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of clouds, every one had a seat raised above others, in proportion as he excelled them, in valour, when he lived.
P. 222. v. 401. Fo chloich dh'àdhlaic triath a lann
'S glan chopan o shlios a sgeithe, &c.] There are some stones still to be seen in the north, which were erected as memorials of some remarkable transactions between the ancient chiefs. There are generally found, beneath them, some pieces of arms, and a bit of halfburnt wood. The cause of placing the last there, is not mentioned in tradition.
P. 224. v. 431. Bha sgaoile brataich mhoir nan sluagh
A' taomadh air fuar ghaoith nam beann, &c.] 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 intitled Fingal.
P. 226. v. 448. Liath thall aig còinich chaoin nan còs
Chrom Claonmhal a cheann's è fo aois,] 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.
P. 226. v. 465. Ann a dheireadh thig an righ corr] Cathmor had promised, in the seventh book, to come to the cave of Clonmal, after the battle was over.
P. 230. v. 494. Na biodh cuimhn' air a bròn gu thrian
Chaitheas anam na h-aoise gu barr.] 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 fires 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 ought to speak of her throughout Temora.
P. 232. v. 526. Bha aomadh nan sluagh ris an treun
Ri guth an tìr fein thar na stuaidh.] 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 IV.) when he took to wife Roscrana, who soon after became the mother of Ossian. Ossian was also extremely young when he married Ever-allin, 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 I.); 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.
NOTES TO CONLAOCH AND CUTHONA.
P. 244. v. 50. CUTHONN a' caoidh fada shuas.] Cuthonn was the daughter of Rumar whom Toscar had carried away by force. Cuthonn signifies the mournful sound of the waves; a poetical name, given her on account of her mourning to the sound of the waves; her name in tradition is Gorm-huil, the blue-eyed maid.
P. 244. v. 59. Chunnaic mi, Fherguith gun bheùd,
An taibhs' dona bha bhreun o'n oiche;] It was long thought, in the north of Scotland, that storms were raised by the ghosts of the deceased. This notion is still entertained by the vulgar; for they think that whirlwinds, and sudden squalls of wind, are occasioned by spirits, who transport themselves, in that manner, from one place to another.
P. 246. v. 69. Mor Ronnan.] Maronnan was the brother of Toscar. P. 246. v. 74. Selma.] Selmath, beautiful to behold, the name of Toscar's residence, on the coast of Ulster, near the mountain Cromla.
P. 244. v. 76. Ithonn.] Ithonn is compounded of I, an island, and tonn, a wave, the island of waves, one of the uninhabited western isles, probably the island of Tiree.
P. 252, v. 145, Tighcaol.] Tigh-caol, or caol tigh, the narrow house, so often mentioned in the poems of Ossian, signifies the grave.
P. 252. v. 160. Sheall a mhathair air a sgiath air balla
A's bha snamh na faldʼg a còir.] It was the opinion of the times, that the arms left by the heroes at home, became bloody the very instant their owners were killed, though at ever so great a distance.
(FROM THE ITALIAN)
HISTORICAL AND CRITICAL DISSERTATION, Respecting the Controversy on the Authenticity of OSSIAN'S POEMS,
BY JOHN M'ARTHUR, LL. D.
ONE OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGHLAND SOCIETY OF LONDON, APPOINTED TO SUPERINTEND THE PUBLICATION OF
OSSIAN IN THE ORIGINAL GAELIC.
With Notes and Observations by the Translator.