Page images

comes the king in peace?" " In peace he comes not, Cairbar. I have seen his forward spear '. It is a meteor of death; the blood of thousands is on his steel. Hi came first to the shore, strong in the grey hair of age. Full rose his sinewy limbs, as he strode in his might. That sword is by his side which gives no second d wound. His shield is terrible, like the bloody moon ascending through a storm. Then came Ossian, king of songs; and Morni's son, the first of men. Connal leaps forward on his spear. Dermid spreads his dark-brown locks. Fillan bends his bow, the young hunter of streamy Moruth. But who is that before them, like the dreadful coorse of a stream? It is the son of Ossian, bright between his locks. His long hair falls on his back. His dark brows are half-inclosed in steel. His sword hangs loose on his side. His spear glitters as he moves. I fled from his terrible eyes, king of high Temora."

"Then fly, thou feeble man," said Foldath in gloomy wrath. "Flv to the grey streams of thy land, ion of the little soul f Have not I seen that Oscar ? I beheld the chief in war. He is of the mighty in danger; but there are others who lift the spear. Erin has roanv sow as brave, king of Temora of Groves ! Let Foldath meet him in the strength of his course, and stop this mighty stream. My spear is covered with the blood of the valiant; my shield is like the wall of Tura.

"Shall Foldath' alone meet the foe?" replied the dark-browed Malthos. "Are they not numerous on oor coast, like the waters of many streams? Are not these the chiefs who vanquished Swaran, when the ions of Erin fled? And shall Foldath meet their bravest heroes? Foldath of the heart of pride '. take th: strength of the people; and let Malthos come. My word is red with slaughter, but who has heard my words/?"

d This was the famous sword of Finetd, made by Lima, a smith of Lochlin, and lite him poetically railed the son of Luno: it is said of this sword, that it killed a aunt' yery stroke; that Fingal m'ver used it but in times of the greatest dauger.

t The upposite characters of Foldath and Malthos are strongly marked in sobtequtfil Irts of the poem. They appear always in opposition. The feiids between theirfaaihu,. wetc the source of their hatrtU iu une another, are xnentioncd in othc


"Sons of green Erin," said Hid.-lla*, " let not Fingal hear your words. The foe might rejoice, and his arm be strong in the land. Ye are brave, O warri>rs! and like the storms of the desart; they meet the r.<cks without fear, and overturn the woods. But let us move in our strength, slow as a gathered cloud. Tiien shall the mighty tremble; the spear shall fall from the hand of the valiant. We see the cloud of death, they will say, while shadows fly over their face. Jfingal will mourn in his age, and see his flying fame. The strps of his chiefs will cease in Morven: the moss of years shall grow in Selma."

Cairbar heard their words, in silence, like the cloud of a shower: it stands dark on Cromla, till the lightning borsts its sides : the valley gleams with red light, the spirits of the storm rejoice. So stood the silent king of 'femora; at length his words are heard.

"Spread the feast on Moi-Iena: let mv hundred bards attend. Thou, red-haired Olla, take the harp of the king. Go to Oscar, chief of swords, and hid him to our feast. To-day we feast and hear the song; tomorrow break the spear. Tell him that I have raised tire tomb of Cathol": that bards have song to his ghost. Tell him that Cairbar has head his fame at the stream of resounding Carun'. Cathmor* is not here, Borbarduthul's generous race. He is not here with his thousands, and our arms are weak. Cathmor is a foe to strife at the feast: his soul is bright as that son. But Cairbar shall fight with Oscar, chiefs of the woody Temora! His words for Cathol were many; the wrath of Cairbar burns. He shall fall on Moi-lena: my fame shall rise in blood."

'/ That it, who has heard my vaunting? He intends the expression as a rebuke to the xff-praisc of Foldath.

I Hidalla was the chief of Clonra, a small district on the of lake of legn. The beautf of his person, his eloquence, and genios for poetry, are afterwards mention d.

n Cathol the son of Marnnnan, or Moran, was mordered by Cairbar for his attachm.nt to the family of Cormar. He had attended tlscar to the war of Inia-lh,ua. where they contracted a great friendship for one another. Oscar, immediately ai'ter the d, ath 'a Cathol, had sent a formal challenge to Cairbar, he prudently declined, but conceived a secret hatred against Oscar, and hid ott,renand contrived to kill him at the 'east, to which he here invites him.

'He alludes to the battle of Oscar against Caros, king of ships i who is sopposed to be the same with Cirausios the usorper.

t Cathmor,' great in battle,' the son of Borbar-dothul, and brother of Cairbar king w Ireland, had, before the insorrection of the Firlsila;, passed over into Inis-huna, sop. Pused to be a part of South Biitain, to assist Conmor king of that place against his ene J^es. Cathmor was soccessful in wttr; but, in the course of it, Conmor was either :£l.ed, „r died a natural death. Cairbar, upon intelligence of the designs of Fingal to uethrone him, had dispatched a messenger for Cathmor, who returned into Ireland a

~ ^ai' '-^torethe opening of the poem.

Caj!ivr ne^ rakes advantage of his brother's absence, to perpetrate his ungenerous *^rtni a—,inst Uscar; for the nuble spirit of Cathmor, had he been present, would not permitted the laws of hospitality, fur which he was so renowned himself, to be Vor U I

Their faces brightened round with joy. They spread over Moi-lena. The feast of shells is prepared. The songs of bards arise. We heard' the voice of joy on the coast: we thought that mighty Cathmor came. Cathmor the friend of strangers'. the brother of redhaired 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 least! But Cathmor dwelt in the wood to avoid the voice of praise.

Olla came with his songs. Oscar came to Cairbat's feast. Three hundred warriors strode along Moi-lena of the streams. The grey dogs bounded on the heaths their howling reached afar. Fingal saw the departing hero; the soul of the king was sad. He dreaded Cairbar's gloomy thoughts, amidst the feast of shells. My son raised high the spear of Cormac: an hundred barci. 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.

vioiated. The twobrothers form acontrast; we do not detest the mean soul of Cii.'' mores then we admire the disinterested and generous mind of Cathmor.

/ Fingal's army heard the loy that was in Cairbar's camp. The character giee e cf Cathmor is agreeable to the times. Somes through ostentations were hospitable: txA others fell naturally into a costom handed down from their ancestors. But what nvi-as strongly the character of Cathmors is his aversion to praise; lor he is represented to dwell in a wood to avoid the thanks of his guests ; which Is still a higher decree af pasrosity than that of .\ xylu . in Homer i lor the poet does not says but the good oiall mights at the head of his own tahics hai • beard with pleasore the praise bestowed ot him by the people he entertained.

No nation In the world carried hospitality tp a greater length than the ancient Scot*' Tt was even iofamouss tor many agess for a man of condition to have the door of at| house shut at alls i' lests" as the bards express its i' the stranger should come and !s. hold his contracted soul." some of the chiefs were possessed of this hospitalite d*ri-H sitlon to an extravagant degree; and the hardss perhaps opon a selfish accounts n^sfl failed to recommend its in their culugioms. ii Cean-ina' na dai's or the point to "Q:,.i' all the roads of the strangers lead," was an invariable epithet given by them to tajj chiefs: on the contrarys they distingoish the inhospitable by the title of l' theewssn which the strangers shun." This lasts howevers was so uncommons that in all the ,U:

forts I have ever met withs I found but one man branded with this ignominious ap;-.;-| ;tlon ; and thats perhapss only founded opon a private ituarrels which sobsisted bet«li* siim suul me patron of the bard who wrote tin. poem.

Cairbar rose in his arms; darkness gathered on his brow. The hundred harps ceased at once. The clang" of shields was heard. Far distant on the heath, 01la raised his song of woe. My son knew the sign of death, and rising, seized his spear. "Oscar's" said the darkred Cairbar, " I behold the spear" of Inisfail. The spear of Temora8 glitters in thy hands son of woody Morven! It was the pride of an 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, when Oscar scattered his foes ? I came to Cormac's halls of joy, when 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, O Cairbar, neither to the weak in soul. The darkness of thy face is no storm to me; nor are thine eyes the flames of death. Do I fear thy clanging shield? Tremble I at Olla's song? No: Cairbars frighten the feeble, Oscar is a rock."

"And .wilt thou not yield the spear i" replied the rising pride of Cairbar. "Are thy words so mighty because Fingal is near? Fingal with aged locks from Morven's hundred groves! He has fought with little men. But he must vanish from Cairbar, like a thin pillar of mist before the winds of Atha«!" "Were he who fought with little men near Atha's darkening chief; Atha's darkening chief would yield green Erin to avoid his rage. Speak not of the mighty, 0 Cairbar! but turn thy sword on me. Our strength is equal; but Fingil is renowned! the first of mortal men."

"i When a chief was determined vi kill :i person already in his powers it was usoul to signify that his death was intendeds by the sound of a shield struck with the blimt ind of a sp'^ar; at the same time that a bard at a distance raised the death-song. A ceremony of another kind was long used in Scotland opon soch occasions. Evry body has heard that a bull's head was served op to Lord Douglas in the castle of Edinborgh* la a certain signal of his auproachini; death.

* Cormacs the son of Arths had given the spears which is here the foundation of the Slarrcls to Oscars when tie came to congratulate him opon Swaran's being eipciied f'Um Ireland.

o Ti-inor-raths i the house of good fortunes' the name of the royal palace of the lapreine king of Ireland.

• Hundred is here an indefinite nombers and is only intended to express a great many. It was probably the hyperbolical phrases of bardss that gave the first hint tu the Iriih iseim^hics to place the origin of their monarchy in so remote a period as they; have done.

q Athas' shallow ri iCr:' tao name of Cairbar's seat in Connaugut.

Their people saw the darkening chiefs. Their crowding steps are heard around. Their eyes roll in fire. A thousand swords are half unsheathed. Red-haired Olla raised 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 a coasts came on the host ot Cairbar.

Daughter of Toscair! why that tear? He is not fallen yet. Many were the deaths of his arm before my hero fell!

Behold thev fall before my son like the groves in the desart, when an angry ghost rushes through night, and takes their green heads in his hand! Morlath falls: Maronnan dies: Conachar trembles in his blood. Cairbar shrink, before Oscar's sword; and creeps in darkness behind his stone. He lifted the spear in secret, and pierced my Oscar's side. He falls forward on his shield: his knee sostains the chief. But still the spear is in his hand. See gloomy Cairbars falls! The steel

r Malvinas the daughter of Toscars to whom he addressee the part of the poem which relates to the death of Oscar her lover.

s The Irish historians plate :he death of Cairbar in the latter end of the third cen. tory: they says he was kiliul in tattle against Oscar the son of Ussians but deny Out he fell by his hand.

It iss tioweiwrs certains that the Irish historians disgoises in some measores this part of their history. An Irish poem on this soblects which undoubtedly was the seurce ot their ioformations concerning the battle of Gabhnrs "here Cairbar t' islutt now U my hands. The circomstances ere less to the oisadvantage cf the character of Cairbars than those related by Ossian. As a translation of the poem (whichs though e videntlf no very ancient compositions does not want poetical meritjs would extend this note ta too great a lengths 1 shall only give the story of it in briefs with some extracts from Ue original Irish.

Oscars says the Irish bards was invited to a feasts at Temoras by Cairbar ting of Ireland. A dispote arose between the two heroess concerning the exchange of spews which was osoally made between the guests and their hosts opon soch occasions. li the course of this altercations Cairbar saids in a boastfol manners that he would host on the hills of Alhions and carry the spoils of it into lrelaiids in spite of all the effort! of its inhahitants. The original words are:

Briathar burin sin; Briatharbuan

A bheire dh an Cairbre rua'.

Git tugai se s.ealgs agus creach

A h' All in an la'r namhaireach. Oscar replieds thtt the next days he himself wonld carry into Alhion tliespoilsof ts* 6ve provinces of Irelands. n spite of the opposition of Cairbar.

Briathar eilc an aphail fin

A bhcirea' an t'Oscars ugs calma

Gu'n tugadh se sealgs tgos cteach

Vo dh'Alton an la'r na mhaireachs Scci

« PreviousContinue »