BETA

IV.

SKETCH IN THE OLD BAILEY.

(FROM LIFE.)

Court.— “ Girl, have you any witnesses to call in your defence ? ”
Prisoner.— “ No, your Lordship, I haven’t a friend upon the face of the earth.’

1.

Meet epitaph for such as thou,1
With, wasted frame and drooping brow ! 2
On whom this instant every eye3
Rains scorn’s condensed artillery4
The clown’s, coarse laugh—the ribald’s leer5
The juror’s state-affecting sneer6
Th’ official’s shrug—the counsel’s smile7
(Nibbling his idle pen the while)—8
The judge’s sly but solemn pun9
Have all not gall’d thee, guilty One ?10
Thou common mark for shafted mirth11
Thou wretch, without a friend on earth !12

2.

What’s writ is writ—thou’st heard thy doom13
Depart, and give fresh felons room ;14
Hence ! thy allotted time to dwell15
With those who made their bed in hell,16
Beneath thy fierce taskmaster grim,17
To toil with trembling weary limb18
The long laborious day to curse,19
Yet dread night’s sleepless fever worse20
To chafe and fret till thou attain21
Thy haunts of gin and guilt again ;22
Leper ! from every human hearth23
Cast out, without a friend on earth !24

3.

Thou’rt gone ; —but yonder greedy gate,25
Again shall lend thee to thy fate26
Amid thy co-mates’ ruffian din27
Once more to shiver and to sin ;28
Through London’s midnight streets again29
To plash in winter’s killing rain ;30
Stifling that dread sepulchral cough31
That soon or late must cut theeoff32
Must give thee, huddled to thy shell33
From some foul garret’s fetid cell,34
A home within the graye-yard’s girth35
At last, thou friendless on the earth !36

4.

No Stoic I : —of crime and care37
I’ve had my birthright’s ample share ;38
Yet sooner than possess his heart39
Who, with the fiend’s consummate art,40
First lured thee from thy father’s cot41
(Perchance in some green shelter’d spot,)42
And led and left thee, till Despair43
Produced thee bound, a felon, there44
Sooner—though bribed by jewelled Power45
Than risk his deathbed’s damning hour,46
I’d toil for bread—in misery’s dearth47
Through life, without a friend on earth !48