« PreviousContinue »
“ Whence are the sons of the sea ?” begun the gloomy chief. “ Have the winds driven you to the rocks of Tromathon? Or come you in search of the white-handed daughter of Nuath? The sons of the unhappy, ye feeble men, come to the hand of Dunrommath. His eye spares not the weak, and he delights in the blood of strangers. Oithona is a beam of light, and the chief of Cuthal enjoys it in secret: would thou come on its loveliness, like a cloud, son of the feeble hand? Thou mayest come, but shalt thou return to the halls of thy fathers?"
66 Dost thou not know me," said Gaul, “ red-haired chief of Cluthal! Thy feet were swift on the heath, in the battle of car-borne Lathmon: when the sword of Morni's son pursued his host in Morven's woody land. Dunrommath! thy words are mighty, for thy warriors gather behind thee. But do I fear them, son of pride? I am not of the race of the feeble.”
Gaul advanced in his arms; Dunrommath shrunk behind his people. But the spear of Gaul pierced the gloomy chief, and his sword looped off his head, as it bended in death. The son of Morni shook it thrice by the lock ; the warriors of Dunrommath fled. The arrows of Morven pursued them: ten fell on the mossy rocks. The rest lift the sounding sail, and bound on the echoing deep. Gaul advanced towards the cave of Oithona. He beheld a youth leaning against a rock. An arrow had pierced his side ; and his eye rolled faintly beneath his helmet. The soul of Morni's son is sad; he came, 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 thein on the secret banks of their streams. My hand has closed the wound of the valiant, and their eyes have blessed the son of Morni. Where dwelt thy fathers, warrior? Were they of the sons of the mighty? Sadness shall come, like night on thy native streams; for thou art fallen in thy youth."
" My fathers,” replied the stranger, “ were of the tace of the mighty; but they shall not be sad; for my
fame is departed like morning mist. High walls rise on the banks of Duvranna : and see their mossy towers in the stream ; a rock ascends behind them with its bending firs. Thou mayest behoid it far distant. There my brother dwells. He is renowned in battle: give him this glittering helmet."
The helmet fell from the hand of Gaul; for it was the wounded Oithona. She had armed herself in the cave, and came in search of death. Her heavy eyes are half-closed; the blood pours from her side, « Son of Morni,” she said, “ prepare the narrow tomb. Sleep comes, like a cloud, on my soul. The eyes of Oithona are dim. O had I dwelt at Duvranná in the bright beam of my fame ; then had my years come on with joy; and the virgins would bless my steps. But I fall in youth, son of Morni, and my father shall blush in his hall."
She fell pale on the rock of Tromathon. The mourn ful hero raised her tomb. He came to Morven; but we saw the darkness of his soul. Ossian took the harp in the praise of Oithona. The brightness of the face of Gaul returned. But his sigh rose, at times, in the midst of his friends, like blasts that shake their unfrequent wings, after the stormy winds are laid.
Malvina the daughter of Toscar is overheard by Ossian lamenting 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 petty king of Croma, a country in Ireland, against Rothmar who invaded his dominions. The story is delivered down thus, in tradition. Crothar, king of Croma, being blind with age, and his son too young for the field, Rothmar the chief of Tromlo, resolved to avail himself of the opportunity offered of annexing the dominions of Crothar 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 Crothar, being, on account of his age and blindness, unfit for action, sent for aid to
Fingal, king of Scotland; who ordered his son Ossian to the relief of Crot har. But before his arrival, Fovar-gormo, the son of Crothar, attacking Rothmar, was slain himself, and his forces totally defeated. Ossian renewed the war; came to battle, killed Rothmar, and routed bis army. Croma being thus delivered of its enemies, Ossian returned to Scotland.
" It was the voice of my love! few are his visits to the dreams of Malvina! Open your airy halls, ye fathers of mighty Toscar. Unfold the gates of your clouds; the steps of Malvina's departure are near. I have heard a voice in my dream. I feel the fluttering of my soul. Why didst thou come, o blast, from the dark-rolling of the lake? Thy rustling wing was in the trees, the dream of Malvina departed. But she beheld her love, when his robe of mist flew on the wind; the beam of the sun was on his skirts, they glittered like the gold of the stranger. It was the voice of my love! few are his visits 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 desart, and laid my green head low; the pring returned with its showers, but no leaf of mine
arose. The virgins saw me silent in the hall, and 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 he 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 departed bards in the dream of thy rest, when sleep fell on thine eyes, at the murmur of Moruth a. When thou didst return from the chase, in the day of the sun, thou hast heard the music of the bards, and thy song is lovely. It is lovely, O 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, O daughter of Toscar, and their days are few. They fall away, like the flower on which the sun looks in his strength after the mildew has passed over it, and its head is heavy with the drops of night. Attend to the tale of Ossian, O maid; he remembers the day of his youth.
The king commanded; I raised my sails, and rushed into the bay of Croma: into Croma's sounding bay in lovely Inisfailb. 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 chief. Rothmar raised the sword against the hero; and the wrath of Fingal burned. He sent Ossian to meet Rothmar in battle, for the chief of Croma was the companion of his youth. I sent the bard before me with songs ; I came into the hall of Crothar. There sat the hero amidst the arms of his fathers, but his eyes had failed. His grey 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, & Mord-ruth, great stream.' 6 Inisfail, one of the ancient names of Ireland,
“ Ossian,” said the hero, " the strength of Crothar's arm has failed. O could I lift the sword as on the day that Fingal fought at Strutha! He was the first of mortal men ; but Crothar had also his fame. The king of Morven praised me, and he placed on my arm the bossy shield of Calthar, whom the hero had slain in war. 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 feels it with his aged hands. The sigh rose in his breast, and his tears descended. “ Thou art strong, my son," he said, “ but not like the king of Morven. But who is like that hero among the mighty in war? Let the feast of my halls be spread; and let my bards raise the song. Great is he that is within my walls, sons of echoing Croma !” The feast is spread.' The harp is heard ; and jov 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 moon, spread on a cloud in heaven. At length the music ceased, and the aged king of Croma spoke; he spoke without a tear, but the sigh swelled in the midst of his voice,
“ Son of Fingal ! dost thou not behold the darkness of Crothai's hall of shells? My soul was not dark at the feast, when my people lived. I rejoiced in the presence of strangers, when my son shone in the hall. But, Ossian, he is a beam that is departed, and left no streak of light behind. He is fallen, son of Fingal, in the battles of his father. Rothmar, the chief of grassy Tromla, heard that my eyes had failed: he heard that my arms were fixed in the hall, and the pride of his soul arose. He came towards Croma ; my people fell before him. I took my arm's in the hall; but what could sightless Crothar do? My steps were unequal; ny grief was great. I wished for the days that were st. Days! wherein I fought and conquered in the d of blood. My son returned from the chase; the -haired Fovar-gormo'. He had not lifted his sword aohbar-gorm, 'the blue point of steel,