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FINGAL,

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT.-CUTHULLIN (general of the Irish tribes,

in the minority of Cormac, king of Ireland) sitting alone beneath a tree, at the gate of Tura, a castle of Ulster, (the other chiefs having gone on a hunting party to Cromla, a neighbouring hill), is informed of the landing of Swaran, king of Lochlin, by Moran, the son of Fithil, one of his scouts. He convenes the chiefs; a council is held, and disputes run high about giving battle to the enemy. Connal, the petty king of Togorma, and an intimate friend of Cuthullin, was for retreating, till Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the north-west coast of Scotland, whose aid had been previously solicit. ed, should arrive; but Calmar, the son of Matha, lord of Lara, a country in Connaught, was for engaging the enemy immediately. Cuthullin, of himself willing to fight, went into the opinion of Calmar. Marching towards the enemy, he missed three of his bravest heroes, Fergus, Duchômar, and Cathba. Fergus arriving, tells Cuthullin of the death of the two other chiefs; which introduces the affecting episode of Morna, the daughter of Cormac. The army of Cuthullin is descried at a distance by Swaran, who sent the son of Arno to observe the motions of the enemy, while he himself ranged his forces in order of battle. The son of Arno returning to Swaran, describes to him Cuthullin's chariot, and the terrible appearance of that hero. The armies engage, but night coming on, leaves the victory undecided. Cuthullin, according to the hospitality of the times, sends to Swaran a formal invitation to a feast, by his bard Carril, the son of Kinfena. Swaran refuses to come. Carril relates to Cuthullin the story of Grudar and. Brassolis. A party, by Connal's advice, is sent to observe the enemy; which closes the ac

tion of the first day. CUTHULLIN* sat by Tura's wall: by the tree of the rustling sound. His spear leaned against the rock. His shield lay on grass, by his side. Amid his thoughts of mighty Carbar,* a hero slain by the chief in war; the scoutt of ocean comes, Morant the son of Fithil !

* Cuthullin, the son of Semo and grandson to Caithbat, a druid cele brated in tradition for his wisdom and valour. Cuthullin when very young, married Bragela the daughter of Sorglan, and passing over in to Ireland, lived some time with Connal, grandson by a daughter to Congal the petty king of Ulster. His wisdom and valour in a short time gained him such reputation, that in the minority of Cormae, the supreme king of Ireland, he was chosen guardian to the young king, and sole manager of the war against Swaran king of Lochlin. After a series of great actions he was killed in battle somewhere in Connaught, in the twenty-seventh year of his age. He was so remarkable for his strength, that to describe a strong man it has passed into a proverb, “ He has the strength of Cuthullin." They show the remains of his palace at Dunscaich in the isle of Skye; and a stone to which he bound his dog Luath, goes still by his name.

Arise," says the youth, “Cuthullin, arise. I see the ships of the north! Many, chief of men,

are the foe. Many the heroes of the sea-borne “ Swaran!"_“ Moran!" replied the blue-eyed chief, “thou ever tremblest, son of Fithil! Thy “ fears have increased the foe. It is Fingal, king of deserts, with aid to green Erin of streams.” “ I beheld their chief,” says Moran, “tall as a “ glittering rock. His spear is a blasted pine. “ His shield the rising moon! He sat on the 6 shore! like a cloud of mist on the silent hill ! “ Many, chief of heroes! I said, many are our « hands of war. Well art thou named, the Migh“ ty Man: but many mighty men are seen from “ Tura's windy walls.

* Cairbar or Cairbre, sigņifies a strong man.

+ Cuthullin having previous intelligence of the invasion intended by Swaran, sent scouts all over the coast of Ullin or Ulster, to give early notice of the first appearance of the enemy, at the same time that he sent Munan the son of Stirmal to implore the assistance of Fingal. He himself collected the flower of the Irish youth to Tura, a castle on the coast, to stop the progress of the enemy till Fingal should arrive from Scotland. We may conclude from Cuthullin's applying so early for foreign aid, that the Irish were not then so numerous as they have since been; which is great presumption against the high antiquities of that people. We have the testimony of Taci. tus, that one legion only was thought sufficient, in the time of Agricola, to reduce the whole island under the Roman yoke ; whicha could not probably have been the case had the island been inhabited for any number of centuries before.

| Moran signifies many; and Fithil, or rather Fili, an inferior bard.

| Fingal, the son of Comhal and Morna the daughter of Thaddu. His grandfather was Trathal, and great grandfather Trenmor, both of whom are often mentioned in the poem.

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“ He spoke, like a wave on a rock, who in this land appears like me? Heroes stand not in my presence: they fall to earth from

my hand. “ Who can meet Swaran in fight? Who but Fin

gal, king of Selma of Storms? Once we wrest“ led on Malmor ;* our heels overturned the “ woods. Rocks fell from their place; rivulets, “changing their course, fled murmuring from

our side. Three days we renewed the strife; " heroes stood at a distance and trembled. On “ the fourth, Fingal says, that the king of the

Ocean fell! but Swaran says, he stood! Let “ dark Cuthullin yield to him, that is strong as “ the storms of bis land !

“No!" replied the blue-eyed chief, “I never yield to mortal man! Dark Cuthullin shall be

great or dead! Go, son of Fithil, take my “ spear. Strike the sounding shield of Semo.t * Meal-Mór, a great hill. + Cabait, or rather Cathbait, grandfather to the hero, was so remarkable for his valour, that his shield was made use of to alarm his posterity to the battles of the family. We find Fingal making the same use of his own shield in the 4th book. A born was the most common instrument to call the army together.

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“ It hangs at Tura's rustling gate. The sound of “ peace is not its voice! My heroes shall hear and “ obey.” He went. He struck the bossy shield. The hills, the rocks reply. The sound spreads along the wood: deer start by the Curach* leaps from the sounding rock; and Connal of the bloody spear! Crugal'st breast of snow beats high. The son of Favi leaves the darkbrown hind. It is the shield of war, said Ronnar! the spear of Cuthullin, said Lugar! son of the sea put on thy arms! Calmar lift thy sounding steel! Puno! dreadful hero, arise! Cairbar from thy red tree of Cromla! Bend thy knee, O Eth! descend from the streams of Lena. Ca-olt stretch thy side as thou movest along the whistling heath of Mora: thy side that is white as the foam of the troubled sea, when the dark winds pour it on rocky Cuthon.

Now I behold the chiefs, in the pride of their former deeds! Their souls are kindled at the battles of old; at the actions of other times. Their eyes are flames of fire. They roll in search of the foes of the land. Their mighty hands are on their swords. Lightning pours from their sides of steel. They come like streams from the mountains; each rushes roaring from the hill. Bright are the chiefs of battle, in the armour of their fathers. Gloomy and dark their hieroes follow, like the

* Cu-raoch signifies the madness of battle. + Cruth-geal, fair-complexioned. | Cu-thon, the mournful sound of waves.

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gathering of the rainy clouds behind the red meteors of heaven. The sounds of crashing arnis ascend. The grey dogs howl between. Unequal bursts the song of battle. Rocking Cromla* echoes round. On Lena's dusky heath they stand, like mist that shades the hills of autumn :- when broken and dark it settles high, and lifts its head to heaven!

Hail," said Cuthullin, “ sons of the narrow “ vales! hail, hunters of the deer! Another sport “is drawing near: It is like the dark rolling of “ that wave on the coast! Or shall we fight, ye

sons of war! or yield green Erint to Lochlin! “ O Connalt speak, thou first of men! thou break

er of the shields! thou hast often fought with “ Lochlin: wilt thou lift thy father's spear?"

“ Cuthullin!” calm the chief replied, “spear of Connal is keen. It delights to shine in " battle; to mix with the blood of thousands. “But though my hand is bent on fight, my heart " is for the peace of Erin. Behold, thou first in

* Crom-leach signified a place of worship among the Druids. It is here the proper name of a hill on the coast of Ullin or Ulster.

+ Ireland, so called from a colony that settled there called Falans. Inis-fail, the island of the Fa-il or Falans.

Connal, the friend of Cuthallin, was the son of Caith-bait prince of the Tongorma or the island of the blue waves, probably one of the Hebrides. His mother was Fioncoma the daughter of Congal. He bad a son by Foba of Conacharnessar, who was afterwards petty king of Ulster. For his services in the war against Swaran he had lands conferred on him, which, from his name, were called Tir-chonnuil, or T'ir-connel, i. e. the land of Connal.

$ Erin, a name of Ireland; from ear or iar West, and in an island. This name was not always confined to Ireland, for there is the est probability that the lerne of the ancients was Britain to the North of VOL. II.

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