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high art, must be strangely prejudiced indeed. Let him read the story of Pallas in Virgil, which is of a similar kind; and after all the praise he may justly bestow on the elegant and finished description of that amiable author, let him say, which of the two poets unfold most of the human soul. I wave insisting on any more of the particulars in Temora; as my aim is rather to lead the reader into the genius and spirit of Ossian's poetry, than to dwell on all his beauties.
The judgment and art discovered in conducting works of such length as Fingal and Temora, distinguish them from the other poems in this collection. The smaller pieces, however, contain particular beauties no less eminent. They are historical poems, generally of the elegiac kind; and plainly discover themselves to be the work of the same author. One consistent face of manners is every where presented to us; one spirit of poetry reigns; the masterly hand of Ossian appears throughout; the same rapid and animated style; the same strong colouring of imagination, and the same glow. ing sensibility of heart. Besides the unity which belongs to the compositions of one man, there is moreover a certain unity of subject which very happily connects all these poems. They form the poetical history of the age of Fingal. The same race of heroes, whom we had met with in the greater poems, Cuthullin, Oscar, Coonal, and Gaul, return again upon the stage; and Fingal himself is always the principal figure, presented on every occasion, with equal magnificence, nay, rising upon us to the last. The circumstances of Ossian's old age and blindness, his surviving all his friends, and his relating their great exploits to Malvina, the spouse or mistress of his beloved son Oscar, furnish the finest poetical situations that fancy could devise for that tender pathetic which reigns in Ossian's poetry.
On each of these poems, there might be room for se. parate observations, with regard to the conduct and disposition of the incidents, as well as to the beauty of the description and sentiments. Carthon is a regular and highly finished piece. The main story is very pro.
perly introduced by Clessammor's relation of the adventure of his youth; and this introduction is finely heightEned by Fingal's song of mourning over Moina; in which Ossian, ever fond of doing honour to his father, bas contrived to distinguish him, for being an eminent poet, as well as warrior. Fingal's song upon this occasion, “ when his thousand bards leaned forwards from " their seats, to hear the voice of the king,” is inferior to no passage in the whole book : and with great judgment put in his mouth, as the seriousness, no less than the sublimity of the strain, is peculiarly suited to the he. ro's character. In Darthula, are assembled almost all the tender images that can touch the heart of man ; friendship, love, the affections of parents, sons, and brothers, the distress of the aged, and the unavailing bravety of the young. The beautiful address to the moon, with which the poem opens, and the transition from thence to the subject, most happily prepare the mind for that train of affecting events that is to follow. The story is regular, dramatic, interesting, to the last. He who can read it without emotion, may congratulate himself, if he pleases, upon being completely armed against sympathetic sorrow. As Fingal had no occasion of appearing in the action of this poem, Ossian makes a very artful transition from his narration, to what was passing in the halls of Selma. The sound heard there on the strir.gs of his harp, the concern which Fingal slous on hearing it, and the invocation of the ghosts of their fathers to receive the heroes falling in a distant land, are introduced with great beauty of imagi. nation, to increase the solemnity, and to diversity the scenery of the poem.
Carric-thura is full of the most sublime dignity; and has this advantage of being more cheerful in the subject, and more happy in the catastrophe than most of the other poems: Though tempered at the same time with episodes in that strain of tender melancholy which seems to have been the great delight of Ossian and the bards of his age. Lathmon is peculiarly distinguished by high generosity of sentiment. This is carried so fa:
particularly in the refusal of Gaul, on one side, to take the advantage of a sleeping foe; and of Lathmon, on the other, to overpower by numbers the two young war. riors, as to recal into one's mind the manners of chivalry; some resemblance to which may perhaps be sug, gested by other incidents in this collection of poems. Chivalry, however, took rise in an age and country too remote from those of Ossian to admit the suspicion that the one could have borrowed any thing from the other, So far as chivalry had any real existence, the same military enthusiasm, which gave birth to it in the feudal times, might, in the days of Ossian, that is, in the infan, cy of a rising state, through the operation of the same cause, very naturally produce effects of the same kind on the minds and manners of men. So far as chivalry was an ideal system existing only in romance, it will not be thought surprising, when we reflect on the account before given of the Celtic bards, that this imaginary refinement of heroic manners should be found among them, as much, at least, as among the Trobadores, or strolling provencial bards, in the roth or with century; whose songs, it is said, first gave rise to those romantic idees of heroism, which for so long a time inchanted Europe". Ossian's heroes have asl the gallantry and generosity of those fabulous knights without their ex: 1 travagance; and his love-scenes have native tenderness, without any mixture of those forced and unnatural conceits which abound in the old romances. The adventures related by our poet, which resemble the most those of romance, concern women who follow their lovers to war, disguised in the armour of men; and these are so managed, as to produce, in the discovery, several of the most interesting situations : one beautiful instance of which may be seen in Carric-thura, and another in Cal. thon and Colmal.
Oithona presents a situation of a different nature. In the absence of her lover Gaul, she had been carried off and ravished by Dunrommath. Gaul discovers the place where she is kept concealed, and comes to re.
u Vide Huetius de origine fabularum Romanensium.
venge her. The meeting of the two lovers, the senti. ments and the behaviour of Oithona on that occasion, . are described with such tender and exquisite propriety, as does the greatest honour both to the art and to the delicacy of our author: and would have been admired in any poet of the most refined age. The conduct of Croma must strike every reader, as remarkably judicious and beautiful. We are to be prepared for the death of Malvina, which is related in the succeeding poem. She is therefore introduced in person ; " she has heard “ a voice in a dream, she feels the fluttering of her “soul ;' and in a most moving lamentation addressed to her beloved Oscar, she sings her own death-song. Nothing could be calculated with more art to soothe and comfort her, than the story which Ossian relates. In the young and brave Fov.r-gormo, another Oscar is introduced, his praises are, sung; and the happiness is set before her of those who die in their youth, " when "their renown is around them; before the feeble ben " hold them in the hall, and smile at their trembling “hands."
But nowhere does Ossian's genius appear to greater advantage, than in Berrathon, which is reckoned the conclusion of his songs, The last sound of the voice " of Cona."
Qualis olor noto positurus littore vitam,
Præsago queritur venientia funera cantu. The whole train of ideas is admirably suited to the subject. Every thing is full of that invisible world, into which the aged baid believes himself now ready to enter. The airy hail of Fingal presents itself to his view; “ he sees the cloud that shall receive his ghost; "he beholds the mist that shall form his robe when he “ appears on his hill;" and all the natural objects around him seem to carry the presages of death. “The thistle "shakes its beard to the wind. The flower hangs its "heavy head-it seems to say, 'I am covered with the "drops of heaven; the time of my departure is near, " and the blast that shall scatter my leaves." Malyi
na's death is hinted to him in the most delicate manner by the son of Alpin. His lamentation over her, her apotheosis, or ascent to the habitation of heroes, and the introduction to the story which follows from the mention which Ossian supposes the father of Malvina to make of him in the hall of Fingal, are all in the highest spirit of poetry. “ And dost thou remember • Ossian, O Toscar, son of Conloch? The battles of “ your youth were many; our swords went together “ to the field.” Nothing could be more proper than to end his song with recording an exploir of the fa. ther of that Malvina, of whom his heart was now so full; and who, from first to last, had been such a fa. vourite object throughout all his poems.
The scene of most of Ossian's poems is laid in Scotland, or in the coast of Ireland, opposite to the territories of Fingal. When the scene is in Ireland, we perceive no change of manners from those of Ossian's na tive country. For as Ireland was undoubtedly peopled with Celtic tribes, the language, customs, and religion of both nations were the same. They had been separated from one another by migration, only a few generations, as it should seem, before our poet's age; and they still maintained a close and frequent intercourse. But when the poet relates any of the expedi. tions of any of his heroes to the Scandinavian coast, or to the islands of Orkney, wluch were then part of the Scandinavian territory, as he does in Carric-thura, Sulmalla of Lumon, and Cath-loda, the case is quite alter. ed. Those countries were inbabited by nations of the Teutonic descent, who, in their manners and religious rites, differed widely from the Celtæ; and it is curious and remarkable, to find this difference clearly pointed out in the Poems of Ossian. His descriptions bear the native marks of one who was present in the expedi. tions which he relates, and who describes what he had seen with his own eyes. No sooner are we carried to Lochlin, or the islands of Inistore, than we perceive that we are in a foreign region. New objects begin to appear. We meet every where with the stones and