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ARGUMENT to Book IV.
THE fecond night continues. Fingal relates, at the feaft, his own firft expedition into Ireland, and his marriage with Ros-crána, the daughter of Cormac, king of that ifland.The Irish chiefs convene in the presence of Cathmor. The fituation of the king defcribed. The ftory of Sul-malla, the daughter of Conmor, king of Inis-huna, who, in the disguise of a young warrior, had followed Cathmor to the war. The fullen behaviour of Foldath, who had commanded in the battle of the preceding day, renews the difference between him and Malthos; but Cathmor, interpofing, ends it. The chiefs feast, and hear the fong of Fonar the bard, Cathmor returns to reft, at a diftance from the army. The ghoft of his brother Cairbar appears to him in a dream; and obscurely fortels the issue of the war.-The foliloquy of the king. He difcovers Sul-malla. Morning comes. Her foliloquy clofes the book,
EPIC POE M.
ENEATH an oak, faid the king, I fat on Selma's ftreamy rock, when Connal rofe, from the fea, with the broken fpear of Duth-caron. Far-diftant ftood the youth, and turned away his eyes; for he remembered the fteps of his father, on his own green hills. I
* This episode has an immediate connection with the ftory of Connal and Duth-caron, in the latter end of the third book. Fingal, fitting beneath an oak, near the palace of Selma, discovers Connal juft landing from Ireland. The danger which threatened Cormac king of Ireland induces him to fail immediately to that ifland.The ftory is introduced, by the king, as a pattern for the future behaviour of Fillan, whofe rafhnefs in the preceding battle is reprimanded.
darkened in my place: dufky thoughts rolled over my foul. The kings of Erin rofe before me. I half-unfheathed my fword.---Slowly ap"proached the chiefs; they lifted up their filent eyes. Like a ridge of clouds, they wait for the bursting forth of my voice: it was to them, a wind from heaven to roll the mift away.
IBADE my white fails to rife, before the roar of Cona's wind. Three hundred youths looked, from their waves, on Fingal's boffy fhield. High on the maft it hung, and marked the darkblue fea.---But when the night came down, I ftruck, at times, the warning bofs: I ftruck, and looked on high, for fiery-haired Ul-erin*.
NOR wanting was the ftar of heaven: it travelled red between the clouds: I purfued the lovely beam, on the faint-gleaming deep.---With morning, Erin rofe in mift. We came into the bay of Moi-lena, where its blue waters tumbled, in the bofom of echoing woods.---Here Cormac, in his fecret hall, avoided the ftrength of Colculla. Nor he alone avoids the foe: the blue eye
Ulerin, the guide to Ireland, a ftar known by that name in the days of Fingal, and very useful to those who failed, by night, from the Hebrides, or Caledonia, to the coaft of Ulfter. We find, from this paffage, that navigation was confiderably advanced, at this time, among the Caledonians. Benet
of Ros-crana is there: Ros-crana whitehanded maid, the daughter of the king.
GREY, on his pointless fpear, came forth the aged fteps of Cormac. He fmiled, from his waving locks, but grief was in his foul. He faw us few before him, and his figh arose.---I fee the arms of Trenmor, he faid; and these are the steps of the king! Fingal! thou art a beam of light to Cormac's darkened foul.---Early is thy fame, my fon: but ftrong are the foes of Erin. They are like the roar of ftreams in the land, fon of car-borne Comhal.
YET they may be rolled † away, I faid in my rifing foul. We are not of the race of the feeble, king of blue-shielded hofts. Why should fear come amongst us, like a ghoft of night? The foul of
Ros-crána, the beam of the rifing fun; he was the mother of Ofian. The Irish bards relate strange fictions concerning this princefs. The character given of her here, and in other poems of Offian, does not tally with their accounts. Their stories, however, concerning Fingal, if they mean him by Fion Mac-Comnal, are fo inconfiftent and notoriously fabulous, that they do not deferve to be mentioned; for they evidently bear, along with them, the marks of late invention.
+ Cormac had faid that his foes were like the roar of freams, and Fingal continues the metaphor. The speech of the young hero is fpirited, and confiftent with that fe date intrepidity, which eminently diftinguishes his character throughout.