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Pairing time anticipated.—COWPER.
I SHALL not ask Jean Jaques Rousseau* If birds confabulate or no ; 'Tis clear that they were always able To hold discourse, at least in fable; And even the child who knows no better, Than to interpret by the letter, The story of a cock and bull, Must have a most uncommon skull.
It chanced, then, on a winter's day, But warm and bright and calm as May, The birds, conceiving a design, To forestall sweet St. Valentine, In many an orchard, copse, and grove, Assembled on affairs of love, And, with much twitter, and much chatter, Began to agitate the matter. At length a bulfinch who could boast More years and wisdom than the most, Entreated, opening wide his beak, A moment's liberty to speak; And, silence publicly enjoined, Delivered briefly thus his mind.
“My friends! be cautious how ye treat The subject upon which we meet; I fear we shall have winter yet.”
A finch, whose tongue knew no control, With golden wings and satin põll, A last year's bird, who ne'er had tried What marriage means, thus pert replied.
“Methinks the gentleman," quoth she, "Opposite in the apple-tree, By his good will would keep us single Till yonder heaven and earth shall mingle,
* It was one of the whimsical speculations of this philosopher, that all fables, which ascribe reason and speech to animals, should be withheld from children, as being only vehicles of deception. But what child was ever deceived by them, or can be, against the evidence of his own sensas ?
Or, (which is likelier to befall)
without more ado:
Dick heard, and tweedling, ogling, bridling,
But, though the birds were thus in haste,
eggs were addled :
This lesson seems to carry
time to marry
Fingal's Battle with the Spirit of Loda.-OSSIAN MORNING rose in the cast; the blue waters rolled in light. Fingal* bade his sails to rise, and the winds came rustling from their hills. Inistore rose to sight, and Carric-thura's mossy towers.
*" It may not be improper here to observe, that the accent ought always to be placed on the last
syllable of Fingål."--McPherson's note to Fingal, B. 1.
But the sign of distress was on their top: the green flame edged with smoke. The king of Morven struck his breast: he assumed at once his spear. His darkened brow bends forward to the coast: he looks back to the lagging winds. His hair is disordered on his back. The silence of the king is terrible.
Night came down on the sea : Rotha's bay received the ship. A rock bends along the coast with all its echoing wood. On the top is the circle of Loda, and the mossy stone of power.
A narrow plain spreads beneath, covered with grass and aged trees, which the midnight winds, in their wrath, had torn from the shaggy rock. The blue course of a stream is there: and the lonely blast of ocean pursues the thistle's beard. The flame of three oaks arose : the feast is spread around: but the soul of the king is sad for Carric-thura's battling chief.
The wan cold moon rose in the east. Sleep descended on the youths. Their blue helmets glitter to the beam : the fading fire decays. But sleep did not rest on the king: he rose in the midst of his arms, and slowly ascended the hill to behold the flame of Sarno's tower.
The flame was dim and distant; the moon hid her red face in the east. A blast came from the mountain, and bore on its wing the spirit of Loda. He came to his place in his terrors, and he shook his dusky spear. His
eyes appear like flames in his dark face; and his voice is like distant thunder. Fingal advanced with the spear of his strength, and raised his voice on high.
“Son of night, retire : call thy winds and fly: Why dost thou come to my presence with thy shadowy arms? Do I fear thy gloomy form, dismal spirit of Loda?"
Weak is thy shield of clouds : feeble is that meteor, thy sword. The blast rolls them together, and thou thyself dost vanish. Fly from my presence, son of night! call thy wings and fly!"
"Dost thou force me from my place,” replied the hollow voice: “The people bend before me.
I turn the battle in the field of the valiant. I look on the nations and they vanish : my nostri's pour the blast of death. I come abroad on the winds: the tempests are before niy face. dwelling is calm, above the clouds; the fields of my rest are pleasant.”
“Dwell then in thy calm field,” said Fingâl, “and let Comhal's son be forgot. Do my steps ascend, from my hills,
into thy peaceful plains? Do I meet thee, with a spear, on thy cloud, spirit of dismal Loda ? Why, then, dost thou frown on Fingâl? Or shake thine airy spear? But thou frownest in vain : I never fled from mighty men. And shall the sons of the wind frighten the king of Morven ! No: he knows the weakness of their arms."
“Fly to thy land," replied the form : "receive the wind and fly. The blasts are in the hollow of my hand : the course of the storm is mine. The king of Sora is my son, he bends at the stone of my power. His battle is around Carric-thura ; and he will prevail. Fly to thy land, son of Comhal, or feel my flaming wrath."
He lifted high his shadowy spear; and bent forward his terrible height. But the king, advancing, drew his sword; the blade of dark-brown Luno. The gleaming path of the steel winds through the gloomy ghost. The form fell shapeless into air, like a celúmn of smoke, which the staff of the boy disturbs, as it rises from the half-extinguished furnace.
The spirit of Loda shrieked, as, rolled into himself, he rose on the wind. Inistore shook at the sound. The waves heard it on the deep: they stopped, in their course, with fear: the companions of Fingal started, at once; and took their heavy spears. They missed the king; they rose with rage : all their arms resound.
The moon came forth in the east. The king returned in the gleam of his arms. The joy of his youths was great; their souls settled, as a sea from a storm. Ullin raised the song of gladness. The hills of Inistore rejoiced. The flame of the oak arose ; and the tales of heroes are told.
Death of Carthon.--Ossian's address to the Sun.—THE SAME.
The battle ceased along the field, for the bard had sung the song of peace. The chiefs gathered round the falling Carthon, and heard his words, with sighs. Silent they leaned on their spears, while Balclutha's hero spoke. His bair sighed in the wind, and his words were feeble.
“ King of Morven," Carthon said, " I fall in the midst of my course. A foreign tomb receives, in youth, the last of Reuthàmir's råce. Darkness dwells in Balclutha : and the shadows of grief in Crathmo. But raise my remembrance on the banks of Lora, where my fathers dwelt. Perhaps the husband of Moina will mourn over his fallen Carthon." His words reached the heart of Clessammor : he fell, in silence, on his son. The host stood darkened around : no voice is on the plains of Lora. Night came, and the moon, from the east, looked on the mournful field : but still they stood, like a silent grove that lifts its head on Gormal, when the loud winds are laid, and dark autumn is on the plain.
Three days they mourned over Carthon : on the fourth his father died. In the narrow plain of the rock they lie; and a dim ghost defends their tomb. There lovely Moina is often seen; when the sun-beam darts on the rock, and all around is dark. There she is seen, Malvina, but not like the daughters of the hill. Her robes are from the stranger's land ; and she is still alone.
Fingâl was sad for Carthon ; he desired his bards to mark the day, when shadowy autûmn returned. And often did they mark the day, and sing the hero's praise. “Who comes so dark from ocean's roar, like autumn's shadowy cloud ? Death is trembling in his hand! his eyes are flames of fire! Who roars along dark Lora's heath ? Whọ but Carthon king of swords? The people fall! see ! how he strides, like the sullen ghost of Morven! But there he lies, a goodly oak, which sudden blasts overturned! When shalt thou rise, Balclutha's joy! lovely car-borne Carthon? Who comes so dark from ocean's roar, like Jutumn's shadowy cloud ?" Such were the words of the bards, in the day of iheir mourning : I have accompanied théir voice; and added to their song. My soul has been mournful for Carthon, he fell in the days of his valor: and thou, O Clessàmmor! where is thy dwelling in the air ? Has the youth forgot his wound ? And flies he, on the clouds, with thee? I feel the sun, O Malvina ; leave me to my rest. Perhaps they may come to my dreams; I think I hear a feeble voice. The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of Carthon : I feel it warm around.
O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting Right? Thou comest forth, in thy awful beauty, and the stars hide themselves 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