For Righteousness' Sake

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,

That man and ox and soul and clod

Are market stock to sell and buy!

The hot words from 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 calls 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;

Ye have the future grand and great,

The safe appeal of Truth to Time!


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