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tender and anxious concern for the safety of Cathmor, ter dream, and her melting remembrance of the land
of her fathers; Cathmor's emotion when he first dis| covers her, his struggles to conceal and suppress his passion, lest it should unman him in the midst of war, though “ his soul poured forth in secret, when he be"held her fearful eye;" and the last interview between them, when, overcome by her tenderness, he lets her know he had discovered her, and confesses his passion; are all wrought up with the most exquisite sensibility
Besides the characters which appeared in Fingal, several new ones are here introduced : and though, as they are all the characters of warriors, bravery is the predominant feature, they are nevertheless diversified in a sensible and striking manner. Foldath, for instance, the general of Cathmor, exhibits the perfect picture of a savage chieftain: bold and daring, but presumptuous, cruel, and overbearing. He is distinguish
on his first appearance, as the friend of the tyrant Cairbar ; “ His stride is haughty, his red eye rolls in
Wrath.” In his person and whole deportment, he is contrasted with the mild and wise Hidalla, another leader of the same army, on whose humanity and gentleness he looks with great contempt. He professedly delights in strife and blood. He insults over the len, He is impervious in his counsels, and factious nthey are not followed. He is unrelenting in all chemes of revenge, even to the length of denying
neral song to the dead; which, from the injury epy done to the ghosts, was in those days consied as the greatest barbarity. Fierce to the last, he comforts himself in his dying moments, with thinking
at his ghost shall often leave its blast to rejoice over me graves of those he had slain. Yet Ossian, ever prone to the pathetic. has contrived to throw into his
t of the death even of this man, some tender
stances, by the moving description of his daughter Dardu-lena, the last of his race.
The character of Foldath tends much to exalt that of Cathmor, the chief commander, which is distinguished by the most humane virtues. He abhors all fraud and cruelty, is famous for his hospitality to stran. gers ; open to every generous sentiment, and to every soft and compassionate feeling. He is so amiable as to divide the reader's attachment between him and the hero of the poem ; though our author has artfully ma- f naged it so, as to make Cathmor himself indirectly acknowledge Fingal's superiority, and to appear somewhat apprehensive of the event, after the death of Fillan, which he knew would call forth Fingal in all his might. It is very remarkable, that although Ossian has introduced into his poems three complete heroes, Cuthullin, Cathmor, and Fingal, he has, however, sensibly distinguished each of their characters. Cuthullin is particularly honourable ; Cathmor particulary amiable ; Fingal wise and great, retaining an ascendant peculiar to himself, in whatever light he is viewed
But the favourite figure in Temora, and the one most highly finished, is Fillan. His character is of that sort, for which Ossian shews a particular fondness ; 'an eager, fervent young warrior, fired with all the impa. tient enthusiasm for military glory, peculiar to that time of life. He had sketched this in the description of his own son Oscar; but as he has extended it more fully in Fillan, and as the character is so consonant to the epic strain, though, so far as I remember, not placed in such a conspicuous light by any other epic poet, it may be worth while to attend a little to Ossian's management of it in this instance.
Fillan was the youngest of all the sons of Fingal; younger, it is plain, than his nephew Oscar, by whose fame and great deeds in war, we may naturally sup pose his ambition to have been highly stimulated. Withal, as he is younger, he is described as more rash and fiery. His first appearance is soon after Oscar's death, when he was employed to watch the motions of the foe by night. In a conversation with his brother Ossian, on that occasion, we learn that it was not long
since he began to lift the spear. “ Few are the marks " of my sword in battle; but my soul is fire.” He is with some difficulty restrained by Ossian from going to attack the enemy; and complains to him that his father had never allowed him any opportunity of signalizing his valour. “ The king hath not remarked my “ sword; I go forth with the crowd ; I return without “ my fame.” Soon after, when Fingal, according to custom, was to appoint one of his chiefs to command the army, and each was standing forth, and putting in his claim to this honour, Fillan is presented in the following most picturesque and natural attitude : “ On is his spear stood the son of Clatho, in the wandering 16 of his locks. Thrice he raised his eyes on Fingal; 16 his voice thrice failed him as he spoke. Fillan could " not boast of battles ; at once he strode away. Bent * over a distant stream he stood; the tear hung in his 16 eye. He struck, at times, the thistle's head with “ his inverted spear.” No less natural and beautiful is ibe description of Fingal's paternal emotion on this occasion. « Nor is he unseen of Fingal. Side-long he "* beheld his son. He beheld him with bursting joy. “ He hid the big tear with his locks, and turned a" midst his crowded soul.” The command, for that day, being given to Gaul, Fillan rushes amidst the bickest of the foe, saves Gaul's life, who is wound. ed by a random arrow, and distinguishes himself so in battle, that “ the days of old return on Fingal's "mind, as he beholds the renown of his son. As the * sun rejoices from the cloud, over the tree his beams u have raised, whilst it shakes its lonely head on the 16 heath, so joyful is the king over Fillan.” Sedate, however, and wise, he mixes the praise which he bestows on him with some reprehension of his rashness. * My son, I saw thy deeds, and my soul was glad. " Thou art brave, son of Clatho, but headlong in the " strife. So did not Fingal advance, though he never “ feared a foe. Let thy people be a ridge behind thee; " they are thy strength in the field. Then shalt thou " be long renowned, and behold the tombs of thy f?
On the next day, the greatest and the last of Fillan's life, the charge is committed to him of leading on the host to battle. Fingal's speech to his troops on this occasion, is full of noble sentiment; and where he recommends his son to their care, extremely touching. “ A young beam is before you, few are his steps to “ war. They are few, but he is valiant ; defend my * dark-haired son. Bring him back with joy; here. « after he may stand alone. His form is like his fa
thers; his soul is a fame of their fire.” When the battle begins, the poet puts forth his strength to describe the exploits of the young hero, who, at last encoun tering and killing with his own hand Foldath, the op posite general, attains the pinnacle of glory. In whal follows, when the fate of Fillan is drawing near, Ossian if any where, excels himself. Foldath being slain, and a general rout begun, there was no resource left to the enemy but in the great Cathmor himself, who in this extremity descends from the hill, where, according to the custom of those princes, he surveyed the battle. Observe how this critical event is wrought up by the poet. “ Wide spreading over echoing Lubar, the flight “ of Bolga is rolled along. Fillan hung forward on “ their steps; and strewed the heath with dead. Fin“ gal rejoiced over his son. Blue-shielded Cathmor “ rose. Son of Alpin, bring the harp! Give Fillan's « praise to the wind : raise high his praise in my hall, “ while yet he shines in war. Leave, blue-eyed Cla
tho! leave thy hall ! behold that early beam of tbine! " The host is withered in its course. No farther look“ it is dark-light-trembling from the harp, strike, “ virgins ! strike the sound.” The sudden interruption, and suspense of the narration on Cathmor's rising from his hill, the abrupt bursting into the praise of File lan, and the passionate apostrophe to his mother Clatho, are admirable efforts of poetical art, in order to interest us in Fillan's danger; and the whole is height ened by the immediately following simile, one of the most magnificent and sublime that is to be met with in any poet, and which if it had been found in Homer,
would have been the frequent subject of admiration to critics : “ Fillan is like a spirit of heaven, that de. “ scends from the skirt of his blast. The troubled “i ocean feels his steps, as he strides from wave to wave. * His path kindies behind him; islands shake their * heads on the heaving seas.”
But the poet's art is not yet exhausted. The fall of this noble young warrior, or in Ossian's style, the extinction of this beain of heaven, could not be rendered too interesting and affecting. Our attention is naturally drawn towards Fingal. Hebeholds from his hillthe rising of Cathmor and the danger of his son. But what shall he do : " Shall Fingal rise to his aid, and take the sword of Luno? " What then should become of thy fame, son of white" bosomed Clatho ? Turn not thine eyes from Fingal, “ daughter of Inistore! I shall not quench thy early 4 beam. No cloud of mine shall rise, my son, upon " thy soul of fire.” Struggling between concern for the fame, and fear for the safety of his son, he withdraws from the sight of the engagement; and dispatches Ossian in haste to the field, with this affectionate and delicate injunction. “ Father of Oscar!” addressing bim by a title which on this occasion has the highest propriety, “ Father of Oscar! lift the spear; defend “ the young in arms. But conceal thy steps from Fil" lan's eyes : He must not know that I doubt his
steel." Ossian arrived too late, But unwilling to describe Fillan vanquished, the poet suppresses all the circumstances of the combat with Cathmor; and only shews us the dying hero. We see him animated to the end with the same martial and ardent spirit; breath. ing his last in bitter regret for being so early cut off from the field of glory. « Ossian, lay me in that hol“ low rock. Raise no stone above me; lest one should “ ask about my fame. I am fallen in the first of my “ fields ; fallen without renown. Let thy voice alone " send joy to my flying soul. Why should the bard “ know where dwells the early fallen Fillan?" He who after tracing the circumstances of this story, shall deny that our bard is possessed of high sentiment, ane"