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OSSIAN, after fome general reflections, defcribes the fituation of Fingal, and the pofition of the army of Lochlin-The converfation of Starno and Swaran.The episode of Cormar-trunar and Foinar-bragal.— Starno, from his own example, recommends to Swaran, to furprize Fingal, who had retired alone to a neighbouring hill. Upon Swaran's refufal, Starno undertakes the enterprize himself, is overcome, and taken prifoner, by Fingal.-He is difmiffed, after a fevere reprimand for his cruelty.
HENCE is the ftream of years? Whither do they roll along? Where have they hid, in mift, their many-coloured fides? I look into the times of old, but they feem dim to Offian's eyes, like reflected moon-beams, on a diftant lake. Here rife the red beams of war! -There, filent, dwells a feeble race! They mark no years with their deeds, as flow they pafs along.-Dweller between the fhields; thou that awakeft the failing foul, defcend from thy wall, harp of Cona, with thy voices three! Come with that which kindles the paft rear the
the forms of old, on their own dark-brown years!
*UTHORNO, hill of ftorms, I behold my race on thy fide. Fingal is bending, in night,
*The bards, who were always ready to fupply what they thought deficient in the poems of Offian, have inferted a great many incidents between the fecond and third duän of Cath-loda. Their interpolations are fo eafily diftinguished from the genuine remains of Offian, that it took me very little time to mark them out, and totally to reject them. If the modern Scotch and Irish bards have fhewn any judgment, it is in afcribing their own compofitions to names of antiquity, for, by that means, they themselves have escaped that contempt, which the authors of fuch futile performances muft, neceffarily, have met with, from people of true tafte-I was led into this obfervation, by an Irish poem, juft now before me. It concerns a descent made by Swaran, king of Lochlin, on Ireland, and is the work, fays the traditional preface prefixed to it, of Offian Mac-Fion. It however appears, from feveral pious ejaculations, that it was rather the compofition of fome good prieft, in the fifteenth or fixteenth century, for he speaks, with great devotion, of pilgrimage, and more particularly, of the blue-eyed daughters of the convent. Religious, however, as this poet was, he was not altogether decent, in the scenes he introduces between Swaran and the wife of Cengcullion, both of whom he represents as giants. It happening unfortunately, that Gongcullion was only of a moderate ftature, his wife, without hefitation, preferred Swaran, as a more adequate match for her own gigantic fize. From this fatal preference proceeded so much mischief, that the good poet altogether lost sight of his principal action, and he ends the piece, with an advice to
over Duth-maruno's tomb. Near him are the steps of his heroes, hunters of the boar.-By Turthor's ftream the hoft of Lochlin is deep in fhades. The wrathful kings ftood on two hills; they looked forward from their boffy shields. They looked forward on the ftars of night, redwandering in the weft. Cruth-loda bends from high, like a formlefs meteor in clouds. He fends abroad the winds, and marks them, with his figns. Starno forefaw, that Morven's king was never to yield in war.
HE twice ftruck the tree in wrath. He rushed before his fon, He hummed a furly fong; and heard his hair in wind. Turned * from one another, they ftood, like two oaks, which different winds had bent; each hangs over its
men, in the choice of their wives, which, however good it may be, I fhall leave concealed in the obscurity of the original.
The furly attitude of Starno and Swaran is well adapted to their fierce and uncomplying difpofitions. Their characters, at firft fight, feem little different; but, upon examination, we find, that the poet has dexterously diftinguished between them. They were both dark, ftub born, haughty and referved: but Starno was cunning, revengeful, and cruel, to the highest degree; the difpofition of Swaran, though favage, was lefs bloody, and somewhat tinctured with generofity. It is doing injustice to Offian, to say, that he has not a great variety of characters,