He lays the people low ! De'lths sit on blasts around him ! Warriors strew thy paths, 0 Fillan ! Rothmar, the shield of warriors, stood between two chinky rocks. Two oaks, which winds had bent from high, spread their branches on either side. He rolls his dark e ning eyes on Fillan, and, silent, shades his fiiends. Fingal saw the approaching fight. The hero's soul arose. But as the stone of Loda* falls, shook, at once, from rocking Drumanarcl, when spirits h eave the earth in their wrath; so fell blue-shi e lded Rothmar. Near are the steps of Culmin; the youth came, bursting into tears. W ruthful he cut the wind, ere yet h e mixed his strokes with Fillan. He had first b e nt the bow with Rothmar, at the rock of his own blue streams. The re they had marked the place of the roe, as the sunbeam flew over the fern. Why, son of Cui ullin ! why, Culmin, dost thou rush on that beam of light ?t It is a fire that consumes. Son of Cul-allit', retire. Your fath e rs were not equal in the glittering strife of the field. The moth e r of Culmin r emai ns in the hall. She looks forth on blue-rolling Strutha. A whirlwind rises, on the stream, dark-eddying round the gho!!t of her son. His dogs:j: are bnw!ing in their place . His shield is bloody in the hall. "Art thou fall e n , my f ai r-haired son, in Erin's dismal war?" * By " the stone of Loda" is meant a place of worship among the Scandinavians. t The poe t metaphorically Fillan a beam of light. .j: Do gs w ere thought to be senstble of the death of thetr master, let it h appen at ever so great a distance. It was also the opinion of the times, that the armsi which warriors left at home, became bloody when they thernse ves ftll in battle. l ,I

PAGE 457

I I I II I I I I TEllfORA. 44"" As a roe, pierced in secret, lies panting, hy her wont ed stream.:;; the hunteJ" surveys her f ee t of wind! He remembers her stately bounding b e fore. So lay the son of Cul-allin b e neath the eye of Fillan. His hair is roll e d in a littl e stream. His blood wanders on his shi e ld. Still his hand bolus the sword, that failed him in th e midst of danger. " Thou art fallen," suid Fil lan, " e re yet thy fame was heard. Thy fath e r sent thee to war. He expects to hear of thy deeds. He is gra.y, perhaps, at his streams. His eyes are towards Moi-lcn a . But thou shalt not return with the spoil of the fallen foe!" Fillan pours the flight of Erin befor e him , over the r eso unding heath. But, man on man, f ell Morven be for e the dark-red rage of Foldath: for, far on the field, h e po ur e d the roar of half his tribes. Dermid stands befor e him in wrath. The sons of S e lma gathered around. But his shi eld is cleft by Fold a th. His peo ple fly over the heath. Then said th e foe in his pride, " They have fled. My fame begins ! Go, Malthos, go bid Cathmor guard the dark rolling of ocean ; that Finga l may not escape from mv sword. He must lie on earth. Beside some f e n shail his tomb be seen. It shall rise without a song. His ghost shall hover, in mist, over the reedy IJO OJ." Malthos heard, with darkening doubt. He ro]led hi.:; sil(mt eyes. H e knew the pride of Foldath. He loo k e d up to Fingal on his hills ; then darkly turning, m doubtful mood, he plunged his sword in war. In Clono's narrow vale, where bend two tre es al ove th e stream, dark, in his grief, stood Duthno's silent s o n. The blood pours ftom the side of Dermic!. His shield is brok e n near. His spear l ea ns against a s•one. WI r, Dermic!, why so sad ? "I hear the roar of battle. My p eop l e ore alone. My steps are slow 011 tl.e heath; il ____ _ _ ----___ :-===============-=-=:::!J

PAGE 458

448 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN, and no shield is mine. Shall he then prevail ? It is then after Dermid is low ! I call thee forth, 0 Foldath, and meet thee yet in fight." He took his spear, with dreadful joy. The son of M&rni came. " Stay, son of Duthno, stay thy speed. Thy steps are marked with blood. No bossy shield is thine. Why shouldst thou fall unarmed?"-" Son of Morni, give thou thy shield. It has often rolled back the war. I shall stop the chief in his course. Son of Morni, b e hold that stone ! It lifts its gray head through grass. There dwells a chief of the race of Dermid. Place me there in night." He slowly rose against the hill. He saw the troubled field : the gleaming ridges of battle, disjointed and broken around. As distant fires, on heath by night, now seem as lost in smoke: now rearing their red streams on the hill, as blow or cease the winds ; so met the intermitting war the eye of broad-shielded Dermid. Through the host are the strides of Foldath, like some dark ship on wintry waves, when she issues from be tween two isles to sport on resounding ocean ! Dermid with rage beholds his course. He strives to rush along. But he fails amid his steps ; and the big tear comes down. He sounds his father's horn. He thrice strikes his bossy shield. He calls thrice the name of Folclath, from his roaring tribes. Foldath, with joy, b e holds the chi ef. He lifts aloft his bloody spear. As a rock is marked with streams, that fell troubl e d down its side in a storm ; so streaked with wandering blood, is the dark chief of Morna! The host on eithct side withdraw from the contending kings. They raise, at once, their gleaming points. Rushing comes Fillan of Selma. Three paces back Foldath with draws, dazzled with that beam of light, which came, as issuing from a cloud, to save the v. ounded chief. Grow ing in his pride he stands. He calls forth all his steel. 1 -

PAGE 459

TEMORA. 449 As meet 1wo broad-winged eagles, in their soundinl! strife, in winds: so rush the two chief.-;, on Moi-lena, into loomy fight. By turns are the steps of the kings"" forward on their rocks above; for now the dnsky war seems to descend on their swords. Cath. mo1 feels the joy of warriors, on his mossy hill : their joy in secret, when dangers rise to match their souls. His eye is not turned on Lubar, but on Selma's dread ful king. He beholds him, on Mora, rising in his arms. Foldath falls on his shield. The spear of Fillan pierced the king. Nor looks the youth on the fallen, but onward rolls the war. The hundred voices of death arise. " Stay, son of Fingal, stay thy speed. Be holdest thou not that gleaming form, a dreaful sign of death 1 A waken not the king of Erin. Return, son of blue-eyed Clatho." Malthos beholds Foldath low. He darkly stands above the chief. Hatred is rolled from his soul. He seems a rock in a desert, on whose dark side are the trickling of waters; when the slow-sailing mist has left it, and all its trees are blasted with winds. He -;poke to the dying hero about the narrow house. " Whether shall thy gray stones rise in Ullin, or in Morna's woody land; where the sun looks, in secret, on the blue streams of Dalrutho 1 There are the steps of thy daughter, blue-eyed Dardu-lena !" " Rememberest thou her," said Foldath, "because no son is mine ; no youth to roll the battle before him, in revenge of me 1 Malthos, I am revenged. I was not peaceful in the field. Raise the tombs of those I have slain, around my narrow house. Often shall l forsake the blast, to rejoice above their graves ; when I behold them spread around, with their long-whistlhg grass." -------------------------------------• Iingal and Cathmor. 38"' ..

PAGE 460

,-,========-====-:=.::.:..::.= II i I I I I I I ,, I 4f>O THE PO EiltS OF OSSIAN. His soul rushed to the vale of Morna, to Dardu-lena's dreams, where she slept, by Dalrutho's stream, return ing from the chase of the hinds. Her bow is near the maid, unstrung. The breezes fold her long hair on her breasts. Clothed in the beauty of youth, the love of heroes lay. Dark bending, from the skirts of the wood, her wounded father seemed to come. He ap. p ea red, at times, then hid himself in mist. Bursting into tears she arose. She knew that the chief was low. To her came a beam from his soul, when folded in its storms. Thou wert the last of his race, 0 blue-eyed Dardu-lena. Wide spreading over echoing Lubar, the flight of Bolga is rolled along. Fillan hangs forward on their steps. He strews, with dead, the heath. Fingal re ioices over his son. Blue-shielded Cathmor rose. Son of Alpin, bring the harp. Give Fil!an's praise to the wind. Raise high his praise in mine ear, while yet h e shines in war. " Leav e, blue-eyed Clatho, leave thy hall ! Behold that ea rly b eam of thine ! The host is withered in its course. No further look, it is dark. Light trembling from the harp, strike, virgins, strike the sound. No hunter he d escen ds from the dewy haunt of the bound ing roe. He bends not his bow on the wind; nor s e nds his gray arrow abroad. " Dee p folded in red war! S ee battle roll against his side. Striding amid the ridgy strife, he pours 1he d ea th of thousands forth. Fillan is like a spirit of h eaven, that descends from the skirt of winds. Tho troubled ocean f eels his steps, as he strides from wave to wave. His path kindles behind him. Islands shake their heads on the heaving seas! Leave, blue-eyed Cla.hu, leaye thy hall!" I ,I I lj I

PAGE 461

---===========-===-=-=-=---=-=-=-=-= = -==== = ======= ....... BOOK VI. ARGUMENT Tins booK opens with a speech of Fingal, who s-ees Cathmor de scend tug to the assistance of his flying army. The king de spatches Ossian to the relief of FiJian . He himseli retires behind the rock of Cormnl, to avoid the sight of the engagement be tween his son 1nd Cathmor . Ossian advances. Tile descent of Cathmor described. He rallies the army, renews the battle, and, before Oosian could arrive, engages Fi!Jan himself. Upon the approach of Ossian, the combat between the two heroes ceases Ossian and Cathmor prepare to fight, but night coming on pre vents them. Osstan returns to the place where Cathmor and Fillan fought . He finds Fillan mortally wounded, and lean again s t a rock. Their discourse. Fillan dies, his body is laia, by Ossian, in a neighborin" cave. The Caledonian army return to Fingal. He questions ttem ahout his son, and understanding that he was killed, retires, in silence, to the rock of Cormul Upon the retreat of the army of Fingal, the Fir-bolg advance. Cathmor finds Bran, one of the dogs of Fingal, lymg on the shield ofFillan, before the entrance of the cave, where the bodv of that hero lay. His reflection thereupon. He returns, in a melancholy mood, to his army. Malthos endeavors to comfort him, by the example of his father{ Borbar-duthul. Cathmor re tires to rest. The song of Sul-ma Ia concludes the book, which ends about the middle of the third night from the . opening of the poem. "CATJ ,,roR rises on his hill ! Shall Fingal take sword of Luna ? But what shall become of thy fame, son of white-bosomed Clatho ? Turn not thine eyes from Fingal, fair daughter of Inis.tore. I shall not quench thy early beam. It shines along my soul. Rise, wood-skirted Mora, rise between the war and me ! Why should Fingal behold the strife, lest hi.s dark-haired warrior should fall ? Amidst the song, 0 Carril, pour the sound of the trembling harp ! Here are the voices of rocks ! and there the bright tumbling of wat e rs. Father cf Oscar ! lift the spear ! defend . the young in arms . Conceal thy steps from Fillan.

PAGE 462

452 THE PO ElliS OF O SSIAN. He mmt not know that I doHbt his st e el. No cloud of mine shall rise, my son, upon thy soul of fire!" He sunk behind his rock, amid the sound of Carril's song Brightening iu my growing soul, I took th e sp ear of Temora. I saw, along Moi-l e na, th e w ild tumbling of battl e ; the strife of d e ath, in gl e ami n g rows, disjoin;ed and broken round. Fillan is a bean! of fir e . From wing to wing is his wast eful cours e . '1 h e ridges of war melt before him. They are rolled, in smoke, from th e fields ! Now is th e comin14 forth of Cathmor, in the armor of kings ! Dark waves the eagle's wing, above his h elme t of fire. Unconcerned are his steps, as if th e y were to the chase of Erin. He raises, at tim e s, his terribl e voic e . Erin, abashed, gathers round. Their s o uls r e turn back, like a stream. They wond e r at the s t eps of their fear. He rose, like the b e am of the morning, on a haunted heath: the traveller looks back, with bending eye, on the field of dreadful forms! Sud d e n from the rock of Moi-lena, are Sul-malla's trem bling st e ps . An oak takes the spear from her hand. Half b e nt she loos e s th e lance. But then are her eyes on the king , from amid her wand e ring locks! No frie ndly strife is b e for e th ee! No light cont e nding of bows, as whe n the youth of lnis-huna come forth be n e ath th e e ye of Conmor ! As the rock of Runo, which tak e s the passing clouds as th e y fly, see m s growing, in gathered darkness, over thtl streamy h eath; so seems the chi e f of Atha taller, as gather his p e ople around. As differ e nt blasts fly ove r the s e a, each b e hind its dark-blue wave ; so Catn1nur ' s words, on ev ery side, pour his warriors forth. Ncr sil e nt on his hill is FiJian. He mixes his words with his echoi1g shield. An eagle he st . emed, with sounding wings, the wind to his rock, when t

PAGE 463

1 1EMORA, he sees the coming forth of the roes, on Lutha's rushy field! Now they bend forward in battle. Death's hundred voices arise. The kings, on either side, were like fires on the souls of the host. Ossian bounded along. High rocks and trees rush tall between the war and me. But I hear the noise of steel, between my clanging arms. Rising, gleaming on the hill, I behold the backward steps of hosts : their backward steps on either side, and wildly-looking eyes. The chiefs were met in dreadful fight ! The two blue-shielded kings ! Tall and dark, through gleams of steel, are seen the striving heroes! I rush. My fears for Fillan fly, burning, across my soul! I come. Nor Cathmor flies; nor yet comes on; he sidelong stalks along. An icy rock, cold, tall, he seems. I call forth all my steel. Silent awhile we stride, on either side of a rushing stream: then, sud den turning, all at once, we raise our pointed spears. We raise our spears, but night comes down. It is dark and silent round; but where the distant steps of hosts are sounding over the heath. I come to the place where Fillan fought. Nor voice nor sound is there. A broken helmet lies on earth, a buckler cleft in twain. Where, Fillan, where art thou, young chief of echoing Morven ? He hears me, lean ing on a rock, which bends its gray , head over the stream. He hears; but sullen, dark lie stands. At l e ngth I saw the hero. " vVhy standest thou, robed in darkness, son of woo dy S elma! Bright is thy path, my brother . in this d arkbrown field ! Long has been thy strife in battle! N4Jw tl1e horn of Fingal is heard. Ascend to the cloud of thy father, to his hill of feasts. In the evening mists he s its, and hears the sound of Carril's harp. Carry j()y to the aged, young breaker of the shields!" It-_-----.:::.;:_:_ __

PAGE 464

454 THE POEMS OF OSSIAN. "Can the vanqui s h e d carry joy 1 O ss i a n, no shield is min e ! lt lies brok e n on the field. The ea gle-wing of my h elme t is torn. It is wh e n foe s fly b e fore th em, that fath e rs de l ight in th eir sons. But th eir sighs burst forth, in secre t, when th eir young warri0rs yi eld. No: Fillan s hall not behold the king! Why sh ould the h e ro mourn?" " S o n of blue-ey e d Clatho! 0 Fillan, awake not m y soul ! W e rt thou not a burning fire before him 1 Shall h e not r e joice ? Such fame belongs not to Ossian ; y e t is the king stili u sun to me. He looks on my st e p s with joy. Shaci0ws never rise on his face. As c e nd, 0 Fill an, to Mora ! His f e ast is spread in the folds of mist." " O ss ian ! give me that brok e n shield : those f e ath. e rs th a t are roll e d in the wind. Place them near to Fillun, th a t l e ss of his fam e may f a ll. O s sian, I begin to f a il. L a y m e in that hollow rock. Raise no stone ab ove , l es t on e s hould as k a b out my fame. I am fall e n in th e fir s t of my fie lds, f alle n wit hout r e nown. Let thy v o i ce alon e s end j o y to my flying soul. Why should the bard know where dw e lls th e lost beam of C lat h o ?" " I s thy spirit on th e e ddying winds, 0 Fillan, young br ea k e r of shields . Joy pursue my hero, through his f olde d clouds . The forms of t hy fath e rs, 0 Fillan, b end to r e c eive their son ! I behold the spr e ading of the ir fir e on Mora: the blue-rolling of th e ir wreaths. Joy m ee t thee , my broth er! But w e are d a rk and sad! i beh old th e foe round th e ag e d . I behold th e wasting a w a y of" his f a m e . Thou art left alone in the field, 0 gr a y h aire d king of Selma!" I laid him in the hollow rock, at the roar of the nightly stre am. One r e d star looked in on the hero. Winds lift, at times, his locks. I listen. No sound is neard. The warrior slept ! As lightning on a cloud,

PAGE 465

TEN!ORA, 455 a came rushing qlong my soul. My eyes roll in fire : my stride was in the clang of steel. " I will find thee, king of Erin ! in the gathering of thy thou sands find thee. Why should that cloud escape, that quenched our early beam 1 Kindle your meteors on your hills, my fathers. Light my daring steps. I will consume in wrath.*--But should not ] return 1 The king is without a son, gray -haired among his foes! His arm is not as in the days of old. His fame grows uim in Erin. Let me not behold him, laid low in hi!; latter field.-But can I return to the king 1 Will he not ask about his son ? " Thou ought es t to defend young Fillan."-Ossian will meet the foe! Green Eriu, thy sounding tread is pleasant to my car. I rush on thy ridgy host, to shun th e eyes of Fingal. I hear the voice of the king, on Mora's misty top ! He calls his two sons ! I come, my father, in my grief. I come like an eagle, which the flame of night met in the desert, and spoiled of half his wings ! Distant, round the king, on Morn, the broken ridges of Morven are rolled. They turn e d their eyes: each darkly bends, on his own ashen spear. Silent stood the king in the midst. Thought on thought rolled over his soul : as waves on a secret mountain lake, each with its back of foam. He looked ; no son appeared, with his long-beaming spear. The sighs rose, crowd ing, from his soul ; but hf' concealed his grief. At length I stood beneath an oak. No voice of mine was * the sentence is designedly left unfinished. The sense is, I that he was resolved, like a destroymg fire, to consume C1.thmor, wl.: had killed his brother . In the midst of this resolution, the situation of Fingal suggests itself to him in a very strong light. He I 1esolves to r e turn to assist the king in prosecuting the war. But j thr.n his s hame for not defending his brother recurs to him. He is I d ete rmined again to go and find out Cathmor. We may consider him as in the act of advancing towards the eneruy1 when the hom I of Fingal sounded on Mora, and called back his people to hi.f I presence. 11 I _j

PAGE 466

. r 456 TilE PO ElliS OF OSSIAN. heard. What could I say to Fingal in this hour of wo 'l His words rose, at length, in the midst : tho people shrunk backwa1d as he spoke. " Where is the son of Selma ; he who led in war 1 I behold not his steps, among my people, returning from the field. Fell the young bounding roe, who was so stately on my hills? He fe'l! for ye are silent. The shield of war is cleft in t"'ain. Let his armor be near to Fingal ; and the sword of dark-brown Luno. I am waked on my hills ; with morning I descend to war!" High on Cormul's rock, an oak is flaming to the wind. The gray skirts of mist are rolled around; thither strode the king in his wrath. Distant from the host he always lay, when battle burnt within his soul. On two spears hung his shield on high ; the gleaming sign of death ! that shield, which he was wont to strike, by night, before he rushed to war. It was then his warriors knew when the king was to lead in strife ; for never was his buckler heard, till the wrath of Fin gal arose. Unequal were his steps on high, as he sh<_>ne on the beam of the oak ; he was dreadful as the form of the spirit of night, when he clothes, on hills, his wild gestures with mist, and, issuing forth, on the troubled ocean, mounts the car of winds. . Nor settled, from the storm, is Erin's sea of war! they glitter, beneath the moon, and, low humming, still roll on the field. Alone are the steps of Cathmor, be fore them on the heath : he hangs forward, with all his arms, on Morven's flying host. Now had he come to the mossy cave, where Fillan lay in night. One tree was bent above the stream, which glittered over the rock. There shone to the moon the broken shield of Clatho's son; and near it, on grass ..... Iay hairy-footed Bran. He had missed the chief on Mora, ancl searched u;m along the wind. He thought that the blue-eyed L_ I I

PAGE 467

........... . TEMORA. 457 hunter slept; he lay upon his shiuld. No blast came over the heath unknown to. bounding Bran. Cathmor saw the white-breasted . dog; he saw the broken shield. Darkness is blown back on his soui ; tle remembers the falling away of the people. They .::arne, a stream ; are rolled away ; another race suc ceec!s. But some mark the fields, as they pass, with their own mighty names. The heath, through darkDrown years, is theirs ; some blue stream winds to their fame. Of these be the chief of Atha, when he tays him down on earth. Often may the voice of future umes meet Cathmor in the air ; when he strides from wind to wind, or folds himself in the wing of a storm. Green Erin gathered round the king to hear the roice of his power. Their joyful faces bend unequal, (orward, in the light of the oak. They who were ter rible, were removed; Lubar winds again in their host. Cathmor was that beam from heaven, which shone when his people were dark. He was honored in the midst. Their souls arose with ardor around. The king alone no gladness showed ; no stranger he to war! " Why is the king so sad 1" said Malthos, eagle eyed. " Remains there a foe at Lubar ? Lives there among them who can lift the spear 1 Not so peaceful was thy father, Borbar-duthul, king of spears. His rage was a fire that always burned: his joy over fallen foes was great. Three days feasted the gray-haired hero, when he heard that Calmar fell : Calmar who aided the race of Ullin, from Lara of the streams. Often did he feel, with his hands, the steel which they said had pierced his foe. He felt it with his hands, for Borbar-duthul's eyes had failed. Yet was the king a sun to his friends ; a gale to lift their branches round. Joy was around him in his halls: he luved the sons of Bolga. His name remains in Atha, like 39

PAGE 468

rr==========================-, 458 THE POEMS OF 05SIAN. the awful memory of ghosts whose was ter rible; but they blew the storm away. Now let the voices of Erin* raise the soul of the king ; he that shone when war was dark, and laid the mighty low. Fonar, from that gray-browed rock pour the tale of other times : pour it on wide-skirted Erin, as it set ties round. , "To me," said Cathmor, "no song shall rise; nor Fonar sit on the rock of Lubar. The mighty there are laid low. Disturb not their rushing ghosts. Far, Malthos, far remove the sound of Erin's song. I re joice not over the foe, when he ceases to lift the spear. With morning we pour our strength abroad. Fingal is wakened on his echoing hill." Like waves, blown back by sudden winds, Erin re tired, at the voice of the king. Deep, rolled into the field of night, they spread their humming tribes. Be neath his own tree, at intervals, each bard sat down with his harp. They raised the song, and touched the string : each to the chief he loved. Before a burning oak Sul-malla touched, at times, the harp. She touch ed the harp, and heard, between, the breezes in her hair. In darkness near lay the king of Atha, beneath an aged tree. The beam of the oak was turned from him ; he saw the maid, but was not seen. His soul poured forth, in secret, when he beheld her fearful eye. "But battle is before thee, son of Borbar-duthul." Amidst the harp, at intervals, she listened whether th e warrior slept. Her soul was up ; she longed, in secret, to pour her own sad song. The field is silent. On their wings the blasts of night retire. The bards had ceased; and meteors came, red-winding with their ghosts. The sky grew dark : the forms of the ciead were blended with the clouds. But heedless bends the • A poetiCal express10n for the bards oflreland .

PAGE 469

i I j 1 I TElllORA. 459 1hughter of Conmor, over the decaying flame. Thou wert alone in her soul, car-borne chief of Atha. She raised the voice of the song, and touched the harp between. " Clun-galo* came ; she missed the maid. Where art thou, beam of light 1 Hunters from the mossy rock, saw ye the blue-eyed fair 1 Are her steps on grassy Luman ; near the bed of roes 1 Ah, me ! I behold her bow in the hall. Where art thou, beam of light 1 " Cease, love of Conmor, cease ! I hear thee not on the ridgy heath. My eye is turned to the king, whose path is terrible in war. He for whom my soul is up, in the season of my rest. Deep-bosomed iir war he stands; he beholds me not from his cloud. Why, sun of Sul-malla, dost thou not look forth 1 I dwell in darkness here : wide over me flies the shadowy mist. Filled with dew are my locks : look thou from thy cloud, 0 sun of Sul-malla's soul !" • the wife of Coomor, king of Inis-huna, and tho mother ot Sul-malla. She is here represented as missiug her daughter, after she had tled with Cathmor.

PAGE 470

BOOK VU. ARGUMENT. This book begins aoout the middle of the third night frorr. the opening of the poem. The poet describes a kind ot mist, wh.ich rose by night from the Lake of Lego, and was the usual residence of the souls of the dead, during the interval between their de cease and the funeral song. The appearance of the ghost of Fillan above the cave where his body lay. His voice comes to Fingal on the rock of Cormul. The king strikes the shield of Trenmor, which was an infallible sign of his appearinjl" in arms himself. The extraordinary eflect of the sound of tne shield. Sul-mallard, at the desire of Cathmor, relates the first settlement of the Fir-bolg in Ireland, under their leader Larthon. Morning comes. Sul-malla retires to the valley of Lona. A lyric song concludes the book. Fao111 the wood-skirted waters of Lego ascend, at times, gray-bosomed mists ; when the gates of the west arc closed, on the sun's eagle eye. Wide, over Lara's stream, is poured the vapor dark and deep : the moon, like a dim shield, lay swimming through its folds. With this, clothe the spirits of old their sudden gesture.s on the wind, when they stride, from blast to blast, along the dusky night. Often, blended with the gale, to some warrior's grave, they roll the mist a gray dwelliJ g to his ghost, until the songs arise. A sound came from the desert; it was Conar, king of Inis-fail. He poured his mist on the grave of Fill an, at blue-winding Lubar. Dark and mournful sat the ghost, in his gray ridge of smoke. The blast, at times, rolled him together ; but the form returned again. It , J L======-::!J

PAGE 473

-l TEMORA. 461 returned with bending eyes, and dark winding of locks of mist. It was dark. The sleeping host were still in the skirts of night. The flame decayed, on the hill of Fingal ; the king lonely on his shield. His eyes were half clothed in sleep : the voice of Fillan came. " Sleeps the husb .md of Clatho 1 Dwells the father of the fallen in rest 1 Am I forgot in the folds of dark ness ; lonely in the season of night 1" " Why dost thou mix," said the king, "with the dreams of my father 1 Can I forget thee, my son, or thy path of fire in the field 1 Not such come the deeds of the valiant on the soul of Fingal. They are not there a beam of lightning, which is seen and is then no more. I remember thee, 0 Fillan! and my wrath be gins to rise." The king took his deathful spear, and struck the deeply-sounding shield: his shield, that hung high in night, the dismal sign of war. Ghosts fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind. Thrice from the winding vales arose the voice of deaths. • The harps of the bards, untouched, sound mournful over the hill. He struck again the shield ; battles rose in the dreams of his host. The wide-tumbling strife is gleam. ing over their souls. Blue-shielded kings descended to war. Backward-lool-.ing armies fly; and mighty deeds arc half hid in the b ight gleams of steel. But when the thit d sound arose, deer started from the clefts of their rocks. The screams of fowl are heard in the desert, as each flew frightened on his blast. The sons of Selma half rose and half assumed their spears. But rolled back on the hm;t : they knew the shield of the king. Sleep returned to their eyes ; the field was dark and still. No sleep was thine in darkness, blue-eyed daughte!" . 39* •

PAGE 474

-162 THE POE!I1S 0}' OSSIAN. of Conmur ! Sul-malla heard the dreadful shield, and rose, amid the night. Her Meps are towards the king of Atha. "Can danger shake his daring soul?" In dL'Ubt, she stands with bending eyes. Heaven burns with all its stars. Again the shield resounds! She rushed. She stopt. Her voice half rose. It failed. She saw him, amidst his arms, that gleamed to heaven's fire. She saw him dim in his locks, that rose to nightly wind. Away, for fear, she turned her steps. " Why should the king of Erin awake ? Thou art not a dream to his rest, daughter of Inis-huna." More dreadful rings the shield. Sul-malla starts. Her helmet falls. Loud echoes Lubar's rock, as over it rolls the steel. Bursting from the dreams of night, Cathmor half rose beneath his tree. He saw the form of the maid above him, on the rock. A red with twinkling beams, looked through her floating hair. " Who comes through night to Cathmor in the sea son of his dreams? Bring'st thou aught of war? Who art thou, son of night ? Stand'st thou before me, a form of the times of old ? a voice from the fold of a cloud, to warn me of the danger of Erin ?" "Nor lonely scout am I, nor voice from folded cloud," she said, " but I warn thee of the danger of Erin. Dost thou hear that sound? It is not the feeble, king of Atha, that rolls his signs on night." " Let the warrior roll his signs," he replied, "to Cathmor they are thP. sounds o1 harps. My joy is great, voice of night, and burns over all my thoughts. This is the music of kings, on lonely hills, by night; when they light their daring souls, the sons of mighty deeds ! The feeble dwell alone, in the valley of the breeze ; where mists lift their morning skirts, from the blue-winding streams." "Not feeble, king of men, were they, the fathers of f) I I

PAGE 475

!';---=-:::."' I TEMORA. 463 my race. They dwelt in the folds of battle, in their distant lands. Yet delights not my soul in the signs of death ! He, who never yields, comes forth: 0 send the bard of peace !" Like a dropping rock in the desert, stood Cathmor in his tears. Her voice came, a breeze on his soul, and waked the memory of her land; where she dweit her peaceful streams, before he came to the war of Conmor. "Daughter of strangers," he said, (she trembiing turned away,) "long have I marked thee in thy steel, young pine of Inis-huna. But my soul, I said, is folded in a storm. Why should that beam arise, till my steps return in peace? Have I been pale in thy presence, as thou ' bid'st me to fear the king? The time of danger, 0 maid, is the season of my soul ; for then it swells a mighty stream, and rolls me on the foe. "Beneath the moss-covered rock of Lona, near his own loud stream ; gray in his locks of age, dwells Clonmal king of harps. Above him is his echoing tree, and the dun bounding of roes. The noise of our strife reaches his ear, as he bends in the thoughts of years. There let thy rest be, Sul-malla, until our battle cease. Until I return, in my arms, from the skirts of the even. ing mist, that rises on Lona, round the dwelling of my love." A light fell on the soul of the maid: it rose kindled before the king . She turned her face . to Cathmor, from amidst her waving locks. "Soone1 shall the eagl e of heav e n be torn from the stream of his roaring wind, when he sees the dun prey before him, the young sons of the bounding roe, than thou, 0 Cathmor, be turned from the strife of renown. Soon may I see thee, warrwr, from the skirts of the evening mist, when it is roiled around me, on Lona of the streams. While yet thou art distant far1 strike, Cathmor, strike the shield,

PAGE 476

464 THE l'OEMS OF OSSIAN. that joy may return to my darkened soul, as I Jean on the ro::k. But if thou shouldst fall, I am in the land of strangers; 0 send thy voice from thy cloud, to the midst of lnis-huna !" " Young branch of green. headed Lumon, why dost tlnu shake in the storm 1 Often has Cathmor returned, from darkly rolling wars. The darts of death are but hail to me; they have often rattled along my shield. I ha\e risen brightened from battle, like a meteor from a stormy cloud. Return not, fair beam, from thy vale, when the roar of battle grows. Then might the foe escape, as from my fathers of old. " They told to Son-mor, of Clunar, who was sl.ain by Cormac in fight. Three days darkened Son-mor, over his brother's fall. His spouse beheld the silent king and foresaw his steps in war. She prepared the bow, in secret, to attend her blue-shielded hero. To her dwelt darkness at Atha, when he was not there. From their hundred streams, by night, poured down the sons of Alnecma. They had heard the shield of the king, and their rage arose. In clanging arms, they moved along towards Ullin of the groves. Son-mor struck his shield, at times the leader of the war. " Far behind followed Sul-allin, over the streamy hills. She was a light on the mountain, when they erossed the vale below. Her steps were stately on the vale, when they rose on the mossy hill. She feared to approach the king, who left her in echoing Atha. But when the roar of battle rose ; when host was rolled on host, when Son-mor burnt, like the fire of heaven in clouds, with her spreading hair came Sul-allin, for she \rembled for her king. He stopt the rushing strife to save the love of heroes. The foe fled by night; Clunar slep: without his blood ; the blood which ought to be poured upiJn the warrior's tomb. " Nor rose the rage of Son-mor, but his days were r /I I I I

PAGE 477

TEMORA. 465 sikn! and dllrk. Sul-allin wandered hy her gray stream. with her tearful eyes. Often did she look on the hero, vrhen he was folded in his thoughts. But she shrunk from his eyes, and turned her lone steps away. rose, like a tempest, and drove the mist from his soul. He beheld with joy her steps in the and the white rising of her hands on the harp." In his arms strode the chief of Atha, to where his shield hung, high, in night : high on a mossy bough over Lubar's streamy roar. Seven bosses rose on the shield ; the seven voices of the king, his warriors receiv ed, from the wind, and marked over all the tribes. On each boss is placed a star of night: Canmathon with beams unshorn ; Col-derna rising from a cloud ; U-lcicho robed in mist; and the soft beam of Cathlin glitt e ring on a rock. Smiling, on its own blue wave, Rel-durath half sinks its western light. The red eye of Berthin looks, through a grove, on the hunter, as he returns, by night, with the spoils of the bounding roe. Wide, in the midst, rose the cloudless beams of Ton thena, that star, which looked by night on the course of the sea-tossed Larthon: Larthon, the first of Bolga's race, who travelled on the winds. white-bosomed spread the sails of the king, towards streamy lnis-fail ; dun night was rolled before him, with its skirts of mist. Unconstant blew the winds, and rolled him from wave to wave. Then rose the fiery-haired Ton-thena, and smiled from her parted cloud. Larthon blessed the well-knuwn beam, as it faint gleamed on the deep. Beneath the spear of Cathmor rose that voice which awakes the bards. They came, dark winding from every side : each with the sound of his harp. Before him rejoiced the king, as the traveller, in the day of the sun ; when he hears, far rolling around, the murmur of mossy streams : streams that burst in the desort1 from the rock of roes.

PAGE 478

466 THE PO ElliS OF OSSIAR. "'Vhy," said Fonar, "hear we the voice of the king, in the of his rest 1 Were the dim forms of thy fathers bending in thy dreams 1 Perhaps they stand on that cloud, and wait for Fonar's song; often they come to the fields where their sons are to lift the spear. Or sh 1 .ll our voice arise for him who lifts the spear no more; he. that consumed the field, from Morna of the groves 1" "Not forgot is that cloud in war, bard of other times. High shall his tomb rise, on Moi-lena, the dwelling of renown. But, now, roll back my soul to the times of my fathers: to the years when first they rose, on Inis huna's waves. Nor alone pleasant to Cathmor is the remembrance of wood-covered Lumon. Lumon of the streams, the dwelling of white-bosomed maids." " Lumon* of the streams, thou risest on Fonar's soul ! Thy sun is on thy side, on the rocks of thy bending trees. The dun roe is seen from thy furze ; the deer lifts its branchy head ; for he sees, at times, the hound on the half-covered heath. Slow, on the vale, arc the steps of maids ; the white-armed daughters of the bow: th ey lift their blue eyes to the hill, from amid t their wandering locks. Not there is the stride of Larthon, chief of lnis-huna. He mounts the wave on his own dark oak, in Cluba's ridgy bay. That oak which he cut from Lumon, to bound along the sea. The maids turn their eyes away, lest the king should be lowly laid; for never had they !?en a ship, dark of the wave! " Now he dares to call the winds, and to mix with the mist of ocean. Blue lnis-fail rose, in smoke ; but dark-skirted night came down. . The sons of Bolga feared. The fiery-haired Ton-thena rose. Culbin's bay received the ship, in the bosom of its echoing woods. There issued a stream from Duthuma's horrid • A hill, in Ims-huna, near the residence of Sul-rnalla. I _)

PAGE 479

'l'.\lORA. 461 cave; where spirits gleamed, at times, with their half. finished forms. "Dreams descended on Larthon: he saw seven spirits of his fathers. He heard their half-formed words, and dimly beheld the times to com