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Sheltoina the my breat thou hacaut his
sword :-he fell at Branno's Stream.” He tells her, however, that high on Cromla he will raise his tomb; and bids her fix her love on him, whose arm is strong as a storm. This circumstance of Duchomar's promising ro raise the tomb of his murdered rival, is well calculated to footh the grief and resentment of Morna; such an act being represented, through the whole Poem, as one of the greatest marks of respeã that can be shewn to the memory of the deceased.
“ And is the son of Torman fallen? said the maid of the tearful eye. Is he fallen on his echoing hill, the youth with the breast of snow ? He that was first in the chase, the foe of the strangers of the ocean ?---Duchomar, thou art dark indeed, and cruel is thy arm to Morna. But give me that sword, my foe; I love the blood of Cathbat.”---He gave the Sword to her tears; but the pierced his manly breast. He fell, like the bank of a mountain stream ; stretched out his arm and said, Daughter of Cormac-cairbar, thou hast Nain Duchomar; the sword is cold in my breast: Morna, I feel it cold. Give me to Moina the maid ; Duchoinar was the dream of her night. She will raise my tomb, and the hunter shail see it and praise me. But draw the sword from my breast, Morna; the steel is cold. She came, in all her tears; fhe came, and drew it from his breast. He pierced her white side with steel, and spread her fair locks on the ground. Her bursting blood sounds from her side, and her white arm is stained with red. Rolling in death the lay, and Tura’s cave answer'd to her fighs.”
The first thought, which would naturally be suggested to a man, who had killed a rival preferred to himself, would 'certainly relate to the manner in which he might reconcile that action to the object of his love; for which reason, he would not abruptly tell her that he had murdered him, and directly follicit her love. The natural way would have been to introduce the act with every circumstance that might soften and extenuate its guilt, imputing the rashness of the deed to the irresistible impulse of his passion for her, and insinuating that so ardent an affection deserved a reciprocal return; and that beauty delighted in rewarding the brave. After this he might, with propriety, have mentioned the raising the tomb of the deceased, as a proof that no malice or resentment against Cathbat entered into the cause of his death. Such an apology had not only been very natural in itself, but would have as naturally suggested to Morna the means of disguising ber design under a plausible pretext. She might have hence
seemed to acquiesce in his sentiments, respecting the reward of fuperior valour; and, affecting to renounce her passion for Cathbat, have asked, with propriety enough, to see that sword which slew the man, whom the had before thought invincible. But as the passage is here circumstanced, it was the most unnatural of all methods of seduction, after calling Duchomar her foe, to request him to give her his sword, because it was stained with the blood of her lover ; a cause, for which she must naturally have detelted its fight. The weakeft of men, therefore, could not have been induced to part with his sword on so groundless a pretext. But, by Morna's proceeding in the manner just mentioned, that eagerness in lo. vers, to believe every thing which tends to put them in porsession of their wishes, had been cajolled in Duchomar, and would have afforded a probable cause for complying with her request; when, taking it in her hand, she might have plunged it in his breast, breaking out at the same time into foine expression of vindi&tive joy. In like manner Duchomar's contrivance to draw Morna near him, in order to avenge himself, is a very poor one indeed. His defiring her to draw the cold sword from his breast, is a plea inadequate to the occasion. His pretext to deceive her should have been calculated for that recoil of the soul, which generally follows the commission of such acts of horror. Had he feigned a joy in dying by the hand of her he loved, since he could not possess her living, and implored one last embrace, which the chastest maid might give in pity, though not in love, this might naturally have induced her to approach him. This story, therefore, improbable in its circumstances, is yet more imperfect in the manner of its narration. It is, indeed, in this instance, as throughout the whole Poem; though the objects of perception are frequently embellished with poetic description, yet the Poet appears to have understood little of the human mind, and of the application of its various faculties in the conduct of mankind, in order to give cause for, and verifimilitude to, the actions he describes.
The above story being finished, Cuchullin bids his heroes gather together their tribes; but the poet does not draw them up in any order of battle, place their leaders at their head, or characterize them by different corporeal powers or mental dispositions. All is general and indiftinct. Very differently has Homer inade the Greeks and Trojans take the field, having communicated to the reader the general characteristics even of the common soldiers of both armies. The latter are
in this situaino as minutely
described as wasting their spirits in idle prate, as they marched to battle,
Tpães fler xhavns frown i poar, pun Das ws. the Greeks as reserving it by silence, for the sake of affifting each other.
oi dag war ovyñ perea tvortes 'Azaroa 'Εμ θυμώ μεμαώτες αλεξεμεν αλλήλοισιν.
The noise, made by the coming on of Cuchullin's heroes, induces Swaran to send forth a scout, to see what was approaching. The son of Arno ascends a hill, and immediately returns trembling, and in the utmost amazement; “ his eyes rolling wildly round, his heart beating high, and his words faultering, broken and slow.” In this situation, however, he describes the car and horses of Cuchullin, as minutely as if he had himself been the charioteer for half a century. It is nevertheless clear, as well from the fhortness of his stay, as from the panic with which he was struck, that he could not possibly have attended to such particulars. " The car of battle comes, says he, the rapid car of Cuchullin.Its fides are embofled with stones, and sparkle like the sea round the boat of night. Of polithed yew is its beam, and its seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears, and the bottom is the footstool of heroes. Be .fore the right side of the car is seen the snorting horse. The high-maned, broad-breasted, proud, high-leaping strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his hoof; the spreading of his mane above is like that stream of smoke on the heath, bright are the sides of the steed, and his name is Sulin-Sifadda. Before the left side of the car is seen the other snorting horse : the thin-maned, high-headed, strong-hoofed, fleet, bounding son of the hill: his name is Dufronnal among the stormy sons of the sword. A thousand thongs bind the car on high.' Hard polished bits shine in a wreath of foam. Thin thongs, bright-studded with gems, bend on the stately necks of the steeds.” Indeed the great object of the son of Arno's fear seems to be the finery of the chariot and prancing horses of Cuchullin ; for, in the description of that hero hiinself, there is nothing very martial or terrible. It is true, his “red cheek is like the polished yew. The look of his blue-rolling eye is wide beneath the dark arch of his brow. His hair flies from his head like a flame, as bending forward he wields the spear; and she is faid to come like a storm along the streamy vale.” In consequence of what he had seen, however, the timid scout advises Syaran to fly, and is answered much in the
. same manner as Cuchullin answers the son of Fithill. In this great fimilarity of circumstance and expression the sterility of the poet's invention is obvious. What need was there that both scouts should be cowards? It had, at least, been with much greater propriety, had the latter concluded that Cuchullin was weak and effeminate, from the magnificent foppery of his car; a foppery, by the way, little consistent with that penurious simplicity of manners described in other parts of the poem. .
The battle begun, the general onset is well described. “ As Autumn's dark storms pour from two echoing hills, towards each other approached the heroes. - As two dark streams from high rocks meet, and mix and roar on the plain; loud, rough, and dark in battle meet Lochlin and Innis-fail. Chief mixed his strokes with chief, and man with man; steel, clanging, founded on steel, helmets are cleft on high. Blood bursts and smoaks around.--Strings murmur on the polished yews. Darts rush along the sky. Spears fall like the circles of light, that gild the stormy face of night. As the troubled noise of the ocean, when roll the waves on high; as the last peal of the thunder of heaven, such is the noise of battle.” Many, it is said, are the falls of the heroes, yet none are mentioned but Sithallin, Ardin, and Trenar; the two first as slain by Swaran, and the last by Cuchullin: and even these are undistinguished by any act of bravery, particularity of combat, or manner of dying.
In the display of the first battle of the Iliad, the chiefs are brought into action, and marked with distinguishing characteristics. Each engages with some one of the enemy; no two combat in the same manner, nor fall by the same means : and an able painter may design after the description of every hero's engagement, in a manner no other imagination can fo well supply. In this first battle of Fingal, neither army is distinctly drawn up, no two heroes are brought to engage; and all that the most excellent genius for painting could truly delineate from the description is, on one side, Cuchullin, drawn by two ill-matched horses in a paultry car, and followed by an unruly mob; and on the other, Swaran on foot, with like attendants.
The fine apostrophe, in which the poet bids the maid of Inistore lament the death of Trenar, her lover, is capable of great improvement from the circumstances mentioned, of his gray dogs howling at home, and seeing his passing ghoft; and which the poet neglected to make use of. Had
Ollian represented her struck with a presentiment of Trenar's death, bewailing his fate from such ill-boding appearances, and confirmed therein by the howling of his dogs, both the superftition of the times, and the prevalence of credulity, under such circumstances, had been aptly applied, and happily illustrated.
But we must refer the reader for the farther remarks we have to make on this poem, and our account of the other pieces contained in this extraordinary book, to our next Review.
Elegies of Tyrtæus, translated into English Verse, with Notes,
and the original Text. 12mo. 15. 6d. T. Payne.
TYRTÆUS was that fine old Grecian, whom the
Athenians, in derision, sent to the Lacedæmonians for their general, when, at the fiege of Messené, that brave People had consulted the Delphic oracle, and were told, that an Athenian general was necessary to their success. In derifion was Tyrtæus fent, for he was a poor bard, maimed, deformed, and blind of one eye; nay, if we may believe the Author of the Lives of the Philosophers, he was looked upon as little better than an idiot. But though, in every respect, he was apparently unfit for the office of a commander, history, nevertheless, informs us, that, animated by the spirit-ftirring verses of Tyrtæus, the Spartans carried the town.
Among these verses were supposed to be the few remaining elegies of the old bard, of which a translation is here offered to the public. As to the merit of the elegies themselves, it is certainly very great, and has saved them from the depredations of time, near three thousand years. Horace seems to think that Tyrtæus lived and wrote about the time of Homer, and the noble simplicity of his verse seems to testify the same. His poems are, with respect to their measure, pathos, and ease, characteristically elegies ; but in many places they rise to the sublime.
Ουδεποτε κλεος εσθλον απολλυθαι, εδ' ονομ’ ανία,
Αλλ', υπο γης περ εων, γιγνείας αθαναλος.