Page images
PDF

moved, on Dora, to the chase of the dark-brown hinds; his bow was uneiring on the mountains. He spoke of mighty men. He told of the deeds of my fathers; and I felt my joy. But sit thou at the feast, O bard, I have often heard thy voice. Sing in the praise of Cuthullin; and of that mighty stranger'."

Day rose on woody Temora, with all the beams of the east. Trathin came to the hall, the son of old Gellama'. "I beholds" he said, " A dark cloud in the desart, king of Inis-fail! a cloud it seemed at first, but now a crowd of men. One strides before them in his strength; his red hair flies in wind. His shield glitters to the beam of the east. His spear is in bi! hand."

"Call him to the feast of Temora," replied the.king of Erin. "My hall is in the house of strangers, sou of the generous Gellama! Perhaps it is the chief of Etnas coming in the sound of his renown. Hails mightys stranger! art thou of the friends of Cormac? Bat Carril, he is dark and unlovely; and he draws his sword. Is that the son of Usnoth, bard of the times of old?" _

"It is not the son of Usnoth," said Carril, " bnt the chief of Atha. Why comest thou in thy arms to Temora, Cairbar of the gloomy brow? Let not thy sword rise against Cormac! Whither dost thou turn thy speed?" He passed on in his darkness, and seized the hand of the king. Cormac foresaw his deaths and the rage of his eyes arose. Retire, thou gloomy chief of Atha: Nathos comes with battle. 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 fathers. His fair hair is in the dust, his blood is smoking round.

"And art thou fallen in thy halls", O son of noble Artho? The shield of Cuthullin was not near, nor the spear of thy fathers. Mournful are the mountains of Erin, for the chief of the people is low! Blest be thy soul, O Cormac \ thou art darkened in thy youth."

t Nathos the son of Usnoth.
/ Geol-lamhas • white-handed.'

g From this expressions we understands that Cairbar bad entered the palace of Te" n\sra in the midst of Cormac's speech. n Althan speaks.

His words came to the ears of Cairbar, and he closed us' in the midst of darkness. He feared to stretch his sword to the bards*, though his soul was dark. Long had we pined alone: at length, the noble Cathmor' came. He heard our voice from the cave; he turned the eye of his wrath on Cairbar.

"Chief of Atha '." he said, " how long wilt thou piin my soul! Thy heart is like the rock of the desart; and thy thoughts are dark. But thou art the brother of Cathmor, and he will fight thy battles. But Cathmor's soul was not like thine, thou feeble hand of war'. The light of my bosom is stained with thy deeds: the bards will not sing of my renown. They may say, Cathmor was brave, but he fought for gloomy Cairbar. They will pass over ray tomb in silence; my fame shall not be heard. Cairbar! loose the bards; they are the sons of other times. Their voice shall be heard in other years; after the kings of Temora have failed."

"We came forth at the words of the chief. We saw him in his strength. He was like thy youth, O i'ingal, when thou first didst lift the spear. His face was like the plain of the son, when it is bright: no darkness travelled over his brow. But he came with his thousands to Ullin; to aid the red-haired Cairbar; and now he comes to revenge his death, O king of woody Morven."

"And let him come," replied the king; I love a foe like Cathmor. His soul is great; his arm is strong; his battles are full of fame. But the little soul is a vapour that hovers round the marshy lake: it never rises on the green hill, lest the winds should meet it there: its dwelling is in the cave, it sends forth the dart of death. Our young heroes, O warriors, are like the renown of our fathers. They fight in yonth; they fall: their names are in the song. Fingal is amidst 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 the tree fallen? He, whistling, strides along.

i That iss himself and Carrils as it afterwards appears.

* The persons cf the barils were so sacreds that even hes who had lost mordered hi« .. .e niirns feared to kill them.

I Cathmor appears the same disinterested hero opon every occasion. His huaranity and rs-nerosity were noparalleled; in short h2 had no faults itrt too moch attachment lesobad a brother as Caiibar. His family connection wlthCairbar prevailss as he excesses its over every other Clii iterations and makss hiai engagtf in a wars w«w* aediri aotauprov'r.

"Raise the song of joy, ye bards of Morven, that our souls may forget the past. The red stars look. on us fiom the clouds, and silently descend. Soon shall the grey beam of the morning rise, and show ns the foes of Cormac. Fillan! take the spear of the king; go to Mora's dark-brown side. Let thine eyes travel over the heath, like flames of fire. Observe the foes of Fingal, and the course of generous Cathmor. I hear a distant sound, like the falling of rocks in the desart. But strike thou thy shield, at times, that they may not come through night, and the fame of Morven cease. I begin to be alone, my son, and I dread the fall of my renown."

The voice of the bards aroses The king leaned on the shield of Trenmor. Sleep descended on his eyes; his future battles rose in his dreams. The host are sleeping around. Dark-haired Fillan observed the foe. His steps are on a distant hill: ye hear at times his clanging shield.

[graphic]

Hfce 9rsumcnt.

'his bouk upens, we may soppose, about midnight, with a soliloquy of Ossian, who had retired, from the rest of the army, to mourn for his son Oscar. Upon hearing the noise of Cathmor's army approaching, he went to find his brother Fillan, 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 nf Trenmor, who was the first king of Ireland, is introdoced, which lays open the origin of the contests between Cael and Firbolg, the two nations who first possessed themselves of that island. Ossian kin. dies a fire on Mora; upon which C^thinor desisted from th^ design he had formed of sorprising the army of the Caledonians. He calls a council of his chiefs; reprimands Foldath for advising a night attack, as the Irish army were so moch soperior in numl-^ to the enemy. The bard Fonar introdoces the story of Crothar, the ancestor of the king, which throws further light on the history of Ireland, and the original pretensions of the family of Atha, to the throne of that kingdom. The Irish chiefs lie down to rest, and Cathmor himself undertakes the watch. In his circoit round the araiy, he is met by Ossian. The interview of the two heroes is described. Cathmor obtains a promise from Ossian, to order a funeral elegy to be songover the grave ofCairbar; it being the opinion of the times, that the souls of the dead could not be happy, till their elegies were song by a bard. Morning comes. Cathmor and Ossian part: and the latter, casoally meeting with Carril the son of Kinfena. seuds that bard, with a foneral song, to the tomb of Cairbar.

BOOK II.

tather "* of heroes, Trenmor! dweller of eddying I'inds: where the dark-red course of thunder marks the roubled clouds! Open thou thy stormy halls, and let he bards of old be near: let them draw near, with heir songs and their half viewless harps. No dweller "f misty valley comes; no hunter unknown at his 'teams; but the car-borne Oscar from the folds of war. 'udden is thy change, my son, from what thou wert »n dark Moi-lena! The blast folds thee in its skirt, and ustles along the sky.—Dost thou not behold thy father, 't the stream of night? The chiefs of Morven sleep far listant. They have lost no son. But ye have lost a 'cro, chiefs of streamy Morven '. Who could equal his

.*' Though this book has little action, it is not the least important part of Temora. The poet, in several eoisodes, runs up the cause of the war to the very source. The 'tst popolation of Ireland, the wars between the two nations who originally possessed hat island, its first race of kings, and the revolutions of its guvernment, are important Jt's, and are delivered with so little mixture of the fabulous, that one cannot help preerring this account to the improbable fictions of the Scottish and Irish historian. That 'lilesian fables of those gentlemen bear about them the marks of a late invention. V«. IT K

strength, when battle rolled against his side, like the darkness of crowded waters ?->-Why this cloud in Ossian's soul? It ought to burn in danger. Erin is near with her host. The king of Morven is alone. Alone thoushalt not be, my father, while I can lift the spean

I rose, in my rattling arms. I listened to the wind of night. The shield of Fillan" is not heard. I shook for the son of Fingal. Why should the foe come, by night: and the dark-haired warrior fail? Distant, sollen 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 Fiilan silent before mes 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."

"Never mayest thou stand in vain, son of blue-eve.! Clatho. Fingal begins to be alone; darkness gatheis on the last of his days. Yet he has two * sons who

n We understands from the preceding books that Cathmor was near with an are:i When Cairbar was killeds the tribes who attended him fell back to Cathmor; whos" it afterward, appearss had taken a resoiution to sorprise Fingal by night. I illan wat dispatched to the hill of Moras which was in the front of the Caledonianss to ohscrvetlJ' motions of Cathmor. In this situation were affairss. when Ussians opon licanne tinoise of the approaching enemys went to find out his 'brother. Their conversation e^ turally introduces the episode-concerning Conar the son of Trenmors theiirstTrisho • narchs which is so necessary to the understanding the fonodation of the rebellion and a. sorpation of Cairbar and Cathmor. Fillan was the youneest of th" sons of Fingals ibra living. He and Bosminas mentioned in the battle of Loras were the only chiIuutt '•. the kings by Clatho the daughter c: nulla king of Inistores whom he had taken to wc , after the death of Kos-crana the daughter of Cormac Mac-Con.lr king of lrel:iud.

v That iss two sons In Irelands Ferguss the second son of Fingals wass at that tores on an expeditions which is mentioned in one of the lesser poems of Ossian. lies orcxeingto some traditionss was the ancestor of Fergoss the son of Eres or Arcaths urn. monly called Fergus the second in the Scottish histories. The beginning of the rtags tJ Ferguss oyer the Scotss is placeds by the most approved annals of Scotlands 'a the fourth year of the fifth age: a full century after the death of Ussian. The cerwrsloty '. i his family is recorded thus by the Highland senachies t i Fergus sVlac-Arcaths Siv. Chongeals Mac-Ferguss Mac-Fioe^icl na bitai:' i. e. Fergus the son of Arcaths the :-'' •f.Congals the son of Ferguss the sou of Fingal the victorious.' This soblect is Uik*f snore at larges in the Dissertation prefixed to the poems.

« PreviousContinue »