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ing ghosts were, he says, of the same nature, but that we cannot but observe "that Ossian's are drawn with much stronger and livelier colours. Ossian describes ghosts with all the particularity of one who had seen and conversed with them, and whose imagination was full of the impression they had left upon it—simulacra modis pallentia miris,” The ghost of Patroclus appearing to Achilles, resembles, he thinks, one of Ossian's; of Hector's appearing to Æneas, he speaks not. Ossian's are drawn in stronger and livelier colours! Yet he mentions the visit of Ulysses to Hades-while of the Sixth Book of the Eneid he is mute. Shakspeare's ghosts-even that of Hamlet's Father-harrow not up the soul more than Ossian's. "Crugal's Ghost, in particular, may vie with any appearance of the kind, described by any epic or tragic poet." Here he comes. "A dark red stream of fire comes down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam; he that lately fell by the hand of Swaran, striving in the battle of heroes. His face is like the beam of the setting moon. His robes are of the clouds of the hill. His eyes are like two decaying flames. Dark is the wound of his breast. Dim, and in tears, he stood, and stretched his pale hand over the hero. Faintly he raised his feeble voice, like the gale of the reedy Lego. My ghost, O Connal! is on my native hills, but my corse is on the sands of Ulla. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, or find his lone steps on the heath. I am light as the blast of Cromla, and I move like the shadow of mist. Connal, son of Colgar, I see the dark cloud of death: it hovers over the plains of Lena. The sons of Green Erin shall fall. Remove from the field of ghosts.' Like the darkened moon, he retired in the midst of the whistling blast." Is this a good ghost? Is he awful? We used to think so of old, walking all alone by ourselves in stormy moonlight midnights among the mountains. Would our cry now be, on sight of such an apparition, "Angels and ministers of grace defend us?" We fear not. A ghost-with a face like the beam of the setting moon-with robes like the cloud of the hill-and eyes like the decaying flames-sitting on a dark red stream of fire coming down from the hill, is an unimaginable spectre —and such meteorous images are in
compatible with "a dark wound in the breast." "Dim and in tears he stood," is what it ought to be"Mæstissimus Hector." But how could there be tears in "eyes like the decaying flames?" Yet, after all, it may be-we hope it is a ghostlike apparition; but we cannot for our lives agree with the Doctor when commenting on it, that "most poets would have contented themselves with telling us that he resembled, in every particular, the living Crugal; that his form and dress were the same, only his face more pale and sad; and that he bore the mark of the wound by which he fell." Neither can we approve of the purpose of the ghost's visit to Connal-to prophesy the defeat of his friends, and to warn him
in vain-from the field of death, which he triumphantly survives. His words were futile-but a ghost's should be fatal, or strong to save.
Dr Blair, finding nothing in Homer or Virgil to be compared with Ossian in the article of ghosts-refers to Scripture. "Trenmor came from his hill at the voice of his mighty son. A cloud, like the steed of the stranger, supported his airy limbs. His robe is of the mist of Lano, that brings death to the people. His sword is a green meteor half-extinguished. His face is without form and dark. He sighed thrice over the hero; and thrice the winds of the night roared anew. Many were his words to Oscar. He slowly vanished like a mist that melts on the sunny hill." This we pronounce bad. dead of night, gazing on a ghost, no great poet could think of day. "Like a mist that melts on the sunny hill" is an image fatal to the superstitious passion-at that moment there was no sun in nature. Only listen, then, to the Doctor in Divinity-" It brings to mind that noble description in the Book of Job: In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men, fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still; but I could not discern the form thereof: an image was before mine eyes; there was silence, and I heard a voice, Shall mortal man be more just than God?'" What were the Presbytery about, not to call the Doctor
over the coals for such profane comparison?
But HAVE YOU READ OSSIAN? No! Then read now- -COMALA, the Maid of the Pleasant Brow-a dramatic poem-which we used, long before thou wast born, to think very beautiful, and for many years had almost the whole of it by heart. That you may understand it throughout, from beginning to end, we from the argument shall tell you the story, as it has been handed down"-we shall suppose-by tradition. Comala, the daughter of Sarno, King of Inistore, having fallen in love with Fingal on his return from Lochlin, followed him to Morvern in disguise of a youth. She was soon discovered by Hidallan, a rejected suitor; but Fingal, won by her beauty and romantic passion, had resolved to wed her; meanwhile, ha ving been called away to repel an expedition of Caracul, he left her on a hill in sight of the armies, with a promise, if he survived, to return to her at night. Hidallan, in revenge, tells her that theking has fallen-Fingal appears -and she dies of passion. Melilcoma, the Soft-rolling eye-and Der. sagrena, the Brightness of the sunbeam-have been chasing the deer, and at nightfall come to Comala in her solitude, near the banks of Carun -the winding river. Laing says the poem is an ambitious imitation of the Song of Solomon, with a regular chorus of bards from Caractacus. But Laing, while he acknowledges that Macpherson's genius was equal to that of any poet of his day, ex. cept perhaps Gray, not only denies the originality of the conception of every one of his compositions, but seeks, often on the most frivolous pretences, to strip him of all his diction, and leave his "caput mortuum as bald as a block. Thus, Melilcoma says to Comala in the evening dusk, as she dimly sees a form like Fingal's, "What sound is that in Ardven? Who is that light in the vale? Who comes like the strength of rivers, when their crowded waters glitter to the moon?" And Malcolm, the Inveterate, quotes in a note the sublime verse of Isaiah-" Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah; this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength?" This means, as explained by the commentators, re
NO. CCLXXXIX, VOL. XLVI.
turning with the tokens of victory on his garments-and the critic says here, "This that is glorious in his apparel, is converted, in Fingal's triumphant return, into him that is bright in the vale; and the greatness of his strength, is disguised by the strength of rivers, when their crowded waters glitter to the moon. Again-the Bards, at the close, sing of Comala, "the maids shall seek thee on the heath, but they shall not find thee"-and this thought, so natural to the occasion, is said to be stolen and disguised from Proverbs i. 28, " Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." The words are the samebut how different the thoughts!-so different that they can hardly be brought together, in order to be likened, without impiety!
"Dersagrena. The chase is over. No noise on Ardven but the torrent's roar! Daughter of Morni, come from Crona's banks. Lay down the bow and take the harp. Let the night come on with songs; let our joy be great on Ardven.
"Melilcoma. Night comes apace, thou blue-eyed maid! gray night grows dim along the plain. I saw a deer at Crona's stream; a mossy bank he seemed through the gloom, but soon he bounded away. A meteor played round his branching horns! the awful faces of other times looked from the clouds of Crona.
"Dersagrena. These are the signs o Fingal's death. The king of shields is fallen! and Caracul prevails. Rise, Comala, from thy rock; daughter of Sarno, rise in tears! the youth of thy love is low; his ghost is on our hills.
"Melilcoma. There Comala sits forlorn! two gray dogs near shake their rough ears, and catch the flying breeze. Her red cheek rests upon her arm, the She turns mountain wind is in her hair. her blue eyes towards the fields of his Where art thou, O Fingal ? promise. The night is gathering around.
"Comala. O Carun of the streams! why do I behold thy waters rolling in blood? Has the noise of the battle been. heard; and sleeps the King of Morven ? Rise, moon, thou daughter of the sky! look from between thy clouds; rise, that I may behold the gleam of his steel on the field of his promise. Or rather let the meteor, that lights our fathers through the night, come with its red beam, to show Who will me the way to my fallen hero. defend me from sorrow? Who from the love of Hidallan? Long shall Comala 2 Y
Thou sawest him in the blood of his youth; but thou didst not tell Comala.
look before she can behold Fingal in the midst of his host; bright as the coming forth of the morning in the cloud of an early shower.
"Hidallan. Dwell, thou mist of gloomy Crona, dwell on the path of the king! Hide his steps from mine eyes, let me remember my friend no more. The bands of battle are scattered, no crowding tread is round the noise of his steel. O Carun! roll thy streams of blood, the chief of the people is low.
"Comala. Who fell on Carun's sounding banks, son of the cloudy night? Was he white as the snow of Ardven? Blooming as the bow of the shower? Was his hair like the mist of the hill, soft and curling in the day of the sun? Was he like the thunder of heaven in battle? Fleet as the roe of the desert?
"Hidallan. O that I might behold his love, fair-leaning from her rock! Her red eye dim in tears, her blushing cheek half hid in her locks? Blow, O gentle breeze! lift thou the heavy locks of the maid, that I may behold her white arm, her lovely cheek in her grief.
"Comala. And is the son of Comhal fallen, chief of the mournful tale! thunder rolls on the hill! The lightning flies on wings of fire! They frighten not Comala; for Fingal is low. Say, chief of the mournful tale, fell the breaker of the shields?
"Hidallan. The nations are scattered on their hills! they shall hear the voice of the king no more.
"Comala. Confusion pursue thee over thy plains! Ruin overtake thee, thou king of the world! Few be thy steps to thy grave; and let one virgin mourn thee! Let her be like Comala, tearful in the days of her youth! Why hast thou told me, Hidallan, that my hero fell? I might have hoped a little while his return; I might have thought I saw him on the distant rock; a tree might have deceived me with his appearance; the wind of the hill might have been the sound of his horn in mine ear. O that I were on the banks of Carun! that my tears might be warm on his cheek!
"Hidallan. He lies not on the banks of Carun on Ardven heroes raise his tomb. Look on them, O moon! from thy clouds; be thy beam bright on his breast, that Comala may behold him in the light of his armour.
"Comala. Stop, ye sons of the grave, till I behold my love! He left me at the chase alone. I knew not that he went to war. He said he would return with the night; the king of Morven is returned! Why didst thou not tell me that he would fall, O trembling dweller of the rock?
"Melilcoma. What sound is that on Ardven? Who is that bright in the vale? Who comes like the strength of rivers, when their crowded waters glitter to the moon?
"Comala. Who is it but the foe of Comala, the son of the king of the world! Ghost of Fingal! do thou, from thy cloud, direct Comala's bow. Let him fall like the hart of the desert. It is Fingal in the crowd of his ghosts. Why dost thou come, my love, to frighten and please my soul ! Fingal. Raise, ye bards. the song; raise the wars of the streamy Carun! Caracul has fled from our arms along the fields of his pride. He sets far distant like a meteor, that encloses a spirit of night, when the winds drive it over the heath, and the dark woods are gleaming around. I heard a voice, or was it the breeze of my hills? Is it the huntress of Ardven, the white-handed daughter of Sarno? Look from thy rocks, my love; let me hear the voice of Comala!
"Comala. Take me to the cave of thy rest, O lovely son of death!
66 Fingal. Come to the cave of my rest. The storm is past, the sun is on our fields. Come to the cave of my rest, huntress of echoing Ardven!
"Comala. He is returned with his fame! I feel the right hand of his wars! But I must rest beside the rock till my soul returns from my fear! O let the harp be near! raise the song, ye daughters of Morni.
Fingal. Raise, ye sons of song, the wars of the streamy Carun; that my whitehanded maid may rejoice: while I behold the feast of my love.
"Bards. Roll, streamy Carun, roll in joy, the sons of battle fled! The steed is not seen on our fields; the wings of their pride spread on other lands. The sun will now rise in peace, and the shadows descend in joy. The voice of the chase will be heard; the shields hang in the hall. Our delight will be in the war of the ocean, our hands shall grow red in the blood of Lochlin. Roll, streamy Carun, roll in joy, the sons of battle fled!
"Melilcoma. Descend, ye light mists from high! Ye moonbeams, lift her soul! Pale lies the maid at the rock! Comala is no more!
"Fingal. Is the daughter of Sarno dead; the white-bosomed maid of my love? Meet me, Comala, on my heaths, when I sit alone at the streams of my hills.
Fingal. Youth of the gloomy brow! no more shalt thou feast in my halls. Thou shalt not pursue my chase, my foes shall Lead me to the not fall by thy sword. place of her rest, that I may behold her beauty. Pale she lies at the rock, the cold
The night before "he bade his sails to rise," was "the night of Selma's joy;" and there is presented before the King the "dramatic interlude" of Shilric and Vinvela, which forms the opening of Carric-Thura, a poem. It is Laing who calls it a "dramatic interlude; but Macpherson says, "one should think that the parts of Shilric and Vinvela were represented
winds lift her hair. Her bowstring sounds by Cronnan and Minona, whose very
in the blast, her arrow was broken in her fall. Raise the praise of the daughter of Sarno! give her name to the winds of
"Bards. See! meteors gleam around the maid! See! moonbeams lift her soul! Around her, from their clouds, bend the awful faces of her fathers; Sarno of the gloomy brow! the red-rolling eyes of Fidallan! When shall thy white hand arise? When shall thy voice be heard on our rocks? The maids shall seek thee on the heath, but they shall not find thee. Thou shalt come, at times, to their dreams, to settle peace in their soul. Thy voice shall remain in their ears, they shall think with joy on the dreams of their rest. Meteors gleam around the maid, and moonbeams lift her soul!"
Macpherson tells us that the variety of the measure shows that this poem was originally set to music, and perhaps personated before the chiefs upon solemn occasions. The Inveterate exclaims, "When we contemplate such outrageous fictions, as a dramatic poem upon the subject of Caracalla's expedition against the Caledonians, a Celtic drama, performed of old (in the third century) in the Highlands of Scotland, with a Greek chorus, as revived by Mason, we are at a loss whether to admire the effrontery of the translator, or the credulous simplicity of the public." But the public has all her life long been a credulous and simple soul, as well as a pensive; and if the plant you show her be delicate and graceful, she will believe it grew wherever you choose to tell her; and the poorer the soil, and colder the climate, with tenderer kisses will she touch the unbroken dewdrops on the wondrous flowers.
Fingal has returned to Selma, from an expedition into the Lower Province, and resolves to visit Cathulla, King of Inistore, and brother to Comala.
The deliverance of Carricthura, the palace of Cathulla, is the subject of the poem of that name.
names denote that they were singers
But we feel the force of Laing's sarcasm; and, waving all question as to the improbabilities of the case, we content ourselves with asking, is “the dramatic interlude of Shilric and Vinvela" true to nature? You shall judge.
"Hast thou left thy blue course in heaven, golden-haired son of the sky! The west has opened its gates; the bed of thy repose is there. The waves come to behold thy beauty. They lift their trembling heads. They see thee lovely in thy sleep; they shrink away with fear. Rest, in thy shadowy cave, O sun! let thy return be in joy.
But let a thousand lights arise to the sound of the harps of Selma: let the beam spread in the hall, the king of shells is returned! The strife of Carun is past, like Raise the song, sounds that are no more. O bards! the king is returned with his fame!
"Such were the words of Ullin, when Fingal returned from war: when he returned in the fair blushing of youth, with all his heavy locks. His blue arms were on the
hero; like a light cloud on the sun, when he moves in his robes of mist, and shows but half his beams. His heroes followed the king the feast of shells is spread. Fingal turns to his bards, and bids the song to rise. "Voices of echoing Cona! he said: O bards of other times! Ye, on whose souls the blue hosts of our fathers rise! strike the harp in my hall; and let me hear the song. Pleasant is the joy of grief; it is like the shower of spring, when it softens the branch of the oak, and the young leaf rears its green head. Sing on, O bards! to-morrow we lift the sail. My blue course is through the ocean, to Carric-thura's walls; the mossy walls of Sarno, where Comala dwelt. There the noble Cathulla spreads the feast of shells. The boars of his woods are many; the sound of the chase shall arise!
"Cronnan, son of the song! said Ullin; Minona, graceful at the harp! raise the tale of Shilric, to please the king of Mor
Let Vinvela come in her beauty, like the showery bow, when it shows its lovely head on the lake, and the setting sun is bright. She comes, O Fingal! her voice is soft, but sad.
"Vinvla. My love is a son of the hill. He pursues the flying deer. His gray dogs are panting around him; his bowstring sounds in the wind. Dost thou rest by the fount of the rock, or by the noise of the mountain stream? The rushes are nodding to the wind, the mist flies over the hill. I will approach my love unseen; I will behold him from the rock. Lovely I saw thee first by the aged oak of Branno ; thou wert returning tall from the chase; the fairest among thy friends
"Shilric. What voice is that I hear? that voice like the summer wind! I sit not by the nodding rushes; I hear not the fount of the rock. Afar, Vinvela, afar, I go to the wars of Fingal. My dogs attend me no more. No more I tread the hill. No more from on high I see thee, fair moving by the stream of the plain; bright as the bow of heaven; as the moon on the west
"Vinvela. Then thou art gone, O Shilric! I am alone on the hill! The deer are seen on the brow: void of fear they graze along. No more they dread the wind; no more the rustling tree. The hunter is far removed; he is in the field of graves. Strangers! sons of the waves! spare my lovely Shilric!
"Shilric. If fall I must in the field, raise high my grave, Vinvela. Gray stones, and heaped-up earth, shall mark me to future times. When the hunter shall sit by the mound, and produce his food at noon,
Some warrior rests here,' he will say; and my fame shall live in his praise. Re
member me, Vinvela, when low on earth I lie.
"Vinvela. Yes! I will remember thee! alas! my Shilric will fall! What shall I do, my love, when thou art for ever gone? Through these hills I will go at noon: I will go through the silent heath. There
I will see the place of thy rest, returning from the chase. Alas! my Shilric will fall; but I will remember Shilric.
"And I remember the chief, said the king of woody Morven: he consumed the battle in his rage. But now my eyes behold him not. I met him, one day, on the hill; his cheek was pale; his brow was dark. The sigh was frequent in his breast: his steps were towards the desert. But now he is not in the crowd of my chiefs, when the sounds of my shields arise. Dwells he in the narrow house, the chief of high Carmora ?"
You pronounce "the Dramatic Interlude beautiful? But it closes without a catastrophe; and Cronnan, laying aside the character he had assumed, sings an elegiac strain.
"Cronnan! said Ullin of other times, raise the song of Shilric! when he returned to his hills, and Vinvela was no more. He leaned on her gray mossy stone; he thought Vinvela lived. He saw her fair moving on the plain; but the bright form lasted not the sunbeam fled from the field, and she was seen no more. Hear the song of Shilric; it is soft, but sad!
"I sit by the mossy fountain: on the top of the hill of winds. One tree is rustling above me. Dark waves roll over the heath. The lake is troubled below. The deer descend from the hill. No hunter at a distance is seen. It is mid-day: but all is silent. Sad are my thoughts alone. Didst thou but appear, O my love! a wanderer on the heath! thy hair floating on the wind behind thee; thy bosom heaving on the sight; thine eyes full of tears for thy friends, whom the mists of the hill had concealed! Thee I would comfort, my love, and bring thee to thy father's house!
"But is it she that there appears, like a beam of light on the heath? bright as the moon in autumn, as the sun in a summerstorm, comest thou, O maid, over rocks, over mountains, to me? She speaks; but how weak her voice! like the breeze in the reeds of the lake.'
"Returnest thou safe from the war? Where are thy friends, my love? I heard of thy death on the hill; I heard and mourned thee, Shilric! Yes, my fair, I return: but I alone of my race. Thou shalt see them no more; their graves I 'raised on the plain. But why art thou on the desert hill? Why on the heath alone?