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A change !— The steepled town no more
Stretches along the sail-thronged shore;
Like palace-domes in sunset's cloud,
Fade sun-gilt spire and mansion proud!
Spectrally rising where they stood,
I see the old, primeval wood:
Dark, shadow-like, on either hand
I see its solemn waste expand: .
It climbs the green and cultured hill,
It arches o'er the valley's rill;
And leans from cliff and crag, to throw
Its wild arms o'er the stream below.
Unchanged, alone, the same bright river
Flows on, as it will flow forever!
I listen, and I hear the low
Soft ripple where its waters go;
I hear behind the panther's cry,
The wild bird's scream goes thrilling by,
And shyly on the river's brink
The deer is stooping down to drink.
But hark !— from wood and rock flung back,
Onward they glide—and now I view
'Tis past — the 'wildering vision dies
Yet, for this vision of the Past,
[In the following ballad, the author has endeavored to display the strong enthusiasm of the early Quaker, the short-sighted intolerance of the clergy and magistrates, and that sympathy with the oppressed, which the "common people," when not directly under the control of spiritual despotism, have ever evinced. He is not blind to the extravagance of language and action which characterized some of the pioneers of Quakerism in New England, and which furnished persecution with its solitary but most inadequate excuse.
The ballad has its foundation upon a somewhat remarkable event in the history of Puritan intolerance. Two young persons, son and daughter of Lawrence Southwick, of Salem, who had himself been imprisoned and deprived of all his property for having entertained two Quakers at his house, were fined ten pounds each for non-attendance at church, which they were unable to pay. The case being represented to the General Court, at Boston, that body issued an order, which may still be seen on the court records, bearing the signature of Edward Eawson, Secretary, by which the treasurer of the County was "fully empowered to sell the said persons to any of the English nation at Virginia or Barbadoes, to answer said fines." An attempt was made to carry this barbarous order into execution, bat no shipmaster was found willing to convey them to the West Indies.—Vide Sewall'b Histobt, pp. 225-6, G. Bisnor.]
To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise to-day,
Last night I saw the sunset melt through my prison bars,
In the coldness and the darkness all through the long night time,
Alone, in that dark sorrow, hour after hour crept by;
No sound amid night's stillness, save that which seemed to be The dull and heavy beating of the pulses of the sea;
All night I sat unsleeping, for I knew that on the morrow The ruler and the cruel priest would mock me in my sorrow, Dragged to their place of market, and bargained for and sold, Like a lamb before the shambles, like a heifer from the fold!
Oh, the weakness of the flesh was there — the shrinking and the shame;
And the low voice of the Tempter like whispers to me came:
""Where be the smiling faces, and voices soft and sweet,
"Wiry sit'st thou here, Cassandra ?— Bethink thee with what mirth
Thy happy schoolmates gather around the warm bright hearth; How the crimson shadows tremble on foreheads white and fair, On eyes of merry girlhood, half hid in golden hair.
Not for thee the hearth-fire brightens, not for thee kind words are spoken,
Not for thee the nuts of Wenham woods by laughing boys are broken,
No first-fruits of the orchard within thy lap are laid,
For thee no flowers of Autumn the youthful hunters braid.
"Oh ! weak, deluded maiden ! — by crazy fancies led,
With wild and raving railers an evil path to tread;
To leave a wholesome worship, and teaching pure and sound;
And mate with maniac women, loose-haired and sack-cloth-bound.
"Mad scoflers of the priesthood, who mock at things divine,