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poet, in the description of his actions to Malvina, ingeniously evades any allusion or similitudes by which we might trace his position, or rather the fields of his exploits in favor of Crothar, the chieftain of that district.
As Te-mora furnishes me with grounds for the few brief remarks I have made, at the commencement of this enquiry, so I am also indebted to it for grounds whereon to challenge another little error of the annotator. Inishuana is noted as a part of South Britain, an island, &c. This mistake of the annotator, if it is one,
c must have arisen from his recollection of Fingal having in the preceding poems, twice sailed from Carmona's bay, for that destination : hence, perhaps, the annotator thought that had Inishuana been in Ireland, the warrior might have gone thither by land. This Inishuana, or by some Inishona, is in the northwest part of Ireland, opposite to Scotland, and noted, wherever Irishmen travel, for its excellent whiskey. I have yet to observe, that if this was the same place to which the poet alluded, the warriors of Morven, no doubt, found it necessary to go to it by sea : probably in consequence of the unfordable river Bann running across their way; or, perhaps, from a wish to have their shipping at hand in case of being obliged to retreat; or, perhaps, rather than leave their ships behind them in Carmona's bay, to be exposed to an enemy in their absence, who might have destroyed them, and consequently cut off their communication with Morven, 'they preferred the journey by water to Inishuana.
To give a greater and more rational degree of coloring to my. cause of difference with the translator, I have yet to observe that the Poems discover in the clearest manner, that the expedition to Inishuna took place only a short time before Fingal passed over to Ireland to dethrone Cairbar, the son of Borbar-Duthal. Cathmor, brother of Cairbar (the usurper of the crown and country of Fingal's young friend, of the race of Connor) was aiding Connor, King of Inishuna, in his wars, at the time that Duth Carmor was defeated by Ossian in the valley of Rathcol (in the county of Derry, and only a few miles from the coast opposite to Morven). The policy of Cathmor aiding Connor, was natural enough, for it was strengthening his brother's power-Inishuna being the next district or kingdom to Connor, which Cairbar had usurped !
This must certainly press hard on the annotator, who, of course, I hold unblameable– he having noted the error from the oral reporters, with whom the confusion of geographical descriptions was more likely to arise than with Mr. Macpherson. To bear out my former opinion on the subject, I might add, that Sulmalla lamenting Cathmor her lover, to Ossian, observes-
“ High from their misty hills look forth the blue eyes of Erin, for he is away young dweller of their souls ! nor harmless, white hands of Erin, is Cathmor in the skirts of war: he rolls ten thousand before him in his distant field.” Of the propriety of differing with the translator, my readers will now judge for themselves. And if I am wrong, in the confused story originated my error : but it has occurred to me once or twice, that the error may have arisen in the orthography or pronunciation of the nouns; and, that Inishuna is confusingly placed for an island of Orkney or Scandinavia, called Inisthona! for the story of the latter seems to me to be connected with that of Sulmalla of Acmon !
“ The setting sun was yellow on Dora; grey evening began to descend. Te-mora's woods shook with the blasts of the incon stant wind.” This is one of the strongest proofs the whole collection of poems afford of the just and more than analogical grounds of my opinions on the celebrated scenes. Here Ossian distinctly tells us, that the poem was composed at Connor: for Connor and its neighbourhood supply the beautiful similitudes he so ingeniqusly displays, and are thence immortalised by his matchless muse. It is here evident that he was at Connor with his royal kinsman ; else how could he see its woods shake in the blasts of the inconstant wind ? or observe the rays of the setting sun on Dora ?- Which hill is about four miles from Connor ; and, need I add, that the description of the setting sun on Dora is truly natural and picturesque!
After such convincing proofs of my system, it is almost unnecessary to cite any more passages however conclusive. I now consider it necessary to conclude my observations with a very few short extracts and remarks that tend more immediately to ratify the consistency of the analogy from which I have deduced my discoveries.
« Who comes from Lubar's vale, from the folds of the morning mist? The drops of Heaven are on his head. His steps are in the paths of the sad. It is Carril of other times ! He comes from Tura's silent cave !” Than the above passage, there is scarcely a sentence in the whole collection of poems that tends more to confirm my opinion of the places I have ascertained. Ossian, we read in the same page, was on the hill of Mora (Tardree) above Connor, and saw Carril the bard in Lubar's vale, (the vale through which runs the Six Mile Water) approaching him from Carrickfergus,-charged, no doubt, with despatches-for it was usual in those days for those who held the office of bard, to include in it that of ambassador, historian, messenger, herald, &c. The situations of the two bards are so clearly described, that a person the least acquainted with the country, could have no difficulty in pointing them out, and the other places discovered by the certain ty of these.
It will be recollected that there are two chains of hills which run nearly parallel with Belfast Loch, and between its western shore and Connor. The one is Cromla, the other Mora. The intermediate space is that vale, I imagine, that the poet names the Vale of Lubar, through which the Six Mile Water winds in the most beautiful serpentine wanderings.
In the battle of Oscar and Cairbar, in which the latter fell, he lay like a shattered rock which Cromla shakes from his craggy side ! On the north-east end of Cromla (Cave-hill) near Belfast, the rocks seem jutting out as if ready to fall; and many are the fragments it has shaken from its craggy side-to be seen at the foot of the hill. It is also worthy of remark, that the Cave-hill is the highest in that neighbourhood; and the only one that has such a picturesque craggy side!
Thus having found each part strictly analogous, and consistent with all, and indeed more generally uniform throughout the whole of the preceding enquiry, than is usually found in poetical descriptions, so I feel the greatest confidence in submitting the result to an enlightened public, as a part of my leisure hours' pastime; conscious that, though such communications are not of the most valuable sort, yet, I presume this will be acknowledged a gratifying one :-hence, it remains only for me to conclude, by repeating my opinion, that Fingals progress in Ireland appears to have not exceeded twenty miles from the coast of Ulster; and that, never to the southward of Moileny, nor to the westward of Connor (Te-mora); and Lochneagh (the Lake of Roes). A most convincing proof, that the allegations of the historians Keating and O'Flaherty, with regard to Fingal having been an Irishman, are wholly inconsistent with reason. For we may safely assert, that, had he been a native of Ireland, he would have chos sen a more extended field for his exploits, than that portion of lovely Inisfail, confined within the above limits. But, instead of taking advantage of his numerous conquests, and the respect or terror which his redoubted name created in the minds of all the warriors wherever he went, we find him represented to have been only the virtuous and prudent warrior, and the active friend of distress. Peaceably inclined, he was anxious only to preserve the land of his young kinsman, and careless of extending his conquests, even when his frequent victories, if we may credit his son, could have given him an easy supremacy over then, as now, distracted Ireland. No; after his victories and treaties, we find him invariably return to Morven, adored by his friends, and esteemed by his late enemies : more pleased within himself at the idea of having performed his part faithfully as a friend, and gallantly as a warrior, than if he had ambitiously laid countries desolate, and deprived millions of their natural rights and inheritance.
To conclude,-if Fingal was an Irishman, his son Ossian and his translator, have more than ingeniously evaded giving any hint by which he might be correctly ascertained to have been born in Ireland.--And, on the contrary, have given the most convincing proofs that he was a Caledonian, and that his frequent descents upon Ireland were solely occasioned by the wants of his kinsmen of the race of Connor! Now, as there is every reason to believe that Mr. Macpherson never was in Ireland, nor any of those from whom he had the oral originals of the elegant poems of "Ossian ; and, as the geographers of that excellent island are wholly silent on many of the places, which I have here attempted to bring to light, as sacred to the heroic actions of Fingal, and the never languid, never dying strains of his noble-minded son ; so, I presume, it may be safely asserted, that the poems of Ossian are the genuine effusions of that father of Scottish and of sublime poetry; who, from a state of rude, though polished barbarism, (if I may use the expression,) poured forth a stream of sensibility, dazzling by the brightness of bravery and enthusiasm of patriotism, that, had it come down to us by an explorer of Herculaneum, as the work of a Greek or Roman, instead of through the long-doubted hands of the inconsistent Macpherson-it would have invaded our partial and too fastidious hearts with the irresistible force of lightning, and with the electric ardor of every idea that conspires to animate, exalt, and at the same time, to astonish and chain the intellectual empire, as by magic, to all that is truly feeling, noble, and sublime. -Without the passport from the classic vine-covered hills of Italy, I know those on whom the poems of Ossian have had the above ennobling effect, though they came from the rugged mountains of Caledonia.
London, May 26th, 1819.
There are five ancient castles in the county of Antrim, of which there are no records when they were built; but their appearance renders it beyond a doubt, that they are of the first stone and lime buildings erected in Ireland. They are the ruins of Connor Palace (the ancient Te-mora); Carrickfergus castle (Tura); Shanes Castle on the banks of Lochneagh (Lake of Roes); the seat of the O'Neils, for many centuries chieftains in Ulster ; and the old building in Carmona bay, called the White Housewhich tradition would make the first house in Ireland, and may have been the Selma, mentioned near Tura, from its beautiful situation. The old round tower near the town of Antrim, is evi. dently of a more modern date-perhaps of the thirteenth or fourteenth century. Carrickfergus Castle is traditionally reported to have been built by Fergus, the first king of Scotland, who, according to Fordun and others, went from Ireland to govern the Scots who had emigrated from Ireland to Scotland about the time of Alexander the Great, or three hundred years before Christ. But that must be a misrepresentation, for we have the authority of several of the Roman writers to counteract that tradition, who all their account of the barbarous mode in which our forefathers lived. The Romans found no stone and lime buildings in these countries consequently, they were the first who introduced them. And there is every reason to imagine that the before-mentioned castles have been built between the first landing of the Romans and the time of Fingal-say 300 years! This will exactly correspond with the time Connor is supposed to have been called to govern Ireland, and will bear out the Irish historian, who says Connor's castle was the first stone and lime building in Ireland. The Romans had been in possession of South Britain and the South of Scotland nearly 150 years before Connor the grand-uncle of Fingal was elected King of Ireland ; consequently there was sufficient time for the Aborigines to learn the art of building from the indefatigable Romans; hence is it not probable that Connor, on finding his election and right to the Crown of Ireland doubted, had recourse to the building discovered at Connor, whose walls appear more like those of a fortification than of a common dwelling? add to this its central situation in the county, and vicinity to the coast. VOL. XV. Pam. NO. XXIX.