Page images
PDF
EPUB

He held his slaves, yet made withal

No false and vain pretences,
Nor paid a lying priest to seek

For scriptural defences.
His harshest words of proud rebuke,

His bitterest taunt and scorning,
Fell fire-like on the Northern brow

That bent to him in fawning. He held his slaves : yet kept the while

His reverence for the Human ; In the dark vassals of his will

He saw but Man and Woman! No hunter of God's outraged poor

His Roanoke valley entered; No trader in the souls of men

Across his threshold ventured.

And when the old and wearied man

Laid down for his last sleeping, And at his side, a slave no more,

His brother man stood weeping, His latest thought, his latest breath,

To Freedom's duty giving, With failing tongue and trembling hand

The dying blest the living.
0, never bore his ancient State

A truer son or braver !
None trampling with a calmer scorn

On foreign hate or favor.
He knew her faults, yet never stooped

His proud and manly feeling
To poor excuses of the wrong

Or meanness of concealing. But none beheld with clearer eye

The plague-spot o'er her spreading, None heard more sure the steps of Doom

Along her future treading.

For her as for himself he spake,

When, his gaunt frame upbracing,
He traced with dying hand ( REMORSE !”

And perished in the tracing.

As from the grave where Henry sleeps,

From Vernon's weeping willow,
And from the grassy pall which hides

The Sage of Monticello,
So from the leaf-strewn burial-stone

Of Randolph's lowly dwelling,
Virginia ! o'er thy land of slaves

A warning voice is swelling ! And hark ! from thy deserted fields

Are sadder warnings spoken, From quenched hearths, where thy exiled sons

Their household gods have broken. The curse is on thee, — wolves for men,

And briers for corn-sheaves giving ! 0, more than all thy dead renown

Were now one hero living !

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

C PEAK and tell us, our Ximena, looking northward far away,
» O'er the camp of the invaders, o'er the Mexican array,
Who is losing? who is winning ? are they far or come they near ?
Look abroad, and tell us, sister, whither rolls the storm we hear.

“ Down the hills of Angostura still the storm of battle rolls ; Blood is flowing, men are dying ; God have mercy on their souls !”

Who is losing? who is winning? - “Over hill and over plain,
I see but smoke of cannon clouding through the mountain rain."

Holy Mother ! keep our brothers ! Look, Ximena, look once more : “ Still I see the fearful whirlwind rolling darkly as before, Bearing on, in strange confusion, friend and foeman, foot and horse, Like some wild and troubled torrent sweeping down its mountain

course.”

Look forth once more, Ximena! « Ah! the smoke has rolled away; And I see the Northern rifles gleaming down the ranks of gray. Hark! that sudden blast of bugles ! there the troop of Minon

wheels; There the Northern horses thunder, with the cannon at their heels.

Jesu, pity! how it thickens ! now retreat and now advance ! Right against the blazing cannon shivers Puebla's charging lance ! Down they go, the brave young riders ; horse and foot together fall; Like a ploughshare in the fallow, through them ploughs the North

ern ball."

Nearer came the storm and nearer, rolling fast and frightful on :
Speak, Ximena, speak and tell us, who has lost, and who has won ?
“ Alas! alas ! I know not; friend and foe together fall,
O’er the dying rush the living : pray, my sisters, for them all !”

“Lo! the wind the smoke is lifting: Blessed Mother, save my ..

brain ! I can see the wounded crawling slowly out from heaps of slain. Now they stagger, blind and bleeding ; now they fall, and strive

to rise ; Hasten, sisters, haste and save them, lest they die before our eyes !”

O my heart's love ! O my dear one! lay thy poor head on my

knee; Dost thou know the lips that kiss thee? Canst thou hear me?

canst thou see? O my husband, brave and gentle! O my Bernal, look once more On the blessed cross before thee! mercy! mercy! all is o'er ! ”

Dry thy tears, my poor Ximena; lay thy dear one down to rest ;;
Let his hands be meekly folded, lay the cross upon his breast;
Let his dirge be sung hereafter, and his funeral masses said ;
To-day, thou poor bereaved one, the living ask thy aid.

Close beside her, faintly moaning, fair and young, a soldier lay,
Torn with shot and pierced with lances, bleeding slow his life away;
But, as tenderly before him, the lorn Ximena knelt,
She saw the Northern eagle shining on his pistol-belt.

With a stifled cry of horror straight she turned away her head ; With a sad and bitter feeling looked she back upon her dead; But she heard the youth's low moaning, and his struggling breath

of pain, And she raised the cooling water to his parching lips again.

Whispered low the dying soldier, pressed her hand and faintly

smiled : Was that pitying face his mother's ? did she watch beside her child ? All his stranger words with meaning her woman's heart supplied ; With her kiss upon his forehead, “Mother!” murmured he, and

died !

“ A bitter curse upon them, poor boy, who led thee forth,
From some gentle, sad-eyed mother, weeping, lonely, in the North!
Spake the mournful Mexic woman, as she laid him with her dead,
And turned to soothe the living, and bind the wounds which bled.

Look forth once more, Ximena! “Like a cloud before the wind Rolls the battle down the mountains, leaving blood and death be

hind; Ah! they plead in vain for mercy; in the dust the wounded strive ; Hide your faces, holy angels ! O, thou Christ of God, forgive !”

Sink, O Night, among thy mountains ! let the cool, gray shadows

fall;

Dying brothers, fighting demons, drop thy curtain over all ! Through the thickening winter twilight, wide apart the battle rolled, In its sheath the sabre rested, and the cannon's lips grew cold.

« PreviousContinue »