Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Paul. (L.) Oh! Dominique, my anxiety

Dom. Shall be gratified. Virginia's mother was, as I told you, of a noble family in Spain, who cast her off from their protection on her marrying my master, a young merchant of inferior birth. Deserted by their friends, he retired to a small plantation in this island; but one misfortune succeeded another, and he soon died of a broken heart, leaving his wife and infant in poverty and distress.

Paul. Without a protector, without a friend !

Dom. Without a friend ! No, young man, I hope I knew my duty better.

Paul. Forgive my impatience, I was in the wrong. Mary. (Coming forward, R.) Not at all in the wrong; who can keep their pattence to hear him talk so slow?

Dom. That is a reproach, Mary, which I cannot retort upon you. Paul, hitherto you have believed Virginia to be your sister ; but she is not your sister.

Paul. Indeed! were not Virginia's parents mine?
Dom, and Mary. No.
Paul. To whom, then, do I owe my birth ?
Mary. To poor Margaret.
Dom. Who was a faithful domestic to my mistress.
Mary. And passed for your nurse.

Dom. [To Mary:] Now your story is at an end ; you know no more.

Paul. And my father ?

Dom. Really, I cannot tell who he was, for I never heard myself; but console yourself; if your ignorance in that respect is a misfortune, you are not single in it. Mary. [To Dom.] And now your story is at an end. Dom. Not yet.

Paul. Virginia no longer my sister ! A thousand emotions rise in my bosom-but why was the secret of my birth kept for fifteen years, and why disclosed on this day?

Dom. [To Mary:] You can't answer that, I can. You must know that my poor mistress, on her death-bed, conjured me to sanction the deceit until Virginia should attain her fifteenth year.

Mary. Well, and she's fifteen this day.
Dom If, at that period, no news from her family in
Spain should arrive

Mary. And no news from Spain has arrived.
Dom. Now do hold your tongue. [Sends Mary off into

Cottage, R.] I was at liberty to explain the secret of your birth, and to add the blessings of Virginia's mother to

your union.

Paul. Kind Dominique ! invaluable friend ! let me dy to Virginia.

Dom. I have already acquainted her with the whole story.

[Music. Enter, from the Cottage, the young Women with Vir

GINIA ; all go off, except Paul and Virginia, R. Paul. Why that averted look, my dear Virginia ? Do you not share in my joy, my transport, at this discovery ?

Vir. Indeed I do: my affection for you commenced with my life, and can only end with it. The first word my infant lips pronounced, was your beloved name; and when my eyes opened to the light of heaven, my heart opened to love.

Paul. Ob, Virginia! my happiness seems too great to be real.

SONG.–PAUL.
Vast is the swelling tide of joy,

Tuo mighty bliss abounding;
Do not, ye powers, with sweets destroy-

Each yielding sense confounding.
Thus, from the dungeon's gloom restor'd,

The captive courts the sudden light;
Shrinks from tbe blessing he ador'd,

And hides in shades his dazzled sight. Enter ALAMBRA from behind the Cottage, R.U. E. Alam. (R.) Pity, pity the miserable Alambra! Oh! compassionate a wretched creature, forced by ill usage to escape from a neighbouring plantation.

Paul. (L.) How! a runaway negro !

Ala. For several days the neighbouring forest has sheltered me from my pursuers; but, alas ! I dared not venture from my hiding-place to implore charity, till famine rendered me desperate—I faint with hunger.

Paul. Poor wretch! thou hast, indeed, suffered for thy errors.

Vir. (c.) We must forget his errors in his misery. Let us thank heaven, my dear Paul, for having again afforded us the satisfaction of relieving a fellow-creature in distress.

Alas! you

Paul. Unfortunate victim of avarice ! know the strict laws of this island will not allow us to afford you shelter in our abode. What misfortune tempted you to the rashness of deserting your master's service!

Ala. Oppression, cruel oppression; not exerted on my own person, but on my helpless sister. Our parents died on board the ship which tore us from our native country; we were left belpless and deserted orphans.

Vir. Paul, do you mark this? We are orphans, and know how to pity you.

Ala. I thought myself too happy that our lot was to serve the same master. We were purchased for a planter named Tropic.

Paul. His principal servant, Diego, was in search of you this morning.

Ala.. It is of his cruel servant I complain. For some time my strength and activity enabled me not only to perform my own task with cheerfulness, but to assist in that portion of labour alloted to my sister. This was discovered by Diego, and he chastised me with stripes.

Vir. How wretched must be the reflections of that bad man:

Ala. I bore my punishment with fortitude ; but the next hour, alas !-hearts like yours will scarcely give credit to the tale--the next hour, I saw my gentle sister sink under the lash of my tormentor. Madness seized my brain. I struck the cruel Diego to the ground.

Paul. Heaven stamped that energy in your heart, which raised your avenging arm.

Vir. [To Paul.] Cannot we intercede with this poor slave's master to forgive him! What, though he may be 'a man of high rank, and we cannot speak to him eloquently, surely no eloquence is required to plead the cause of nature.

Paul. Virginia, we feel the impulse of a guardian power : let us obey it.

Ala. [Crossing, O., and fulling on his knees.] He who implanted mercy in your breasts will thank you for

me.

Paul. (L.) Take some refreshment in this cottage, and then lead the way to your plantation.

Ala. "Across that mountain lies our path ; it is rugged and difficult.

Vir. (R.) Fear not for me. Sure, endeavours to relieve this poor slave will be our best acknowledgment of the debt we owe to heaven.

[Exeunt into the Cottage, R. S. E.

5

SCENE II.-- A Roon in Tropic's House.

Enter TROPIC and Diego, R. Die. (R.) Well, sir, you are master, to be sure, and must be obeyed; but still I say you are wrong, very wrong.

Tro. (L.) What, haven't I authority over my own plantation? Haven't I absolute power over my slaves ? Yes, I have; and I choose to show that power by rendering them as happy as I can. It is a fancy of mine, and no one shall control me in it.

Die. And so, they are to have another holyday?

Tro. Yes, and a proper allowance of grog to make them happy; I love grog myself,-it often makes me happy.

Die. Ah, sir! the plantation was differently managed before you had it. But, really, I am sorry to say, you Englishmen do not understand how to deal with slaves; your own country affords you no practice that way.

Tro. No, Diego; it is the boast of Britons, that from the moment a slave imprints his footstep on our shore, the moment he breathes the air of the land of freedom, he becomes free.

Die. Ay, there's the pity; so that makes you spoil your slaves here in the West Indies.

Tro. No, I do not spoil them, Die. You consider themTro. As men. And I will say, for the credit of mankind, whether black or white, I have seldom found a heart so perverse as to be insensible of the treatment of humanity and kindness; but your discipline is so rigid, Diego, I am not satisfied as to the story of Alambra.

Die. Alambra is an impudent, good-for-nothing rogue. Tro. Well, well; but

Die. And a runaway, a deserter, eloped from your service,

Tro. A deserter! true, so he is; he ought to be punished.

Die. And shall, if I catch him; he ran away because he would not work.

Tro. That's bad; every one who eats his allowance ought to work for it. I am an old seaman, and I hate a skulker. Mankind are brother sailors through the voyage of life,—'tis our duty to assist each other : 'tis true, we have different stations ; some on the quarter-deck, and others before the mast; or else bow could the vessel sail ? But the cause of society is a common cause, and he that won't lend a hand to keep the vessel in a sailing trim, heave him overboard to the sharks, I say.

Die. You are a true sailor, i'faith!

Tro. Yes, my native country is my ship, and I am proud to call her Great Britain. Long may she ride like a peerless first-rate, the queen of the ocean, with a gallant crew, and a beloved commander.

SONG. TROPIC.
Our country is our ship, d'ye see,

A gallant vessel, too ;
And of his fortune proud is he,

Who's of the Albion's crew.
Each man, whate'er his station be,
When duty's call commands,

Should take his stand,

And lend a hand,
As the common cause demands.

Among ourselves, in peace, 'tis true,

We quarrel-make a rout;
And having nothing else to do,

We fairly scold it out.
But once the enemy in view,
Shake hands, we soon are friends ;

On the deck,

Till a wreck,
Each the common cause defends.

[Exeunt, l.

« AnteriorContinuar »