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Why cite that law with which the bigot Jew
Rebuked the Pagan's mercy, when he knew
No evil in the Just One ?—Wherefore turn
To the dark cruel past ?—Can ye not learn
From the pure Teacher's life, how mildly free
Is the great Gospel of Humanity ?
The Flamen's knife is bloodless, and no more
Mexitli's altars soak with human gore,
No more the ghastly sacrifices smoke
Through the green arches of the Druid's oak;
And ye of milder faith, with your high claim
Of prophet-utterance in the Holiest name,

ye become the Druids of our time?
up your

scaffold-altars in our land, And, consecrators of Law's darkest crime,

Urge to its loathsome work the hangman's hand! Beware—lest human nature, roused at last, From its peeled shoulder your incumbrance cast,

And, sick to loathing of your cry for blood, Rank ye with those who led their victims round The Celt's red altar and the Indian's mound, Abhorred of Earth and Heaven-a pagan

rother hood !



Far from his close and noisome cell,

By grassy lane and sunny stream, Blown clover field and strawberry dell, And green and meadow freshness, fell

The footsteps of his dream. Again from careless feet the dew

Of summer's misty morn he shook; Again with merry heart he threw. His light line in the rippling brook.

Back crowded all his school-day joys

He urged the ball and quoit again, And heard the shout of laughing boys

Come ringing down the walnut glen.
Again he felt the western breeze,

With scent of flowers and crisping hay,
And down again through wind-stirred trees
He saw the quivering sunlight play.
An angel in home's vine-hung door,
He saw his sister smile once more;
Once more the truant's brown-locked head
Upon his mother's knees was laid,
And sweetly lulled to slumber there,
With evening's holy hymn and prayer:

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He woke. At once on heart and brain
The present Terror rushed again-
Clanked on his limbs the felon's chain !
He woke, to hear the church-tower tell
Time's footfall on the conscious bell,
And, shuddering, feel that clanging din
His life's LAST Hour had ushered in ;
To see within his prison yard,
Through the small window, iron barred,
The gallows shadow rising dim
Between the sunrise heaven and him,-
A horror in God's blessed air-

A blackness in his morning light-
Like some foul devil-altar there

Built up by demon hands at night.

And, maddened by that evil sight,
Dark, horrible, confused, and strange,
A chaos of wild, weltering change,

of check and guidance gone,
Dizzy and blind, his mind swept on.
In vain he strove to breathe a prayer,

In vain he turned the Holy Book,

He only heard the gallows-stair

Creek as the wind its timbers shook.
No dream for him of sin forgiven,

While still that baleful spectre stood,
With its hoarse murmur,

Blood for Blood!" Between him and the pitying Heaven!


Low on his dungeon floor he knelt,

And smote his breast, and on his chain,
Whose iron clasp he always felt,

His hot tears fell like rain;
And near him, with the cold, calm look

And tone of one whose formal part,

Unwarmed, unsoftened of the heart,
Is measured out by rule and book,
With placid lip and tranquil blood,
The bangman's ghostly ally stood,
Blessing with solemn text and word
The gallows-drop and strangling cord;
Lending the sacred Gospel's awe
And sanction to the crime of Law.

He saw the victim's tortured brow

The sweat of anguish starting there-
The record of a nameless woe

In the dim eye's imploring stare,

Seen hideous through the long, damp hair
Fingers of ghastly skin and bone
Working and writhing on the stone -
And heard, by mortal terror wrung
From heaving breast and stiffened tongue,

The choking sob and low hoarse prayer ;
As o'er his half-crazed fancy came
A vision of the eternal flame-
Its smoking cloud of agonies-
Its demon-worm that never dies-
The everlasting rise and fall

Of fire-waves round the infernal wall;
While high above that dark red flood,
Black, giant-like, the gallows stood:
Two busy fiends attending there ;
One with cold mocking rite and prayer,
The other with impatient grasp,
Tightening the death-rope's strangling clasp!



The unfelt rite at length was done-

prayer unheard at length was said An hour had passed :—the noon-day sun

Smote on the features of the dead! And he who stood the doomed beside, Calm

gauger of the swelling tide Of mortal agony and fear, Heeding with curious eye and ear Whate'er revealed the keen excess Of man's extremest wretchedness : And who in that dark anguish saw

An earnest of the victim's fate,
The vengeful terrors of God's law,

The kindlings of Eternal hate-
The first drops of that fiery rain
Which beats the dark red realm of pain,-
Did he uplift his earnest cries

Against the crime of Law, which gave
His brother to that fearful

grave, Whereon Hope's moonlight never lies,

And Faith's white blossoms never wave
To the soft breath of Memory's sighs ;-
Which sent a spirit marred and stained,
By fiends of sin possessed, profaned,
In madness and in blindness stark,
Into the silent, unknown dark ?
No—from the wild and shrinking dread
With which he saw the victim led

Beneath the dark veil which divides

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Ever the living from the dead,

And Nature's solemn secret hides, The man of prayer can only draw New reasons for his bloody law; New faith in staying Murder's hand By murder at that Law's command ; New reverence for the gallows-rope, As human nature's latest hope ; Last relic of the good old time, When Power found license for its crime, And held a writhing world in check By that fell cord about its neck; Stifled Sedition's rising shout, Choked the young breath of Freedom out, And timely checked the words which sprung From Heresy's forbidden tongue ; While in its noose of terror bound, The Church its cherished union found, Conforming, on the Moslem plan, The motley-colored mind of man, Not by the Koran and the Sword, But by the Bible and the Cord!

Oh, Thou ! at whose rebuke the grave
Back to warm life its sleeper gave,
Beneath whose sad and tearful glance
The cold and changed countenance
Broke the still horror of its trance,
And waking, saw with joy above,
A brother's face of tenderest love;
Thou, unto whom the blind and lame,
The sorrowing and the sin-sick came,
And from thy very garment's hem
Drew life and healing unto them,
The burden of thy holy faith
Was love and life, not hate and death,
Man's demon ministers of pain,

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