« PreviousContinue »
scended. I blessed the lovely beam of youth, and bade
iCwe battle move.
'Why, son of the rock, should Ossian tell how Teutha's warriors died? They are now forgot in their land; and their tombs are not found on the heath. Years came on with their tempests: and the green mounds mouldered away. Scarce is the grave of Duntlialmo seen, or the place where he fell by the spear of Ossian. Some grey warrior, half blind with age, sitting by night at the flaming oak of the hall, tells now my actions to his sons, and the fall of the dark Dunthalmo. The face of youth bend sidelong towards his voice; sorprise and joy born in their eyes.
1 found the son * of Rathmor bound to an oak; my sword cut the thongs from his hands. And I gave him the white-bosomed Coimal. They dwelt in the halls of Teutha; and Ossian returned to Selma.
Lathmon, a British prince, taking advantage of Fingal's absence in Ireland, Trade a descent on Morven, and advanced within sight of sclma, the royal palace Fingai arrived in the meantime, and Lathmon retreated to a hill, where his army wis aarprised by night, and himself taken prisoner by Ossian and Gas', the son of Morai This exploit of Gaul and Ossian bears a near resemblance to the beaut,ful episode of Nisos and Euryalus in Virgil's ninth .flineid. The pocn open. with the first appearance of Fingai on the coast of Morven, and ends, it may be sopposed, about aooa tae acxtday.
Selma, thy halls are silent. There is no sound in the woods of Morven. The wave tumbles alone on the coast. The silent beam of the son is on the field. The daughters of Morven come forth like the bow of the shower; they look towards green Ullin for the white «ails of the king. He 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. lie has he .rd of the absence of Fingai. He trusti in the winds of the north. His soul brightens with joy. Why dost thou come, Lathmon? the mighty are not in Selma. Why comest thou with thv forward spear? Will the daughters of ,Morven fight? But stop, O mighty stream, in thy .course '. Does not Lathmon behold these sails? Wb.r dost thou vanish, Lathmon, like the mist of the lake? But the squally storm is behind thee ; Fingai porsues thy step!
The king of Morven started from sleep, as we rolled on the dark-blue wave. He stretched his hand to his spear, and his heroes rose around. We knew that he had seen his fathers, for they often descended to his dreams, when the sword of the foe rose over the bnd; and the battje darkened before us. "Whither hast thou
fled, O wind ?" said the king of Morven. "Dost thon rnstle in the chambers of the south, and pursoe the shower in other lands? Why dost thou not come to my sails? to the blue face of my seas? The foe is in the land of Morven, and the king is absent. But let each bind on his mail, and each assome his shield. Stretch every spear over the wave; let every sword be unsheathed. Lathmon"is before us with his host; he that fled * from Fingal on the plains of Lona. But he leturns, like a collected stream, and his roar is between our hills."
Such were the words of Fingal. We rushed into Carmona's hay. Ossian ascended the hill; and thrice struck his bossy shield. The rock of Morven replied; and the bounding roes came forth. The foes were troubled in my presence: and collected their darkened Lost; for I stood, like a cloud on the hill, rejoicing in the arms of my youth.
Morni c sat beneath a tree, at the roaring waters of Strnmon*: his locks of age are grey: he leans forward on his staff; young Gaul is near the hero, hearing the battles of his youth. Often did he rise, in the fire of his soul, at the mighty deeds of Morni. The aged heard the sopnd of Ossian's shield: he knew the sign ofs battle. He started at once ffom his place. His grey hair parted on his back. He remembers the actions of other years.
My son," he said to fair-haired Gaul, "I hear the sound of battle. The king of Morven is returned, the sign of war is heard. Go to the halls of Strumon, and bring his arms to Morni. Bring the arms which my father wore in his ages for my arm begins to fail. Take thou thy armour, O Gaul: and rush to the first of thy
« It is saids by traditions that it was the intelligence of Lnthtnon's invasions that occasioned Fingal's return from Ireland; though Ossians more poeticallys ascribes the cause or Fingal's knowledge to his dream.
* Hc alludes to a battle wherein Fingiii had defeated Lathmon. The occasion of this intwars between those heroess is told by Ossmn in another poems which the translator has seen.
t Murnl was chief of a nomerous tribes in the days of Fingal and his father Comhal. The last mentioned hero was hilled in battle ..gainst Morni's tribe-? but the valour and. conduct of Fiwral reduced thems at lasts to obedience. We find the two heroes perfectly reconciled in this poem.
d stiu' inlines s siream of the hill.' Here the proper name of a rivulet in the neigh* •tsnrhood of Selena.
battles. Let thine arm reach to the renown of thy fathers. Be thy course in the field, like the eagle's wing. Why shouldst thou fear death, my son? the valiant fall with fame; their shields turn the black stream of danger away, and renown dwells on their grey hairs. Dost thou not see, O Gaul, how the steps of my age are honoured? Morni moves forth, and the young meet him with reverence, and turn their eyes with silent joy on his course. But I never fled from dangers my son '. my sword lightened through the darkness of battle. The stranger melted before me; the mighty were blasted in my presence."
Gaul brought the arms to Morni: the aged warrior covered himself with steel. He took the spear in his hand, which was often stained with the blood of the valiant. He came towards Fingal, his son attended his steps. The son of Comhal rejoiced over the warrior, when he came in the locks of his age.
"King of the roaring Strumon!" said the rising joy of Fingal; " do I behold thee in arms, after thy strength has failed? Often has Morni shone in battles, like the beam of the rising son; when he disperses the storms ot the hill, and brings peace to the glittering fields. But why didst thou not rest in thine age? Thy renown is in the song. The people behold thee, and bless the departure of mighty Morni. Why didst thou not rest in thine age? For the foe will vanish before Fingal."
"Son of Comhal," replied the chief, "the strength of Morni's arm has failed. I attempt to draw the sword of my youth, but it remains in its place. I throw the spear, but it falls short of the mark; and I feel the weight of my shield. We decay like the grass of the mountain, and our strength returns no more. I have a sons O Fingals his soul has delighted in the actions of Morni's youth; but his sword has not been lifted against the foes neither has his fame begun. I come with him to battle to direct his arm. His renown will be a son to my souls in the dark hour of my departure. O that the name of Morni were forgot among the pcofie! that the heroes would only say, Behold the father of Gaul."
"King of Strumon," Finga! replied, " Gaul shall lift the sword in battle. But he shall lift it before Fingal; my arm shall defend his youth. But rest thou in the halls of Selma; and hear of oor renown. Bid the harp be strung, and the voice of the bards arise, that those who fall may rejoice in their fame; and the soul of Morni brighten with gladness. Ossian! thou hast fought in battles: the blood of strangers is on thy spear: let thy course be with Gaul in the strife; but depart not from the side of Fingal; lest the foe find you alone; and your fame fail at once."
I saw' Gaul in his arms, and my soul was mixed 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 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 grey waving locks. Their discourse is of other times, and the actions of their fathers. Three bards, at times, touched the harp; and Ullin was near with his song. He sung of the mighty Comhal; but darkness gather, ed' on Morni's brow. He rolled his red eye on Ullin; and the song of the bard ceased. Fingal observed the aged hero, and he mildly spoke.
"Chief of Strumon, why that darkness? Let the days of other years be forgot. Our fathers contended in battle, but we meet together at the feast. Our swords are torned on the foes, and they melt before us on the field. Let the days of our fathers be forgot, king of mossy Strumon."
t Ossian speaks. The contrast between the old and young heroes Is strongly narked. The circomstance of the latter drawing their swords is well imagined, and agrees with the impatience 'if young soldiers just entered upon action.
/ Ullin had chosen ill the aubiect of his song. The "darkness which gathered on Morni's brow." did not proceed from any dislike he had to Corohal's name, though they. were foes, 'but from bis fear chat the song would awaken Fingal to remembrance of c he frcsds which had solstistcdof uldbetween their families. r'lnfaL's socecbum this occasion abounds with generosity asd good sense.