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Nunc plurimùm pollens, nunc inutilis,
Dum tu sis viribus potens, o princeps, in tuâ juventâ.
Est tristis et injucunda senectus,
English Translation continued.
clouds in the east, or tremblest in the west at thy dusky gates on the ocean. But perhaps thou art like myself, at one time mighty, at another feeble, our years sliding down from the skies, hastening together to their end. Rejoice then, O sun! while thou art strong in thy youth. Sad and unpleasant is old age, like the vain light of the moon in the sky, when she looks from the clouds on the field, and grey mist is on the side of the hill; the blast from the north on the plain; and the traveller distressed and slow.
TOPOGRAPHY OF SOME OF THE PRINCIPAL SCENES OF
A Brief Description of SELMA.
THERE is every reason to believe that Selma, so often mentioned in the poems of Ossian, as the principal residence of his father Fingal, was situate in that part of Argyleshire called Upper Lorn, on a green hill of an oblong form, which rises on the sea shore at equal distances from the mouths of the lakes Eite, and Creran. It is now called by the inhabitants of the place DUN-MHIC SNITHEACHAIN, i. e. the fort of the son of Snitho; but by some of our historians Berigonium, and by them said to have once been the capitol of the kingdom of the Gaels, or Caledonians. On the top of this hill are still to be seen vestiges of extensive buildings, with fragments of the walls, bearing evident marks of fire, scattered along the sides of the hill; but it does not appear that the place had been at any period affected by a volcano, as some do think; seeing the remains of a circular edifice, which stood on that end of the hill further from the sea, have not the least tincture of fire most of the stones of which have been carried away by the inhabitants of the adjacent farms for private use. Whatever had occasioned the fall of Selma, Ossian must have known it; for he had seen it, as will appear from his poems, when thousands feasted in its halls, and had also the misfortune to see it in ruins.
The following passages from the poems of Ossian are descriptive of Selma, and its supposed situation, both before, and after its fall.
Sguir an t sealg, a's choidil na feigh
Bha dàn, a's dàn ann mar bu nòs,
See Dr. Smith's Ancient Poems. Dearg-mac Druibheil, verse 17, &c.
The chase had ceased, and the deer slept
The curtain of night descended on the hills,
There was song after song, as the custom was,
The white beach, mentioned in the last line, answers exactly the present aspect of the white sand which covers the shore around part of the hill on which Selma stood. The rock from which the dogs were heard to bark is here also; for that part of the hill, washed by the waves, is composed of rock, and rises almost perpendicular to the sea.
But if this be not the rock alluded to in the poem, there is another rock within a few hundred yards of Selma, to which the description is equally applicable. It rises considerably higher than the former, and with a tremendous aspect threatens to crush the traveller, who steals along a narrow passage which art has opened between it and the sea. This rock is known to the inhabitants of the place by the name of Dunbhaleri, which being analyzed becomes DUN-BHAILE-RI, i. e. the fort of the town of the king. From this rock to Selma, along the shore are to be seen traces of a causeway, which still goes under the name of Market-street.
An Seallama, 'n Taura, no 'n Tigh-mor-ri,
Cha 'n eil slige, no òran, no càrsach!
Tha iad uile nan tulachain uaine,
'San clachaibh nan cluainibh fein.
Cha 'n fhaic aineal o 'n lear no o 'n fhasach
A haon diu 'sa bharr roi neul.
'Sa Sheallama, a theach mo ghaoil!
An e 'n torr so t'aos làrach,
Far am bheil foghnan, fraoch, a's fòlach,
Ri bròn fo shile na hoiche.
Dr. Smith's Ancient Poems. Death of Gaul, v. 33, &c.
In Selma, in Taura, or Temora,
There is no shell, nor song, nor harp!
They are all become green mounds;
And their stones half sunk in their own meadows.
The stranger shall not behold from the sea, or desert,
Any one of them lifting its head through the cloud.
And thou, Selma, house of my delight!
Is this heap thy old ruins,
Where the thistle, the heath, and the rank grass
The description given of Selma, after its fall, in the third and fourth line of the preceding passage, corresponds exactly to the present appearance of the ruins of that place. The fourth line in particular describes the fragments of the walls, and loose stones, which, after rolling down the face of the hill, are now seen half sunk in the soft marshy ground that surrounds part of the place.
That Selma was situate nigh the sea, as has been said above, will appear from the passages which follow.
"A chlann nan treunmor," thuirt Carrul,
Thug sibh laithe chaidh thairis nuas, "Nuair thearnadh leam sios o thonna mara "Air Selma nan darag ri stuaidh."
Gaolnandaoine, p. 200, v. 78, &c.
"Sons of the mighty," said Carrul,
"Ye have brought back days that have passed,