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     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
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,

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Josiah Spry Law (1)
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