James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


The Poems of Ossian









A Poem.




THIS poem is complete, and the ſubject of it, as of moſt of Oſſian's compoſitions, tragical. In the time of Comhal, the ſon of Trathal, and father of the celebrated Fingal, Cleſſámmor, the ſon of Thaddu, and brother of Morna, Fingal's mother, was driven by a ſtorm into the river Clyde, on the banks of which ſtood Balclutha, a town belonging to the Britons between the walls. He was hoſpitably received by Reuthámir, the principal man in the place, who gave him Moina his only daughter in marriage. Reuda, the ſon of Cormo, a Briton who was in love with Moina, came to Reuthámir's houſe, and behaved haughtily towards Cleſſámmor. A quarrel enſued, in which Reuda was killed; the Britons, who attended him, preſſed ſo hard on Cleſſámmor, that he was obliged to throw himſelf into the Clyde, and ſwim to his ſhip. He hoiſted ſail, and the wind being favourable, bore him out to ſea. He often endeavoured to return, and carry off his beloved Moina by night; but the wind continuing contrary, he was forced to deſiſt.

Moina, who had been left with child by her huſband, brought forth a ſon, and died ſoon after. — Reuthámir named the child Carthon — i.e. the murmur of waves, from the ſtorm which carried off Cleſſámmor his father, who was ſuppoſed to have been caſt away. When Carthon was three years old, Comhal, the father of Fingal, in one of his expeditions againſt the Britons, took and burnt Balclutha. Reuthámir was killed in the attack: and Carthon was carried ſafe away by his nurſe, who fled farther into the country of the Britons. Carthon, coming to man's eſtate, was reſolved to revenge the fall of Balclutha on Comhal's poſterity. He ſet ſail from the Clyde, and, falling on the coaſt of Morven, defeated two of Fingal's heroes who came to oppoſe his progreſs. He was, at laſt, unwittingly killed by his father Cleſſámmor, in a ſingle combat. This ſtory is the foundation of the preſent poem, which opens on the night preceding the death of Carthon, ſo that what paſſed before is introduced by way of epiſode. The poem is addreſſed to Malvina, the daughter of Toſcar.



A tale of the times of old! The deeds of days of other years!

The murmur of thy ſtreams, O Lora! brings back the memory of the paſt. The ſound of thy woods, Garmallar, is lovely in mine ear. Doſt thou not behold, Malvina, a rock with its head of heath? Three aged pines bend from its face; green is the narrow plain at its feet; there the flower of the mountain grows, and ſhakes its white head in the breeze. The thiſtle is there alone, ſhedding its aged beard. Two ſtones, half ſunk in the ground, ſhew their heads of moſs. The deer of the mountain avoids the place, for he beholds a dim ghoſt ſtanding there 1). The mighty lie, O Malvina! in the narrow plain of the rock.

A tale of the times of old! the deeds of days of other years!

Who comes from the land of ſtrangers, with his thouſands around him? The ſun-beam pours its bright ſtream before him; his hair meets the wind of his hills. His face is ſettled from war. He is calm as the evening beam that looks, from the cloud of the weſt, on Cona's ſilent vale. Who is it but Comhal's ſon, 2) the king of mighty deeds! He beholds his hills with joy, he bids a thouſand voices riſe. “Ye have fled over your fields, ye ſons of the diſtant land! The king of the world ſits in his hall, and hears of his people's flight. He lifts his red eye of pride; he takes his father's ſword. Ye have fled over your fields, ſons of the diſtant land!”

Such were the words of the bards, when they came to Selma's halls. A thouſand lights 3) from the ſtranger's land roſe, in the midſt of the people. The feaſt is ſpread around; the night paſſed away in joy. Where is the noble Cleſſámmor? 4) ſaid the fair-haired Fingal. Where is the brother of Morna, in the hour of my joy? Sullen and dark he paſſes his days in the vale of echoing Lora: but, behold, he comes from the hill, like a ſteed in his ſtrength, who finds his companions in the breeze; and toſſes his bright mane in the wind. Bleſt be the ſoul of Cleſſámmor, why ſo long from Selma?

Returns the chief, ſaid Cleſſámmor, in the midſt of his fame? Such was the renown of Comhal in the battles of his youth. Often did we paſs over Carun to the land of the ſtrangers: our ſwords returned, not unſtained with blood: nor did the kings of the world rejoice. Why do I remember the times of our war? My hair is mixed with grey. My hand forgets to bend the bow: I lift a lighter ſpear. O that my joy would return, as when I firſt beheld the maid; the white-boſomed daughter of ſtrangers, Moina, 5) with the dark-blue eyes!

Tell, ſaid the mighty Fingal, the tale of thy youthful days. Sorrow, like a cloud on the ſun, ſhades the ſoul of Cleſſámmor. Mournful are thy thoughts, alone on the banks of the roaring Lora. Let us hear the ſorrow of thy youth and the darkneſs of thy days!

“It was in the days of peace,” replied the great Cleſſámmor, “I came, in my bounding ſhip, to Balclutha's 6) walls of towers. The winds had roared behind my ſails, and Clutha's 7) ſtreams received my dark-boſomed ſhip. Three days I remained in Reuthámir's halls, and ſaw his daughter, that beam of light. The joy of the ſhell went round, and the aged hero gave the fair. Her breaſts were like foam on the wave, and her eyes like ſtars of light: her hair was dark as the raven's wing: her ſoul was generous and mild. My love for Moina was great: my heart poured forth in joy.

The ſon of a ſtranger came; a chief who loved the white-boſomed Moina. His words were mighty in the hall; he often half-unſheathed his ſword. Where, ſaid he, is the mighty Comhal, the reſtleſs wanderer 8) of the heath? Comes he, with his hoſt, to Balclutha, ſince Cleſſámmor is ſo bold? My ſoul, I replied, O warrior! burns in a light of its own. I ſtand without fear in the midſt of thouſands, though the valiant are diſtant far. Stranger! thy words are mighty, for Cleſſámmor is alone. But my ſword trembles by my ſide, and longs to glitter in my hand. Speak no more of Comhal, ſon of the winding Clutha!”

“The ſtrength of his pride aroſe. We fought; he fell beneath my ſword. The banks of Clutha heard his fall; a thouſand ſpears glittered around. I fought: the ſtrangers prevailed: I plunged into the ſtream of Clutha. My white ſails roſe over the waves, and I bounded on the dark-blue ſea. Moina came to the ſhore, and rolled the red eye of her tears: her looſe hair flew on the wind: and I heard her mournful, diſtant cries. Often did I turn my ſhip; but the winds of the eaſt prevailed. Nor Clutha ever ſince have I ſeen, nor Moina of the dark-brown hair. She fell in Balclutha, for I have ſeen her ghoſt. I knew her as ſhe came through the duſky night, along the murmur of Lora: ſhe was like the new moon, ſeen through the gathered miſt, when the ſky pours down its flaky ſnow, and the world is ſilent and dark.”

Raiſe, 9) ye bards, ſaid the mighty Fingal, the praiſe of unhappy Moina. Call her ghoſt, with your ſongs, to our hills; that ſhe may reſt with the fair of Morven, the ſun-beams of other days, the delight of heroes of old. I have ſeen the walls of Balclutha, but they were deſolate. The fire had reſounded in the halls: and the voice of the people is heard no more. The ſtream of Clutha was removed from its place, by the fall of the walls. The thiſtle ſhook, there, its lonely head: the moſs whiſtled to the wind. The fox looked out from the windows, the rank graſs of the wall waved round its head. Deſolate is the dwelling of Moina, ſilence is in the houſe of her fathers. Raiſe the ſong of mourning, O bards! over the land of ſtrangers. They have but fallen before us: for, one day, we muſt fall. Why doſt thou build the hall, ſon of the winged days? Thou lookeſt from thy towers to-day; yet a few years, and the blaſt of the deſert comes; it howls in thy empty court, and whiſtles round thy half-worn ſhield. And let the blaſt of the deſert come! we ſhall be renowned in our day! The mark of my arm ſhall be in battle; my name in the ſong of bards. Raiſe the ſong; ſend round the ſhell: let joy be heard in my hall. When thou, ſun of heaven, ſhalt fail! if thou ſhalt fail, thou mighty light! if thy brightneſs is for a ſeaſon, like Fingal; our fame ſhall ſurvive thy beams!

Such was the ſong of Fingal, in the day of his joy. His thouſand bards leaned forward from their ſeats, to hear the voice of the king. It was like the muſic of harps on the gale of the ſpring. Lovely were thy thoughts, O Fingal! why had not Oſſian the ſtrength of thy ſoul? But thou ſtandeſt alone, my father! Who can equal the king of Selma?

The night paſſed away in ſong; morning returned in joy. The mountains ſhewed their grey heads; the blue face of ocean ſmiled. The white wave is ſeen tumbling round the diſtant rock; a miſt roſe ſlowly, from the lake. It came, in the figure of an aged man, along the ſilent plain. Its large limbs did not move in ſteps; for a ghoſt ſupported it in mid air. It came towards Selma's hall, and diſſolved in a ſhower of blood.

The king alone beheld the ſight; he foreſaw the death of the people. He came, in ſilence, to his hall; and took his father's ſpear. The mail rattled on his breaſt. The heroes roſe around. They looked in ſilence on each other, marking the eyes of Fingal. They ſaw battle in his face: the death of armies on his ſpear. A thouſand ſhields, at once, are placed on their arms; they drew a thouſand ſwords. The hall of Selma brightened around. The clang of arms aſcends. The grey dogs howl in their place. No word is among the mighty chiefs. Each marked the eyes of the king; and half aſſumed his ſpear.

Sons of Morven, began the king, this is no time to fill the ſhell. The battle darkens near us; death hovers over the land. Some ghoſt, the friend of Fingal, has forewarned us of the foe. The ſons of the ſtranger come from the darkly-rolling ſea. For, from the water came the ſign of Morven's gloomy danger. Let each aſſume his heavy ſpear, each gird on his father's ſword. Let the dark helmet riſe on every head; the mail pour its lightning from every ſide. The battle gathers like a ſtorm; ſoon ſhall ye hear the roar of death.

The hero moved on before his hoſt, like a cloud before a ridge of green fire when it pours on the ſky of night, and mariners foreſee a ſtorm. On Cona's riſing heath they ſtood; the white-boſomed maids beheld them above like a grove; they foreſaw the death of the youth, and looked towards the ſea with fear. The white wave deceived them for diſtant ſails; the tear is on their cheek! The ſun roſe on the ſea, and we beheld a diſtant fleet. Like the miſt of ocean they came: and poured their youth upon the coaſt. The chief was among them, like the ſtag in the midſt of the herd. His ſhield is ſtudded with gold; ſtately ſtrode the king of ſpears. He moved towards Selma: his thouſands moved behind.

“Go, with a ſong of peace,” ſaid Fingal; “go, Ullin, to the king of ſwords. Tell him that we are mighty in war; that the ghoſts of our foes are many. But renowned are they who have feaſted in my halls! they ſhew the arms 10) of my fathers in a foreign land: the ſons of the ſtrangers wonder, and bleſs the friends of Morven's race; for our names have been heard afar: the kings of the world ſhook in the midſt of their hoſt.”

Ullin went with his ſong. Fingal reſted on his ſpear: he ſaw the mighty foe in his armour: he bleſſed the ſtranger's ſon. “How ſtately art thou, ſon of the ſea!” ſaid the king of woody Morven. “Thy ſword is a beam of fire by thy ſide: thy ſpear is a pine that defies the ſtorm. The varied face of the moon is not broader than thy ſhield. Ruddy is thy face of youth! ſoft the ringlets of thy hair! But this tree may fall; and his memory be forgot! The daughter of the ſtranger will be ſad, looking to the rolling ſea: the children will ſay, ›We ſee a ſhip; perhaps it is the king of Balclutha.‹ The tear ſtarts from their mother's eye. Her thoughts are of him who ſleeps in Morven!”

Such were the words of the king, when Ullin came to the mighty Carthon; he threw down the ſpear before him; he raiſed the ſong of peace. “Come to the feaſt of Fingal, Carthon, from the rolling ſea! partake of the feaſt of the king, or lift the ſpear of war! The ghoſts of our foes are many: but renowned are the friends of Morven! Behold that field, O Carthon; many a green hill riſes there, with moſſy ſtones and ruſtling graſs: theſe are the tombs of Fingal's foes, the ſons of the rolling ſea!”

“Doſt thou ſpeak to the weak in arms!” ſaid Carthon, “bard of the woody Morven? Is my face pale for fear, ſon of the peaceful ſong? Why, then, doſt thou think to darken my ſoul with the tales of thoſe who fell? My arm has fought in battle; my renown is known afar. Go to the feeble in arms, bid them yield to Fingal. Have not I ſeen the fallen Balclutha? And ſhall I feaſt with Comhal's ſon? Comhal! who threw his fire in the midſt of my father's hall! I was young, and knew not the cauſe why the virgins wept. The columns of ſmoke pleaſed mine eye, when they roſe above my walls! I often looked back, with gladneſs, when my friends fled along the hill. But when the years of my youth came on, I beheld the moſs of my fallen walls: my ſigh aroſe with the morning, and my tears deſcended with night. Shall I not fight, I ſaid to my ſoul, againſt the children of my foes? And I will fight, O bard! I feel the ſtrength of my ſoul.”

His people gathered around the hero, and drew at once their ſhining ſwords. He ſtands, in the midſt, like a pillar of fire; the tear half-ſtarting from his eye; for he thought of the fallen Balclutha; the crowded pride of his ſoul aroſe. Sidelong he looked up to the hill, where our heroes ſhone in arms; the ſpear trembled in his hand: bending forward, he ſeemed to threaten the king.

Shall I, ſaid Fingal to his ſoul, meet, at once, the youth? Shall I ſtop him, in the midſt of his courſe, before his fame ſhall ariſe? But the bard, hereafter, may ſay, when he ſees the tomb of Carthon: Fingal took his thouſands to battle, before the noble Carthon fell. No, bard of the times to come! thou ſhalt not leſſen Fingal's fame. My heroes will fight the youth, and Fingal behold the war. If he overcomes, I ruſh, in my ſtrength, like the roaring ſtream of Cona. Who, of my chiefs, will meet the ſon of the rolling ſea? Many are his warriors on the coaſt: and ſtrong is his aſhen ſpear!

Cathul 11) roſe, in his ſtrength, the ſon of the mighty Lormar: three hundred youths attend the chief, the race 12) of his native ſtreams. Feeble was his arm againſt Carthon, he fell; and his heroes fled. Connal 13) reſumed the battle, but he broke his heavy ſpear: he lay bound on the field: Carthon purſued his people.

Cleſſámmor! ſaid the king 14) of Morven, where is the ſpear of thy ſtrength? Wilt thou behold Connal bound; thy friend, at the ſtream of Lora? Riſe, in the light of thy ſteel, companion of valiant Comhal! Let the youth of Balclutha feel the ſtrength of Morven's race. He roſe in the ſtrength of his ſteel, ſhaking his griſly locks. He fitted the ſhield to his ſide; he ruſhed, in the pride of valour.

Carthon ſtood on a rock: he ſaw the hero ruſhing on. He loved the dreadful joy of his face: his ſtrength, in the locks of age! “Shall I lift that ſpear,” he ſaid, “that never ſtrikes, but once, a foe? Or ſhall I, with the words of peace, preſerve the warrior's life? Stately are his ſteps of age! lovely the remnant of his years! Perhaps it is the huſband of Moina; the father of car-borne Carthon. Often have I heard that he dwelt at the echoing ſtream of Lora.”

Such were his words, when Cleſſámmor came, and lifted high his ſpear. The youth received it on his ſhield, and ſpoke the words of peace. “Warrior of the aged locks! Is there no youth to lift the ſpear? Haſt thou no ſon to raiſe the ſhield before his father, to meet the arm of youth? Is the ſpouſe of thy love no more? or weeps ſhe over the tombs of thy ſons? Art thou of the kings of men? What will be the fame of my ſword ſhouldſt thou fall?”

It will be great, thou ſon of pride! begun the tall Cleſſámmor. I have been renowned in battle; but I never told my name 15) to a foe. Yield to me, ſon of the wave, then ſhalt thou know that the mark of my ſword is in many a field. “I never yielded, king of ſpears! replied the noble pride of Carthon: I have alſo fought in war; I behold my future fame. Deſpiſe me not, thou chief of men! my arm, my ſpear is ſtrong. Retire among thy friends, let younger heroes fight.” Why doſt thou wound my ſoul? replied Cleſſámmor, with a tear. Age does not tremble on my hand; I ſtill can lift the ſword. Shall I fly in Fingal's ſight; in the ſight of him I love? Son of the ſea! I never fled: exalt thy pointed ſpear.

They fought, like two contending winds, that ſtrive to roll the wave. Carthon bade his ſpear to err; he ſtill thought that the foe was the ſpouſe of Moina. He broke Cleſſámmor's beamy ſpear in twain; he ſeized his ſhining ſword. But as Carthon was binding the chief, the chief drew the dagger of his fathers. He ſaw the foe's uncovered ſide; and opened there a wound.

Fingal ſaw Cleſſámmor low: he moved in the ſound of his ſteel. The hoſt ſtood ſilent, in his preſence; they turned their eyes to the king. He came, like the ſullen noiſe of a ſtorm, before the winds ariſe: the hunter hears it in the vale, and retires to the cave of the rock. Carthon ſtood in his place: the blood is ruſhing down his ſide: he ſaw the coming down of the king; his hopes of fame aroſe; 16) but pale was his cheek: his hair flew looſe, his helmet ſhook on high: the force of Carthon failed; but his ſoul was ſtrong.

Fingal beheld the hero's blood; he ſtopped the uplifted ſpear. “Yield, king of ſwords!” ſaid Comhal's ſon; “I behold thy blood. Thou haſt been mighty in battle; and thy fame ſhall never fade.” Art thou the king ſo far renowned? replied the car-borne Carthon. Art thou that light of death, that frightens the kings of the world? But why ſhould Carthon aſk? for he is like the ſtream of his hills; ſtrong as a river, in his courſe: ſwift as the eagle of heaven. O that I had fought with the king; that my fame might be great in ſong! that the hunter, beholding my tomb, might ſay he fought with the mighty Fingal. But Carthon dies unknown; he has poured out his force on the weak.

But thou ſhalt not die unknown, replied the king of woody Morven: my bards are many, O Carthon! their ſongs deſcend to future times. The children of years to come ſhall hear the fame of Carthon; when they ſit round the burning oak, 17) and the night is ſpent in ſongs of old. The hunter, ſitting in the heath, ſhall hear the ruſtling blaſt; and, raiſing his eyes, behold the rock where Carthon fell. He ſhall turn to his ſon and ſhew the place where the mighty fought: “There the King of Balclutha fought, like the ſtrength of a thouſand ſtreams.”

Joy roſe in Carthon's face: he lifted his heavy eyes. He gave his ſword to Fingal, to lie within his hall, that the memory of Balclutha's king might remain in Morven. The battle ceaſed along the field, the bard had ſung the ſong of peace. The chiefs gathered round the falling Carthon; they heard his words with ſighs. Silent they leaned on their ſpears, while Balclutha's hero ſpoke. His hair ſighed in the wind, and his voice was ſad and low.

“King of Morven,” Carthon ſaid, “I fall in the midſt of my courſe. A foreign tomb receives, in youth, the laſt of Reuthámir's race. Darkneſs dwells in Balclutha: the ſhadows of grief in Crathmo. But raiſe my remembrance on the banks of Lora: where my fathers dwelt. Perhaps the huſband of Moina will mourn over his fallen Carthon.” His words reached the heart of Cleſſámmor: he fell, in ſilence, on his ſon. The hoſt ſtood darkened around: no voice is on the plain. Night came, the moon, from the eaſt, looked on the mournful field: but ſtill they ſtood, like a ſilent grove that lifts its head on Gormal, when the loud winds are laid, and dark autumn is on the plain.

Three days they mourned above Carthon; on the fourth his father died. In the narrow plain of the rock they lie; a dim ghoſt defends their tomb. There lovely Moina is often ſeen; when the ſun-beam darts on the rock, and all around is dark. There ſhe is ſeen, Malvina! but not like the daughters of the hill. Her robes are from the ſtranger's land; and ſhe is ſtill alone!

Fingal was ſad for Carthon; he commanded his bards to mark the day, when ſhadowy autumn returned: And often did they mark the day and ſing the hero's praiſe. “Who comes ſo dark from ocean's roar, like autumn's ſhadowy cloud? Death is trembling in his hand! his eyes are flames of fire! Who roars along dark Lora's heath? Who but Carthon, king of ſwords! The people fall! ſee how he ſtrides, like the ſullen ghoſt of Morven! But there he lies a goodly oak, which ſudden blaſts overturned! When ſhalt thou riſe, Balclutha's joy? When, Carthon, ſhalt thou ariſe? Who comes ſo dark from ocean's roar, like autumn's ſhadowy cloud?” Such were the words of the bards, in the day of their mourning: Oſſian often joined their voice; and added to their ſong. My ſoul has been mournful for Carthon; he fell in the days of his youth: and thou, O Cleſſámmor! where is thy dwelling in the wind? Has the youth forgot his wound? Flies he, on clouds, with thee? I feel the ſun, O Malvina! leave me to my reſt. Perhaps they may come to my dreams; I think I hear a feeble voice! The beam of heaven delights to ſhine on the grave of Carthon: I feel it warm around!

O thou that rolleſt above, round as the ſhield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O ſun! thy everlaſting light? Thou comeſt forth, in thy awful beauty; the ſtars hide themſelves in the ſky; the moon, cold and pale, ſinks in the weſtern wave. But thou thyſelf moveſt alone: who can be a companion of thy courſe? The oaks of the mountains fall: the mountains themſelves decay with years; the ocean ſhrinks and grows again: the moon herſelf is loſt in heaven; but thou art for ever the ſame; rejoicing in the brightneſs of thy courſe. When the world is dark with tempeſts; when thunder rolls, and lightning flies; thou lookeſt in thy beauty from the clouds, and laugheſt at the ſtorm. But to Oſſian, thou lookeſt in vain; for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair flows on the eaſtern clouds, or thou trembleſt at the gates of the weſt. But thou art perhaps, like me, for a ſeaſon; thy years will have an end. Thou ſhalt ſleep in the clouds, careleſs of the voice of the morning. Exult then, O ſun! in the ſtrength of thy youth: Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon, when it ſhines through broken clouds, and the miſt is on the hills; the blaſt of the north is on the plain, the traveller ſhrinks in the midſt of his journey.





It was the opinion of the times that deer ſaw the ghoſts of the dead. To this day, when beaſts ſuddenly ſtart without any apparent cauſe, the vulgar think that they ſee the ſpirits of the deceaſed. 


Fingal returns here from an expedition againſt the Romans, which was celebrated by Oſſian in a poem called the Strife of Crona. 


Probably wax-lights, which are often mentioned as carried, among other booty, from the Roman province. 


Cleſſamh-mór, mighty deeds. 


Moina, ſoft in temper and perſon. We find the Britiſh names in this poem derived from the Gaelic, which is a proof that the ancient language of the whole iſland was one and the ſame. 


Balclutha – i.e. the town of Clyde, probably the Alcluth of Bede. 


Clutha, or Cluath, the Gaelic name of the river Clyde; the ſignification of the word is bending, in alluſion to the winding courſe of that river. From Clutha is derived its Latin name, Glotta. 


The word in the original here rendered by reſtleſs wanderer Scuta, which is the true origin of the Scoti of the Romans; an opprobrious name impoſed by the Britons, on the Caledonians, on account of the continual incurſions into their country. 


The title of this poem, in the original, is Duan na nlaoi – i.e. The Poem of the Hymns: probably on account of its many digreſſions from the ſubject, all which are in a lyric meaſure, as this ſong of Fingal. Fingal is celebrated by the Iriſh hiſtorians for his wiſdom in making laws, his poetical genius, and his foreknowledge of events. O'Flaherty goes ſo far as to ſay that Fingal's laws were extant in his own time. 


It was a cuſtom among the ancient Scots to exchange arms with their gueſts, and thoſe arms were preſerved long in the different families, as monuments of the friendſhip which ſubſiſted between their anceſtors. 


Cath'huil, the eye of battle. 


It appears, from this paſſage, that clanſhip was eſtabliſhed in the days of Fingal, though not on the ſame footing with the preſent tribes in the north of Scotland. 


This Connal is very much celebrated, in ancient poetry, for his wiſdom and valour; there is a ſmall tribe ſtill ſubſiſting in the North, who pretend they are deſcended from him. 


Fingal did not then know that Carthon was the ſon of Cleſſámmor. 


To tell one's name to an enemy was reckoned, in thoſe days of heroiſm, a manifeſt evaſion of fighting him: for if it was at once known that friendſhip ſubſiſted, of old, between the anceſtors of the combatants, the battle immediately ceaſed; and the ancient amity of their forefathers was renewed. A man who tells his name to his enemy was of old an ignominious term for a coward. 


This expreſſion admits of a double meaning, either that Carthon hoped to acquire glory by killing Fingal; or to be rendered famous by falling by his hand. The laſt is the moſt probable, as Carthon is already wounded. 


In the north of Scotland, till very lately, they burnt a large trunk of an oak at their feſtivals; it was called the trunk of the feaſt. Time had ſo much conſecrated the cuſtom, that the vulgar thought it a kind of ſacrilege to diſuſe it.