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And dost thou remember Ossian, car-borne Toscar,* son of Conloch? The battles of our youth were many. Our swords went together to the field. They saw us coming like two falling rocks. The sons of the stranger fled. "There come the warriors of Cona!" they said. "Their steps are in the paths of the flying!" Draw near, son of Alpin, to the song of the aged. The deeds of other limes are in my soul. My memory beams on the days that are past. On the days of mighty Toscar, when our path was in the deep. Draw near, son of Alpin, to the last sound of the voice of Cona!
The king of Morven commanded. I raised my sails to the wind. Toscar chief of Lutha stood at my side, I rose on the dark-blue wave. Our course was to sea-surrounded Berrathon,f the isle of many storms. There dwelt, with his locks of age, the stately strength of Larthmor. Larthmor, who spread the feast of shells to Fingal, when he went to Starno's halls, in the days of Agandecca. But when the chief was old, the pride of his son arose; the pride of fairhaired Uthal, the love of a thousand maids. He bound the aged Larthmor, and dwelt in his sounding halls!
Long pined the king in his cave, beside his rolling sea. Day did not come to his dwelling; nor the
* Toscar was the son of that Conloch, who was also father to the lady, whose unfortunate death is related in the last episode of the second book of Fingal.
f Barrathon, a promontory in the midst of waves.
VOL. II. A a
burning oak by night. But the wind of ocean was there, and the parting beam of the moon. The red star looked on the king, when it trembled on the western wave. Snitho came to Selma's hall: Snitho the friend of Larthmor's youth. He told of the king of Berrathon: the wrath of Fingal arose. Thrice he assumed the spear, resolved to stretch his hand to Uthal. But the memory * of his deeds rose before the king. He sent his son and Toscar. Our joy was great on the rolling sea. We often half-unsheathed our swords. For never before had we fought alone, in battles of the spear.
Night came down on the ocean. The winds departed on their wings. Cold and pale is the moon. The red stars lift their heads on high. Our course is slow along the coast of Berrathon. The white waves tumble on the rocks, "What voice is that," said Toscar, "which comes between the sounds of the waves? It is soft but mournful, like the voice of departed bards. But I behold a maid.f She sits on the rock alone. Her head bends on her arm of snow. Her dark hair is in the wind. Hear, son of Fingal, her song, it is smooth as the gliding stream." We came to the silent bay, and heard the maid of night.
* The meaning is, that Fingal remembered his own great actions, and consequently would not sully them by engaging in a petty war against Uthal, who was so far his inferior in valour and power.
* Nina-thoma, the daughter of Torthoma, who had been confined to a desert island by her lover Uthal.
"How long will ye roll around me, blue-tumbling waters of ocean? My dwelling was not always in caves, nor beneath the whistling tree. The feast was spread in Torthoma's hall. My father delighted in my voice. The youths beheld me in the steps of my loveliness. They blessed the dark-haired Nina-thoma. It was then thou didst come, O Uthal! like the sun of heaven! The souls of the virgins are thine, son of generous Larthmor! But why dost thou leave me alone, in the midst of roaring waters? Was my soul dark with thy death? Did my white hand lift the sword? Why then hast thou left me alone, king of high Finthormo !" *
The tear started from my eye, when I heard the voice of the maid. I stood before her in my arms. I spoke the words of peace !" Lovely dweller of the cave! what sigh is in thy breast > Shall Ossian lift his sword in thy presence, the destruction of thy foes? Daughter of Torthoma, rise. I have heard the words of thy grief. The race of Morven are around thee, who never injured the weak.' Come to our darkbosomed ship! thou brighter than that setting moon! Our course is to the rocky Berrathon, to the echoing walls of Finthormo." She came in her beauty; she came with all her lovely steps. Silent joy brightened in her face; as when the shadows fly from the field
* Finthormo, the palace of Uthal. The names in this episode are not of a Celtic original.
of spring; the blue-stream is rolling in brightness, and the green bush bends over its course!
The morning rose with its beams. We came to Roth ma's bay. A boar rushed from the wood: my spear pierced his side, and he fell. I rejoiced over the blood.* I foresaw my growing fame. But now the sound of Uthal's train came, from the high Finthormo. They spread over the heath to the chace of the boar. Himself comes slowly on, in the pride of his strength. He lifts two pointed spears. On his his side is the hero's sword. Three youths carry his polished bows. The bounding of five dogs is before him. His heroes move on, at a distance, admiring the steps of the king. Stately was the son of Larthmor! but his soul was dark! Dark as the troubled face of the moon, when it foretels the storms!
We rose on the heath before the king. He stopt in the midst of his course. His heroes gathered around. A grey-haired bard advanced. "Whence are the sons of the strangers!" began the bard of song. "The children of the unhappy come to Ber- rathon; to the sword of car-borne Uthal. He spreads no feast in his hall. The blood of strangers is on his streams. If from Selma's walls ye come, from the
* Ossian might have thought that his killing a boar on his first landing in Berrathon, was a good omen of his future success in that island. The present Highlanders look, with a degree of superstition, upon the success of their first action, after they have engaged in any desperate undertaking.
mossy walls of Fingal, chuse three youths to go to your king to tell of the fall of his people. Perhaps the hero may come and pour his blood on Uthal's sword. So shall the fame of Finthormo arise, like the growing tree of the vale!"
"Never will it rise, O hard," I said in the pride of my wrath. "He would shrink from the presence of Fingal, whose eyes are the flames of death. The son of Comhal comes, and kings vanish before him. They are rolled together, like mist, by the breath of his rage. Shall three tell to Fingal, that his people fell? Yes! they may tell it, bard! but his people shall fall with fame!"
I stood in the darkness of my strength. Toscar
drew his sword at my side. The foe came on like a
stream. The mingled sound of death arose. Man
took man, shield met shield; steel mixed its beams
with steel. Darts hiss thro' air. Spears ring on
mails. Swords on broken bucklers bound. As the
noise of an aged grove beneath the roaring wind,
when a thousand ghosts break the trees by night,
such was the din of arms! But Uthal fell beneath my
sword. The sons of Berrathon fled. It was then I
saw him in his beauty, and the tear hung in my eye!
"Thou art fallen,* young tree," I said, "with all
thy beauty round thee. Thou art fallen on thy plains,
* To mourn over ihe fall of their enemies, was a practice universal among the Celtic heroes. This is more agreeable to humanity, than the shameful insulting of the dead, so common in Homer, and after him, servilely copied by all his imitators,