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PART FIRST.

ABRAHAM. ISAAC.

Ab. No more, myson; now more than half the night O’er us forgetful of the hours, and held In sweet discourse, hath past. Thee the desire Of knowledge, me the love to see thee thus Hang on my lips attentive, hath so long Beguiled from sleep. Dear Isaac, to thy couch. Now ask not further. To their wonted rest Give we our weary limbs. Some other time, What yet remains I will in full recount.

Is. Whene'er, O Father, thou resumest the tale, In its miraculous order, of thy life, Such pleasing wonder wraps my spirit round, I feel no sense of weariness, nor wish For rest. My being I forget : with thee Borne on through each event, beside thee ever I could assert myself to be. When first, Obedient to the call of the Most High, Thy native soil forsaking, I with thee Leave the Chaldean plains : in woods and hills Of Charran and of Palestine, with thee A stranger I sojourn. And when there comes A famine in that land, and thou dost rove Far, seeking food, I journey on with thee To Gerar and to Egypt, shuddering still

At thine and at my mother's perilous way.
When on the kings o'erthrown thou sett'st thy foot,
Conqueror, near Jordan's double-founted source,
I follow thy victorious steps. But when
Thou dost disclose the promises of God,
The Covenant stablished 'twixt him and thee,--
With the dread presence overwhelmed, I hear
The Deep Voice of Jehovah; and my heart
Is filled with sacred awe.

Ab. Those promises
Of the Eternal now unfold in thee,
And in thy seed shall be fulfilled. This land
Wherein thou wanderest as a stranger now,
From Nilus to Euphrates shall to them
Be subject.

Is. Then my issue

Ab. Than the stars, And than the sands shall be more numerous. Them Will the Most High declare his chosen race, Will make them kings and princes of the earth ; And all that dwell therein, that yet shall come, Through the long future, shall be blest in us.

Is. What glory, fortune, happiness !

Ab. Ah! my son,
Let not such glory dazzle thee! Our joy
Is often sinful, when beneath it hid,
Pride, like a serpent, creeps into the heart,
And turns to poison the best gifts of heaven.

Is. I feel my soul from such contagion free.
I feel—but I may be deceived; for who

Knows thoroughly his own heart? Thou didst' not

speak
Thus undesignedly. Thou makest me tremble.

Ab. (O holy fear of God, the true beginning
Of wisdom !) Be thou quieted, my son,
Thy father warns thee, but accuses not.
Go—such as now thou art, God keep thee still.

ABRAHAM, alone.
Oh! how, and in what language, bounteous God,
For all thy mercies shall I render thanks ?
Great was thy goodness which vouchsafed to me
A son when old, and stricken far in age.
But such a son, depositary meet
Of my o'erflowing tenderness,-my hope, -
The dear prop of my many years,—Oh! this,
This is a gift-But whence this sudden light
That pours its blaze around ? Does the sun bring
The flood of day so soon? Ah no! the sun
Hath not such living splendour in his beams.
I know the glorious rays-I feel who comes !

The Angel appears.
Angel. Abraham! Abraham !
Ab. Behold I am here,

Angel. Hearken to the commandment which I bring
From the Everlasting God. Take now thy son,
Thine only son, Isaac, whom thou so lovest,
And get thee with him to Moriah. There
His blood being shed, offer thou up the lad

For a burnt-offering, on that mountain's top
Which He shall show thee, by a certain sign.

Thine innocent child, in thy late years,

Vouchsafed by heaven to thy desires,
Whom love so just, so strong endears,

God at thy hand requires ;
Requires thine offspring's blood to flow,

Beneath thy sacrificing knife,
Requires the priest to strike the blow,

Who gave the victim life.

ABRAHAM, alone. Eternal God! how sudden thy command ! How terrible its purport. 'Tis thy will That I should slay my son ; and thou art pleased Even in thine awful message to rehearse The exceeding value of the gift recalled ; Repeating all the names that can awake The tenderest yearnings towards the thing I lose. But Thou commandest it: It is enough. I bow my forehead to the dust. I adore Thine awful mandate. I will shed his bloodBut Isaac dead-my hopes—where then are they? Runs not the promise counter to the command ? No! for Thou canst not lie, and I am bound To hearken and obey. To doubt is sin; 'Tis sin to search thy ways, past finding out. My God! I do obey, believe, and hope. But in this terrible strait, be Thou my help,

N *

Oh Lord ! behold me ready for the work
I must perform and will.

But who can tell ?
When I must strike the blow--his pleading looks
My heart may agitate--my hand may tremble,
Unless Thou giv'st me strength. I am a Man,
I am a Father. Thou, Lord, knowest all.
What ho! within !

ABRAHAM. Servants.
Ab. Wake Isaac from his sleep.
Saddle an ass; call two of the young men
To follow me.- --But let not Sarah hear,
Nor break her slumbers. Yet unknown to her
Be the dread secret. Let me spare her yet
A mother's agony.

Too soon

-Oh God! She comes. How shall I speak ?

ABRAHAM. SARAH.
Sar. So long before
The dawn, is Abraham forth? What care anew

Ab. Sarah, I am bound to offer up to God
The blood of a pure victim. I go forth
To cut dry branches from the neighbouring wood,
To kindle on the altar. Stay me not-
Farewell !

Sar. May I not bear thee company ?
Ab. Not this time. Let it please thee to remain.

Sar. And have I walked with thee so many years, Partner in all thy joys, and all thy griefs,

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