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his darkening years. He must not fall, as an aged oak, across a secret stream. Near it are the steps of the hunter, as it lies beneath the wind. “ How has that tree fallen ?” he says, and, whistling, strides along. Raise the song of joy, ye bards of Morven ! Let our souls forget the past. The red stars look on us from clouds, and silently descend. Soon shall the grey beam of the morning rise, and shew us the foes of Cormac. Fillan! my son, take thou the spear of the king. Go to Mora's dark-brown side. Let thine eyes travel over the heath. Observe the foes of Fingal: Observe the course of generous Cathmor. I hear a distant sound, like falling rocks in the desert. But strike thou thy shield, at times, that they may not come thro' night, and the fame of Morven cease. I begin to be alone, my son. I dread the fall of my renown !”
The voice of bards arose. The king leaned on the shield of Trenmor. Sleep descended on his eyes. His future battles arose in his dreams. The host are sleeping around. Dark-haired Finlan observes the foe. His steps are on a distant hill. We hear, at times, his clanging shield.
AN EPIC POEM.
ARGUMENT. This book opens, we may suppose, about midnight, with a
soliloquy of Ossian, who had retired, from the rest of the army, to mourn for his son Oscar. Upon hearing the noise of Cathmor's army approaching, he went to find out his brother Fillan, who kept the watch, on the hill of Mora, in the front of Fingal's army. In the conversation of the bro. thers, the episode of Conar, the son of Trenmor, who was the first king of Ireland, is introduced, which lays open the origin of the contests between the Caël and Firbolg, the two nations who first possessed themselves of that island. Ossian kindles a fire on Mora ; upon which Cathmor desisted from the design he had formed of surprizing the army of the Caledonians. He calls a council of his chiefs; reprimands Foldath for advising a night-attack, as the Irish army were so • much superior in number to the enemy. The bard Fonar introduces the story of Crothar, the ancestor of the king, which throws further light on the history of Ireland, and the original pretensions of the family of Atha, to the throne of that kingdom. The Irish chiefs lie down to rest, and Cathmor himself undertakes the watch. In his circuit, round the army, he is met by Ossian. The interview of the two heroes is described. Cathmor obtains a promise from Ossian, to order a funeral elegy to be sung over the grave of Cairbar; it being the opinion of the times, that the souls of the dead could not be happy, till their elegies were sung by a bard. Morning comes. Cathmor and Osian part; and the latter, casually meeting with Carril the son of Kinfena, sends that bard, with a funeral song to the tomb of Cairbar.
Book Second. * Father of heroes! O Trenmor! High dweller of eddying winds ! where the dark-red thunder marks the troubled clouds! Open thou thy stormy halls. Let the bards of old be near. Let them draw near, with songs and their half-viewless harps. No dweller of misty valley comes ! No hunter unknown at his streams! It is the car-borne Oscar, from the fields of war. Sudden is thy change, my son, from what thou wert on dark Moi-lena ! The blast folds thee in its skirt, and rustles thro' the sky! Dost thou not behold thy father, at the stream of night? The chiefs of Morven sleep far-distant. They have lost no son! But ye have lost a hero, chiefs of resounding Morven! Who could equal his strength, when battle roll. ed against his side, like the darkness of crowded waters? Why this cloud on Ossian's soul ? It ought to burn in danger. Erin is near with her host. The king of Selma is alone. Alone thou shalt not be, . my father, while I can lift the spear !
* Though this book has little action, it is not the least important part of Temora. The poet, in several episodes, runs up the cause of the war to the very source. The first population of Ireland, the wars between the two nations who originally possessed that island, its first race of kings, and the revolutions of its government, are important facts, and are delivered by the poet, with so little mixture of the fabulous, that one cannot help preferring his accounts to the improbable fictions of the Scotch and Irish historians. The Milesian fables bear about them the marks of a late invention. To trace their legends to their source would be no difficult task; but a disquisition of this sort would extend this note too far.
I rose, in all my arms. I rose and listened to the wind. The shield of Fillan * is not heard. I tremble for the son of Fingal. “Why should the foe come by night? Why should the dark-haired warrior fail ?” Distant, sullen murmurs rise : like the noise of the lake of Lego, when its waters shrink, in the days of frost, and all its bursting ice resounds. The people of Lara look to heaven, and foresee the storm! My steps are forward on the heath. The spear of Oscar in my hand ! Red stars looked from high. I gleamed, along the night.
I saw Fillan silent before me, bending forward from Mora's rock. He heard the shout of the foe. The joy of his soul arose. He heard my sounding tread, and turned his lifted spear. « Comest thou, son of night, in peace? Or dost thou meet my wrath? The foes of Fingal are mine. Speak, or fear my steel. I stand not, in vain, the shield of Morven's race.”
* We understand, from the preceding book, that Cathmor was near with an army. When Cairbar was killed, the tribes who attended him fell back to Cathmor ; who, as it afterwards appears, had taken a resolution to surprize Fingal by night. Fillan was dispatched to the hill of Mora, which was in the front of the Caledonians, to observe the motions of Cathmor. In this situation were affairs when Ossian, upon hearing the noise of the approaching enemy, went to find out his brother. Their conversation naturally introduces the episode, concerning Conar the son of Trenmor, the first Irish monarch, which is so necessary to the understanding the foundation of the rebellion and usurpation of Cairbar and Cathmor. Fillan was the youngest of the sons of Fingal, then living. He and Bosmina, mentioned in the battle of Lora, were the only children of the king, by Clatho the daughter of Cathulla king of Inis-tore, whom he had taken to wife, after the death of Ros-crana, the daughter of Cormac Mac-Conar king of Ireland.