Page images

So this good man, rever'd through all the land, A victim fell to an assassin's hand.


His sons, then children, at return of day,
Beholding where in blood their father lay,
His corpse bedew'd with tears, and o'er him bent,
With lamentable cries the palace rent.
Their sorrows mov’d to grief the standers by,
And tender pity moisten'd every eye.
E'en fell Dunthalmo for the first time felt,
His savage bosom with compassion melt.
He spar'd their lives, and with the other prey
Bore to Balteutha's hall the youths away;
Where, till grown men, the twanging bow they bent,
And with their father's foe to battle went.

Now so it fell, while at the chase one day,
That traversing the glen where Clutha lay,
They saw in ruin those neglected walls,
And briers shooting in their father's halls.
Struck at the sight, the chiefs absorb’d in woe,
Recall'd the past, and tears began to flow : .
The tyrant saw, and boding in his mind,
They might their wrongs resent, the youths confin'd
In two deep caverns, where the moon by night,
Nor sun by day, ne'er visited with light.
Here bound they lay, expecting ev'ry hour
The last vindictive weight of ruthless pow'r.

[merged small][ocr errors]

But blue-ey'd Colmal, fierce Dunthalmo's heir,
Who Calthon lov'd, was in the last despair.
She saw the youth must find an early grave,
Not her's, unhappy maid! the means to save.
To lift the spear, her arm had not essay'd,
Nor for her side was form’d the warrior's blade;
No heavy mail had press'd her breast of snow,
Nor roll'd her eye, a terror to the foe.
Thus helpless, how avert th' impending blow?
Rack'd with the thought she hastens to and fro;
Upon the wind her hair disshevell’d flies,
And bath'd in sorrow, wildly roll her eyes.

[ocr errors]

At length, when night had wrap'd the world in shade, She sought her father's hall, and thence convey'd The shining armour of a youthful knight, Who, ere to manhood grown, had fall’n in fight. In this disguis’d, to Calthon's cave she ran, And loos’ning from his hands the thong, began:

Rise, son of Rathmor, rise, and haste away
To Morven’s land, before approaching day.
Behold in me the offspring of Lamgal,
Thy young companion, ere thy father's fall,
Who, by affection led, thy life to save,
Is come to guide thee from this dreary cave.
Then lose no time, but instant speed thy flight
For Morven's land, while favour'd by the night.

To her the prince: O voice divine! thro' air
Dost thou, to mitigate my griefs, repair ?
Since in this solitary vault confin'd,
Debarr’d the light, and face of human kind;
From realms above, white rob'd in lucid beams,
Oft have my fathers visited my dreams.
Art thou of them, or really Lamgal's son
That urges from confinement to be gone?
But recreant shall I fly to distant lands,
And leave my brother here in hostile hands?
No; give thy lance, and instant I'll repair,
The youth to free, or in his ruin share.

To this the maid: a thousand warriors wave Their glitt'ring spears round car-borne Colmar's cave; Thou cannot singly meet a host in fight; Then drop the rash design, and speed thy flight To Morven's King :-the lightning of his blade Defends the weak, and yields th’ unhappy aid. Protection to an injur'd Prince he'll give, And muster war thy brother to relieve. Time’s on the wing, and soon, approaching day Will tip the mountains with his golden ray; Resolve then quick-for if to-morrow's sun Beholds us loit’ring here, we are undone.

She said ; then rose impatient of delay, And with her lover hurried swift away;

He weeping for his brother's peril, fled,
But did not know by whom his steps were led, i
The virgin's face a plumy helmet veil'd,
And arms of shining steel her breasts conceal'd.
Bye-ways they trod, and o'er the mountains stray'd,
Till Selma's lofty tow’rs at length they made.
Fingal returning from the hill of deer,
At ev'ning found the youthful strangers there:
Who lowly bending down, address’d the Chief
In suppliant words, imploring his relief.
Like two refulgent beams they shone to view-
Their graceful mein the King's attention drew.
He heard their tale of woe; but paus’d in doubt
Which of his warriors he should single out,
To tempt this arduous deed. With valour fir'd
All to the dang’rous enterprise aspir'd,
And starting up, each half unsheath'd the blade,
Eager to prove his readiness to aid.

Just from the mountains come, tho' yet a boy,
I forward press’d, ambitious of th’employ.
My father saw, and placing in my hand
His own bright lance, the ensign of command,
Exhorted thus: Son of my strength be brave!
To Teutha march, and car-borne Colmar save.
Like your forefathers, at true greatness aim,
On virtuous actions build a solid fame. ·
Be fierce in battle as the winds that blow,
But mild and gen'rous when subdued the foe.


Such have I been, compassionate and kind,
My study is the welfare of mankind.
To me the injur'd for protection run,
Oppressors tremble, and my presence shun:
So thou—The proud subdue, the weak redress,
And future ages will thy mem'ry bless.

: Thus spoke the first of men: my bosom warm’d

To noble deeds, when morning dawn'd, I arm’d.

Diäran from the wall his buckler took, ; - And Dargo at my side his jav’lin shook.

To these three hundred youths of Morven's land
My father join'd; a well-appointed band,
With whom I forward march'd without delay, in,
The stranger pair companions of my way.

The sound of our approach Dunthalmo heard ;
Nor was that active Chieftain unprepar’d.
His bold retainers arm'd, he, at their head,
Seiz'd a strong post, our progress to impede,
In front the rapid stream of Teutha pour’d,
Beyond, upon a hill, the party lour'd.
Thus rocks in rugged ridges meet the eye,
When blasted by the lightning of the sky,
With a few scatter'd firs, all scorch'd and bare,
They rear their dry and riven fronts in air.
I one commission'd of the tuneful train,
To proffer equal combat on the plain.


« PreviousContinue »