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«* National Library of Scotland ■■jin B000157358*. V POEMS OF OSSIAN, IN THE ORIGINAL GAELIC, WITH A LITERAL TRANSLATION INTO LATIN, BY THE LATE ...»

-- [ Page 49 ] --

translation, is as follows :

Dh’ eireamur uile gu dian Ach Fionn nam Fiann agus Goll D’ fheitheamh a churaich fo ard cheum Bha na reum ag sgolt’ nan tonn Nior dhearnta tamh na tochd Gur ghabh cala sa phort ghna AUTHENTICITY OP OSSIAN’s POEMS. 517 Ach teachd doibli thar an eas Dll’ eirich as macamh mn&.

Translation.

We all rose up in haste, Except Fingal of the Feinni and Gaul, To wait on the high-bounding vessel Which in its course was parting the waves.

It neither slackened nor rested Till it entered the wonted haven;

But when it sailed over the fall There rose out of it a beautiful woman.

The following lines shew that it was at Lora Manus

landed with his forces :

Fhuaras Manus air an traigh ’S an oiche tra thaineas tosdach;

An ri bha fada o laimh, ’S thug Manus a mhionn do ’n oiteig ;

Bha ’n fhair a’ brieadh o ’n ear, !

S mor bheanntai na solus ag eiridh;

Tha ’n ceo ag direadh o Laoire, ’S a fagail nan suain saoidhean Mhanuis.

Dr. Smith’s Ancient Poems. Manus, v. 191, §r.

Translation.

We found Manus on the shore When we came silent by night;

The king had been far from home ;

And Manus gave his oath to the blast;

The morning is breaking from the east, And Morven rising in its light;

518 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

The mist is ascending from Lora, And leaving Manus’s warriors asleep.

–  –  –

When shall darkness depart from Cona Of the great streams of the loudest noise ?

Fionnghal a scapadh na seoid, Mar charraid nan sian ri feur.

’N’air bheucas sruth Chona nan tdrr, ’Sa Mhorbhein an truscan nan speur.

Fingal, Duan I. p. 14, ver. 129,

–  –  –

Fingal who could scatter the heroes, Like the conflict of the storms with grass, When the stream of Cona of cairns, or heaps, is roaring, And Morven in the robes of the sky.

Bordering on the north side of the ferry of Conuil, and fall of Lora, is a black heath or plain, which extends a mile and a half either way. On this plain is to be seen a great number of large cairns, or heaps of stones, which measure in general from 50 to 60 feet in diameter. Those cairns, from the small size of the stones which compose them, appear to have been originally put together on a sudden by a great AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 519 body of men, each individual contributing one, or more stones, according to the intended size of the cairn, and the rank of the hero in whose honour it was erected. That this heath was the Sliabh eas Laoire of Ossian, i. e. the heath at the fall of Lora, will admit of little doubt. That it is the place where the Fienni fought many of their battles, where heroes fell, and were buried, will appear evident from the passages which follow.

’S lionmhor taibhse ar naimhde, a threin ;

Ach cliuthar sinn fein, ’s ar cairde.

Faiceadh Carthonn an raon gu leir, ’S iomadh gorm thon ag eiridh ard Le clachaibh glas, a’s feur fo fhuaim ;

Naimhde Fhionnghail fo uaigh a t’ ann, Na daimh a dhaisig raimh thar chuan.

Carthon,p. 168, ver. 311, $c.

–  –  –

Numerous are the ghosts of our foes, O mighty Avarrior !

But renowned are we ourselves, and our friends.

Let Carthon behold that field all over, And the many green hillocks rising high With gray stones and rustling grass;

The foes of Fingal in their graves are there, The strangers whom oars conveyed over the sea.

The four following passages are given from Macpherson’s translation, London edition, 1790, tljeir originals having not been printed yet.

520 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

–  –  –

Clessamor ! said the king of Morven, where is the spear of thy strength, wilt thou behold Connal bound, thy friend, at the stream of Lora? Ibid. p. 88.

–  –  –

Tha tannas caol, is faoin, is fuar, Mall ag aomadh mu uaigh an tseoid;

Na trein, a Mhalamhin nam buadh, Aig iomall nan stuadh fo ’n tbrr.

Carthon, p. 148, ver. 21,

–  –  –

There is a ghost, slender, feeble, and pale, Slowly bending over the hero’s grave;

The brave, O Malvina of virtues, Are there at the border of the waves under the heap.

–  –  –

We buried by the waterfall The man of great might and deeds, And placed high on each finger A ring of gold in honour of my king.

Should the diligent traveller find a perfect correspondence between the above scenes, and the description given of them in the poems ascribed to Ossian, he will not, it is hoped, attempt to deprive the ancient bard of his just merit; for should he suppose Macpherson to have been the author of these poems, he must first prove, that he either had seen the scenes they describe, or had been possessed of a power of describing with equal accuracy what he had never seen. The former he cannot prove; for it is well known that Macpherson had never visited that part of Argyleshire, which contains the scenes above narrated. The latter carries with it an idea of absurdity. Those therefore, who endeavour to fix the origin of the poems of Ossian to any modern period, or ascribe their original merit to any modern bard, can do it from no other reason

522 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE





than prejudice, or ignorance. It is presumed, that the above short description of Selma, &c. will excite a degree of curiosity, and serve as a leading mark to those, who may have leisure, and inclination to investigate what time has so much involved in obscuritv.

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’S POEMS. 523 Description of the Fingalian River Cona, 8$c. and the Banks of the River Etc, the Residence of Usnoch and his three Sons, whose story is given in Ossian's Poem of Darthula. By the Rev. Donald Macnicoll, Minister of the United Parishes of Lismore and Appin, County of Argyle.* “The rivers Creren, Co, or Conn (the Fingalian Cona, a beautiful romantic river), the river of Coinich in Kingerloch, with those of Durror, Bailechelish, Larvel, and Laroch are the most considerable.

There are foxes, badgers, and otters in Appin. In the lower parts of Appin, particularly on the Marquis of Tweedale’s and Mr. Campbell of Aird’s properties, there are roes in great abundance; not the she of the hart, as some of our English dictionaries falsely denominate them; for the roes have their bucks and does, as the deer have their harts and hinds. In the higher parts of Appin, a few red or mountain deer frequently appear, when they are scared or frightened from the neighbouring forest of Buachail, &c. A few deer occasionally appear in Kingerloch; but the sheep will soon banish them, as they cannot endure to pasture with them; nor are the roes fond of it. The squirrel is now become very rare, if not totally extinct, in this part of the Highlands. On the banks of the river Ete, the Fingalian Usnoch, and his three renowned sons, Naos, or Naois, Ailli, and Ardan were born, as set forth by Mr.

* See Statistical Account of Scotland, Yol. I. p. 485.

524 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

Macplierson. This is a piece of traditionary history well known in these countries.” Description of Inis-Connel and Inish-Eraith: the last Island is the Scene of Dau ra, who was betrayed by

Erath, as recorded in Ossians Songs of Selma :

also the Scene of Cathluina, an ancient Celtic Poem f that name, translated by Dr. Smith, and “ La or Fuaoch,” or the Death ofFraoch. By the Rev. William Campbell, Minister of the Parishes of Kilchrenan and Lochavich, County of Argyle* Lochow, with its numerous creeks and islands, covered with wood to the water edge, with many copious streams descending from the hills, forming numberless beautiful cascades, presents to the view objects well worth attention. Twelve of these islands belong to this parish. Surrounded by a cluster of other islands, lies the beautiful one of Inis-connel, with its castle. This castle, a majestic view of great antiquity, now covered over with ivy, was for several centuries the chief residence of the family of Argyle, and appears, from the nature, strength, and size of the building, to have been occupied by a powerful chieftain, whose sway and extent of territory we learn from record and tradition, to have been immense. Near Inis-connel lies Inish-Eraith,.

mentioned by Dr. Smith of Campbeltown, in his AuSee Stat. Account of Scotland, Vol. VI. p. 267. Kilchrenan signifies, in the Celtic, the burying place of Chrenan, the tutelar saint of the parish.

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 525 thenticity of Ossian’s Poems, as the place to which the traitor Erath beguiled Duara, as recounted in one of the Songs of Selma. In this isle are buryinggrounds, and the ruins of a chapel. Near this is Ela\n'’n talari, or “ Priest’s isle,” with some traces of the priest’s house still discernible. Lochow abounds with trout and salmon. Lochavich, anciently called Lochluina, is a beautiful sheet of water, of a regular trianglar form, about eight miles in circumference, full of trout, having one castle and several islands, the resort of gulls, cranes, water-eagles, and wild ducks. Near this lake lay the scene of an ancient Celtic poem, translated by Dr. Smith, called Cathluina, or “ the conflict of Luina:” and in the lake is an island the scene of another poem, called Laoi fraoich, or “ the death of Fraoch.” Many places in this neighbourhood are still denominated from Ossian’s heroes. This lake discharges itself into Lochow, by the stream or water of Avich, buried in wood, having six fine falls, with large circular ponds at the foot of each, and possessing the peculiarity of never freezing ; even in the year 1740, not a particle of ice was observed on it, though the lake from whence it issues was entirely frozen over.” Description of the Scenes of Daura and Eratht as recorded in Ossian's Songs of Selma. By the Rev. Dr.

John Smith* “ Those fragments of Ossian which are still more generally known are, as we should suppose, some of

• Dissertation on the Authenticity of Ossian’s Poems prefixed to Gaelic Antiquities, page 97.

526 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

the most beautiful parts of his composition. Among them are the battle of Lora, the episode of the Maid of Craca, the most affecting parts of Carthon, Conlath, Croma, Berrathon, the Death of Oscar in the first book of Temora, and almost the whole of Darthula. Now, if these and the like are avowedly ancient, and undoubtedly the composition of Ossian, it is but justice to allow that he could compose any other part of the collection, none of it being equal to some of these in poetical merit.

“Any further arguments to prove that the poems we speak of are genuine translations from the Gaelic, would, I trust, be superfluous. This being allowed, then, as it well may, it will easily appear that they can belong to no era but that very remote one, to which the translator has assigned them.

“ There is, however, one argument that has too much weight to be passed over. It is an astonishing correspondence between some of these poems and scenes which they are found to describe, but which were too distant and too obscure for the translator ever to see or hear of, and concerning which there is not even a tradition, so far as ever I could learn, so that Mr. Macpherson must have found them in MS. otherwise they had never appeared. I mention one instance, chosen purposely from the part least known in Gaelic of the whole collection; it is one of the Songs of Selma. The names of Daura and Erath there spoken of are so uncommon, that I am confident we may defy any body to produce any instance of their being heard in name, surname, or tradition. Yet, in an obscure and almost inaccessible nart of Argyleshire, which it is certain the translator AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 527 of Ossian never saw, and which from his own silence, the silence of tradition upon that story, and the distance and obscurity of the place, it is equally certain he never heard of. In this place can be traced out the very scene, and the very uncommon names of that episode, which of all the collection is perhaps the least known to a Gaelic antiquary. The island, to which the traitor Erath beguiled Dura, still retains his name, Innis-Eraith, “ the Island of Erath.” The ferry and farm contiguous to it, derive from him also their name, and about a mile distant from it is another farm, consisting of an extensive heath bounded by a large mountain-stream, and still retaining, from that unfortunate lady, the name of Durain, “ the stream of Daura.” And what further confirms that this is the scene described by Ossian is, that several places within sight of it are denominated from Connal and others of his heroes, whose names are better known. As nobody can suppose that the translator of Ossian could thus stumble, by chance, on names the least common, and places the least known, so as to make so many circumstances exactly correspond with his poems, without his ever knowing it, we must certainly allow this a most confounding proof of their authenticity.” In another place Dr. Smith observes, “ There is not a district in the Highlands but what has many places, waters, isles, caves, and mountains, which are called, from time immemorial, after the names of Ossian’s heroes.

These names are so common, that where I now sit, not far from Inverary, I could enumerate a long list in one view, such as Cruach-fhinn, “ the hill of

528 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE



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