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bard, and are for a time persuaded it is Ossian himself who speaks. We do not seem to read a narration of events, wherein the writer was neither a witness nor a party :-it is the son—the fatherthe hero—the patriot who speaks ; who breathes his own passions and feelings on our hearts, and compels our sympathy to accompany all his griefs ; while in a strain of natural and empassioned eloquence, he descants on the fame and virtues of a parent whom he describes as at once so amiable and so great ; and bewails the loss of all his former friends, kindred, and companions, and laments his own forlorn and disconsolate state, in apostrophes that pierce the very soul of pity* !"

Thus, at the close of Magnus the Great, in which the character of Fingal is supported with all those traits of magnanimity and humanity which so beautifully particularise him in the Scottish poems, the aged bard reverts to his own forlorn and destitute situation in terms which, whilst they breathe the unextinguished spirit of the hero, paint at the same time his sufferings and feelings in a strain of imperishable sweetness and pathos. Thus, he says, addressing the saint who had requested of him a detail of the engagement in which Magnus had been defeated

* Reliques, p. 76.

Thus was the mighty battle won

On Erin's sounding shore ;
And thus, O clerk! great Comhal's son

The palm of valour bore !

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Alas! far sweeter to mine ear

The triumphs of that day
Than all the psalming songs I hear,

Where holy zealots pray.
Thou hast my tale ;-though memory bleeds,

And sorrow wastes my frame,
Still will I tell of former deeds,

And live on former fame!

Now old,—the streams of life congeal’d,

Bereft of all my joys!
No sword this wither'd hand can wield,

No spear my arm employs.

Among thy clerks, my last sad hour

Its weary scene prolongs;
And psalms must now supply the pow'r

Of victory's lofty songs. It is nevertheless to the opening of The Chase, a legendary poem, which, from its mention of church bells, cannot be attributed to a period earlier than

• Fingal.

the middle

ages,

that we are indebted for the fullest developement of the character of Ossian as drawn by the Irish bards. This piece also, like the former, displays a glowing picture of the head and heart of the king of Morven, to whom, as the fair translator has remarked, every quality is attributed that is either interesting, amiable, or great*.

The delineation, indeed, either of Ossian or his royal father, being precisely such as we find drawn in the poems translated by Macpherson, would answer the

purpose

which I have in view ; but as the character of the bard is, from the splendor of his genius, from his blindness, and his being the last of his

race, perhaps still rnore endeared to us than that of the warrior, I shall confine myself principally to the picture which has been given us of the former. The saint and the poet are represented as usual, conversing familiarly together, when the latter exclaims with his customary courtesy,

O son of Calphruin !--sage divine !

Soft voice of heavenly song, Whose notes around the holy shrine

Sweet melody prolong ;

* Reliques, p. 99.

Did e'er my tale thy curious ear

And fond attention draw,
The story of that chase to hear,

Which my famed father saw ?

The chase, which singly o'er the plain,

The hero's steps pursued ;
Nor one of all his valiant train

Its wond'rous progress view'd ?

A query to which the holy anchorite replies,

O royal bard ! to valour dear,

Whom fame and wisdom grace,
It never was my chance to hear

That memorable chase.

But let me now, O bard, prevail !

Now let the song ascend;
And through the wonders of the tale,

May truth thy words attend !

The insinuation which the saint here throws out against the veracity of the bard very naturally and very deservedly calls forth a rebuke, but delivered in a tone of energy and moral dignity which has seldom been surpassed :

O Patrick! to the Finian race

A falsehood was unknown;
No lie, no imputation base

On our clear fame was thrown;

But by firm truth and manly might

That fame established grew,
Where oft, in honourable fight,

Our foes before us flew.

Not thy own clerks, whose holy feet

The sacred pavement trod,
With thee to hymn, in concert sweet,

The praises of thy God;

Not thy own clerks in truth excell'd

The heroes of our line,
By honour train'd, by fame impellid

In glory's fields to shine !

O Patrick of the placid mien,

And voice of sweetest sound !
Of all thy church's walls contain

Within their hallow'd round,

Not one more faithful didst thou know

Than Comhal's noble son;
The chief who gloried to bestow

The prize the bards had won !

Were Morni's * valiant son alive,

(Now in the deedless grave)
O could my wish from death revive

The generous and the brave !

* The celebrated Gaul Mac Mevrni, well known to the reader Ossian's Poems. “ Great as is Oisin's partiality,” remarks the translator, “ in favour of the heroes of his own race, yet we find him, on all occasions, doing ample justice

VOL. II.

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