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* Grey, on his pointless spear, came forth the aged steps of Cormac. He smiled, from his waving locks; but grief was in his soul. He saw us few before him, and his sigh arose. “I see the arms of Trenmor,” he said ; " and these are the steps of the king! Fingal ! thou art a beam of light to Cormac's darkened soul. Early is thy fame, my son: but strong are the foes of Erin. They are like the roar of streams in the land, son of car-borne Comhal !" “ Yet they may be rolled * away,” I said in my rising soul. “We are not of the race of the feeble, king of blue-shielded hosts! Why should fear come amongst us, like a ghost of night? The soul of the valiant grows, when foes increase in the field. Roll no darkness, king of Erin, on the young in war !”
“ The bursting tears of the king came down. He seized my hand in silence.” “Race of the daring Trenmor!” at length he said, “ I roll no cloud before thee. Thou burnest in the fire of thy fathers. I behold thy fame. It marks thy course in battle, like a stream of light. But wait the coming of Cair
this princess Their stories, however, concerning Fingal, if they mean him by Fion Muc-Comnal, are so inconsistent and notoriously fabulous, that they do not deserve to be mention. ed; for they evidently bear, along with them, the marks of late invention.
* Cormac had said that the foes were like the roar of streams, and Fingal continues the metaphor. The speech of the young hero is spirited, and consistent with that sedate intrepidity, which eminently distinguishes his character throughout.
bar,* my son must join thy sword. He calls the sons of Erin, from all their distant streams.”
“We came to the hall of the king, where it rose in the midst of rocks, on whose dark sides were the marks of streams of old. Broad oaks bend around with their moss. The thick birch is waving near. Half-hid, in her shady grove, Ros-crána raises the song. Her white hands move on the harp. 1 beheld her blue-rolling eyes. She was like a spirit + of hea. ven half-folded in the skirt of a cloud !”
* Cairbar, the son of Cormac, was afterwards king of Ire. land. His reign was short. He was succeeded by his son Artho, the father of that Cormac who was murdered by Cairbar the son of Borbar-duthul. Cairbar, the son of Cormac, long after his son Artho was grown to man's estaie, had, by his wife Belianno, another son, whose name was l'erad-artho. He was the only one reniaining of the race of Conar the first king of Ireland, when Fingal's expedition against Cairbar the son of Borbar-duthul happened. See more of Ferad-artho in the eighth book.
of The attitude of Ros-crána is illustrated by this simile; for the ideas of those times, concerning the spirits of the deceased, were not so gloomy and disagreeable, as those of succeeding ages. The spirits of women, it was supposed, retained that beauty, which they possessed while living, and transported themselves, from place to place, with that gliding motion, which Homer ascribes to the gods, The descriptions which poets, less ancient than Ossian, have left us of those beautiful figures, that appeared sometimes on the hills, are elegant and picturesque. They compare them to the ruin-low on streams; or, the gilding of sun-beams on the hills.
A chief who lived three centuries ago, returning from the war, understood that his wife or mistress was dead. A bard introduces him speaking the following soliloquy, when he came within sight of the place, where he had left her, at his departure:
« My soul darkens in sorrow, I behold not the smoak of my hall. No grey dog buunds at my streams. Silence dwells in the valley of trees.
· " Three days we feast at Moi-lena. She rises bright in my troubled soul. Cormac beheld me dark. He gave the white-bosomed maid. She comes with bending eye, amid the wandering of her heavy locks. She came! Straight the battle roared. Colc-ulla appeared : I took my spear. My sword rose, with my people, against the ridgy foe. Alnecma fled. Colculla fell. Fingal returned with fame."
“Renowned is he, Fillan! who fights, in the strength of his host. The bard pursues his steps, thro' the land of the foe. But he who fights alone; few are his deeds to other times ! He shines, to-day, a mighty light. To.morrow, he is low. One song contains his fame. His name is on one dark field. He is forgot; but where his tomb sends forth the tufted grass."
Such are the words of Fingal, on Mora of the roes. Three bards, from the rock of Cornul, pour down the pleasing song. Sleep descends, in the sound, on the broad-skirted host. Carril returned, with the bards, from the tomb of Dun lora's chief. The voice of morning shall not come to the dusky bed of Duth
“Is that a rain-bow on Crunath? It flies: and the sky is dark. Again, thou movest, bright, on the heath, thou sunbeam cloathed in a shower! Hah! it is she, my love! her gliding course on the bosum of winds!"
In succeeding times the beauty of Ros-crána, passed into a proverb ; and the highest compliment, that could be paid to a woman, was to compare her person with the daughter of Cormac,
'S tu fein an Ros-crána.
caron. No more shalt thou hear the tread of roes around thy narrow house !
As roll the troubled clouds, round a meteor of night, when they brighten their sides, with its light, along the heaving sea : so gathers Erin, around the gleaming form of Cathmor. He, tall in the midst, careless lifts, at times, his spear : as swells or falls the sound of Fonar’s distant harp. * Near him leaned, against a rock, Sul-malla t of blue eyes, the white-bosomed daughter of Conmor, king of Inishuna. To his aid came blue-shielded Cathmor, and
* In order to illustrate this passage, I shall give, here, the history on which it is founded, as I have gathered it from tradition. The nation of the Firbolg who inhabited the south of Tree land, being originally descended from the Belgæ, who possessed the south and south-west coast of Britain, kept up, for many ages, an amicable correspondence with their mother-country; and seut aid to the British Belgæ, when they were pressed by the Romans or other new comers from the continent. Conmor, king of Inis-huna (that part of South Britain which is over against the Irish coast) being attacked, by what enemy is not mentioned, sent for aid to Cairbar, lord of Atha, the most potent chief of the Firbolz. Cairbar dispatched his brother Cathmor to the assistance of Con-mor. Cathmor, after various vicissitudes of fortune, put an end to the war, by the total defeat of the enemies of Inis-huna, and returned in triumph to the residence of Con-mor. There, at a feast, Sul-malla, che daughter of Con-mor, fell desperately in love with Cathmor, who, before her passion was disclosed, was recalled to Ireland by his brother Cairbar, upon the news of the intended expedition of Fingal, to re-establish the family of Conar on the Irish throne. The wind being contrary, Cathmor remained, for three days, in a neighbouring bay, during which time Sul-malla dis. guised herself in the habit of a young warrior, and came to offer him her service in the war. Cathmor accepted of the proposal, sailed for Ireland, and arrived in Ulster a few days before the death of Cairbar.
to Sul-malla, slowly-rolling eyes. Caon-mór, mild und tall. Inis-huna, green island.
rolled his foes away. Sul-malla beheld him stately in the hall of feasts. Nor careless rolled the eyes of Cathmor on the long-haired maid !
The third day arose, when Fithil * came, from Erin of the streams. He told of the lifting up of the shield+ in Selma: He told of the danger of Cairbar. Cathmor raised the sail at Cluba : but the winds were in other lands. Three days he remained on the coast, and turned his eyes on Conmor's halls. He remembered the daughter of strangers, and his sigh arose. Now when the winds awaked the wave : from the hill came a youth in arms; to lift the sword with Cathmor, in his echoing fields. It was the white
* Fithil, an inferior bard. It may either be taken here for the proper name of a man, or in the literal sense, as the bards were the heralds and messengers of those times. Cathmor, it is probable, was absent, when the rebellion of his brother Cairbar, and the assassination of Cormac, king of Ireland, happened. Cathmor and his followers had only arrived, from Inishuna, three days before the death of Cairbar, which sufficiently clears his character from any imputation of being concerned in the conspiracy, with his brother.
of The ceremony which was used by Fingal, when he prepared for an expedition, is related thus in tradition : A bard, at mid-night, went to the hall, where the tribes feasted upon solemn occasions, raised the war song, and thrice called the spirits of their deceased ancestors to come, on their clouds, to behold the actions of their children. He then fixed the shield of Trenmor, on a tree on the rock of Selma, striking it, at times, with the blunt end of a spear, and singing the war-song between. Thus he did, for three successive nights, and, in the mean time, messengers were dispatched to call together the tribes; or, to use an ancient expression, to call them from all their streams. This phrase alludes to the situation of the residences of the clans, which were generally fixed in valleys, where the torrents of the neighbouring mountains were collected into one body, and became large streams or rivers. The lifting up of the shield, was the phrase for beginning a war,