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ness shrunk the foe: Morven's warriors stood aghast. Still I bent over the stream, amidst my whistling locks.
Then rose the voice of Fingal, and the sound of the flying foe. I saw the king, at times, in lightning, darkly-striding in his might. I struck my echoing shield, and hung forward on the steps of Alnecma: the foe is rolled before me, like a wreath of smoke.
The sun looked forth from his cloud. The hundred streams of Moi-lena shone. Slow rose the blue columns of mist, against the glittering hill. “Where are the mighty kings? Nor by that stream, nor wood, are they *°! I hear the clang of arms! Their strife is in the bosom of that mista. Such is the contending of spirits
20 Nor by that stream, nor wood, are they.] GRAY's Elegy. Supra, 8. .
Nor yet beside the rill, Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he. 21 The conduct here is perhaps proper. The numerous descriptions of single combats have already exhausted the subject. Nothing new, nor adequate to our high idea of the kings, can be said. A column of mist is thrown over the whole, and the combat is left to the imagination of the reader. Poets have almost universally failed in their descriptions of this sort. Not all the strength of Homer could sustain, with dignity, the mi
in a nightly cloud, when they strive for the wintry wings of wind, and the rolling of the foam-covered waves.
I rushed along. The grey mist rose. Tall, gleaming, they stood at Lubar. Cathmor leaned against a rock. His half-fallen shield received the stream, that leapt from the moss above. Towards him is the stride of Fingal : he saw the hero's blood. His sword fell slowly to his side. He spoke, midst his darkening joy.
" Yields the race of Borbar-duthul ? Or still does he lift the spear ? Not unheard is thy
nutiæ of a single combat. The throwing of a spear, and the braying of a shield, as some of our own poets most elegantly express it, convey no magnificent, though they are striking ideas. Our imagination stretches beyond, and consequently, despises, the description. It were, therefore, well for some poets, in my opinion, (though it is, perhaps, somewhat singular) to have sometimes thrown mist over their single combats. MacPHERSON..
The translator leaves the combat out, like dramatic writers who accelerate the catastrophe when their ideas are exhausted. In departing, however, from the established practice of epic poets, he endeavours to vilify Homer for the minutiæ of his single combats; Milton, for not having thrown mist over the combats of Satan; and Gray and Mason, for their imitation of Milton's “ arms on armour crashing brayed.” An English reader will probably hesitate to sacrifice Milton and Gray to the manes of Ossian.
name, at Atha, in the green dwelling of strangers. It has come, like the breeze of his desert, to the ear of Fingal. Come to my bill of feasts: the mighty fail, at times. No fire am I to lowlaid foes : I rejoice not over the fall of the brave. To close ** the wound is mine: I have known the herbs of the hills. I seized their fair heads, on high, as they waved by their secret streams. Thou art dark and silent, king of Atha of strangers.
“ By Atha of the stream,” he said, “ there rises a mossy rock. On its head is the wandering of boughs, within the course of winds. Dark, in its face, is a cave with its own loud rill. There have I heard the tread of strangers *3, when they
22 Fingal is very much celebrated, in tradition, for his knowledge in the virtues of herbs. The Irish poems, concerning him, often represent him curing the wounds which his chiets received in battle. They fable concerning him, that he was in possession of a cup, containing the essence of herbs, which instantaneously healed wounds. Macpherson.
23 Cathmor reflects, with pleasure, even in his last moments, on the relief he had afforded to strangers. The very tread of their feet was pleasant in his ear. His hospitality was not passed unnoticed by the bards ; for, with them, it became a proverb, when they described the hospitable disposition of a hero, that he was like Cathmor of Atha, the friend of strangers. It will seem strange, that, in all the Irish poems, there is no
passed to my hall of shells. Joy rose, like a flame, on my soul: I blest the echoing rock. Here be my dwelling, in darkness ; in my grassy vale. From this I shall mount the breeze, that pursues my thistle's beard; or look down, on blue-winding Atha, from its wandering mist.”
“Why speaks the king of the tomb ? Ossian! the warrior has failed! Joy meet thy soul, like a stream, Cathmor, friend of strangers ! My son, I hear the call of years; they take my spear as they pass along. Why does not Fingal, they seem to say, rest within his hall? ¡Dost thou al
mention made of Cathmor. This must be attributed to the revolutions and domestic confusions which happened in that island, and utterly cut off all the real traditions concerning so ancient a period. All that we have related of the state of Ireland before the fifth century is of late invention, and the work of ill-informed senachies and injudicious bards. MACPHERSON.
This note is an answer to one of Warner's Remarks on Ossian, “ That Cormac was not murdered in his youth by Cairbar, nor indeed murdered at all; that Cairbar was not his enemy who openly set up for himself, but his son whom he loved and resigned his crown to; and he had no such brother as Cathmor, a man in the moon; or at least no where else, as brother of Cairbar, but in the poet's fancy.” Warner's Remarks on Ossian, 1763, p. 26. It would be strange indeed if his name and character had become proverbial in the Highlands, when every tradition, even of his existence, had been lost in Ireland.
ways delight in blood ? In the tear of the sad ? No: ye dark-rolling years, Fingal delights not in blood. Tears are wintry streams that waste away my soul. But, when I lie down to rest, then comes the mighty voice of war. It awakes me, in my hall, and calls forth all my steel. It shall call forth no more; Ossian, take thou thy father's.spear. Lift it, in battle, when the proud arise.
“My fathers, Ossian, trace my steps ; my deeds are pleasant to their eyes. Wherever I come forth to battle, on my field, are their columns of mist. But mine arm rescued the feeble; the haughty found my rage was fire. Never over the fallen did mine eye rejoice. For this ^, my fathers shall meet me, at the gates of
24 We see from this passage, that, even in the times of Ossian, and consequently before the introduction of Christianity, the Celtic nations had some idea of rewards and perhaps of punishments after death. Those who behaved, in life, with bravery and virtue, were received with joy to the airy halls of their fathers; but the dark in soul, to use the expression of the poet, were spurned away from the habitation of heroes, to wander on all the winds. Another opinion, which prevailed in those times, tended not a little to make individuals emulous to excel one another in martial achievements. It was thought, that in the hall of clouds, every one had a seat raised above