Page images

like a light from a cloud. He raised the sword in wrath : they shrunk before blue-shielded Gaul !

Joy, like the rustling gále, comes on the soul of the king. He remembers the battles of old; the days, wherein his fathers fought. The days of old return on Fingal's mind, as he beholds the renown of his son. As the son rejoices, from his cloud, over the tree his beams have raised, as it shakes its lonely head on the heath; so joyful is the king over Fillan!

“ As the rolling of thunder on hills, when Lara's fields are still and dark, such are the steps of Selma, pleasant and dreadful to the ear. They return with their sound, like eagles to their dark-browed rock, after the prey is torn on the field, the dun sons of the bounding hind. Your fathers rejoice from their clouds, sons of streamy Selma !”

Such was the nightly voice of bards, on Mora of the hinds. A flame rose, from an hundred oaks, which winds had torn from Cormul's steep. The feast is spread in the midst : around sat the gleaming chiefs. Fingal is there in his strength. The eaglewing * of his helmet sounds. The rustling blasts of the west, unequal rush through night. Long looks the king in silence round : at length, his words are heard.

“ My soul feels a want in our joy. I behold a

* The kings of Caledonia and Ireland had a plume of eagle's feathers, by way of ornament, in their helmets. It was from this distinguished mark that Ossian knew Cathmor, in the se. cond book.

breach among my friends. The head of one tree is low. The squally wind pours in on Selma. Where is the chief of Dun-lora? Ought Connal to be forgot at the feast? When did he forget the stranger, in the midst of his echoing hall ? Ye are silent in my presence ! Connal is then no more. Joy meet thee, O warrior ! like a stream of light. Swift be thy course to thy fathers, along the roaring winds ! Ossian, thy soul is fire: kindle the memory of the king. Awake the battles of Connal, when first he shone in war. The locks of Connal were grey. His days of youth * were mixed with mine. In one day Duthcaron first strung our bows, against the roes of Dun-lora.

“Many,” I said, “ are our paths to battle, in green vallied Erin. Often did our sails arise, over the blue tumbling waves; when we came, in other days, to aid the race of Conar. The strife roared once in Alnecma, at the foam-covered streams of Duth-úla. + With Cormac descended to battle Duthcaron from cloudy Selma. Nor descended Duthcaron alone, his son was by his side, the long-haired youth of Connal

* After the death of Comhal, and during the usurpation of the tribe of Morni, Fingal was educated in private by Duthcaron. It was then he cuntracted that intimacy with Connal, the son of Duthcaron, which occasions his regretting so much his fall. When Fingal was grown up, he soon reduced the tribe of Morni; and, as it appears from the subsequent episode, sent Duthcaron and his son Connal to the aid of Cormac, the son of Conar, king of Ireland, who was driven to the last extremity, by the insurrections of the Firbolg. This episode throws farther light on the contests between the Caol and Firbolg.

of Duth-úla, a river in Connaught; it signifies, dark-rushing


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

lifting the first of his spears. Thou didst command them, O Fingal! to aid the king of Erin.

“ Like the bursting strength of ocean, the sons of Bolga rushed to war. Colc-ulla * was before them, the chief of blue-streaming Atha. The battle was mixed on the plain. Cormact shone in his own strife, bright as the forms of his fathers. But, far before the rest, Duthcaron hewed down the foe. Nor slept the arm of Connal by his father's side. Colc-ulla prevailed on the plain : like scattered mist, fled the people of Cormac. 1

* Colc-ulla, firm look in readiness; he was the brother of Borbar-duthul, the father of Cairbar and Cathmor, who after the death of Cormac, the son of Artho, successively mounted the Irish throne.

of Cormac, the son of Conar, the second king of Ireland, of the race of the Caledonians. 'This insurrection of the Firbolg happened towards the latter end of the long reign of Cormac. He never possessed the Irish throne peaceably. The party of the family of Atha had made several attempts to overturn the succession in the race of Conar, before they effected it, in the minority of Cormac, the son of Artho. Ireland, from the most ancient accounts concerning it, seems to have been always so disturbed by domestic commotions, that it is difficult to say, whether it ever was, for any length of time, subject to one monarch. It is certain, that every province, if not every small district, had its own king. One of these petty princes assumed, at times, the title of king of Ireland, and, on account of his superior force, or in cases of public danger, was acknowledged by the rest as such; but the succession, from father to son, does not appear to have been established. It was the divisions amongst themselves, arising from the bad constitution of their government, that, at last, subjected the Irish to a foreign yoke.

The inhabitants of Ullin or Ulster, who were of the race of the Caledonians, seem, alone, to have been the firm friends to the succession in the family of Conar. The Firbolg were only subject to them by constraint, and embraced every oppor, tunity to throw off their yoke.

. « Then rose the sword of Duthcaron, and the steel of broad-shielded Connal. They shaded their flying friends, like two rocks with their heads of pine. Night came down on Duth-úla : silent strode the chiefs over the field. A mountain-stream roared across the path, nor could Duthcaron bound over its course.” “Why stands my father?” said Connal. "I hear the rushing foe.”

“ Fly, Connal,” he said. “Thy father's strength begins to fail. I come wounded from battle. Here let me rest in night.” “ But thou shalt not remain alone,” said Connal's bursting sigh. “ My shield is an eagle’s wing to cover the king of Dun-lora.” He bends dark above his father. The mighty Duthcaron dies.

Day rose, and night returned. No lonely bard appeared, deep-musing on the heath : and could Connal leave the tomb of his father, till he should receive his fame? He bent the bow against the rose of Duthula. He spread the lonely feast. Seven nights he laid his head on the tomb, and saw his father in his dreams. He saw him rolled, dark, in a blast, like the vapour of reedy Lego. At length the steps of * Colgan came, the bard of high Temora. Duthcaron received his fame, and brightened, as he rose on the wind.

* Colgan, the son of Cathmul, was the principal bard of Cormac, king of Ireland. The following dialogue, on the loves "of Fingal and Ros-crána, may be ascribed to him :

.“ Pleasant to the ear,” said Fingal, “ is the praise of the kings of men ; when their bows are strong in battle; when they soften at the sight of the sad. Thus let my name be renowned, when bards shall lighten my rising soul. Carril, son of Kinfena! take the bards and raise a tomb. To-night let Connal dwell within his narrow house. Let not the soul of the valiant wander on the winds. Faint glimmers the moon

Ros-CRANA. By night, came a dream to Ros-crána! I feel my beating soul. No vision of the forms of the dead came to the blue eyes of Erin. But, rising from the wave of the north, I beheld him bright in his locks. I beheld the son of the king. My beating soul is high. I laid my head down in night ; again ascended the form. Why delayest thou thy coming, young rider of stormy waves!

But, there, far-distant, he comes; where seas roll their green ridges in mist! Young dweller of my soul; why dost thou delay

FINGAL. It was the sofe voice of Moi-lena! the pleasant breeze of the valley of roes! But why dost thou hide thee in shades? Young love of heroes rise. Are not thy steps covered with light ? In thy groves thou appearest, Ros-crána, like the sun in the gathering of clouds. Why dost thou hide thee in shades? Young love of heroes rise.

Ros-CRANA. My fluttering soul is high: Let me turn from the steps of the king. He has heard my secret voice, and shall my blue eyes roll in his presence? Roe of the hill of moss, toward thy lweliing I move. Meet me, ye breezes of Mora! as I move through the valley of winds. But why should he ascend his ocean? Son of heroes, my soul is thine! My steps shall not move to the desert: the light of Ros-crána is here.

Fingal. It was the light tread of a ghost, the fair dweller of eddying winds. Why ceceivest thou me, with thy voice? Here let me rest in shades. Shouldst thou stretch thy white arm from thy grove, thou sun-beam of Cormac of Erin!

Ros-CRANA. He is gone; and my blue eyes are dim ; faintrolling, in all my tears. But, there, I behold him, alone; king of Selma, my soul is thine. Ah me! what clanging of armour! Colc-ulla of Atha is near!


« PreviousContinue »