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In the echoing bay of Carmona* we saw, one day, the bounding ship. On high, hung a broken shield; it was marked with wandering blood. Forward came a youth, in arms, and stretched his pointless spear. Long, over his tearful eyes, hung loose his disordered locks. Fingal gave the shell of kings. The words of the stranger arose. "In his hall lies Cathmol of Clutha, by the winding of his own dark streams. Duth-carmor saw white-bosomed Lanul,f and pierced
* Car-mona, bay of the dark-brown hills, an arm of the sea, in the neighbourhood of Selma. In this paragraph are mentioned the signals presented to Fingal, by those who came to demand his aid. The suppliants held, in one hand, a shield covered with blood, and, in the other, a broken spear; the first a symbol of the death of their friends, the last an emblem of their own helpless situation. If the king chose to grant succours, which generally was the case, he reached to them the shell of feasts, as a token of his hospitality and friendly intentions towards them.
It may not be disagreeable to the reader to lay here before him the ceremony of the Cran-tara, which was of a similar nature, and, till very lately, used in the Highlands. When the news of an enemy came to the residence of the chief, he immediately killed a goat with his own sword, dipped the end of an half-burnt piece of wood in the blood, and gave it to one of his servants, to be carried to the next hamlet. From hamlet to hamlet this tessera was carried with the utmost expedition, and, in the space of a few hours, the whole clan were in arms, and convened in an appointed place; the name of which was the only word that accompanied the delivery of the Cran-tara. This symbol was the manifesto of the chief, by which he threatened fire and sword to those of his clan, that did not immediately appear at his standard.
f Lanul, full-eyed, a surname which, according to tradition, was bestowed on the daughter of Cathmol, on account of her beauty; this tradition, however, may have been founded on that partiality, which the bards have shewn to Cathlin of Clutha; for, according to them, no falshood could dwell in the sovl of the lonely.
her father's side. In the rushy desert were my steps. He fled in the season of night. Give thine aid to Cathlin to revenge his father. I sought thee not as a beam, in a land of clouds. Thou, like the sun, art known, king of echoing Selma!
Selma's king looked around. In his presence, we rose in arms. But who should lift the shield? for all had claimed the war. The night came down; we strode, in silence; each to his hill of ghosts: that spirits might descend, in our dreams, to mark us for the field. We struck the shield of the dead: we raised the hum of songs. We thrice called the ghosts of our fathers. We laid us down in dreams. Trenmor came, before mine eyes, the tall form of other years! His blue hosts were behind him in half-distinguished rows. Scarce seen is their strife in mist, or their stretching forward to deaths. I listened; but no sound was there. The forms were empty wind!
I started from the dream of ghosts. On a sudden blast flew my whistling hair. Low-sounding, in the oak, is the departure of the dead. I took my shield from its bough. Onward came the rattling of steel. It was Oscar* of Lego. He had seen his fathers. "As rushes forth the blast, on the bosom of whiten- * Oscar is here called Oscar of Lego, from his mother being the daughter of Branno, a powerful chief, on the banks of that lake. It is remarkable that Ossian addresses no poem to Malvina, in which her lover Oscar was not one of the principal actors. His attention to her, after the death of his son, shews that delicacy of sentiment is not confined, as some fondly imagine, to our own polished times.
ing waves; so careless shall my course be, through ocean, to the dwelling of foes. I have seen the dead, my father! My beating soul is high! My fame is bright before me, like the streak of light on a cloud, when the broad sun comes forth, red traveller of the sky!"
"Grandson of Branno," I said; "not Oscar alone shall meet the foe. I rush forward, thro' ocean, to the woody dwelling of heroes. Let us contend, my son, like eagles, from one rock; when they lift their broad wings, against the stream of winds." We raised our sails in Carmona. From three ships, they marked my shield on the wave, as I looked on nightly Ton-thena,* red traveller between the clouds. Four days came the breeze abroad. Lumon came forward in mist. In winds were its hundred groves. Sun-beams marked, at times, its brown side. White, leapt the foamy streams, from all its echoing rocks.
A green field, in the bosom of hills, winds silent with its own blue stream. Here midst the waving of oaks, were the dwellings of kings of old. But silence, for many dark-brown years, had settled in grassy
* Ton-thena, fire of the wane, was the remarkable star mentioned in the seventh book of Temora, which directed the course of Larthon to Ireland. It seems to have been well known to those, who sailed on that sea, which divides Ireland from South Britain. As the course of Ossian was along the coast of Inis-buna, he mentions with propriety, that star which directed the voyage of the colony from that oountry to Ireland.
Rath-col ;* for the race of heroes had failed, along the pleasant vale. Duth-carmor was here, with his people, dark rider of the wave. Ton-thena had hid her head in the sky. He bound his white-bosomed sails. His course is on the hills of Rath-col, to the seats of roes. We came. I sent the bard, with songs, to call the foe to fight. Duth-carmor heard him, with joy. The king's soul was like a beam of fire; a beam of fire, marked with smoke, rushing, varied thro' the bosom of night. The deeds of Duthcarmor were dark, tho' his arm was strong.
Night came, with the gathering of clouds. By the beam of the oak we sat down. At a distance stood Cathlin of Clutha. I saw the changeful f soul of the stranger. As shadows fly over the field of grass, so various is Cathlin's cheek. It was fair,
* Rath-col, woody field, does not appear to have been the residence of Duth-carmor: he seems rather to have been forced thither by a storm; at least I should think that to be the meaning of the poet, from his expression, that Ton-thena had hid her head, and that he bound his white-bosomed sails; which is as much as to say, that the weather was stormy, and that Duthcarmor put in to the bay of Rath-col for shelter.
f From this circumstance, succeeding bards feigned that Cathlin, who is here in the disguise of a young warrior, had fallen in love with Duth-carmor at a feast, to which he had been invited by her father. Her love was converted into detestation for him, after he had murdered her father. But as those rain-bows of heaven are changeful, say my authors, speaking of women, she felt the return of her former passion, upon the approach of Duth-carmor's danger. I myself, who think more favourably of the sex, must attribute the agitation of Cathlin's mind to her extreme sensibility to the injuries done her by Duth-carmor; and this opinion is favoured by the sequel of the story.
within locks, that rose on Rath-col's wind. I did not rush, amidst his soul, with my words. I bade the song to rise.
"Oscar of Lego," I said, "be thine the secret hill,* to-night. Strike the shield, like Morven's kings. With day, thou shalt lead in war. From my rock, I shall see thee, Oscar, a dreadful form ascending in fight, like the appearance of ghosts, amidst the storms they raise. Why should mine eyes return to the dim times of old, ere yet the song had bursted forth, like the sudden rising of winds? But the years, that are past, are marked with mighty deeds. As the nightly rider of waves looks up to Tonthena of beams: so let us turn our eyes to Trenmor, the father of kings."
"Wide, in Caracha's echoing field, Carmal had poured his tribes. They were a dark ridge of waves. The grey-haired bards were like moving foam on their face. They kindled the strife around, with their redrolling eyes. Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; a son of Loda was there; a voice in his own dark
* This passage alludes to the well known custom among the ancient kings of Scotland, to retire from their army on the night preceding a battle. The story which Ossian introduces in the next paragraph, concerns the fall of the Druids. It is said in many old poems, that the Druids, in the extremity of their affairs, had solicited and obtained aid from Scandinavia. Among the auxiliaries there came many pretended magicians, which circumstance Ossian alludes to, in his description of the son of Loda. Magic and incantation could not, however, prevail; for Trenmor, assisted by the valour of his son Trathal, entirely broke the power of the Druids.