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The address to the sun setting among the clouds after the check that the Caledonian chieftain had received in battle with Swaran, King of Lochlin, is equal in sublimity to any apostrophe of a similar nature in Ossian. The following are the two first lines in the original published by Gillies; but the Gaelic reader is recommended to peruse the whole.
66 Cuime tha thu gruamach san iar
The following is the whole address to the sun, as translated by Mr. Clark, a gentleman, who has given evident proofs of his classical taste and knowledge of the Gaelic language.
“ Why dost thou frown in the west, fair-haired traveller of the sky? Our foes were not of the feeble. Often have the dark clouds concealed thy own beauty in the day of the storm.
• But, when thou drivest the wind from thy lands, aud pursuest the tempest from thy fields; when the clouds vanish at thy nod, and the whirlwind lies still at thy desire; when thou lookest down in triumph on our land, and shakest the white locks of thy awful majesty in pride above our hills ; when we behold thee clothed in all thy loveliness, we rejoice in the conquest thou hast made in heaven, and bless thy friendly beams, o Sun!
- “ But retire to thy heathy bed with smiles, bright monarch of the sky, for we will yet be renowned.”
The reader may compare the above address to the sun with that of Ossian, as translated by Macpherson, in Caricthura and in Carthon. In the Gaelic Antiquities published by Mr. Smith, there are also two beautiful addresses of Ossian to the sun, but in different strains of composition : the one, at the beginning of Gaul, on Ossian's having retired in the night to the ruins of Fingal's palace, and there lamented his reverse of fortune. The other, a very long address, at the opening of the poem of Trathal. Ossian feeling the sun warm on the tomb of Trathal, who was grandfather to Fingal, and generalissimo of the Caledonian army in their wars with the Romans, addresses that luminary in the most sublime and energetic style! The address to the sun in Carthon, as translated by Macpherson, was said by his opposers to be a close imitation of Satan's address to the sun in Milton's Paradise Lost. In the Report of the Highland Society of Scotland, there is given a new and more faithful translation of the address to the sun in Carthon, as well as of that in Caricthura ; to which are annexed, in the Appendix of the Report, the Gaelic originals. It was natural for Ossian, as well as Milton, who were both blind, to make freqnent addresses to the sun; hence, it need not surprise us, that Ossian, in his address to that luminary in Carthon, should have made the following allusion to his loss of sight: “ To me is the light in vain, as I can never see thy countenance; whether thy yellow golden locks are spread on the face of the clouds in the east; or thou tremblest at thy dusky doors in the ocean."
In the Old Bard's Wish, translated by Mr. Clark, the author of that poem also alludes thus to his blindness : “ Tell me, for my sight is failed, O Wind ! Where does the reed of the mournful sound raise its waving head ? On what fertile mead is thegathering of its strength ? Whistle along its locks as thou passest, friendly blast, and direct me to its dwelling. Send me thy aid, arm of strength! place me before the kindness of the sun, when his darting favours are from the centre of the azure arch. Spread forth thy broad wing, green-robed branch, and be the shield of my dim eyes from the fervour of the mid-day blaze."
The original of the Bard's Wish will be found in Macdonald's collection of Gaelic poems. Although tradition does not pretend to give us the name of the author of this poem, yet let him be an ancient or a modern bard, it must be admitted, by those competent to judge of its beauties in the original Gaelic, that it is a most elegant and spirited composition, and would not disgrace even Ossian or his cotemporary bards.
Note H, referred to p. 312.
The Collection of ancient poems, translated and published by the Rev. Mr. Smith, in a quarto volume in 1780, and of which he afterwards published the Gaelic originals in 1787, consists of the following poems : 1. Dargo. 2. Gaul. 3. Duthona. 4. Dermid. 5. Finan and Lorina. 6. Cathluina. 7. Cathula. 8. Manos. 9. Trathal. 10. Dargo, the son of Druival. 11. Cuthon. 12. The Fall of Tura. 13. Cathlava. 14. The Death of Artho,
There is prefixed to Mr. Smith's translation a history of the Druids, particularly of those of Caledonia; and a Dissertation on the Authenticity of Ossian's Poems. The poems are also interspersed with a variety of notes and observations respecting the Gaelic language, cus. toms, and manners of the Highlanders.
Note I, referred to page 313. The Baron Edmund de Harold, colonel in the service of the Elector Palatine, &c. published, at Dusseldorf, in the year 1787, an English version of seventeen little Caledonian poems, which he had discovered. with the following titles.—The Songs of Tara ; The Song of Phelim; Evir-allen ; Sulmora ; Ryno's Song on the Death of Oscar; Malvina, a dramatic poem; Kinfena and Sira; A Song by Ossian, after the defeat of the Romans ; Bosmina ; The Songs of Comfort; The last Song of Ossian; Sulima; Sitric ; Lamor; Larnul, or The Song of Despair ; The Death of Asala ; The Morning Song of the Bard Dlorah. -All these poems the Baron ascribed to Ossian, except that of Lamor, which is supposed to be of a more remote antiquity; and that of Sitric, which appears to be of the ninth century. In the translation of the song of Ryno, on the death of Oscar, which appears to be the best in this small collection, the Baron has followed accurately all the inflections of the old Celtic language; but reasonable doubts may be entertained as to their authenticity. The style is neither so figurative nor so bold as in those published by Macpherson, and the translator himself informs us, that having only collected fragments, he has been obliged to put them together and to fill up the chasms, so that the manner and form in which they appear is entirely owing to the translator. A still more remarkable difference between those and the poems discovered by Macpherson, is, that in Ossian's poems no mention is to be found of any deity, while those translated by the Baron, on the contrary, are filled with the most sublime descriptions of the Supreme Being. Macpherson's Ossian appears to have been a native of the Highlands of Scotland, and Harold's Ossian seems to be a native of Ireland. In fact, this collection of ancient poems is dedicated to Henry Grattan, Esq. the distinguished Irish patriot and orator; and the Baron de Harold, the translator, informs us that, though in the service of a foreign state, he is a native of Ireland, but left that country at an early period of life,
In justice to the Baron de Harold's candour, and in order to convey to the minds of our readers the motives which induced him to publish translations of the fragments he had discovered in Ireland, we think it proper to give his own words, in the preface to the poems. “ The great approbation which the poems given to the public by Mr. Macpherson have received, induced me to enquire whether any more of this kind of poetry existed. My endeavours would have been fruitless, had I expected to find complete pieces, for none such certainly exist; but in searching with assiduity and care, I found, by the help of my friends, several fragments of old traditionary songs, which were very sublime, and particularly remarkable for their simplicity, and elegance. I compiled these fragments, which are the more valuable, as the taste for this species of poetry every day decreases in the country, and that the old language threatens visibly to be soon extinguished, for it loses ground in proportion as the English tongue becomes predominant, the progress of which is very sensible to any person who has been occupied in disquisitions of this nature. It will appear singular to some, that Ossian, at times, especially in the Sougs of Comfort, seems rather to be an Hibernian, than a Scotchman, and that some of these poems formally contradict passages of great importance in those handed to the public by Mr. Macpherson, especially that very remarkable one of Evir-allen, where the description of her marriage with Ossian is essentially different in all its parts, from those given in the former poem.
“ I will submit the solution of this problem to the public : I am interested in no polemical dispute or party, and give these poems such as they are found in the mouths of the people, and do not pretend to. ascertain what was the native country of Ossian. I honour, and revere equally a bard of his exalted talents, were he born in Ireland, or in Scotland,
“ It is certain that the Scotch, and Irish, were united at some early period : that they proceed from the same originis in disputable; nay, I believe that it is proved beyond any possibility of negating it, that the Scotch derive their origin from the Irish.
“ This truth has been brought in question but of late years; and all ancient tradition, and the general concert of the Scotch nation, and of their oldest historians, agree to confirin the certitude of this assertion.
“ If any man still doubts of it, he will find, in Macgeoghan's History of Ireland, an entire connection, established by the most elaborate discussion, and most incontrovertible proofs."
Note K, referred to page 313.
The learned Abbé Cesarotti is mistaken in saying that Mr. Shaw is a countryman of Doctor Johnson. Mr. Shaw is a native of the Island of
Arran, which, with the Isle of Bute, form the shire of Bute, where the Gaelic language is spoken, but not in the same purity as in other districts, more especially in parts of the shires of Argyle and Inverness. Doctor Johnson was born at Litchfield, Staffordshire, in 1709, where his father had been many years before, a bookseller; and, from his own confession, he was totally unacquainted with the Gaelic language, and never had been in Scotland, until he made his tour to the Hebrides, in 1773, when the authenticity of the poems of Ossian made a part of his inquiries, which he gave to the public in 1775.
It may be proper to remark that Mr. Shaw, in his Analysis of the Gaelic language, the first work be published, professes himself a strenuous believer in Ossian's poems, and the history of Fingal; but how he afterwards became a sceptic, we will leave his subsequent controversial writings to explain. See note P. In his native isle (Arran) he must have heard, in his youth, recited many traditional songs and fragments respecting Fingal, and his warriors; and places are shewn at this day which bear his name. Mr. Pennant, in his voyage to the Hebrides, (p. 206), mentions Fingal's caves, on the western shore of Arran. “ The most remarkable,” says he, "are those of Fin-mac-cuil, or Fingal, the son of Cumhal, the father of Ossian, who, tradition says, resided in this island for the sake of hunting. One of these caverns is an hundred and twelve feet long, and thirty high, narrowing to the top like a Gothic arch.” Mr. Martin, in his Description of the Western Isles (p. 219), says: “ There are several caves on the coast of this isle (Arran); those on the west are pretty large, particularly in Drum-crucy; an hundred men may sit or lie in it; it is contracted gradually from the floor upwards to the roof. In the upper end there is a large piece of rock formed like a pillar; there is graven on it a deer, and underneath it a two-handed sword. There is a void space on each side of the pillar. The south side of the cave bas a horse-shoe engraven on it. On cach side of the door, there is a hole cut out, and that, they say, was for holding big trees, on which the cauldrons hung for boiling beef and venison. The natives say that this was the cave in which Fin-mac-coul lodged during the time of his residence in this isle, and that his guards lay in the lesser caves, which are near this big one.”