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compared to a pestilential fog. 'I love a foe like Cathmor," says Fingai, " his soul is great; his arm is strong; his battles are full of fame. But the little soul is like a vapor that hovers round the marshy lake. It never rises on the green hill, lest the winds meet it there. Its dwelling is in the cave; and it sends forth the dart of death.' This is a simile highly finished. But there is another which is still more striking, founded also on mist, in the fourth book of Temora. Two factious chiefs are contending; Cathmor, the king, interposes, rebukes, and silences them. The poet intends to give us the highest idea of Cathmor's superiority; and most effectually accomplishes his intention by the following happy image. 'They sunk from the king on either side, like two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises between them on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on either side; each towards its reedy pool.' These instances may sufficiently show with what richness of imagination Ossian's comparisons abound, and, at the same time, with what propriety of judgment they are employed. If his field was narrow, it must be admitted to have been as well cultivated as its extent would allow.
As it is usual to judge of poets from a comparison of their similes more than of other passages, it will, perhaps, be agreeable to the reader, to see how Homer and Ossian have conducted some images of the same kind. This might be shown in many instances. For as the great objects of nature are common to the poets of all nations, and make the general storehouse of all imagery, the groundwork of their comparisons must of course be frequently the same. I shall select only a few of the most considerable from both poets. Mr. Pope's translation of Homer can be of no use to us here. The parallel is altogether unfair between prose and the imposing harmony of flowing numbers. It is only by viewing Homer in the simplicity of a prose translation, that we can form any comparison between the two bards.
The shock of two encountering armies, the noise and the tumult of battle, afford one of the most grand and awful subjects of description; on which all epic poets have exerted their strength. Let us first hear Homer. The following description is a favourite one, for we find it twice repeated in the same words.* "When now the conflicting hosts joined in the field of battle, then were mutually opposed shields, and swords, and the strength of armed men. The bossy bucklers were dashed against each other. The universal tumult rose. There were mingled the triumphant shouts and the dying groans of the victors and the vanquished. The earth streamed with blood. As when winter torrents, rushing from the mountains, pour into a narrow valley their violent waters. They issue from a thousand springs, and mix in the hollowed channel. The distant shepherd hears on the mountain their roar from afar. Such was the terror and the shout of the engaging armies.' In another passage, the poet, much in the manner of Ossian, heaps simile on simile, to express the vastness of the idea with which his imagination seems to labor. "With a mighty shout the hosts engage. Not so loud roars the wave of ocean, when driven against the shore, by the whole force of the boisterous north; not so loud in the woods of the mountain, the noise of the flame, when rising in its fury to consume the forest; not so loud the wind among the lofty oaks, when the wrath of the storm rages; as was the clamour of the Greeks and Trojans, when, roaring terrible, they rushed against each other." t
To these descriptions and similes, we may oppose the following from Ossian, and leave the reader to
1'udge between them. He will find images of the samo lind employed; commonly less extended; but thrown forth with a glowing rapidity which characterizes our poet. "As autumn's dark storms pour from two echoing hills, towards each other approached the heroes. As two dark streams from high rocks meet and mix, and roar on the plains; loud, rough, and dark in battle, meet Lochlin and Inisfail. Chief mixed his strokes with chief, and man with man. Steel clanging, sounded on steel. Helmets are cleft on high; blood bursts and smokes around.—As the troubled noise of the ocean, when roll the waves on high; as the last peal of the thunder of heaven, such is the noise of battle." "As roll a thousand waves to the rock, so Swaran's host came on; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Swaran. Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sound of shields.—The field echoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers that rise by turns on the red son of the furnace."— "As a hundred winds on Morven; as the streams of a hundred hills; as clouds fly successive over heaven; or as the dark ocean assaults the shore of the desert; so roaring, so vast, so terrible, the armies mixed on Lena's echoing heath.' In several of these images there is a remarkable similarity to Homer's: but what follows is superior to any comparison that Homer uses on this subject. 'The groan of the people spread over the hills; it was like the thunder of night, when the cloud bursts on Cona; and a thousand ghosts shriek at once on the hollow wind.' Never was an image of more awful sublimity employed to heighten the terror of battle.
Both poets compare the appearance of an army ap. preaching, to the gathering of dark slouds. "As when 9 shepherd," says Homer, "beholds from the rock a cloud borne along the sea by the western wind; black and carrying the dreadful storm. He shrinks at the sight, and drives his flock into the cave: such, under the Ajaces, moved on, the dark, the thickened phalanx to the war."*—" They came," says Ossian, "over tho desert like stormy clouds, when the winds roll them over the heath; their edges are tinged with lightning; and the echoing groves foresee the storm." The edges of the cloud tinged with lightning is a sublime idea; but the shepherd and his flock render Homer's simile more picturesque. This is frequently the difference between the two poets. Ossian gives no more than the main image, strong and full: Homer adds circumstances and appendages, which amuse the fancy by enlivening the scenery.
Homer compares the regular appearance of an army, to 'clouds that are settled on the mountain-top, in the day of calmness, when the strength of the north wind sleeps."f Ossian, with full as much propriety, compares the appearance of a disordered army, to "the mountain cloud, when the blast hath entered its womb, and scatters the curling gloom on every side." Ossian's clouds assume a great many forms; and, as we might expect from his climate, are a fertile source of imagery to him. 'The warriors followed their chiefs like the gathering of the rainy clouds, behind the red meteors of heaven.' An army retreating without coming to action, is likened to "clouds, that having long threatened rain, retire slowly behind the hills.' The picture of Oithona, after she had determined to die, is lively and delicate. 'Her soul was resolved, and the tear was dried from her wildly-looking eye. A troubled joy rose on her mind, like the red path of the lightning on a stormy cloud.' The image also of the gloomy Cairbar, meditating, in silence, the assassination of Oscar, until the moment came when his designs were ripe for execution, is extremely noble, and complete in all its parts. 'Cairbar heard their words in silence, like the cloud of a shower; it stands dark on Cromla, till the lightning bursts its side. The valley gleams with red light; the spirits of the storm rejoice. So stood the silent king of Temora; at length his words are heard.'
Homer's comparison of Achilles to the Dog-Star, is very sublime. 'Priam beheld him rushing along the plain, shining in his armour, like the star of autumn: bright are its beams, distinguished amidst the multitude of stars in the dark hour of night. It rises in its splendor; but its splendor is fatal; betokening to miserable men the destroying heat."* The first appearance of Fingal is, in like manner, compared by Ossian to a star or meteor. 'Fingal, tall in his ship, stretched his bright lance before him. Terrible was the gleam of his steel; it was like the green meteor of death, setting in the heath of Malmor, when the traveller is alone, and the broad moon is darkened in heaven.' The hero's appearance in Homer is more magnificent; in Ossian, more terrible.
A tree cut down, or overthrown by a storm, is a similitude frequent among poets for describing the fall of a warrior in battle. Homer employs it often. But the most beautiful, by far, of his comparisons, founded on this object, indeed one of the most beautiful in the whole Iliad, is that on the death of Euphorbus. 'As the young and verdant olive, which a man hath reared with care in a lonely field, where the springs of water