Page images

the unknown faces of her fathers, and torns aside her humid eyes. "Art thou come io soon," said Fingai, "daughter of generous Toscar? Sadness dwells in the halls of Lutha. My aged-' son is sad. I hear the breeze of Cona, that was wont to lift thy heavy locks. It comes to the hall, but thou art not there; its voice is mournful among the arms of thy fathers. Go with thy rustling wing, O breeze! and sigh on Malvina's tomb. It rises yonder beneath the rock, at the blue stream of Lutha. The maids* are departed to their place; and thou alone, O breeze, moornest there."

But who comes from the dusky west, sopported on a cloud? A smile is on his grey W2tery face; his locks of mist fly on the wind: he bends forward on his airy spear: it is thy father, Malvina! " Why shinest thou so soon on our clouds," he says, " 0 lovely light of .Lutha? But thou wert sad, my daughter, for thy friends were passed away. The sons of little men' were in the hall: and none remained of the heroes, but Ossian, king of spears."

And dost thou remember Ossian, car-borne Toscar., son of Conloch? the battles of our youth were many; our swords went together to the field. They saw us coming like two falling rocks; and the sons of the stranger fled. "There come the warriors of Cona.'' they said; their steps are in the paths of the vanquished r" Draw near, son of Alpin, to the song of tht aged. The actions of other times are in my soul: my memory beams on the days that are past! On the day; of the mighty Toscar, when our path was in the deep. Draw near, son of Alpin, to the last sound of the voice of Cona.

The king of Morven commanded, and I raised my sails to the wind. Toscar, chief of Latha, stood at my :side, as I rode on the dark-blue wave. Our coorse Wa3 to sea-surrounded Berrathon*, the isle of many storms. There dwelt, with his locks of age, the stately strength of Larthmor. Larthmor who spread the feast of shells to Comhal's mighty son, when he went to Starno's halls, in the days of Agandecca. But when the chief was old, the pride of his son arose, the pride of fair-haired Uthal, the love of a thousand maids. He bound the aged Larthmor, and dwelt in his sounding halls.

/ Ossian; wbo had a great friendship for Malvina, both on account of her lore for hi' aon Oscar, and her attention to his own poems.

g That is, the young virgins who song the foneral elegy over her tomb.

.b Ossian, by way of disrespect, calls those who socceeded the heroes whose action ke celebrates, " the sons of little men." Tradition is entirely siient concerning whit -passed in the north, immediately after the death of Fingai and all his heroes; but it as. pears, from the term of ignominy just mentioned, that the actions of their soccessor. were not to be compoted to those ot the xenewned Fingalians.

i Toscar was the son of that Conlnch, who was also father to the lady whose unlet, r-,nate death is related in the last episode of the second book of Fingai.

Long pined the king in his cave, beside his rolling sea. Morning did not come to his dwelling; nor the borning oak by night. But the wind of ocean was there, and the parting beam or the moon. The red star looked on the king, when it trembled on the western wave. Snitho came to Selma's hall: Snitho, companion of Larthmor's youth. He told of the king of Berrathon: the wrath of Fingal rose. Thrice he assomed the spear, resolved to stretch his hand to Uthal. But the memory' of his actions rose before the king, and he sent his son and Toscar. Our joy was great on the rolling sea; and we often half-unsheathed our swords. For never before had we fought alone in the battles of the spear.

Night came down on the ocean; the winds departed en their wings. Cold and pale is the moon. The red stars lift their heads. Our course is slow along the coast of Berrathon; the white waves tumble on the rocks. "What voice is that," said Toscar, " which comes between the sounds of the wave? It is soft, but mournful, like the voice of departed bards. But I behold the maidTM, she sits on the rock alone. Her head hends on her arm of snow: her dark hair is in the wind. Hear, son of Fingal, her song; it is smooth as the gliding wfaters of Lavath." We came to the silent bay, and heard the maid of night.

k Bar-rathon, . apromontory in the midst of waves.'

I The meaning of the poet is, that Fintral remembered fail own ereat actions, and consequently would not solly them by engaging in a petty war against Uthal, who v.-** .0 far his inferior in valour and power.

. m Nina-thoma the daughter of Torthoma, who had been coaiiacJ to a dcsarl island »y her lover Uthal.

"How long will ye roll about me, blue-tumbling waters of ocean? My dwelling was not always in caves, nor beneath the whistling tree. The feast was spread in Torthoma's hall; my father delighted in my voice. The youths beheld me in the steps of my loveliness, and they blessed the dark-haired Nina-thoma. It was then thou didst come, O Uthal! like the son of heaven. The souls of the virgins are thine, son of generous Larthmor! But why dost thou leave me alone in the midst of roaring waters? Was my soul dark with thy death? Did my white hand lift the sword? Why then hast thou left me alone, king of high Finthormo"?

The tear started from my eye when I heard the Voice of the maid. I stood before her in my arms, and spoke the words of peace. "Lovely dweller of the cave, what sigh is in that breast? Shall Ossian lift his sword in thy presence, the destruction of thy foes? Daughter of Torthoma, rise, I have heard the words of thy grief. The race of Morven are around thee, who never injured the weak. Come to our dark-bosomed ship, thou brighter than that setting moon. Our course is to the rocky Berrathon, to the echoing walls of Finthormo." She came in her beauty, she came with all her lovely steps. Silent joy brightened in her face, as when the shadows fly from the field of spring; the blue stream is rolling in brightness, and the green bush bends over its course.

The morning rose with its beams. We came to Rothma's bay. A boar rushed from the wood; my spear pierced his side. I rejoiced over the blood', and foresaw my growing fame. But now the sound of Uthal's train came from the high Finthormo; they spread over the heith to the chase of the boar. Himself comes slowly on, in the pride of his strength. He lifts two pointed spears. On his side is the hero's sword. Three youths carry his polish'd bows: the sounding of five dogs is before him.. His warriors bov« on at a distance, admiring the steps of the king. Stately was the son of Larthmor! but his soul was lark. Dark as the troubled face of the moon when it pretells the storms.

si Finthormo. the palace of uthal. The names In this r/pisode are not of a Celtic eci

gliul: which makes it probable that Ossian founds his poem on a true story.

• Ossian thought th-i i his killing the boars on his first landing in Berrathons was'

'ii omen of his futore soccess in that island. The present Highlanders look with .

te of soperstitions upon the soccess of their first actions after they have engaged is

'esperate ondertaking.

[ We rose on the heath before the king; he stopt in pie midst of his coorse. His warriors gathered around, ind a grey-haired bard advanced. "Whence are the pons of the strangers?" begun the bard. The children bf the unhappy come to Berrathon; to the sword of car-borne Uthal. He spreads no feast in the hall: the blood of strangers is on his streams. If from Selma's walls ye come, from the mossy walls of Fingal, chuse three youths to go to your king to tell of the fall of his people. Perhaps the hero may come and pour his blood on Uthal's sword: so shall the fame of Finthoimo arise, like the growing tree of the vale."

"Never will I rise, O bard," I said in the pride of my wrath. "He would shrink in the presence of Fingal; whose eyes are the flames of death. The son of Comhal comes, and the kings vanish in his presence; they are rolled together, like mist, by the breath of his rage. Shall three tell to Fingal, that his people fell? Yes! they may tell it, bard'. but his people shall fall with fame."

I stood in the darkness of my strength: Toscar drew his sword at my side. The foe came on like a stream : the mingled sound of death arose. Man took man, shield met shield; steel mixed its beams with steel. Darts hiss through air; spears ring on mails; and swords on broken bucklers bound. As the noise of an aged grove beneath the roaring wind, when a thousand ghosts break the trees by night, soch was the din of arms. But Uthal fell beneath my sword; and the sons of Berrathon fled.. It was then 1 saw him in his beauty, and the tearhrung in my eye. Thou art fallen ', young tree," I said, " with all thy beauty round thee^ Thou art fallen on thy plains, and the field is bare. The winds come from the desart, and there is no sound in thy leaves: Lovely art thou in death, son of carborne Larthmor."

p To mourn over the fall of their enemies was a practice universal among Ossian'a neroes. This is more agreeable to humanity, than the shameful insolting of the dead, so common in Homer, and after him servilely copied by all his imitators, the humans Virgil not excepted, who have been more soccessful in burrowing the iu.,erk'Uioiu to* that great pucin, than m tu .' imitations of beautieu.

Nina-thoma sat on the shore, and heard the sound of battle. She turned her red eyes on Lethmal the grey-haired bard of Selma, for he had remained on the coast with the daughter of Torthoma. "Son of the times of old '." she said, " I hear the noise of death. Thy friends have met with Uthal, and the chief is low! O that I had remained on the rock, inclosed with the tumbling waves'. Then would my soul be sad, but his death would not reach my ear. Art thou fallen on thy heath, O son of high Finthormo! thou didst leave me on a rock, but my soul was full of thee. Son of high Finthormo! art thou fallen on thy heath?"

She rose pale in her tears, and saw the bloody shield of Uthal; she saw it in Ossian's hand; her steps were distracted on the heath. She flew; she found him; she fell. Her soul came forth in a sigh. Her hair is spread on his face. My bursting tears descend. A ^tomb arose on the unhappy, and my song was heard. "Rest, hapless children of youth! at the noise of that mossy stream. The virgins will see your tomb at the chase, and turn away their weeping eyes. Your fame will be in the song; the voice of the harp will be heard in your praise. The daughters of Selma shall hear it; and your renown shall be in other lands. Rest, children of youth, at the noise of the mossy stream."

Two days we remained on the coast. The heroes of Berrathon convened. We brought Larthmor to his halls; the feast of shells was spread. The joy of the aged was great; he looked to the arms of his fathers: the arms which he left in his hall, when the pride of Uthal arose. We were renowned before Larthmor, and he blessed the chiefs of Morven; but he knew not that his son was low, the stately strength of Uthal. They had told that he had retired to the woods, with the tears of grief; they had told it, but he was silent a the tomb of Rothma's heath.

« PreviousContinue »