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“ Such, Maiden, are the pangs that wait the hour Of easiest dissolution ! yet weak man Resolves, in timid piety, to live; And veiling Fear in Superstition's garb, He calls her Resignation !

Coward wretch ! Fond coward, thus to make his reason war 200 Against his reason! Insect as he is, This sport of chance, this being of a day, Whose whole existence the next cloud may blast, Believes himself the care of heavenly powers, That God regards man, miserable man, 205 And preaching thus of power and providence, Will crush the reptile that may cross his path!

« Fool that thou art! the Being that permits Existence, gives to man the worthless boon: A goodly gift to those who, fortune-blest, 210 Bask in the sunshine of prosperity, And such do well to keep it. But to one Sick at the heart with misery, and sore With many a hard unmerited affliction, It is a hair that chains to wretchedness

215 The slave who dares not burst it!

Thinkest thou, The parent, if his child should unrecallid Return and fall upon his neck, and cry, • Oh! the wide world is comfortless, and full Of fleeting joys and heart-consuming cares, 220 I can be only happy in my home With thee - my friend ! — my father!'Thinkest thou, That he would thrust him as an outcast forth?

Oh! he would clasp the truant to his heart, 224 And love the trespass.”

Whilst he spake, his eye Dwelt on the Maiden's cheek, and read her soul Struggling within. In trembling doubt she stood, Even as a wretch, whose famish'd entrails crave Supply, before him sees the poison'd food In greedy horror.

Yet, not silent long, 230 “ Eloquent tempter cease !” the Maiden cried, “ What though affliction be my portion here, Thinkest thou I do not feel high thoughts of joy, Of heart-ennobling joy, when I look back Upon a life of duty well perform'd,

235 Then lift mine eyes to Heaven, and there in faith Know my reward ? . I grant, were this life all, Was there no morning to the tomb's long night, If man did mingle with the senseless clod, Himself as senseless, then wert thou indeed 240 A wise and friendly comforter !.. But, fiend, There is a morning to the tomb's long night, A dawn of glory, a reward in heaven, He shall not gain who never merited.

244 If thou didst know the worth of one good deed In life's last hour, thou would'st not bid me lose The precious privilege, while life endures To do my Father's will. A mighty task Is mine,.. a glorious call. France looks to me For her deliverance.

Maiden, thou hast done 250 Thy mission here,” the unbaffled fiend replied : • The foes are fled from Orleans: thou, perchance

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Exulting in the pride of victory,
Forgettest him who perish'd : yet albeit
Thy harden'd heart forget the gallant youth, 255
That hour allotted canst thou not escape,
That dreadful hour, when contumely and shame
Shall sojourn in thy dungeon. Wretched Maid !
Destined to drain the cup of bitterness,
Even to its dregs,.. England's inhuman chiefs 260
Shall scoff thy sorrows, blacken thy pure fame,
Wit-wanton it with lewd barbarity,
And force such burning blushes to the cheek
Of virgin modesty, that thou shalt wish
The earth might cover thee. In that last hour, 265
When thy bruis'd breast shall heave beneath the chains
That link thee to the stake, a spectacle
For the brute multitude, and thou shalt hear
Mockery more painful than the circling flames 269
Which then consume thee; wilt thou not in vain
Then wish my friendly aid ? then wish thine ear
Had drank my words of comfort ? that thy hand
Had grasp'd the dagger, and in death preserved
Insulted modesty ?”

Her glowing cheek
Blush'd crimson ; her wide eye on vacancy 275
Was fix'd ; her breath short panted. The cold fiend,
Grasping her hand, exclaim'd, “ Too-timid Maid
So long repugnant to the healing aid
My friendship proffers, now shalt thou behold
The allotted length of life."

He stamp'd the earth, 280
And dragging a huge coffin as his car,
Two Gouls came on, of form more fearful-foul'

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Than ever palsied in her wildest dream
Hag-ridden Superstition. Then Despair :. .284
Seized on the Maid whose curdling blood stood still,
And placed her in the seat, and on they pass d., 'n
Adown the deep descent. A meteor light
Shot from the dæmons, as they dragg'd along
The unwelcome load, and mark'd their brethren feast
On carcasses.

Below, the vault dilates 290
Its ample bulk. “ Look here!”-Despair addrest
The shuddering Virgin, “ see the dome of Death!”
It was a spacious cavern, hewn amid app
The entrails of the earth, as though to form
A grave for all mankind : po eye could reach, 295
Its distant bounds. There, throned in darkness, dwelt
The unseen power of Death.
wa

Here stopt the Gouls, Reaching the destined spot. The fiend stept out, And from the coffin as he led the Maid, Exclaim'd, “ Where mortal never stood before, 300 Thou standest: look around this boundless vault; Observe the dole that Nature deals to man, And learn to know thy friend."

She answer'd not, Observing where the Fates their several tasks 304 Plied ceaseless." Mark how long the shortest web Allow'd to man!” he cried ; “ observe how soon, Twined round yon never-resting wheel, they change Their snowy hue, darkening through many a shade, Till Atropos relentless shuts the sheers. 309

Too true he spake, for of the countless threads, 7

Drawn from the heap, as white as unsunn'd snow,
Or as the spotless lily of the vale,
Was never one beyond the little span
Of infancy untainted: few there were
But lightly tinged ; more of deep crimson hue, 315
Or deeper sable died. Two Genii stood,
Still as the web of being was drawn forth,
Sprinkling their powerful drops. From ebon urn,
The one unsparing dash'd the bitter drops 319
Of woe; and as he dash'd, his dark-brown brow
Relax'd to a hard smile. The milder form
Shed less profusely there his lesser store;
Sometimes with tears increasing the scant boon,
Compassionating man; and happy he

324
Who on his thread those precious tears receives ;
If it be happiness to have the pulse
That throbs with pity, and in such a world
Of wretchedness, the generous heart that aches
With anguish at the sight of human woe.

To her the fiend, well hoping now success,

330 “ This is thy thread; observe how short the span; And little doth the evil Genius spare His bitter tincture there.” The Maiden saw Calmly. “ Now gaze!” the tempter fiend exclaim'd, And placed again the poniard in her hand, 335 For Superstition, with a burning torch, Approach'd the loom. “ This, Damsel, is thy fate! The hour draws on—now strike the dagger home! Strike now, and be at rest !”

The Maid replied, “ Or to prevent or change the will of Heaven, 340 Impious I strive not: let that will be done!”

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