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mist, a grey dwelling to his ghost, untill the
A sound came from the desert; it was Conar, king of Inis-fail. He poured his mist on the
death and the pronouncing of the funeral elegy over their tombs ; for it was not allowable, without that ceremony was performed, for the spirits of the dead to mix with their ancestors in their airy halls. It was the business of the spirit of the nearest relation to the deceased, to take the mist of Lego, and pour it over
grave. We find here Conar, the son of Trenmor, the first king of Ireland, performing this office for Fillan, as it was in the cause of the family of Conar that that hero was killed. MACPHERSON.
In Fingal, and the lesser poems in the first collection, it was sufficient to raise the stone of fame. The bards sung over Carthon, Cuthullin, Fovargormo; but Crugal, Ryno, Orla, and others, were buried without their song. The ghost of Conlath, indeed, demands his fame, because his tomb rose unseen in a desert isle ; and “it was the opinion of the times, that the souls of the deceased were not happy till their elegies were composed by a bard.” But the seventh book of Temora contains a new system of Celtic mythology, unknown in the former collection of poems. The mists of marshy Lano, “bearing the death of thousands along," are transferred from Lochlin to Loch Lego in Ireland; the souls of the deceased are condemned to reside in its noxious vapours, during the interval between their death and their funeral elegy, without which they are not now permitted to mix with their ancestors in their airy halls; and it was a duty incumbent on the spirit of the nearest (deceased) relative of the deceased, to pour the mist of Lego on his grave, as a blue hall for the accommodation of his ghost, till the song should arise. In the former collection, Malvina is admitted to
grave of Fillan, at blue-winding Lubar. Dark and mournful sat the ghost, in his grey ridge of smoke. The blast, at times, rolled him together : but the form returned again. It returned with bending eyes, and dark winding of locks of mist.
It was dark. The sleeping host were still, in the skirts of night. The flame decayed, on the hill of Fingal; the king lay lonely on his shield. His eyes were half-closed in sleep; the voice of Fillan came 3. “Sleeps the husband of
the airy hall of Fingal, without either mist or song; and no explanation is given of the situation of the dead, if the ghosts of their nearest relatives should neglect this posthumous duty to their deceased friends. But the wood-skirted water of Lego, whose noxious mist was the abode of ghosts till their dirge enabled them to intermix with their ancestors, is Virgil's Acheron, on the banks of which the shades were condemned to wander, till their funeral rites were performed.
2 It has been observed (by Blair), that Ossian takes great delight in describing night scenes. The night descriptions of Ossian were in high repute among succeeding bards. The following is the singular sentiment of a frigid bard :
“ More pleasing to me is the night of Cona, dark-streaming from Ossian's harp; more pleasant it is to me, than a whitebosomed dweller between my arms; than a fair-handed daughter of heroes, in the hour of rest." MACPHERSON.
Of these Night-scenes and descriptions, Macpherson's Night: piece is certainly not the least remarkable. Infra :
3 His eyes were half closed in sleep; the voice of Fillan came.] Pope's Iliad, xxiii. 78.
Clatho? Dwells the father of the fallen in rest? Am I forgot in the folds of darkness * ; lonely in the season of night!"
Why dost thou mix," said the king, “with the dream of thy father? Can I forget thee, my son, or thy path of fire in the field ! Not such come the deeds of the valiant on the soul of Fingal. They are not there a beam of lightning, which is seen, and is then no more. I remember thee, O Fillan, and my wrath begins to rise 5."
The king took his deathful spear, and struck
When lo! the shade before his closing eyes,
came, In stature, voice, and pleasing look, the same. 4 Sleeps the husband of Clatho? Dwells the father of the fallen in rest ? Am I forgot in the folds of darkness?] Id.
And sleeps Achilles, thus the phantom said,
But now forgot I wander in the air. 5 Can I forget thee, my son, or thy path of fire in the field ? -I remember thee, O Fillan, and my wrath begins to rise. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave unto the roof of my mouth. Psalms, cxxxvii. 5.: Suggested to the translator by the word forgot in the preceding imitation, which introduced the present by association of ideas.
the deep-sounding shield 6: his shield that hung high in night, the dismal sign of war ! Ghosts
Succeeding bards have recorded many fables concerning this wonderful shield. They say, that Fingal, in one of his expeditions into Scandinavia, met, in one of the islands of Jutland, with Luno, a celebrated magician. This Luno was the Vulcan of the north, and bad made complete suits of armour for many of the heroes of Scandinavia. One disagreeable circumstance was, that every person who wanted to employ Luno to make armour for him, was obliged to overcome him at his own magic art. Fingal, unskilled in spells or enchantments, effected by dint of prowess, what others failed in with all their supernatural art. When Luno demanded a trial of skill from Fingal, the king drew his sword, cut off the skirts of the magician's robe, and obliged him, bare as he was, to fly before him. Fingal pursued, but Luno, coming to the sea, by his magic art walked upon the waves. Fingal pursued him in his ship, and, after a chace of ten days, came up with him in the isle of Sky, and obliged him to erect a furnace, and make him this shield, and his famous sword, poetically called the son of Luno. Such are the strange fictions which the modern Scotch and Irish bards have formed on the original of Ossian. MACPHERSON, 1st edition.
Ceardach Mhic Luin is one of those Irish ballads, of which Blair received such strong attestations. But Fingal's wonderful shield, of which the very sound produced a climax of such extraordinary effects, is struck to no purpose, neither to awaken the host, nor to alarm the scouts. And Fingal is introduced as sounding his shield, with much the same propriety as if, in Addison's Campaign, Marlborough had been employed in tuning his kettle-drums on the night preceding the battle of Blenheim.
fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind. Thrice from the winding vale arose the voice of deaths. The harps of the bards, untouched, sound mournful over the hill.
He struck again the shield; battles rose in the dreams of his host". The wide-tumbling strife is gleaming over their souls. Blue-shielded kings descend to war. Backward-looking armies fly; and mighty deeds are half-hid, in the bright gleams of steel.
But when the third sound arose, deer started from the clefts of their rocks. The screams of fowl are heard, in the desert, as each flew, frighted on his blast. The sons of Selma half rose, and half assumed their spears. But silence rolled back on the host; they knew the shield of
7 Battles rose in the dreams of the host.] Highlander, i. 275.
Still to his mind the Danish camp arose,
And urged, impending, on the Danish flight. “ Backward looking armies fly: Supra, vi. 6. From MilTox. Supra, vi. 16