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on it Fingal and Ossian stoud to view the battle. The custom of retiring from the army, on the night prior to their engaging in battle, was uni. versal among the kings of the Caledonians. Trenmor, the most renowned of the ancestors of Fingal, is mentioned as the first who instituted this custom. Succeeding bards attributed it to a hero of a later period. In an old poem, which begins with Mac-Arcaith nan ceud srol, this custom of retiring from the army, before an engagement, is numbered among the wise institutions of Fergus, the son of Arch or Arcath, the first king of Scots. I shall here translate the passage; in some other note I may, probably, give all that remains of the poem. Fergus of the hundred streams, son of Arcath who fought of old : thou didst
first retire at night : when the foe rolled before thee, in echoing fields. Nor bending in rest is the king : he gathers battles in his soul. Fly, son of the stranger ! with morn he shall rush abroad. When, or by whom, this poem was written, is uncertain. P. 140. v. 295. Is teann air na shìneadh air feur
Cas mholach an treun chu, Bran.] I remember to have met with an old poem, wherein a story of this sort is very happily introduced. In one of the invasions of the Danes, Ullin-clundu, a considerable chief, on the western coast of Scotland, was killed in a rencounter with a flying party of the enemy, who had landed at no great distance from the place of his residence. The few followers who attended him were also slain. The young wife of Ullin-clundu, who had not heard of his fall, fearing the worst, on account of his long delay, alarmed the rest of his tribe, who went in search of him along the shore. They did not find him; and the beautiful widow became disconsolate. At length he was discovered, by means of his dog, who sat on a rock beside the body, for some days. The stanza concerning the dog, whose name was Duchos, or Blackfoot, is descriptive.
“ Dark-sided Du-chos ! feet of wind ! cold is thy seat on rocks. He (the dog) sees the roe; his ears are high ; and half he bounds away. He looks around; but Ullin sleeps; he droops again his head. The winds come past; dark Du-chos thinks that Ullin's voice is near. But still he beholds him silent, laid amidst the waving heath. Dark-sided Du-chos, his voice no more shall send thee over the heath!”
P. 144. v. 326. Bha Lubar ag iadhadh ro''n t sluagh.] In order to illustrate this passage, it is proper to lay before the reader the scene of the two preceding battles. Between the hills of Mora and Lona lay the plain of Moi-lena, through which ran the river Lubar. The first battle, wherein Gaul, the son of Morni, commanded on the Caledonian side, was fought on the banks of Lubar. As there was little advantage obtained on either side, the armies, after the battle, retained their former position.
In the second battle, wherein Fillan commanded, the Irish, after the fall of Foldath, were driven up the hill of Lona ; but, upon the coming of Cathmor to their aid, they regained their former situation, and drove back the Caledonians in their turn; so that Lubar winded again in their host. P. 144. v. 338. Cha 'nann cho mìn ri so, a thriath
Bha Borbair na feile d'athair fein, &c.] Borbarduthul, the father of Cathmor, was the brother of that Col-ulla, who is said, in the beginning of the fourth book, to have rebelled against Cormac, king of Ireland. Borbar-duthul seems to have retained all the prejudice of his family against the succession of the posterity of Conar, on the Irish throne. From this short episode we learn some facts which tend to throw light on the history of the times. It appears that, when Swaran invaded Ireland, he was only opposed by the Cael, who possessed Ulster, and the north of that island. Calmar, the son of Matha, whose gallant behaviour and death are related in the third book of Fingal, was the only chief of the race of the Fir-bolg, that joined the Cael, or Irish Caledonians, during the invasion of Swaran. The indecent joy, which Borbar-duthul expressed, upon the death of Calmar, is well suited with that spirit of revenge, which subsisted, universally, in every country where the feudal system was established. It would appear that some person had carried to Borbar-duthul that weapon, with which, it was pretended, Calmar had been killed.
P. 146. v. 362. Eireadh gutha caoin na h Eirinn] The voices of Erin, a poetical expression for the bards of Ireland. P. 148. v. 386. Fo chraoibh o bheinn gach bard air dm
Na shuidhe thall fo chlarsich fein ; &c.] Not only the kings, but every petty chief had anciently their bards attending them in the field; and those bards, in proportion to the power of the chiefs, who retained them, had a number of inferior bards in their train. Upon solemn occasions, all the bards, in the army, would join in one chorus;
either when they celebrated their victories, or lamented the death of a person, worthy and renowned, slain in the war. The words were of the composition of the arch-bard, retained by the king himself, who generally attained to that high office on account of his superior genius for poetry. As the persons of the bards were sacred, and the emoluments of their office considerable, the order, in succeeding times, became very numerous and insolent. It would appear, that after the introduction of Christianity, some served in the double capacity of bards and clergymen. It was from this circumstance that they had the name of Chlere, which is probably derived from the Latin Clericus. The Chlere, be their name derived from what it will, became at last a public nuisance; for, taking advantage of their sacred character, they went about in great bodies, and lived, at discretion, in the houses of the chiefs; till another party of the same order drove them away by mere dint of satire. Some of the indelicate disputes of these worthy poetical combatants are handed down by tradition, and shew how much the bards, at last, abused the privileges, which the admiration of their countrymen had conferred on the order. It was this insolent behaviour that induced the chiefs to retrench their number, and to take away those privileges which they were no longer worthy to enjoy. Their indolence, and disposition to lampoon, extinguished all the poetical fervour which distinguished their predecessors, and makes us the less regret the extinction of the order.
P. 150. v. 421, Thainig Clungheal; cha d'fhuair oigh.] Clungheal, the wife of Conmor, king of Inis-huna, and the mother of Sul-malla. She is here represented, as missing her daughter, after she had Aed with Cathmor.
P. 150. v. 430. Tréig mi, luaidh Chonmhoir nan treun ; &c.] Sul-malla replies to the supposed questions of her mother. Towards the middle of this paragraph she calls Cathmor the sun of her soul, and continues the metaphor throughout. This book ends, we may suppose, about the middle of the third night from the opening of the poem.
P. 158.v. 13. An taobh oiteig gu pailliun nan seod
Taomas iad ceathach nan speur, &c.] As the mist, which rose from the lake of Lego, occasioned diseases and death, the bards feigned that it was the residence of the ghosts of the deceased, during the interval between their death, and the pronouncing of the funeral elegy over their tombs : for it was not allowable, without that ceremony was performed, for the spirits of the dead to mix with their ancestors, in their airy halls. It was the business of the spirit of the nearest relation to the deceased, to take the mist of Lego, and pour it over the grave. We find here Conar, the son of Trenmor, the first king of Ireland, pero forming this office for Fillan, as it was in the cause of the family of Conar that that hero was killed.
P. 160 v. 27. Is doillear so !] The following is the singular sentiment of a frigid bard:
“ More pleasing to me is the night of Cona, dark-streaming from Ossian's harp; more pleasant it is to me, than a white-bosomed dweller between my arms; than a fair-handed daughter of heroes, in the hour rest."
Though tradition is not very satisfactory concerning the history of this poet, it has taken care to inform us, that he was very old when he wrotu the distich, a circumstance, which we might have supposed, without the aid of tradition.
P. 168. v. 133. Thig easan nach gèill gu brath :) Fingal is said to have never been overcome in battle. From this proceeded that title of honour which is always bestowed on him in tradition, Fionghal nam buadh, FINGAL OF VICTORIES. In a poem, just now in my hands, which celebrates some of the great actions of Arthur the famous British hero, that appellation is often bestowed on him. The poem, from the phraseology, appears to be ancient; and is, perhaps, though that is not mentioned, a translation from the Welsh language. P. 170. v. 159. An taobh carraig chosach air Lòna
Mu chaochan nan sruthan crom
mhala, crooked eye-brow. From the retired life of this person, is insinuated, that he was of the order of the Druids; which supposition is not at all invalidated by the appellation of king of harps, here bestowed on him; for all agree that the bards were of the number of the Druids originally.
P. 172. v. 206. Chualas le Sonnmor air Cluan-fhear,] Son-mor, tall handsome man. He was the father of Borbar-duthul, chief of Atha, and grandfather to Cathmor himself Cluan-er, man of the field. This chief was killed in battle by Cormac Mac-cona, king of Ireland, the father of Ros-crana, the first wife of Fingal. The story is alluded to in some ancient
P. 474. v. 224. Suil-aluinn] Suil-alluin, beautiful eye; the wife of Son-mor.
P, 176. v. 254. Na chruaidh ghluais an righ gun dàil; &c.] To avoid multiplying notes, I shall give here the signification of the names of the stars engraved on the shield. Cean-mathan, head of the bear. Caol-dearrsa, slant and sharp beam. Ul-oiche, ruler of night. Cathlin, beam of the wave. Reul-dùbhra, star of the twilight. Beur-thein, fire of the hill, Ton-thena meteor of the waves. These etymologies, excepting that of Cean-mathan, are pretty exact. Of it I am not so certain; for it is not very probable, that the Fir-bolg had distinguished a constellation, so very early as the days of Larthon, by the name of the bear. P. 178. v. 278. Lear-thonn, céann-feadhna nam Bolg
An ceud fhear a shiubhail air gaoith.] To travel on the winds, a poetical expression for sailing. Larthonn is compounded of Lear, sea, and tonn, wave. This name was given to the chief of the first colony of the Fir-bolg, who settled in Ireland, on account of his knowledge in navigation. A part of an old poem is still extant, concerning this hero. It abounds with those romantic fables of giants and magicians, which distinguished the compositions of the less ancient bards. The descriptions contained in it are ingenious, and proportionable to the magnitude of the persons introduced; but, being annatural, they are insipid and tedious. Had the bard kept within the bounds of probability, his genius was far from being contemptible. The exordium of his poem is not destitute of merit; but it is the only part of it, that I think worthy of being presented to the reader.
“ Who first sent the black ship, through ocean, like a whale through