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for Everallin is represented as despising the mere sons of the sword, in comparison with her graceful bard, and her father is even described as telling him, “ happy is the maid that waits on thee! Though twelve daughters of beauty were mine, thine were the choice, thou son of fame !" It may also be observed, that the sightless and dependant age of this first and greatest of the northern minstrels, has never been painted in more forcible colours, than what the closing sentence of the following quotation will be found to exhibit.

" Who comes with her songs from the hill, like the bow of the showery Lena? It is the maid of the voice of love! The white armed daughter of Toscar! Often hast thou heard my song; often given the tear of beauty. Dost thou come to the wars of thy people ? to hear the actions of Oscar ? When shall I cease to mourn, by the streams of resounding Cona? My years have passed away in battle, my age is darkened with grief!

“ Daughter of the hand of snow! I was not so mournful and blind, I was not so dark and forlorn, when Everallin loved me? Everallin, with

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the dark brown hair, the white bosomed daughter of Branno! A thousand heroes sought the maid; she refused her love to a thousand. The sons of the sword were despised: for graceful in her eyes was Ossian !

“ Whoever would have told me, lovely maid, when then I strove in battle, that blind, forsaken, and forlorn, I now should pass the night; firm ought his mail to have been; unmatched his arm in war !''*

But of all the passages in the works of Ossian in which his blindness is either directly or indirectly alluded to, there is no one, in point of sublimity and beauty, which can be brought into competition with that which contains his celebrated address to the sun.

Of the man who, after reading this address, shall yet profess his inability to discover the superior merits of Ossian, it can only be said, that he has furnished ample proof of a most deplorable deficiency both of head and heart, of an insensibility, indeed, to some of the best and noblest feelings of our common nature. The introduction of his misfortune on this occasion, was, as

* Ossian, vol. i, pp. 283-4-5.


in Milton's inimitable address to light, a result naturally flowing from the subject, and, like the complaint of our immortal countryman, it has given a mournful and never-dying interest

a theme of surpassing awfulness and grandeur.

6 O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting light? thou comest forth, in thy awful beauty; the stars hide thenselves in the sky; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave. But thou thyself movest alone; who can be a companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven; but thou art for ever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course. When the world is dark with tempests, when thunder rolls, and lightning flies, thou lookest, in thy beauty, from the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian, thou lookest in vain; for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair

flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art,

perhaps, like me, for a season ; thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds, careless of the voice of the morning. Exult then, O sun ! in the strength of thy youth ! Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon, when it shines

through broken clouds, and the mist is on the · hills: the blast of the north is on the plain, the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey."*

From the quotations which have now been given, as allusive to the blindness of Ossian, and to his feelings consequent on this misfortune, we are able to form a pretty accurate idea of the person and character of the poet. He comes before us in a manner much more full and distinct, than does the immortal father of the Grecian epic, and accompanied, too, by circumstances which give a deeper tinge of pathos to his story. For he is not only blind, and the greatest of the bards of his country, as was Homer, but he is, also, the last of a race of unrivalled warriors, and the only surviving offspring of their most renowned chieftain; a combination of circumstances which has added

* Ossian, vol. i. pp. 95, 96.


to the mention of Ossian among the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, epithets characteristic of his fate, and almost inseparable from his

Thus, Ossian dall, Ossian the blind, observes Sir John Sinclair, is a person as well known in those districts, as Sampson the strong, or Solomon the wise; and Ossian an deigh nam Fiann, Ossian, the last of the Fingalians, is proverbial, to signify a man who has had the misfortune to survive his kindred.*

We consequently find, in Ossian, the result of a deeper and more varied pressure of calamity than could possibly have occurred to Homer, occupying, as he did, a much humbler station in society; for the poet of the Highlands mourned not merely for his own personal privations, but for the extinction of his royal house, and the comparative degeneracy of his countrymen; he felt not only as a bard, but as a warrior and legislator.

Under these circumstances, therefore, independent of others which might be mentioned as. springing from the different aspect of climate,

Dissertation on the authenticity of the poems of Ossian

p. 32.

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