Page images


Young son of Mathas, I ne'er yet declined,
The strife of shields; and I was ever nigh
My friends in battle with the lifted spear:
But tho' a warrior, sharing with the brave,
The well earn’d victory,
Yet fame I courted not.-As for this war,
Thou son of generous Semo, hear my voice,
Regard young Cormac and his ancient throne:
Give tribute to the fierce and pow’rful foe,
Till Fingal comes, and all his warlike chiefs:
But if thy soul delights in bloody strife,
I wield the sword and spear.

Then let us wield the spear,
And let the mighty sons of Erin rise.
Let each band form itself in shining arms,
And sweep along with speed the gloomy heath,
Like to a sun-beam on the mountain top.
Pleasant to me, O brave and gallant chiefs,
Is the hard crash of bright contending arms,
'Tis like the thunder on the rugged cliff,
When the soft showers of spring at first descend.-
Quick let each band advance, *
Prepare my car, fill it with massy spears,
Attend my bounding steeds upon the plain;
And when the mighty conflict rages round,
My soul shall be, firm like yon tow’ring rock.

These speeches are extracted, with very trifling variations, from Mr. Ross's new and literal translation of the first Book of Fingal, executed from the original Gaelic. The spirit and animation of the original, are, it is said, very imperfectly given even in that translation; a circumstance which fully justifies the enthusiasm with which the natives of the Highlands speak of their favourite Poet, who was not only the Homer, but

* This is taken from another part of the poem, after the episode of Cathbat and Duchomar

the Shakespeare of the Celtic tongue: for, with the exception of that great master of the drama, where are finer passages to be met with, in the works of any poet, ancient or modern ?

To suppose that Mr. James Macpherson was the author of these verses, is as absurd, as to believe him capable of composing the Paradise Lost, or the scenes which have immortalized the name of Shakespeare.

N. B. Upon sending a copy of this scene from Ossian, to Mr. John Clark, now residing at Carmarthen, (wbo refuted Shaw's attack on the authenticity of Ossian), I received a letter from him, dated Carmarthen, July 27, 1806, of which the following is an extract: “ Your idea of “ Ossian's poems having been originally recited in a dramatical form, “ is very correct. I remember, when I was at Ruthven school with Mr. Macpherson, (when he was collecting the original Gaelic poems), “ to have with him to several late wakes in Badenoch, when it was " customary for one person to represent one character, another a second, and so on, each person repeating their respective parts, just as our “ players do upon the stage."

It was thus that Macpherson collected the Gaelic fragments he originally published, several of which are in the dramatic form, and the authenticity of which this anecdote tends to confirm.







Carminis I. Argumentum.

Fingal, quum admodum juvenis in Orcadas navigaret, in Scandinaviæ

sinum, prope quem habitabat Starno, Lochlinis rex, vi tempestatis actus est. Starno ad convivium invitat Fingalem, qui regis fidem dubitans hospitiique juris olim læsi memor se iturum negat. Starno suos convocat, ac Fingal se tueri statuit. Tenebris obortis Durona hostium consilia se speculaturum spondet; at Fingal ipse vigilias obit. Ad hostem progressus casu quodam in Turoris antrum, quo Conbanglassam, vicini principis filiam, Starno tenebat captivam, incidit, Archetyporum versuum parte amissa, ejus historia imperfecta est. Ad locum quendam sacrum, quo Starno et filius Suaranus Lodinis simulacrum de belli exitu consulebant, Fingal venit. Fingalis et Suarani sequitur conflictus ; et ad finem Carminis Primi aeria describitur aula Lodinis, qui Scandinaviæ Odin fuisse putatur.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »