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won gold, and “lights," and horses candidly admits, but they had really so that his “ age was an era of dis- made very respectable progress-and tinguished splendour in that part of as Homer appears to have been a great the world." His success in war was traveller and voyager, he assuredly had as admirable—more it could not be «s larger field of observation” than as his moderation in peace.
His Ossian, who had probably never been "country was wholly uncultivated, farther from home than to the north er et go thinly inhabited, and recently peo- of Ireland and some of the Orkneys. - pled.” “ His armies seem not to have If this be “ running a parallel,” we
been numerous," and his battles with should have liked to see the Doctor kindred tribes “ were disorderly, and reasoning in a circle.” How, then, terminated, for the most part, by a per
does the Doctor get out of the scrape? sonal combat, or the wrestling of the With boldness and agility—“ in a ez bere two chiefs ;" yet he routed the Roman rude age and country, though the pela legions, plundered the Roman pro- events that happen be few, the undis
vince; and then, with gold galore, and sipated mind broods over them more; i hentai captive cohorts, “ the desert,” says they strike the imagination, and fire penting Fingal, “is enough for me, with all the passions in a higher degree ; and,
its woods and deer.” “ The great of consequence, become happier mateet objects pursued by heroic spirits," says rials to a poetical genius, than the es
the Doctor with much animation," same events scattered through the to receive their fame ;" that is, to be- wide circle of the more varied actions come worthy of being celebrated in of cultivated life." If Ossian's ideas the
songs of bards, and “to have their and objects be less diversified than name inscribed on the four gray Homer's, they are all, however, of the stones.” Elated by the grandeur of kind, best fitted for poetry--the brathe Ossianic songs, the Doctor goes very and generosity of heroes, the
at once to the fountain-head of unin- fondness of lovers, the attachment of espired poetry.
friends, parents, and children. There“ As Homer is, of all the great fore, though there can be “ no parallel poets, the one whose manner, and run" between the Greek and Celtic whose times, come the nearest to Bard, it turns out that Ossian was Ossian's, we are naturally led to run a more fortunately born and bred than parallel, in some instances, between Homer-and that Fingal is at least the Greek and the Celtic bard.” The as great an Epic as the Iliad. times of Homer do not seem to us to Fingal is an epic”-so say-not have borne a very close resemblance we, nor any friend of ours in Blackto those of Ossian as above described wood's Magazine, but James Macby the Professor-nor the times of pherson and Hugh Blair. Hugh Blair Trenmor, great-grandfather of Fingal, declares, “ that to refuse the title of to those of Peleus, father of Achilles. an epic poem to Fingal, because it is The good Doctor candidly admits, not, in every little particular, exactly while “ running his parallel," that conformable to the practice of Homer “ Homer lived in a country where and Virgil, were the mere squeamishisociety was much farther advanced ; ness and pedantry of criticism, Exa. he had beheld many more objects, mined even according to Aristotle's cities built and flourishing-laws in. rules, it will be found to have all the stituted ; order, discipline, and arts be- essential requisites of a true and regun.
His field of observation was gular epic.” Nor ought this to astomuch larger and more splendid, his nish us, quoth the Doctor, for Homer knowledge of course more extensive, knew no more of the laws of criticism his mind even, it shall be granted, than Ossian. Guided by nature, ho more penetrating.” Homer lived, we composed in verse a regular story, believe, some considerable time after founded on heroic actions, which all the fall of Troy. Such a city as Troy posterity admired. Aristotle, with
would have astonished Ossian not a great sagacity and penetration, traced 3 little-particularly in the Highlands. the causes of this general admiration
Nor were the Trojans any more than -deduced the rules which poets ought the Greeks " in the hunter state.” A to follow, who would wish to write few generations after the sack of Ilion, and please like Homer, and to a com“ order, discipline, and the arts,” had position formed according to such not only "begun," as the Doctor rules lie gave the name of an epic
poem. Aristotle studied nature in
be shorter as well as Homer-Homer and Ossian both write longer Epic poems ; and if the a from nature. No wonder that among thority of Aristotle be also required all the three there should be such for this, he says expressly that the agreement and uniformity.
Epic composition is indefinite as to its This is making short work of the time of duration." The action of the matter--the argument is unanswerable Iliad lasts, the Doctor says, only forty-and whoever wonders at the crea- seven days—of the Æneid a yeartion, under any circumstances, of an of Fingal-so far as we see-four days epic poem-equal in grandeur to the and a half- quite sufficient for the Iliad--can know as little of Aristotle's deliverance of such an island as Ire. rules as of the laws of human nature land from such an invader as Swaran. -and must have yet to learn the dis- Of the few days consumed in action, tinction between poetical genius and as it is called by Hugh, but which conphilosophical criticism !
sists in great part of “a wise passiveThe honest man then sets seriously ness," Fingal is not on the scene, till to work to show that the epic poem, the afternoon of the second ; and he is Fingal, is superior to the lliad-for occupied during the fifth in hunting, that in it is better preserved the unity and then in preparing to set sail for of the epic action, which of all Aris
Morvern. His intermediate time is totle's rules is the chief. “ It is a devoted less to fighting than to tell. more complete unity than what arises ing and listening to old stories. Short from relating the actions of one man, as the period is, the Bard has some which the Greek critic justly cen- difficulty in spinning it out, and the sures as imperfect—it is the unity Epic Poem finally slips out of one's of one enterprise, the deliverance of fingers like a knotless thread. The Ireland from the invasion of Swaran." action of the Iliad occupies, as the What is the wrath of Achilles- Doctor says, some forty-seven days, with all its woes—the Will of Jove- be it more or less ; but they belong to to such “a one end" as this? It a war, as it is generally understood, of sinks into absolute insignificance- some nine years. Swaran lands in Ireand we pity the poor poem for ending and from Lochlin, on the first day of with the funeral of Hector the tamer the poem, and capitulates on the fourth, of horses. Then, “ no double plot or rather is taken prisoner with the is carried on," as in the Iliad; and remains of his army, and told he may all the “parts unite into a regular be off on condition of promising “never whole”-there having been but one to come there no more;” while Fingal, Ossian, but many Homers. But not arriving on the afternoon of the second, only " is unity of subject maintained, departs on that of the fifth-his delibut that of time and place also. The verance of Ireland being but an enterAutumn is clearly pointed out as the prise undertaken on the sudden, acseason of the action, and from begin- complished with all the ease in the ing to end the scene is never shifted world, and never more thought of by from the heath of Lena along the a warrior accustomed to such ex. sea-shore.” We were not aware that ploits. In all this there is intense unity Aristotie had insisted on unity of time of action no doubt, of time and of and place as essential in the construc- place; but we doubt if Aristotle, had tion of an Epic Poem. That it was he never read the Iliad, would have in Autumn that Ireland was delivered drawn the same rules or laws for epic by Fingal from the invasion of poetry from such an epic poem as Swaran, is a fact that does not of itself Fingal. affect us with high patriotic ardour- But it is “ on the character and denor can we prefer the heath of Lena, scription of Fingal that Ossian triwhich we believe is in Ulster, as the umphs almost unrivalled; for we scene of an Epic poem- to the Troad. may boldly defy”—cries Dr Hugh “ The duration of the action in Fingal Blair—“ all antiquity to show us any is much shorter," observes the Doctor, hero equal to Fingal.” What say " than in the Iliad or the Æneid; you to Hector? Why, Hector is only and here we naturally expect him to a secondary personage in the Iliadsay, much better too-but he is too we see him only occasionally—and, deep read in Aristotle to make such a though he faithfully discharges his mistake-and exclaims triumphantly, duty to his country, his friends, and
his family—the Doctor don't deny sense as it now appears to us, be true ? that-yet “ he is tinctured with a Hugh Blair is a far higher name than degree of the same savage ferocity Christopher North—and his Sermons, which prevails among all the Homeric though not proper reading for Sunheroes," and shockingly insults the day, are not to be sneezed at, though fallen Patrocles. Whereas, in the they may be blamelessly yawned over; character of Fingal, “ concur almost but his Lectures, they are indeed words all the qualities that can ennoble hu- of power to charm to the couch of the man nature ; that can either make us
wakeful, “ tired nature's sweet restoadmire the hero or love the man." rer, balmy sleep.” What say you to Achilles ? Why, Homer, in Doctor Blair's opinion, the Doctor admits that 6 Homer's and in ours, " is a more cheerful art in magnifying the character of and sprightly poet than Ossian. You Achilles has been universally ad- discern in him all the Greek vivacity, mired. But Ossian certainly shows whereas Ossian uniformly maintains no less art in aggrandising Fingal.” the gravity and solemnity of a Celtic Fingal, in short, is “ a perfect cha- hero.” Besides, Homer lived much racter” – Achilles was not--the slave in society-Ossian, in his old age at of passion. But " to draw a perfect least, chiefly in solitude ; and the character, in such a manner as to ren- solitary wild state is always a serious der it distinct and affecting to the one.” An American savage " is nomind - there,” says the Doctor, ted for his gravity and taciturnity;" " though it is not commonly attended and “ somewhat of this taciturnity,” to,"_there lies the rub. Virgil has the Doctor thinks, may
be also refailed in the attempt-witness his per- marked in Ossian.” He is “ frugal fecthero, Æneas "an unanimated, in- of his words.” Not more than twenty sipid personage” (so thought not Dido) thousand lines of his poetry have been
-"whom we may pretend to admire, handed down by tradition through but whom no one can heartily love. some fourteen centuries or so he is What Virgil failed in, Ossian, to our so very laconic. Homer is more exastonishment, has successfully execu- tended in his descriptions-and," with ted.” And how? Pray guess. “ By the Greek vivacity, had also some porrepresenting him as an old man!" In tion of the Greek loquacity." His this lies the art and felicity of the speeches are highly characteristicCeltic Bard. For mark" youth and but not a few of them are tedious, old age are the two states of human or trifling, or unseasonable ; whereas life capable of being placed in the • Ossian is concise and rapid in his most picturesque lights. Middle age speeches as he is in every other thing." is more general and vague, and has In sublimity they are “ much of a fewer circumstances peculiar to the muchness"--Homer's sublimity being idea of it.” Then Fingal is surrounded “ accompanied with more impetuosity with his family-he instructs his chil- and fire, Ossian's with more of a sodren in the principles of religion--he lemn and awful grandeur." Yet, is narrative of his past exploits-he is strange to say, every image of Ossian frequently disposed to moralize on is a “ blaze of lightning which flashes human vanity and the prospect of and vanishes.”
" WITH REGARD TO death—he is venerable with the gray DIGNITY OF SENTIMENT, THE PRE-EMI
All this gives him-as a perfect character-an immense ad- Ossian." And Dr Hugh Blair, one vantage, in point of interest, over of the Ministers of the High Church, Æneas, in whom—though a perfect while he laments that there is no character too_“ middle age was more recognition of a Supreme Being in general and vague,” and therefore less Ossian's poetry-- no religion-yet impressive. In the natural represen- maintains that it is a surprising cir. tation of human character, therefore, cumstance, that in point of humanity, thongh “ there can be no doubt of magnanimity, virtuous feelings of every Homer's excelling all the heroic poets kind, our rude Celtic Bard should be who have ever wrote"-so saith Hugo, distinguished to such a degree, that not not quite consistently with himself only the heroes of Homer, but even - Ossian will be found to be equal at those of the polite and refined Virgil, least, if not superior, to Virgil." are left far behind by those of Ossian, What if all this, prodigious non
Homer's and Ossian's ideas concern.
hairs of age.
NENCE MUST CLEARLY BE
ing ghosts were, he says, of the same compatible with “ a dark wound in nature, but that we cannot but observe the breast.” “ Dim and in tears he " that Ossian's are drawn with much stood,” is what it ought to bestronger and livelier colours. Ossian Moestissimus Hector." But how describes ghosts with all the particu- could there be tears in “ eyes
like the larity of one who had seen and con- decaying flames ?" Yet, after all, it versed with them, and whose imagina- may be-We hope it is—a ghostlike tion was full of the impression they apparition ; but we cannot for our had left upon it-simulacra modis pal. lives agree with the Doctor when lenti miris,” The glost of Patroclus commenting on it, that " most poets appearing to Achilles, resembles, he would have contented themselves thinks, one of Ossian's ; of Hector's with telling us that he resembled, in appearing to Æneas, he speaks not. every particular, the living Crugal; Ossian's are drawn in stronger and that his form and dress were the same, livelier colours! Yet he mentions the only his face more pale and sad; and visit of Ulysses to Hlades--while of the that he bore the mark of the wound Sixth Book of the Eneid he is mute. by which he fell.” Neither can we Shakspeare's ghosts — even that of approve of the purpose of the ghost's Hamlet's Father--harrow not up the visit to Connal—to prophesy the desoul more than Ossian's. “ Crue feat of his friends, and to warn him gal's Ghost, in particular, may vie min vain--from the field of death, with any appearance of the kind, de. which he triumphantly survives. His scribed by any epic or tragic poet." words were futile--but a ghost's Here he comes.
16 A dark red siream should be fatal, or strong to save. of fire comes down from the bill. Cru. Dr Blair, finding nothing in Homer gal sat upon the beam ; he that lately or Virgil to be compared with Ossian fell by the hand of Swaran, striving -in the article of ghosts—refers to in the battle of heroes. His face is Scripture.
66 Trenmor came from like the beam of the setting moon. his hill at the voice of his mighty His robes are of the clouds of the hill.
A cloud, like the steed of the His eyes are like two decaying flames. stranger, supported his airy limbs. Dark is the wound of his breast. Din, His robe is of the mist of Lano, that and in tears, he stood, and stretched brings death to the people. His his pale hand over the hero. Faintly sword is a green meteor half-extinhe raised his feeble voice, like the gale guished. His face is without form of the reedy Lego. My ghost, o and dark. He sighed thrice over the Connal! is on my native hills, but my hero ; and thrice the winds of the corse is on the sands of Ulla. Thou night roared anew. Many were his shalt never talk with Crugal, or find words to Oscar. He slowly vanished his lone steps on the heatli. I am light like a mist that melts on the sunny as the blast of Cromla, and I move like hill.” This we pronounce bad. At the shadow of mist. Connal, son of dead of night, gazing on a ghost, no Colgar, I see the dark cloud of death: great poet could think of day. “ Like it hovers over the plains of Lena. a mist that melts on the sunny hill" is The sons of Green Erin shall fall. an image fatal to the superstitious pasRemove from the field of ghosts. Like sion-at that moment there was no sun the darkened moon, he retired in the in nature. Only listen, then, to the Docmidst of the whistling blast.” Is this tor in Divinity—“ It brings to mind a good ghost? Is he awful? We used that noble description in the Book of to think so of old, walking all alone Job: 'In thoughts from the visions of by ourselves in stormy moonlight the night, when deep sleep falleth on midnights among the mountains. men, fear came upon me, and tremWould our cry now be, on sight of bling, which made all my bones to such an apparition, “ Angels and mi- shake. Then a spirit passed benisters of grace defend us?" We fear fore my face ; the hair of my flesh not. A ghost-with a face like the stood up. It stood still; but I could beam of the setting moon—with robes not discern the forn thereof: an like the cloud of the hill—and eyes like image was before mine eyes; there the decaying flames-sitting on a dark was silence, and I heard a voice, red stream of fire coming down from Shall mortal man be more just than the hill, is an unimaginable spectre God?'" What were the Presbyand such meteorous images are in, tery about, not to call the Doctor
over the coals for such profane com- turning with the tokens of victory on parison
his garments -and the critic says here, But HAVE YOU READ OSSIAN? No! 66 This that is glorious in his appaThen read now_COMALA, the Maid rel, is converted, in Fingal's triumphof the Pleasant Brow-a dramatic ant return, into him that is bright in poem, which we used, long before the vale ; and the greatness of his thou wast born, to think very beau- strength, is disguised by the strength of tiful, and for many years had almost rivers, when their crowded waters the whole of it by heart. That you glitter to the moon." Again-the may understand it throughout, from Bards, at the close, sing of Comala, beginning to end, we from the argu- o the maids shall seek thee on the heath, ment shall tell you the story, “ as it but they shall not find thee”—and this has been handed down" -We shall thought, so natural to the occasion, is suppose--by tradition. Comala, the said to be stolen and disguised from daughter of Sarno, King of Inistore, Proverbs i. 28, “ Then shall they call having fallen in love with Fingal on upon me, but I will not answer; they his return from Lochlin, followed him shall seek me early, but they shall not to Moryern in disguise of a youth. She find me.” The words are the same was soon discovered by Hidallan, a but how different the thoughts !-50 rejected suitor ; but Fingal, won by different that they can hardly be her beauty and romantic passion, had brought together, in order to be likenresolved to wed her; meanwhile, ha- ed, without impiety! ving been called away to repel an expedition of Caracul, he left her on a hill in * Desagrena. The chase is over. No sight of the armies, with a promise, if noise on Ardven but the torrent's roar! he survived, to return to her at night. Daughter of Morni, come from Crona's
banks. Hidallan, in revenge, tells her that
Lay down the bow and take the theking has fallen-Fingal appears
harp. Let the night come on with songs; -and she dies of passion. Melil.
let our joy be great on Ardven.
“ Melilcoma. Night comes apace, thou coma, the Soft-rolling eye-and Der.
blue-eyed maid! gray night grows dim sagrena, the Brightness of the sun.
along the plain. I saw a deer at Crona's bean-have been chasing the deer,
stream; a mossy bank he seemed through and at nightfall come to Comala in
the gloom, but soon he bounded away. A her solitude, near the banks of Carun
meteor played round his branching horns ! -the winding river. Laing says the the awful faces of other times looked from poem is an ambitious imitation of the
the clouds of Crona. Song of Solomon, with a regular
Dersagrena. These are the signs o chorus of bards from Caracţacus.
Fingal's death. The king of shields is But Laing, while he acknowledges fallen ! and Caracul prevails
. Rise, Cothat Macpherson's genius was equal mala, from tby rock; daughter of Sarno, to that of any poet of his day, ex. rise in tears! the youth of thy love is low; cept perhaps Gray, not only denies his ghost is on our hills. the originality of the conception of 6 Melilcoina. There Comala sits for. every one of his compositions, but lorn! two gray dogs near shake their seeks, often on the most frivolous pre- rough ears, and catch the flying breeze.
Her red cheek rests upon her arm, the tences, to strip him of all his diction,
She turns and leave his caput mortuum as bald mountain wind is in her hair. as a block. Thus, Melilcoma says to
her blue eyes towards the fields of his
Where art thou, O Fingal ? Comala in the evening dusk, as she promise. dimly sees a form like Fingal's,
The night is gathering around.
" Comala. O Carun of the streams! " What sound is that in Ardven?
why do I behold thy waters rolling in Who is that light in the vale ?' Who
blood ? Has the noise of the battle been comes like the strength of rivers,
heard; and sleeps the King of Morven ? when their crowded waters glitter to
Rise, moon, thou daughter of the sky! the moon ?” And Malcolm, the In
look from between thy clouds; rise, that veterate, quotes in a note the sublime
may behold the gleam of his steel on the verse of Isaiah-" Who is this that field of his promise. Or rather let the cometh from Edom,with dyed garments meteor, that lights our fathers through the from Bozrah; this that is glorious night, come with its red beam, to show in his apparel, travelling in the great- me the way to my fallen hero. Who will ness of his strength ?” This means, defend me from sorrow? Who from the as explained by the commentators, re- love of Hidallan ? Long shall Comala,
NO, CCLXXXIX, VOL. XLVI,