ページの画像
PDF
ePub

spear.

We were not feeble behind thee; but the foe was strong."

Cathmor beheld the rising rage, and bending forward of either chief: for, half-unsheathed, they held their swords, and rolled their silent eyes. Now would they have mixed in horrid fray, had not the wrath of Cathmor burned He drew his sword: it gleamed through night, to the high-flaning oak! “Sons of pride,” said the king, “allay your swelling souls. Retire in night. Why should my rage arise ? Should I contend with both in arms? It is no time for strife! Retire, ye clouds, at my feast. Awake my soul no more."

They sunk from the king on either side ; like "

[ocr errors]

9 Now would they have mired in horrid fray, had not the wrath of Cathmor burned.] Par. Lost, iv. 989.

Now dreadful deeds
Might have ensued,

had not soon The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray. 10 This comparison is favourable to the superiority of Cathmor over his two chiefs. I shall illustrate this passage with another from a fragment of an ancient poem, just now in my hands.

" As the sun is above the vapours, which his beams have raised ; so is the soul of the king above the sons of fear. They roll dark below him ; he rejoices in the robe of his beams. But when feeble deeds wander on the soul of the king, he is a

two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises, between them, on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on either side; each towards its reedy pool !

Silent sat the chiefs at the feast. They look, at times, on Atha's king, where he strode, on his rock, amid his settling soul. The host lie along the field. Sleep descends on Moi-lena. The voice of Fonar ascends alone, beneath his distant tree. It ascends in the praise of Cathmor, son of Larthon of Lumon. But Cathmor did not hear his praise. He lay at the roar of a stream. The rustling breeze of night flew over his whistling locks.

His brother came to his dreams, half-seen from his low-hung cloud. Joy rose darkly in his face. He had heard the song of Carril".

darkened sun rolled along the sky : the valley is sad below : flowers wither beneath the drops of the night.” MACPHERson. Supra, iï. 23.

" Like two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises between them on his glittering rocks." Thomson's Summer.

Now flaming up the heavens, the potent sun
Melts into limpid air the high-raised clouds,

And morning fogs, that hovered round the hill. " Carril, the son of Kinfena, by the orders of Ossian, sung the funeral elegy at the tomb of Cairbar. See the second book,

A blast sustained his dark-skirted cloud; which he seized in the bosom of night, as he rose, with his fame, towards his airy hall. Half-mixed with the noise of the stream, he poured his feeble words.

“ Joy meet the soul of Cathmor. His voice was heard on Moi-lena. The bard gave his song to Cairbar. He travels on the wind. My form is in my father's hall, like the gliding of a terrible light, which darts across the desert in a stormy night". No bard shall be wanting at thy tomb, when thou art lowly laid. The sons of

towards the end. In all these poems, the visits of ghosts to their living friends are short, and their language obscure, both which circumstances tend to throw a solemn gloom on these supernatural scenes. Towards the latter end of the speech of the ghost of Cairbar, he foretels the death of Cathmor, by enumerating those signals, which, according to the opinion of the times, preceded the death of a person renowned. It was thought that the ghosts of deceased bards sung, for three nights preceding the death (near the place where his tomb was to be raised) round an unsubstantial figure, which represented the body of the person who was to die. MACPHERSON.

12 Like the gliding of a terrible light, which darts across the desert in a stormy night.) “Which winds through the desert," in the first editions. From Milton, Par. Lost, iv. 555.

Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even
On a sun-beam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night.

song

love the valiant. Cathmor, thy name is a pleasant gale. The mournful sounds arise ! On Lubar's field there is a voice! Louder still, ye shadowy ghosts'?! The dead were full of fame! Shrilly swells the feeble sound. The rougher blast alone is heard ! Ah, soon is Cathmor low !” Rolled into himself he flew, wide on the bosom of winds. The old oak felt his departure, and shook its whistling head. Cathmor starts from rest'4. He takes his deathful spear. He lifts

13 Louder still, ye shadowy ghosts.] DRYDEN's St Cecilia,

A louder yet, and yet a louder strain-
These are Grecian ghosts that in battle were slain,

And unburied remain,

Inglorious on the plain. E conderso, “ The dead were full of fame." And this unintelLigible rant is addressed by the ghost of Cairbar, to the ghosts of the deceased bards, who, like witches round a waxen image, sung for three nights round an unsubstantial figure, representing the body of Cathmor, the person who was to die. Supra, 1.". Every extravagance in the poems is vouched for by the never-failing tradition, or opinion of the times. 14 Cathmor starts from rest.] Pope's Iliad, xxiii. 119.

Confused he wakes, amazement breaks the bands
Of golden sleep, and starting from the sands

Pensive he muses with uplifted hands.
He lifts his eyes around.DRYDEN's St Cecilia.

And amazed he stares around.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

.

his eyes around. He sees but dark-skirted night.

“ It's was the voice of the king,” he said. “But now his form is gone. Unmarked is your path in the air, ye children of the night'. Often, like a reflected beam, are ye seen in the desert wild: but ye retire in your blasts, before our steps approach. Go then, ye feeblę race ! Knowledge with

you there is none"?! Your joys

and ease.

15 The soliloquy of Cathmor suits the magnanimity of his character. Though staggered at first with the prediction of Cairbar's ghost, he soon comforts himself with the agreeable prospect of his future renown; and, like Achilles, prefers a short and glorious life, to an obscure length of years in retirement

MACPHERSON. Not only the situation, but the speech of Cathmor, when awakened, by the departure of Cairbar's ghost, is the same with that of Achilles on the disappearance of the ghost of Patroclus; and the preceding note removes all doubt of the intended imitation.

16 But now his form is gone. Unmarked is your path in the air, ye children of the night.] Pope's Iliad, xxiii. 124.

The form subsists without the body's aid,
Aerial semblance, and an empty shade!
This night my friend, so late in battle lost,
Stood at my side, a pensive, plaintive ghost;
Eren now familiar, as in life, he came,

Alas! how different! yet how like the same! 17 Go then, ye feeble race! Knowledge with you there is none.] Iliad, xxiii. 103. See Fingal, ii. 10.

« 前へ次へ »