Page images
PDF
EPUB

GONZALEZ. My heroic child ! —A terrible sacrifice thou claim'st, O God! From creatures in whose agonizing hearts Nature is strong as death! ELMINA. ls’t thus in thine Away!—what time is given thee to resolve On 2–what I cannot utter —Speak! thou know'st Too well what I would say. GONZALEZ. Until—ask not! The time is brief. ei, Min A. Thou saidst—I heard not right— GONZALEZ. The time is brief. el,MiNA. What' must we burst all ties Wherewith the thrilling chords of life are twined; And, for this task's fulfilment, can it be That man, in his cold heartlessness, hath dared To number and to mete us forth the sands Of hours, nay, moments —Why, the sentenced wretch,

He on whose soul there rests a brother's blood
Pour'd forth in slumber, is allow'd more time
To wean his turbulent passions from the world
His presence doth pollute!—It is not thus !
We must have Time to school us.
GONZALEZ.

We have but
To bow the head in silence, when Heaven's voice
Calls back the things we love.

ELMINA.

Love love!—there are soft smiles and gentle words,
And there are faces, skilful to put on
The look we trust in—and 'tis mockery all!
—A faithless mist, a desert-vapour, wearing
The brightness of clear waters, thus to cheat
The thirst that semblance kindled !—There is none,
In all this cold and hollow world, no fount
Of deep, strong, deathless love, save that within
A mother's heart.—It is but pride, wherewith
To his fair son the father's eye doth turn,
Watching his growth. Aye, on the boy he looks,
The bright glad creature springing in his path,
But as the heir of his great name, the young

And stately tree, whose rising strength ere long

Shall bear his trophies well.—And this is love
This is man's love!—What marvel —you ne'er made
Your breast the pillow of his infancy,
While to the fulness of your heart's glad heavings
His fair cheek rose and fell; and his bright hair
Waved softly to your breath !—You ne'er kept watch
Beside him, till the last pale star had set,
And morn, all dazzling, as in triumph, broke
On your dim weary eye; not yours the face
Which, early faded through fond care for him,
Hung o'er his sleep, and, duly as heaven's light,
Was there to greet his wakening ! You ne'er smooth'd
His couch, ne'er sung him to his rosy rest,
Caught his least whisper, when his voice from yours
Had learn'd soft utterance; press'd your lip to his,
When fever parch'd it; hush'd his wayward cries,
With patient, vigilant, never-wearied love!
No! these are woman's tasks —In these her youth,
And bloom of cheek, and buoyancy of heart,
Steal from her all unmark’d 1–My boys' my boys!
Hath vain affection borne with all for this f
—Why were ye given me?
GONZALEZ.

Is there strength in man

Thus to endure ?—That thou couldst read, through all

Its depths of silent agony, the heart
Thy voice of woe doth rend

ELMINA.
Thy heart —thy heart!—Away ! it feels not now !
But an hour comes to tame the mighty man
Unto the infant's weakness; nor shall Heaven
Spare you that bitter chastening !—May you live
To be alone, when loneliness doth seem
Most heavy to sustain —For me, my voice
Of prayer and fruitless weeping shall be soon
With all forgotten sounds; my quiet place
Low with my lovely ones, and we shall sleep,
Though kings lead armies o'er us, we shall sleep,
Wrapt in earth's covering mantle !—you the while
Shall sit within your vast, forsaken halls,
And hear the wild and melancholy winds
Moan through their drooping banners, never more
To wave above your race. Aye, then call up
Shadows—dim phantoms from ancestral tombs,
But all—all glorious—conquerors, chieftains, kings—
To people that cold void l—And when the strength
From your right arm hath melted, when the blast
Of the shrill clarion gives your heart no more
A fiery wakening; if at last you pine
For the glad voices, and the bounding steps,

Once through your home re-echoing, and the clasp
Of twining arms, and all the joyous light
Of eyes that laugh’d with youth, and made your board
A place of sunshine;—When those days are come,
Then, in your utter desolation, turn
To the cold world, the smiling, faithless world,
Which hath swept past you long, and bid it quench
Your soul's deep thirst with fame ! immortal fame !
Fame to the sick of heart!—a gorgeous robe,
A crown of victory, unto him that dies
I' th' burning waste, for water
GONZALEZ.
This from thee l
Now the last drop of bitterness is pour’d.
Elmina—I forgive thee! [Erit ELMINA.
- Aid me, Heaven!
From whom alone is power!—Oh! thou hast set
Duties, so stern of aspect, in my path,
They almost, to my startled gaze, assume
The hue of things less hallow'd Men have sunk
Unblamed beneath such trials —Doth not He
Who made us know the limits of our strength
My wife' my sons!—Away! I must not pause
To give my heart one moment's mastery thus !
[Erit GonzALEz.

« PreviousContinue »