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discomposed the temper and wounded the religious feelings of his companion, who aims to repress the cherished pride of the hero and the minstrel, and who exhibits, whilst making the attempt, sentiments of peculiar sublimity and beauty:
Cease thy vain thoughts, and fruitless boasts ;
Can death thy chiefs restore ?--
Their glories are no more.
Confide in him whose high decree
O’er-rules all earthly power ;
To him devote thy hour.
And let thy contrite prayer be made
To him who rules above;
For his protecting love !
Though (with thy will perverse at strife),
Thou deem'st it strange to say,
And took that life away.
The allusion of the last two lines of this striking address brings to the memory of the bard, with all its bitterest aggravation, the irreparable loss which he has sustained. He cannot avoid contrasting his present forlorn and impotent state with the highly
honoured pre-eminence from which he has fallen; and he replies to the admonitory zeal of his spiritual adviser in language of the most exquisite pathos.
Alas! thy words sad import bear,
And grating sounds impart;
And anguish to my heart !
Not for thy God these torrents spring
That drain their weeping source,
Now lies a lifeless corse!
Too much I have already done,
Thy godhead's smile to gain;
And with thy clerks remain !
The royal robe, the social board,
Music and mirth are o'er ;
I now enjoy no more.
For now no bards from Oisin's hand
The wonted gift receive;
Nor martial feats achieve *!
* Another and a similar picture of the lonely and forlorn state of the once highly-honoured bard is given by Miss Brooke in a literal version from a poem of the like age with that in the text, entitled “A Dialogue between Oisin and St. Patrick ;" where the former, lamenting the loss of his
O Inisfail ! thy Oisin goes
To guard thy ports no more ;
Who dare insult thy shore ! We can scarcely, indeed, form a picture of more utter destitution than what is presented to us in the person of the Celtic Homer, whether it be drawn from Scottish or Irish sources.
Nor can we avoid thinking, that when the poets of Erin chose to make their Oisin contemporary with St. Patrick, they would have given us a much more amiable, idea of the saint, had they represented him as somewhat more lenient, more ready to make allowance for impressions rendered indelible not only by length of time, but by the ties of consanguinity, love, and friendship, and the recollections of former fame and glory. How much, soever, therefore, we may acquiesce in the truth of the following reply, and however greatly we may admire the imagery by
kindred and friends, exclaims, “ To survive them is my depth of woe! the banquet and the song have now no charms for me! Wretched and old,—the poor solitary remnant of the Fenii! Why, why am I yet alive ?--Alas, O Patrick! grievous is my state !—the last of all my race !—My heroes are gone! my strength is gone !-Bells I now hear, for the songs of my bards; and age, blindness and woe, are all that remain of Oisin !"-Reliques, p. 76.
which it is enforced, it is scarcely possible not to feel that the venerable apostle of the sister island has exhibited no very abundant stock of pity or forbearance.
O Oisin of the mighty deed !
Thy folly 1 deplore;
And give the subject o'er.
Nor Finn, nor all the Finnian race,
Can with his power compare
And rules the realms of air !
For man yon azure vault he spreads,
And clothes the flow'ry plains ;
And blooming fruit ordains !
'Tis he who gives the peopled stream,
Replete with life to flow;
And sun's meridian glow!
To that Almighty hand
And bade their powers expand ?
It was not on a fruit or flower
My king his care bestow'd;
In honour's glorious road.
To load with death the hostile field,
In blood his might procliam ;
And wing to heaven his fame!
In peace his tranquil hours to bless,
Beneath soft beauty's eye,
The mimic fight to try.
* Dr. Hyde says, “the old Irish were so greatly addicted to chess, that amongst them the possession of good estates has been often decided by it; and,” adds he, “ there are some estates, at this very time, the property whereof still depends upon the issue of a game at chess. For example, the heirs of two certain noble Irish families, whom we could name (to say nothing of others), hold their lands upon this tenure, viz. that one of them shall encounter the other at chess in this manner; that which eyer of them conquered, should seize and possess the estate of the other. Therefore,” says the doctor, “I am told they manage the affair prudently among themselves : once a year they meet, by appointment, to play at chess; one of them makes a move, and the other says, I will consider how to answer you next year. This being done, a public notary commits to writing the situation of the game, by which method a game that neither has won has been, and will be, continued for some hundred of years.' -Vallancey's Irish Grammar, Essay on the Celtic Language,