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The peace convention at Brussels.

still in thy streets, O Paris! doth the stain
     Of blood defy the cleansing autumn rain;
Still breaks the smoke Messina's ruins through,
     And Naples mourns that new Bartholomew,
When squalid beggary, for a dole of bread,
     At a crowned murderer's beck of license, fed
The yawning trenches with her noble dead;
     Still, doomed Vienna, through thy stately halls
The shell goes crashing and the red shot falls,
     And, leagued to crush thee, on the Danube's side,
The bearded Croat and Bosniak spearman ride;
     Still in that vale where Himalaya's snow
Melts round the cornfields and the vines below,
     The Sikh's hot cannon, answering ball for ball,
Flames in the breach of Moultan's shattered wall;
     On Chenab's side the vulture seeks the slain,
And Sutlej paints with blood its banks again.

‘What folly, then,’ the faithless critic cries,
     With sneering lip, and wise world-knowing eyes,
“While fort to fort, and post to post, repeat The ceaseless challenge of the war-drum's beat,
     And round the green earth, to the church-bell's chime,
The morning drum-roll of the camp keeps time,
     To dream of peace amidst a world in arms,
Of swords to ploughshares changed by Scriptural charms,
     Of nations, drunken with the wine of blood,
Staggering to take the Pledge of Brotherhood, [319]
     Like tipplers answering Father Mathew's call;
The sullen Spaniard, and the mad-cap Gaul,
     The bull-dog Briton, yielding but with life,
The Yankee swaggering with his bowie-knife,
     The Russ, from banquets with the vulture shared,
The blood still dripping from his amber beard,
     Quitting their mad Berserker dance to hear
The dull, meek droning of a drab-coat seer;
     Leaving the sport of Presidents and Kings,
Where men for dice each titled gambler flings,
     To meet alternate on the Seine and Thames,
For tea and gossip, like old country dames!
     No! let the cravens plead the weakling's cant,
Let Cobden cipher, and let Vincent rant,
     Let Sturge preach peace to democratic throngs,
And Burritt, stammering through his hundred tongues,
     Repeat, in all, his ghostly lessons o'er,
Timed to the pauses of the battery's roar;
     Check Ban or Kaiser with the barricade
Of “Olive-leaves” and Resolutions made,
     Spike guns with pointed Scripture-texts, and hope
To capsize navies with a windy trope;
     Still shall the glory and the pomp of War
Along their train the shouting millions draw;
     Still dusty Labor to the passing Brave
His cap shall doff, and Beauty's kerchief wave;
     Still shall the bard to Valor tune his song,
Still Hero-worship kneel before the Strong;
     Rosy and sleek, the sable-gowned divine,
O'er his third bottle of suggestive wine,
     To plumed and sworded auditors, shall prove
Their trade accordant with the Law of Love; [320]
     And Church for State, and State for Church, shall fight,
And both agree, that Might alone is Right!

     Despite of sneers like these, O faithful few,
Who dare to hold God's word and witness true,
     Whose clear-eyed faith transcends our evil time,
And o'er the present wilderness of crime
     Sees the calm future, with its robes of green,
Its fleece-flecked mountains, and soft streams between,—
     Still keep the path which duty bids ye tread,
Though worldly wisdom shake the cautious head;
     No truth from Heaven descends upon our sphere,
Without the greeting of the skeptic's sneer;
     Denied and mocked at, till its blessings fall,
Common as dew and sunshine, over all.

Then, o'er Earth's war-field, till the strife shall cease,
     Like Morven's harpers, sing your song of peace;
As in old fable rang the Thracian's lyre,
     Midst howl of fiends and roar of penal fire,
Till the fierce din to pleasing murmurs fell,
     And love subdued the maddened heart of hell.
Lend, once again, that holy song a tongue,
     Which the glad angels of the Advent sung,
Their cradle-anthem for the Saviour's birth,
     Glory to God, and peace unto the earth!
Through the mad discord send that calming word
     Which wind and wave on wild Genesareth heard,
Lift in Christ's name his Cross against the Sword!
     Not vain the vision which the prophets saw,
Skirting with green the fiery waste of war, [321]
     Through the hot sand-gleam, looming soft and calm
On the sky's rim, the fountain-shading palm.
     Still lives for Earth, which fiends so long have trod,
The great hope resting on the truth of God,—
     Evil shall cease and Violence pass away,
And the tired world breathe free through a long Sabbath day.

11th mo., 1848.

The prisoner for debt.

Before the law authorizing imprisonment for debt had been abolished in Massachusetts, a revolutionary pensioner was confined in Charlestown jail for a debt of fourteen dollars, and on the fourth of July was seen waving a handkerchief from the bars of his cell in honor of the day.

look on him! through his dungeon grate,
     Feebly and cold, the morning light
Comes stealing round him, dim and late,
     As if it loathed the sight.
Reclining on his strawy bed,
     His hand upholds his drooping head;
His bloodless cheek is seamed and hard,
     Unshorn his gray, neglected beard;
And o'er his bony fingers flow
     His long, dishevelled locks of snow.

No grateful fire before him glows,
     And yet the winter's breath is chill;
And o'er his half-clad person goes
     The frequent ague thrill!
Silent, save ever and anon,
     A sound, half murmur and half groan, [322]
Forces apart the painful grip
     Of the old sufferer's bearded lip;
Oh, sad and crushing is the fate
     Of old age chained and desolate!

Just God! why lies that old man there?
     A murderer shares his prison bed,
Whose eyeballs, through his horrid hair,
     Gleam on him, fierce and red;
And the rude oath and heartless jeer
     Fall ever on his loathing ear,
And, or in wakefulness or sleep,
     Nerve, flesh, and pulses thrill and creep
Whene'er that ruffian's tossing limb,
     Crimson with murder, touches him!

What has the gray-haired prisoner done?
     Has murder stained his hands with gore?
Not so; his crime's a fouler one;
     God made the old man poor!
For this he shares a felon's cell,
     The fittest earthly type of hell!
For this, the boon for which he poured
     His young blood on the invader's sword,
And counted light the fearful cost;
     His blood-gained liberty is lost!

And so, for such a place of rest,
     Old prisoner, dropped thy blood as rain
On Concord's field, and Bunker's crest,
     And Saratoga's plain?
Look forth, thou man of many scars,
     Through thy dim dungeon's iron bars; [323]
It must be joy, in sooth, to see
     Yon monument upreared to thee;
Piled granite and a prison cell,—
     The land repays thy service well!

Go, ring the bells and fire the guns,
     And fling the starry banner out;
Shout ‘ Freedom!’ till your lisping ones
     Give back their cradle-shout;
Let boastful eloquence declaim
     Of honor, liberty, and fame;
Still let the poet's strain be heard,
     With glory for each second word,
And everything with breath agree
     To praise ‘ our glorious liberty!’

But when the patron cannon jars
     That prison's cold and gloomy wall,
And through its grates the stripes and stars
     Rise on the wind, and fall,
Think ye that prisoner's aged ear
     Rejoices in the general cheer?
Think ye his dim and failing eye
     Is kindled at your pageantry?
Sorrowing of soul, and chained of limb,
     What is your carnival to him?

Down with the law that binds him thus!
     Unworthy freemen, let it find
No refuge from the withering curse
     Of God and human-kind!
Open the prison's living tomb,
     And usher from its brooding gloom [324]
The victims of your savage code
     To the free sun and air of God;
No longer dare as crime to brand
     The chastening of the Almighty's hand.

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