James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


The Poems of Ossian









An Epic Poem.


Book VIII.




THE fourth morning from the opening of the poem comes on. Fingal, ſtill continuing in the place to which he had retired on the preceding night, is ſeen at intervals through the miſt which covered the rock of Cormul. The deſcent of the king is deſcribed. He orders Gaul, Dermid, and Carril the bard, to go to the valley of Cluna, and conduct from thence to the Caledonian army Ferad-artho, the ſon of Cairbar, the only perſon remaining of the family of Conar the firſt king of Ireland. The king takes the command of the army and prepares for battle. Marching towards the enemy, he comes to the cave of Lubar, where the body of Fillan lay. Upon ſeeing his dog Bran, who lay at the entrance of the cave, his grief returns. Cathmor arranges the Iriſh army in order of battle. The appearance of that hero. The general conflict is deſcribed. The actions of Fingal and Cathmor. A ſtorm. The total rout of the Firbolg. The two kings engage, in a column of miſt, on the banks of Lubar. Their attitude and conference after the combat. The death of Cathmor. Fingal reſigns the ſpear of Trenmor to Oſſian. The ceremonies obſerved on that occaſion. The ſpirit of Cathmor in the meantime appears to Sul-malla in the valley of Lona. Her ſorrow. Evening comes on. A feaſt is prepared. The coming of Ferad-artho is announced by the ſong of an hundred bards. The poem cloſes with a ſpeech of Fingal.



AS when the wintry winds have ſeized the waves of the mountain lake, have ſeized them, in ſtormy night, and clothed them over with ice; white to the hunter's early eye, the billows ſeem to roll. He turns his ear to the ſound of each unequal ridge. But each is ſilent, gleaming, ſtrewn with boughs and tufts of graſs, which ſhake and whiſtle to the wind, over their grey ſeats of froſt. So ſilent ſhone to the morning the ridges of Morven's hoſt, as each warrior looked up from his helmet towards the hill of the king; the cloud-covered hill of Fingal, where he ſtrode, in the folds of miſt. At times is the hero ſeen, greatly dim in all his arms. From thought to thought rolled the war, along his mighty ſoul.

Now is the coming forth of the king. Firſt appeared the ſword of Luno, the ſpear half iſſuing from a cloud, the ſhield ſtill dim in miſt. But when the ſtride of the king came abroad, with all his grey, dewy locks in the wind; then roſe the ſhouts of his hoſt over every moving tribe. They gathered gleaming round, with all their echoing ſhields. So riſe the green ſeas round a ſpirit, that comes down from the ſqually wind. The traveller hears the ſound afar, and lifts his head over the rock. He looks on the troubled bay, and thinks he dimly ſees the form. The waves ſport unwieldy round, with all their backs of foam.

Far-diſtant ſtood the ſon of Morni, Duthno's race, and Cona's bard. We ſtood far-diſtant; each beneath his tree. We ſhunned the eyes of the king: we had not conquered in the field. A little ſtream rolled at my feet; I touched its light wave, with my ſpear. I touched it with my ſpear; nor there was the ſoul of Oſſian. It darkly roſe from thought to thought, and ſent abroad the ſigh.

“Son of Morni,” ſaid the king, “Dermid, hunter of roes! why are ye dark, like two rocks, each with its trickling waters? No wrath gathers on Fingal's ſoul, againſt the chiefs of men. Ye are my ſtrength in battle; the kindling of my joy in peace. My early voice has been a pleaſant gale to your ears, when Fillan prepared the bow. The ſon of Fingal is not here, nor yet the chaſe of the bounding roes. But why ſhould the breakers of ſhields ſtand, darkened far away?”

Tall they ſtrode towards the king; they ſaw him turned to Mora's wind. His tears came down, for his blue-eyed ſon, who ſlept in the cave of ſtreams. But he brightened before them, and ſpoke to the broad-ſhielded kings.

“Crommal, with woody rocks, and miſty top, the field of winds, pours forth, to the ſight, blue Lubar's ſtreamy roar. Behind it rolls clear-winding Lavath, in the ſtill vale of deer. A cave is dark in a rock, above it ſtrong-winged eagles dwell; broad-headed oaks before it, ſound in Cluna's wind. Within, in his locks of youth, is Ferad-artho, 1) blue-eyed king, the ſon of broad-ſhielded Cairbar, from Ullin of the roes. He liſtens to the voice of Condan, as, grey, he bends in feeble light. He liſtens, for his foes dwell in the echoing halls of Temora. He comes, at times, abroad, in the ſkirts of miſt, to pierce the bounding roes. When the ſun looks on the field, nor by the rock, nor ſtream, is he! He ſhuns the race of Bolga, who dwell in his father's hall. Tell him that Fingal lifts the ſpear, and that his foes, perhaps, may fail.”

“Lift up, O Gaul, the ſhield before him. Stretch, Dermid, Temora's ſpear. Be thy voice in his ear, O Carril, with the deeds of his fathers. Lead him to green Moi-lena, to the duſky field of ghoſts; for there, I fall forward, in battle, in the folds of war. Before dun night deſcends, come to high Dunmora's top. Look, from the grey ſkirts of miſt, on Lena of the ſtreams. If there my ſtandard ſhall float on wind, over Lubar's gleaming ſtream, then has not Fingal failed in the laſt of his fields.”

Such were his words; nor aught replied the ſilent, ſtriding kings. They looked ſide-long, on Erin's hoſt, and darkened, as they went. Never before had they left the king, in the midſt of the ſtormy field. Behind them, touching at times his harp, the grey-haired Carril moved. He foreſaw the fall of the people, and mournful was the ſound! It was like a breeze that comes, by fits, over Lego's reedy lake; when ſleep half-deſcends on the hunter, within his moſſy cave.

“Why bends the bard of Cona,” ſaid Fingal, “over his ſecret ſtream? Is this a time for ſorrow, father of low-laid Oſcar? Be the warriors 2) remembered in peace, when echoing ſhields are heard no more. Bend, then, in grief, over the flood where blows the mountain breeze. Let them paſs on thy ſoul, the blue-eyed dwellers of the tomb. But Erin rolls to war, wide-tumbling, rough, and dark. Lift, Oſſian, lift the ſhield. I am alone, my ſon!”

As comes the ſudden voice of winds to the becalmed ſhip of Inis-huna, and drives it large, along the deep, dark rider of the wave: ſo the voice of Fingal ſent Oſſian, tall, along the heath. He lifted high his ſhining ſhield, in the duſky wing of war: like the broad, blank moon, in the ſkirt of a cloud, before the ſtorms ariſe.

Loud, from moſs-covered Mora poured down, at once, the broad-winged war. Fingal led his people forth, king of Morven of ſtreams. On high ſpreads the eagle's wing. His grey hair is poured on his ſhoulders broad. In thunder are his mighty ſtrides. He often ſtood, and ſaw behind, the wide-gleaming rolling of armour. A rock he ſeemed, grey over with ice, whoſe woods are high in wind. Bright ſtreams leap from its head, and ſpread their foam on blaſts.

Now he came to Lubar's cave, where Fillan darkly ſlept. Bran ſtill lay on the broken ſhield: the eagle wing is ſtrewed by the winds. Bright, from withered furze, looked forth the hero's ſpear. Then grief ſtirred the ſoul of the king, like whirlwinds blackening on a lake. He turned his ſudden ſtep, and leaned on his bending ſpear.

White-breaſted Bran came bounding with joy to the known path of Fingal. He came, and looked towards the cave, where the blue-eyed hunter lay, for he was wont to ſtride, with morning, to the dewy bed of the roe. It was then the tears of the king came down, and all his ſoul was dark. But as the riſing wind rolls away the ſtorm of rain, and leaves the white ſtreams to the ſun, and high hills with their heads of graſs: ſo the returning war brightened the mind of Fingal. He bounded on his ſpear over Lubar, and ſtruck his echoing ſhield. His ridgy hoſt bend forward, at once with all their pointed ſteel.

Nor Erin heard, with fear, the ſound; wide they came rolling along. Dark-Malthos, in the wing of war, looks forward from ſhaggy brows. Next roſe that beam of light, Hidalla! then the ſide-long looking gloom of Maronnan. Blue-ſhielded Clonar lifts the ſpear; Cormar ſhakes his buſhy locks on the wind. Slowly from behind a rock, roſe the bright form of Atha. Firſt appeared his two pointed ſpears, then the half of his burniſhed ſhield: like the riſing of a nightly meteor, over the vale of ghoſts. But when he ſhone all abroad: the hoſts plunged, at once, into ſtrife. The gleaming waves of ſteel are poured on either ſide.

As meet two troubled ſeas, with the rolling of all their waves, when they feel the wings of contending winds, in the rock-ſided frith of Lumon; along the echoing hills is the dim courſe of ghoſts; from the blaſt fall the torn groves on the deep, amidſt the foamy path of whales. So mixed the hoſt! Now Fingal; now Cathmor came abroad. The dark tumbling of death is before them: the gleam of broken ſteel is rolled on their ſteps, as, loud, the high-bounding kings hewed down the ridge of ſhields.

Maronnan fell, by Fingal laid large acroſs a ſtream. The waters gathered by his ſide, and leapt grey over his boſſy ſhield. Clonar is pierced by Cathmor: nor yet lay the chief on earth. An oak ſeized his hair in his fall. His helmet rolled on the ground. By its thong, hung his broad ſhield; over it wandered his ſtreaming blood. Tlamin 3) ſhall weep, in the hall, and ſtrike her heaving breaſt.

Nor did Oſſian forget the ſpear, in the wing of his war. He ſtrewed the field with dead. Young Hidalla came. “Soft voice of ſtreamy Clonar! Why doſt thou lift the ſteel? O that we met in the ſtrife of ſong, in thy own ruſhy vale!” Malthos beheld him low, and darkened as he ruſhed along. On either ſide of a ſtream, we bend in the echoing ſtrife. Heaven comes rolling down: around burſt the voices of ſqually winds. Hills are clothed, at times, in fire. Thunder rolls in wreaths of miſt. In darkneſs ſhrunk the foe: Morven's warriors ſtood aghaſt. Still I bent over the ſtream, amidſt my whiſtling locks. Then roſe the voice of Fingal, and the ſound of the flying foe. I ſaw the king, at times, in lightning, darkly-ſtriding in his might. I ſtruck my echoing ſhield, and hung forward on the ſteps of Alnecma: the foe is rolled before me, like a wreath of ſmoke.

The ſun looked forth from his cloud. The hundred ſtreams of Moi-lena ſhone. Slow roſe the blue columns of miſt, againſt the glittering hill. “Where are the mighty kings?” 4) Nor by that ſtream, nor wood are they! I hear the clang of arms! Their ſtrife is in the boſom of that miſt. Such is the contending of ſpirits in a nightly cloud, when they ſtrive for the wintry wings of winds, and the rolling of the foam-covered waves.

I ruſhed along. The grey miſt roſe. Tall, gleaming, they ſtood at Lubar. Cathmor leaned againſt a rock. His half-fallen ſhield received the ſtream, that leapt from the moſs above. Towards him is the ſtride of Fingal: he ſaw the hero's blood. His ſword fell ſlowly to his ſide. He ſpoke, midſt his darkening joy.

“Yields the race of Borbar-duthul? Or ſtill does he lift the ſpear? Not unheard is thy name, at Atha, in the green dwelling of ſtrangers. It has come like the breeze of his deſert, to the ear of Fingal. Come to my hill of feaſts: the mighty fail, at times. No fire am I to low-laid foes: I rejoice not over the fall of the brave. To cloſe the wound is mine: I have known the herbs 5) of the hills. I ſeized their fair heads, on high, as they waved by their ſecret ſtreams. Thou art dark and ſilent, king of Atha of ſtrangers!”

“By Atha of the ſtream,” he ſaid, “there riſes a moſſy rock. On its head is the wandering of boughs, within the courſe of winds. Dark, in its face, is a cave, with its own loud rill. There have I heard the tread of ſtrangers, when they paſſed to my hall of ſhells. Joy roſe, like a flame, on my ſoul: I bleſſed the echoing rock. Here be my dwelling, in darkneſs; in my graſſy vale. From this I ſhall mount the breeze, that purſues my thiſtle's beard; or look down, on blue-winding Atha, from its wandering miſt.” 6)

“Why ſpeaks the king of the tomb? Oſſian! the warrior has failed! Joy meet thy ſoul, like a ſtream, Cathmor, friend of ſtrangers! My ſon, I hear the call of years; they take my ſpear as they paſs along. Why does not Fingal, they ſeem to ſay, reſt within his hall? Doſt thou always delight in blood? In the tears of the ſad? No: ye dark-rolling years, Fingal delights not in blood. Tears are wintry ſtreams that waſte away my ſoul. But, when I lie down to reſt, then comes the mighty voice of war. It awakes me, in my hall, and calls forth all my ſteel. It ſhall call it forth no more; Oſſian, take thou thy father's ſpear. Lift it, in battle, when the proud ariſe.

My fathers, Oſſian, trace my ſteps; my deeds are pleaſant to their eyes. Wherever I came forth to battle, on my field are their columns of miſt. But mine arm reſcued the feeble, the haughty found my rage was fire. Never over the fallen did mine eye rejoice. For this, 7) my fathers ſhall meet me, at the gates of their airy halls, tall, with robes of light, with mildly-kindled eyes. But, to the proud in arms, they are darkened moons in heaven, which ſend the fire of night red-wandering over their face.

Father of heroes, Trenmor, dweller of eddying winds! I give thy ſpear to Oſſian, let thine eye rejoice. Thee have I ſeen, at times, bright from between thy clouds; ſo appear to my ſon, when he is to lift the ſpear: then ſhall he remember thy mighty deeds, though thou art now but a blaſt”

He gave the ſpear to my hand, and raiſed, at once, a ſtone on high, to ſpeak to future times, with its grey head of moſs. Beneath he placed a ſword 8) in earth, and one bright boſs from his ſhield. Dark in thought, a while, he bends: his words, at length, came forth.

“When thou, O ſtone, ſhalt moulder down, and looſe thee, in the moſs of years, then ſhall the traveller come, and whiſtling paſs away. Thou know'ſt not, feeble man, that fame once ſhone on Moi-lena. Here Fingal reſigned his ſpear, after the laſt of his fields. Paſs away, thou empty ſhade! in thy voice there is no renown. Thou dwelleſt by ſome peaceful ſtream; yet a few years, and thou art gone. No one remembers thee, thou dweller of thick miſt! But Fingal ſhall be clothed with fame, a beam of light to other times; for he went forth, in echoing ſteel, to ſave the weak in arms.”

Brightening in his fame, the king ſtrode to Lubar's ſounding oak, where it bent, from its rock, over the bright-tumbling ſtream. Beneath it is a narrow plain, and the ſound of the fount of the rock. Here the ſtandard 9) of Morven poured its wreaths on the wind, to mark the way of Ferad-artho, from his ſecret vale. Bright from his parted weſt, the ſun of heaven looked abroad. The hero ſaw his people, and heard their ſhouts of joy. In broken ridges round, they glittered to the beam. The king rejoiced, as a hunter in his own green vale, when, after the ſtorm is rolled away, he ſees the gleaming ſides of the rocks. The green thorn ſhakes its head in their face; from their top look forward the roes.

Grey, 10) at his moſſy cave, is bent the aged form of Clonmal. The eyes of the bard had failed. He leaned forward, on his ſtaff. Bright in her locks, before him, Sul-malla liſtened to the tale; the tale of the kings of Atha, in the days of old. The noiſe of battle had ceaſed in his ear: he ſtopped, and raiſed the ſecret ſigh. The ſpirits of the dead, they ſaid, often lightened along his ſoul. He ſaw the king of Atha low, beneath his bending tree.

“Why art thou dark?” ſaid the maid. “The ſtrife of arms is paſt. Soon 11) ſhall he come to thy cave, over thy winding ſtreams. The ſun looks from the rocks of the weſt The miſts of the lake ariſe. Grey, they ſpread on that hill, the ruſhy dwelling of roes. From the miſt ſhall my king appear! Behold, he comes in his arms. Come to the cave of Clonmal, O my beſt beloved!”

It was the ſpirit of Cathmor, ſtalking, large, a gleaming form. He ſunk by the hollow ſtream, that roared between the hills. “It was but the hunter,” ſhe ſaid, “who ſearches for the bed of the roe. His ſteps are not forth to war; his ſpouſe expects him with night. He ſhall, whiſtling, return with the ſpoils of the dark-brown hinds.” Her eyes were turned to the hill; again the ſtately form came down. She roſe in the midſt of joy. He retired again in miſt. Gradual vaniſh his limbs of ſmoke, and mix with the mountain-wind. Then ſhe knew that he fell! “King of Erin, art thou low!” Let Oſſian forget her grief; it waſtes the ſoul of age. 12)

Evening came down on Moi-lena. Grey rolled the ſtreams of the land. Loud came forth the voice of Fingal: the beam of oaks aroſe. The people gathered round with gladneſs, with gladneſs blended with ſhades. They ſide-long looked to the king, and beheld his unfiniſhed joy. Pleaſant, from the way of the deſert, the voice of muſic came. It ſeemed, at firſt, the noiſe of a ſtream, far diſtant on its rocks. Slow it rolled along the hill, like the ruffled wing of a breeze, when it takes the tufted beard of the rocks, in the ſtill ſeaſon of night. It was the voice of Condan, mixed with Carril's trembling harp. They came, with blue-eyed Ferad-artho, to Mora of the ſtreams.

Sudden burſts the ſong from our bards, on Lena: the hoſt ſtruck their ſhields midſt the ſound. Gladneſs roſe brightening on the king, like the beam of a cloudy day, when it riſes, on the green hill, before the roar of winds. He ſtruck the boſſy ſhield of kings, at once they ceaſe around. The people lean forward, from their ſpears, towards the voice of their land. 13)

“Sons of Morven, ſpread the feaſt; ſend the night away in ſong. Ye have ſhone around me, and the dark ſtorm is paſt. My people are the windy rocks, from which I ſpread my eagle-wings, when I ruſh forth to renown, and ſeize it on its field. Oſſian, thou haſt the ſpear of Fingal: it is not the ſtaff of a boy with which he ſtrews the thiſtle round, young wanderer of the field. No: it is the lance of the mighty, with which they ſtretched forth their hands to death. Look to thy fathers, my ſon; they are awful beams. With morning lead Ferad-artho forth to the echoing halls of Temora. Remind him of the kings of Erin; the ſtately forms of old. Let not the fallen be forgot, they were mighty in the field. Let Carril pour his ſong, that the kings may rejoice in their miſt. To-morrow I ſpread my ſails to Selma's ſhaded walls; where ſtreamy Duthula winds through the ſeats of roes.”





Ferad-artho was the ſon of Cairbar Mac-Cormac, king of Ireland. He was the only one remaining of the race of Conar, the ſon of Trenmor, the firſt Iriſh monarch, according to Oſſian. In order to make this paſſage thoroughly underſtood, it may not be improper to recapitulate ſome part of what has been ſaid in preceding notes. Upon the death of Conar the ſon of Trenmor, his ſon Cormac ſucceeded on the Iriſh throne. Cormac reigned long. His children were Cairbar, who ſucceeded him, and Ros-crána, the firſt wife of Fingal. Cairbar, long before the death of his father Cormac, had taken to wife Bos-gala, the daughter of Colgar, one of the moſt powerful chiefs in Connaught, and had by her Artho, afterwards king of Ireland. Soon after Artho arrived at man's eſtate, his mother Bos-gala died, and Cairbar married Beltanno, the daughter of Conachar of Ullin, who brought him a ſon, whom he called Ferad-artho – i.e. a man in the place of Artho. The occaſion of the name was this: Artho, when his brother was born, was abſent, on an expedition, in the ſouth of Ireland. A falſe report was brought to his father that he was killed. Cairbar, to uſe the words of a poem on the ſubject, darkened for his fair-haired ſon. He turned to the young beam of light, the ſon of Baltanno of Conachar. Thou ſhalt be Ferad-artho, he ſaid, a fire before thy race. Cairbar ſoon after died; nor did Artho long ſurvive him. Artho was ſucceeded on the Iriſh throne by his ſon Cormac, who, in his minority, was murdered by Cairbar, the ſon of Borbar-duthul. Ferad-artho, ſays tradition, was very young when the expedition of Fingal to ſettle him on the throne of Ireland happened. During the ſhort reign of young Cormac, Ferad-artho lived at the royal reſidence of Temora. Upon the murder of the king, Condan the bard conveyed Ferad-artho privately to the cave of Cluna, behind the mountain Crommal in Ulſter, where they both lived concealed during the uſurpation of the family of Atha. A late bard has delivered the whole hiſtory in a poem juſt now in my poſſeſſion. It has little merit if we except the ſcene between Ferad-artho and the meſſengers of Fingal upon their arrival in the valley of Cluna. After hearing of the great actions of Fingal, the young prince propoſes the following queſtions concerning him to Gaul and Dermid: “Is the king tall as the rock of my cave? Is his ſpear a fir of Cluna? Is he a rough-winged blaſt, on the mountain, which takes the green oak by the head, and tears it from its hill? Glitters Lubar within his ſtride, when he ſends his ſtately ſteps along?” “Nor is he tall,” ſaid Gaul, “as that rock: nor glitter ſtreams within his ſtrides; but his ſoul is a mighty flood, like the ſtrength of Ullin's ſeas.” 


Malvina is ſuppoſed to ſpeak the following ſoliloquy:

“Malvina is like the bow of the ſhower, in the ſecret valley of ſtreams; it is bright, but the drops of heaven are rolling on its blended light. They ſay that I am fair within my locks, but, on my brightneſs, is the wandering of tears. Darkneſs flies over my ſoul, as the duſky wave of the breeze, along the graſs of Lutha. Yet have not the roes failed me, when I moved between the hills. Pleaſant, beneath my white hand, aroſe the ſound of harps. What then, daughter of Lutha, travels over thy ſoul, like the dreary path of a ghoſt along the nightly beam? Should the young warrior fall, in the roar of his troubled fields! Young virgins of Lutha ariſe, call back the wandering thoughts of Malvina. Awake the voice of the harp along my echoing vale. Then ſhall my ſoul come forth, like a light from the gates of the morn, when clouds are rolled around them, with their broken ſides.”

“Dweller of my thoughts, by night, whoſe form aſcends in troubled fields, why doſt thou ſtir up my ſoul, thou far-diſtant ſon of the king? Is that the ſhip of my love, its dark courſe through the ridges of ocean? How art thou ſo ſudden, Oſcar, from the heath of ſhields?”

The reſt of this poem conſiſts of a dialogue between Ullin and Malvina, wherein the diſtreſs of the latter is carried to the higheſt pitch. 


Tla-min, mildly ſoft. The loves of Clonar and Tlamin were rendered famous in the north by a fragment of a lyric poem. It is a dialogue between Clonar and Tlamin. She begins with a ſoliloquy which he overhears.


“Clonar, ſon of Conglas of I-mor, young hunter of dunſided roes; where art thou laid, amidſt ruſhes, beneath the paſſing wing of the breeze? I behold thee, my love, in the plain of thy own dark ſtreams! The clung thorn is rolled by the wind, and ruſtles along his ſhield. Bright in his locks he lies: the thoughts of his dreams fly, darkening, over his face. Thou thinkeſt of the battles of Oſſian, young ſon of the echoing iſle!

Half hid in the grove, I ſit down. Fly back, ye miſts of the hill. Why ſhould ye hide her love from the blue eyes of Tlamin of harps?”


“As the ſpirit, ſeen in a dream, flies off from our opening eyes, we think, we behold his bright path between the cloſing hills; ſo fled the daughter of Clungal, from the ſight of Clonar of ſhields. Ariſe from the gathering of trees; blue-eyed Tlamin, ariſe.”


“I turn me away from his ſteps. Why ſhould he know of my love! My white breaſt is heaving over ſighs, as foam on the dark courſe of ſtreams. But he paſſes away, in his arms! Son of Conglas, my ſoul is ſad.”


“It was the ſhield of Fingal! the voice of kings from Selma of harps! My path is towards green Erin. Ariſe, fair light, from thy ſhades. Come to the field of my ſoul, there is the ſpreading of hoſts. Ariſe, on Clonar's troubled ſoul, young, daughter of the blue-ſhielded Clungal.”

Clungal was the chief of I-mor, one of the Hebrides.  


Fingal and Cathmor. The conduct here is perhaps proper. The numerous deſcriptions of ſingle combats have already exhauſted the ſubject. Nothing new nor adequate to our high idea of the kings can be ſaid. A column of miſt is thrown over the whole, and the combat is left to the imagination of the reader. Poets have almoſt univerſally failed in their deſcriptions of this ſort. Not all the ſtrength of Homer could ſuſtain with dignity the minutiæ of a ſingle combat. The throwing of a ſpear and the braying of a ſhield, as ſome of our own poets moſt elegantly expreſs it, convey no magnificent, though they are ſtriking, ideas. Our imagination ſtretches beyond, and conſequently deſpiſes the deſcription. It were, therefore, well for ſome poets, in my opinion (though it is perhaps ſomewhat ſingular), to have ſometimes thrown miſt over their ſingle combats. 


Fingal is very much celebrated in tradition for his know-ledge in the virtues of herbs. 


Cathmor reflects with pleaſure, even in his laſt moments, on the relief he had afforded to ſtrangers. The very tread of their feet was pleaſant in his ear. His hoſpitality was not paſſed unnoticed by the bards; for with them it became a proverb when they deſcribed the hoſpitable diſpoſition of a hero that he was like Cathmor of Atha, the friend of ſtrangers. 


The Celtic nations had ſome idea of rewards, and perhaps of puniſhments, after death. Thoſe who behaved in life with bravery and virtue were received with joy to the airy halls of their fathers; but the dark in ſoul, to uſe the expreſſion of the poet, were ſpurned away from the habitation of heroes to wander on all the winds. Another opinion which prevailed in thoſe times tended not a little to make individuals emulous to excel one another in martial achievements. It was thought that in the hall of clouds every one had a ſeat, raiſed above others in proportion as he excelled them in valour when he lived. 


There are ſome ſtones ſtill to be ſeen in the north of Ireland which were erected as memorials of ſome remarkable tranſactions between the ancient chiefs. There are generally found beneath them ſome piece of arms and a bit of half-burnt wood. The cauſe of placing the laſt there is not mentioned in tradition. 


The erecting of his ſtandard on the bank of Lubar was the ſignal which Fingal, in the beginning of the book, promiſed to give to the chiefs who went to conduct Ferad-artho to the army, ſhould he himſelf prevail in battle. This ſtandard here is called the ſun-beam. The reaſon of this appellation I gave in my notes on the poem entitled Fingal. 


The ſcene is changed to the valley of Lona, whither Sul-malla had been ſent by Cathmor before the battle. Clonmal, an aged bard, or rather Druid, as he ſeems here to be endued with a preſcience of events, had long dwelt there in a cave. This ſcene is calculated to throw a melancholy gloom over the mind. 


Cathmor had promiſed, in the ſeventh book, to come to the cave of Clonmal, after the battle was over. 


Tradition relates that Oſſian, the next day after the deciſive battle between Fingal and Cathmor, went to find out Sul-malla in the valley of Lona. His addreſs to her follows:

“Awake, thou daughter of Conmor, from the fern-ſkirted cavern of Lona. Awake, thou ſun-beam in deſerts; warriors one day muſt fail. They move forth, like terrible lights; but often their cloud is near. Go to the valley of ſtreams, to the wandering of herds, on Lumon; there dwells, in his lazy miſt, the man of many days. But he is unknown, Sul-malla, like the thiſtle of the rocks of roes; it ſhakes its grey beard in the wind, and falls unſeen of our eyes. Not ſuch are the kings of men, their departure is a meteor of fire, which pours its red courſe from the deſert over the boſom of night.

He is mixed with the warriors of old, thoſe ſires that have hid their heads. At times ſhall they come forth in ſong. Not forgot has the warrior failed. He has not ſeen, Sul-malla, the fall of a beam of his own: no fair-haired ſon, in his blood, young troubler of the field. I am lonely, young branch of Lumon, I may hear the voice of the feeble when my ſtrength ſhall have failed in years, for young Oſcar has ceaſed on his field ...”

Sul-malla returned to her own country. She makes a conſiderable figure in another poem; her behaviour in that piece accounts for that partial regard with which the poet ſpeaks of her throughout Temora. 


Before I finiſh my notes, it may not be altogether improper to obviate an objection which may be made to the credibility of the ſtory of Temora. It may be aſked whether it is probable that Fingal could perform ſuch actions as are aſcribed to him in this book at an age when his grandſon Oſcar had acquired ſo much reputation in arms. To this it may be anſwered that Fingal was but very young (book 4th) when he took to wife Ros-crána, who ſoon after became the mother of Oſſian. Oſſian was alſo extremely young when he married Evirallin, the mother of Oſcar. Tradition relates that Fingal was but eighteen years old at the birth of his ſon Oſſian; and that Oſſian was much about the ſame age when Oſcar his ſon was born. Oſcar, perhaps, might be about twenty when he was killed in the battle of Gabhra (book 1ſt); ſo the age of Fingal, when the deciſive battle was fought between him and Cathmor, was juſt fifty-ſix years. In thoſe times of activity and health the natural ſtrength and vigour of a man was little abated at ſuch an age; ſo that there is nothing improbable in the actions of Fingal as related in this book.