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The unfelt rite at length was done,
     The prayer unheard at length was said,
An hour had passed: the noonday sun
     Smote on the features of the dead!
And he who stood the doomed beside,
     Calm gauger of the swelling tide [286]
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, [287]
     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!

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Josiah Spry Law (1)
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