John Greenleaf Whittier

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INSCRIBED TO FRIENDS UNDER ARREST FOR TREASON AGAINST THE SLAVE POWER. The age is dull and mean. Men creep, Not walk; with blood too pale and tame To pay the debt they owe to shame; Buy cheap, sell dear, eat drink, and sleep Down-pillowed, deaf to moaning want; Pay tithes for soul-insurance; keep Six days to Mammon, one to Cant. In such a time, give thanks to God, That somewhat of the holy rage With which the prophets in their age On all its decent seemings trod, Has set your feet upon the lie, Than man and ox and soul and clod Are market stock to sell and buy! The hot words form your lips, my own, To caution trained, might not repeat; But if some tares among the wheat Of generous thought and deed were sown, No common wrong provoked your zeal; The silken gauntlet that is thrown In such a quarrel rings like steel. The brave old strife the fathers saw for Freedom call for men again Like those who battled not in vain For England's Charter, Alfred's law; And right of speech and trial just Wage in your name their ancient war With venal courts and perjured trust. God's ways seem dark, but soon or late, They touch the shining hills of day; the evil cannot brook delay, The good can well afford to wait. Give ermined knaves their hour of crime; Yet have the future grand and great, The safe appeal of Truth to Time!