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TEMORA.

BOOK II.*

ARGUMENT.-This book opens, we may suppose about

midnight, with a soliloquy of Ossian, who had retired from the rest of the army, to mourn for his son Oscar. Upon hearing the noise of Cathmor's army approaching, he went to find out his brother Fillan, who kept the watch on the hill of Mora, in the front of Fingal's army. In the conversation of the brothers, the episode of Conar, the son of Trenmor, who was the first king of Ireland, is introduced, which lays open the origin of the contests between the Cael and the Firbolg, the two nations who first possessed themselves of that island. Ossian kindles a fire on Mora; upon which Cathmor desisted from the design he had formed of surprising the army of the Caledonians. He calls a council of his chiefs; reprimands Fol. dath for advising a night attack, as the Irish army were so much superior in number to the enemy. The bard Fonar introduces the story of Crothar, the ancestor of the king, which throws further light on the history of Ireland, and the original pretensions of the family of Atha, to the throne of that kingdom. The Irish chiefs lie down to rest, and Cathmor himself undertakes the watch. In his circuit, round the army, he is met by Ossian. The interview of the two heroes is described. Cathmor obtains a promise from Ossian, to order a funeral elegy to be sung over the grave of Cairbar ; it being the opinion of the times, that the souls of the dead could not be happy, till their elegies were sung by a bard. Morning comes. Cathmor and Ossian part; and the latter, casually meet. ing with Carril the son of Kinfena, sends that bard, with a funeral song, to the tomb of Cairbar.

FATHER of heroes! O Trenmor! High dweller of eddying winds! where the dark-red thun

* Though this book has little action, it is not the least important part of Temora. The poet, in several episodes, l'uns up the cause of the war to the very source. The first population of Ireland, the wars between the two nations who originally possessed that island, its first

of kings, and the revolutions of its government, are important

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der marks the troubled clouds! Open thou thy stormy halls. Let the bards of old be near. Let them draw near with songs and their half-viewless harps. No dweller of misty valley comes! No hunter unknown at bis streams! It is the carborne Oscar, from the fields of war. Sudden is thy change, my son, from what thou wert on dark Moi-lena! The blast folds thee in its skirt, and rustles through the sky! Dost thou not behold thy father, at the stream of night? The chiefs of Morven sleep far distant. They have lost no son! But ye have lost a hero, chiefs of resounding Morven! Who could equal his strength when battle rolled against his side, like the darkness of crowded waters! Why this cloud on Ossian's soul? It ought to burn in danger.

Erin is near with her host. The king of Selma is alone. Alone thou shalt not be, my father, while I can lift the spear!

I rose, in all my arms. I rose and listened to the wind. The shield of Fillan* is not heard. I

facts, and are delivered by the poet, with so little mixture of the fabulous, that one cannot help preferring his accounts to the improbable fictions of the Scotch and Irish historians. The Milesian fables bear about them the marks of a late invention. To trace their legends to their source would be no difficult task; but a disquisition of tbis sort would extend this note too far.

* We understand, from the preceding book, that Cathmor was near with an army. When Cairbar was killed, the tribes who attended him fell back to Cathmor; who, as it afterwards appears, had taken a resolution to surprise Fingal by night. Fillan was dispatched to the hill of Mora, which was in the front of the Caledonians, to observe the motions of Cathmor. In this situation were affairs when Ossian, upon hearing the noise of the approaching enemy, went to find out his brother. Their conversation naturally introduces the episode, concern. ing Conar the son of Trenmor, the first Irish monarch, which is se necessary to the understanding the foundation of the rebellion and usurpation of Cairbar and Cathmor. Fillan was the youngest of the gons of Fingal, then living. He and Bosmina, mentioned in the battle of Lora, were the only children of the king, by Clatho the daughter of Cathulla king of Inis-tore, whom he had taken to wife after the death of Ros-crana, the daughter of Cormac Mac-Conar king of Ireland.

tremble for the son of Fingal. “Why should “the foe come by night ? Why should the dark“ haired warrior fail ?" Distant, sullen murmurs rise: like the noise of the lake of Lego, when its waters shrink, in the days of frost, and all its bursting ice resounds. The people of Lara look to heaven, and foresee the storm! My steps are forward on the heath. The spear of Oscar in my hand! Red stars looked from high. I gleamed along the night.

I saw Fillan silent before me, bending forward from Mora's rock. He heard the shout of the foe. The joy of his soul arose. He heard my sounding tread, and turned his lifted spear. “ Comest thou, son of night, in peace? Or dost “ thou meet my wrath? The foes of Fingal are “ mine. Speak, or fear my steel. I stand not, “ in vain, the shield of Morven's race.” “Never

mayst thou stand in vain, son of blue-eyed Cla" tho! Fingal begins to be alone. Darkness “ gathers on the last of his days. Yet he has two* sons who ought to shine in war.

* That is, two sons in Ireland. Fergus, the second son of Fingal was, at that time, on an expedition, which is mentioned in one of the lesser poems. He, according to some traditions, was the ancestor of Fergus, the son of Erc or Arcath, commonly called Fergus the second iu the Scotch histories. The beginning of the reign of* Fergus over

Who ought to " be two beams of light, near the steps of his de“parture."

“Son of Fingal,” replied the youth, “it is not “ long since I raised the spear. Few are the “ marks of my sword in war. But Fillan's soul " is fire! The chiefs of Bolga* crowd around the « shield of generous Cathmor. Their gathering " is on that heath. Shall my steps approach “ their host? I yielded to Oscar alone, in the “ strife of the race, on Cona!"

“ Fillan, thou shalt not approach their host;

nor fall before thy fame is known. My name “ is heard in song: when needful I advance. « From the skirts of night I shall view them over “all their gleaming tribes. Why, Fillan, didst “ thou speak of Oscar? Why awake my sigh? I must forgetf the warrior, till the storm is the Scots, is placed, by the most approved annals of Scotland, in the fourth year of the fifth age: a full century after the death of Ossian. The genealogy of his family is recorded thus by the Highland Sena. chies; Fergus Mac-Arcath, Mac-Chongäel, Mac-Fergus, Mac-Fiongäel na buai; i. e. Fergus the son of Arcath, the son of Congal, the son of Fergus, the son of Fingal the victorious. This subject is treated more at large, in the dissertation annexed to the poem.

The southern parts of Ireland went for some time under the name of Bolga, from the Fir-bolg or'Belgæ of Britain, who settled a colony there. Bolg signifies a quiver, from which proceeds Fir-bolg, i. e. bowmen; so called from their using bows more than any of the neighbouring nations.

+ After this passage, Oscar is not mentioned in all Temora. The situations of the characters who act in the poem are so interesting, that others, foreign to the subject, could not be introduced with any lustre. Though the episode, which follows, may seem to flow naturally enough from the conversation of the brothers yet I have shown in a preceding note, and, more at large, in the dissertation annexed to this collection, that the poet had a farther design in view. VOL. II.

U

of war.

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“rolled away. Sadness ought not to dwell in danger, nor the tear in the

eye

Our « fathers forgot their fallen sons, till the noise of

arms was past. Then sorrow returned to the “ tomb, and the song of bards arose.” The memory of those who fell, quickly followed the departure of war: when the tumult of battle is past, the soul, in silence, melts away for the dead.

Conar* was the brother of Trathal, first of mortal men. His battles were on every coast. A thousand streams rolled down the blood of his foes. His fame filled green Erin, like a pleasant gale. The nations gathered in Ullin, and they blessed the king; the king of the race of their fathers, from the land of Selma.

The chiefst of the south were gathered, in the darkness of their pride. In the horrid cave of Muma they mixed their secret words. Thither

* Conar, the first king of Ireland, was the son of Trenmor, the great grandfather of Fingal. It was on account of this family connexion, that Fingal was engaged in so many wars in the cause of the race of Conar. Though few of the actions of Trenmor are mentioned, he was the most renowned name of antiquity. The most probable opinion concerning him is, that he was the first who united the tribes of the Caledonians, and commanded them, in chief, against the incursions of the Romans. The genealogists of the north have traced his family far back, and given a list of his ancestors to Cuanmor-nan lan, or Con. Inor of the swords, who, according to them, was the first who crossed the great sea, to Caledonia, from which circumstance his name proceeded, which signifies Great occon. Genealogies of so ancient a date, however, are little to be depended upon.

+ The chiefs of the Fir-bolg who possesscd themselves of the south of Ireland, prior, perhaps, to the settlement of the Cäel of Caledonia, and the Hebrides, in Ulster. From the sequel, it appears that the Fir-bolg were, by much the most powerful nation; and it is probable that the Cäel must have submitted to them, had they not received succours from their mother country, ander the command of Conar,

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