How can I give thee up, my child, my dearest, earliest born,
While fond hopes are 'round thee clustered, like bright clouds o'er morning's dawn?
No, I will not leave thee, darling; thou at least shall never say
That no tender hand did guide thee through the cares of childhood's day.
My child! when first thy mother heard thy feeble, first-born wail,
Love's tide came rushing through the heart, I thought encased in mail.
For the few years of my young life had been scenes of mirth and woe,
For I grasped the pleasures, darling, grasped them, ere I let them go!
E'en the brightest days of summer have their sunshine and their showers;
And the piercing thorn will wound us, as we pluck the fairest flowers;
But the perfume of the flowers makes us glory in the pain,
And exulting in the sunshine, we forget the chilling rain.
I know 'twould break my aching heart to leave thee, precious one!
How can they brand me with a curse — what have I ever done?
I know that I have never sent a sister down to shame,
By casting blots of foulest sin upon a snow-white name.
Have charity, have charity, my child, for every sin —
For the sore temptation, darling, may all-powerful have been;
And always lend a helping hand to those who chance to fall;
Forgive, forget, be ready to obey your Saviour's call.
Learn, learn, my child, and ne'er forget, learn while thou art still young,
That he will have the truest friends, who bridleth his tongue.
Speak well of all, if aught you know of evil, or of ill;
Deep in thy bosom let it rest, and keep the scandal still.
My baby, should you ever choose a partner for this life,
Oh, darling, ever strive to be a fond, devoted wife;
And never let thy husband's name be spoken but in praise;
For some will, if you let them, sadly misconstrue his ways.
Seek not happiness in pleasure, for the dregs of every cup
Are so bitter, darling, bitter, as we quaff the latest sup!
And never seek, my child, to win the laurel wreath of fame,
Unless thou hast a heart to hear the world's taunts, even shame.
Kind, noble, generous, they will give thy sister to me, dear:
But I must leave thee, child, and seek a home away from here.
Ah! I defy them to the last; they shall not part us, child
And thy mother's hand shall rear thee — rear thee, pure and undefiled!
May the fond prayers of thy mother prove a love-protecting shield
From each sorrow, and each harrowing care, that life doth ever yield.
And may the hand of love, my child, pluck thorns from thy bright flowers;
And may'st thou find a home at last in heaven's celestial bowers.