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Thou know'st-
Even for our parents' error.

What is that
To us? they sinn'd, then let them die !

Adah. Thou has not spoken well, nor is that thought Thy own, but of the spirit who was with thee. Would I could die for them, so they might live!

Cain. Why, so say I-provided that one victim Might satiate the insatiable of life, And that our little rosy sleeper there Might never taste of death nor human sorrow, Nor hand it down to those who spring from him. Adah. How know we that some such atonement one

May not redeem our race ?

By sacrificing
The harmless for the guilty? what atonement
Were there? why, we are innocent : what have we
Done, that we must be victims for a deed
Before our birth, or need have victims to
Atone for this mysterious, nameless sin-
If it be such a sin to seek for knowledge ?

Adah. Alas! thou sinnest now, my Cain : thy words
Sound impious in mine ears.

Then leave me ! Adah.

Never, Though thy God left thee. Cain.

Say, what have we here? Adah. Two altars, which our brother Abel made During thine absence, whereupon to offer A sacrifice to God on thy return.

Cain. And how knew he, that I would be so ready With the burnt offerings, which he daily brings With a meek brow, whose base humility Shows more of fear than worship, as a bribe To the Creator ?


Surely, 'tis well done.
Cain. One altar may suffice ; I have no offering.

Adah. The fruits of the earth, the early, beautiful
Blossom and bud, and bloom of flowers, and fruits ;
These are a goodly offering to the Lord,
Given with a gentle and a contrite spirit.

Cain. I have toil'd, and till'd, and sweaten in the sun
According to the curse :-must I do more?
For what should I be gentle ? for a war
With all the elements ere they will yield
The bread we eat? For what must I be grateful ?
For being dust, and groveling in the dust,
Till I return to dust? If I am nothing-
For nothing shall I be an hypocrite,
And seem well-pleased with pain ? For what should I
Be contrite ? for my father's sin, already
Expiate with what we all have undergone,
And to be more than expiated by
The ages prophesied, upon our seed.
Little deems our young blooming sleeper, there,
The germs of an eternal misery
To myriads is within him ! better 'twere
I snatch'd him in his sleep, and dash'd him 'gainst
The rocks, than let him live to

God ! Touch not the child—my child ! thy child! Oh, Cain !

Cain. Fear not ! for all the stars, and all the power Which sways them, I would not accost yon infant With ruder greeting than a father's kiss.

Adah. Then, why so awful in thy speech ?

Cain. 'Twere better that he ceased to live, than give

to so much of sorrow as he must Endure, and, harder still, bequeath ; but since That saying jars you, let us only say

Oh, my

I said,

'Twere better that he never had been born.

Adah. Oh, do not say so ! Where were then the joys, The mother's joys of watching, nourishing, And loving him ? Soft ! he awakes. Sweet Enoch !

[She goes to the child.
Oh Cain ! look on him ; see how full of life,
Of strength, of bloom, of beauty, and of joy,
How like to me-how like to thee, when gentle,
For then we are all alike; is't not so, Cain ?
Mother, and sire, and son, our features are
Reflected in each other; as they are
In the clear waters, when they are gentle, and
When thou art gentle. Love us, then, my Cain !
And love thyself for our sakes, for we love thee.
Look ! how he laughs and stretches out his arms,
And opens wide his blue eyes upon thine,
To hail his father ; while his little form
Flutters as wing'd with joy. Talk not of pain !
The childless cherubs well might envy thee
The pleasures of a parent ! Bless him, Cain !
As yet he hath no words to thank thee, but
His heart will, and thine own too.

Bless thee, boy!
If that a mortal blessing may avail thee,
To save thee from the serpent's curse !

It shall.
Surely a father's blessing may avert
A reptile's subtlety.

Of that I doubt ;
But bless him ne'er the less.



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