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Fingal ; 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 eye. He struck, at times, the thistle's head with his inverted spear. No less natural and beautiful is the description of Fingal's paternal emotion on this occasion. • Nor is he unseen of Fingal. Sidelong he beheld his son. He beheld him with bursting joy. He hid the big tear with his locks, and turned amidst his crowded soul.' The command, for that day, being given to Gaul, Fillan rushes amidst the thickest of the foe, saves Gaul's life, who is wounded by a random arrow, and dis. tinguishes 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 have raised, whilst it shakes its lonely head on the heath, so joyful is the king over Fillan.' Sedate, bowever, and wise, he mixes the praise which he bestows on him with some reprehension of his Tashness. “My son, I saw thy deeds, and 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 fathers.'
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 ; hereafter he may stand alone. His form is like his fathers; his soul is a flame of their fire.' When the battle begins, the poet puts forth his strength to describe the exploits of the young hero; who, at last encountering and killing with his own hand Foldath, the opposite general, at. tains the pinnacle of glory. In what follows, when the fate of Fillan is drawn 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 Cathmore 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. Fingal rejoiced over his son.- -Blueshielded 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 Clatho ! leave thy hall; behold that early beam of thine ! 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 burst. ing into the praise of Fillan, 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 heightened by the immediate 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 descends from the skirt of bis blast. The troubled ocean feels his steps as he strides from wave to wave. His path, kindles 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 beam of heaven, could not be rendered too interesting and affecting,
Our attention is naturally drawn towards Fingal. He beholds from his hill the 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 shall be. come of thy fame, son of white-bosomed Clatho? Turn not thine eyes from Fingal, daughter of Inistore ! I shall not quench thy early 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 him 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 Fillan's eyes. He must not know that I doubt his steel.' Ossian arrived too late. But unwilling to de. scribe Fillan vanquished, the poet suppresses all the circumstances of the combat with Cathmor; and only shows us the dying hero. We see him animated to the end with the same martial and ardent spirit ; breathing his last in bitter regret for being so early cut off from the field of glory.
Ossian, lay me in that hollow rock. Raise no stone above me, lest one should ask my
fame. I am fallen in the first of my fields ; fallen without renown. Let thy voice alone send joy to my Aying 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 and 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 unfolds most of the human soul. I waive insisting on any more of the particulars in Te. mora; as my aim is rather to lead the reader into the genius and spirit of Ossian's poetry, than to dwell on all his heauties,
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 Os. sian appears throughout ; the same rapid and ani. mated style ; the same strong colouring of imagination, and the same glowing 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 con. nects all these poems. They form the poeticai history of the age of Fingal. The same race of heroes whom we had met with in the greater poems, Cuthullin, Oscar, Connar, 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 separate observations, with regard to the condurt and dispositions of the incidents, as well as to the beauty of the descriptions and sentiments. Carthon is a regular and highly finished piece. The main story is very properly introduced by Clessamore's relation of the ad. venture 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, has contrived to dis. tinguish 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 th seriousness, no less than the sublimity of the strain, is peculiarly suited to the hero'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 bravery 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 congratu. late 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