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This book begins about the middle of the third night from the
opening of the poem. The poet describes a kind of mist, which rose, by night, from the lake of Lego, and was the usual residence of the souls of the dead, during the interval between their decease and the funeral
appearance of the ghost of Fillan above the cave where his body lay. His voice comes to Fingal, on the rock of Cormul. The king strikes the shield of Trenmor, which was an infallible sign of his appearing in arms himself. The extraordinary effect of the sound of the shield. Sul-malla, starting from sleep, awakes Cathmor. Their affecting discourse. She insists with him to sue for peace; he resolves to continue the war. He directs her to retire to the neighbouring valley of Lona, which was the residence of an old Druid, until the battle of the next day should be over. He awakes his army with the sound of his shield. The shield described. Fonar, the bard, at the desire of Cathmor, relates the first settlement of the Fir-bolg in Ireland, under their leader Larthon. Morning comes. Sul-malla retires to the valley of Lona. A lyric song
concludes the book. MACPHERSON. No poet departs less from his subject than Ossian. No far
fetched ornaments are introduced ; the episodes rise from, and are indeed essential to, the story of the poem. Even his lyric songs, where he most indulges the extravagance of fancy, naturally spring from his subject. Their propriety and connection with the rest of the poem, shew that the Celtic bard
was guided by judgment, amidst the wildest flights of imagination. It is a common supposition among mankind, that a genius for poetry and sound sense seldom centre in the same
The observation is far from being just; for true genius and judgment must be inseparable. The wild flights of fancy, without the guidance of judgment, are, as Horace observes, like the dreams of a sick man, irksome and confused. Fools can never write good poems. A warm imagination, it is true, domineers over a common portion of sense ; and hence it is that so few have , succeeded in the poetical way. But when an uncommon strength of judgment, and a glowing fancy, are properly tempered together, they, and they
only, produce genuine poetry. The present book is not the least interesting part of Temora.
The awful images with which it opens, are calculated to prepare the mind for the solemn scenes which are to follow. Ossian, always, throws an air of consequence on every circumstance which relates to Fingal. The very sound of his shield produces extraordinary effects; and these are heighted, one above another, in a beautiful climax. The distress of Sul-malla, and her conference with Cathmor, are very affecting. The description of his shield is a curious piece of antiquity; and is a proof of the early knowledge of navigation among the inhabitants of Britain and Ireland. Ossian, in short, throughout this book, is often sublime, and always pathetic. MACPHERSON, 1st edit.
AN EPIC POEM.
From the wood-skirted waters of Lego, ascend, at times, grey-bosomed mists; when the gates of the west are closed, on the sun's eagle-eye. Wide, over Lara's stream, is poured the vapour dark and deep: the moon, like a dim shield, is swimming through its folds. With this, clothe the spirits of old their sudden gestures on the wind, when they stride, from blast to blast, along the dusky night. Often, blended with the gale, to some warrior's grave', they roll the
* As the mist, which rose from the lake of Lego, occasioned diseases and death, the. bards feigned that it was the residence of the ghosts of the deceased, during the interval between their