There dwells for him a brightness in the shades,
A soft still whisper, in the silent woods,
A charm to sooth his loneliest, dreariest hour,
Peopling with mild delight his solitude.
And cheering midnight with a beam of joy.
There dwells for him among the flowery paths
Where pleasure spreads her blandishment, and wealth
Her splendour lavishes—a secret thought
Of power to lift the heart to happiness,
And fill its inmost chambers with a ray
Of silent, sacred bliss—surpassing all
That luxury can own, or pride devise.
There is prepared for him a healing balm
When stern misfortune hovers o'er his path,
And grim adversity shall try the faith
Of seeming friendships : or the altered look
Of some loved false one, shall have power to sting
With more than viper's venom that lone heart
Through which her glance sent rapture—then will come
The proud and happy conciousness that he
Once look'd upon the friendless, and he lived:
Upon the desolate—his heart revived.
The lost one stood before assembled crowds ;
The wretched consciousness of mis-spent days
In characters of guilt starap'd on his brow ;
His sunken eye glared hopelessly around,
In helpless imbecility and dread,
Like the bay'd Leopard's when the bloodhounds closp.
On him the crowd as on a captive wolf,
With thoughts of smother'd vengeance sternly gazed—
And, 'death without a word' was their decree.*
E'en doubt could scarce exist, and O the deed,
Of which he stood accused, in dark
And dreadful notoriety, with blood
Had been enrolled in horror's blackest page—
And mercy's self, wiping her tearful eye,
From him and from his misery had turn'd,
Yet he was guiltless ! but his innocence
Lay darkly hid in doubt and mystery.
But thei'e was one—and only one who seem'd
Compassion for his innocence to feel.
And who was he ? The real murderer !
A youth of manly front and fearless heart,
Whose soul was steep'd in crime, his hands in blood,
Touch'd with some latent nobleness of mind.
Which vice had hidden long, but had not kill'd,
He sco,in'd to drag the feeble thing to death
Bound in the chords of his sole guilt. He flung
Or would have flung, the worthless victim back ;
Though he had look'd on blood without remorse
And crush'd his manly victim in the strife.
With cool judicial murder he disdained
To stain his hand, or load his blackened soul,**
The pale and trembling slaves of paltry gain,
Train'd, like bloodhounds, to the wretched chase,
Might lay that worst of murders on their souls.
The robber scorn'd it—he—the man of blood
Whose heart was adamant, whose conscience steel
Look'd on its cold deliberate cruelty
With bold disgust, with fearless stern contempt.
His lips were obstinately sealed to save
The real partner of his own deep guilt.
No weak remorse, hung o'er his fearless heart,
No sense of right had pierced the moral gloom
Which false associations flung around
His daring spirit. Man might claim his right,
(The blood of him who blood of man had shed)
But all they claim'd from him should be his own
And not another's. Innocence should live
And guilt should find its own dark way to death,
E'en then soft pity gleam'd around his heart,
Like lightning round the doubly hardened steel—
Gave his first virtue hirth, and in its light
He pass'd from earth to meet his final doom.
Each coming moment brought a fainter hope
To him of hopeless, helpless innocence.
His heart had ceased to trouble with despair—
When one there came, the minister of good,
Disdaining selfish feelings, one whose mind
With penetrating glance, had searched
The depth of that dark mystery ; and found,
E'en in the captives dungeon, one faint ray
To guide him to the truth. He led him back
With more then conqueror's triumph to the day—
To life—to hope—perhaps to peace and joy—
A pardoned, rescued, and forgiven man.***
Hail to the nobly good—my rustic lyre
Thus casts a tribute, humbly, at his feet.