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Thy story therefore I await,
And thy late promise claim,
It must be obvious, I think, from the passages which have now been quoted from these Irish legends, that, though written in the middle ages, the
character of Ossian has been sustained in them with all the beauty, amenity, and sublimity which surround it in the Caledonian poetry. And as the Irish histories themselves refer the existence of Fingal and Ossian to the third century, placing the death of the former in the year 283, and that of Oscar, the grandson of Fingal, in the year 296, though, out of compliment to St. Patrick, they have committed the bold anachronism of representing the Celtic poet a disciple of the national apostle, does it not follow as a legitimate inference, considering this perfect consonancy of the Irish with the Scottish era, and the very early intercourse which subsisted between the two nations, that the poetry ascribed to Ossian by the Scottish antiquaries is, both as to its antiquity and character, altogether what authentic tradition has handed down to us? For, be it remembered, that even should we re
move the origin of the Ossianic poems, from the third to the ninth or tenth, or eleventh century, the period to which the Irish originals` of the translations before us are to be attributed, we should gain nothing by the exchange, as the purity and refinement of sentiment, so remarkable in the Gaelic · muse, and which has excited so much controversy, surprise, and scepticism, would be as great a stumbling-block in the latter as in the former age.
Indeed, at an era when the rest of Europe was involved in the grossest ignorance, it speaks highly in favour of the comparative state of Ireland, that her bards were able not only to relish and admire the disinterested patriotism, the tender and sublime enthusiasm of such characters as Fingal and Ossian, but were found competent to transmit with so little alloy, with so much, indeed, of genuine simplicity and energy, the impressions which for many generations had been descending to them through the oral poetry and traditions of their Gaelic neighbours. "As yet," says Miss Brooke, in allusion to the lustre reflected upon her countrymen by their ancestors of the middle ages, and in a passage of exquisite beauty and feeling, which in the present day cannot be read without a sigh of deep regret for
what has passed since it was written, "as yet, we are too little known to our noble neighbour of Britain; were we better acquainted, we should be better friends. that she has an elder sister in this isle; let us then introduce them to each other! together let them walk abroad from their bowers, sweet ambassadresses of cordial union between two countries that seem formed by nature to be joined by every bond of interest and of amity. Let them entreat of Britain to cultivate a nearer acquaintance with her neighbouring isle. Let them conciliate for us her esteem, and her affection will follow of course. Let them tell her, that the por
The British Muse is not yet informed
tion of her blood which flows in our veins is rather ennobled than disgraced by the mingling tides that descended from our heroic ancestors. Let them come- -but will they answer to a voice like mine? Will they not rather depute some favoured pen, to chide me back to the shade whence I have been allured, and where, perhaps, I ought to have remained, in respect to the memory and superior genius of a father-it avails not to say how dear!— But my feeble efforts presume not to emulate,and they cannot injure his fame*."
Preface, pp. vii. viii.
It can scarcely be necessary to remark, after the many beautiful and highly finished stanzas which I have had occasion to quote in this paper, that the amiable translator had little cause for the apprehensions which she has avowed in the latter part of the above passage, either as they might refer to the tribe of critics, or to the public at large; for to adopt her own emphatic language,
Full oft the Muse, a gentle guest,
Dwells in a female form!
And patriot fire a female breast
May sure unquestion'd warm *.
In fine, without flattery it may be added, that her versions, which exhibit many varied forms of metre, and include Heroic Poems, Odes, Elegies, and Songs, are throughout animated by the spirit of the most engaging enthusiasm; and that, whether the Dirge, the wild War-song, or the Lay of Love, be the theme on which her efforts are exerted, she is alike entitled to our gratitude and admiration.
*Introduction to Maon, p. 327.
As dissolute, as desperate: yet, through both,
It is somewhat remarkable that almost the same degree of disparity which I have noticed to have existed between father and child at the opening of my last paper on the History of the Cliffords, may be found in relation to the early years of Henry lord Clifford, the shepherd, and those of his son by his first wife; for, whilst the childhood and youth of the former had been passed in the deepest seclusion, and in the lowliest habits of pastoral life, those of the latter had been spent amid the extravagance and dissipation of a gorgeous court.
HENRY, LORD CLIFFORD, ELEVENTH LORD OF THE HONOUR OF SKIPTON, AND FIRST EARL OF CUMBERLAND, was born in 1493, and, unfortunately for himself and the peace of his father's mind, was bred up the fellow-student and companion of prince