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MOSES IN THE BULRUSHES.

PART I.

JOCHEBED, MIRIAM.

Joc. Why was my pray'r accepted? Why did

Heav'n In anger hear me, when I ask'd a son ? Ye dames of Egypt ! ye triumphant mothers ! You no imperial tyrant marks for ruin; You are not doom'd to see the babes you bore, The babes you fondly nurture, bleed before you ! You taste the transports of a mother's love, Without a mother's anguish! wretched Israel ! Can I forbear to mourn the different lot Of thy sad daughters ! — Why did God's own hand Rescue his chosen race by Joseph's care? Joseph ! th' elected instrument of Heav'n, Decreed to save illustrious Abraham's sons, What time the famine rag'd in Canaan's land. Israel, who then was spared, must perish now!

Thou great mysterious Pow'r, who hast involv'd Thy wise decrees in darkness, to perplex The pride of human wisdom, to confound The daring scrutiny, and prove the faith Of thy presuming creatures ! hear me now! O vindicate thy honour ; clear this doubt,

Teach me to trace this maze of Providence :
Why save the fathers, if the sons must perish ?
Mir. Ah me, my mother! whence these floods of

grief?
Joc. My son! my son ! I cannot speak the rest,
Ye that have sons can only know my fondness !
Ye who have lost them, or who fear to lose,
Can only know my pangs! none else can guess them.
A mother's sorrows cannot be conceiv'd
But by a mother — Wou'd I were not one !
Mir. With earnest pray’rs thou didst request this

son, And Heav'n has granted him. Joc.

O sad estate Of human wretchedness! so weak is man, So ignorant and blind, that did not God Sometimes withhold in mercy what we ask, We should be ruin’d at our own request.

Too well thou know'st, my child, the stern decree Of Egypt's cruel king, hard-hearted Pharaoh ; 66 That every male of Hebrew mother born “ Must die.” Oh! do I live to tell it thee ? Must die a bloody death! My child, my son, My youngest born, my darling must be slain !

Mir. The helpless innocent ! and must he die?

Joc. No: if a mother's tears, a mother's prayers, A mother's fond precautions can prevail, He shall not die. I have a thought, my Miriam, And sure the God of mercies who inspir’d, Will bless the secret purpose of my soul, To save his precious life.

Hop'st thou that Pharaoh

Mir.

Joc. I have no hope in Pharaoh, much in God;
Much in the Rock OF AGES.
Mir.

Think, O think,
What perils thou already hast incurr’d,
And shun the greater which may yet remain.
Three months, three dangerous months thou hast

preserv’d Thy infant's life, and in thy house conceald him ! Should Pharaoh know!

Joc. Oh ! let the tyrant know, And feel what he inflicts! Yes, hear me, Heav'n! Send thy right-aiming thunderbolts — But hush, My impious murmurs ! Is it not thy will, Thou, infinite in mercy ? Thou permitt'st This seeming evil for some latent good. Yes, I will laud thy grace, and bless thy goodness For what I have, and not arraign thy wisdom For what I fear to lose. Oh, I will bless thee That Aaron will be spar'd! that my first born Lives safe and undisturb’d! that he was given me Before this impious persecution rag'd!

Mir. And yet who knows, but the fell tyrant's rage
May reach his precious life?
Joc.

I fear for him,
For thee, for all. A doating parent lives
In many lives; thro' many a nerve she feels;
From child to child the quick affections spread,
For ever wand'ring, yet for ever fix’d.
Nor does division weaken, nor the force
Of constant operation e'er exhaust
Parental love. All other passions change
With changing circumstances; rise or fall,

Dependent on their object; claim returns;
Live on reciprocation, and expire
Unfed by hope. A mother's fondness reigns
Without a rival, and without an end.
Mir. But say what Heav'n inspires to save thy son ?
Joc. Since the dear fatal morn which gave him

birth,
I have revolv'd in my distracted mind
Each means to save his life: and many a thought
Which fondness prompted, prudence has oppos’d
As perilous and rash. With these poor hands
I've fram'd a little ark of slender reeds ;
With pitch and slime I have secured the sides.
In this frail cradle I intend to lay
My little helpless infant, and expose him
Upon the banks of Nile.
Mir.

'Tis full of danger. Joc. 'Tis danger to expose, and death to keep him. Mir. Yet, Oh! reflect. Should the fierce cro

codile,
The native and the tyrant of the Nile,
Seize the defenceless infant !
Joc.

Oh, forbear!
Spare my fond heart. Yet not the crocodile,
Nor all the deadly monsters of the deep,
To me are half so terrible as Pharaoh,
That heathen king, that royal murderer!

Mir. Should he escape, which yet I dare not hope,
Each sea-born monster, yet the winds and waves
He cannot ’scape.
Joc.

Know, God is ev'ry where; Not to one narrow, partial spot confin’d;

No, not to chosen Israel: he extends
Through all the vast infinitude of space;
At his command the furious tempests rise -
The blasting of the breath of his displeasure.
He tells the world of waters when to roar;
And, at his bidding, winds and seas are calm :
In him, not in an arm of flesh, I trust;
In him, whose promise never yet has fail'd,
I place my confidence.
Mir.

What must I do? Command thy daughter; for thy words have wak'd An holy boldness in my youthful breast.

Joc. Go, then, my Miriam, go, and take the infant.
Buried in harmless slumbers there he lies :
Let me not see him — spare my heart that pang.
Yet sure, one little look may be indulg'd,
And I may feast my fondness with his smiles,
And snatch one last, last kiss. — No more, my heart;
That rapture would be fatal — I should keep him.
I could not doom to death the babe I clasp'd:
Did ever mother kill her sleeping boy ?
I dare not hazard it — The task be thine.
Oh! do not wake my child; remove him softly;
And gently lay him on the river's brink.
Mir. Did those magicians, whom the sons of

Egypt
Consult and think all-potent, join their skill;
And was it great as Egypt's sons believe;
Yet all their secret wizard arts combin’d,
To save this little ark of bulrushes,
TŁus fearfully expos’d, could not effect it:
Their spells, their incantations, and dire charms
Coald not preserve it.

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