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We refer the reader to the opening of the fourth book of Fingal, which treats of Ossian's courtship of Evir-allen. The Evir-allen of Baron de Harold is in these words:
Thoti fairest of the maids of Morven, young beam of streamy Lutha, come to the help of the aged, come to the help of the distressed. Thy soul is open to pity. Friendship glows in thy tender breast. Ah come and sooth away my woe. Thy words are music to my soul.
Bring me my once-loved harp. It hangs long neglected in my hall. The stream of years has borne me away in its course, and rolled away all my bliss. Dim and faded are my eyes; thin-strewed with hairs my head. Weak is that nervous arm, once the terror of foes. Scarce can I grasp my staff, the prop of my trembling limbs.
Lead me to yonder craggy steep. The murmur of the falling streams; the whistling winds rushing through the woods of my hills; the welcome rays of the bounteous sun will soon awake the voice of song in my breast. The thoughts of former years glide over my soul like swift-shooting meteors o'er Ardven's gloomy vales.
Come, ye friends of my youth, ye soft-sounding voices of Cona, bend from your gold-tinged clouds, and join me in my song. A mighty blaze is kindled in my soul. I hear a powerful voice. It says, "Seize thy beam of glory, O bard! for thou shalt soon depart. Soon shall the light of song be faded. Soon thy tuneful voice forgotten."—" Yes, I obey, O powerful voice, for thou art pleasing to mine ear.'
O Evir-allen! thou boast of Erin's maids, thy thoughts come streaming on my soul. Hear, O Malvina! a tale of my youth, the actions of my former days.
Peace reigned over Morven's hills. The shell of joy resounded in our halls. Round the blaze of the oak sported in festive dance the maids of Morven. They shone like the radiant bow of heaven, when the fiery rays of the setting sun brightens its varied sides. They wooed me to their love, but my heart was silent, cold. Indifference, like a brazen shield, covered my frozen heart.
Fingal saw, he smiled, and mildly spoke: My son, the down of youth grows on thy cheek. Thy arm has wielded the spear of war. Foes have felt thy force. Morven's maids are fair, but fairer are the daughters of Erin. Go to that happy isle; to Branno's grasscovered fields. The daughter of my friend deserves thy love. Majestic beauty flows around her as a robe, and innocence as a precious veil heightens her youthful charms. Go, take thy arms, and win the lovely fair.
Straight I obeyed. A chosen band followed my steps. We mounted the dark-bosomed ship of the king, spread its white sails to the winds, and ploughed through the foam of ocean. Pleasant shone the fineeyed Ull-Erin.* With joyal songs we cut the liquid way. The moon, regent of the silent night, gleamed majestic in the blue vault of heaven, and seemed pleased to bathe her side in the trembling wave. My soul was full of my father's words. A thousand thoughts divided my wavering mind. Soon as the early beam of morn appeared we saw
* The guiding star to Ireland.
the green-skirted sides of Erin advancing in the bosom of the sea. White broke the tumbling surges on the coast. Deep in Larmor's woody bay we drove our keel to the shore, and gained the lofty beach. I inquired after the generous Branno. A son of Erin led us to his halls, to the banks of the sounding Lego. He said, "Many warlike youths are assembled to gain the dark-haired maid, the beauteous Evir-allen. Branno will give her to the brave. The conqueror shall bear away the fair. Erin's chiefs dispute the maid, for she is destined for the strong in arms.' These words inflamed my breast, and roused courage in my heart. I clad my limbs in steel. I grasped a shining spear in my hand. Branno saw our approach. He sent the gray-haired Snivan to invite us to his feast, and know the intent of our course. He came with the solemn steps of age, and gravely spoke the words of the chief.
"Whence are these arms of steel 1 If friends ye come, Branno invites you to his halls; for this day the lovely Evir-allen shall bless the warrior's arms whose lance shall shine victorious in the combat of valor."
"O venerable bard !" I said, " peace guides my steps to Branno. My arm is young, and few are my deeds in war, but valour inflames my soul; I am of the race of the brave.'
The bard departed. We followed the steps of age, and soon arrived to Branno's halls.
The hero came to meet us. Manly serenity adorned his brow. His open front showed the kindness of his heart. "Weleome," he said, 'ye sons of strangers; welcome to Branno's friendly halls; partake his shell of joy. Share in the combat of spears. Not unworthy is the prize of vo'n* th«s lovely dark-haired maid of Erin; but strong must be that warrior's hand that conquers Erin's chiefs; matchless his strength in fight."
"Chief," I replied, "the light of my father's deeds blazes in my soul. Though young, I seek my beam of glory foremost in the ranks of foes. Warrior, I can fall, but I shall fall with renown."
"Happy is thy father, O generous youth! more happy the maid of thy love. Thy glory shall surround her with praise; thy valour raise her charms. O were my Evir-allen thy spouse, my years would pass away in joy. Pleased I would descend into the grave: contented see the end of my days.'
The feast was spread: stately and slow came Evir-allen. A snow-white veil covered her blushing face. Her large blue eyes were bent on earth. Dignity flowed round her graceful steps. A shining tear fell glittering on her cheek. She appeared lovely as the mountain flower when the ruddy beams of the rising sun gleam on its dew-covered sides. Decent she sate. High beat my fluttering heart. Swift through my veins flew my thrilling blood. An unusual weight oppressed my breast. I stood, darkened in my place. The image of the maid wandered over my troubled soul.
The sprightly harp's melodious voice arose from the string of the bards. My soul melted away in the sounds, for my heart, like a stream, flowed gently away in song. Murmurs soon broke upon our joy. Half-unsheathed daggers gleamed. Many a voice was heard abrupt. 'Shall the son of the strangers be preferred? Soon shall he be rolled away, like mist by the rushing breath of the tempest.' Sedate I rose, for I despised the boaster's threats. The fair one's eye followed my departure. I heard a smothered sigh burst from her breast.
The horn's harsh sound summoned us to the doubtful strife of spears. Lothmar, fierce hunter of the woody Galmal, first opposed his might. He vainly insulted my youth, but my sword cleft his brazen shield, and cut his ashen lance in twain. Straight I withheld my descending blade. Lothmar retired confused.
Then rose the red-haired strength of Sulin. Fierce rolled his deep-sunk eye. His shaggy brows stood erect. His face was contracted with scorn. Thrice his spear pierced my buckler. Thrice his sword struck on my helm. Swift flashes gleamed from our circling blades. The pride of my rage arose. Furious I rushed on the chief, and stretched his bulk on the plain. Groaning he fell to earth. Lego's shores re-echoed from his fall.
Then advanced Cormac, graceful in glittering arms. No fairer youth was seen on Erin's grassy hills. His age was equal to mine; his port majestic; his stature tall and slender, like the young shooting poplar in Lutha's streamy vales; but sorrow sate upon his brow; languor reigned on his cheek. My heart inclined to the youth. My sword oft avoided to wound; often sought to save his days: but he rushed eager on death. He fell. Blood gushed from his panting breast. Tears flowed streaming from mine eyes. I stretched forth my hand to the chief. I proffered gentle words of peace. Faintly he seized my hand. "Stranger," he said, 'I willingly die, for my days were oppressed with woe. Evir-allen rejected my love. She slighted my tender suit. Thou alone deservest the maid, for pity reigns in thy soul, and thou art generous and brave. Tell her, I forgive her scorn. Tell her, I descend with joy into the grave; but raise the stone of my praise. Let the maid throw a flower on my tomb, and mingle one tear with my dust; this is my sole request. This she can grant to mv shade."