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which it is enforced, it is scarcely possible not to feel that the venerable apostle of the sister island has exhibited no very abundant stock of pity or forbearance.
0 Oisin of the mighty deed !
Thy folly I deplore ;
And give the subject o'er.
Nor Finn, nor all the Finnian race,
Can with his power compare
And rules the realms of air !
For man yon azure vault he spreads,
And clothes the flow'ry plains;
And blooming fruit ordains !
'Tis he who gives the peopled stream,
Replete with life to flow;
And sun's meridian glow!
To that Almighty hand
And bade their powers expand ?
The rejoinder which now falls from the lips of Oisin is, in the highest degree, animated and characteristic :
* Dr. Hyde says, “the old Irish were so greatly addicted to chess, that amongst them the possession of good estates has been often decided by it; and,” adds he, " there are some estates, at this very time, the property whereof still depends upon the issue of a game at chess. For example, the heirs of two certain noble Irish families, whom we could name (to say nothing of others), hold their lands
upon viz. that one of them shall encounter the other at chess in this manner; that which ever of them conquered, should seize and possess the estate of the other. Therefore,” says the doctor, “I am told they manage the affair prudently among themselves : once a year they meet, by appointment, to play at chess; one of them inakes a move, and the other says, I will consider how to answer you next year. This being done, a public notary commits to writing the situation of the game, by which method a game that neither has won has been, and will be, continued for some hundred of years.' -Vallancey's Irish Grammar, Essay on the Celtic Language,
Or sylvan sports, that well beseem
The martial and the brave;
His manly limbs to lave.
But, when the rage of battle bled !
Then—then his might appear’d, And o'er red heaps of hostile dead
His conquering standard rear'd!
Where was thy God on that sad day,
When on Ierne's wave
Their beauteous prize to save ?
From Lochlin's king of ships, his bride,
His lovely queen they bore, Through whom unnumber'd warriors die,
And bathed in blood our shore.
Or on that day when Tailk's proud might
Invaded Erin's coast,
And where thy empty boast ?
While round the bravest Fenii bled,
No help did he bestow; ”Twas Osgur's arm avenged the deed, And
gave the glorious blow!
Where was thy God when Magnus came?
Magnus the brave and great;
Whose threat'ning voice was fate!
Thy Godhead did not aid us then,
If such a God there be,
As great and good as he !
Allean of dreadful fame,
And wrapt her walls in flame.
Not by thy God, in single fight,
The deathful hero fell,
Could ev'ry force repel !
In ev'ry mouth his fame we meet,
Well known, and well believed ;-
feat Thy cloudy king achieved.
The somewhat sarcastic insinuation with which these fine stanzas conclude has the effect of throwing the saint completely off his guard, and he bursts into a strain of invective which does not present us with a very favourable idea of his progress in Christian charity. In fact, he tells the aged poet in plain terms, that he is a bald and senseless fool, and that as long as God shall rule in heaven, his race shall endure unremitting torment. 66 It must be owned,” says the fair translator, “this railing is rather of the coarsest; but our poet seems more partial to his heroes than to his saints, or he would hardly have put this language into the mouth of the good bishop.” We can scarcely, however, regret this want of equanimity on the part of St. Patrick, since it introduces the following wild but beautifully characteristic expostulation from the lips of his companion, who, shocked, as he well might be, by the anathema we have just recorded, exclaims
If God then rules, why is the chief
Of Comhal's gen'rous race
From justice or from grace ?
When, were thy God himself confined,
My king of mild renown
And give him back his crown.
For never did his generous breast
Reject the feeling glow;
Or slight the captive's woe.
His ransom loosed the prisoner's chains,
And broke the dire decree;
He fought to set them free!